Be a proud Airman - it's more than a name

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol
  • U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center Public Affairs
I know this old Marine who's been retired for years, but I still call him a Marine. It's simply out of respect.

He and I joke quite often about the differences in services and who did or does what better. But every time we greet each other, it's, "How are you Marine?" He replies, "What's new Airman?"

It's that greeting I often look forward to with him - mostly because he calls me "Airman." He obviously knows I respect for him being a retired Marine, and he returns the gesture. That's the way it is and the way I like it.

I'm proud to be called an Airman in every sense of the word. Everyone who has been tied to Air Force blue, officer or enlisted, went through a lot to become an Airman. Whether it was Basic Military Training, the Air Force Academy, one of the toughest academic institutions in the country, the Reserve Officer Training Corps, Officer Training School, or some other avenue, getting in and building your life as an Airman is not by any means easy.

Our spouses, children, mothers, fathers and others tied to us have sacrificed too. Some more than others, but the point is for every Airman there is a family who supports that Airman. To me, my family members are my personal wingmen. These are people who help me achieve and complete the things we need to do as Airmen. They may not wear the rank or title, but they sacrifice something like all Airmen do and they have earned a place of honor.

Now we are a country at war. We have Airmen who are dying doing things no one ever thought the Air Force would do. But like true patriots, the Air Force stepped up to the plate again because we are warriors, and more importantly, wingmen.

You see, I believe the Air Force doesn't just look at fellow Airmen and their families as wingmen - they accept all of our comrades in arms in the active, Guard and Reserve forces from all the services. I've seen it first-hand all over the world at home station and while deployed. We are America's wingmen.

We've sacrificed for our service. We've done what we've been called to do and we're proud of it. There is a high sense of honor in being an Airman that no one can take away. Some people may think otherwise, but if you ask me, I'll tell you different.
I believe our Air Force is the best in the world - period. I have no problem saying that because I am an Airman.

This year, the Air Force turns 60 as a service. Our heritage as a service for air and space power is unrivaled anywhere. We have warrior ethos, we have storied history and we have a reason to be proud. I know my family and friends back home in Michigan are proud to say their brother, son or friend is an "Airman." I hear it every time I go to my hometown.

The Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. T. Michael Moseley, may have said it best in the CSAF's Vector entitled "Wingmen for Life." In his words to America's Airmen, he said, "once an Airman, always an Airman." That is so very true.

I know when the years pass after I retire from the military and a younger, still active Marine approaches me, I'm going to say, "How are you Marine?" I hope I'll hear back, "What's new Airman?"

Being an Airman, and a proud one, is something I will always treasure because I know it is more than a name.