30th SW Commander: Time to live by, internalize Airmen's Creed

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The Airman's Creed has been out for just over a year. This invaluable tool serves as a reminder to all Airmen of what it means to have pledged to serve in the Unites States Air Force. While all Vandenberg Airmen should have taken the time to memorize it, I challenge all of you to internalize it and live by it.

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

We are a nation at war. Most of the Airman in today's Air Force took their oath since combat operations began in Iraq and Afghanistan. As an Airman, and as Americans, you have all pledged to defend our great nation. As a member of our Air Force, you are all part of something bigger than yourselves. Your nation called, and you responded. It's that dedication to duty, and willingness to place Service Before Self, that makes our Airmen the most important weapon system in the Nation's arsenal.

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. 

Our mission answers the question of why we serve. As Airmen, we are charged with controlling the high ground. The fact that we serve with Excellence in All We Do is the reason US forces have operated without threat from above since the Korean War. The heritage established by those Airmen that have gone before is what we uphold, and the traditions and the legacy of those Airmen have set the standard for our continued service. The names we have all heard--Mitchell, Arnold, LeMay, Schriever and Vandenberg--formed the foundations of our Air Force. The Airmen of the past are the giants whose shoulders we stand upon as we strive to maintain our traditions and further the legacy; those Airmen challenge all of us to ensure that our Air Force preserves its place Above All.

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.

When each of us recited our oath of enlistment or commissioning, we took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, from all enemies, foreign or domestic. I'm sure you've all heard it said that what we do as an Air Force is "kill people and break things." In doing so, we protect the freedoms we as Americans all enjoy. Defending our freedoms is an active pursuit, taken up by warrior-airmen who understand the importance of taking action that can require the use of deadly force. Our freedoms are secured by our willingness, and the willingness of our fellow wingmen, to pay the ultimate price in their defense. It is a daunting task, and one not taken lightly. Our creed provides the ultimate reminder that freedom is not free, and that at times it comes at a high, and sometimes painful, cost.

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

Being an American Airman means many things. Being a wingman is a part of our culture; we work together for common goals; we lift each other up when we need support; we protect each other when we can't do it for ourselves. As leaders, we must be steadfast--our wingmen count on us to be as good as our word, to follow through, to be resolute and not waver in the face of adversity. That determination is central to our sense of purpose, dedication to completion of our mission, and explains why it is so important that we resolve not to fail. As the "Little Blue Book" puts it, the core value of Integrity First is our "moral compass" and the basis for the trust that is imperative in today's military; it ensures that we as Airmen do the right thing even when no one is looking, while at the same time provides us the strength to allow us to act on our convictions, and persevere as a team of Warrior Airmen to a successful outcome, regardless of the odds.

While this is one interpretation of the Airman's Creed, it is not the only one. I challenge each of you to examine the Creed carefully, to break it down and study it, and determine what it means to you on a personal level. Once you've done that, I believe you'll begin to understand what your place is in the "long blue line" of Airmen that have made our Air Force what it is today--an Air Force that stands, now and into the future, Above All.