Who am I? Who are you? Who are we?

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Loren Cossette
  • 33rd Maintenance Group
What's your job?  Over the years, I've been asked this question countless times whether it be while in-processing new units, deploying, attending professional military education, or while participating in various panels. 

The answers are as numerous and varied as the titles in the Air Force.  For most of us, the answer is easy.  I am a First Sergeant; I am a Maintainer; I am Security Forces; I am Admin; I work communications; I am a Dental Tech.  It's a simple question with a simple answer.  But, could there be more to this question and could our answers reflect a deeper, more significant meaning?

How we answer this question reflects who we are as professionals and represents the group within the Air Force with which we most closely identify.  It shapes our interactions with others, our opinions of others, and lays a foundation for our professional identity and the developmental path which we follow. 

This identification establishes our priorities and focuses our efforts.  The answer we give unites us with those close to us, but slowly begins to divide us from those outside of our work center, our squadron, our group, or our career field.  Simply, we begin promoting a specialty-centric mindset and eventually forget who we are. 

We are Airmen.  More importantly, we are Airmen first.  For many of us, it's been years and years since we earned the title of Airman.  Whether it was at basic military training, officer training school, ROTC, or the Air Force Academy, each of us earned this title and became part of one of the greatest teams in history.  We learned our Core Values and of Airmanship. 

The lessons we learned formed the foundation for our careers and our service which, combined with hundreds of thousands of our fellow Airmen, forms the backbone of Airpower.  As we stood at a graduation parade or graduate ceremony, we each felt the greatest sense of pride in what we had accomplished.  For many of us, it was a defining moment in our lives, and it felt great!

I remember calling my friends Airman for the first time and being called Airman.  We couldn't say it enough.  That word, that title, and the idea it represents made us feel on top of the world.  Together, we accomplished something remarkable, and there was no limit to what we would accomplish as part of the bigger team.

Maybe it's time for us to remember that feeling...to remember that pride.  Maybe it's time to remember that simple word, that title, that idea.  It represents who we are at our core and our most basic of beliefs.  It's what bonds us all together regardless of when or where we serve, our rank, our specialty, or our duty title.  It's who we were, who we are, and who we will be.  No matter the challenge, we will execute and succeed as Airmen supported by Airmen.

I became an Airman 13 years ago and will continue to be one until my last breath.  It is why there is a U.S Air Force tape over my heart on my uniform.  Yes, I am a First Sergeant.  Yes, I am a Senior Noncommissioned Officer.  But when you ask me what my job is, I am an Airman.