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.


 
 

 

Let’s be an all-volunteer force

Well, we made it through the holiday season. Hopefully we have all reset and are ready to rock and roll this year. By now we should be well into fulfilling the New Year’s resolutions that we set in place to improve ourselves. I’m sure you are hitting the gym more or maybe just starting to....
 
 

Stay out of rain; see bigger picture

Supervisors, you build and lead teams to the best of your abilities. You hold an umbrella of protection over your people, but what do you do when one of your members runs into the rain via a bad decision? Do you take your protective umbrella from other members to go cover your solo member? Or...
 
 

Chaplain’s thoughts …

“To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.” -George MacDonald, Scottish author and poet One can see the self-evident truth of this statement, for trust is earned through the actions and character of the person being trusted, while love can flow from a sense of ought-ness rather than a sense of merit. For...
 

 
American-Horror-Story

Fly Over: ‘Get On Up’ and ‘American Horror Story: Coven′

On DVD: ‘Get On Up’ Several months ago, I rushed to the theater to watch “Get On Up” the latest music biopic on the big screen. My expectations were high as I found a seat in the theater packed with fans waiting to see ...
 
 

Financial responsibility — vital to readiness

In the “Band of Brothers” miniseries, there is a line in the movie where the soldiers are told to make sure they sign up for life insurance to ensure their next-of-kin gets $10,000 upon the soldier’s death. While none of us are about to make a combat jump in 1944 to fight the Nazis, Airmen...
 
 

Adapt, overcome, succeed

Change is inevitable, especially in today’s Air Force. If you’ve been serving for more than a few years, it’s likely you’ve experienced everything from new physical fitness requirements to the implementation of force management programs. Enlisted performance reports and feedback forms have been altered and changes to the promotion system are rapidly approaching. We expect...
 




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=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin