'Have some guts'

  • Published
  • By By 1st Lt. David Liapis
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
All calls. We've all been to them, standing in a hangar or auditorium listening to someone with much more rank than us often because it was a mandatory function rather than because of a burning desire to hear the speaker's words of wisdom. Any Airman can probably give the top two or three takeaways from just about any all call, because they're almost inevitably the same - "Have a plan. Don't drink and drive. Sexual assault will not be tolerated in the Air Force. Don't be that guy."

You've probably thought in the waning moments of one of those forums, "I sure wish 'that guy' would stop being stupid so we don't have to be told the same things over and over. I'm not that guy!"

Or are you? I know I've thought that before. But in reality, I have been that guy. Not the stumbling drunk trying to drive his car or the sexual predator preying upon a fellow Airman, but definitely the guy who said nothing when he should have.

Col. Chris Craige, 39th Air Base Wing commander recently stated while discussing sexual assault that we need to take care of each other and respect ourselves and others around us.

That's the key. R-e-s-p-e-c-t, it's so much more than a song. But, what does it look like in real life?

I can tell you what it doesn't look like. It's certainly not the couple of Airmen I overheard in the shoppette on a recent weekend evening recounting their latest acts of drunken stupidity while perusing the liquor aisle in preparation for another night of intoxication. And, humbling as it is to admit, it's not me standing nearby saying nothing.

What would have been accomplished by speaking up? An uncomfortable confrontation between three military members who didn't know each other's rank? Maybe. But it's not about position. It's not about feeling awkward. It's about respecting them, myself and whomever else their planned inebriation might affect. It's about reinforcing a culture of responsibility and respect at every opportunity.

Recent data indicates there will be approximately 700 reported sexual assaults this year in the Air Force.

Ask yourself, "was there something I could have done to make that number 699?" Think back to that one night, that one time when the hair stood up on your neck and for a moment you thought, "This might not end well." What could you have done to not be "that guy"?

Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, made a visit to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey this November, and he gave some clear direction on how to not be "that guy" - be a sensor, and intervene!

He challenged us to "have the guts" to confront our fellow Airmen or contact our chain of command when something doesn't look right and to do it before we have another tragedy.

Be a hero. Have some guts and don't be "that guy."