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Believing in what you do

F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo. -- On a cold, snowy night in February 1985, an image was burned into my memory that I'll never forget. I had driven home to Kokomo, Ind., from college to see my parents. My dad was working at a local supermarket, and since he was on the late shift, I thought I'd stop by the store and surprise him.

As I walked in the entrance, I noticed five young employees standing around talking about how miserable it was outside. I couldn't find my dad, so I asked if anyone had seen Bob Stanley. One of the young men spoke up and said "Yeah, I think he's outside getting carts."

Sure enough, I went outside and found my dad pushing a line of about twenty carts through the snow by himself. I'll never forget the smile on his face when he looked up and saw me.

What makes this so haunting an image for me is the fact that my dad was 66 years old, about 5 feet, 7 inches, and no more than 100 pounds soaking wet. Yet, there he was struggling with shopping carts in a snow storm and just as proud as he could be that he was bringing in the last of them. Meanwhile, a bunch of healthy, young men who could've helped just stood around with their hands in their pockets.

While this memory always breaks my heart when I think about it, it has also made me think. What was it about my dad that made him so different from those young men?

Over the years, I've come to the conclusion that the difference was that my dad simply believed in what he was doing. No matter what his job was, he always had believed.

Think about that.

At Warren, it's easy to forget why our wing exists when we're stuck in the middle of another tough week just trying to keep our heads above water.

It can become very tempting to cut corners, bypass a rule that gets in our way, or to look the other way when someone needs help. Yet, if you think -- really think -- about what the 90th Space Wing does for our country, I don't know how any of us can give anything less than 100 percent all the time.

Our mission is to make sure America's enemies know we can wipe their civilization off the face of the earth in a matter of minutes if they ever push us too far. Now think -- really think -- how history might be different if our country didn't have this capability.

This thought never fails to make me a proud believer in what I do. If I wasn't, I don't know how I'd ever get up in the morning.

As for Bob Stanley, he fell and broke his hip coming home from the supermarket in early 1996 and was never able to work again. He died less than a year later.

I suspect it was because he no longer believed in what he was doing.