Heroes: my family, my friends

  • Published
  • By by Chief Master Sgt. James E. Standley, 349th Maintenance Group Superintendent
  • 349 AMW
More than 70 years ago, my hero was born. He was a decorated combat veteran of World War II with four bronze stars and a purple heart, and he was my dad. My number one mentor built 500 pound bombs to support my father, and the other war heroes; she was my mom. Both of them were not just my parents, but my friends. Their influence combined crafted me into the man I am today. Their work ethic was contagious, and made me feel the efforts I put forth in my life were worthwhile. I have great friends. The friends I have gained throughout my life have also continued to mold my development as time move forward.

My best friend, a patriot, model military spouse and mother, is my wife Corina. She has been constantly at my side to support, reinforce and encourage me. She wears the uniform as much as I do. Her respect that I cherish, has confirmed and validated that I have done a good job as a human being. Hopefully it shows in all I do. This all seems so simple, but as a young man, I could have made choices that would have lost me respect I worked hard to earn. I surrounded myself with a few valued friends that, in turn, earned my respect and kept it. Family and friends have empowered me to make sound decisions without being forced into a situation I didn’t want to be in. That individuality I had as a young man helped me through my life. With setbacks in life there is always a chance to learn from them and grow. In anything you do wrong ask forgiveness; embrace change as a way to be a better person.

"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you."
Louis B. Smedes

My behavior, personality and accomplishments have been directed through my service in the military. As a young Airman, I worked hard and respected those with exceptional work ethics, who made responsible choices. As a noncommissioned officer, I wanted to take charge and make more decisions on my own. As a senior NCO, I wanted to mentor junior Airmen, to keep them informed and aware about choices in their careers. Most of all, I wanted to do good by them. After I made chief master sergeant, my motto became, speak less and do more, leave a legacy or set the groundwork for others to make a difference. I will always support the military and civilians that work to support this country. I will always work on ways to do better. How will I talk to people I meet? Do I represent a life well lived? Have I always given back and helped others?

My hero, my mentor, my fellow Airmen all helped shape the man I am today, but my strength lies in making smart decisions in my life. As I approach the closing of my military career, I continue to think about how I will volunteer, give back and surround myself with positive people like the ones I have served with. I have sought integrity through family and friends, and decisions that have enabled me to have such a successful career. I more than 30 years of service, I have put service before self and have tried to be the example for my junior Airmen by seeking to excel in all I do. I have done my best to live the Air Force core values every day. I challenge all of you to do the same!