Joint Base Charleston


"Airman" is enough

By Capt. Nicholas Mercurio | 1st Combat Camera Squadron | November 14, 2012

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- There is a preoccupation in today's Air Force rhetoric with the word "warrior."

It begins with the Airman's Creed where, at the onset, we profess to be warrior's who have answered our nation's call.

From there it pervades our collective Air Force consciousness until we reach a state of semantic satiation, a phenomenon wherein a word is used so often it loses meaning.

There are cyber-warriors, intel-warriors and finance-warriors, the liberal application of the term stretching from aerial port to public affairs shop, from cockpit to classroom, until it becomes hopelessly contrived and utterly diluted.

Now, perhaps I am being too harsh in my appraisal. The question as to whether or not the word "warrior" is being watered down is debatable.

However, I would submit that the larger issue centers on whether or not the word is even necessary. My point is this: Airman is enough. The term Airman carries with it enough historical heft that it should suffice on its own.

An Airman is an innovator, prized for thinking outside the box, even when it is unpopular to do so. Retired Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell is the embodiment of this concept, championing air power after the conclusion of World War I despite trenchant skepticism and overt opposition.

An Airman constantly forges ahead, seeking new technological advances regardless of risks and unbound by the status quo. Retired Brig. Gen. Robin Olds and his generation of jet-engine pioneers demonstrated this quality as they flew unproven aircraft with cutting-edge technology despite the obvious danger.

An Airman is, more than anything, a professional. There is no greater example of this fact than the B-17 crews of World War II which, in full knowledge of the fact that there was a 70 percent chance they would be shot down, flew day-time, strategic-bombing raids into Germany because it was their job to do so.

Airman is a term steeped in valor. It evokes the same feelings of bravery, ferocity, honor and expertise one associates with the word warrior while also bearing with it echoes of our proud service heritage. We must, as an Air Force, reclaim the word Airman, reinvigorate in it the same prestige and hold it in the same regard as did our predecessors. In doing so we will not only honor our past but secure our future as the greatest Air Force the world has ever seen.

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