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The Development of Honor

Updated: Apr 25

"Can I by justice or by crooked ways of deceit ascend a loftier tower which may be a fortress to me all my days?"

-Pindar


Beginning in the fall of 2008 I studied aerospace engineering at Broward College near Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and I was fortunately admitted to take part in the military leadership program at the University of Miami on the condition that the training activities did not interfere with my class schedule.


‘Service Before Self’ is the central Core Value of the United States Air Force, and this guiding principle was continually reinforced during my training with the Reserve Officer Training Corps Detachment 155 at the University of Miami.


My introductory training experience within the Reserve Officer Training Corps was different than the indoctrination into any other organization that I had yet then been a part of: service to others was considered to be an quality of both followership and of leadership.


For example if, during a group run, a fast cadet was the first to finish, it would be expected that this first cadet would then immediately circle around to the end of the line where the last cadet was finishing the race in order to support that cadet to the finish line.

While individual excellence was of great importance, a specific individual’s value was related to his or her capacity to contribute to the overall performance of the team.


This was a mindset that I would take with me into future endeavors, and I was fortunate to find a group of individuals whose common ideology fit well with the sort of man I wanted to develop myself into.


As a result I committed myself wholly to the pursuit of a commission as an officer of the United States Armed Forces, and I became a student leader in the honorary ‘Arnold Air Society,’ which hosted volunteer community service events in Miami such as beach cleanup days. On many Saturday afternoons between the fall of 2009 and the spring of 2011 a group of ten to twelve members of the Arnold Air Society would travel Virginia Key beach both to clean up the park and to conduct physical training with the newer initiates.


In November of 2009 I was humbled when the detachment commander, Lieutenant Colonel Theo Theodor, reached out to me in order to inform me that I fortunately earned a competitive full tuition scholarship to study aerospace engineering at the University of Miami on the basis of my performance. Of the 60 cadets who were then enrolled within the detachment, I was the only cadet to be offered such a scholarship in that semester. From that first exposure of training, I was certain of my career choice as an officer in the armed forces of the United States and I wanted to ensure that Airmen and their families were well-supported in service to our national defense.


I thrived in the military training environment at the University of Miami, and Each Friday morning during my first semester of training, I would memorize military leadership quotes to be recited during weekly ‘leadership laboratory’ tests. I felt as though I had been afforded an opportunity to become a member of a large extended family, I was welcomed to a team who would be willing to risk life and limb in order to protect the Republic.


I flourished in this military training environment. The high standard of trust which was developed between teammates during training exercises required that each constituent member of the team perform to the best of his or her physical capacity. The team as a whole was committed to achieving the best possible outcome - be it completing an obstacle course, winning a tug-of-war match, or solving a group leadership puzzle.


Later in my officer development career, at the United States Air Force Academy, I met with leaders and education, business, and religion within the community of Colorado Springs such as the leaders of the Rotary Club of Colorado Springs. I also took the opportunity to schedule time with senior officers who had availability in their schedules in order to discuss the methods by which I myself might improve upon my preparedness to serve effectively as a member of the United States Armed Forces. In this view, I gained a new perspective as to what ‘success’ looked like: I sought to be a man of character, respected by his community, committed to his family, and who acted in accordance with the Core Values in all duties public and private. This goal was irrespective of rank, and I made it known to my mentors that my goals in reaching out to them was based upon my goals for personal self-improvement. It is for this reason that I asked one of my cadet ‘sponsor’ parents, Major Richard Hartlaub, to administer the Oath of Office if and when I successfully commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force on 28 May 2015.


For me, achieving my professional goals in the Air Force were related first to my objective to lead honorably. My best accomplishment would first and foremost be defined by trustworthiness. The training that I received first at the University of Miami and thereafter at the United States Air Force Academy has defined my perspective to remain honorable in word and deed.


Thank you for your time in reading this post and please have a good day. Sincerely, Winston



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