Military News

Friday, October 16, 2015

JBER Airman meets senior Joint, Air Force leadership

Commentary by Airman 1st Class Calvin Stewart
3rd Wing Headquarters

10/15/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Washington, D.C., our nation's capital; a place where our nation's top leaders, civilian and military, make decisions that impact Airmen, Airmen who are the essential building blocks of the world's greatest Air Force.

These Air Force leaders sacrifice so much more than we realize unless we experience those sacrifices first hand. Every day, men and women work hard to improve the Air Force, even if it means spending more time at work than at home with family.

I had the opportunity of a lifetime to go to Washington with the 3rd Wing commander, Col. Charles Corcoran, and the 3rd Wing command chief, Chief Master Sgt. JJ Little. We had the pleasure of visiting the Pentagon and Capitol Hill to get a better understanding of what the service's top leaders do for Airmen.

After walking around the Pentagon and feeling very lost in the never-ending hallways, I had the opportunity to sit down and have a face-to-face conversation with Air Force Lt. Gen. Tod Wolters, director of operations for the Joint Staff.

To many, this would be a very intimidating situation. I, however, saw it as an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to talk with the general about why I joined the Air Force and explain my plans for the future.

Wolters opened my eyes to all the opportunities the Air Force has to offer and how important it is to take advantage of the opportunities when they arise. He also explained how important it is to keep family close and to let them know how much they are appreciated, because they will still be there for you after you separate or retire from the Air Force.

Airmen sacrifice a lot serving our country; however, there are husbands, wives and other family members supporting us who deserve just as much credit.
Next on our tour, we headed to Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody's office. We were surprised to find him in his office, and he invited us in to meet him. Cody does not miss an opportunity to talk with Airmen, even if it means taking a few minutes out of his busy schedule for a selfie and a quick conversation.

After shaking his hand, he insisted I sit down at his desk and pose for a picture with him. This was one of the most motivating and exciting moments of my Air Force career so far. This moment is another example of exactly how our leaders truly care about Airman.

No matter the rank, they want to hear our stories and help guide us with their wisdom and experience. It was a humbling experience to be around these great leaders and hear not only how much they appreciate how hard Airmen work, but also how we complete the mission even with having limited resources to get it done.

My experience revealed that, just because these men and women work at the Pentagon or Capitol Hill, it does not mean they do not hear and care about what we do every day. Our dedication to the Air Force and the hard work we put in on a daily basis are noticed. In turn, these leaders do everything they can to improve our quality of life.

Another truly humbling experience on my visit was going to the Arlington National Cemetery. As soon as you walk in the gates, your eyes are drawn to the endless rows of headstones. These headstones represent all of the men and women who have served and made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

There are nearly 400,000 people buried there, and that number continues to grow daily. These are the heroes who embodied our core values to their last breath.

It is a humbling and solemn experience to walk through and read the names of all of our fallen brothers and sisters. It puts things into perspective with regards to how privileged we are to wear the same uniform as those fallen heroes who fought before us. Each day I put on my uniform, I will think back to my experience at Arlington National Cemetery and how truly blessed I am to serve the United States of America.

If I could pass on anything to my fellow Airmen from my experiences during this visit, it would be to take pride in the work you do every day. Be confident knowing you are serving a purpose greater than yourself.

Be grateful and make the most of the opportunities you are given. Be open and willing to listen and learn from the leaders above you, as they want the best for you and your success in the Air Force, as well as life in general.

Be proud to know you are a member of the world's greatest Air Force.

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