Cutting Corners: Beating the Inspection

Armed Service, Excellence, Flight, Integrity, Leadership, Military Affairs, Personal Value, Veterans
“Whoever is careless with the truth in small maters cannot be trusted with important matters.” Albert Einstein In the winter of 1972-73, my dad was the commander of the 391stTactical Fighter Squadron, part of the 366thFighter Wing at Mountain Home, Idaho.  The 391stflew the Air Force’s newest fighter-bomber, the General Dynamics F-111F.  With thirty percent more thrust and no increase in weight over the original F-111A, the Aardvark, as it was called, was a Cadillac.  Designed to fly at speeds close to the speed of sound on the deck, with a new digital radar that was better than advertised, it was loved by her crews.  Unfortunately, the first years in service of the F-111 were marred by accidents, misapplications of its capabilities, a disastrous introduction in Vietnam, and a high operating cost.  Putting it lightly,…
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My First Time

Excellence, Leadership, Military Affairs, Perspective, Team
I remember the first time. Not all of the details, the names, the activities or dates, but I remember the emotions, the feelings, the thrill and sense of purpose. I remember the looks and the sense of satisfaction and achievement. I remember well my first real sense of leadership. I loved it. I was an Air Force Academy Cadet, having completed the first two years of schooling and military training that were a precursor to real leadership experience and real opportunities. While I had had a number of chances to lead small events, or take responsibility for a project to two, none of those events gave me a real sense of what leadership was all about. Having grown up in the shadow of who I think was one of the…
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Easter: Wiping the Slate Clean

Easter: Wiping the Slate Clean

Easter, Holiday, Hope, Personal Value, Spring
I've often heard the argument of living a life without regrets, not worrying about our past and asking others to accept us and our actions and move on. The counter is a life of trying to right every previous wrong, sorrow for past mistakes and where they have led us. Both approaches are partial truths and partial answers to what really helps us find happiness, but none of it works without help from a key source. Not only is it not possible to change previous poor decisions, but it is not necessary. Those bad decisions, even those that changed the trajectory of our lives in a negative way, can be wiped clean and remembered no more. Our eternal happiness is not dependent on the past, not dependent on things we…
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Pilot or Passenger?

Pilot or Passenger?

Flight, Individual Greatness, Leadership, Personal Value, Vector
A-10 Control Stick During pilot training, one of the instructors in the T-37 was notorious for grabbing the student’s oxygen hose and squeezing it to cut off the supply of oxygen.  While doing so, he would ask, “Are you a pilot, or passenger?”  While teaching formation flight, he was particularly sadistic.  When his student had trouble getting into position right off of the fingertip of their flight lead only a few feet away, he would again grab his student’s oxygen mask and say, “Get in position!  No fingertip, no oxygen!” There may be better ways to teach, but this instructor's madness worked.  Fear and a little bit of panic drove his students to get in position, take control of the aircraft, and learn how to be a pilot instead of a passenger. I spent quite…
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True Measure of Greatness

True Measure of Greatness

Armed Service, Excellence, Friendship, Individual Greatness, Leadership, Priorities, Veterans
I recently attended the Memorial Service of W. Parker Greene of Valdosta, Georgia.  A former Army Corporal, furniture businessman and father/husband from an obscure Southern town, anyone who did not know him is sure to wonder why the highest ranking officer in the United States Air Force, the Mayor, State Chief of the Highway Patrol and a number of other dignitaries, including over 3,000 people, would show up to celebrate the life of this 87-year old Southern Gentleman.  And therein lies the secret of greatness of Parker.               Parker did not hail from any powerful family.  He was not a great business leader who commanded millions of dollars.  He was not a politician in any sort of way, as I never saw him disparage an opposing view or another person, and he sought no elected…
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Veterans and Ballplayers–Helping them Find Their Next Team

Armed Service, Freedom, PTSD, Team, Veterans
Military Team Members The statistics are staggering. According to a 2009 Sports Illustrated article, 78% of National Football League (NFL) players are either bankrupt or are under financial stress within two years of retirement and an estimated 60% of National Basketball Association (NBA) players go bankrupt within five years after leaving their sport. While many of these numbers have been disputed and minimized, the facts still clearly show a large number of formerly elite athletes struggle after their careers. They struggle with the day to day, with divorce, with finding other employment, with finding meaning in their lives. The statistics between these former marquis athletes and veterans is eerie. Like the athletes, many veterans were the cream of the crop (Just don't ask Salon or the NYT). They endured challenging training, acquired skills that few in the world…
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