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What matters most

  • Published
  • By Col. Mike Hornitschek
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing commander
This past week we said goodbye to two of our teammates ... but in two vastly different ways. For one it was a celebration of a time well served with a lively send off full of wishes for a bright and happy future. For another, it was a somber time to reflect on a life taken from us much too soon and much too suddenly.

We see this played out every day of our lives as people we care about navigate this earthly existence ... each on their own timeline and course. They come into our lives, and often change us for the better, and that change in us is what can keep us resilient when we experience loss in our lives.

As I was thinking about how our interactions with each other affects us and knowing that our time together can be all too short, I started thinking about the idea of "what matters most." I came across a quote in an article by author Terry Tempest Williams, who offers this:

"What matters most is to be awake, alert, and alive as human beings to the moment we find ourselves in together. To be present ... to enlist and engage both our minds and our hearts in the problems we face ..."

I found this to be well said for we each come to work and make an offering. This offering can be creative or destructive, fixing problems or adding to them. We all make choices that affect each other. I just witnessed a good example of this during our recent deployment exercise. As the masses huddled around the exercise area for three days prepared to enjoy Meals Ready to Eat, there were a few Services personnel who went above and beyond the call of duty by setting up a deployed kitchen to provide hot meals for the participants--it was their offering to team.

Williams goes on to state that "what matters most is our personal commitment to creating and sustaining honest and healthy relationships with one another in the places we call home. What matters most is not just to believe we have the capacity to change our lives but to act on these beliefs.... each in our own way, each in our own time, with the gifts and talents we have been given."

For our command chief, CMSgt Candler, who left us for another assignment, he acted on his beliefs and made a huge impression on all those around him. We'll all be forever shouting out: "Airpower!" and "3-7-5 ... Showcase Pride!" For our teammate, Tech. Sgt. Michael Maybin Jr., who passed away, the lasting impression on those around him will be of his jovial nature, Air Force work ethic, and devotion as husband and father as an example of how to live life. They each shared their gifts and talents willingly, and we are better people for having them in our professional and personal lives.

Knowing what gifts and talents you have to offer is part of "being alert and aware." I truly believe that personal growth cannot start without this self awareness. That is why next week during our Comprehensive Airman Fitness Day March 8 I've asked everyone in the wing to take the VIA Survey of Character Strengths at to will reveal your own personal strengths. We'll then gather together to discuss how we can use those strengths in our work, home and interactions with each other.

I know many of our units are working hard to improve their resilience, and I've heard numerous positive comments from the training that has been provided formally--and informally. I thank you for your efforts with this, and in making sure each day counts with what matters most.