Tag Archives: Basic Training

Re-blued

 By Senior Airman Ulla Stromberg
99th Inpatient Operations Squadron aerospace medical technician

Being from Manhattan, Kan., an individual isn’t exposed to too terribly much. Cuisine was only as worldly as the Chinese/American buffet and entertainment rested in a dive bar or bowling alley. The one thing about this community, however, was the people. Being home to the students of Kansas State University and a great many of our soldiers from Fort Riley, the majority of the population’s faces were constantly changing. Human interaction and the life experiences heard from those soldiers and students broadened our worldly horizons.

Senior Airman StrombergAs I grew older, I was more informed and cognizant of the purpose of the military member. I loved hearing their stories and began to notice how those realities behind the tale developed their admirable character. I would watch those uniformed men and women at the local grocery store who always maintained an unwavering sense of purpose and seemed slightly more considerate of their loved ones who were with them. My eyes were opened when I realized this consideration came from the thought that the moment I had observed may have been due to this family seeing each other for one of the first or last times in the midst of a seemingly endless deployment season. I admired their sacrifice, their selflessness. To me, the uniform stood for a great many things. I hadn’t the foggiest idea what in the world occupational badges or rank insignias stood for. I just knew as an outsider looking in that the uniform stood for sacrifice. Sacrifice brought discipline and discipline brought pride and purpose. I enlisted in the United States Air Force at the earliest opportunity.

Because we are human, it is easy to fall into routine, to become complacent. However, one must always remember how they felt upon graduation from basic military training (BMT) when they received their Airman’s Coin. BMT pushes you, it brings you to hell and back but what emerges is a polished and refined individual who now sees the color of the flag in a brighter shade of red, white and blue. My advice is to always remember that moment, that character transition, and to remember that “The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you.” You traded a day of your life to come into work and put on that uniform. Make it count. If you remember these things, with the aid of your wingmen and leadership, ANYTHING is attainable.

Quote by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1944, D-Day.

Photo:U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Ulla Stromberg, a 99th Inpatient Operations Squadron aerospace medical technician, takes the blood pressure of Airman 1st Class Matthew Lancaster, a 99th Air Base Wing photographer, April 4, 2011, at Mike O’Callaghan Federal Hospital at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Stromberg was recently named one of the Air Forces’ 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year. The Outstanding Airman of the Year Ribbon is awarded to 12 enlisted Airmen who display superior leadership, job performance, community involvement and personal achievements throughout the year. Air Force Association officials will honor the 12 recipients September 2011 during the Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stephanie Rubi)

To be stereotyped as an Airman

By Lt. Col. Chris Callaghan
71st Operations Support Squadron

When we hear the word stereotype, we tend to attach negative connotations to it. After a conversation I had a few months ago, that word changed for me.

Lt. Col. Chris Callaghan In late March, my wife Kelly and I attended a course at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, as part of our preparation for squadron command. The course was a week long, and on the last day, we attended a Basic Military Training graduation at Lackland AFB, Texas.

Following the graduation, we had lunch with trainees who were just one week from graduation themselves.

We ate with a female trainee from southern California. She didn’t have her assignment yet, but wanted to be in either air traffic control or acquisitions. I, of course, encouraged her to become an air traffic controller and join us here at Vance AFB.

We talked about why she joined the Air Force. She didn’t run through a variety of great reasons many of us have for joining: service, patriotism, opportunities, education or experience. Instead, she told us that she joined the Air Force because she wanted to be “stereotyped as an Airman.”

She explained that in her hometown of Compton, Calif., there are stereotypes and expectations that seem to go along with whether you are male or female, your national origin, and what part of town you are from.

As she learned about the Air Force, it became apparent to her that, as an Airman, none of that “stuff” mattered. What does matter is our mission, our commitment, our professionalism, the core values by which we live, and the freedoms and ideals we defend.

This explanation by an 18-year-old Airman about to join our ranks absolutely floored my wife and me, and has had us talking about it ever since. There is a lot we can take away from what this Airman said.

First, it reinforces that our reputation as the world’s most dominant and most respected air, space and cyberspace force reaches far and wide.

Second, it tells us that our reputation is based on our people who serve something greater than themselves.

Third, it should convey to all of us that the impression we make on others translates into a calling for many to serve our country.

Her words reflect the trust and confidence that the American people have in us, and how important that trust is in defining us as Airmen and defining what we stand for.

By joining the Air Force, that young woman from southern California earned the label of “Airman” in the hopes of being stereotyped with us, her fellow Airmen, for the integrity, service and excellence for which we are known. When she goes home to Compton, wearing her uniform, she will return mostly as the girl they all knew, but she will also be the Airman she has become.

She won’t fit the stereotype someone else had for her; she will have changed in their eyes. By deciding to serve and put on the uniform of her country, that Airman has become something far greater than the superficial expectation someone used to have for her.

When I think of the American dream, I think of Airmen like her who are living it. To me, being considered by others as a stereotypical Airman is a tremendous honor. That’s a label we should strive to attain every day.

Photo: Lt. Col. Chris Callaghan, 71st Operations Support Squadron commander. (U.S. Air Force photo)