By Master Sgt. Donald Williams
19th Airlift Wing Ground Safety
The foundation of the United States Air Force is its Airmen, you, me, all of us. As Air Force members we have a set of Core Values: integrity, service before self and excellence in all we do.
These core values are the basis for the way we interact with each other on a daily basis. As we conduct ourselves day in and day out, we treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves. We treat others with respect and common courtesy. We take care of each other; because that’s what we do…we are natural Wingmen. Being a Wingman is a simple task on most days; training someone on how to do a job related task, driving an Airman to lunch, or helping change a flat tire. Sometimes it can be a little more intense; helping don protective gear or duck for cover when the sirens go off, or being there when that promotion didn’t come through. Whatever the task may be, it is still Airmen taking care of Airmen. It is our culture, our duty and our privilege.
On May 15, Little Rock AFB will set aside time for Wingman Day. This event will be our pre-cursor to the beginning of the 101 Critical Days of Summer.
The 101 CDS begin on May 22, our next Air Mobility Command family day. As Airmen, our first priority is our people; those at home and those we train to fight with. We cannot accomplish our mission without our most important asset. As we move into the most critical time of the year for Air Force-wide mishaps, remember to take care of your Airmen. Everyone has been working shorthanded due to deployments and our ops tempo remains high. Do all that you can to keep your fellow workers and friends safe over the 101 CDS and throughout the year. No one wants to lose a fellow warrior to injury or loss of life. So far this fiscal year we have lost 31 wingmen. In 24 of these mishaps, there were vehicles involved. Automobiles accounted for 15 fatalities, eight involved motorcycles and one was a bicycle fatality. Most were completely preventable. Passing in a no passing zone, speeding or riding a motorcycle recklessly were the root causes. Other fatalities involved sports and recreation. Airmen swimming with family members were carried away by an undertow. One individual was outside in a cold climate without proper clothing. All of these mishaps were preventable.
As we move into the summer months and begin to enjoy the great weather, keep one thing in mind: play to live and live to play. Have a good solid plan. Always remember your personal protective equipment in each situation. If you are boating, wear a life jacket and equip yourself with other life saving gear. When you utilize tools and machinery, don the proper PPE on duty and around the house. Common sense and good judgment are not only a workplace requirement; these attributes belong off the job as well.
To help remind all of us of our Wingman culture and to assist us in kicking off the “101 Days of Summer” Safety Campaign, Team Little Rock will host a popular comedian to entertain us while delivering the Wingman message to our community. Bernie McGrenahan has adopted the Air Force family and has brought his personal story to several bases across the globe.
Bernie’s message, while laugh-out-loud funny, drives home the importance of looking out for our buddies and realizing the impact of poor decisions on family, friends and co-workers. His story includes knee-slapping anecdotes along with the personal tragedy and consequence of substance abuse. He will perform two shows for us at an outdoor venue in front of Base Operations Bldg. 120.
Performances will begin at 7:30 a.m. for the 314th and 189th Airlift Wings with a follow-up show for the 19th Airlift Wing at 10 a.m. The 19th Airlift Wing will precede the 10 a.m. show with a combined Wing FOD Walk and Command Run down the runway. For those of us assigned to the 19th Airlift Wing, the combined event will commence with a Command Run formation along Flightline Road beginning in front and to the east of Bldg. 294 at Alpha Row on the aircraft parking ramp beginning at 9 a.m. Water, Gatorade and orange slices will be available at the conclusion of the run at Base Operations along the DV parking ramp. Unit leadership will pass along details concerning the FOD Walk and parking in the coming days.
This event promises to be both enjoyable and meaningful for our military and civilian workforce community. This will not be the typical military Safety Day. This is about recommitting to one another; joining together both flightline and support activities, officer and enlisted, friend and co-worker; all Airmen on and off duty. We do this, not because we have to, but because we want to. We take care of each other not as if we were family members, but because that is what we truly are…family. We’ve all seen the interview on television with the first responder just after a rescue operation. Inevitably, the rescuer answers the reporter with something to this effect, “I’m not a hero. All those years of training just kicked in!” Although not “training” per say, the Wingman culture should have that same affect. Being a Wingman should kick in automatically when needed. Help us celebrate that Wingman culture by joining your unit on May 15 to listen and share your part of our Air Force Core Values and Wingman heritage.