What a Journey

  • Published
  • By CMSgt. Jonai E. Jones-Renfroe
  • Superintendent, 127th Sustainment Services Flight
It's been a long journey, but I did not make the journey alone. I received help from others along the way, tools to aid me, guidance to keep me on track and Wingmen to assist in my travels as a Citizen Airman.

As I reflect back on my journey from childhood to the present, I'm reminded of many lessons in discipline from my parents and the military. I see how important learning the principle of discipline was and how it has guided me throughout my 28-year military career.

Growing up, my parents laid the ground work teaching me the importance of obedience, not playing with fire, not touching the stove, or playing with matches because I might burn myself or something else. They taught me the importance of not touching electrical appliances with wet hands, not going around the corner to the other block without asking and the importance of letting them know my whereabouts. They taught me not to talk or get in cars with strangers and to be in the house by the time the street lights came on. They also taught me to pay attention to my surrounding and for me and my siblings to look out for each other.

As I grew up and matured, I realized that some things hadn't changed. My parents instilled many tools of the trade that I would come to use within my profession. My parents, unbeknown to me, were preparing me for my future in the Air Force and that of an Airman.

Determined to be the best Airman I could, I used the T.O.s supplied to me: As a young Airman, my supervisors informed us to keep up with our correspondence courses; the Wing/CC instructed us to stay inspection ready and not be in a perpetual state of having to get ready for inspections; and the Air Force routinely instructed us to be in a state of 'Readiness' at all times. I'm not sure, but if your parents were anything like mine, they've been preparing us with the tools for this level of discipline and the journey the entire time they were raising us. The tools afforded me and mastered by me not only aided me to excel in the military, but the transferrable tools better prepared me for my civilian employment as well.

Integrity, as we know, is one of the Air Force's Core Values, but it has been and still is an integral part of my decision making process. It has helped to shape me into the person I am today. I've had to make conscious decision on whether to please one, set the example or simply do the right thing for the whole. The journey sometime appeared to be lonely, but the Air Force already had given me the tools - Wingmen.

Standards gave me my roadmap and stamina gave me the endurance to stay on the road. The standards helped me to avoid pitfalls, minimized the pumps in the roads and aided me to bypass most obstructions on the journey.

Commitment afforded me the opportunities to meet challenges and helped me to cultivate my skills. I had to be committed to the ANG, which opened the door to accepting additional duties, which facilitated broadening my skill set.

Involvement in the numerous activities assisted me in expanding my networking capacity. Being involved allowed me the opportunity to network with wing and other military and civilian personnel, which gave me an avenue to aid in resolving issues and/or concerns.

Principles were the guide to participation and helped me with the patience needed to train others so that all of us could perform at our optimal potential. Doing what was right, even when others might have said it was easier, not being afraid to try and understanding that everyone does not develop at the same rate, are keys to one's own development.

Leadership, in my role as a liaison, I had the tenacity to run the course and the longevity to stay the course. A leader doesn't sit by while others are working toward completing educational requirements, they lead by example.

Intuitiveness aided me in planning and put me on the right path for all my initiatives. Understanding the need for a process germane to your operation and implementing that process can only be accomplished by thinking outside the box.

Neighborly traits learned and utilized by me weren't just for the military community and being noble was just as important. Being able to give back to both the military and civilian community with my involvement with Habitat for Humanity and the Honor & Color Guard were worth the journey.

Encouraging others to succeed is essential! The incalculable applications of this act of kindness and helpfulness has been witnessed and participated in by many and it has produced amazing results and manifested into a-job-well-done.
Do you find that what you learned growing up has prepared you to take on the missions assigned to you? Are you disciplined to assist your Wingman, supervisor, manager, Chief, Ops Ofcr, CC, Wing, HQ and the U.S. Air Force to be the best it can be with the discipline needed to successfully complete the mission? Everybody can't be the best, but if you already are, don't let anyone take that from you. If you're not, pull and expand on the discipline you grew up with and have, the discipline you used to take and successfully pass the entrance exam to join the military, what you used to get promoted and secure your current employment and what you will use to accomplish the impending and obtainable goal of being the Best.

On this journey, love, loyalty, pride, duty, service, camaraderie, achievement, knowledge and information and the value obtained from all these sources minimized and out-weighed any disappointments, which were few and far between.

I didn't make the journey by myself. I had discipline and the support of family, the guidance and instructions from the Air Force, the latitude from my civilian employer to defend my country and the PRIDE within to complete my mission to Fly, Fight and Win. For me, its taken discipline to mold me into the Airman that has transcended me into the Citizen Airman I am today. I am and will always be an Airman.