Mom, Dad...what did you do when you were in the Air Force (Army, Navy, Marine Corps...)? What did you learn and what were your responsibilities? I was thinking about these questions as my wife Connie and I recently visited the BX and Commissary at Selfridge AFB not too long ago. If you were raised in a military family, or raised your family while you were in the service, there were certain expectations. A discipline, instilled by commanders and peers alike, and filtered down to the kids. Rules and respect were the norm. Sacrifice was just how it was. Your choices were limited and endless at the same time. There was one movie theater, but it could be in Europe, Asia, or Minot ND. Friends changed with assignments, but there was that common thread that you shared. Just like the servicemembers, the family had bonds with everyone in their situation. Rules.... responsibilities....discipline and caring for each other.
What did you do?... Well, I was a Pilot (Crew Chief, MP, Ranger....) and my responsibilities were X,Y and don't forget Z. You could get all of that from your last OER, OPR or Fitrep (insert any appropriate DoD Form number). But that never tells the story, just the summary. You were responsible for your job, and that of your squadron mates. To cover them as they did for you. And that extended to the family. When Lt. Smith was deployed, Capt. Jones and SSgt. Johnson and their families checked in. Made sure lawns got mowed, carpools ran and babysitters were on time. We cared for our own, and that always included the family.
What I learned as we walked around the Base Exchange was the difference in the families shopping. Broadly the same demographics as my own home town, they were...different. Courteous, for the most part. The kids may have been thinking about throwing a fit, but it was always under control. The parents didn't need to either yell or coddle. A simple look, a quick and understandable explanation and it was over. The kids weren't bugging for that candy or toy, as they seemed to know it wasn't in the budget. If it were, they knew they would have it. If they needed it, they got it. And appreciated it. Great lessons for all of us.
One of the many things that struck me was our walk to the car. In the whole parking lot, there was ONE shopping cart. You just didn't leave them for someone else to deal with. You (or your 10 year old) took it back and put it where it belonged...for the next family to use. No trash in the lot, or in the carts. There were rules, responsibilities and discipline. And that's what I learned from my time in the service.
By Spud at pilotballcaps.com