Being Awesome Airmen

  • Published
  • By Lt Col Christopher Walker
  • 314th Training Squadron

I don’t claim to be awesome. My authority to write on this topic is owed to the great honor and privilege of working with awesome Airmen over the years. While names have been changed to respect privacy, the following anecdotes provide examples of awesomeness we can emulate.

Awesome Airmen believe in themselves. Senior Airman Jones timidly showed up to the Operations Support Squadron. She often second guessed herself, even though she was almost always right. This lack of confidence caused others to doubt her abilities and she was considered to be a mediocre performer. The time came for an NCO to move from the OSS to a key position in one of the flying squadrons, where traditionally the best and the brightest go. For a myriad of reasons Jones was the only one available. She was now working without a safety net, frequently the only one in the intelligence shop due to the shift schedule. Many people expected Jones to fail, but she quickly became a trusted expert. While her technical ability improved somewhat, the main difference was that she started believing in herself. She became an awesome Airman.

Awesome Airmen are bold. The General was visiting, the perfect time to gain support for an important initiative. The previous months were spent socializing the initiative with the General’s staff in an effort to change a policy that simply didn’t make sense. Within the first hour of the visit the General stated he was against the initiative. His declaration was so emphatic that only a fool would bring it up again. Enter Tech. Sgt. Johnson. Despite being well aware of the General’s strongly held position, Johnson advocated for the initiative when given the chance. He convinced the General to take another look at the proposal, which is now in the process of being implemented. Johnson was bold. He is an awesome Airman.

Awesome Airmen have fun. There we were, in Iraq working long days with no days off, suffering through oppressive heat, and receiving daily mortar fire. We were there standing up a new intelligence cell with minimal resources and only sporadic support from our partner agencies. While the level of suck was moderate at worst, it would have been easy to take a negative attitude. We were all frustrated with the challenges of establishing a new mission and forcing our way into existing processes with minimal guidance or support. At the same time, it was fun. Master Sgt. Thomas was retiring as soon as he returned from the deployment, and was determined to enjoy the last months of his career as much as possible. It didn’t matter what was happening, he had a positive attitude. His leadership made everyone around him better, because he lifted us all up. He made sure we had fun. He was an awesome Airman.

Believe in yourselves, be bold and have fun. Be awesome Airmen!