I am an American Airman

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Troie Croft
  • 93d Air Ground Operations Wing command chief
I am an American Airman...at least that's what the Creed says.   But what do I say when people ask what I am; Geo-Spatial Analyst, Intelligence Analyst, Command Chief, Airman... 

At what point do I stop identifying with my AFSC, career field, or duty position and identify with my Service?  For some, I would say that maybe the answer is rarely, or never, do we identify as an Airman when asked, "What are you?" 

Perhaps that's due to our technical roots.  The Air Force was created to have personnel focused on air power and has been a technical force since the beginning.  We place great emphasis on career development courses, skill levels, advanced training, and expertise.  We have entire programs dedicated to recognizing excellence within our functional specialties and career field managers wield enormous amounts of influence across the force.  We even have an enlisted rank that represents the top of our skilled corps..."Technical" Sergeant.  And yet, we have this term -Airman--hanging out there.

The Marines do not have this problem.  Ask a Marine what they are and you get one answer; I'm a Marine.  From Private to General the answer is the same.  Of course, there is understandably a lot of pride in being a Marine.  They have a rich history, a proud tradition, and are feared in battle.  But don't we have these things too?

In our short 67 years of existence, have we not developed a rich history?  Our roots are at the beginning of powered flight.  We hunted bandits in the Mexican desert, came of age in WWII, airlifted food and supplies to millions of people, and dominated the skies from Korea to present day.   But, these are not our most enduring historical legacies; that is reserved for change.  Change is at the heart of being an Airman.  It enables us to recognize the impact and importance of history without being a slave to it. 

Do we not have proud traditions?  The Combat Dining In, Order of the Sword, fini flights and others demonstrate our willingness to serve, our appreciation of great leadership, and respect to those whose final flight has come.  We shout our unit battle cries at graduations, promotions and many other celebrations.  We are surrounded by traditions that we borrowed from others and have made our own.  But you have to identify yourself as an Airman to feel the weight of our history setting on your shoulders and to truly experience our traditions.

And are we not feared in battle?  Our rockets roar into space, our unblinking eye of surveillance watches the enemy, and the silence of the nuclear force is deafening to those who threaten us.  Our enemies scatter at the sound of our approach, we destroy our adversaries with pinpoint accuracy, and the arrival of a squadron of fighters can change the mind of a dictator.  We are so good at what we do that the Army hasn't been threatened from the air in decades and countries have buried their aircraft rather than fly against us.  We truly are America's sword and shield.

The F-35, KC-46, and LRS-B point to a continued legacy of global vigilance, global reach, and global power for America's Air Force.  But these advancements in technology pale in comparison to the re-shaping of our entire enlisted development, rating, and promotion systems which will ensure our continued success in Air, Space, and Cyberspace for generations to come.   Through change and innovation we will retain our technical prowess, but it will be our bonding as Airmen that will enable us to respond to our nation's call as America's Air Force.

So, to quote our song, "Here's a toast to the host.  Of those who love the vastness of the sky."

I am an American Airman!