It's What You Do Right Now That Makes a Difference

  • Published
  • By By Col. Corydon L. Doerr
  • 86th Dental Squadron commander
Every day throughout their careers, Airmen are faced with making decisions related to multiple personal and professional issues. Sometimes these choices are simple; about coming to work on time, wearing the uniform appropriately, following proper work procedures, using alcohol responsibly, being honest in reports, reporting leave appropriately or treating fellow team and family members with respect. Other times these involve more serious choices like driving intoxicated, using illegal drugs, abusing a spouse or child or sexual assault. In all cases, whether good or bad, these are our decisions and they are choices that we make as Airmen.

"It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are." - Roy Disney, nephew of Walt Disney

I'm a huge fan of war movies, especially those that are based on historical fact. In Ridley Scott's 2001 blockbuster, "Black Hawk Down," there is a scene involving a soldier's decision and a leader's advice that has always intrigued me. In the scene, a column of three Humvees led by Sgt. Jeff Struecker, of the 75th Ranger Regiment, has just arrived back at base camp loaded with the first casualties taken during an operation into the Bakara market in Mogadishu. The Ranger column had just run a gauntlet of Somali militia fire and taken an additional casualty when Spec. Dominic Pila was killed while manning a mounted machine gun. In the chaos back on base, Struecker is advised that his column would have to go back to the Bakara market to secure a second downed Black Hawk helicopter and it's pilot, Chief Warrant Officer Michael Durant. Shaken and scared, Spec. Brad Thomas tells Struecker that he cannot go back.

Struecker responds, "It's what you do now that makes a difference." Those prophetic words resonate with tremendous impact. Struecker understood the significance of the choice that Thomas was making. He understood Thomas' fear and reluctance to return to fight. He too, was scared, but he also understood the magnitude of psychological burden that the Ranger would carry for the rest of his life by not returning to the fight. "It's your call."

"The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it." - General Norman Schwarzkopf

Remember our Air Force Core Values and those three simple words - Integrity, Service, and Excellence. The Core Values are our guide. They are for all Airmen to read, to understand, to live by and to cherish. They define the values of our Air Force and establish the requirements of our professional service and obligation to understand the ethics demanded by them.

Review the Little Blue Book. It explains why we recognize the Core Values. Use the Core Values to guide you through your decisions, personal and professional. Make the right choices.

"It takes less time to do things right, than to explain why you did it wrong."
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As Airmen, we cannot pick which standards or rules are convenient for us to follow, but we are all human and we all make mistakes. We can't change the reality of our mistakes, they are fact, but we can acknowledge and learn from our mistakes and strive not to make them again.

"Watch your actions, they become habits, watch your habits, they become your character, watch your character, it becomes your destiny." - Unknown source

"It's what you do now that makes a difference." And the scene in the movie - it ends with Thomas defiantly taking a puff of an asthma inhaler and rejoining the Humvee column as Struecker watches through his rear view mirror nodding in approval.