This is our Air Force

Lt. Col. Scott Stone, 860th AIrcraft Maintenance Squadron commander, poses for an official photo. (Courtesy Photo)

Lt. Col. Scott Stone, 860th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander, poses for an official photo. (Courtesy Photo)

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – I would like to start off simply and say, “Thank you.” Upon arriving at Travis Air Force Base, California, I didn’t know what to expect. I was an old C-130J Super Hercules pilot hired to command the best C-17 Globemaster III maintenance squadron in the Air Force and boy did I feel out of place. 

However, over the past year, the Airmen welcomed me into the unit in a way most commanders can only hope for.  So, thank you to the men and women of the 860th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron for allowing me to be a part of this outstanding organization.

Now, something I have learned that stands out to me about Travis Airmen is that when times get busy, Airmen don’t quit. Within two months of my arrival, we had a unit effectiveness inspection and a surge to support Exercise Mobility Guardian. Then we had three hurricanes hit our nation, causing damage from Texas to Florida to Puerto Rico.

Through all of it, our Airmen persevered and handled it like true professionals. You have shown me that no matter what is thrown at you, you will perform. And trust me, it’s truly amazing to see all of you in action. Our fellow Americans look to us when times get tough. Why? Because they respect us. For the past 70 years, our Air Force has built a reputation of excellence and you are now a part of that rich heritage. Embrace it. You might not see it, but I see the excellence you bring to the table every single day. The future of the Air Force is in our hands. 

Often, I hear talk about how “The Air Force” is doing something someone may not like, or the service is making me do something I don’t want to do. We need to get those words out of our vocabulary. Once we start using the words, “our Air Force,” “my Air Force,” we can collectively make our Air Force stronger.

I know you might think you don’t have the ability to influence change at your level, but trust me, anyone can make a difference. It starts with you wanting to make a difference. Once you take ownership and decide to act, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish. Something as small as taking the time to be there for a fellow Airman can make all the difference in the world to that person. The more we do that for one another, the stronger our team will be and the more resilient we will be together.

It’s what sets us apart from our civilian counterparts. Airmen take the time to look over at the person sitting next to them and ask them how they are doing, listen to their answer and then offer help if that person needs it. People who choose a life of service have one thing in common, their willingness to assist someone in need. It’s that willingness to take care of one another that will ensure everyone is prepared for action when our nation calls.