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Empowering your Airmen!

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --

Fellow Pacific Air Forces Airmen, good day! As I was preparing what will be my last inspirational article in the command due to my permanent change of station, Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., PACAF commander, forwarded an email from the Chief of Staff of the Air Force. He cited Gen. David Goldfein’s letter from the recent Weapons and Tactics Conference at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. After reading the memo, I had to change my inspirational thought to the subject at hand. If you have not had a chance to read the letter, the CSAF was inspired by a number of young Airmen at the WEPTAC. One, so much so, that at the end of 1st Lt. Carl Black’s presentation, Goldfein gave the young Airman a new call sign, “40-hour Boyd”! Black gave a riveting presentation on satellite versus satellite maneuvering and Goldfein was impressed with his poise, confidence and his own realization that he was half as good as Black as a young lieutenant. The call sign came in respect of the great Vietnam era fighter pilot who earned the nickname “40-second Boyd” because he would tell his adversary in the flight briefing that in “40 seconds after fights on, I will maneuver my aircraft behind you and turn my gun on,” and most of the time he did it. Black’s call sign is “40-hour Boyd” because he has space to deal with and satellites do not move that fast! However, it was the confidence and capability Black demonstrated that led Goldfein to render the new call sign. Reading the real-life story, I could not help but think of all of the young Airmen that serve throughout PACAF, and what our nation asks them to do on a daily basis. I remember entering Army basic training 32 years ago, and all that was required of me, as a young Soldier, was to essentially be able to stand in a straight line and keep my eyes forward. This is not the case today within our complex military.

“Let’s not try to tell them how to do everything. Let’s tell them what to do, and let them surprise us with their ingenuity,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson.

Today, our young Airmen are smarter, many holding degrees. They work on incredibly sophisticated equipment in multifaceted environments, and hold vastly more responsibility than me or my contemporaries ever did in the late 1980s. Because of that, I can’t help but think of Airmen like Senior Airman Nathan Bruner at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, performing his maintenance duties flawlessly and without complaint in 25 degrees below freezing weather. I am also reminded of Senior Airman Joshua Echevarria’s ceaseless work ethic getting two jets back to fully mission capable, directly enabling Misawa’s combat capability. Nor can I forget Airman 1st Class Sydney Baker here at Headquarters PACAF, solving information technology challenges, way above my head. I could go further with more examples, but the point is, as I – an old Airman – watch our young Airmen in action, I cannot help but be inspired for what’s ahead. Our recent Pacific-Sentry exercise was a clear indication of how far our young Airmen have come in leading our Air Force.

“From what I saw at Nellis, the burning flame of operational excellence is alive and well,” Goldfein said. “Our Air Force culture relies on every Airman’s willingness to embrace our rich history of warfighting spirit. It is up to us to keep the flame alive. We need our Airmen to stay because together we are working to create an environment where their contributions matter.”

As I prepare to depart PACAF, I am inspired knowing that our Air Force is on the right track. I am inspired – and I will say I believe this thought was also behind Goldfein’s remarks – for when the time comes when I wear my uniform for the last time, I know our Air Force is in capable hands and our future is secure. Our Airmen, especially our young Airmen, are up for the task. But until then, I believe my role is to find those inspiring young Airmen, just like Goldfein did; those young Airmen on our staffs, in our hallways, in our wings—and empower and enable them to become the leaders our Air Force needs, to win the future fight. So today, I ask you, which Airmen inspire you? Find them, mentor them, empower them, and let them fly!