Commentary

October 18, 2013

Airman trains for core-value experiences

Staff Sgt. LUIS SIMPSON
56th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal

It was 3:30 a.m. and the temperature outside my armored truck was zero degrees Fahrenheit and the snow was coming down hard. I watched a figure on my thermal imager walk across the Polish-controlled forward operating base Ghazni, Afghanistan, and I thought to myself, “Who would be crazy enough to be out for a stroll at this time and in this weather?” I had a reason. My team was linking up for a mission at 4 a.m. for a planned operation with a Polish unit.

Then there was the time I found myself jumping out of the back of a hovering Mi-17 helicopter into knee deep snow at an elevation of 9,000 feet. I plunged into the snow and was pushed face first into the ground by the rotor wash and the weight of my 60-pound pack. After recovering myself and moving far enough away from the rotor wash, I realized I had a 400-meter treck to the nearest cover. I picked myself up and moved out. Thirty seconds into relocating myself, my lungs burned and every muscle in my body was exhausted. I just wanted to lie down and go to sleep, but I told myself, “I must keep going.” Fast forward to the mission being complete and me sitting on the extraction helicopter. I found myself grinning from ear to ear and wondering what was for lunch back at the F.O.B.

These experiences are vividly etched into my memory today even though they feel like they occurred a lifetime ago. They are just a small sample of the experiences that have formed the NCO I am today. My experiences may not be glorious and full of valor as the movie industry loves to portray, but they were real, and they challenged me in ways I never thought possible. They are the reason I push myself as hard as I can when the opportunity arises. They are also the reason I expect my fellow Airmen to push themselves as hard as they can. Experience for me has been the true key to understanding the Air Force’s core values — integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do.

Without experience, I believe the Air Force’s core values are merely words on paper for philosophical debate. There are a couple ways I believe one can garner experience. One can go out into the world and seek it, or one can train for it. We do not always have the opportunity to go out and seek character-building experiences, but we sure can train for them.

The night I spent hiking into a village aided by night-vision goggles to destroy an explosive cache, I remember telling myself, “I’ve done this before, training back at home.”

Quickly rebuilding the inside of our replacement vehicle to be mission capable because the only other mission capable vehicle was blown up, my team and I were intimately familiar with it from countless hours training in it.

Four wheeling down the side of a mountain while covering my sector of fire and giving status reports as the enemy tried to walk mortars in on us, I stayed calm. I knew what I had to do, from training.

With all the hot spots flaring up around the world, Airmen never know where they will find themselves waking up tomorrow. So it is more important today to build up your skills through training and build your character. Implement the core values into your training, and you will be ready to overcome the challenges that await you down the road.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Who’s afraid of a little blood?

I have been in the Air Force for 22 years and have been a medical laboratory technician since the beginning of my career. The medical or clinical laboratory is where specimens are tested to provide information to medical providers who directly assist in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease in patients. After graduating basic...
 
 

Pursue education for career’s sake

Everyone knows education can be a good bullet on an enlisted performance report, but few know the true value of an education in regard to a military career. The pursuit of an education can be just as valuable as the degree acquired at the end. The knowledge acquired in the pursuit of an education can...
 
 
This-week-in-history

This week in history

1945: P-51 Transition Training Luke Field instructors began to teach a transition course in the North American P 51 Mustang 70 years ago this month when 13 of the aircraft arrived at Luke Field. In the following months, instruc...
 

 
foodnetworkstar

Fly Over: ‘Rose and Crown Pub’ and ‘Food Network Star’

‘Rose and Crown Pub’ A beautiful green countryside, day after day of cloudy skies, rain and fog, and chilly winters and humid summers — if this sounds more appealing to you than sun and desert heat, you’re probably bett...
 
 

Chaplain’s thoughts …

Our generation loves to hear inspiring stories — tales about exceptional heroes who fear nothing and succeed even during difficult times. Yet these extraordinary characters, admired by the people, can only be found in the comics. They’re called super heroes; because one day, by a stroke of luck, they were given incredible powers. However, the...
 
 

How do you stack up?

With upcoming changes to the enlisted performance report and Air Force promotion system, it’s important to understand how you stack up against your peers, not only within your job, but within your unit as well. The days of receiving time in grade and time in service points are numbered. They are being replaced with a...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>