An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Diversity: The bedrock of airpower

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Phillip G. Born
  • 379th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron commander
You may have noticed that there are a lot of months on the calendar observing the heritage of diverse groups. February marked Black History Month, in March we celebrate Women’s History Month and in May we will observe Asian-Pacific Heritage Month. In fact, several times throughout the year we celebrate and highlight diverse groups that make up our great nation. So why should this be a point of emphasis for those of us focusing on the mission in an expeditionary environment?

I believe this heritage and the varied experiences of the people who make up our great nation are the bedrock from which we draw strength and a perfect example of what makes our Air Force, and to a greater extent, our entire military, powerful. The ability to draw from a number of previous struggles and life lessons to come up with innovative solutions to the problems of the day, allows us to overcome many obstacles despite others who may say that it is not possible or we are not capable.

There are a number of examples of diversity and innovation in the military that we can see in light of this month being a celebration of women’s history. One such example is 2nd Lieutenant Elsie S. Ott who is credited with being the first flight nurse on an intercontinental air evacuation flight and being the first female presented with the Air Medal. She paved the way for the air evacuation capabilities we take for granted today. My own personal example is retired Major General Mary Kay Hertog, the first female to become the director of Security Forces or “Top Cop” in the Air Force. As a young officer, I looked up to her as an example of someone who always tackled the hardest problems and a trend setter in a career field traditionally dominated by men, having only opened to women 7 years prior to her commission.

As we settle into another month dedicated to the history of a particular group I ask that you take every opportunity to participate in the events offered. As Booker T. Washington who established the Tuskegee Institute, eventual home of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, once said “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life, as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” By participating and learning from the struggles of those faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, we just might find the motivation and courage to deal with tomorrow’s problems.