TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - Time flies. I’m not a fan of clichés, but this one continues to prove itself true (especially now as I’m still trying to figure out where April, May and June went.) In the military community, we experience this reality more than others, as the annual migration of moving trucks appearing in our neighborhoods reminds us every Permanent Change of Station season.
In fact, right now we’re in the midst of a 2-month timespan where we’ll say goodbye to 16 of our vice wing, group and squadron commanders, a number of chiefs and first sergeants, and enough other military and civilian Airmen to field a dominant second world Air Force. As each of these difference-makers leaves and embarks on another opportunity to serve, what will they take with them? Did we leave them better than when we first met them?
Legacies are built on what we pass on to others and are often associated with things or money. However, a lasting legacy is always about people – what impact did they have on their communities and, more importantly, the people in them? We name installations, streets and buildings after people to recognize their contributions: Travis AFB, Collins Drive, David Grant Medical Center, Birchard Park… how many of us know who these people were? Although they and their contributions quickly fade from the public eye, their impact on others remains through the passage of time.
As Airmen, our legacy has nothing to do with what’s written on our Officer/Enlisted Performance Reports or in a decoration. Our legacy is chiseled on the people we encounter. It really is all about relationships – not for what we can get, but for what we can give.
An influential 1700s era teacher said it this way:
Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as you ever can.
The Air Force offers us a unique opportunity to “do good” in a way few others can match. All it takes is the courage to engage. Our Travis community reverberates with engaged organizations: our Balfour Beatty partners host child/family events on Wednesdays and sponsor annual scholarship opportunities; booster clubs and our Travis Spouse’s Club tailor occasions to the needs of our units and families; our Child and Youth Program and Outdoor Recreation Team coordinate activities on and off base; our Exceptional Family Member Program and Special Needs Task Force arrange specific engagements for their constituents; and our Airmen and Family Readiness Center offers a plethora of support for a variety of community interests.
The involvement of these organizations is invaluable, and helps make Travis the incredible community it is. As people however, we can engage on an individual level in a greater capacity, and to a greater effect, than any organization. Will we have the courage to do so?
This summer we’ll welcome another 600 Airmen to our team. They’ve already begun arriving and experiencing Travis. The greatest legacy it can leave will only happen through engaged neighbors, squadron mates and Airmen. Our time with them will fly - how will each be better for having encountered us?