How to wear pride

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- It was day like any other day, but on this day around noon a young airman was standing in line at an automated teller machine. In a sharp voice from behind, someone called out "Airman!" The Airman turned to face the voice, at once he realized it came from a colonel. The Airman snapped to attention and saluted the officer answering with a "Yes, sir!" The colonel asked the young man "do you have any pride in yourself or the uniform you wear. Your uniform is a disgrace and your boots look as though you have never put a shine on them. Where do you work"?

The Airman, still at attention, replied, " I work on the flight line, I'm an F-16 crew chief." Being a little bit nervous, he added "You asked me if I had any pride?"

Continuing on, the Airman said, "Yes, sir, I do. My uniform was clean this morning when I came to work." The Airman took off his hat and tilted his head down. Pointing to a small clot of blood in his hair just above his forehead, he said "This is a falcon bite; I got it when I hit my head on the jet during an inspection." Lifting his hands to show where they were scarred and had fresh cuts with small patches of blood on them, he said, "This is from changing the engine on another one. The grease and hydraulic fluid on my uniform and in my hair are from work done on someone else's jet. The scuffs on my boots are from all of these jobs.

"I have been at work since 0500 this morning and I still have 5 hours left," the Airman said. "This is my pride. I make sure that the pilots who fly the aircraft have the most reliable and safest planes available. My hair may be a mess, my boots look bad and my uniform is dirty, but I do my job to the best of my ability." The Airman added, "I have pride in myself and this uniform, but not the way I look before work - It's the way I look after work."

The next time you see someone in a dirty uniform, don't be quick to judge. The way their uniform looks at the end of the day tells more about them than you may think.