JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas —
I’ve heard the comment, “Airmen these days” quite a bit over the years. It’s usually from a negative standpoint; how today’s Airmen are not as disciplined, dedicated, or mature as those from “back in my day…” To help others see the greatness in our Airmen who join and stay on our team (no matter what age) – I’m going to start a series which demonstrates it called “Airmen these days.”
First up: Airman 1st Class Washington.
Back in October, I was headed into work early in the morning. Standing out in front of the headquarters building, was a flight of trainees. I was in civilian physical training gear and went up to the first trainee and said “Good morning, I’m Chief Blazier – can I help you?” The trainee’s face lit up when he realized I was his Command Chief and then responded with a reporting statement, and let me know they were dispatched for a flag detail on the parade field. Quickly, I realized they were in the wrong place and went inside to call and get the information and directions they needed. When I came back out, the word had traveled that I was the Command Chief and they all seemed excited about it, so I took the opportunity to share some advice, motivation and encouraged them to continue to strive to meet their goal as a team (you know, Chief stuff…).
As I wished them well and turned to walk away, a voice called out in the middle of the formation - “Sir, Trainee Washington reports…Will you come PT with us?” Inspired by the boldness of this individual, who was only in the 5th week of Basic Military Training (BMT) (and recognizing I now represented every Command Chief in the entire Air Force), I quickly said, “You can count on it!” The next week, I joined his flight and thousands of other trainees for 6 a.m. PT on Saturday. We got in a good session to start the day together; gotta love pyramid push-ups! I couldn’t walk away without thanking them for joining our team and working each day to earn a spot on it. I went up to Trainee Washington and told him to “keep leading and I hoped to see him around OUR Air Force again soon.” Little did I know, how quickly that day would come.
The next two weeks flew by. Meetings, taskers, and projects tend to do that. To reset, I always enjoy taking in a BMT graduation. When walking back to my office, after seeing 829 new Airmen join our ranks, I ran into you know who…now AIRMAN Washington. In his arms was a beautiful baby girl and his family was surrounding him. It was such a joy to see him again, especially on a day that every Airman never forgets. He introduced me to his daughter who was only 12 weeks old. Think about that...that means she was 3 weeks old when he left for BMT. That means she was in her mother’s womb when he enlisted.
You see this Airman serves to protect his family. To provide the best life for them as possible. To uphold the ideals and principles of our Nation so they are preserved for generations to come. And he CHOOSES to do so, even when it’s not easy - that’s LEADERSHIP! Thanks for inspiring me and so many others, Warrior. I know I can count on you to lead, fight, and win against anything you’ll face.
The fact is, each generation will be tested by what the world throws at them. Our job as leaders is to prepare and ready them for it. Today’s threats to freedom could care less how old we are – what they do want is to divide us. To combat this, we must recognize each other’s strengths versus picking at our soft spots. To know we have a common bond and ground to stand on. Sure, we may grow up under different conditions or circumstances, but at the end of the day, we must RISE and answer the call to defend and advance what prior generations have given us.
That’s what WE do as American Airmen – and we’ll always be our BEST as one Air Force team.