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Smoke doesn't always mean fire - The Epilogue



I didn't expect to write a epilogue at the end of this story; although in fairness I didn't expect many people to read this story outside my circle of friends, both personal and professional. However, I have received a lot of questions either through Reddit threads, comments, replies, or direct messages on the 20 Years Done Facebook page.

Even though I have told a chronological account of the SrA Tyler Perkie story, I think it's important to reflect on some of the events and provide a bit more insight into my thoughts or experiences.

Let's talk about loyalty first.

I'm sure Lt Col Martin and his cronies saw my behavior as disloyal. But to me he didn't really earn my loyalty beyond the cursory loyalty I was required to give by law [i.e. follow lawful orders]. Like many people, I am loyal to my ideals above all else. That isn't to say I'm not a loyal person. I'm just loyal to those that share my values and concepts of right and wrong, justice and injustice. In those instances we are all in a moral alignment.

Loyalty is simply a hierarchy. In this case, Lt Col Martin was really low in mine.

What seems to be more perplexing is that Lt Col Martin expected personal loyalty from me without him doing anything to earn it. I have had many people work for me. Some of them didn't like me at the time [and I suspect some of them still don't like me to this day]. Do I expect loyalty from them? Nah, I didn't earn it. My actions didn't align with their perception of a good person so they wouldn't go out on a limb for me. I imagine we all have people that slot into one category or another.

I have worked for some amazing leaders in my career. I was loyal to them because, by their nature, they never asked me to bend my beliefs for them. They always behaved honorably and in good faith.

What about my IG complaint?

To be honest, I was dissuaded by the inspector I reported to. He seemed motivated to avoid doing work. I actually forgot to mention it in the article, but when I presented all of my printed emails and evidence he actually asked me to carry them with me back to Holloman and scan and email them, as his scanner in his office wasn't working. He stamped them indicating they were evidence but let me take them to scan them.

Think about that a second.

The IG inspector couldn't be bothered with going to another office to scan the documents, so he asked me to carry them 550 miles back to New Mexico, scan them myself and email them. Now ask yourself, do you think that person is going to work hard on your complaint?

By the time I was submitting my IG complaint I was fairly confident I would make it to retirement. Much of my legal posturing up to that point was for that sole purpose, to retire. The threat of an IG complaint seemed to be enough to create a buffer between myself and the leadership in the squadron/group.

Some people said the ending to the story was a let down, or anticlimactic. While I appreciate their support, I hope they understand staying in the Air Force and making rank was no longer in my future.

I see it as a small victory. On my way out the door I moved the Air Force ever so slightly towards morality.

So what were my victories?

Well, SrA Tyler Perkie is now SSgt Tyler Perkie. He retained his line number for over 18 months and he made TSgt first time.

I removed Lt Col Martin from a jury; however this one is a bit more muddy.

On one hand Lt Col Martin wasn't fit to serve on a jury. My thought was he would taint the judicial process and skew the trial in such a way as to not afford a fair proceeding to the accused. That man was found innocent, an outcome that would've been less likely if Lt Col Martin had stayed on the jury.

But what if he was guilty? Just as I found myself responsible for a guilty man going to prison, am I not equally responsible for a possibly guilty man going free?

Call it my own cognitive dissonance but.. nah. I didn't decide the case. I simply removed an unfit jury member. If he was guilty, the remaining jury members [and two substitute members] could've still found him guilty. I still [possibly naively] have faith in the justice system.

Finally, a few people have commented that based on my blog I seemed to stick up for every Airman and I was being dramatic.

This is probably because of the tone of the blog. I didn't come here to bash junior Airmen I worked with. They had their problems, but a bad Airman doesn't make a bad person. I facilitated the separation of quite a few under-performing Airmen.

In some cases they weren't ready for the Air Force, in others perhaps I was too hard on them.

As for Tyler? I got lucky. Really, really, lucky. I was lucky that when I cashed in all my SNCO chips to stick up for a guy, he was a good guy. Like I said, I only knew him a few months. But I knew Lt Col Martin far longer, and I knew what he was capable of. I was doing my best to be fair with Tyler. As I said in the closed door meeting before the LOR [and I'm sure to this day Tyler knows this], if Tyler was guilty of the charges I would be pushing for the harshest punishment. Because that's how it's supposed to work.

I gambled on Tyler, and thankfully when I cashed in those chips I saved his career. Lt Col Martin happened to be some collateral damage [mostly self-inflicted]. Lt Col Martin ended up retiring a few months before me. So for those worried he's out there ruining careers, that ship has sailed.

So whats next for 20 Years Done?

When I first started this blog I really didn't know what it was going to be. I wanted to write about the time I was kicked out of NCO Academy. Then I drudged up my Ridgway recordings because I thought those would be good lessons for supervisors to learn from.

From there the blog just morphed into all of these course corrections over the years.

Now in hindsight [up to this point, it's not ending] I think it has become an elongated retirement speech with occasional critique of the Air Force.

I learned from my retirement speech there is simply not enough time to say what you want to say. Believe me I tried. But there was so much to say, that I couldn't get it all out. Just imagine how much time you've spent reading this blog.

Right. That long.

I've included my retirement speech below for those interested. It's the whole ceremony [except for a 6 minute gap during my medal], you're welcome to watch the whole thing. I've included some handy time stamps below if you want to skip to certain spots.

'But what's next!?'

Right. Well I'm a bit tired of talking about me [not going to lie, this story really drained me] so I've been working on another project: a podcast.

I would like for the podcast to be a venue where we can talk about the actual world of maintenance. To let people outside our arena know what it is like working the line; and more importantly to be a voice for the maintainers still serving that can't speak because of fear of reprisal. And hopefully beyond just maintenance in the future.

My hope is

I hope to have the pilot episode out in the coming weeks. But I need your input. I want to know what issues you are facing. You don't have to come with a solution. Send them to twentyyearsdone@gmail.com and I will do my best to address them on the podcast, or in the interim right here on the blog.

And without further adeu the retirement video:

Full ceremony: 00:00
My speech begins [personal stories]: 19:43
My rant begins: 34:22


Comments

  1. Thank you for all you have done and do.

    As a current service member I whole heartedly believe in the Air Force and the mission and have given 10 years of my life to it.

    I try to do my best by my Airmen and am HUGE on AFIs mainly because they protects the rights of all airmen including myself. I am all about holding people accountable, but you also need to take in the facts of way a event happens, whether it was human error, and honest mistake or just plain negligence and I feel a lot of people just don't care about the facts and just skip to the punishment.

    I find that its hard to find motivation to do past my current enlistment due to the current leadership I see, people just so focused on themselves that they don't care about the airmen or even the mission or what we are doing.

    Its people like you who give me hope for what the Air Force is slowly becoming, we have come a long way and it will never be perfect but slowly but surely I believe that we are starting to get out the toxic leaders in the Air Force.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Truly enjoyed the rant and mirror your sentiments whole-heartedly! I truly wish we could, but if we cut back hours and reduce flying, how's the mission going to get done? We have all learned for many years how "grinding your people into a paste" will make them less efficient, less attentive, they'll make more errors, blah blah blah. The fact of the matter is that the mission still has to get done. Pilots need to be trained and they need airworthy jets to fly in order to accomplish that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well it's a good question. Reduce operations to the most basic required for the mission. No airshows, no football flyovers. If the [training] sortie requires a 6 ship but it can be effective with a 4 ship, do it with 4. Remove all the extraneous time-wasters. Stop pushing volunteerism and CCAF B.S. Streamline or eliminate all administrative processes that take time away from frontline maintainers.

      Support agencies on base extend hours, or create mobile teams to go to workcenters; removing travel waste.

      When things get better we can go back to 'normal' but for now we need to live poor and realize our only 'bill' worth paying is the mission.

      Add experienced contractors to every stateside unit; thus freeing up experienced 7 levels for overseas billets.

      Focus on developing our young Airmen now, so they will be better prepared for maintenance sooner.

      Just a few thoughts off the top of my head.

      Delete

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