A US Air Force General who drew curious looks after it was discovered his service ribbons were upside-down during last night’s State of the Union address is stepping forward and admitting his mistakes, a rare act of humility and leadership that has earned him the respect of many servicemembers.
Chief of the National Guard Bureau General Joseph L. Lengyel was likely surprised to see his chest all over the internet in the past 24 hours, with a glaring and colorful mistake- not unlike Maverick from Top Gun, his ribbons were inverted.
Being a televised event, it didn’t take long for people to notice the error and wonder how such a thing could have happened. Within a short span of time, his rack had become a meme.
While officers could simply pass blame to a subordinate or ignore the whole affair, Lengyel took a moment of his time to address the matter and use it as a learning experience.
“A not-so-funny thing happened on the way to the State of the Union last night,” he wrote on Facebook. “If you look closely, you’ll see that the ribbons on my uniform jacket are upside down. How can this possibly happen, you might ask. Well, we’re all human, including me.”
According to Lengyel, the blame falls on him for failing to notice- and no one else.
“As I made a final check in the mirror just before I walked out the door, I missed it… Plain and simple,” he said. “I hope this is a lesson for everyone who wears the uniform, and really for anyone. They put erasers on pencils for a reason. When you make a mistake or miss a detail, own it and move on.”
“One thing is for sure,” he added. “My ribbons will NEVER be upside down again.”
The son of an Air Force officer who was a Prisoner of War during Vietnam, Lengyel began his career in 1981 and has over 3,000 flying hours, with the majority of his flight time in F-16s.
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