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Never Forget Where you came from

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Shane Wagner
  • 387th Air Expeditionary Group
It's hard to believe it has been just over 20 years since I entered the Air Force. Looking back, it seems like just yesterday I had turned 21 years old and my mother, father, and brother were dropping me off at the bus station so I could start my journey into the Air Force. As it turns out, little did I know at the time my father was going to give me the motto that would drive me to become the Airman I am today.

My father was a very stern, hardworking man who seldom expressed his love and emotions yet valued giving my family everything we could ever want and need. As the time arrived for me to board the bus for basic training, my mother hugged me and struggled to keep back the tears, my brother punched me in the arm and smiled, and my father shook my hand and said only six words that resonate with me today; "Never forget where you came from". At the time, I figured he was telling me to be sure to make time to come home and visit the family. However, as I grew as a professional, I began to realize my father had given me the foundation of a life lesson I would have to experience to understand and appreciate.

As I progressed through my Air Force career, I slowly began to figure it out. He was telling me to stay grounded, learn from those around me, build on my mistakes, and strive to emulate those that influenced me in a positive way, never forgetting where I came from. Most of us can recall supervisors we considered falling short of our expectations as subordinates and those that mentored and drove us to be better than we ever thought we could be. Is that not the core of our Comprehensive Airmen Fitness? I submit to you it most definitely is.

The mental, spiritual, physical, and social pillars of the Comprehensive Airmen Fitness are guides allowing us to build on our experiences. The CAF guides us to be mentally stronger than those that fell short of our expectations and to emulate those that positively influenced us by believing in something bigger than ourselves. In addition, it pushes us to be physically strong enough to fight today and prepare for tomorrow and develop the social skills to effectively communicate and mentor those both above and below our level, ultimately building on our relationships.

My father passed away two years ago this past April and I still hear his words as clear today as they were some 20 years before. So today, I share those same words with you and I challenge every one of you to look back at your experiences, search out the lessons they offered, and build on your professionalism to be the best Airman, Wingman, and Warrior you can be. Most importantly, never forget where you came from as you fight today, prepare for tomorrow, and reinforce relationships...Rock Solid, Ready for Anything!