Making first impressions in the First Command

  • Published
  • By Col. Tim Gibson
  • 71st Mission Support Group commander
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. 

Every year, thousands of people come through the Vance main gate. For many of them, whether Airmen, family members, civilians or joint and international partners, Vance will be their first impression of the real U.S. Air Force. 

So what burden do we, as Vance Airmen, bear for that first impression? More importantly, what creates a first impression and how can we create the best one possible? 

I believe that standards are a big part of the equation. As Airmen, we are accountable for knowing, following and enforcing Air Force standards. Consider just a few ways that standards create a first impression. 

Meeting Air Force fitness and uniform standards is a very visual means of showing your sense of personal pride. How you maintain your immediate work space leaves an impression about your standards. 

Whether you are in uniform, a government civilian or contractor, how you go about your duties makes a huge difference. Are you competent, confident, and timely? Do you treat those around you with respect? 

Believe it or not, mannerisms and tone of voice communicate a great deal to those watching and listening. And they form a lasting impression. 

Our interaction within the Vance community creates an impression. Vance is a small town. We have shopping facilities, a housing area, a place of worship and a variety of services. 

As members of the Vance community, we should take advantage of what's available, whether getting in shape at the fitness center, learning woodworking or making simple auto repairs. When we participate in these activities, and encourage others as well, we create a positive, vibrant impression of the Vance community in those around us. 

Vance enjoys unparalleled support from the local surrounding communities. Few things create a better impression than having Vance folks engaged in the community, whether through churches, schools or volunteer opportunities. 

Finally, the real Air Force is about teamwork. The missions we perform at Vance are far too complex to be accomplished by a single individual. It takes a foundation built by maintainers, communicators, transporters, and civil engineers and others to launch even a single training sortie, let alone more than 50,000 a year. 

Deploying Airmen to combatant commands requires a similar combination of experts, each contributing while relying on others to pull the mission together. That teamwork is just the beginning. 

When our Airmen get to their forward locations, they find themselves part of joint and multi-national teams that accomplish even more complex missions. The real Air Force is certainly about teamwork. 

So there it is -- standards, community and teamwork. These are elements that form a first impression of the real Air Force at Vance. We each have a responsibility, regardless of where we serve, to demonstrate those elements every day. 

When we do, we will be living out not just the letter, but the spirit of the Air Education and Training Command motto - "The First Command."