Our way of life

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- At 4:30 p.m. daily, Sheppard Air Force Base becomes still. Cars cease moving, Airmen snap to attention and silence descends upon Sheppard.

Everyone is motionless, that is, except for the Airman negligently listening to music on his afternoon jog. He stands out like a lone sailboat on a calm sea bringing the attention of all those around to him.

Luckily, this scenario is the exception to the rule here. In general, Team Sheppard members know and follow proper military customs and courtesies.

Master Sergeant Mac Mastroni, first sergeant for the 82nd Medical Group, said the majority of Sheppard servicemembers do the right thing every day.

Unfortunately, when someone doesn't follow customs and courtesies by rendering a proper salute, that's the time someone notices a violation of Air Force standards, Sergeant Mastroni said.

Customs and courtesies are important to the military for a number of reasons, he said. They include discipline among the ranks, our image to the public and effective leadership.

It's hard to accomplish the mission without a sound foudation of customs and courtesies, Sergeant Mastroni said. These standards allow a commander to more effectively lead his, or her, group. They also aid in maintaining good order and discipline.
"Practice customs and courtesies yourself," Sergeant Mastroni said. "But don't be hesitant to correct someone. Anybody can correct someone. Just do it respectfully; maintain respect."

Lack of proper customs and courtesies can bring too much familiarity (to a unit). When the unit's supervisor has to give an order, it can hamper the ability to lead.
It is important, in particular, with Sheppard as a training base, that Team Sheppard members strive to set the example for others.

"We are mentors for all the non-prior service Airmen here," said Senior Master Sgt. Terry Neuharth, superintendent of wing military training operations. "They'll take what they learn here through the rest of their careers."

Sergeant Neuharth said Airmen will take the customs and courtesies training learned here to their next assignment and pass it on to other Airmen.

"Tech school is a continuation of basic military training," Sergeant Mastroni said, adding the customs and courtesy training received at basic shouldn't end.

Practicing proper customs and courtesies is not difficult, Sergeant Neuharth said.
"It's all about self discipline," he said. "We can pretend we don't here the music. But, it all falls back on integrity and discipline."

Customs and courtesies are not more rules put in place just to have someone follow them. They go to the very core of what makes up the Air Force's heritage.

"These are time honored traditions (and) we need to keep up," Sergeant Mastroni said. "It's our way of life."