Thank you for your service

  • Published
  • By Maj. Ronald K. Booker
  • 4th Force Support Squadron commander
"Thank you for your service" is a comment many of us have received while out in public. A very simple, but powerful comment usually accompanied by a handshake, hug and sometimes tears, means a lot to me because of its admiration and sincerity. However, we do not tell our fellow Airmen "Thank you for your service" enough. In this award-winning premiere wing, there are more than enough "thanks" to go around. Thus, let me propose a way to increase your "thank you" counts.

Find out what your fellow Airman does to complete the mission. Step outside your shop, office or jet and venture to the other side of the base to gain firsthand knowledge of the integral part your fellow Airman has in the mission. I did this one day when I played the role of undercover boss.

The Southern Pines Inn was voted the best in the Air Force in 2010. As the 4th Force Support Squadron commander, I was proud of the accomplishment and showered the lodging staff with thanks, but I didn't feel I really understood what they did. So one day, I donned a lodging maintenance uniform and showed up for work. No one in the squadron, except the lodging manager, knew what was going on. When I walked into lodging with a maintenance uniform on, the front desk staff was very surprised. Yet their surprise pales in comparison to the maintenance supervisor surprise when he met his new employee ... me.

Once the shock subsided, I told my new supervisor, "I'm your employee for a day, so you better work me hard." He said "yes sir," with a huge grin. Then we were off to unclog a bathroom sink. As we gathered the proper tools and headed to fix the sink, we got a call on the radio to immediately report to a different building because a guest had ants in her room. So we went back to the storage shed for proper equipment, took the quarter-mile walk to the building, went up three flights of stairs, calmed down the spouse in the room, took care of the ants, inspected the room for any other insects, ensured the customer was happy, then left to finally fix the clogged sink, or so I thought.

We handled four more service calls before we made it to the empty room with the clogged sink. This sink was seriously clogged - Drano wouldn't stand a chance. So with the proper tools, guidance and patience, the maintenance crew allowed me to unclog the sink. They told me "Great job sir! We're behind on a few service calls, but still a great job." I told them how I was amazed that three people were able to take care of all the maintenance and some renovations of this lodging facility. They said thank you and then reminded me that today they had three and a half people - me included.

This was an eye opening experience for me. I wondered how safe our jets would be if a maintainer could not get a comfortable night's sleep. I wondered if a pilot's reaction time would be affected without proper rest. I wondered if a defender could focus on his job if his family did not have a comfortable place to stay while they waited to move into their new home.

I challenge you all to venture out and see what your fellow Airmen (military, civilian, and contractor) do. You may be surprised, but I'm sure you will be thankful. In conclusion, I would like to say to my fellow Airmen: Thank you for your service and all you do to make this wing, Air Force and nation the best in the world!