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Tomorrow’s heroes are today’s Airmen

  • Published
  • By Chap. (Lt. Col.) Donnette Boyd
  • 451st Air Expeditionary Wing chaplain
"Grandpa, where were you when America was fighting the terrorists?" "Grandma, what did you do in Afghanistan?" Some of you will, no doubt, have these questions asked of you by grandchildren you haven't even imagined yet. Some of us deployed to Kandahar are parents, a few are already grandparents, but a great percentage of you who aren't even parents yet will have future grandchildren ask you those very same questions someday. I know it is hard for you to imagine, especially if you're still in your twenties and single.

Your grandparents felt the same way when they were on their way to Europe, Korea or Vietnam. They were young back then too and couldn't imagine that someday they'd have grandchildren who would look up to them as role models and a source of strength. If you are fortunate enough to have grandparents, or even parents, who helped fight for our nation, you know how your relationship with these living legends played a vital role in building the courage and character in you today.

Our heroes made statements like, "We just did what we had to do." "We didn't think much about politics, the job had to get done and it was up to us." "I'm no hero, I was just doing my job."

Regardless of what their job was, whether they patrolled rice paddies, landed on a beach or held an outpost, they always seemed to minimize their role. Some of you have that same tendency to minimize your role in your job. Whether you are securing the flightline, processing inbound and outbound personnel, or evacuating the wounded, you probably don't think of yourself as a hero, or better yet, a living legend. But you are. And someday you too will downplay your role and say, "I was just doing my job." That starry-eyed grandchild will look at you, marveling at how awesome and humble you remember yourself. Your son or daughter, niece or nephew, will ask you tons of questions while they ponder what it would be like to be where you are today.

Very few heroes think of themselves as heroes. They just see themselves as being the right people, in the right place at the right time. That's what you are -- the right person, in the right place at the right time. If no one else tells you this during your tour, I'll tell you that you are a hero and a legend in the making.