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News > Chief Master Sgt. Terry Savoie: Air Force must continue to be first
Be first at all times
GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. – Chief Master Sgt. (Ret.) Terry Savoie gestures during his speech at the 319th Maintenance Group Knucklebuster Awards Ceremony here March 10. The chief’s message focused on the importance of leaders to impress new recruits within 10 days of arrival and cautioned that missing the 10-day window will cause the Air Force to lose good Airmen (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Suellyn Nuckolls).
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Chief Master Sgt. Terry Savoie: Air Force must continue to be first

Posted 3/14/2007   Updated 3/15/2007 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman J. Paul Croxon
319th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

3/14/2007 - GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D.  -- Chief Savoie made this statement during the 319th Maintenance Group Knucklebuster Award Banquet, March 10 in Building 607 here.

Dressed in a desert combat uniform, mess dress combination, the retired chief from San Angelo, Texas, gave a spirited and inspiring speech about the necessity of being first and the importance of inspiring new Airmen as they arrive to their first duty assignment.

"If we don't inspire our young Airmen within 10 days of arrival, we'll lose them to drugs, alcohol or apathy," the chief said. "Our NCOs and leaders need to be larger-than-life to inspire them. They need to be fit. Their uniforms need to be sharp. They need to make the Airmen want to be like them."

Chief Savoie said, we are raising a generation who think second place is acceptable and that as long as they try, they should feel good about themselves.

"We're allowing young people to let losing define who they are," he said in a thick, Texas drawl. "Everywhere we turn, people say they can't do something because they come from dysfunctional backgrounds. Who doesn't have weird relatives?"

Chief Savoie reminded the audience that the Air Force was first in everything it did.

"We were the first at flight; we were the first to drop bombs. We were created by pioneers who didn't accept second place: pioneers like [Gen. Jimmy] Doolittle, [Chief Master Sgt. Paul] Airey and [Gen. Curtis] LeMay."

The chief went on to tell an anecdote about his high school football coach who treated second place as utter failure.

"If we lost, the coach was quivering with anger. 'Don't talk! Losers don't have the right to talk,'" he joked. "That's what we're missing with our young Airmen today. They need to know the importance of first place. They need to aspire for first and not be content with trying."

As the chief brought his speech to a close, his voice quivered with passion.

"We can't afford to be second," he said again. "Sacred names from the past call on us to win: Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, Vietnam, Baghdad, Anbar Province, the World Trade Center, a field in Pennsylvania, the Pentagon..."

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