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An outstanding display of Wingmanship

  • Published
  • By Col. Kelly Martin
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing vice commander
Benjamin Franklin said, upon signing the Declaration of Independence, "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."

On July 4, 1776, the 13 colonies claimed their independence from England, an event which eventually led to the formation of the United States. Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence that Congress ordered to be made July 19, 1776. Everywhere were military parades, bells ringing, toasts, fireworks, and music. And now, more than 230 years later, we still celebrate with military parades like the one in Brandon, toasts and music like what was happening in backyards everywhere, and fireworks like the ones in downtown Tampa. And the words by Benjamin Franklin still ring as true today as now, more than ever, we continue to fight for freedom, democracy and basic human rights around the world.

The Air Force currently has 40,000 Airmen deployed and 133,000 in combatant commands across the globe. As we were celebrating the Fourth of July with family and friends here at home, we had many MacDill Airmen deployed in support of combat operations. In fact, some of our MacDill team members had a close call while serving outside the wire in Afghanistan. Thankfully, they are all OK.

Several things about this "close call" impressed me. First, the outstanding display of the Wingman concept. Airmen downrange immediately set about providing first class medical care and ensuring that everything was being done to ensure a speedy recovery. Additionally, Airmen here at MacDill AFB began engaging with the families of these Airmen, ensuring they were informed, supported and cared for during what can be a very traumatic event. "Hanging together," as Benjamin Franklin articulated, is fundamental to what makes our Air Force strong. And it's what will ensure we remain the most powerful air and space force in the world.

The second thing that impressed me was the resiliency of our Airmen themselves. They employed their training at the time of the incident, minimizing the potential damage where ever possible. Once they reached the medical facility, they let themselves be taken care of by the available medical professional. Next, they reached out to their families themselves to let their loved ones know they were ok, receiving strength and support as well. Finally, as soon as they were cleared, they returned to duty. Preparing and training so that you're ready for anything, getting help when you need it, reaching out to give and gain emotional support -- this is what being resilient Airmen is all about!

When I think about the profession of arms I often describe it using a quote from a favorite movie of mine, A League of Their Own. At one point, the main character is getting ready to quit the baseball league saying, "It just got too hard," to which the Tom Hanks character replies, "Of course it's hard. If it were easy, anyone would do it. It's the hard that makes it great."

What we do as Airmen day in and day out is hard; what is asked of us is more than is asked of most in the civilian world; and the standards we live by are higher than those in other professions. But never forget, it's the hard that makes it great.