Today is Memorial Day, a day traditionally dedicated to those who have died in the service of our nation. If you’d like to read a good history of how Memorial Day came to be, you can read one at the official Memorial Day website here. While the eyes of our nation typically turn to places like Arlington National Cemetery, there are other places around the world where American servicemen and women have been laid to rest. And while I’ve toured Arlington, and have been deeply moved by the experience, there were two other places that had an even more profound effect upon me.
CAMBRIDGE AMERICAN CEMETERY AND MEMORIAL (Website Link)
When I was a young A-10 pilot, stationed at RAF Bentwaters/Woodbridge in the United Kingdom in the late 1980′s, I took every opportunity I could to get out and tour the historic areas of both England and the continent. On a day trip to Cambridge, England I spent some time at the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial. Here’s the description from the website:
The Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial site in England, 30.5 acres in total, was donated by the University of Cambridge. It lies on a slope with the west and south sides framed by woodland. The cemetery contains the remains of 3,812 of our military dead; 5,127 names are recorded on the Tablets of the Missing. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified. Most died in the Battle of the Atlantic or in the strategic air bombardment of northwest Europe.
This view of the cemetery shows the wall in the background with the list of those missing.
Why did this move me as much as it did – even more than Arlington? Well, at the time I was stationed in England, the Cold War was still underway and we were on a pseudo wartime footing while stationed in the UK. Although World War II had ended over forty years previously, England was still an occupied country. There were several US bases throughout the nation, planes routinely flew 250-500 feet over the countryside on training missions and live surface-to-air missiles sites were active on the east coast of the UK, pointed over the English Channel and North Sea for the Red Threat, which thankfully never came. There was nothing in my previous life that prepared me for this. The entire nation had not been “at peace” for over fifty years. And then, when I arrived at this cemetery, I saw one small glimpse of the price our nation had paid to keep not only keep Americans free, but also to keep Britons free as well. The men and women resting here never made it home, instead they were laid to rest in the land they died to defend. Their mothers and fathers and husbands and wives and sisters and brothers and sons and daughters had to leave the US and come to England to pay their final respects. Even more of these men and women were never even recovered, so it is their names only which are memorialized. As a serviceman, one of the things you are constantly aware of is the fact that you may be called upon to give your life in the defense of your country or our allies. To look out over so many who did so and were buried so far from home touched me very deeply.
And then there was Omaha Beach.
NORMANDY AMERICAN CEMETERY AND MEMORIAL (Website Link)
1990 was my last year stationed in Europe. The Berlin Wall had come down, the Cold War had ended, Germany was reuniting and Saddam Hussein hadn’t even invaded Kuwait yet – there was sense of general euphoria. I was touring continental Europe and decided to swing through Normandy, France and see Omaha Beach before driving up the coast to Calais to catch the ferry back to England. I had read quite a lot of World War II history, so I thought I was quite the authority on D-Day. But it was one thing to read about it and quite another to see where it had taken place. The first thing I saw was the series of bunkers overlooking Omaha Beach, and you didn’t have to be an expert in ground tactics to figure out that those on the high ground, behind tons of concrete, had a clear advantage over those below them, in the open, with nothing to shield them. (Keep in mind that the movie “Saving Private Ryan” had not been made yet.)
And then, within walking distance, was the cemetery and memorial. Here’s a picture along with the description from the website.
The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France is located on the site of the temporary American St. Laurent Cemetery, established by the U.S. First Army on June 8, 1944 and the first American cemetery on European soil in World War II. The cemetery site, at the north end of its half mile access road, covers 172.5 acres and contains the graves of 9,387 of our military dead, most of whom lost their lives in the D-Day landings and ensuing operations. On the Walls of the Missing, in a semicircular garden on the east side of the memorial, are inscribed 1,557 names. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified.
This one hit me especially hard. After seeing the beach where the fighting took place, my mind had naturally wondered about the human cost to attain the objective and then, just a few steps away, that cost was displayed. Rows upon rows of young men and women, many of whom were interred mere feet from where they fell – mere feet from the beach head they gave their lives for – mere feet from the place where freedom came to Europe once again. To say that it was moving to behold this place is an understatement of colossal proportions.
So on this Memorial Day, as you enjoy your family and the burgers and hot dogs, and as you honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice, say a special prayer for the souls and families of those who never made it back to American soil. And if you get the chance to spend sometime abroad, make it point to visit places like this. It puts the freedom and liberty we enjoy as Americans in a different perspective.
You’ll probably be reading a lot of these over the next few years. An integral part of a PhD degree is the dissertation, a paper that should present some new research in the field of the PhD. The Department of Doctoral Studies at Embry-Riddle has been very aggressive in focusing us on the dissertation, even as we began the program. This orientation is a sound one in my opinion since there are many PhD “ABDs” out there – “all but dissertation” – which is essentially no degree at all. By focusing our attention on the dissertation from the beginning, as research opportunities present themselves in the various courses along the way, we can gear our research topics toward our dissertation and continue to refine our thinking. My current course is DAV 733, Globalization and the Aviation Environment and we’re required to write a 15-20 page research paper on a topic related to the course objectives as part of the course requirements. The topic I’ve chosen for the research paper will lay the foundation for my dissertation and focuses on the International Standard for Business Aviation Operations or IS-BAO as it is more commonly know.
The International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) has been in existence for almost exactly ten years, having been formally introduced to the business aviation community at the European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibit (EBACE) in Geneva, May 2002 (IBAC, 2012b). As of May 1, 2012, there were 646 IS-BAO registrants in some 39 countries, 184 of which are commercial operators and the remainder of which are private or corporate operators (J. Sheehan, personal communication, May 24, 2012; IBAC, 2012c). According to the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) which established it, IS-BAO was developed “by the industry for the benefit of the industry. It is a code of best practices designed to help flight departments worldwide achieve a high level of safety and professionalism” (IBAC, 2012b).
While standardized procedures and pseudo-regulatory limitations are part of the IS-BAO standard, the core element is the safety management system (SMS), a process designed to effectively manage safety risks in the organization (IBAC, 2012c). If we accept the supposition of Stolzer, Halford and Goglia (2008), that to be effective, an SMS must be applied in a safety culture environment, we could draw the follow-on conclusion that if an aviation organization has effectively adopted and implemented IS-BAO, a safety culture environment should be in place. According to Bill Stine, the Director of Operations for the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), that conclusion is precisely the case:
“(IS-BAO) is a process built around establishing a true participatory safety culture within an operation. It does include all the requirements of a formal safety management system–an SMS–but IS-BAO goes beyond, by causing a company to develop a positive, non-punitive, safety culture with these industry-based best practices to support it” (Sheridan, 2011).
Hence, we arrive at the premise for aviation organizations that if IS-BAO, then safety culture. But is that the actual reality or merely the expected outcome?
My goal with this research paper is to take the pulse of the industry and document what the industry believes. My guess is that industry does, in fact, believe that if IS-BAO, then safety culture. The problem though is that a true safety culture, as we will discuss, requires “buy-in” from everyone in an aviation organization to function. And there are many in the “rank and file” of business aviation who aren’t buying in. But looking at that will be the next step in the process. Stay tuned . . .
IBAC. (2012a). Understanding SMS » international business aviation council Retrieved 5/26/2012, from http://www.ibac.org/is_bao/understanding-sms
IBAC. (2012b). Introducing IS-BAO. Retrieved 5/26/2012, from http://www.ibac.org/is_bao
IBAC. (2012c). IS-BAO registered operators » international business aviation council Retrieved 5/26/2012, from http://www.ibac.org/is_bao/registered-operators-2
Sheridan, J. (2011, April). IBAC: IS-BAO proves valuable investment. Aviation International News Online. Retrieved 5/26/2012 from http://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/aviation-international-news/2011-03-28/ibac-bao-proves-valuable-investment
Stolzer, A. J., Halford, C. D., & Goglia, J. J. (2008). Safety management systems in aviation (Kindle ed.). Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate.Read More
I had a recent interview with Rhett Palmer. Rhett is a local talk show host in my hometown, Vero Beach, Florida. You can find out all about “The Mayor of the Airwaves” here. He also produces a publication titled Vero’s Voice. Below is a page from issue 14, page 30 of Vero’s Voice that featured “The Viper Contract.”
Rhett has interviewed a long list of very influential people including Secretary of State, Colin Powell; Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford; Reverend Billy Graham, Tommy Lee Jones, Garth Brooks, Los Angeles Dodgers Manager, Tommy Lasorda; Dr. Robert Schuller; Carly Simon; and “60 Minutes” veteran Mike Wallace. I therefore, consider myself in very good company!
Listen to the interview below and let me know what you think. Actually, let Rhett know what you think by contacting him here
Thank you, Rhett, for the great interview and I look forward to speaking with you again soon!