I am a veteran of the United States Air Force. I didn't win any medals of valor. I just did my job. So, being a veteran isn't a big deal, even though I was not on the front lines. Right? No. Wrong, absolutely dead wrong.
Whether you were a cook, or worked in the motor pool, or as a medic in the base hospital here in the States, your job was very important! But, I can tell you, there will be people out there that won't understand that in serving your country, if you weren't on the front lines, or a fighter pilot, or a ship Captain, you weren't important. Well, I beg to differ!
A friend of mine had put a post on her Facebook timeline, asking what branch of service and what conflict people served in. So much like social media, what I said had no impact. I wasn't a Marine. I didn't serve during a "conflict" listed and memorialized in D.C. So, nobody responded to what I had to say. I didn't save lives by taking 30 bullets, getting my arms and legs blown off, and didn't get any medals of valor. No, I just did my job, and I did it with pride. But, did I get any Likes for what I wrote? Of course not, there wasn't some kind of valiant sacrifice attached to my time in the service. Well, there was, but not the kind that landed me in Walter Reed or Arlington!
But fear not, Vets! I know that all of you that served did a job that was required, and everyone of you, that actually cared about you had to do, is deserving of the recognition that ALL Veterans deserve today!! There is a reason for honoring all veterans. It shouldn't take being flown into Andrews AFB with a flag over your casket.
I recently watched a very good film, "Twelve O'Clock High," made in 1949, with Gregory Peck as hard-as-nails World War II Gen. Frank Savage, who turns a discouraged group of American bomber pilots and crews into heroes. The once-alienated general comes to view the men in the bomber group he was commanding as family. Why? He succeeded in creating pride in the job they were doing. Every last man became dedicated, and proud of every accomplishment and believing they were succeeding in playing their roles in winning the war against the Nazis. And at the end of the film, General Savage had a slight mental breakdown, being that his leadership was going to lead to some of his men valiantly losing their lives in the big mission which would turn around the war for the Allies.
The main reason that I mentioned this film was because I think that people are forgetting why we won that war. The media makes it out to be that unless you are a grenade diver, willing to blow yourself to smithereens to save your unit, nobody thinks that you've sacrificed to be in our great military. But it doesn't take being in the flag draped casket (that the current President only salutes to look good), to be a hero for this country and preserving our hard-fought liberation from the British, to be free. None of us need to be Captain America, like the movie industry and comic books sells to us, to make a big difference.
Allow me to tell you a little story about my time I served in the USAF. This is NOT just something to brag on, but just to illustrate my point. It is just about the "tiny" things that many of us in the service do to make the whole thing work, and to defend our freedom. Like I wrote in the Facebook timeline I mentioned above, it was "no biggie." But then again, every little thing IS a biggie:
Julie, when I said, "No biggie...." it was tongue in cheek. Actually, what I did actually made a difference. I didn't want to elaborate, but I probably should. I was the PMEL (precision measurement equipment lab) manager for the 3246th Test Wing in Systems Command. I found a problem. Equipment was being used to test the laser guided missiles, and things were not working very well. Things like oscilloscopes and other electronic testing equipment were being used that were not being calibrated according to Air Force specs. Equipment was being taken from our building to test smart bombs, but wrong information was being fed back to the engineers due to equipment malfunctions. Like they say, garbage in, garbage out.Yep, you guessed it. Not one person LIKED or commented on what I said. In social media, especially on Facebook, it takes a grenade dive.
So, I solved the problem by making sure all equipment being used was being tested correctly. I made a list of the equipment, showing when they were due for calibration, that I could provide to the various shop managers in our building, so that they didn't allow test equipment to be used that weren't accurate. The information I provided to the managers also provided AWP (awaiting parts for repair) status of equipment taken to the labs, so that if they needed that equipment for a scheduled test, we could expedite repairs. Like I said, "no biggie," my life was not in danger, except for the fact that a misplaced smart bomb could kill or injure innocent civilians by hitting a school or hospital instead of a radar site.
I was just doing my job, Julie, just doing my job, knowing that even if I did it with everything I could provide could make even the smallest difference in defending our country. It was about Pride in my work.
Nobody's job in the military is not important. Whether a service member is a cook, working in the motor pool, keeping our aircraft maintained, or even working in Personnel or Finance admin, every single job is very important!!
But I am sure that readers of this blog will thoroughly understand what I was saying. No job, no matter how "unheroic" it may seem, is not important! The old joke I heard as a Supply Specialist in the Air Force, something like, "the only action I ever saw was when a box fell off a pallet and broke somebody's big toe," should not be how we look at what we did in the military, serving our country. Each and every one of you that believed in what you did, please believe me, it wasn't just about having a job. It was about pride in being part of the best of the best! Whether it was by cooking a hamburger right for the troops, or making sure an oscilloscope was working right, YOU ARE AWESOME! You don't have to be a former member of the SEALS or Delta Group to have been a hero. You all are, in my eyes! Every last one of our vets are important! I love you all, and thank you for your service!