Airpower starts here

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I walked into a recruiter’s office looking for a change in my life on Feb. 11, 1999. What I knew about the Air Force was very little except what my two older brothers had told me. It all happened fast as I started my first day of Basic Military Training 14 days later. Once I arrived at my first duty station I didn’t fully comprehend what I really contributed to the Air Force. As an aerospace ground equipment mechanic I was expected to perform my tasks in a timely manner with a high quality output, but I had no idea what the Air Force as a whole really did.

In December of 2000, I was sent to Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia, in support of Operation Southern Watch. One night I drove down the apron to check my equipment, and I was amazed at what I saw. To my left were F-15s and F-16s tucked neatly away with a full complement of munitions ready to take it to the fight. Shortly after, the aircraft took off to complete their mission. When they returned I noticed they didn’t have all their munitions loaded and began to reflect on what had just happened.

It hit me like a ton of bricks, “That’s what we do?” I thought to myself. That day forever changed me. I didn’t just service and dispatch equipment for the flightline or fix pieces of AGE. People depended on me to do my part, so they could do theirs. I continue this mindset today in a different job, but with the same attitude.

January was the 25th year anniversary of Operation Desert Storm and March will be the 13th year anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In both operations the Air Force achieved air supremacy in less than a month. At Luke Air Force Base we train the world’s best F-35 and F-16 fighter pilots and airpower starts right here with all of us. No matter what your AFSC is, no matter what the job entails, we’re all supporting the mission.