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NEWS | May 15, 2013

Diamond Tip: A lesson in professionalism

By Master Sgt. Jennifer Crerar 16th Airlift Squadron first sergeant

I was recently in a meeting with all of the 437th Airlift Wing leadership. Group and squadron commanders, chiefs and first sergeants were called together to answer tough questions regarding some troubling trends in our Air Force.

We were asked two questions. Due to fiscal and manning constraints, what missions or tasks are we no longer able to accomplish? And, do we as an Air Force have a problem with our professionalism?

The first question will take some honest scrutiny of our processes and procedures. Before we can answer the second question, we need to know what professionalism means in the Air Force. Webster's dictionary defines professionalism as, "professional standing, techniques, attributes, or ethics."

That just doesn't cut it.

In the Air Force, I think professionalism is being an Airman first and foremost ... not a medic, personnelist, maintainer, loadmaster, pilot, doctor, nurse or however your specialty defines you. As enlisted Airmen, we attend Basic Military Training first to learn how to dress, move, talk and think like an Airman. Then we are sent to technical school to learn our specialty. Basic Military Training and being an Airman make up the foundation on which our service is built upon. Does the length of your hair, the color of your nail polish or an earring change how well you do your job? Not necessarily. But, before you have the opportunity to perform your job, or specialty, you are an Airman. You wake up and put your uniform on properly. You arrive at your duty location on time. You stop and render the proper respect to reveille or retreat. You salute higher-ranking officers and call your superiors by their rank and last name. All these minor details help identify you as a professional Airman.

When discussing professionalism today, seasoned Airmen can often be heard saying that younger Airmen are different today than they were years ago. But, professionalism starts with leadership. Leaders must exemplify, maintain and enforce standards of professional behavior. Leaders need to recognize and reward professional behavior.

One way first sergeants do this is with our Diamond Sharp program. Senior Airman Brian Hadraba, 437th Maintenance Squadron, and Airman 1st Class John Mackey, 437th Aerial Port Squadron, were highlighted at our most recent event not only for their duty performance but also for their professionalism.

Hadraba and Mackey are not just great maintainers and "port dawgs" who happen to be Airmen. They are amazing Airmen in the best Air Force in the world who happen to also be an outstanding maintainer and "port dawg."