Right is right

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. John Alsvig
  • 56th Force Support Squadron first sergeant
Thunderbolts please bear with me for a moment while I get on a soapbox... 

There are accepted "right" things that we do in our profession like saying, please, thank you, yes sir and no ma'am, and saluting Old Glory at 5 p.m. 

We know it's right to be a good wingman ... to look out for each other. We know it's not right to be rude or to wait inside a building while retreat is sounding. We know it's not right to let a brother - or sister-in-arms - go out alone and fall into harm's way. 

These actions and ideas aren't written in any Air Force or wing instruction. Doing right is not always easy to define. As a result, sometimes we process our intentions in a way that skews the truth so that what we're doing seems right - but it isn't. For example, some think it's OK to mash on the gas pedal as they pull out of the base onto Glendale Avenue or Litchfield Road. They might think no one's watching, I'm off base now, or it's OK as long as I don't get caught. 

Is it OK to run a red light when no one is around or to say an aircraft component was inspected when it wasn't? Is it OK to pencil whip a self-inspection checklist because you have a dozen things to do before you go home? 

In our business, integrity is critical. It is criminal to lie to our brothers and sisters-in-arms. Their safety in war is based on the trust we build in peacetime. 

Integrity is often explained as doing the right thing, all the time, even when nobody is watching. Right is always harder to do than wrong. It's easy to not pay bills, blow off tasks, or not shave in the morning and hope you don't get tagged. It's easy to wait inside a cool, comfortable building until 5:05 p.m. to avoid the music, but it's wrong - dead wrong. 

Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen are in harm's way every day, all around the world. The music sounds at 5 p.m. Turn and face the music, stand at parade rest, listen for the first note of the national anthem and pop a sharp, smart salute not just to Old Glory, not just to the end of the duty day, but you salute our comrades-in-arms. Salute those that have fallen before us, those that fell today and those who will fall tomorrow. 

Saluting during retreat is a rendering of respect that is bigger than all of us. It is timeless and everlasting. It is the right thing to do - always. 

Let this spark some thought. Do the right thing ... always.