It started with mom
By Chief Master Sgt. Gary Thompson, 436th MSG superintendent, 436th Mission Support Group
/ Published June 03, 2021
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. --
When I think of Mother’s Day, I am reminded of a quote from Gaspard Mermillod, “A mother is she who can take the place of all others, but whose place no one else can take.” Wow! For me, that quote captures the enormous impact, importance and significance mothers have in our lives. We depend on our mothers to provide us with a safe environment, nourishment (emotionally and physically), encouragement and support to thrive. Mothers give us good starts in life, affect our character and personality development and play the leading role in determine who we become as human beings. So, it’s no wonder why Mother’s Day is celebrated around the world as an occasion to show respect, honor and love to mothers.
In my own personal journey and military career, the mothers in my life have been everything to me. My wife, mother, mother-in-law, sisters, aunts and friends have been my trusted confidants, cheerleaders, spiritual advisors, accountability coaches and strongest supporters. From my mother, Willie Mae Thompson, I learned my first leadership principles…Be respectful, be responsible, be accountable, be trustworthy, be humble and be strong. Traits every leader should have. People spend millions of dollars every year for leadership development when in most cases our mothers have taught us everything we need to know. My mother taught me those principles through her actions, work ethic, daily conversations with me and discipline when I needed to be course corrected. I have used these principles throughout my 26-year career leading Airmen in every environment across the world. My mother raised me to be a leader, so it was no surprise when I told my mother I wanted to leave home to join the world’s greatest Air Force. She was sad of course, but she knew I was prepared to chart my own journey and lead my own life.
That journey would not be alone of course. I still had her love, guidance and support, but I picked up a teammate along the way…my wife Dustie, the mother of my two children and my backbone. My wife and I will be married 25 years this September. Almost all of my military career and all of my adult life I have had her by my side. My wife, who’s a veteran herself of 11 years in the Air Force, gave up her fast-burning career to ensure our children grew up in a more stable environment. Partly due to the uncertainty inherent to military life and my deployment tempo. I was not on board with this decision at first as she was progressing faster than me in her career, but she has always had a plan for our finances and her post career education that we steadfastly followed. She has since outpaced me again in her new career…go figure! My wife has been the most supportive military spouse. She even pushed me not to retire and give up my goal of making chief master sergeant, knowing that would entail additional sacrifices and requirements of me being promoted to chief. My wife’s ability to adapt, persevere and keep our family stable gave me the peace of mind I needed to serve our great nation.
In closing, mothers are the glue that hold families together, the love that keeps ups lifted, the drive that keep us motivated, the peace that keeps us grounded and security that keeps us safe. I would like to give my thanks to all mothers’ lives that have helped us in ways we could never repay. Also, thank you to all of the military spouses that serve, sacrifice and support us. We would not be the world’s greatest Air Force without you!