Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude, How 100 Feet Saved My ANG Career

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Nathan Fallin
  • 117th Air Refueling Wing, Maintenance Operations Flight

I was in the fifth year of my first enlistment when I came to the first major crossroads of my career.  I was already a full-time Active Guard Reservists on the flight line and had been very fortunate in my career up to that point.  However, there had been a recent shakeup in leadership and with that came a change in how we were being managed. Over the next several months my attitude progressively worsened. In my mind I was still doing more than my fair share of work without some of the benefits I had grown accustomed to from my former leadership. Finally during one drill, things came to a head. My friend and I were in the flight chief’s office and someone brought by a potential enlistee. Between mine and my friend’s comments I doubt the young man left with a favorable impression of the flight line. We were immediately told to go into the Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Chief’s office where our flight chief “counseled” us on our negative attitudes.  I expressed my feelings on the way things were being run by him and he looked me dead in the face and said the six words that would change my career forever, “If you don’t like it, LEAVE!” I immediately fired back, “I WILL!” As it happened there were a couple of openings in the Maintenance Operations Flight, an analysis position, which fortunately I wasn’t selected for. Who wants to deal with all those numbers anyway? There was also an engine management/documentation position, which I was selected for. 

I came to the MOF with a reputation, but also with an opportunity. I had to make a decision. Was I going to be the person they had heard about with a bad attitude, or was I going to be someone else? MOF gave me a chance at a clean slate. I took the opportunity to re-prove my worth and ability and made the most of it.  I distanced myself from the negative influences and stopped spending as much time around the friend that I shared so much negativity with. I physically moved 100 feet down the hall, but the distance that this moved my career is immeasurable.  This all happened less than 12 years ago. I have been blessed to continue to progress through the MOF and now have the privilege of being the MOF Superintendent.

This is not to brag. This is a message of hope. It doesn’t matter if you are a first term traditional airman or a full-timer who has been around 10 plus years. Take control of your situation. The friend with whom I had developed that negative attitude with never took that leap and because his attitude had only worsened, it cost him his career.  That very easily could have been me had I not taken a chance and left my comfort zone. On the other hand, I personally work with individuals who did take that chance and have blossomed into some of the best airman this unit could have representing it. Don’t let a negative attitude or unfavorable work environment be the reason you to miss out on the many blessings you can get out of being a member of the 117th Air Refueling Wing. 100 feet can make all the difference in the world.