Chief’s Corner: Are you a ‘capital A’ Airman?

by Chief Master Sgt. Lewis Holston Jr.
37th Airlift Squadron superintendent

Are you a “capital A” Airman? The second part of this question is: Are there any “lower case A” Airmen? Are we so caught up in who we are that we really need to differentiate between a “capital A” Airman as opposed to the Airman we profess to be according to our creed? Our Air Force is suffering from an identity crisis. The pride we have in the rank and position we hold sometimes blurs the focus on our warrior ethos.

There are no “lower case A,” or little, Airmen in our Air Force. Even if one looks at the youngest among our force, they are all spelled with a capital A, and that is appropriate.

These assumed “lower case A” Airmen make up the majority of the blood, sweat and tears it takes to fly, fight and win in today’s Air Force. They are working the long hours to get the job done and will ultimately be at the tip of the spear pulling the triggers that kill the enemies of our nation. Let’s get over ourselves and lead these wingmen, leaders and warriors to the victories our nation demands.

As one reads this, they may think it only speaks to the junior enlisted ranks, but that would be a wrong assumption. We are all Airmen and warriors who have answered our nation’s call. It’s time we leave the grammar class to our English teachers and get on with leading our people at every level despite their position.

The art of leadership is not about who we are, but rather what we do to influence Airmen to accomplish the complex mission set before us. A lot of time is spent crafting visions and mission statements that encapsulate each Airman at every stage of their development. We want to ensure everyone is included as we chart these paths to success. Here’s a suggestion: Say what needs to be said, do what needs to be done and serve every Airman with equal dedication.

If one asks a Marine, Soldier, Sailor or Guardian whether they are a capital M, S or G, they might get looks of confusion. We can learn a great deal from our joint partners about heritage, time-honored traditions and pride in the uniforms they wear in service to our great nation. It seems that sometimes as Airmen we are still trying to find our place among our joint partners. There should be great pride in the fact that we are Airmen and part of a mighty force. Our core competencies and distinct capabilities should speak for themselves. We bring a decisive force to and above the battlefield. We are warriors pitted side by side with our joint and coalition partners. There is no place for “lower case A” Airmen in today’s Air Force.