In 2007, United States Air Force Gen. T. Michael Moseley, former Chief of Staff, first published the Airman’s Creed.
Since that time it has become the very heart of the Air Force. Its words are memorized by every Airman and repeated at every significant event and ceremony. It defines who we are.
Within that creed are nine words placed at the very end. They are not there by mistake. They are there as an oath of commitment to excellence. These nine words are “I will never falter and I will not fail.”
So how do we live out this oath? How can we so boldly proclaim that we will never falter and that we will not fail? Are these merely boastful words or are they within our ability to truly fulfill?
I would argue that we each have the ability to fulfill this commitment and the answer to how is in the seven words directly above the oath we make to never falter and not fail. The key is in the statement “I will never leave an Airman behind.”
English poet John Donne wrote that no man is an island unto himself. The same is true of every Airman who is a part of the profession of arms that is the United States Air Force.
Alone, none of us can bear the burden of the mission entrusted to us, but together our individual strengths complement one another.
Where I am weak my wingman is strong. Where my wingman is weak I am strong. Together we cover the gaps and ensure success.
However, when we allow the pursuit of personal success to overwhelm us to the point that we forget our fellow Airmen, then we fail. Our duty is to succeed and then to teach our fellow Airmen to succeed as we have. It is not to allow for competition to overwhelm us to the point that we despise the success of others and that we do all we can to keep the keys to success to ourselves.
I have found in my own career that I am happier when I mentor others to succeed than I am standing alone on a stage. When I share my knowledge openly, I find myself more relaxed than when I lock it away and guard it like Ebenezer Scrooge.
We must trust that the good we do for others will return, but even if it does not we must rest in the truth that we did the right thing for the right reason. If we are upset when our good works are not rewarded, then we must ask ourselves “Did I do what was right solely for reward or did I do it because that is who I am; an American Airman dedicated to the success of my mission, my service and my country?”
One day, each one of us is going to hang up our boots and leave our beloved service. When that day comes, how do you want to leave? Do you want to leave alone wondering if the mission will continue to succeed without you because you failed to mentor those around you? Do you want to leave covered in medals and awards but without a single peer beside you that recognized you as a team member who will truly be missed? Or do you want to leave knowing that you stepped off the battlefield without leaving a single Airman behind?
Commit yourself today to being a true wingman and ensuring that you and your fellow Airman can fulfi ll those nine words at the end of the Airman’s creed that read: I will never falter and I will not fail.