Will you lead by example?

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Amber Putnam
  • 435th Communications Squadron
I saw something recently that was extremely disturbing and I want to share it with my fellow Airmen in the hopes it won't be repeated.

While leaving the Ramstein military personnel facility, the First Term Airman Center was conducting a flag raising ceremony. I had a choice, I could wait inside the doorway or I could put my hat on and participate. Honoring the flag of my country, the country I serve, is but a small courtesy I can show.

While standing at attention, saluting the flag, I observed an individual leave the dining facility with his hat on his head and his breakfast in his left hand. He walked down the sidewalk facing the formation and kept his head down.

I followed with my eyes as he rounded the building and headed across the parking lot and along the back side of another building. I began wondering what kind of example this guy was setting for these Airmen.

Well, I got my answer soon enough. When the formation broke several of the Airmen commented on the master sergeant who ignored the ceremony. He was called an idiot, a poor example, and worst of all, "imagine, that's someone's supervisor."

After I complimented the Airmen on the fine job they did, I took a few moments to think about the whole scene on my way into work. When a senior NCO can show such disregard for customs and courtesy, we should all take it to heart because there is no excuse.

There wasn't any music playing, but I feel safe in saying this ceremony takes place on a regular basis when FTAC is in session. As members of the military, we should be prepared to honor our country and our flag at a moment's notice. We should all be cognizant of our surroundings and pay attention to what is going on around us.

More importantly, events such as this are opportunities for all Airmen to be a role model for our newest members.

If it is close to the end of the day, be listening for and observe Retreat. If it is the beginning of the duty day, be listening for and observe Reveille. If you see a formation don't run, look away or feign ignorance, check it out and see what is going on. It could very well be a memorial or remembrance service for a fallen comrade.

As a member of the U.S. Air Force I am proud to honor my country. If saluting the flag of my country is how I can do that, then I will gladly stop and salute.

As a veteran, I'm appalled a fellow Airman exercised poor judgment by not taking the opportunity to salute his country's symbol while wearing his uniform. If he can't spare five minutes to stop and pay respect to the flag how can he be considered a role model for our Airmen?

If I had been able to catch up to him my questions would have been, "how dare you disrespect my flag, my country, my uniform and my Airmen like that?"

Officers and noncommissioned officers are watched by our most junior Airmen. Just because they don't say anything to you doesn't mean they didn't notice. The next time you start thinking about how respect and discipline have taken a downturn, think about what you've done to set the example.