By Chief Master Sgt. Edward Edgar
317th Recruiting Squadron superintendent
When I think about being a good Airman first, there are two quotes that have framed my focus.
The first came from Chief Master Sgt. A.C. Smith, who is the command chief master sergeant for the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. It was part of his address to the Team Hill 5/6 Association, and I was attending as the president of Hill’s Top 3. He said:
“I was 19 years old when I got into the Air Force. I was 32 when the Air Force got into me.”
I heard the other quote while attending a senior noncommissioned officer induction seminar at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. We were being addressed by the commander’s panel, and one of the members urged us to “be visible in uniform with your stripes, be it on the flight line or on base at the commissary … be visible.”
These two senior leaders spoke about committing more to the Air Force than just your technical expertise, which should be a given.
The point is that although vital to force multiplication, simply recruiting is not enough. Being a great Airman requires ethical leadership that promotes the Air Force’s core values both within and outside your unit. It requires building a warrior ethos by honing your skills to support employment of military capabilities; skills that stagnate when we simply focus on tasks in our job description. It also requires self development that continually increases breadth and depth of knowledge and skill.
What does all this mean? In my experience, we tend to compartmentalize in the recruiting career field much more than traditional Air Force Specialty Codes. You’ve no doubt heard the old saying that when you ask a United States Marine Corps member what they do, their response is “I’m a Marine,” or “Sailor” or “Soldier” for our sister services.
However, when you ask an Air Force member what they do, you might hear, “I am a heavy equipment operations technician.” While this pride in a specialty is admirable, overall growth comes from service pride.
Identify with the institution! Step out of your comfort zone and into leadership, mentorship and warrior ethos that build opportunities consistently and deliberately. The good news is the opportunities are endless. You can go wrong by showing your committment and passion for the Air Force by seeking out professional and personal educational opportunities or participating in professional organizations like the Top 3, Rising 6, or Air Force Sergeants Assocation. You can also support other shadow programs or community projects as well.
As most readers are not 19 years old, I’ll pose this question to you: “What age will you be when the Air Force gets in you?”
PHOTO: Capt. Alan Morford, U.S. Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team commander, moves through a gauntlet of spinning rifles during the Joint Service Drill Exhibition, April 12, 2014, at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Robert Cloys/Released)