'Above All' ... I am an American Airman first

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Rhonda Larson
  • 62nd Mission Support Squadron commander
I have to say I'm really happy we now have an Airman's Creed.

For too many years, when asked what I do for a living, I've answered, "I'm a personnel officer in the Air Force" or "I do human resources for the Air Force" or more recently "I'm a squadron commander at McChord." Meanwhile, my brothers and sisters in the Navy, Army and Marines would have replied, "I'm a Sailor/Soldier/Marine," respectively. In the past, I felt pretty awkward about identifying myself as an Airman -- not because I'm not proud to serve in the Air Force -- but because I thought I might be confused as holding a junior enlisted rank, or even as being an aviator.

So, now that we have the creed, and now that I'm more prepared to identify myself as an Airman, I realize how often in the past I've thought of myself as a mission support professional first and an Airman second. This is probably due to the specialized, technical nature of the Air Force and how we organize our units. All the same, I joined the Air Force to serve my country -- not necessarily to work in personnel. When did I lose that focus?

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to judge some of the senior projects at Aviation High School. My initial inclination was to decline the invitation -- I figured most of the senior projects at that particular school would be math, science, engineering or aviation focused, and that I'd be out of my element and illequipped to judge these projects competently. It took me a while to remember that, as an Airman, I am an advocate of air and space power and I'm conversant with the unique characteristics of airpower. (As it turned out, none of the projects I judged were engineering or aviation related, but they were still pretty cool.) If I hadn't reminded myself I am an Airman first, I might have missed out on a really interesting event.

I AM an American Airman. I'm also honored to be a part of the work we do in the 62nd Mission Support Squadron -- our programs and services support a lot of people and enable them to perform their missions. I'm sure those of you reading this column are proud to be cooks, aircrew members, security forces specialists, medical technicians, maintainers, etc. When we take pride in our work performance, the mission can only benefit. However, remembering we're Airmen first puts our hard work and technical expertise into context. I AM an American Airman. My mission is to fly, fight and win.

So, what do you do for a living?