Warrior Airman

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Lisa Moshier
  • 455th Expeditionary Mission Support Squadron
Our new Airman's Creed published shortly before I deployed to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. In September, our 455 Expeditionary Wing Commander had posters of the creed framed and posted in every office. I'm not sure if its the sight of the Creed at every turn, or the deployment experience, or the fact I have much more of my career behind me than ahead of me - probably all of the above - but I find myself reflecting on our Airman's Creed a lot these days.

I am an American Airman.
I am a Warrior.
I have answered my nation's call.

The U.S. Central Command Air Component Commander, Gen North, recently visited us on Thanksgiving. He said statistics show less than one percent of America's eligible population actually raises their hand in an oath to protect our country. Less than one percent! Nonetheless, today's Airmen are the best educated, motivated, and even more dedicated than those I served with as a junior Airman when the Air Force was nearly a million strong. 

This month's Air Force Magazine ("Volunteers in a Time of War") quotes Mr. Bill Carr, acting Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for military personnel, as praising the selflessness of today's Airmen recruits - the millennial generation. "They 'get it' with respect to civic opportunities", he says, "and we're fortunate they came along."

I couldn't agree more.

I watch them volunteer for projects to better our living standards every day, in spite of 14 hour work-shifts, interrupted sleep cycles, and the many other rigors of deployment in a war zone. The less likely I think it possible to get an event sponsored or a big project completed, the quicker and better the 455 AEW Airmen do it.

Three weeks ago I mentioned how nice it would be to have Christmas lights and a wreath hung on the outside of an old Soviet-made building that sits in the center of Camp Cunningham. Last night, our wing commander 'flipped the switch' on hundreds of lights and a huge 10 foot wreath in our first ever tower lighting event - Christmas lights that one Florida-based AF spouse shopped and shipped in time, which were funded by our three enlisted private organizations, all centering on a wreath built by Red Horse (To the Horse!), which was decorated with real pine collected from all over Bagram Air Base by one very energetic Master Sergeant -- and all coordinated by a 455 EMSS/SVS Senior Airmen. It started out as a small thing, but when those lights came on, it was almost like being at home during a wing tree lighting ceremony.

I am an American Airman.
My mission is to fly, fight, and win.
I am faithful to a proud heritage,
a tradition of honor,
and a legacy of valor.

This deployment has some tell-tale signs that set it apart from my previous deployments. In a post 9-11 world, I notice some of our pilots don't wear names or call signs on their name patch - instead it shows their blood type.

My issued gear is much more defensive--steel plates for my flack vest, a new ACH helmet. Training was different, more thorough - Combat Skills Training at home for everyone and some folks spent months at Army forts getting specialized training.

At my last deployment, I traveled out of Kobar Towers and around Saudi Arabia. A couple weeks ago, my deployed boss and I needed to go to Kabul International Airport - flying is the mode of travel of-choice and no sightseeing authorized.

We carry our weapon everywhere we go - it's become second nature for me to grab my Bible and my M-9 as I go out the door to church.

What hasn't changed is our commitment to "Fly, Fight, and Win" - our jets and helicopters are 24/7, screaming overhead as they respond to alerts for close air support and many other critical bombing and rescue missions. Nothing rocks your plywood b-hut at night like a thundering F-15! To me, its always an opportunity to thank God for the men and women who make ours the strongest air and space force in the world and to ask for our pilots' safe and victorious return. I can only imagine the wave of relief from the waiting Soldiers, Airmen, and Afghan civilians when they hear our jets coming. After watching the weekly staff meeting 'strike film' video of the ensuing death and destruction from combat missions, I'm sure relief is the last thing Taliban feel when they hear our thunder overhead.

I am an American Airman,
Guardian of freedom and justice,
My nation's sword and shield,
Its sentry and avenger.
I defend my country with my life.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays our hospital opens doors to local nationals for some limited medical assistance. I have to stop myself from starring out of natural curiosity - such beautiful children sitting on the laps of moms' dressed in colorful scarves. I notice they wear sandals in spite of the falling temperatures. Our Chaplain collects clothes for Afghan families and toiletries for their wounded soldiers.

The everyday hospitalization report we receive confirms that our Afghan partners are working (and wounding) shoulder to shoulder with us. I'm humbled by their simple lifestyle and proud to play some small part in building a free Afghanistan. The American military stepped up to defend the weak in the face of fascism, Nazism and communism - now it's our turn in face of radical terrorists.

I am an American Airman:
Wingman, Leader, Warrior.
I will never leave an Airman behind.
I will never falter,
and I will not fail.

Saturday, our Personnel Support for Contingency Operations (PERSCO) team processed a Very-Seriously-Injured casualty message. An Airman stationed at a remote Forward Operating Base (FOB) was wounded in the performance of his duties. The surgeon advised us that the quick reactions of his well-trained teammates saved his life. 

The med-evac community doesn't mess around when it comes to wounded warriors - his airlift was so well orchestrated from one FOB to another and finally Bagram, that he only sat on ground fifteen minutes before airlifting to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. 

Then, within a couple hours of our phone call, the Ramstein Mission Support Group and Wing Commanders made arrangements for the USAFE Civil Engineer to be at his bedside to present the Purple Heart. I hear that members of the 435th Civil Engineer Squadron are sitting with him around the clock until he returns stateside.
I know our Airmen perform dangerous missions. I also know they will never do it alone.

I'm blessed to be serving here and now with the Airmen of the 455 AEW. My unit, the 455th Expeditionary Mission Support Squadron, has PERSCO, Services, and Communications Airmen - every one of them overcome logistical hurdles and general obstacles to ensure they meet mission - everyday. We service over 4000 Airmen around Afghanistan and bed down over 1400 here at Camp Cunningham. There has not been a dull moment - a mandate to bed down a new HH-60 rescue mission, another mandate to bed down an A-10 mission on top of an already robust F-15 mission. And that doesn't include the other iron on our flightline. Without a doubt, Bagram's Airman and Airpower make it happen in Afghanistan.

There is definitely something to that Airman's Creed. 

(Editor's Note: Lt. Col. Moshier is deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base)