One million thank yous for one million fans

Airmen hugs his 20 month old daughter before deployment
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Airman 1st Class Krystal Tomlin
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

The U.S. Air Force Facebook page recently reached one million likes. We, here at the Air Force Public Affairs Agency, are really excited about reaching this milestone. We’ve been counting down for weeks.

Why is this number so important to us? To tell you the truth, there isn’t much difference between 999,999 and 1,000,000. We aren’t celebrating our millionth fan — we’re celebrating our first fan, our hundredth fan, our millionth fan and everyone in between.

U.S. Airman participates in women's shura in Afghanistan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As an Air Force public affairs specialist, my job is to tell the Air Force story. I want to help every U.S. citizen understand our mission so they can make an educated decision about supporting us. I write stories about the wonderful things my fellow Airmen are doing. These stories help to put a face with the uniform that sacrifices for freedom. These stories also help servicemembers’ families understand the important work that takes their loved ones away from them. I tell the good, the bad and the ugly. I’ll keep telling the Air Force story, because I believe in it.

I believe the Air Force plays a vital role in stifling global threats to freedom and human rights. I have no doubt most people in the Air Force are here to serve the public in an effort to make their communities and the world a better place. I believe the rebuilding efforts and the humanitarian missions we take part in are a reflection of those efforts.

Yokota Airmen deliver school supplies to Indonesian school

This is why one million fans is worth celebrating. It’s one million people who can see the Air Force through my eyes. One million people who are learning about the Airmen who attended a women’s shura in Afghanistan or provided school supplies for kids in Indonesia. More people will understand the resilient military kids and spouses who sacrifice in support of the men and women who love America and freedom so much they took an oath to defend the Constitution at all costs.

Thank you a million times. Thank each and every one of you for supporting my fellow Airmen every day. Thank you for telling our stories to your friends and family. Thank you for trusting us with your freedom.

Photo 1: U.S. Air Force Capt. James Salazar hugs his 20-month-old daughter, Elizabeth, prior to the 15th Airlift Squadron’s departure Aug. 27, 2008 at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. Captain Tarkowski is assigned to the 15th AS. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Timothy Taylor)

Photo 2: Indonesian schoolchildren receive school supplies and sports equipment from Airmen during a goodwill visit to an elementary school in Binguang district, Indonesia, as part of Cope West 11. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Raymond Geoffroy)

Photo 3: First Lt. Emily Chilson interacts with the girls April 25, 2011, in Urgun, Afghanistan, during the first women’s shura. Lieutenant Chilson is the Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team public affairs officer and female engagement team member. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Stacia Zachary)

Week in Photos, May 18, 2012

Airman in a ghillie suits

By Airman 1st Class Krystal Tomlin
U.S. Air Force Public Affairs Agency

Good luck finding a ghillie suit that will camouflage your excitement about this Air Force Week in Photos.

Photo: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Alyssa Gomez demonstrates how camouflaged ghillie suits blend into their surroundings at the Nevada Test and Training Range on May 11, 2012. Snipers wear ghillie suits to blend into their surroundings and conceal themselves from enemies or targets. Gomez is with the 99th Ground Combat Training Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Hughes)

Week in Photos, May 11, 2012

Joint Terminal Attack Controller gets pulled by his parachute

By Airman 1st Class Krystal Tomlin
Public Affairs Agency

Hope you’re having a magnificent Air Force Friday!!!!

Check out the Air Force Week in Photos.

Photo: An Air Force joint terminal attack controller gets pulled by his parachute after landing during a training mission April 26, 2012, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. A static-line parachute allows jumps from very low altitudes since the chute opens immediately after the jumper leaves the aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Hughes)

Success through leadership

 

Master Sgt. Christopher Riffle

By Master Sgt. Christopher Riffle
27th Special Operations Security Forces Squadron


Having served 18 years in the Air Force, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to learn from and work beside some of the greatest leaders the military has ever seen. I do not claim to be a subject matter expert on leadership, nor do I consider myself to be a great leader. However, I know enough about the subject to share my thoughts on how great leadership can result in a successful unit.

The Air Force defines leadership as the art of influencing and directing people to accomplish the mission. This very difficult task can be accomplished if leaders at every level keep two very important elements in mind, successfully completing the mission, and taking care of their people.

Great leaders know the importance of their unit’s personnel and their role in mission success. Gen. Curtis E. Lemay, former Air Force Chief of Staff stated, “No matter how well you apply the art of leadership, no matter how strong your unit or how high the morale of your men, if your leadership is not directed completely toward the mission, your leadership has failed.”

I’ve always believed that this meant that, as a leader, if I was taking care of my Airmen and their needs it would ensure that the unit’s mission would be successful.

All Airmen are able to be leaders regardless of position or rank. Leadership isn’t something everyone is born with; it’s learned and developed.

How we develop ourselves and our Airmen will determine if we’ll ever truly become effective leaders. It’s important that we continue to add to our leadership toolkit by seeking professional military education, on-the-job training and professional development.

A great leader will ensure that his or her subordinates are given the opportunities to learn leadership traits through deliberate development. It’s through these experiences that we gain the qualities it takes to be a great leader.

Although there are many leadership qualities to speak of, there are a few that I have seen make lasting impacts on personnel and units across my career.

I believe enthusiasm is the most contagious of all. Throughout time the most successful leaders have demonstrated enthusiasm for the mission and their people. A leader’s enthusiasm is contagious and will spread through a unit to motivate others to adjust to the unit’s needs.

As leaders we must demonstrate a commitment to the Air Force, our unit’s mission, and our subordinates. If we do this, our Airmen will want to follow us.

As leaders we must do not only what we ask our Airmen to do, but also more. We must be credible at all times. Remember that we all are on parade and must avoid showing stress when dealing with challenging situations.

Communication is a two-way process. Listen to what your people are saying, because they often have great ideas. Share the importance of the mission and its impact on national interests. A well-informed Airman recognizes the importance of his or her job and will be more effective.

Leaders are responsible for the unit’s mission; if it fails we must accept the consequences. Accountability is also essential. Reward a job well done and hold those who fail to meet the established standards accountable.

Throughout my time here at Cannon, I have witnessed the many successes the 27th Special Operations Wing has accomplished.

I believe this is a direct correlation to the great leadership we have developed. These are Air Commandos at all levels, not just senior officers or NCOs but Airmen as well, those who want this wing to be successful not for personal gain, but because it is expected.

I challenge you to find leadership opportunities that will provide you with additional professional development. Make time to take advantage of educational opportunities at Cannon. Taking these actions will ensure the wing continues to develop leaders needed for its continued success.

Photo: U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Christopher Riffle, 27th Special Operations Security Forces Squadron first sergeant, takes a proud stance just outside the Security Forces building at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., March 21, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Carlotta Holley)

Fighting the bad guys, taking great pictures

By Staff Sgt. Nadine Y. Barclay
438th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

SSgt. Nadine Barclay

SSgt. Nadine Barclay

Traditionally, women in our country bore children and stayed home to raise them while the men left home to defend our nation against her enemies.

Times have definitely changed; today both men and women in the armed forces sacrifice greatly for just causes. We live in a world where life, love and the pursuit of happiness are common themes among Americans.

In keeping with this motto, many people say that their lives really started the day they arrived in the U.S. to pursue a new life or the day that they met their soul mate; for me it was actually a little different. My life started a couple years after getting married when at age 20 I became a mother and again at age 24.

During the month of April we take time to reflect on the reason most of us wake up every morning and willingly put our lives on the line. It is designated as a Department of Defense-wide observance, the Month of the Military Child.

As a U.S. Air Force photojournalist and the mother of two beautiful girls I have the distinct honor of doing both; defending my country and pursuing my version of happiness and count myself lucky to have the freedom to do so. But it has not been easy.

Before my oldest daughter, Avah, now five, was even two, I was called to serve on my first deployment at the same time my husband, a USAF crew chief, went on his remote tour to a base in southern Korea. On opposite ends of the world we were required to function as parents and as Airmen.

The day I left my daughter for the first time she was one and a half. It felt like the life was sucked right out of me and remained gone until the day I returned home to her four months later.

This time while serving in Afghanistan on a slightly longer deployment as an advisor to Afghan air force public affairs airmen, I have been placed into a slightly less difficult situation.

My daughters, Avah and Sophia, age one, are now with the only other person that I trust with my life and theirs. His name is daddy, and he is acting as both mommy and daddy; the prince charming that my daughters need him to be in my absence.

He has taken on the unique challenges that come with being a male mommy. The daily tasks that are usually performed by myself are now met with “I don’t like this food” or “my mommy does it different.”

My daughters don’t totally understand why I chose to serve and that it is sometimes necessary for me to be gone, however they adjusted like champs to the drastic change.

Never-the-less, at 4 foot 11 inches, I’ve never been compared to any super hero other then Mighty Mouse, the legendary super hero that fights evil despite his small size, until recently when my daughter compared me to the pink ‘Mighty Morphin Power Ranger’.

She said that I was “fighting the bad guys” and “teaching people how to take great pictures.”

I often get notifications from my daughter’s teacher explaining how I am never far from conversation in a classroom filled with four and five year-old girls that see me as a real life super hero.

The fact that my daughter brags to her friends and truly believes that I wear a pink leather outfit under this multi-cam uniform makes me laugh and inspires the hope and strength that I need to continue to move forward in helping enhance the capabilities of Afghanistan.

Recently, I was given the opportunity to travel on a humanitarian mission in southern Afghanistan and saw firsthand that I was lucky.

Using a popular video chat system, I sat and explained some of the privileges and freedoms we enjoy to my daughters. It is easy to take many of these things for granted.

Of course my conversation was met with more questions than a five and one year-old could understand, but I was pleased to hear that although I’ve missed a birthday, the holidays, the tooth fairy’s first visit and the Easter Bunny so far that I was still a prized mommy.

A statement that was reiterated by, ” don’t worry mommy, it’s ok that you’re gone but remember when you’re done doing your job we are all going to Disney World like you promised when you left.”

I have accomplished many things in my life, yet to me none mean more to me then my two greatest ones who wait anxiously for my return home. So although April is the designated month for military children, they should be rewarded and cherished for the sacrifices they make year-round on behalf of our nation’s defense.

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