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News > Commentary - Reflections on success
Reflections on success

Posted 8/18/2011   Updated 9/1/2011 Email story   Print story

    


Commentary by Lt. Col. David O'Malley
325th Operations Support Squadron commander


8/18/2011 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Recently, I had the distinct honor to attend Tyndall's Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Induction Ceremony. It was a magical evening - more than 320 attendees crammed into the Horizons Community Center to honor the 64 SNCO inductees. The inductees were dressed in their Air Force best, gold medallions hanging proudly on their chests. Not only did families and friends travel from locations around the country to show their support, but supervisors and subordinates alike volunteered their Friday evening to share in the celebration. It all combined to create an atmosphere filled with anticipation and pride.

After the meal, the keynote speaker, Chief Master Sgt. (Retired) Gean Alston, highlighted the significant step the SNCO inductees were taking in their careers. He talked about greater responsibilities and discussed techniques for achieving success with increased expectations. After he finished, loud applause filled the room - it was finally time for the main event.

A saber-team marched beside the stage and created a tunnel through which the inductees could pass. One by one, they filed through as their names were called. Most of the inductees strode to the stage with their spouses, but others were joined by children, close friends and supervisors. As they paused for photographs it was clear that the inductees all shared a common theme - they were true Air Force success stories.

Their success was, no doubt, a direct reflection of their dedication to excellence, and a tribute to their positive example and commitment to service. They did not, however, get to this ceremony alone nor will they tackle tomorrow's challenges by themselves. They stand on the success of others and, looking across the crowd, it was easy to see whose shoulders the inductees were perched upon.

First, the supervisors peered across the room anxiously. Many of them helped arrange the ceremony, spending their free time during the week to arrange all of the intricate details - wanting to make the evening even more special than their own induction ceremony years ago. These supervisors represented all who had mentored the inductees through the years. It was their leadership and guidance that helped foster the inductees' professional growth and success.

Next to the supervisors sat by many work-center subordinates. These individuals were looking at the inductees with a similar sense of pride. Not only were they gazing at the ceremony with thoughts of their own induction in the future, but they also looked on with a sense of accomplishment. It was their mentors and leaders being recognized. In part, the hard work of these subordinates was being recognized through their supervisors . . . their accomplishments as a team celebrated.

Mixed throughout the crowd were the inductees' friends and peers they'd grown up with through their years in the Air Force. These were the people whose shoulders they'd leaned on and advice they'd counted on. They knew they were all sharing a special experience . . . taking a step forward together. They also knew that they'd need each other even more through the upcoming years of increased expectation and responsibility.

The last group of people in the crowd was certainly the most important. These were the family members who knew the inductees better than anyone else. There were parents who had helped guide them through their early years and spouses who had made their careers possible. There were children in the crowd, so proud of their mom or dad. These were the people who had formed the foundation that made the inductees who they are today. Their smiles were certainly the most radiant.

As the evening came to a close, the crowd stood once again with the Air Force Song and another round of applause. The inductees, however, deflected the praise towards their supervisors, subordinates, friends and families. You see, these inductees get it. The celebration of their accomplishment was also recognition for those that had helped them get to the top. Although we must all strive to meet tomorrow's challenges with the confidence of yesterday's successes, no one can do it alone. It is these teams that make each of us better Airmen and our Air Force the greatest in the world.



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