Facing unknown: Beginning of my AF journey

by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

A combination of excitement and nervousness overwhelmed me as my wife and I boarded our flight to my first duty station, Ramstein. I didn’t know what to expect as I began this new chapter of my life as a photojournalist in the U.S. Air Force.

The Air Force is very new to me and so was the job I was preparing to take on.

I was not worried only for myself but also for my wife, who was leaving behind her job back home. What was I going to do for her in Germany? I didn’t want her to be stuck at home all day.

Whatever shadows of anxiety I had were soon eclipsed by my anticipation of beginning my exciting new career. I cannot count how many people have told me I was lucky to have Ramstein as my first duty location and public affairs as my job.


Tired and sore from the hours of waiting at the airport, I was dead asleep soon after the plane hit cruising altitude. The only things I remember waking up for were the flight attendants serving dinner and the public address system informing us we were about to land at Ramstein.

I opened the window cover to get my first glimpse of Germany. Golden rays of sunshine illuminated the treetops of the many emerald forests that carpeted the German landscape. I saw quaint little villages that made me think of fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel.

After disembarking the aircraft and collecting our luggage, we exited the terminal where we were greeted by my sponsor.

The next day we visited what would be my office for the next several years. We were greeted by smiling faces that told me everything would be all right and I had nothing to be afraid of. Suddenly, all fears and worries of being the new guy faded away.

I was soon informed that I was scheduled to attend the First Term Airman Center for a week.

FTAC is where first-term Airmen go to receive briefings about the policies of the base and receive an introduction to the Air Force.

When I walked into the classroom on the first day, the room was full of people, but no one made a sound. A cold, dead silence filled the air. Were the people shy and unsociable, or were they just upset at having to rise before the sun did? Either way, I was on edge.

Suddenly, the door flung open and our FTAC facilitators walked in. They had a bright and shiny demeanor, which reminded me of camp counselors. Soon the ice was broken and everyone opened up.

We learned about the many programs, activities and organizations within Ramstein. It was as if a brand new world of opportunities opened up to me. I was also delighted to discover opportunities not just for myself but also for my wife. Because of FTAC, my wife and I were given wonderful ideas on what we could do here.

Besides volunteer and travel opportunities, I learned about how to be a resilient and disciplined Airman. The briefers taught us how to incorporate the Air Force’s core values of integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do into every aspect of our lives. I now feel more prepared to take on my career.

About halfway through FTAC, I was notified that I was selected to be on the Facility Excellence Team for two weeks.

FET is a program in which first-term Airmen go around Ramstein and beautify the base.

I honestly had a good time at FET. I worked with some of the people I met at FTAC, and we learned how to work together as a team while serving the community. It was also a chance to network with Airmen from different career fields.

I look back now at where I was a month ago, a brand new Airman facing an unfamiliar world. I had worries, and I even had some fears.

However, I learned not to be bound by fear. When we gather our courage and step out to the unknown, the world and all its possibilities open up to us.

Looking forward, I hope to do a lot of great things for the Air Force. For now, they are just dreams. But why not dream? After all, there is nothing to be afraid of; I learned this lesson during my first 30 days at Ramstein.