Diverse backgrounds unified by core values

  • Published
  • By Michael Wynne
  • Secretary of the Air Force
Last month, President Bush and Congress honored the Tuskegee Airmen in Washington, D.C. with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest and most prestigious award Congress can bestow. They were recognized for their magnificent performance in World War II both in the air, with their exemplary flying skill, and on the ground by breaking down stereotypes and paving the way for social equality. 

Nearly a year ago, Maj. Nicole Malachowski became the first female Thunderbird pilot and this year is joined by Maj. Samantha Weeks. 

Air Force Staff Sgt. Lealofi Lealofi, an American Samoan, was recently highlighted in the first-ever CSAF Portraits in Courage for taking great personal risk to save the lives of 50 Iraqi civilians while deployed to Baghdad as a Security Forces member. 

These Airmen exemplify Excellence, unbounded by race, gender or ethnicity. Their performance testifies that it is character that matters in our Airmen, not their sex, religion, skin color or geographic heritage. 

America's finest young men and women from all walks of life are drawn to the Air Force, and we celebrate the diversity, passion and perspective they bring. If we wish to continue dominating the domains of Air, Space and Cyberspace throughout the 21st century, we simply must recruit, develop and retain America's best, regardless of their background. Only by leveraging all the talents of the citizens of this great Nation will our Total Force continue to excel. Talent does not discriminate among any category of people, and neither can we. 

I've often noted the remarkable talent and innovation in the diverse DNA of our Total Force. Generations of Airmen have worked to develop the asymmetric advantage the Air Force provides the Nation. They contribute with expanded cultural competencies, unique perspectives and varied experiences. The results are clear - our Airmen are meeting current challenges at home and abroad while ensuring we are postured to meet future challenges head-on. 

As the Air Force becomes increasingly diverse, we remain united as Airmen by our core values of Integrity, Service and Excellence, and by our commitment to the Air Force mission. As the Secretary of the Air Force, I am dedicated to ensuring the talents of every Airman are valued and that characteristics unrelated to performance never impede opportunity, and I expect the same from you. Our rich diversity makes us a stronger Air Force, a credit to our country and an example to the world.