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NEWS | April 28, 2011

Don't lose the 'blue'

By Senior Airman Torey Griffith 11th Wing Public Affairs

I found myself in among a mix of 15 or so volunteer junior enlisted members of Joint Base Andrews recently at an Airmen's Professional Development Course.

Regardless of how they got there, every single Airman in the room was challenged that day when the 11th Wing Command Chief Master Sergeant Anthony Brinkley came to brief us.

"You know what I want to hear," he told us, almost as soon as he entered the room.

I feared it was the Airman's Creed, that stream of inspiriting sentences I uttered every day in basic training and Tech School, and not so much afterword.

Sure was ...

And here I was, up front, nearly face to face with the Command Chief, hoping he didn't catch me stammering, trying to remember the correct words.  As the powerful phrases came out of my mouth , I remembered how they used to stir my Trainee heart on those early June mornings at Lackland Air Force Base, Tx.

I felt like a bit of a dirt bag as I realized I had let the Air Force "blue" fade during my short career. Here was a man who had been in the Air Force since I was three years old, uniform sharp, standing at attention and exemplifying every word of this creed that I hadn't even thought about for months.

Chief Brinkley encouraged us to keep the Creed fresher in our memories, and reviewed some of the powerful phrases that compose the Creed, and how they apply to us every day.

My personal favorite lines declare that "I am faithful to a proud heritage, a tradition of honor and a legacy of valor."

Our proud heritage of air superiority dates back to the 1940's when the 11th Wing was the 11th Bombardment Group assigned to various places in the Pacific.

The 11th Wing's legacy of valor, courtesy of the bravery and sacrifice of the legendary Grey Geese, should cause every member of the Chief's Own to stand tall and proud as they recite the Creed.

In their Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses, the Grey Geese laid waste to the enemy in such pivotal battles as Midway and island campaigns at Guadalcanal.

Our tradition continues as we operate the Air Force's largest helicopter squadron, and host one of the bases with the most world-wide visibility.

Members of Joint Team Andrews have the honor of transporting the President of the United States and of welcoming and caring for Wounded Warriors on their first state-side stop on the way to recovery. We support the Air Force Honor Guard and the Air Force Band as they represent every Airman to the United States and the world. Dignitaries and leaders from around the world come through Andrews on their way to the White House, and we are often the first glimpses of America to these people who shape the political climate of the world.

Should we let that "blue" fade? Should we let our standards slide as we become accustomed to the mission and let the high ops tempo wear us down? Obviously not, but sometimes it chips away at us little by little without our realization. While it may be uncomfortable to be called out, I believe it helps us decide whether we're okay with being status-quo (the top of the bottom), or if we want to the best wingmen, leaders and warriors we can be.

The Air Force needs leaders like Chief Brinkley to ask us tough questions about our jobs, to challenge us to stand up and recite the Creed. An old adage says iron sharpens iron, and that sharpening can't occur without hard work and friction.

While I haven't decided whether to make the Air Force a career or return to civilian life after my 6 years of service, I have decided that I won't lose the "blue." I've been given an amazing opportunity at Joint Base Andrews to tell the Air Force story in the National Capital Region, to highlight some of the most innovative and courageous servicemembers who continue the legacy of the 11th Wing - an opportunity too great to meet half-heartedly.