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Why I stayed in the Air Force

  • Published
  • By Col. Steven Biggs
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Vice Commander
A great many of us are approaching the final three months of our tour at Al Udeid. In my experience, this is a time when frustrations increase. In order to remain positive, I suggest we focus on the reasons we chose to serve. Allow me to share my personal perspective.

From an early age, I had a strong desire to fly. I reached my childhood dream by becoming a pilot in the most lethal Air Force on the planet. As my years of service progressed, flying took a back seat to my leadership responsibilities. Paperwork replaced mission planning. Formal functions replaced Friday night fun and meetings trumped flying hours. Despite spending fewer hours in the air, I chose and continue to choose to remain an Airman. My reasons are simple and uncomplicated.

First and foremost, I stay because of the people. The men and women who serve in the military are dedicated professionals who share a set of core values and take care of one another. When I was a young lieutenant, while on a temporary duty assignment at Eielson Air Force Base, I was fighting my way back to base lodging through driving snow and negative temperatures, when an Airman stopped and asked if I needed a ride. I declined as the walk was short and I was almost there, but I appreciated the offer. I would do the same for any Airman, whether I knew them or not. Given the same situation off base, with someone I didn’t recognize as military, I am not so sure. I realize this isn’t an earth shattering story, but it points to a mindset. I inherently trust other Airmen. The Air Force -- our Air Force - is part of my family. One definition of ‘family’ in the Webster dictionary is “a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation.” Sounds like the Airmen I know. If you find yourself frustrated, before you take it out on someone else, think of them as family.

My second reason for continuing to serve is the mission. Right here and right now, we are making a difference. We are protecting the American way of life and defending those who are unable to protect themselves. Whether dropping a bomb or fixing an antenna, serving a meal or refueling an aircraft, you - the men and women serving at Al Udeid Air Base - make the mission happen and without you, Operation Inherent Resolve would halt. I often remind people that the Air Force isn’t a charity because every job is vital to the mission and has a purpose. If we didn’t need a particular Air Force Specialty Code, it would cease to exist. Stop! Take a moment. Give yourself a pat on the back for your part in achieving the mission and definitely don’t do anything that would accomplish the enemy’s job by taking yourself out of the fight.

What about you? Why do you appreciate the Air Force? When you begin to grow frustrated or tired, focus on the positive aspects and where we fall short, strive to make us better. Appreciate your time at Al Udeid. Few Americans will ever be able to say they made as big as a difference as you made today.