Be a proud ambassador

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Michael Strachan
  • 95th Reconnaissance Squadron, Detachment 1 commander
Many of you have deployed or been stationed overseas and had the unique opportunity to experience the cultures of various countries. Maybe you've had a day off in Greece and toured the old Venetian Harbor or walked through the fish markets in Japan. England is peppered with eating establishments and historic buildings.

At almost every overseas location, you will have had the chance to interact with local nationals. In each case, you had the opportunity to make a first impression to the citizens of these countries. Have you ever considered how you looked through their eyes and what comments they made when they got home and talked about your interactions with them at their dinner tables?

Each time I have the opportunity to welcome a new deployed crew, I ask them to think of themselves as ambassadors of the 55th Wing while they're in Greece. The first things that probably come to your mind when you hear the word "ambassador" are the diplomats that represent the United States and usually reside in our embassies around the word. However, have you ever considered yourself as an ambassador?

If you look up the definition of "ambassador" you will probably find some reference to the word "representative" in most definitions. We are certainly all "representatives" of the 55th WG, the Air Force and the United States when we are overseas doing our mission. People do notice us and how we conduct ourselves in public. Here's an example of one Airman's story I believe will help illustrate my point.

One morning about 2 a.m. I received a call from the U.S. Navy shore patrol and was told a transient Airman from another wing, obviously without a wingman, had way too much to drink. After listening to the shore patrolman's assessment of the individual, I instructed him to take the young man to the local hospital for treatment. After several hours of rehydration and recovery in the hospital, he was turned over to his crew at his hotel.

Now consider this ... how many Greek nationals had the opportunity to witness this "ambassador's" behavior. There are the club owners and the bartenders; the people on the street who witnessed him passed out; the Greek doctor and nurses that took time away from Greek patients to treat him and the staff that witnessed his return to the hotel.
These are all indelible first impressions in the minds of the citizens of this host country.

In contrast to this story, read some of these examples and consider how the members of the 55th Wing were perceived in the community. In the past year, members of the detachment and deployed crews volunteered numerous times and completed several public relations projects including: refurbishing a local orphanage; cleaning up and restoring the grounds around a senior citizen home and volunteering to clean local community beaches. The truth is, just being kind and polite in restaurants, hotels and taxis are enough to make an enduring positive image when you are overseas.

Taking this one step further, you don't have to wait to deploy to be an ambassador. Consider how you represent yourself and the 55th WG, especially in uniform, when you are at your home station. Most people can identify service members both in and out of uniform. How do you represent yourself at a checkout line, or when you are returning an item at customer service or driving your car?

We have sworn an oath to defend our nation. This oath carries great responsibility and we are held to the highest standards, at all times, on and off duty. Be a good ambassador and represent our great country and the 55th WG with pride wherever you are. It is a matter of excellence in all we do.