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Airmen: First on the scene, make lasting impressions

  • Published
  • By Capt. Nathan D. Broshear
  • 12th Air Force Public Affairs
On my way to work the other day, I saw a minor car accident.

A sedan full of teenagers slammed into the bumper of a Lincoln Towncar driven by an elderly gentleman. Immediately, a uniformed Airman leapt from his truck to provide aid. After checking on the occupants of each vehicle, the Airman began to direct traffic and assist the victims in calling for emergency services. It took only minutes out of his commute, but to these citizens -- he was a hero for the day.

This is the third time I've witnessed such an occurrence. At other times, Airmen have impressed those around them by saving citizens choking at a restaurant or bringing home a wayward child. On each occasion, an Airman was the first (and sometimes only) person to stop and render assistance.

It isn't only on freeways and dining rooms that Airmen are first on the scene. In Afghanistan, combat controllers were some of the first military members in country to direct incoming forces. In Iraq, Airmen flying RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft have set records for their unit deployments -- first arriving in the Middle East in 1990 and still flying. Nearly every disaster in recent history has had Air Force aircraft arriving within hours to escort rescue workers, secure supply routes or deliver much-needed provisions.

Are Air Force core values the reason Airmen are so apt to care for their fellow citizens? Or are those who live by the Air Force's core values more likely to join and remain Airmen?

I prefer to think it's a combination of the two hypotheses: Airmen are citizens so filled with the spirit of service that they would likely help others no matter what career field they are in. As a group, we're fortunate to be blessed with ranks full of members living with integrity, service and excellence.

People notice when you care. During a flight to Baltimore-Washington airport, an Airman gave a flight attendant a particular brand of skateboarding T-shirts after she told him the brand was her son's favorite and she'd been trying to locate one similar. The woman was so touched by the simple act of kindness, she felt compelled to tell the world about the Airman's generosity and wrote a letter to the editor that appeared in the Dec. 26 USA Today. In her letter, she noted how his actions made a lasting impression about "the caliber of men and women who are selflessly sacrificing their lives so that Americans can have freedom and peace."

While you don't have to donate the shirt off your back, you make a big impression on every person you interact with while off duty. Airmen are the standard by which friends, neighbors, government and motorists will judge others.

In 2008, let's keep up the tradition of being first on the scene ... whether it's during a deployment, at home, on base or in the community, our nation and our world have come to expect we'll be there in times of crisis. I know you won't let them down.
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