More than a Wingman
By 2nd Lt. Kaylee Ausbun, 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 20, 2013
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif -- The term 'wingman' first entered my vocabulary the summer of 2008 while in basic cadet training at the United States Air Force Academy. The concept of, "never leave an Airman behind" was engrained in my head from day one. Five years later as a second lieutenant, the term is frequently used in anti-DUI campaigns, Self Aid and Buddy Care training, and motivational speeches. It wasn't until I made my way to my younger brother's basic military training graduation at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas that I realized my brother and I have been wingmen since the day he was born.
I took on the role as Caleb's wingman at an early age. With only a year and a half separation, Caleb and I have always been close. Nothing made my blood boil more than seeing someone pick on my little brother, and it was my job to make sure no one got close to hurting him. I remember a time when Caleb came home with a scrape on his knee and scratches on his arms. He tried to run passed me so that I wouldn't ask questions, but I wasn't going to let that happen. I asked him what happened and he responded with, "I was pushed off my bike and I hit a tree, but please don't say anything to him, please." I love Caleb, but he knew that as he was telling me who was responsible, I was already on my way to take care of business. Other kids in the neighborhood knew not to mess with Caleb because if they messed with him, they messed with me.
During my senior year of high school I was accepted into the U.S. Air Force Academy for the Class of 2012. It wasn't until after basic cadet training that I realized something...I left a wingman at home. Caleb struggled to make weight for wrestling and really didn't like school that much. I wanted to be there...I wanted to tell him his big sister was there for him and everything would be ok. He eventually made the decision to move out to Denver to attend a film school. My wingman was close once again!
After I graduated from the Academy in May of 2012, Caleb decided that he was done with Colorado. He hated his job and he hated where he lived...he wanted out. Instead of stewing in his sorrow, he made a very mature decision; he decided to join the military. How many people can admit that the path they chose was the wrong one, and then turn around and actually do something about it? He wanted to be a part of the Tactical Air Control Party, a TACP. It took the Air Force almost a year to find him a slot, but they did, and he was sent to basic training Jan. 15, 2013.
The very first time basic military trainees see their families is during a 1.5 mile run that all trainees participate in. I was there, with my ridiculous "I love you Caleb" propaganda, and couldn't help but shed a tear or two. I am so proud of him and the man he has become. He looks healthy, sharp, well poised, and incredibly mature. I can see the excitement in his eyes, he is so happy. The Air Force brought my wingman back to me, and I couldn't be more excited. I am not just his big sister; I am his wingman and his fellow Airman.