Aviano delivers the message

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- After my brother’s recent deployment to Africa, he shared a story with me about an agreement the Air Force was developing with the local government to expand a runway. The effort stalled pending approval from the nation’s president.

Then, while off base, a man ran towards his military convoy with an AK-47 in one hand and an envelope in the other. Initially, the team prepared to stop the individual with force, but when the man waved the envelope he was permitted to approach and deliver the message. Inside the envelope was an agreement signed by their president, allowing the airfield expansion to proceed.

I couldn’t help but think of Rowan, one man instrumental in America’s history. During the Spanish-American War, President McKinley needed to get a message to the rebel leader, General Garcia. Lieutenant Andrew Rowan was selected. He sealed the document in an oil-skinned pouch and embarked on an expedition to Cuba. After traversing his way by foot through a hostile jungle for three weeks, he successfully accomplished his mission, and came back with even more than was expected.

I was originally told this story by a lieutenant colonel prior to my departure for ROTC, and it seems fitting I’m reminded of it now after recently pinning on the same rank. Throughout my career, Rowan’s story stayed with me and reinforced the importance of ownership. When presented with a task, it is essential to accept responsibility, see it through from beginning to end and own it. To do so requires action, not just talk.

The American people devote a considerable amount of resources to ensure we remain the world’s best Air Force. We train, equip, exercise, and inspect in preparation to execute the mission when called upon by our country. Accepting a task with that level of ownership and accomplishing it with precision and professionalism establishes our Air Force’s reputation for loyalty, trustworthiness and dependability.

Here, the high caliber of personnel and their willingness to own the mission is shared across the base and supported by the wing’s continued record for success with the consistently high operations tempo.

In my eight months on station, I have witnessed operators, maintainers, mission support and medical professionals demonstrate ownership through action. The men and women of Aviano consistently excel during exercises and inspections, and that level of competency is further realized through our impact in the ownership of expeditionary operations. As Aviano continues to enable the mission, with 600 personnel deployed this year alone, remember to continue to carry on the message and reinforce that there is no better fighter wing than the 31st!