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Strengthen the 'Long Blue Line'

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. J. Bryan Dunn
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Inspector General
I frequently choke up a bit when I am at a retirement ceremony or going-away function and I hear people reference the "Long Blue Line."

For me, it is one of the most reverent terms in reference to our great service.

The thought that countless Airmen have served our nation proudly and professionally, expecting no grand adulation for their dedication, makes me proud to wear the Air Force uniform. When I retire no greater an honor will be bestowed upon me than by joining this line of nameless, faceless group of exceptional people.

Membership to the Long Blue Line is not awarded or freely given, it is earned. If you seek inclusion, there is still a lot to do.

When I've changed jobs in the Air Force, I've always asked myself if I've left my old job better than I found it. Ask this to yourself when you do the same.

We are staring down the throat of new constraints that will make our jobs more challenging. We have to innovate. We have to learn to do more with less.

There are always ways to make things better or do things smarter; figure those things out and put them into action.

Strengthen the Long Blue Line with your ideas.

My leadership style has been built by emulating actions from great supervisors from my past. They are in the Line.

Mentor your Airmen. Teach them how to follow. Teach them how to lead. Make them better at their jobs than you ever were. Give them more tools to succeed than you ever had.

Strengthen the Long Blue Line with your leadership.

I never fly a combat mission in hope of getting an Air Medal; I do it because embattled soldiers on the ground need me refueling strike aircraft to protect them. I never volunteer for a project or additional duty in hope of praise or a good performance report bullet; I do them because the Air Force needs me to do that little bit extra to make the Air Force better or compliant. Seek personal excellence, not reward.

Strengthen the Long Blue Line with your humility

Over my 21 years in the Air Force I am continually amazed with each new generation of Airmen who raise their hand in service of our great nation. We have accomplished some amazing things as a service and I know there are yet to be determined mountains that still need to be climbed. Conflicts will arise. Funding will always be an issue.

You will persevere.

You will strengthen the Long Blue Line.

And when you get to the end of your career, you will be able to enter the rank and file of some truly great Americans.