Breaking Barriers

February 22, 2021

General Charles Q. Brown, Jr. is the 22nd Chief of Staff of the Air Force and the first Black chief of a military service. After being sworn in, he talked about those who came before him breaking barriers – influences like the Tuskegee Airmen (we highlighted them earlier this month) who paved the way for him to reach where he is today.

A published author, a Bronze Star recipient, a command pilot with over 2,900 flying hours (130 of which were combat hours), and one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020 – Gen. Brown is a force of nature. He is highly decorated, incredibly experienced, and known to reference Spiderman and the Avengers in speeches. (Check out the transcript of his speech at the Air Force Association’s 2020 virtual Air, Space, & Cyber 2020 Conference last September.) 

He’s also known for talking about the importance of changing and adapting. In that same AFA speech he says, “We can admire the problem and talk about how tough it’s going, how hard the decision to be able to make. Or we can take action. I vote for the latter. We must take action. We must accelerate change or lose.”

Sure, he’s discussing military capabilities – but through his words and deeds, Gen. Brown reminds us of something we all know but often need to be reminded of. Sitting in the thick of a challenge has never made anything better, whether you’re a military spouse facing (yet another) PCS season, a military family dealing with a global pandemic, or someone who’s been told you can’t move ahead or accomplish something because you’re not the right color, religion, or any of the other labels we use to separate each other.

Perhaps Heather Wilson, president of the University of Texas at El Paso and a former Secretary of the Air Force, said it best in the Time magazine write-up on Gen. Brown. Future airmen “now know the sky’s not the limit in today’s Air Force.”

[Photo by Airman 1st Class Ilyana Escalona, 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs ]