Leaders reflect on summer safety

  • Published
  • By Maj. Gen. Mike Gould
  • 2nd Air Force commander
As we recognize and honor the sacrifices of those who have given their lives in the defense of our nation, Paula and I want to pass along to the 2nd Air Force family our best wishes for an enjoyable and safe Memorial Day weekend. 

As most are aware, Memorial Day kicks off the annual "101 Critical Days" safety campaign. While the period from Memorial Day to Labor Day is filled with picnics, barbeques, sporting events and a myriad of other opportunities to enjoy the blessings of freedom, this period has historically also been a time when we engage in activities and events that place us at higher risk for accidents, injury and even death. 

Our Airmen and Air Force civilians are charged daily to only accept increased risk when the return on mission accomplishment warrants the actions. We must apply this same measure when we are enjoying ourselves with friends and family. Take the time this summer to consider your plans and determine the level of risk inherent in what you're planning to do. 

As an old boss of mine used to remind us, if your next stunt begins with the preface -- "Here, hold my beer and watch this..." you probably should rethink the action. I'm afraid in the last "101 Critical Days" we didn't always execute a sound plan, losing 19 valuable Airmen, 15 of these fatalities the result of Airmen exercising poor risk decisions and bad judgment. 

I also ask you to aggressively apply the Wingman principles we've all embraced on duty and apply them to your many extracurricular activities this summer. Our Wingmen come to the fight prepared -- do the same at home. Before you jump into your car for a well deserved vacation with your family, ensure you've done all the preventive maintenance needed to ensure a safe trip. Instead of deciding to squeeze every last moment out of your precious leave time and drive home late at night, make the wise decision to travel rested and limit your nighttime driving. 

Good Wingmen also watch one another's back. Just as you mentor the next generation of Airmen at work on the importance of seatbelts, pass along that same wisdom to not only your family but to friends and neighbors who may not get the valuable safety training the Air Force provides. Always be on the lookout for situations that present increased risk to your Wingmen. 

When alcohol is present, risk inherently goes up. Drinking and driving just don't mix and we observe tragedies each and every day that verify this fatal fact. 

Finally, Wingmen step up and take the lead when needed. We are the best trained safety force in the world. When you see an unsafe situation developing, take the lead and make sure that everyone recognizes the right sight picture for combining safety and summer fun. 

We trust that the "101 Critical Days" will be filled with special memories of time spent with friends and family. Our hope is that all your activities include a safety first plan, and that a Wingman always steps up when the plan changes. Your family needs you, we need you and our nation needs you, so please keep safety first in all your activities.