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Chief's Corner - week of June 12

Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. -- More than just words

What comes to your mind when you hear the Airman's Creed? Really think about that question. Do you think it's the flavor of the month, something that was forced upon you, or have you internalized what the words actually represent? I'm guilty of fitting each of those descriptions as my acceptance of the Airman's Creed came in a process (albeit very quickly). We recite the Airman's creed at the end of many official ceremonies, and as I look around the room, I can't help but think that some are doing it out of a sense of obligation instead of pride. I was there, so I can relate. The light bulb went off for me when I changed my mindset and subsequently my vernacular. Instead of looking at this as mere words that I was forced to recite, I took the approach: "This is my creed!" I had to own it to get past my mental roadblock. The creed is more than just rote memorization; it is the embodiment of who we are. Gen. T. Michael Moseley stated, "The Airman's Creed was not created to regain some ideal that was lost or never identified. It was created to focus on and identify a spirit -- a warfighting ethos -- that transcends time from the past, to the present and into the future."

General Moseley introduced the creed to America's Airmen on April 18, 2007, the 65th anniversary of the Doolittle Raiders' heroic strike at the heart of Imperial Japan in 1942. By far, one of the greatest pivots in our nation's history, the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, undeniably left the men and women of the United States of America crippled. In a time of unrest and angst, President Roosevelt called upon the Doolittle Raiders, led by then-Army Air Corps Lt. Col. James Doolittle who engineered a remarkable mission from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet in 16 B-25 bombers. Our American Airmen all but singlehandedly avenged the death of 2,471 U.S. service members. So, when we open the creed with "I am an American Airmen, I am a warrior, I have answered my nations call," we make a declaration to the world that we are America's Airmen who dominate air, space, and cyberspace. We are a part of an elite fraternity with an uncompromising, unapologetic, and unwavering commitment to excellence and to our great nation as warriors. When we took our oaths for the first time, and thereafter, we said we would protect our nation against all enemies foreign and domestic. While Doolittle's raiders accomplished that task with lethal airpower, others may accomplish the same task using a keyboard, a forklift, a financial matrix, a spatula, or a joystick. Being a warrior is not specific to the what, the warrior ethos centers on a mindset and every Airman brings a special flavor to the fight. Without them, we would cease to be the world's greatest Air Force. We are truly powered by Airmen. General Moseley went on to say, "This Airman's Creed is wrapping ourselves in who we are and in our culture...it matters in everything we do from the organizational structure of a wing to our acquisition systems and from how we train to how we deploy. Everything about us is wrapped around our notion of American airpower. The warfighting ethos is a mindset."

There is a proverb that states, "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." I challenge each of you to take an inventory of your own life. Who you really are is demonstrated in your thoughts. Your thoughts express your inner person - your motives, desires, aims, feelings, and the principles that govern your life. Your thoughts and your will are closely related. So my question for you (and for me) is: Do we execute the sober task of defending our nation like a warrior? You may say, "I'm not in combat, therefore I cannot be a warrior." While I do not have the space in this article to address that mindset, I can give you a quote from Thucydides, the great historian and philosopher who surmises the conversation profoundly, "A nation which makes great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools." You may not be on the front lines of battle, but whatever your individual contribution that enables the 50th Space Wing's mission of commanding satellites to deliver decisive global effects makes you a warrior. Embrace and adopt that thought because it's true. So the next time you recite the Airman's creed, I trust you will do so with a renewed sense of purpose because the Airman's Creed is more than just words.
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