What it means to me to be a first-term Airman
By Airman Thomas Helfrich, 366th Equipment Maintenance Squadron / Published August 25, 2009
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho --
So far I feel I have done little to nothing to contribute to the military in which I enlisted. To me, being a first-term Airman means a time to learn, hence the First Term Airmen Center and on-the-job training. This is a time to soak in as much wisdom and knowledge as I can, learn from all the experienced individuals I work around and take in the knowledge relayed to me during the countless briefings I have attended.
I came into the Air Force with a pretty good understanding of what it would be like. Well, I thought I did anyway. I didn't know there are so many people to help you and point you in the right direction. I just figured that everything was like basic military training and technical school - a lot of yelling for no reason. My mind was changed shortly after arriving here. I came in at the lowest rank possible and received lots of help from so many people who out rank me. Being a first-term Airman just seems like the best time to pay attention. While listening when people are talking is always a good practice, it's a necessity this early in my career. There's no one I've met so far that I can't learn from.
As far as having pride goes, I have it. I feel proud to put my uniform on every day. Being in the presence of some the best fighter pilots in the world makes me proud. Knowing that my job is to make sure the pilots have enough devastation to deliver to the enemy makes me proud. I'm proud to be a part of something bigger than myself. Seeing and hearing F-15s take off all day almost makes me a little arrogant because I know that those jets are out there training for the real thing. I'm proud to know we are still one nation under God, and I have a part in defending it. This is the greatest Air Force in the world. If that doesn't get you even a little pumped, I don't know what will.
Being a brand new Airman is kind of like going to a new high school - you can either do the minimum and get by or strive for perfection. In high school, hard work can get you scholarships and college money, in the Air Force, hard work and discipline can get you stripes. Most importantly, the people around you and above you know they can trust and count on you. There's only one chance for a first impression, so this is the time to make it a good one. Being a brand new Airman is also an opportune time to show that you can handle responsibility and criticism. I want nothing more than to be told the job I'm working on looks like I put time and effort into it. The difference between good and great is the little extras. Like showing up early, staying late, volunteering for an extra shift or taking on additional duties.
I guess I'm saying to me personally, being a first-term Airman means work your hardest and do what is asked to your very best ability. Always be on time and always be ready. I can't get a bad attitude or start being complacent. I need to pass on the helpfulness that has been showed to me and help whenever and wherever I can. I also realize that it's not hard to just skate by, or get in to some real lazy habits. There are always good role models to look to, I just need to find the right one and make them my example.