Chapel worker attending ball on Air Force birthday

  • Published
  • By Louis A. Arana-Barradas
  • Air Force Print News
Senior Airman Melissa Ann Harrington helps chaplains minister to Airmen's needs and will have scant time on the Air Force's 59th birthday for cake, ice cream and punch.

Instead, like for the past 15 years, she and other Airmen around the world will report to work to fight or support the ongoing war on terrorism.

This war -- like all the ones before -- is taking Airmen to dangerous, far-flung locations to do their jobs. Some of those jobs they had never done before. Others at stateside bases provide the people and support needed to carry on that war.

Airman Harrington is a chaplain's assistant with the 15th Airlift Wing at Hickam Air Base, Hawaii. She will be celebrating the Air Force birthday in a new way this year.

"This year I will be attending the Hickam Birthday Ball, to celebrate the Air Force's 59th anniversary," the three-and-a-half-year veteran said. "This is my first time attending an Air Force ball. I'm excited to share the experience with my fellow Airmen."

The Air Force may be a year older, but it is doing more today, with a smaller force, than it did even five years ago. Since becoming a separate service in 1947, the Air Force has increased its capabilities and its global reach now stretches into space.

Today, the Air Force and its sister services are busy achieving what Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne called spherical situational awareness. This allows the U.S. military to take "a comprehensive, spherical view -- at once vertical, horizontal, real time and predictive, penetrating and defended in the cyber realm."

But in a message to the force, Secretary Wynne and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley said the Air Force is the globe's dominant force in air, space and cyberspace because of its Airmen.

"Our knowledge-enabled Airmen have revolutionized the way our nation defends itself and its allies across the full spectrum of threats," they said.

Yet the threats of terror attacks on the nation are still a reality. That makes the Air Force's role even more important. That reality is not lost on the Airman from Elk Grove, Calif.

"The Air Force is still important to the United States because we help maintain the freedoms that Americans have come to know today," Airman Harrington said. "With the current situation overseas, countless numbers of highly trained Air Force professionals in all career fields work steady to keep the fight off of our soil. We help to keep America safe."

As Airmen continue to do their duty today, there are even more changes taking place. And each day new technology and smart processes make doing Air Force business smarter and more efficient. It is hard to predict where the service will be in five years.

But that is clear to Airman Harrington.

"In five years, I see the Air Force as being unstoppable," she said. "Airmen today are receiving better educations and better tools to do their jobs due to advances in technology. We can't help but improve."