Service Before Self

Col. C.K. Hyde, 314th Airlift Wing commander

Col. C.K. Hyde, 314th Airlift Wing commander

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- "Service Before Self," the second of our core values, provides the vector for our Air Force. It keeps us pointed in the correct direction, the defense of our great republic, and provides the motivation which sustains our efforts over time.

Without Service Before Self, our direction, like that of many armed forces or military "professionals" throughout history, will stray into the realm of personal gain, power or status and our motivation will decay into more base "values" of personal comfort and ease.

Service Before Self, not the awards or medals we wear, is our true badge of honor. With Service Before Self as our core, future generations will have the chance of being made and kept free by those who serve with it as their honor.

In the coming weeks, we will say farewell to two of our own who have lived Service Before Self and our other core values. As in past wars when the commander often honored great service by naming individuals in after-action dispatches, I single out, as an example to us all, the service of Chief Master Sgt. Dave Flebotte and Chief Master Sgt. Randy Patrick, our maintenance and operations group superintendents.

In three decades of service, these warriors have served our Air Force and nation with constant direction and unwavering persistence and energy. The cost of their service is unknown to those who have not walked in their shoes -- loss of friends and colleagues along the way, family sacrifices and the burden of defending what others often take for granted. Yet through the years they have not taken the easy path, but steadfastly held to the value of service. The 314th Airlift Wing, our Air Force and our nation are better because they chose to serve and thousands of Airmen continue to benefit from their commitment to developing professional Airmen and leaders.

Neither Chief Flebotte or Chief Patrick would ask to be singled out in a "commander's dispatch." They would instead point out another truth: their success was the result of the thousands of enlisted Airmen who have served with them. Our Air Force has great technology and has been capably led by commissioned officers, but it has been blessed and earned the reputation as the world's best because of its unmatched enlisted force.

Our professional enlisted force does the daily work that produces combat success, exudes leadership and initiative that other militaries envy, and does it largely in anonymity. They understand and live Service Before Self. This war-winning advantage has been preserved and nurtured by servant leaders like Chief Flebotte and Chief Patrick.

As you close out your careers in the service of our country, we simply say, "Well done thou good and faithful servants."