A-I-R-M-A-N: What it means to me

  • Published
  • By Maj. Monroe Neal
  • 71st Comptroller Squadron commander

AIRMAN is a powerful six-letter word that has been used in the Air Force since its inception in September 1947. It is one of our official enlisted ranks and until recently, we used the term when we referred to our enlisted corps. 

We, meaning the Air Force, have been criticized by some inside and out of the Air Force that we have done little or nothing to create a unified term that distinguishes us as a service much like our sister services have done. In most cases, if someone was to say he or she was a soldier, everyone would recognize him or her as a member of the Army. It's also pretty common knowledge that members of the Navy are known as sailors; and it's a known fact that once a Marine you're always a Marine.

Fortunately, we have some experience with transformation because we're transforming our Air Force culture. While most of us have always considered ourselves an Airman, we've never emphasized it at the Air Force level. 

In April 2007, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force introduced the Airman's Creed, which has provided us with a point of reference. 

The creed tells our story; it also provides a tangible statement of beliefs that we can hold most dear. It starts out simply with "I am an American Airman." In order for all Airmen to eternalize this concept and embrace our culture we must be able to internalize the creed and what it means to each one of us. 

You have to start with the word Airman. Here are my thoughts on what the word Airman means to me: 

A - represents America, the world's greatest country. It's the home of the brave and land of the free.
I - represents the Inspiration we provide to others by completing our missions daily. We inspire and bring hope to many who desire to one day live in a free world full of opportunity.
R - represents Resilience. The Air Force celebrated its 60th birthday last September and although we've come a long way since 1947, one constant is our warfighting ethos brought about from our heritage of airpower. We've endured and we have consistently transformed to meet the current needs of our country.
M - represents all of the Men and Women proudly serving in our Air Force. Airmen perform selfless acts daily while carrying out their mission with pride and some even make the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Everyday new candidates voluntarily sign up to defend our country and our way of life against our enemies, both foreign and domestic. 
A - represents the United States Air Force, the world's greatest, an organization that values each of its members: civilian, officer and enlisted Airmen.
N - represent Nationalism. We have all answered our nation's call because we believe in our nation and what we do for others. We spend countless resources to defend and promote our way of life so that others may enjoy the same freedoms we have here in our great nation. 

Now, that's what A-I-R-M-A-N means to me. Each Airman will have their own opinion or definition of what it means to them, but they will probably be somewhat similar to mine because: 

I am an American Airman, wingman, leader, warrior.
I will never leave an Airman behind,
I will never falter,
and I will not fail. 

God Bless the USA.