A simple 'thank you’

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Karyn Wright
  • 341st Mission Support Squadron commander
I was eating lunch the other day with my husband and boys at a local restaurant. A lady I had never seen before walked up and noted my uniform. With a warm smile she asked if I was in the military. I said, "yes," and she began to thank me and tell my family how proud they should be. 

I told her I would pass along her thanks to my brothers and sisters in arms. So on her behalf "thank you Team Malmstrom." This was the fourth time in the past year I've experienced this type of encounter here in Great Falls; some of you may have experienced a similar exchange. 

When the momentary embarrassment passed I was humbled to think that the military is one of the last remaining vestals of American pride. Well, this got me thinking. 

We all know when we wear the uniform we represent the Air Force, but events like this really drive home the responsibility each of us have. I realized it really doesn't matter if I'm in uniform or not, the way I conduct myself downtown or even on the base reflects upon my Air Force. We make a lasting impression on people around us. Throughout our careers, we'll do more to instill America's trust in our profession of arms then all the news media combined. 

A stranger's simple "thank you" made me realize how set apart those who serve this great nation are. Sometimes we get so busy with our daily demands that we forget we serve a higher calling and this isn't just an ordinary job. I was reminded we belong to the America we so bravely defend and protect. 

So, remember someone may be watching the next time you have the urge to curse, or be rude or put yourself in any situation that may discredit our uniform and our Air Force. The trust America has put in us is a precious but fragile thing and it doesn't take many poor impressions before we lose her faith. 

Become a living example of our core values: integrity, service before self and excellence in all you do. Let's continue to make a simple "thank you" mean something.