I am an American Airman

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Chris Campbell
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing
When you hear the Airman's Creed, what do the words mean to you?

I think about the proud heritage of the Air Force. I think about Gen. Billy Mitchell betting his career on airpower. I think about the Tuskegee Airmen and their struggle to break into a segregated Air Force. I think about Brig. Gen. Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager in his X-1 and Sgt. John Levitow's heroic act over the jungles of Vietnam. Furthermore, I think about the constant struggle of the war on terrorism and our selfless young Airmen who have answered their nation's call to engage in it.

We are young compared to the rest of the services; however, our heritage can be traced to before the Wright brothers' heavier-than-air flight to the use of balloons during the Civil War. We are Airmen above all else -- one team and one fight -- with a tradition of honor and legacy of valor. I am an Airman first and a first sergeant second. When you see Soldiers, Sailor or Marines, they have service distinction. They are proud to be called by those terms.

In today's Air Force, the term "Airman" is earned in basic training. Airmen are honored with a coin ceremony and the opportunity to wear the Air Force service dress for the first time. This is a special time, as well it should be, because not everyone who applies to the Air Force will be called Airman. These men and women have volunteered to defend their country with their lives if necessary.

When we do business each day, we should remember we are dealing with our fellow Airmen. Remember that we have all willingly taken the oath of enlistment. Whether you deal in bullets, biscuits, B-1B Lancers, back pay or bicuspids, we are all Airmen, bound by the common bond of the profession of arms.

The Air Force has stopped using the noncommissioned officer creed, the senior NCO creed, the first sergeant oath and even the chief's creed. Some may say that these are a part of our history -- things we have worked hard for in order to be able to stand next to our peers and recite our oath or creed. We may be affiliated with different groups according to our Air Force specialty code, job titles or ranks, but we must never forget that we are Airmen first. At most promotion ceremonies, you now hear only the Airman's Creed. We are one group, from airman basic to general, unified as the guardians of freedom and justice. We are our nation's sword and shield, its sentry and avenger.

We are wingmen, leaders and warriors. Together we will never falter and will not fail. Pride in service, heritage and lineage will reinforce our commitment to our mission to fly, fight and win.