Chief's Corner - "La Forza del Destino" ( The force of destiny)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- In life, we all have a destiny and each of us are directly responsible for charting our own course and determining our own fate. By our actions, we either float or sink, or more appropriately, fly or crash. Fortunately, throughout my entire Air Force career, I have found more often than not, that my destiny has been to soar through the support of team effort and magnificent leaders.

Individually, we control our destiny by how we live our lives, our morals, our work ethic, and our standards. Those appointed over us - including our supervisors, non- commissioned officers in charge, senior enlisted leaders, and officers--also play a major role in determining our destiny. These leaders are responsible for giving us a clear vision with specific tasks and responsibilities that can be understood, providing resources to get the job done right, and training to ensure each mission is successfully executed.

On the dawn of my 28th year of being a proud member of the U.S. Air Force, I am thankful for the many leaders who have influenced me. This article is a short summary of how my destiny has been shaped by three great leaders ... my own "Profiles in Courage."

My first "Profile in Courage" and imprint of a true leader was my father, Army (ret., dec.) Staff Sgt. Ysmael A. Tersero, who fought in two wars - Korea and Vietnam. Even though he was in the Army, he clearly conveyed Air Force core values - Integrity first, Service Before Self, and Excellence In All We Do. He led by example by always giving our country more than what was expected, educating himself and never compromising on standards.

My next "Profile in Courage" is Col. Arnald D. Gabriel. During World War II, Col. Gabriel was a machine gunner with the U.S. Army's famed 29th Infantry Division. Teamed with the U.S. 1st Infantry Division, the 29th Division was in the first assault wave to land on Omaha Beach, Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. For his heroic actions from 1944 to 1946, Private First Class Arnald D. Gabriel was awarded two Bronze Star medals, the Combat Infantryman's Badge and the French Croix de Guerre. When he returned to the United States, his high school band director influenced him to pursue a career in music. After he completed his college degree, Arnald Gabriel was commissioned into the USAF and soon had the attention of Gen. Curtis E. LeMay. Gen. LeMay set the standard for the Premier Band of The U.S. Air Force by charging Col. Gabriel with the words, "I want the best damn band in the world." Colonel Gabriel provided the musical and visionary leadership for the Air Force Band. General LeMay provided all of the resources needed to ensure success and the men and women of The United States Air Force Band provided the absolutely wonderful and inspirational music. Colonel Gabriel's life exemplifies self determination, Air Force Core Values, and Team Effort.

My final "Profile in Courage" is Col. (ret.) George 'Bud' Day. I was truly honored to escort Col. Day and his wife Doris Day. In just 30 minutes, they inspired me by sharing some of their stories and family history. Through three wars--World War II, Korea and then Vietnam--this magnificent warrior/leader escaped death on no fewer the seven occasions, spent sixty-seven months as a prisoner of war in the infamous Hanoi Hilton and endured horrendous torture. Despite this agonizing torture, he never broke faith and was a hero to POWs everywhere.

Today, he is our nation's most highly decorated warrior since Gen. Douglas MacArthur, receiving nearly 70 decorations and awards, of which more than 50 are for combat. In addition, Col. Day is the only Air Force member in history to receive both the Air Force Cross and our nation's highest military honor, the Medal of Honor. As a leader, I highly encourage all to read Robert Coram's "American Patriot, The Life and Wars of Colonel Bud Day." I look forward to hearing Col. Day's perspective on our current Air Force as we prepare for the U.S. Air Force's 2011 "America's Veterans, A Musical Tribute" to be aired on Veterans Day. Colonel Day continues to inspire and is a positive influence in shaping the destiny of today's Airmen. In addition, he is a steadfast advocate for veterans' rights. He embodies our core values and personifies the Airman's Creed.

Each of us is responsible for determining our own destiny. That is where our fate begins. However, we can't do it alone, our supervisors, NCOICs, Senior Enlisted Leaders and the Officers appointed over us, are the force that helps us achieve our ultimate destiny as Airmen in the most powerful Air Force in the world.