Growing Pains: transforming into an American Airman
By Airman 1st Class Noe A. Diaz De Leon, 366th Fighter Wing
/ Published June 29, 2011
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- To be a First Term Airman in today's Air Force means many things to me. To start, I look back on where it all started to see how far I've come.
Six years ago I graduated high school with absolutely no discipline or direction in life. I had the benefits of a young mind and resources of a college eager to shape me into a hard working citizen. Instead, I threw it all away for simple pleasures and the spoils of an easy job.
I can't say the years of work that followed were completely wasted. I gained knowledge of how harsh the world can be and how hard you need to work just to get by. Eventually, something changed in me and I realized I needed to make up for lost time, to do something great with my life. That is the day I called my local Air Force recruiter.
The six months of the delayed entry program flew by in what felt like a matter of weeks. Before I knew it, I was saying goodbye to my family and boarding a plane for basic military training. I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into.
The next eight-and-a-half weeks were the most mentally and physically demanding weeks I had ever experienced. I learned to trust myself and my fellow wingmen, to always strive for greatness and never settle for "good enough."
Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, shaped me into the man I am today. The instructors prepared me for the future. Unlike a few of my wingmen, I was ready for the temptations at technical school.
When some were at the beach every evening, I was earning my class title of "Bookworm" in the dorms. The weekends were mine, but the weeknights belonged to the class material. I knew these books would help me save lives one day. I wasn't going to risk any more time on simple pleasures. When I earned top graduate, I had proven to myself I had it in me to make it. At that moment I knew that the road to MHAFB, was just the beginning to a great future.
Now that I've made it to the operational Air Force, I finally understand what it means to be in this family everyone has been telling me about. My role in our mission is clear to me.
All of my commanders and chiefs were once standing in my boots looking up at the world ready to change it for the better. I understand I need to continue doing my best and trying my hardest in everything I do.
Throughout my career, the decisions I make will directly impact this "family" and the lives of wingmen serving beside me. My place right now is to make the most of the resources offered to me, to continue learning everything I can in the hopes that someday the knowledge will help me do my part in this great service.