Faded blue

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Steve Sargent
  • 341st Missile Wing Command Chief
Are you the type of person that times your departure just right to avoid standing outside while the flag is lowered? Do you plan your leave so you are absent on promotion notification day to avoid the expense of buying the celebratory food and beverages? Do you run the other way when someone flashes a challenge coin? More and more people are answering yes to these types of questions. 

I often speak to NCO's about the declining interest in our traditions and caution them if we do not embrace them, and demonstrate them, to our next generation of Airmen they will simply fade away. I also remind them that there was something about the military culture that attracted us in the first place, and as much as we hate to admit it, there was a cool factor of our basic training experience. 

Our Honor Guardsmen carry on the ceremonial piece of our profession that sets us apart from corporate America. I stand a little taller when they are around, and I have a great sense of pride as they represent us in our communities. They demonstrate to the public our principles of discipline, duty, honor and respect to our country that make us unique amongst our society. It is unfortunate that even though they are our champions, we are reluctant to let them go. 

I contest that to preserve our traditions we must all do our part. For example, it's disappointing that every time we announce the monthly promotion ceremony, some promotees start scrambling to find a way to avoid the event. This is one of our oldest traditions celebrating a milestone in a person's career, and yet many people choose not to participate. If you think about it, the average officer or enlisted person only receives six promotions in their career. Six times in a span of 20 years we get to help our wingmen celebrate an achievement and yet we can't, or won't, find the time to do so. Even many that come do not stick around after the EMCEE announces the completion of the ceremonial portion and I pity the fool that stands in the exit path. Very few stick around, including the ones with the new shiny stripes. 

Some units do better than others. Security Forces keep their stationary drill skills honed with their routine guard mount, maintenance gather weekly at the club for informal mentoring moments, and some supervisors have included traditions into their roll calls. I also give credit to the LRS crew that toughed it out when I dropped a challenge coin on their table, while other tables around us scattered as if someone pulled the fire alarm. So how do you reverse the trend? All of us supervisors, leaders, mentors and peers should encourage each other to pass on our ceremonies and traditions to our fellow Airmen and use them at every opportunity. You might be surprised at the results as they promote a sense of belonging to our profession at arms. 

There are other examples of our eroding traditions and just when I think all is lost, to what do my wandering eyes do I see ... I see a sea of red hats marching at me. 

Last Friday afternoon, members of the RED HORSE Squadron ended their week by forming up and marching to the club for a brief meeting, then they were invited to stay and enjoy some good old- fashioned camaraderie. Some of them were sporting a brand new beverage mug with their famous mascot emblazoned on it, and most important, all of them were showing their unit pride. 

To the HORSE!