Senior Master Sgt. of the Army (Ret.) Jack Tilley opened TechNet Tampa in a manner that deviated from the norm. Instead of relying on people's intellects and addressing the what and how of actions, he appealed to attendees' feelings to address the why. The retired senior master sergeant told several stories about troops killed and injured in action during Vietnam as well as current operations, impressing upon listeners the importance of using their time at the conference well. "It's about getting that kind of technology on the battlefield that saves lives," he said.
Senior Master Sgt. of the Army (Ret.) Tilley took the audience through times in his life that had changed him, including meeting troops who had been wounded in combat. Just as Martin Luther King, Jr. used the line "I Have a Dream" to emphasize points during his famous speech, the retired soldier here employed the words "It's about" to remind attendees why they should do what they do. Family, friend, God, country and protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States were a few of the reasons he provided for listeners to ponder.
At the end of his presentation, the retired senior master sergeant asked everyone to close their eyes and remember the 4,000 who have died and the 30,000-plus who have been injured during the current conflicts in the Middle East, as well as their family members. During the moments of reflection, a song played while voices of the families of those serving overseas spoke of their plight and their pride.