Family, friends can stand as heroes to us all

Commentary by Chief Master Sgt. James Standley, 349th Maintenance Group Superintendent

Commentary by Chief Master Sgt. James Standley, 349th Maintenance Group Superintendent

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - More than 70 years ago, my hero was born. He was a decorated combat veteran of World War II with four bronze stars and a purple heart, and he was my dad.

My No. 1 mentor built 500-pound bombs to support my father, and the other war heroes; she was my mom.

Both of them were not just my parents, but my friends. Their combined influence crafted me into the man I am today. Their work ethic was contagious and made me feel the efforts I put forth in my life were worthwhile.

I have great friends.  The friends I have gained throughout my life have also continued to mold my development as time move forward.

My best friend, a patriot, model military spouse and mother, is my wife Corina. She has been constantly at my side to support, reinforce and encourage me. She wears the uniform as much as I do. Her respect that I cherish, has confirmed and validated that I have done a good job as a human being. Hopefully it shows in all I do.

This all seems so simple, but as a young man, I could have made choices that would have lost me respect I worked hard to earn. I surrounded myself with a few valued friends that, in turn, earned my respect and kept it. Family and friends have empowered me to make sound decisions without being forced into a situation I didn’t want to be in. That individuality I had as a young man helped me through my life.

With setbacks in life there is always a chance to learn from them and grow. In anything you do wrong ask forgiveness; embrace change as a way to be a better person.


"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you."

Louis B. Smedes


My behavior, personality and accomplishments have been directed through my service in the military. As a young Airman, I worked hard and respected those with exceptional work ethics, who made responsible choices.

As a noncommissioned officer, I wanted to take charge and make more decisions on my own.

As a senior NCO, I wanted to mentor junior Airmen, to keep them informed and aware about choices in their careers. Most of all, I wanted to do good by them.

After I made chief master sergeant, my motto became, speak less and do more, leave a legacy or set the groundwork for others to make a difference. I will always support the military and civilians that work to support this country. I will always work on ways to do better. How will I talk to people I meet? Do I represent a life well lived? Have I always given back and helped others?

My hero, my mentor, my fellow Airmen all helped shape the man I am today, but my strength lies in making smart decisions in my life. As I approach the closing of my military career, I continue to think about how I will volunteer, give back and surround myself with positive people like the ones I have served with. I have sought integrity through family and friends, and decisions that have enabled me to have such a successful career.

In more than 30 years of service, I have put service before self and have tried to be the example for my junior Airmen by seeking to excel in all I do. I have done my best to live the Air Force core values every day. I challenge all of you to do the same.