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No Airman is an island

Capt. Jessica Brown, 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs.

Capt. Jessica Brown, 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs.

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

No Airman is an island,” a U.S. Air Force chief master sergeant once said to me.  Little did he know, no words have ever been more true in my Air Force career.

I’ve been in the Air Force almost seven years, and in each of those years, I can look back and pinpoint stressful, life changing or heart stopping moments that I experienced.  In each of those moments, my Air Force family was there to be my shield and encourage to me in those times of darkness, uncertainties and fears.  In each of those events, I had a wingman who took care of me.

Shortly after I arrived to my first duty location in Wichita, Kansas, our town was put on tornado warning, which is an alert issued when tornadoes are imminent or occurring. I was a young second lieutenant, living on the second floor of an apartment complex without a basement.  My superintendent called and invited me to wait out the storm with his family in their shelter.  When I arrived, I noticed that there were five other Airmen from my shop in his basement as well.  The tornado touched down that night, but thank goodness my Airmen and I were shielded from the storm.  Master Sgt. Brian Bahret was our wingman.

A few years later, I found myself in pre-term labor while my husband was deployed.  I had tripped over uneven pavement outside our building and landed squarely on my stomach.  Without skipping a beat the staff sergeant I was with scooped me up and loaded me into her car and drove as safely as she could to the emergency room.  On the way, she called our supervisor to let him know what had happened and he immediately began the process of notifying my husband through proper channels.  She also notified a fellow captain friend, who came as quickly as she could to stay with me during my stay.  She comforted me through my sobs and tears, and knowing my faith, she offered to pray with me.  Hours later, the contractions had subsided, my son’s heart rate returned to normal and, thankfully, I was cleared for release. Staff Sgt. Leah Davis and Capt. Missy Robinson were my wingmen.  

In 2016, when my office reeled from a suicide within our unit, once again my Air Force family circled the wagons to comfort us and protect us from the aches and pains that follow such a loss. My squadron rallied for my unit for weeks, offering words of wisdom, ears for confessed confusion and arms for embrace. The 6th Air Mobility Wing, Wing Staff Agencies were our wingmen.

In each of these experiences, I looked to my left and right and there was someone there to be my fortress and carry me through the difficult times.  I am the product of good wingmen.

Sometimes, we think we have to be strong on our own and that asking for help or crying is a sign of weakness.  We have to challenge that stigma, because we are human beings who naturally need community, and by not recognizing one area of need can completely unravel an Airman.  In order to be the best Airmen we can be, we have to be mentally fit, physically fit, spiritually fit and socially fit. 

I’ve learned that when wingmen take good care of themselves and those around them the team is better able to thrive against the stressors and challenges of service in the Profession of Arms and answering our nation’s call.  I am proud to be a part of the Air Force family.

In all of these experiences, the chief’s words rang true, “No Airman is an island.”