Airman loses way, wingmen watch

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

His Air Force legacy will be the Airman who got court-martialed for a month-long cocaine binge. As an Airman 1st Class, I don’t know much about military law or courts-martial but I was afforded the opportunity to sit in on his.

Not knowing anything about the case or anyone involved in the choices that led him to fail a urinalysis, ruin his career and negatively affect the careers of those around him, I can’t help but wonder how no one in his life intervened.

I didn’t grow up around drugs and never personally knew anyone who’d had issues with them. Hearing testimony from witnesses and watching the confession tape of the Airman really opened my eyes to how quickly these things can escalate.

The Airman said that within the month he was using cocaine he became so addicted to the way it made him feel that he kept buying it until he had no money to buy anymore.

He made a horrible decision that ruined his career, but the decisions of multiple people to ignore it could’ve ruined more lives.

This Airman was responsible for flight equipment designed to save lives. Multiple people knew he was using cocaine and didn’t do anything to stop him or say anything to his leadership. Although it was never proven that he came to work under the influence, what if he had? What if he made a mistake that cost someone their life?

Would they have said something if he was inspecting parachutes they had to rely on and could cost them their lives? The only reason he was caught was because he failed a urinalysis.

His bad decisions have stained those around him because when he got caught he made sure investigators knew about the people who never reported him. Now they’re facing consequences for what they didn’t do.

The Airman pled guilty to using cocaine more than twice and one count of cocaine distribution. He chose to have a jury of officers determine his punishment while the witnesses and evidence presented supported the charges.

Having already plead guilty and receiving a federal conviction, the jury decided on confinement for two-months, forfeiture of two-thirds pay for two months and reduction in rank to E-1.

The biggest thing I took away from this was how differently things could have been if this Airman had a wingman.

I was in basic training in 2015 where they instill in you the wingman concept and explain how important it is to be there for one another and hold each other accountable. This Airman had plenty of witnesses that knew exactly what he was doing, but he had no wingmen.

I challenge you to be a better wingman. If you hear that someone is doing wrong or has a problem, offer them help, get involved and press the issue. Make it a big deal and force them to self-identify.

We have to be there for one another and be the generation of Airmen that really defines wingmanship.