I am an American Airman: One perspective on the Creed

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Joe McFadden
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
As someone who enlisted after the creation of the Airman's Creed in 2007, I can understand the repeated efforts of more experienced Airmen to memorize it. To some, it seems like something confined solely to promotion boards or, at the very least, yet another list to recite when called upon.

But for those of us who recently went through Basic Military Training, there was a specific purpose behind each recital - be it at each physical training session, classroom briefing and finally at graduation.

As one of those Airmen, I'd like share what it means to me, one year after enlisting:

"I am an American Airman. I am a warrior. I have answered my nation's call."

As I stepped off the bus that carried 54 other young men and me to the 321st Training Squadron Feb. 24, 2009, I'm sure each one of us tried to figure out how exactly we had arrived at this situation.

Everyone on that bus had come from different backgrounds and undergone unique experiences, but for whatever reason we had all reached the same conclusion to serve something larger than ourselves when we decided to enlist in the Air Force.

We got on that bus as civilians, but we left it as trainees of Flight 303: bound to become different, yet stronger, people at the end of the next eight-and-a-half weeks.

"I am an American Airman. My mission is to fly, fight and win. I am faithful to a proud heritage, a tradition of honor, and a legacy of valor."

From the classrooms to the drill pads and even in the dorms, we learned about both the privileges and responsibilities that came with being called an Airman. We recognized the significance and the implications of the U.S. Code of Conduct and realized the integrity and the consequences and of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

We understood the vital role of the Army Air Corps in World War II and appreciated the strategic impact of air power in the following decades. And, more importantly, we knew the task of continuing the success of those missions would soon depend on what we would one day do.

"I am an American Airman. Guardian of freedom and justice. My nation's sword and shield. Its sentry and avenger. I defend my country with my life."

While some of us grew up marveling over the fantastic feats of comic book superheroes and professional athletes, we were later humbled by the heroic sacrifices of the men and women who had gone before us to serve our nation.

We admired the graceful strength of their families and knew full and well that the blessings we enjoyed at home were guaranteed by the character of Airmen like Senior Airman Jason Cunningham, Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Nicole Jacobson, and Chief Master Sgt. Duane Hackney.

And we felt the tremendous trust invested in us to join the ranks of those Airmen who had gone before us to protect and defend our way of life - even if it meant with our own life.

"I am an American Airman: Wingman. Leader. Warrior. I will never leave an Airman behind. I will never falter, and I will not fail."

No matter how far we had come, our flight could not have graduated if we didn't pick each other up and move together as a team.

This was the point behind everything our Military Training Instructors were demonstrating to us: the success of the flight, squadron, or wing depended on each member looking beyond themselves, overcoming challenges, and striving for excellence.

That understanding carried us from when we got off the bus through the inspections, the obstacles course and Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills Training right to the moment eight-and-a-half weeks later when our MTI handed us a coin and called us "Airman."

As I conclude my first year in the Air Force, I've seen firsthand through the selfless actions of medics, maintainers, aircrew, police, service specialists and others - all Airmen - what it takes to live up to what the Creed symbolizes.

As a result, I'm grateful to them for having a better understanding of what it means to be an American Airman.