Leaving future Airmen with lasting legacy

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Tad Cahow
  • 62nd Operation Support Squadron superintendent
Over the weekend, I attended the Air Force Ball with guest speaker Maj. Gen. Darren W. McDew, Air Force District of Washington commander. The general's speech focused not on looking backward at our history, rather, he spoke in terms of what legacy we will leave for future generations of Airmen to inherit. Specifically, how do we embrace our heritage, live up to our core values, and instill pride, passion and professionalism in the Airmen that will follow.

For me, fulfilling this legacy involves using three concepts: engagement, education and empowerment. First, to truly know Airmen, we must be engaged with them. This does not mean sit behind a computer and fire out email after email and text after text. In today's world of non-social media communication, information and thought transfer is instantaneous, impersonal and easy to become disengaged. The key is finding opportunities to be engaged. Generally, these opportunities occur during a walk down the hall or a ride in an elevator.

Second, and we have all heard this countless times, education is power. No matter how skilled a person is on a subject, if they lack the vocabulary to articulate their message, their knowledge will be forever lost in translation. The key to gaining this knowledge can only be gained through reading, writing and thinking.

Third, for anyone to be good at anything takes time and trial and error. Successful people did not wake up one day and all of the sudden become successful. Instead, they all suffered their own failures. The important part is they had someone beside them to help them not make the same mistakes twice. So challenge your people and allow them to fail. In these failures, you will have the opportunity to guide them to a successful path.

So in closing, the remarks of Gen. Billy Mitchell come to mind, "It is probable that future war will be conducted by a special class, the air force, as it was by the armored Knights of the Middle Ages."

So, what legacy are you providing for the special class of Airmen of the future?