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Patriotic Article
By USAF Lt. Col. Robert Haines

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Service - It's Not About You
(April 30, 2009)

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4/24/2009 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- Last year I was amazed at the accomplishments and dedication of many of the Olympic competitors in the summer games. Although I enjoyed watching the events, I found many of the interviews with athletes and their personal stories more interesting. I was particularly impressed with a U.S. sprinter in the Women's 400 meter event.

When asked how she felt about winning the Bronze medal, she responded "it is not about me, it is about our country." What a tremendous demonstration of service before self.

As Air and Space Expeditionary Force Rotation 7/8 draws to an end, we must remain focused on the mission at hand. As we reflect on all our personal accomplishments throughout this deployment, we must remember that it is not about us, it is about our country. 

Of the U.S. Air Force core values, integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do; service is perhaps the most challenging to fully understand. Integrity - got it! Excellence-I understand that! Service before self, does it mean we shouldn't set personal goals, or we shouldn't pursue our dreams, or we shouldn't think about getting back home to our families? Absolutely not!

It means we serve a greater purpose than just focusing on ourselves. As Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers and Department of Defense civilians in the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, our focus should be on how we can best support our wing, our mission, and our country. We must remember that we "fly the frag" as a team; we manage the transition together; and that good order and discipline is about focusing on our mission, not our personal interests.

Additionally, service before self means we must follow applicable Air Force Instructions and technical orders, even if there is a more personally convenient or easier way to do something. This is especially important as we transition to the next AEF cycle. Combat operations are not an excuse to take shortcuts, we must pass that lesson on to our replacements in AEF 9/10. 

Also, we cannot allow ourselves to become complacent because we are tired after 120 days of continuous operations and we are thinking about going home. One of the most important tools we have to guard against complacency is to pay special attention to every step in applicable checklists, and go back and carefully review AFIs and TOs. This helps keeps our mind in the game and will help us finish strong.

It is an honor to serve the United States of America in the finest wing in the area of responsibility. If we continue to do our best and do things the right way every time, every day, we should not care about the color of our medal. Service is not about you, or me, it is about our country.

By USAF Lt. Col. Robert Haines
963rd Expeditionary Airborne Air Control Squadron commander
Copyright 2009

Reprinted from Air Force News Service

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