Basic trainees recite the Oath of Enlistment at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

Uncommon Airmen

Basic trainees recite the Oath of Enlistment at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

Chief Master Sgt. Jeff Malherek
92nd Civil Engineer Squadron

 I do not choose to be a common man.

It is my right to be uncommon–if I can.

I seek opportunity–not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me.

I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed.

I refuse to sacrifice incentive for a hand-out. I prefer the challenges of life to a guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment over a stale calm of utopia.

I will not trade freedom for benefits or my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master nor bend to any threat.

It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid; to think and act for myself, to enjoy the benefits of my creations and to face the world boldly and say, ‘This I have done.’

Dean Alfange, an American Statesman, wrote “An American Creed” in 1950. Let me explain why this resonates with me as a senior NCO and why it should with everyone wearing our nation’s uniform.

I believe each of us wearing our nation’s uniform has chosen an uncommon life. Because we are normally surrounded by people who have also chosen this life, we sometimes forget how special we really are. I’m quickly reminded of our uncommonness while spending time with non-military family and friends here in Spokane, Wash., my hometown in Minnesota and all across our nation. My friends and family are always quick to remind me how incredible my life is. They can’t ever imagine themselves doing what we Airmen do and going where we go to do it. They stand in awe of our discipline, our love for this country and our commitment to accomplishing the mission.

Let me remind you of our uncommonness. There are just more than 316 million people in the United States. There are less than 1.5 million active duty who serve in the military and are responsible for their safety and security.

There is nothing common about raising your hand and swearing to give your life to defend this nation.

There is nothing common about leaving your spouse and kids to go off to a location where you will serve in harm’s way. Remember, the mothers and fathers of America have handed you their sons and daughters. With the faith that you will mold them, protect them and lead them. There is nothing common about that!

Monday morning, whatever your specialty is, whether you’re fixing an aircraft, manning a security post, seeing patients at the clinic, repairing an air conditioner, refueling aircraft or training aircrews how to survive in hostile environments, know this: You are not common. You seek opportunity, not security. You want to dream, to build and to succeed. You are not ordinary. You are extraordinary!

George Orwell once said, “People sleep peacefully at night knowing rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

Your friends and family, your brothers and sisters, know that you, and Airmen like you, are prepared to protect them at all costs. Have no misconceptions, we are in a serious business, and we need serious people to carry out our mission. Uncommon people! Extraordinary people!