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My Air Force

  • Published
  • By Maj. Bobby Roper
  • 387th Air Expeditionary Group Support Squadron
This month, 24 years ago, I enlisted in the United States Air Force and it happened by accident. My purpose that day was to join the Army. I had been Army Guard for a while and had decided to go active duty. I went to the recruiting station to sit down with the Army recruiter and fill out the paperwork to start the transition process.

Upon arrival, I accidently walked into the Air Force recruiter's office, I quickly apologized and asked the location of the Army office. I was informed that it was next door, but the Army recruiter was out to lunch. As I waited, a young Staff Sergeant began to tell me about the Air Force. He didn't promise the world, but his pitch was simple, he promised three things, the Air Force would do: One, assist in finishing my education; two, reward hard work and excellence and three, make me part of something larger than myself - a protector of American freedom and our way of life. In 30 minutes, he convinced me to become a part of the Air Force family.

Throughout the years, my Air Force has been by my side as I dealt with personal highs and lows. There were times early in my career when I needed tough love and my Air Force gave it to me. Not out of malice mind you, but because it saw something in me that perhaps I did not see in myself - that I was much better than my actions indicated.

My Air Force helped me deal with the sudden death of loved ones, the diagnosis of an autistic child, even the emotional toll of divorce. My Air Force cheered me on as I received degrees and accepted awards. Members of my Air Force brought my son and daughter into the world. Along the way, my Air Force asked things of me. My Air Force asked me to live by a set of core values and to take care of my fellow Airmen as I would my biological family. My Air Force asked me to be a leader, follower, and mentor regardless of the rank I held.

Today, my Air Force is going through some trying times. Airmen are sexually assaulting other Airmen. Airmen are taking their own lives. Airmen are cheating on tests that ensure proficiency to safeguard our nuclear weapons. Airmen are struggling to understand, and in some cases, accept the fiscal realities that are forcing tough decisions on retaining personnel and modernizing weapons systems. It is at precisely this moment that my Air Force needs me and my fellow Airmen to remember who we are and the high calling we serve. It is at this moment that our Air Force expects us to bring our core values to the forefront and take care of our fellow Airmen as wingmen, leaders and warriors.

Twenty-four years ago this month, I became an American Airman. Along with my fellow Airmen, I learned to be faithful to a proud heritage, a tradition of honor, and a legacy of valor. Now more than ever, our Air Force needs us to step up and meet the challenges facing our service head on. Now more than ever, our Air Force needs us to rise above today's difficulties and Aim high...Fly, Fight and Win!