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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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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Til the Last Breath

Excellence, Family, Hope, Individual Greatness, Leadership
“I can do this all day.”  --Steve Rogers, Pre-Captain America transformation, as he proceeded to get pummeled in a Brooklyn alley.   We recently lost our son to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy just prior to his twenty-fifth birthday.  Like all who are born with that disease, his muscles slowly failed, starting with his voluntary muscles, then lastly his involuntary muscles.  His heart finally pumped its last bit of blood on the 6thof October 2018, then quit.  But Andrew never did, not til his last breath. Andrew was 4 when he was first diagnosed.  We thought he just had flat feet, and wanted to get him some orthotics to help him walk like a normal little boy.  He was unable to really run, had a swaying gate that seemed to be compensating…
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Establishing a Personal Baseline

Armed Service, Excellence, Individual Greatness, Leadership, Military Affairs, Personal Value
I arrived, along with nearly fourteen-hundred of my new classmates, in Colorado Springs during the first week of July 1985 for Basic Cadet Training at the United States Air Force Academy.  My parents dropped me off earlier that morning at Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia, and to say that I was apprehensive was like saying I thought Christie Brinkley was kind of cute.  I was borderline scared.  My dad had been a cadet in the Air Force Academy’s first graduating class, and had shared with me a glimpse of what to expect.  I was not looking forward to it at all.  It was hard to say goodbye to my family, but what filled my mind were the…
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