Character Corner: My honor is my life
By Lt. Col. Jim DeReus, Center for Character and Leadership Development
/ Published October 30, 2009
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. --
While I was in high school,before many current cadets were born,I read a quote in a book that has stuck with me to this day: "My Honor is My Life."
That quote has remained with me because it embodies what the first core value says -- Integrity First. Honor is not something that you can turn on and off, it is not something to play with to see if you like it.Honor is something that runs through your every thought and action.
While I was a first assignment instructor pilot at Laughlin AFB, Texas, a tropical storm made landfall near Corpus Christi and caused a significant amount of rain to fall in Del Rio.There was flooding over large portions of the town as well as the flightline. The following week, after all of the jets were "inspected" and we resumed flying, crew members found water and plant leaves inside the jets. All of those jets had their maintenance records signed off as being ready to fly again, but this was obviously not the case.
This lack of integrity caused a major rift between the flying squadrons and the maintenance personnel that took a tremendous amount of work to repair. This was all due to a lapse in someone's integrity that could have cost someone his life.
All of us have probably been told by our parents, a friend, or read that "It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and a moment to ruin it". That is why your honor is so important. In the military, we may be called upon to lay down our lives for our fellow Airmen. If the people we work with can't trust us at our word, everything will break down. If you maintain your honor, you will never have to worry about your reputation.