What it means to me to be a first term Airman

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Lori Olson
  • 366th Equipment Maintenance Squadron
(Editor's Note: All members of each First Term Airman's Center class write a commentary entitled, "What it means to be a first-term Airman." The FTAC instructors select the best commentary, and the writer receives the "Gunfighter Pride" award. The following is the most recent selection.)

What would we be without our freedom?


We would fall apart and everything that makes this country great and the reason we have come so far and accomplished so much would be gone. Without freedom, our Air Force and military would lose hope and have nothing to fight for anymore.

We are all motivated and driven by our own set of morals and responsibilities. We join the Air Force for different reasons, but at the end of the day we are all here to do the same thing, fight for our freedom and the freedom of the ones we hold close to our hearts.

To me, being a first term Airman means a lot. I have always wanted this more than anything, and to accomplish it makes me feel very proud of myself and what I do. I can wake up every morning thinking I'm one of the few people who get the privilege to do this job.

If you asked me why I joined the Air Force a couple of months ago, I probably would have said I wasn't sure. Back then, I just wanted to do something great. If you asked me that same question now, I would confidently and proudly tell you I joined because I wanted to give something back to all of the people who have given me everything and made me who I am today.

When I saw the Twin Towers in New York come crashing to the ground as I watched the television in my sixth grade classroom, I became terrified. The sense of security I always knew was torn out from under me. That's when I realized we weren't invincible, and being an American could be dangerous. The first time I got that complete sense of security back was when I stood in my blues on the field at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, and swore to protect and defend my country. I was only comforted knowing I could now protect the ones who had always been there to protect me -- my family. Now, no matter what, I know I'm there for them, doing everything I can to protect them -- even if it means I have to be thousands of miles away.

In my experience, being a first-term airman can be frustrating at times and others hold you at a little higher standard. This may seem unfair to some, but you have to see the reasoning behind their logic. They expect more from us because we are the future of the Air Force. One day, we will take their place as noncommissioned officers, senior NCOs or even officers. They want to know the Air Force will continue being great and progress to become even better. That's why being a first-term airman is so important -- for us to do our best and not just memorize the core values but live by them.

In the U.S. Air Force, we must remain proud of who we are because most people will never experience what we have. They can never really fully understand who we are or what we do unless they have served before us or will come to replace us. This is why we don't always get the glory or respect we may deserve -- but we do our jobs regardless. We all have the same drive and passion for our country and knowing we're doing something amazing makes even the most strenuous days seem more tranquil.

We are all individuals with different backgrounds and beliefs, but this is our strongest feature because we stand together as one Air Force. We fight and work together because we share one common principle that makes us stronger, that's the belief in our country and its people.

Many people in our country are under that impression that military members are driven by anger, hate and the need to kill. Real military members are driven by love. The love for our country and families is what makes the days better and brighter and makes having to push ourselves worth the pain. That is what makes us proud to put on our uniforms every day knowing that we make a difference.

Being a first-term airman is just the beginning of our careers whether we stay in for four or 20 years. We have a lot to learn and many people to help us -- because at the end of the day we are all military members and we all have the same mission.