Following the footsteps of great men

  • Published
  • By Col. Troy Dunn
  • 86th Mission Support Group commander
"All that you do, do it with your might. Things by half are never done right."

My father taught me this quote and made me commit it to memory when I was a child. His father encouraged him to live by that same principle. For several years, I thought memorizing the quote was an initial rite of passage, passed exclusively from father to son, and unique only to the Dunn lineage.

I quickly realized, after following in my father's and grandfather's military footsteps, the outstanding professionals of our enlisted corps also live by that same principle. I grew up as an enlisted kid always around NCOs and SNCOs since my father is a retired Air Force SNCO and my grandfather was an enlisted Army Soldier. Nevertheless, it was not until I accepted the call into the profession of arms I gained a clearer perspective, deeper insight and richer appreciation of that quote as it pertains to our Air Force core values and the strength of our enlisted Airmen.

One of the many lessons I learn from SNCOs every day is excellence - "all that you do, do it with your might." Our SNCOs set the standard for excellence and lead Airmen to excel in their skills proficiency, mission accomplishment and dedication to our profession of arms. For example, our security forces SNCOs mentor Airmen who risk their lives on a daily basis to respond to distress calls, enforce standards and safeguard our installations and assets. Those same SNCOs demonstrate steadfast commitment to readiness, combat training and exercise scenarios, which prepare our defenders to respond quickly at home station or in deployed environments. Lastly, many model excellence by obtaining their Community College of the Air Force degree, completing professional military education, and working toward advanced educational goals.

One of the many lessons I learn from NCOs everyday is integrity - "things by half are never done right." Our NCOs understand the importance of doing things right and doing the right thing. For example, our contracting NCOs are entrusted to make key decisions and obligate resources spanning millions of dollars that best meet the needs of our people and organizations. Since several of our NCOs are first-level supervisors, they have to ensure our Airmen maintain proper accountability and those same Airmen also know how to identify and fix trouble areas. But integrity is more than doing things right, it also includes doing the right thing by focusing on ways to combat sexual assaults, suicidal ideations and alcohol-related incidents. Our NCOs internalize integrity by doing the right thing in both their personal and professional lives and guiding all Airmen on taking care of each other on and off duty.

At this point, you might be wondering, where is the "service" portion in the quote my father taught me? If you have not figured it out by now, then you missed the true greatness of our enlisted Airmen and the quote itself. So, let's go back in time. When I was learning the quote at 5 years old, I started the quote with, "Things that you do." My dad however would correct me, as his father did him, that the first word of the quote actually started with "All." The reason my dad corrected me was because "all" means everything -- you have to give everything you have. When you truly give everything to the defense of this grateful nation, you then are putting service before self.

Every day, I watch in sheer amazement as our enlisted members give it their all and put it all out on the line. Our incredible folks do some very incredible things. Cyber warriors defend our networks and continually mitigate cyber threats while providing first-class communications support to joint customers. Postal workers put themselves on the line in detachments in Istanbul and Milan to deliver mail to the U.S. Embassy, Army and Air Force installations. Our heroes at the Deployment Transition Center work with a variety of specialties to ease the psychological burdens sustained during combat deployments. Force support professionals continually find ways to work around manning and budgetary constraints to provide exceptional quality of life and personnel programs.

I am proud of our enlisted Airmen both active and retired. I am proud to be third-generation military, committed to an honorable profession, dedicated to the defense of a grateful nation, and devoted to the men and women of our Armed Forces. And, I am proud of my father and grandfather who wore this uniform with dignity, pride and honor.

Happy Father's Day, Dad!