News>Commentary - I am an American Airman: I will not fail!
Hundreds of Airmen stand in formation prior to marching in their Basic Military Training graduation parade at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, June 1, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Torri Savarese)
Commentary by Staff Sgt. Torri Savarese
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
7/1/2012 - F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. (AFNS) -- Early in my Air Force career, I overheard an NCO say, "The only tradition in the Air Force is constant change." I should clarify that he more grumbled it than said it. I remember thinking how odd of an expression that was, and how the disdain in his voice was unmistakable. I was still very "blue" of course, so I had not had any of the Air Force newness wear off yet.
It wasn't until about a year ago that I realized the newness had worn off. It was within my first few days of Airman Leadership School where it was explained to us that we were to learn the Airman's Creed as part of our curriculum. Before even realizing what I was doing, I found myself spouting the same words I heard from that NCO, years before. "The only tradition in the Air Force is constant change," I mumbled to my fellow classmates. Some of them laughed, some of them agreed, but I couldn't shake the numb feeling that crept over me.
We all learned to recite the creed, and most of us could say it on the spot. There was something missing, though; something that lacked conviction and true feeling. I have heard many people grumble about the Airman's Creed, saying it is fabricated motivation and just one more thing the Air Force is doing to inconvenience its Airmen. People who feel overworked and underappreciated ridicule the Air Force's "attempt" to motivate its Airmen through something as ambiguous as a few stanzas jotted down on a page. I have to confess I was one of those people, until about a month ago.
June 1 was an exciting day for me. My brother-in-law, Jonathan Savarese, was graduating Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. It was the first time I had been back to Lackland since my own graduation almost six years ago. I wanted to make sure my uniform was perfect from head to toe, and that I was representing the NCO corps well. I knew the young Airmen graduating would look to me as an example of what the standard should be, and I knew I could not have one hair out of place.
The pass and review was spectacular; I had never seen anything like it before. Each Airman, so proud of their accomplishment, marched as straight and as perfect as it gets. I remembered how proud I was when I marched that same bomb run, and my eyes started to water. I held back emotion when every Airman pledged their Oath of Enlistment; their solemn promise to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. I was filled with pride to have these new Airmen as my brothers and sisters, knowing we all came from the very same place, and marched on the very same field.
The ceremony culminated with the reciting of the Airman's Creed, which is something every new Airman is taught from their first day of BMT. I was worried the creed would come out as I have heard it so many other times - mumbled, morose and monotone. I was shocked when I heard the conviction of all the Airmen speaking in one voice, "I am an American Airman..." I wanted to join in with them halfway through their oration, and wasn't surprised to see many other Airmen in the audience already had. The final line of the creed was not spoken; no, it was shouted in a unified voice that made the chills run up and down my spine - "AND I WILL NOT FAIL!"
I know that every Airman who comes into my keeping is still very "blue" like we all once were, and I know how important it is to grow that Airman into an exceptional NCO, despite my own prejudices. I ask all of my fellow NCOs to take a minute and reflect on your march down the bomb run. I ask each of you look at your "blue" Airmen and not snuff out the pride and excitement they have. Instead of trying to morph them into shells of their basic-trainee selves, mocking their motivation as something to be embarrassed about, can we cultivate the professionalism, pride and determination they come to us with? Can we let them remind us what it means to be an American Airman? This openness to change will ensure that we all will not fail.
7/20/2012 6:28:43 AM ET The AF has strengthened the CODE that I have chosen to live my own life by over the past two decades and beyond no creed required. An Airman's Creed won't do you any good if you yourself don't live by a certain ethics standard in today's AF. Just my opinion. And NO I never believed in the blue kool-aid because the AF will never be perfect but it has still been an honor to serve. All things equal if it was 1992 again I'd still sign on the dotted line. That has more to do with me as a person than any catch phrase slogan or Creed. It goes back to what brought me to Big Blue in the first place and that kind of stuff usually isn't found in a publication AFI or talking paper..
MSgt Henry Thomas, Southwest Asia
7/11/2012 10:46:03 AM ET I don't understand how the Air Force trying to become unique by following what other services do. Hooyah or Huah are Navy and Army sayings. Air Force people try to sound cool by using them all the time. It is old. How many people in the Air Force thought it was high-speed to put Army badges on their uniforms when they were downrange? Ridiculous. Do you see the Army trying to wear ACC, PACAF, AFMC patches? That nonsense would not happen. We need to stop trying to mock everyone else in our search for our identity. If you want to act like you are in the Army, join the Army and you can say huah until you are blue in the face.
7/10/2012 9:03:58 AM ET Amazing how for nearly 60 years we survived as a Service without a Creed thru Korea Vietnam the Cold War Desert Storm and most of the current SWA wars. We also did so without PT gear constant image rebranding and the false sense of identity heritage and comraderie that this Creed embodies. How did we ever survive Job knowledge pride responsibility and acting and leading like officers SNCOs and NCOs.
ROF, COS CO
7/9/2012 4:08:16 PM ET Creed I didn't have a creed when I enlisted nor did I need a motivational poster someone holding my hand or a participation ribbon. I needed training good supervisors and a will to do my job. Today we are more worried about creating slogans and motos than giving our people what the need to do the job. Quit changing my uniform creating new ones and building things we do not need. Use that money to recruit people who want to serve and do a great job that will lessen the burden on all which will increase moral make people want to workhuman hours and keep good people in. Don't secure our nation on the broken backs of its military folk no moto or slogan will help and her old boss that sounded disgruntled...well he sounded that way because he is..those of us who have lived through stupid change for over 20 years know this first hand.
7/8/2012 11:38:31 AM ET CMSgt So-N-So BlueAide: many of the negative comments are unwarranted some should be ashamed of themselves........... Suspecting you are an actual Chief wouldn't surprise me based on your response. This is the problem with our SNCOs, you are out of touch with what your junior enlisted. If you would do your job according to the enlisted force structure. Be an active, visible leader. Deliberately develop junior enlisted Airmen, NCOs and fellow SNCOs into better followers, leaders and supervisors.
7/8/2012 9:13:02 AM ET Super article! After a full career of electronics watching things change from ALL TUBES then transistors baby integrated circuits and now massive integration. WOW at 70 the only reason I stick around is to see the changes. Save your fork the best is yet to come.
Tom Palko TSgt Ret, Alexandria LA
7/7/2012 12:23:53 PM ET Unfortunately, it takes more than blue kool-aid and creeds to keep the AF flying. I can't count how many volunteer opportunities I can't take because i'm doing what the AF trained me to do, re: my job. Do your job do, it well and do your best to not worry about extraneous BS and make the best decisions you can for your career.
7/7/2012 10:14:23 AM ET Brings to mind my SAC days. We had a B-52 hanger that had the word PRIDE on the top in huge letters. Professional Results In Everyday Endeavors Another had Duty - Honor - Country. Plain, simple, dignified. I have in on my back car window still today. I believed it and lived it then as I do today
MSgt J SHATTUCK, Fort Knox KY
7/7/2012 9:14:14 AM ET OS from Nellis and CMSgt So-N-So BlueAide...FYI these comments are freedom of speech. Highly recommend that you look up US constitution, it is a beautiful thing. If you don't like these comments, there are a lot of places in this world you can move too. God bless the USA.
7/6/2012 5:12:39 PM ET Back in the day there used to be an old saying that went something like this: You don't have to like it. You just have to do it. I guess in today's Air Force, where everyone calls each other by their first names and celebrates the rainbow, that saying probably seems harsh andor offends someone. Glad I'm retired.
Jay SMSgt ret, DC
7/6/2012 2:35:43 PM ET Well if we're going to borrow stuff from the Army...........A portion of MacArthur's speech to the Corp of Cadets....Yours is the profession of arms, the will to win, the sure knowledge that in war there is no substitute for victory, that if you lose the Nation will be destroyed that the very obsession of your public service must be Duty Honor Country.Others will debate the controversial issues national and international which divide men's minds. But serene calm aloof you stand as the Nation's war guardians as its lifeguards from the raging tides of international conflict as its gladiators in the arena of battle. For a century and a half you have defended guarded and protected its hallowed traditions of liberty and freedom of right and justice.Let civilian voices argue the merits or demerits of our processes of government. Whether our strength is being sapped by deficit financing indulged in too long by federal paternalism grown too mighty by power groups
Jay SmSgt ret, DC
7/6/2012 11:52:47 AM ET Judging from the comments, there is still a lot of fat in the Air Force that needs to be trimmed.Here's a tip to those who hate the blue kool aid: go to your First Shirt and tell him you want out. We don't need you.
7/6/2012 10:21:24 AM ET I put on my reflective belt and recite the creed every morning after chugging a quart of blue kool aid.
Sgt Peanut, Not failing
7/5/2012 5:10:13 PM ET many of the negative comments are unwarranted some should be ashamed of themselves...........
CMSgt So-N-So, BlueAide
7/5/2012 8:09:38 AM ET airmans creed .. I do belive when I swore my oath and my life before GOD .. wasn't that enough?
7/3/2012 8:52:41 PM ET Yes, Trainees recite it loud and proud because they are ignorant of the fact that the Airman's Creed is a complete rip off of the Soldier's Creed that leadership stole from the Army 4 years ago. Hap Arnold would cry if he saw today's Air Force.
7/3/2012 5:24:01 PM ET Our airmen don't fail, but the AF has been failing the airmen. Overemphasis on doing more with less, the PT and volunteering crazes, constant turmoil re uniforms, dealing with deep AF problems with buzzwords like resiliency just don't make it. Wonder if top AF management - for there are no longer any leaders - believes the blue KoolAid they pour.
Otis R. Needleman, Reality
7/3/2012 12:27:15 PM ET Doug, the Creed is only five years old. Exactly HOW did it guide you through your entire life
Greg Arious, SWA
7/3/2012 6:59:54 AM ET The creed not only guided me through my active and reserve times, it has guided me through my entire life and has always helped to distinguish me from others that didn't have that experience.
Doug Lerfald TSgt-Ret, Minneapolis
7/2/2012 7:23:36 PM ET People will fail and to expect them not to puts an unecessary burden on them.
7/2/2012 10:36:54 AM ET Hoooahhh. Great article TSgt fly fight and win aim high and what not.
Blue Koolaid, Drinkingit
7/2/2012 10:14:38 AM ET Very well spoken and encouraging. You all have hadd quite a few hard years with two locations of war going on but hopefully now it is all winding down. I know there is another on the horizon with budget and head cuts but hopefully the leadership and I am talking about those down on the actual bases who lead daily by example can turn everyone into a real positive attitude and one big tough Family that shouts to all DON'T Mess with US. We had that at one time durring the middle to end of the VN war era and cold war era. I seen 4 year wonders come and go but the real family stood tall during all those changes. To all you Vets and retirees that want to leave negative comments back off you had your time its now up to the current SNCO and Officers to make this back into a bigger and tighter Family. Thanks for your continued service to our Country. I may be 64 but I would still serve if you needed me.
SNCO Ret, Ohio
7/2/2012 2:59:03 AM ET Very well put I enjoyed reading this and could hear the Airman's Creed recited as I read your commentary. Great work...