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Character always counts

by Col. Michael Isherwood
355th Wing vice commander

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- "At least I can say I served with men of character." - Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

General Eisenhower wrote those words to his son when rumors surfaced that he would be forced to retire during the early days of World War II. Serving with men and women of character for the good of our nation is perhaps the single greatest reason why we remain in uniform.

Simply said, character counts.

This is true of the Airmen I see as I travel to the flightline, backshops and work centers.

I find young Airmen of character. They tell me how it is. Good and bad. I can sense their unease at passing along bad news. I suppose they fear they might get blamed or that they're making their leadership look bad. Their character allows them to shoot straight with me and pass along bad news.

But this wing's leaders are not interested in blame. They are committed to fixing problems. If we don't know the problems, we can't get the resources, time or training to allow the mission to get done.

This same character must be present when we take off our uniforms after our shift and on weekends. Our standards apply 365/24/7. We must demonstrate our integrity fresh each day.

How? There are many examples of how character plays a role in our military lives in and out of uniform.

You and I surely have seen examples when we're out with friends at a restaurant, club or someone's house. We see someone have a couple of beers or alcoholic drinks. The "easy" thing is to not say anything not to highlight them as not able to drive home. Or, we see a fellow Airmen, underage, with a beer in their hand. Our character, however, compels us to step up and shoot straight with them. In the first case, get their keys. In the second case, get them a soda.

That's how character counts when we're out of uniform. Character is not a light switch that we turn on when convenient or when we put on our BDUs or flight suit.

We must have character as we develop and nurture our Airmen. Our Airmen are the foundation of our combat power.

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