Always an Airman

  • Published
  • By Col. Jeff Philippart
  • 62nd Airlfit Wing
As my final commentary on active duty, I would like to start by thanking the men and women of the 62nd Airlift Wing for your outstanding performance and service. It has been my honor and privilege to be your Vice Wing Commander over the past two years. I am humbled and eternally grateful for the continued sacrifices made by you and your families.

As I depart McChord Field, I would like to share my thoughts about us, about Airmen. Looking back over my 24-year career, I realized that all Airmen share an amazing bond. It does not matter when you served or for how long, but service in the United States Air Force is special and connects us in many ways.

One of these connections is the spirit of innovation. From the beginning of flight with the Wright brothers to other aviation pioneers like Chuck Yeager, Airmen have pushed the envelope to find new and better ways to get things done. I have witnessed this spirit of innovation throughout my career and particularly here at McChord Field where we found better ways to maintain the planes or train with our Army partners.

Another connection we share is a "can-do" attitude. We call it mission focus but the bottom line is that Airmen will work to their core to get the job done. Throughout our history, we have examples like the Doolittle Raiders in WWII or the Wolfpack in Vietnam that demonstrate the price Airmen are willing to pay in order to accomplish the mission. I see this same "can-do" attitude from the Airmen of Team McChord, whether they are fixing planes, loading planes, flying planes or taking care of the Joint Base. In the end, it is the cumulative efforts of the entire team that allows us to accomplish the critically important Global Reach mission each and every day.

Finally, we share the core value of Service before Self. It is important to remember that we take an oath to serve and defend an idea, a principal, a way of life reflected in the words of the Constitution. We do not pledge allegiance to a person or a political party but a nation, united under the banner of liberty and freedom. Those principles are represented by our flag, the same flag on top of that beautiful C-17 T-tail. I have been privileged to fly around the globe, to every continent and more than 80 countries. In all of those places, American Airmen and that flag represent the freedoms that we serve to protect.

There are other connections we share but innovation, mission accomplishment and service to protect and defend our way of life are three powerful strands of this incredible, unbreakable bond that connects all Airmen - past, present and future. And this bond is why I will always be an Airman.