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Sweat the small things

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- A few weeks ago, the 366th Fighter Wing had its annual photo. Every squadron in attendance had a guidon to represent their unit. As I stood there in the crisp morning air, I watched as personnel walked toward the sea of people all looking for their unit guidon so that they could fall into the formation. As a former military training instructor, I also noticed how some of the guidon bearers were holding the guidon as if it was a fishing pole or broom handle, and their lack of overall military bearing. Some might say, "Relax, this isn't basic training," but I beg to differ.

The significance of the guidon is that it represents the unit from the commander down to the lowest ranking airman, past, present and future. It is a symbol of pride and professionalism. Each squadron proudly displays campaign and service streamers earned by the unit throughout its history. The guidon is a symbol and represents our unit's accomplishments and should receive the respect it deserves. The guidon is only as important as the way the unit members treat it.

The guidon's origin dates back 5,000 years to the Egyptians. Ancient warriors used it as a rally point on the battlefield. If during the battle, the warrior would become disoriented, all he had to do was look for his guidon to rejoin his fellow Soldiers. Modern day, many of us remember the guidon from basic training, promotions and participating in drill and ceremonies.

The change-of-command ceremony is one that showcases the guidon best. During the ceremony, the guidon is passed from the outgoing commander to the incoming commander. This passing of the guidon represents the passing of the responsibility and authority of the unit from one officer to another. The guidon is used in many other ceremonies and events. It is a part of customs and courtesies, those traditions separate us from the public. Air Force customs and courtesies foster respect and self-discipline, qualities we, as supervisors, look for in our subordinates and they look for in us. They are small things that pay huge returns.

As a noncommissioned officer, I know junior members are always watching and we, as supervisors, set the standard. We pass the torch to those that follow behind us. The way we conduct ourselves when in command of the guidon should be important to us all. I can sum it up from my favorite quote by Jim Caldwell, head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, "Take care of the small things and the big things take care of themselves."