A call to arms

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Lystra Greene
  • 383rd Training Squadron superintendent
A call to arms brings very difficult and unexpected situations - we must be ready.
As Airmen, our responsibility is to our war-time mission, our peace-time mission, to our superiors and to our subordinates. In a time such as this, as well as in the past, Airmen have borne an enormous responsibility, as the nation calls on us to support and defend the constitution of the United States of America against all enemies foreign and domestic.

Now, we are in a global war on terrorism, a time when we must continue the fight for freedom; the freedoms which some Americans took for granted before September11, 2001.

We are different; less than 4 percent of Americans have ever served in our military. We do what our fellow Americans do not know how to do. We are trained and equipped Airmen warriors taking care of our nation and our nation's interests. We are deployed to foreign lands, executing our nation's calling. We leave our land, homes, and our families in the middle of the night to places we have never heard of.

We do this because we believe in the freedoms and the values this nation was built on. For the right to bear arms, the right to speak freely, the right to assemble, the right to raise our families, the right to be treated equally and fairly and the right to worship freely.
As Airmen we fight for the land of the free, carrying on the proud heritage of the brave men and women in uniform.

From the beginning, Airmen led the call to arms through airpower. From the newly created "three-person-strong" Aeronautical Division, Capt. Charles Chandler, Cpl. Edward Ward and Private 1st Class Joseph Barrett "flew" reconnaissance missions in balloons, fearlessly scoping things out from the sky.

In 1909, we progressed to our first ever aircraft, "Airplane No.1", then, to a bigger force in WWI, where the 1st Aero Squadron consisted of 12 officers, 54 enlisted and six aircrafts.
Just one year later, the Aviation Section grew to 44 officers, 224 enlisted and 23 airplanes. Few in personnel and short in technology compared to the 300,000 Airmen and the F-22s of today, we have equipped ourselves for any mission.

A significant defining moment for Airmen called to arms was a show of force from the air during the Berlin Airlift. Airmen, under command of Maj. Gen. William Tunner, built an air bridge into Berlin, defying the Soviet blockade and providing two million West Berliners food and medical supplies. It was the largest humanitarian airlift in history and proved airpower could do what ground forces could not do; the Berlin airlift showcased our airlift capabilities.

For 15 months, Airmen flew in 2.3 million tons of supplies on 277,000 flights. The Berlin Airlift physically and psychologically "shocked and awed" the Soviets and gave Airmen an airpower legacy.

More recently the call went out again to Airmen to do what we do during Operation Desert Storm. Within the first 24 hours - and that's all it took - we established complete air dominance while all of America and the world watched on CNN as Airmen and fighter aircrafts fought and won the battle from the skies of Baghdad.

In our ultimate call to arms, these are the faces of courage, Airmen who died in foreign lands, and those who have fought and returned to us with honor. From the first military aviators Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge and Cpl. Frank Scott, to Airmen like Capt. Barbara Heald, Chief Master Sgt. Richard Etchberger, Master Sgt. Brad Clemmons, Tech. Sgt. Timothy Wilkinson, Tech. Sgt. John Chapman, Staff Sgt. Scott Sather, Senior Airman Jason Cunningham, Airman 1st Class Jessica Jacobs, Airman 1st Class John Levitow, Airman 1st Class William Pitsenbarger and Airman 1st Class Albert Moore.

These are just a few who have shown us what courage is all about, what we are all about. But there are many, many more unsung heroes. These patriotic men and women make me proud to call myself an Airman.

Very few people have the honor and privilege of serving in our Air Force, in the defense of our nation. As Airmen, we take the lead, wherever and whenever we are called.

We serve with honor and pride, we take care of our own, we have a bond, we wear the same uniform, we all have the same last name - U.S. Air Force. We are called to the same purpose. We have answered the call throughout our proud history and have left a lasting legacy - committed, dedicated and loyal Airmen warriors in a call to arms.