Thanks to my family

  • Published
  • By Maj. William Bradley
  • 8th Maintenance Squadron commander
I would like to take just a moment to thank my family. While my family has been an integral part of my life for over 27 years, I recently realized that I haven't taken the time to appreciate what they have done and continue to do for me.

Their support goes far beyond the normal care and feeding. Everyone is a true friend, and there is that strong, intangible bond that we have in common. We are bound together by our values, the thread that holds a family so close.

I'm immensely proud of my family. We have moments of greatness that far outshine the competition, disagreements, and jealousies that sometimes exist. Deep in my heart, I know my family will always be there for me. When I fall down, they will be there to pick me up. When I'm sick or hurt, they will nurse me back to health. When I'm lost, they will search for me. If I lose my way, I know my family will be there to set me on the right path, and they always hold me accountable for my actions.

My family also recognizes and celebrates my personal milestones. They have provided so much toward my success by instilling discipline, integrity, and a sense of pride in everything that I do. They have supported my education; and they have unselfishly given me all the tools I need to be healthy, successful, and valued in whatever endeavor I pursue in life.

The family I want to thank is the United States Air Force. The Air Force family is real and unique from other employers in several ways.

First, Air Force people are truly a family. I know that whatever far reaching corner of the world my job may take me, my fellow Airmen will always be with me, working hand in hand. Regardless of the mission, there will always be total support and teamwork from everyone. Together we can achieve anything.

To me, the Air Force family also includes dependent, civilian, and host-nation employees, without whose support and contributions our successes would be shallow. You may never personally know each and every member of the Air Force, but I expect if you met someone on the street and found out that they were "Air Force," you would connect quickly and find you had something in common with that person. I bet you'd quite possibly find that you had previously crossed paths before at some point in your career.

Second, the Air Force family is also unique because of the logistics, infrastructure, and services that exist to provide support not only to each base's entire population, but also stretching among hundreds of locations and bases around the world. I appreciate how the Air Force cares to invest in our quality of life and ability to do our mission. It is not uncommon for one of my civilian friends or relatives to say, "I can't believe the Air Force provides you with this program or that benefit." It is truly exceptional when compared to what most companies or organizations do to support their employees and families.

I would also like to recognize the common bond that is unique to our Air Force family, which I have experienced through my career and numerous assignments. Regardless of status as active duty, Reserves, or National Guard, we are all part of the same Air Force family -- the great camaraderie we have in our work and beyond. But more than that, we have a common purpose ... "to support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic." Our core values bind us to Integrity, Service before Self, and Excellence in all we do. Again, the expectations of my Air Force family are uniquely different than our civilian counterparts; I know some day I may be asked to make the ultimate sacrifice for my country or its allies at a moment's notice.

Lastly, I would like to thank my Air Force family for taking care of my personal family. I was married shortly after joining the Air Force and my personal family is so precious to me. My wife and children have been influenced professionally, socially, spiritually, and physically by the Air Force and I believe we are all better for it. When I am away from this Air Force environment, such as on leave or visiting in the States, the contrast reminds me of just how special it is to be part of this great Air Force family. The United States Air Force is the most powerful air, space, and cyberspace force in the world, and I would venture to say it is the Air Force family that makes it so.