From the flight line to line officer

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Randy Bailey
  • 92nd Force Support Squadron
I made the decision to retire from the Air Force after 26 great years and couldn't help but reflect on where it all started.

When I was a junior in high school I had no idea what I was going to do with my future. My parents never talked to me about college; I couldn't spell college, and really had no idea what that was all about.

One day my father and I met a noncommissioned officer in the Air Force and I was sold. My decision was made. I found an Air Force recruiter and we did all the paperwork. I took the entrance and medical exam and was set. I had no idea what job I was going to do; I just knew I was going to basic training after high school.

Fast forward 26 years and I have earned my bachelor's and master's degrees, received a commission, was promoted to lieutenant colonel, and I'm honored to call myself the 92 FSS commander.

How did all that happen to a kid who couldn't spell college when he was 17? Because of great mentors and supervisors who took an interest in me and educated me on all the great programs the Air Force had offered. Master Sgt. Cliff Wilson forced me to take my first college class then I was off and running.

At my 7-year mark in the Air Force I had decided to separate, but my supervisor talked to me about getting a commission through Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps and walked me through the application process. Three years later I had my bachelor's degree and was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. More supervisors along the way pushed me to start on my master's degree, work on Air Command and Staff College and encouraged me to compete for command. Everything I achieved can be linked back to a specific supervisor who helped motivate me to be better. I know officers who are currently serving as special tactics officers, pilots, nurses and lawyer and they all started as enlisted troops at basic training.

I also know that every chief, command chief, and the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force started in the same place-basic military training.

I also know several prior Air Force members, both enlisted and officer, who were incredibly successful in corporate America, ran their own business and even served in Congress.

The moral of this story is you can truly achieve anything you want through the Air Force. I challenge all leaders out there to take an active interest in your people, find out what their goals and dreams are and if they don't know, help your Airmen discover them.

Airmen should dream big and explore all the great programs the Air Force has to offer-you'll be surprised where you end up in 26 years.