Each Airman is an ambassador

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Angela Shepherd
  • 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Most of us Airmen, regardless of rank or AFSC, have been asked by a family member or another civilian at one point or another, "So, what type of airplane do you fly?" That happens because many people don't know that much about the military, and they assume that just because we're in the Air Force, and the Air Force flies planes, we must all be pilots.

Well, that same kind of mentality leads to community citizens thinking the entire Air Force is bad just because they had one bad experience with one Airman downtown or saw one Airman do something foolish. Whether they see the Airman speeding, driving erratically, littering, blaring their music, acting rude and disrespectful to someone, or acting out in some other way, they automatically assume the worst about the rest of us.

When you're in the military, it's easy for a civilian to pick you out of the crowd, even if you're not in uniform. Several things give us away - the DOD decal on our windshields, our out-of-state license plates, our haircuts, our Air Force decorative stickers on our cars, even just the way we carry ourselves. They know who we are. So don't think you're not identifiable as an Airman just because you're not in uniform.

And protecting our image is crucial to our success. A big part of any military base's success comes from the support they receive from the community.

Fortunately in Goldsboro and Wayne County, we have a great relationship. A lot of that comes through the programs that bring base and community leadership together, allowing them to get to know and understand each other.

But not every regular citizen gets to see the base, learn our mission and meet military people like their leaders do, so that's why our behavior in the community is so important.
We need to keep in mind that while, yes, we pump a lot into their economy, we are the guests here. They are the ones that are gracious enough to have us, to put up with the loud jet noise, to tolerate our middle-of-the-night war games.

Think about it this way. If you were staying with a friend's family or a relative or someone else, would you act like an idiot, or would you be polite?

We have a great relationship with our community; let's not jeopardize what past and current generations have worked so hard for by acting foolish.