What will your legacy be?

2nd Lt. Kenneth Angel, 50th Contracting Squadron Infrastructure Flight team lead

2nd Lt. Kenneth Angel, 50th Contracting Squadron Infrastructure Flight team lead


Merriam-Webster offers a simple definition for the word ‘legacy’: something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.  For nearly 10 years, I served as an enlisted member in the Air Force.  I earned technical sergeant and shortly after was selected to attend Officer Training School.   I have always strived to do my best, believing success can only be achieved with a strong foundation of integrity and an unstoppable, hardworking spirit.  But what exactly was I working so hard for?  I remember one of my first meetings with the Col. Jason Janaros, 50th Mission Support Group commander, where he brought up a resonating question.  What will our legacy be?  He explained what he meant by the question; what will we leave behind when we go?  Wow, I thought to myself, I’ve strived to do my best everywhere that I’ve been.  Isn’t that enough?  The question left my head spinning with several ideas of how to leave a lasting, positive legacy.  

Far too often, we find ourselves caught up with the perception that a stratification or quarterly or annual award is the best way to measure success.  If this is true, what message are we really sending?  While these things can be significant in defining and recognizing specific parameters of success, how will our stratifications or awards benefit those who come after us?  How can those taking our place in the future feel our successes?  We are all leaders, whether we believe it or not, no matter how big or small.  As such, our legacies are impressionable and it’s imperative that we strive to leave a legacy that we can be proud of because what we do today will affect those who come tomorrow.

The Mission Support Group’s priorities are simple: Be caring, be professional, be ready.  Considering the significance of these priorities, it’s easy to realize their application will ensure our legacies take care of themselves.  Many of us have heard the quote, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”  When peers and subordinates know you care, they will follow you to the ends of the earth.  For obvious reasons, we must be professional.  After all, we serve in the profession of arms, not the occupation or hobby of arms.  Professionalism is the competence and skill expected of us, and bridges the mission with our core values.  Lastly, we volunteered and are charged with defending the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.  Oftentimes, we overlook or forget we are part of something so much greater than ourselves.  We are all supporting the Department of Defense’s mission, which is to provide the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country.  That’s why we must always be ready.  Keep in mind, being ready goes beyond being prepared for contingencies.  As leaders we need to be ready to identify and correct problems.  Colonel Janaros taught me that if we walk past problems without correcting them, we set the new standard.   All things considered, what more can we ask of our subordinates or ourselves than to be caring, professional and ready?

From the question of what will my legacy be, I’ve learned we must all take care of our families, wingmen and ourselves.  When we’re gone, people won’t look back and say, “he/she was number 1 of (insert number here)” or “they won a quarterly or annual award.”  Instead, they will remember and live with what we leave behind, good or bad. 

Now, I have one final question for you.  What will your legacy be?