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Celebrating heritage by getting back to basics

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Montrell Jones
  • 436th Logistics Readiness Squadron first sergeant

It was July 7, 2016, and the 436th Mission Support Group change of command ceremony had just ended. A conversation ensued between Lt. Col. Todd Walker, 436th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander, 2nd Lt. Akeem Parks, and myself about how we need to do things that honor the traditions of the Air Force more often. Specifically, events that incorporate wearing the service uniform.

The next day, Lieutenant  Parks and I sat down to discuss this very thing. Lieutenant Parks suggested we do an open ranks inspection. You are probably thinking, “Shirt, no one likes an inspection especially an open ranks inspection.” I tell you that’s not true. It is all in the messaging. It is an honor to wear the uniform of the U.S. Air Force. We just have to make sure everyone remembers it. The messaging had to be one of celebrating heritage and getting back to basics, not wanting to see what you look like in your blues uniform. That is not the point.

It was 6:45 a.m., Aug. 17, 2016, and the flights begin to fall in. It was a nice 79 degrees and the sun had not risen above the warehouse. Colonel Walker approached the formation and I called the squadron to attention. You could hear an echo of the command bounce off the surrounding buildings. It brought back a memory of those early mornings at basic training and commands could be heard in the distance.

The inspection commenced and everyone looked outstanding in their service uniform. The inspection didn’t last but 15 minutes, but it was enough time to get a good sweat going because the sun rose over the warehouse during the inspection. Upon the final salute being delivered and the command to dismiss the flights there was opportunity to build what was a great morning.

The squadron was called in to discuss how important it is to do the basic things in the Air Force. The point was really made when Chief Master Sgt. Kathleen Ross, 436th LRS superintendent, stated why wearing the service uniform is so powerful. The last time she wore her service uniform was to honor her father’s passing. “This uniform moves people.” On what was probably one the hardest days in her life, her uniform was a sign strength for her family. Imagine how powerful 80 LRS Airmen looked, aligned and striving for perfection. Our uniforms are powerful image and when we don our uniform we assume that power.