Shortly after its birth as a separate service, American Airmen have worn the color blue.
Blue represents the sky above earth; a medium the Air Force first aimed to conquer. Blue in our uniforms, in our shield and in our official symbol is also commonly connected to loyalty and courage. Airmen have shown loyalty and courage in every significant conflict since the dawn of flight and continue doing so today.
Air Force blue begins entering our lives in basic military training. We learn about being Airmen. We share common experiences, learn attention to detail and become eager to dedicate ourselves to the mission. We are forged in the furnaces before proceeding to technical training where we learn a skill. Our instructors teach us the professional standards we need to follow in our specific career fields. Here, we are shaped and polished. When we report to our first assignment we are “blue”. Our blue is strong, straight and true. We have become weapons of our nation — weapons of the highest quality and accuracy.
As we go about our daily lives, on and off duty, in and out of uniform, we face challenges, weather storms, experience occasional failures and meet with other forms of adversity. We listen to others complain. We grow tired of facing the same obstacles at every turn. Sometimes we run across situations we haven’t been trained to handle and get discouraged. Since we are human, these things can wear away at our blue. They can make us dull. As with any weapon or tool, constant use without periodic maintenance can lower effectiveness. Airmen are no different.
Bluing is a process often used by gun manufacturers, gunsmiths and gun owners to improve the cosmetic appearance of, and provide corrosion resistance to, firearms, according to Walter J. Howe in his 1946 book, “Professional Gunsmithing”. All blued parts still need to be properly oiled to prevent rust.
Professional military education is a rebluing process for Airmen.
In the course of our studies, activities and even social events, we improve our cosmetic appearance — reminding one another about the proper wear of the uniform and the importance of a professional image. We obtain corrosion resistance as we discuss the core values and the noncommissioned officer and senior NCO responsibilities. We reaffirm our collective dedication to professional standards. This reaffirmation defends us from cynicism, negative thoughts and griping. Just as it does with worn firearms, our rebluing process returns us to the highest quality and accuracy.
In Air Force PME, the rebluing process serves exactly the same purpose it serves with any worn weapon. It improves cosmetic appearance, prevents corrosion and improves overall functionality.
When America takes up arms to defend herself against those who would destroy our way of life, her aim is straight and true because as Airmen, we remain blue.
PHOTO: Master Sgt. Tiffany Bettisworth, Airman Leadership School commandant, evaluates students during a drill ceremony March 7, 2012, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Bettisworth directs the five week-long professional military education program designed to develop Airmen into effective front-line supervisors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Hughes)