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Life as an American Airman

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Joining the Air Force was the single most important event in my entire life. In the past, American Airmen have fought and died to defend this country, and I feel extremely honored to be among the proud group of Airmen who have served before me.

Every Airman has a role to play, from commanders to combat controllers to crew chiefs and services, we all provide a critical piece of the puzzle for completing the mission and fighting in overseas contingency operations.

Every Airman has important responsibilities regardless of rank or Air Force Specialty Code, and we may never falter or fail in these responsibilities. Remember that you raised your hand to defend the nation as part of the world's greatest Air Force. The most basic duty for Airmen is to follow the orders of their superiors, be it their immediate supervisor, first sergeant, commander or even the president.

Airmen are also required to be great wingmen, and we must never be lax in fulfilling this requirement on or off duty. We must develop mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually to near our maximum potential and complete the mission more and more efficiently.

Communication is a necessity, if we are to be completely focused on the mission, we must be able to communicate. Teamwork is essential for every Airman, and as an Airman develops, his immediate team grows larger and larger. While teamwork is an important part of airmanship, we must also learn to be self-sufficient. There are times downrange where you may be isolated and cut off, and you are still expected to be able to perform your job expertly. Though you do have an important job, you are still expected to have a healthy personal life.

Deployment is perhaps your most important time as an Airman. This is where we take the fight to the enemy so they do not invade our great, proud nation. You must always be vigilant when you are in the area of responsibility because even those who appear to be harmless may have malicious intent. In this you must not overlook the importance of operational security. Even if the information is not classified it may still be sensitive to the mission, therefore you must guard it closely. Information is on a strictly need to know basis, so even if it is a fellow Airman or a member of another service, you still must be careful about what you say.

If working in a joint assignment, you also are required to work alongside Marines, Sailors and Soldiers. Remember they are your brothers-in-arms as well, and you must respect them as you would another Airman. You will also be working alongside servicemen of many different backgrounds and creeds and you must learn to work with them, and learn to understand their points of view.

The deployed environment is extremely stressful, and you must never be afraid to ask for help. Doctors, chaplains and first sergeants are there for a reason, and are more than willing to help you.

Working as an Airman is extremely satisfying and is easily the most important thing I have ever done. Defending this great nation provides a great sense of accomplishment, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. No matter what your job, rank or position is, your piece of the Air Force puzzle is critical to the mission. Whether you only take one enlistment or stay in 30 years, you will always remember this time, so make the most of it.