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NEWS | March 6, 2009

Why are you part of the ‘blue’?

By Lt. Col. Preston L. Williamson IV 99th Airlift Squadron Commander

Have you ever asked yourself, "Why am I in the military and what keeps me here?" Our squadron secretary has strong ties to the military as the widow of a Naval officer, as well as more than 24 years of government service. When she recently informed me it was time for her to retire, I asked her to look back on her career and offer her perspective of the military, and what advice she would provide to one who serves in the military or one who is considering the military as a career. Her response filled me with pride and helped me understand better what we sometimes take for granted ... something no other organization can offer. Here is her perspective:

"As I approach retirement after working at Andrews for over 24 years, I pause to consider my impressions of the Air Force. Pride seems to sum it up best. There is very little grumbling or whining. People want to be in the Air Force and it shows! When missions drop down suddenly, the crew starts mission planning. Clearances are worked out, fuel requirements are figured and the mission goes on. This is the norm for the Air Force. People say they are 'living the dream,' and they indeed are."

"In all aspects, I have been impressed with opportunities for women and minorities in the Air Force where equal opportunity is lived. Personnel are professional in all respects. Training courses are easily available. Travel is for any and every one."

"All people I have observed have shown a core of integrity. Service before self is the norm. No matter where I go on or off base, Air Force personnel stand tall and "walk the walk and talk the talk." It may be a cheerful "Good morning" or offering to open a door for you. At lunch I dropped a book and an NCO picked it up and handed it to me. There was nothing in it for him, it was just a nice thing for him to do. The Air Force personnel here are living 'excellence in all they do.'"

"The professionalism of the enlisted troops impresses me most. They fly the mission, do the training, have a family and still volunteer in their community. No one looks for excuses on why something can't be done -- they just do it."

I am grateful to Mrs. Rosemary Purnell and all those who support what we do. I ask you to consider who you are and what you represent as an Airman, Soldier, Sailor, or Marine, on or off duty. You have a noble profession ... you represent our great nation. I am proud to serve with you who give of yourself for the cause of freedom. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and I am grateful for the family members that sacrifice so much to enable our service."