What is your story?

by Senior Airman Timothy Moore
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

As a photojournalist for the U.S. Air Force, I have been exposed to and documented many aspects of the military, and I get to see how everything comes together.

Even as a younger Airman, I can see to some extent how each mission is important and why each Airman’s story needs to be told. However, this was not always the case.

Part of my mission as a member of a wing public affairs office is to document retirement ceremonies. As I was covering one ceremony at my previous assignment, I began to see why every story needs to be told.

It was during a pretty busy time of the year for my office. We were low-manned, and the jobs kept coming. As I was walking into my third job assignment on a late Friday afternoon, I was convincing myself to go into “auto pilot” for this retirement ceremony, but what I saw when I walked in changed my mind.

In the room reserved to hold a celebration of an Airman’s 20-plus years of service in the Air Force, there were barely 25 people in attendance, including her family.

I decided to get myself out of the funk I was creating and made up my mind to go above and beyond for this person.

I was extra thorough as I covered the medal and certificate presentations, the goodbye speeches, the flag folding ceremony and then the master sergeant’s final speech as an active-duty member of the Air Force.

It was during her final speech that this sergeant unknowingly changed my perspective on my career.

During her speech, she thanked that small group of people for being there with her and her family. She was aware many of those in attendance, including myself, would have rather been getting ready to head home for the weekend.

Yet, she thanked us for sharing that moment with her family. As she said, even if we had seen a hundred flag folding ceremonies, that was her family’s first time seeing it, and this particular ceremony was more special to them, because it was performed for their Airman.

Her words hit me hard because, for the first time in my career, I realized my job and mission weren’t for me. I was able to capture those moments for her and her family to one day look back on.

As the people involved in her ceremony tried to tell just a small portion of her story, I had the opportunity to preserve another piece of it. I will be forever grateful to her for that.

It is part of my job to document potentially historically significant events, and, before that ceremony, I didn’t see how documenting a retirement ceremony or someone doing his or her day-to-day job could fall into that category.

That day I became aware it is my job to capture and tell every Airman’s story, so I can share it with their family, friends, loved ones and the rest of the world.

We all have a story to tell. Even if it’s similar to someone else’s story, it may be the first time those who consider you special get to hear or see it, and I would be honored to share it.

Have you allowed us to share your story? Contact the 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs office at 480-9196 or 06371-47-9196.