Airmen step forward when needs arise

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Daniel Zook
  • 8th SOS commander
One of the more unpleasant tasks I have had to carry out over these last four and half years has been to inform someone while we’re deployed that they aren’t going to go home when they thought they were. We’re all well aware that this happens fairly frequently and has a ripple effect with the families back home. However, in every case, this news was taken very professionally, because each of us understands that there is no Air Force role more important in the Global War on Terrorism than that of special operations. 

Many of us have deployed extensively since 9/11 and, undoubtedly, we will continue to do so during this dramatic time in our nation’s history. These are “SOFcentric” wars, and they require our unique capabilities. Your efforts continue to make a significant difference.
Another unfortunate task that many commanders have to accomplish is delivering news from home of such a magnitude that it requires the quick return home of one of our troops. It is always both amazing and comforting to me to see that every single time this has happened – whether the member is a support troop, a maintainer or an operator – that his comrades encircle, support, assist and make sure that Air Force Special Operations Command warrior is OK. Shortly afterwards, I am always approached by several folks who volunteer to stay or do whatever it takes to make sure the troop gets home ASAP. That this has never failed to happen is one of the reasons I love being part of this community. 

Although the concept of being a wingman to each other sounds new, it is a concept that we have always embraced in special operations — not just within the Air Force, but with all of our Army and Navy SOF brethren. 

Instead of trying to come up with something new, we simply need to expand what we have always done. Don’t just look out for one another getting the mission done — do it in every aspect of what it takes to get that mission done. 

Being a good wingman is nothing new to us in AFSOC. We just need to apply it to everything we do — on duty and off, at home and deployed. Our operations tempo takes a toll on our people — watch for signs of stress and the way folks choose to deal with that stress. There’s nothing wrong with blowing off a little steam. Let’s just make sure we look out for each other so we all stay out of the “no fly zone.” Know what that is. We’ll all be better off for it and so will the mission. 

All of us possess the skills and traits to be good wingmen. Trust me, I've seen it in action.
I challenge you to do your part, make sure everyone in your own "band of brothers" is being looked out for. If not, step up and change things for the better. We still have too many unfortunate events that, when examined, we see could have possibly been prevented or altered had we been more diligent in looking out for each other. Only you can reverse this trend. Do it for your team, your unit and your SOF community. 

Call it what you want, but being an AFSOC warrior IS being a good wingman. Nobody is more capable. Let's prove it.