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
Airmen sacrifice a lot serving our country; however, there are husbands,
wives and other family members supporting us who deserve just as much
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
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
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
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.