Mission First; People Always - Attitude

  • Published
  • By Chief Stacy Loague
  • 97 Maintenance Operations Division
Recently someone asked me about the purpose of the Maintenance Operations Division motto, "Mission First; People Always." Being in aircraft maintenance as part of the A-TEAM, I always thought the motto's purpose was evident and self-describing, but after thinking about the question for a while - I could understand how someone could have questions about the motto. How could something be first, and then something which is always, be equal? The Air Force has always and will always promote the mission! How many times a day do you hear someone say, "in support of the mission?" How often during the day do you hear someone say, "take care of your people?" I was sure there were other mottos or emblems that carried the same meaning, just in a different way.

Let me cite a couple of examples you're very familiar with. Everyone has heard the tradition rich United States Marine Corp motto, Semper Fidelis, which is Latin for "Always Faithful". Every marine who ever earned the title United States Marine will tell you they are connected to every other Marine that ever wore the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor. They are bonded together by values, honor, courage, and commitment. Sounds like "mission first; people always" attitude. What about the Air Force emblem? It depicts the Air Force core values, global power, air power, and the One Force ; One Family that is portrayed by the invisible star and the five invisible points representing the five components of the one force and family: active duty, civilians, Guard, Reserves, and retirees. These are just two examples that, when you hear them, can make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, a tear come to your eye, or a spontaneous smile ear-to-ear that appears just because of the words. Let's look at another example of "mission first; people always" - attitude.

Recently I attended the AETC Symposium held in San Antonio and was fortunate to select and get a seat at the Medal of Honor Recipients seminar moderated by retired General Lloyd "Fig" Newton, past commander of AETC. As the five Air Force "heroes", Colonel (ret.) Bernard F. Fisher, Lieutenant Colonel (ret.) Joe M. Jackson, Colonel (ret.) James P. Fleming, Colonel (ret.) Leo K. Thorsness, and Colonel (ret.) George E. "Bud" Day entered the room and made their way to the stage, while standing at attention I couldn't help the feeling of great pride in the Air Force and what it does every day for the people in our great nation and the entire world. In my eyes, the sacrifices of these men provided positive proof to a mission first, but people always attitude, as they risked their lives to meet the mission and to save a distressed wingman. Not once did I hear them refer to themselves as a "hero", but instead played down the role and wanted every audience member to fully understand they were just doing their job, affirming it was nothing anyone else wouldn't do in their situation. Their stories were compelling, but always with the mission in mind and the others first attitude - whether they were on a rescue mission in a Huey helicopter, providing air cover for green berets from an A-1 Skyraider, rescuing a combat control team with a C-123, covering a wingman in an F-105 or getting shot down in an F-100, evading capture, and leading prisoners in a POW camp. We too, can carry the mission in mind and others first attitude.
Whether you are in operations, aircraft maintenance, medical, mission support, Wing Staff, or assigned to a tenant agency on Altus AFB, there is a common bond we all share. We share in the mission and in the people who accomplish the mission to all corners in the globe. The Air Force will always accomplish their mission because of the belief in what we do and in our commitment to each other. All of us know the Air Force mission gets accomplished because of each one of you and we know the Air Force family takes care of each other always. This is the attitude of a "Mission First; People Always" motto.