Good old days leave room for change

Chief Master Sgt. Justin Toomsen, 312th Airlift Squadron, poses for a photo outside a C-5M Super Galaxy at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. Toomsen challenges all Airmen to strive for excellence in all they do and maintain positive attitudes. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

Chief Master Sgt. Justin Toomsen, 312th Airlift Squadron, poses for a photo outside a C-5M Super Galaxy at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. Toomsen challenges all Airmen to strive for excellence in all they do and maintain positive attitudes. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- We’ve all heard it before. Throughout our careers, there was always some crusty senior NCO peevishly saying, “Remember when we did X, Y, or Z? Those were the good old days.”

That might be true in some regards, but if you think every soldier at Valley Forge was sitting around reminiscing about what a great time they had there, you’re mistaken. Out of the dark, cold despair of that 1777 winter campaign rose a newly trained and highly effective volunteer fighting force, the Continental Army. What changed, what turned it all around for them? It was attitude and training, instilling a sense of camaraderie and pride.

Those same benchmarks make the difference between the “good old days” and the “good new days:” attitude, training, camaraderie and pride. Remember, the “good new days” are going to quickly become your “good old days.” 

The Air Force is cyclic, it has its ups and downs. If you hang around long enough, you will see the cycle repeat.  There are positives and negatives in these cycles. You can weather the storm of ups and downs in today’s Air Force by remembering our founding history at Valley Forge: attitude, training, camaraderie and pride.

Change is hard. People rarely like it. The Air Force just celebrated its 69th year as a service. I look at that as 69 years of constant change. You may have heard the phrase “This isn’t your father’s Air Force.” Well, it isn’t. It is your Air Force. How can you embrace the change and improve your Air Force? Attitude, training, camaraderie and pride. Approach your job with a positive attitude and you will be amazed at how infectious it can be. Your attitude can help make someone else’s “new days” their “good old days.”

The Air Force is really good at creating flashy catchphrases and motivational posters. “Be a good wingman” is nothing more than a marketing term for treating others the way you would want to be treated and watching out for them. We do not need catch phrases for helping someone in need, having a positive attitude, doing a job to the best or your ability because you take pride in what you do or taking care of your family, friends and co-workers. Approaching your duty with an eye on these points can help you weather the change and challenges you meet every day.