Check Six: The key to situational awareness

  • Published
  • By Col. Greg Touhill
  • 81st Training Wing commander
Every fighter pilot knows the phrase "Check Six." Do you? 

"Check Six" refers to making sure you have situational awareness and know who is behind you (that is, your six o'clock position) trying to shoot you down. When a fighter pilot tells his wingman to "Check Six," it means to have a look behind you to see and avoid any threats. 

Keesler just concluded a very successful visit by Gen. Stephen and Leslie Lorenz, Air Education and Training Command commander. Thank you very much for "Checking Six" in preparing for this visit. As I went around base, I saw numerous squadrons taking pride in their areas by cleaning up, pulling weeds, picking up trash, and I even saw a civilian employee "mentor" a youngster about the wrongs of littering. Well done, teammates!
Think the base looked great? I do. Yet, let's not be seduced into thinking that was a onetime deal. This is the way the base should look every day! It doesn't matter where we come from around the country or around the world, Keesler and the Mississippi Gulf Coast are now our home. Let's continue to "Check Six" and make our Keesler home look its best always.
Let's also "Check Six" to make sure we have our eyes and minds focused on safety. Unfortunately, our base community suffered the loss of two individuals over the last few weeks due to accidents. We all need to "Check Six" to identify and avoid safety threats to ourselves and our families.  

In the first incident, the deceased had improperly tied open a safety gate and didn't have a safety observer. Since he was alone (a big mistake), we can only speculate as to what caused him to fall, leading to his death. However, we do think that if he had "Checked Six" and had a safety observer present and secured the gate, things would have turned out better for him and his family. 

In the second incident, one of our valued and loved teammates was involved in a motor vehicle collision. While I haven't seen the final safety report, it appears he died as a result of blunt force trauma to the chest. I'm also told he wasn't wearing his safety belt. Do you "Check Six" by ensuring you have your safety belt fastened when you drive? I hope so, and Keesler will help remind you with a series of no-notice checks in the coming weeks. 

Finally, I've been asked by several Airmen about "the pink bike" and our campaign to obliterate DUIs. I am indeed looking forward to the opportunity to ride the pink bike back to wing headquarters in celebration of 81 consecutive DUI-free days for our base. As we enter the Labor Day holiday weekend, I've ordered each commander to give safety briefings and to remind everyone of the dangers of drinking and driving. Don't allow our streak be broken ... put me on that bike!  

This is not just an issue for holiday weekends; your safety is critically important every day. Be a good wingman, be a great Airman, and be safe every day. "Check Six."