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I am an American Airman

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- On April 18, 2007, former Air Force Chief of Staff General T. Michael Moseley introduced to the world for the very first time The Airman's Creed. Made up of four stanzas, each emotionally-charged and hard-hitting verse begins with these same five simple words... I am An American Airman.

In General Moseley's estimation, this new creed simply and concisely put into words the warfighting spirit that exists in all Airmen; both past and present. While The Airman's Creed may perfectly encapsulate what it means to be an Airman, as an Airman, have you thought much about what it means to you? I have. Perhaps my contemplations may spark your own.

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

For as many Airmen there are in the Air Force, there is likely an equal number of real reasons one joins its ranks. For me, our nation's call came in the conscious voice of my restless youth. I had just completed nursing school all the while living at home with my parents and six siblings. I longed for independence, a place of my own, yet had no remaining resources to make it happen. A nurse colleague introduced me to her brother, an Air Force optometrist who told me and sold me on the rich benefits and rewards of a military medical career.

Throughout my twenty-six years in the Air Force I've answered many more of our nation's calls: calls to take on increased responsibility; calls to be a leader; four calls to command; calls to uproot my family and farewell good friends; and several calls to deploy. Most of these calls were easy to answer, a few not as much. Each call in one way or another tested the strength of my vow to serve, my capacity to lead and my will to sacrifice.

No matter when or why our nation calls us we need to be ready to answer it with a commitment to excellence and the ethos of a warrior. America deserves nothing less.

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:

In August 2008, the Air Force officially revised its mission statement congruent with this stanza. No longer was our mission simply to fly and fight, but rather to fly, fight and win. Winning takes courage; it takes commitment; it comes as the result of hard work and being at one's best, consistently.

I'm most fortunate to have been and currently be a member of many winning teams. I've also been privileged to deliver an Air Force-dominated capability to the warfighter steeped in our heritage. As a flight nurse evacuating casualties out of Iraq and Afghanistan, I and those I cared for, benefited from the extraordinary heroism and trailblazing innovations of flight nurses and medical technicians of every past conflict since World War II. It's their legacy we continue today, as casualty movement via aeromedical evacuation achieves unprecedented survival rate success.

The momentum and immense pride winning generates is palpable, yet reliably fleeting. I think perhaps it's because once Airmen achieve one victory they set their eyes on the next one. By doing so they make a tradition of honor possible. Win after win produces a legacy of valor for those that take on and dominate tough challenges. Our Air Force honors and rewards Airmen who consistently take their game to the highest levels possible. It's more than simply some company perk; it's the lifeblood of our country's freedom and survival.

I am an American Airman... Guardian of Freedom and justice... My nation's sword and shield... it's sentry and avenger... I defend my country with my life:

I'm inspired by those who joined our Air Force because of Sept. 11,2001. Over the years I've met doctors who left behind private practices, pastors who left their parishes, I've met young men and women long separated from the service so emotionally charged with American pride they joined again. In conversations with such great American Airmen I found many not only acknowledged the probability of a lengthy deployment full of risks, they welcomed it.

These Airmen along with those of us that continue to serve so valiantly have incredible responsibility and our nation needs us. Whether we launch satellites to inform the battlefield, post out to prevent unauthorized incursions, or treat illnesses so Airmen can return to work, we are all Guardians. And together, we provide the titan strength and impermeable shield of American freedom.

On board a Lockheed C-130 Hercules over the skies of Afghanistan, I witnessed first-hand the full measure of our Airmen's sacrifice to defend our country with their lives. With all my strength and flight nurse know-how I kept them stable and alive. There is no greater vengeance than to disallow the arms of America's enemies to achieve their purpose.

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

My favorite leadership book of all time is John Wooden on Leadership. As The National Collegiate Athletic Association's winningest coach, Coach Wooden coined that term "competitive greatness" defining it as performing at your best when your best is needed. Wooden went on to say that "your best is needed every day."

A competitively great American Airman digs deeper and does more than anyone else. He or she has a fierce love for the heat of battle, to fight with all one's might for what is right and just. Yet fight towards an end that is not in the least about self-acclaim but about all inclusive triumph.

American Airmen, let's all commit to serve our great country with unwavering competitive greatness so each of us and all the missions we have the privilege to be a part of will never leave an Airman behind, never falter and most importantly, never fail.