Customs and courtesies: An important Air Force tradition

  • Published
  • By Col. Tom Sharpy
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
As we prepare for upcoming exercises this Fall, I would like to take a moment to recognize the hard work and sacrifice of each and every Team Fairchild Airman. I am constantly blown away by your talent, professionalism and dedication to the mission of this wing. You make me proud to be your wing commander. 

It also makes me very proud, indeed, when I see Fairchild Airmen observing the military customs and courtesies that are part and parcel of our Air Force heritage. I would like to take a moment to explain why customs and courtesies are important to us as Airmen, and also highlight some items on which I would like to re-focus our attention. 

For those of us in uniform, military customs and courtesies have evolved out of a need for order and as a sign of mutual respect and camaraderie. Observing military protocol ensures proper respect for the chain of command and serves as a foundation for self-discipline. It is important for moral and esprit de corps, and is an important part of our Air Force heritage. 

My vision is for Team Fairchild to be a shining example of military professionalism and courtesy. These are two customs I would especially like to draw our attention to this week: 

Respect for the flag is of the utmost importance. Like on all military installations, we perform reveille and retreat at 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. respectively. The raising and lowering of the flag is accompanied by "To the Colors" in the morning and "The Star-Spangled Banner" in the afternoon. When the music plays, Airmen who are outside and in uniform should face the flag and salute. If you are in your car, (safely) pull over to the side of the road and stop until the music is over. These traditions are about respect for the flag and paying tribute to the symbol of our great country that is so precious to us. It also serves to remind us of the brave men and women who have served before us and given their lives for the cause of freedom and democracy.
Saluting marked staff vehicles is also an important military courtesy. Rendering a sharp salute demonstrates situational awareness and respect for the chain of command. I would like to remind our Airmen of the importance of saluting staff vehicles because this is a very visible symbol of our professionalism when we have visiting Air Force leaders and distinguished visitors. 

These and the many other Air Force courtesies are as important today as they have ever been. I urge you to take pride in yourself and your Air Force heritage, and be conscientious about observing customs and courtesies. As professional Airmen we carry the torch for all those who have gone before us and sacrificed so much. One way we pay respect to that fine heritage is by following military protocol and observing proper customs and courtesies.