Two simple words: 'Thank you'

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- I recall many years ago a sage senior NCO asking a group of young Airmen which of them had the most important job in the Air Force. 

Many raised their hands to express the importance of their specific function to the mission and to declare they had the most important job in the Air Force. When all was said and done, the senior NCO reminded each Airman that no one function is more important than the other. 

During a recent keynote address, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz reinforced that no one Airman has a greater value to the collective mission than another. Too often, Airmen feel their contributions to the mission go unnoticed and feel they have a thankless job. Whether you're a civil engineer and hear complaints about the heat or air conditioning not working; you're a finance customer support representative who hears complaints about people's pay and allowances not being correct; you're a maintainer who fixes aircraft, but the age of our fleet keeps them coming back; oryou're in security forces and battle the boredom and the weather to keep our base secure, most of us do our jobs day in and day out -- getting complaints and rarely receiving thanks. 

Ultimately, we do our jobs with integrity, excellence, dedication and pride. We know we are an important part of the mission, and we recognize that if we fail to do our jobs, it would adversely impact our wing's ability to conduct and support air operations in Europe's southern region and to maintain munitions for NATO. Yet, it's easy for others to perceive many functions as obstacles rather than part of the whole that makes Aviano Air Base great. 

When people go to get an ID card or a soggiorno, it's easy to think of the Airmen behind the counter as impeding us with restrictions, instead of thinking of them as experts who are there to guide us through requirements put in place by higher authorities. 

Aviano's Mountain View Lodge receives much deserved recognition for outstanding quality and support, so often so the Air Force should rename the Innkeeper Award simply the Aviano. But would they have received such prestigious recognition if the telephones and internet did not work? If the trash didn't get picked up? If there were no clean linens? How hard would the staff work if they didn't get paid? 

Communications Airmen and civilians maintain the phones and internet services for optimal connections. Civil engineering maintains the buildings. Contracting placed the refuse and laundry services on contract. Finance ensures personnel get paid. Force Support Squadron personnel man the desk 24 hours a day to check people in and out, answer questions and address concerns. The next time you're in billeting, think about all of the unrecognized people who make your stay comfortable. The next time you're scheduling your shipment at the travel management office, recognize that person for taking care of such an important part of your move. When someone from the 31st Communications Squadron fixes your computer or telephone, thank them for giving you the tools to do your job. 

The next time you drive through the gate, thank the defender who vigilantly stands guard during inclement weather, so the rest of us can feel secure. 

Thank those around the base in thankless jobs, because each person contributes to the safety, welfare and comfort of others. We all collectively contribute to defending our nation and our allies around the world -- protecting our families, our friends, our neighbors and especially those in thanklessbut integral jobs. I would like to extend a big thank you to each and every Airman for doing your part.