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New Found Appreciation

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Danielle Conde
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing public affairs
My senior year of high school, I remember watching my dad leave the house, dressed in uniform, Thanksgiving morning. This was going to be my last year spending the holiday with my family all together, and he was on his way to a lunch that leadership was hosting for single Airmen living in the dorms.

I realized that as a chief master sergeant he had certain responsibilities he had to fulfill, but I didn't understand why it was so important to him that he went and spent some time with his Airmen.

To be honest, I resented him at little bit for walking out the door that morning.

Fast forward to today; I am a first-term Airman living in the dorms, spending my first Thanksgiving away from my family. Ever since the dining facility temporarily closed for renovations, I have been enjoying a limited assortment of microwavable foods.

When I found out that leadership was hosting a dorm residents Thanksgiving dinner at the chapel annex on Nov. 24, I was relieved to know I would finally be able to eat some real food, and believe me I was looking forward to the potatoes and stuffing.

The event started at 4:30 p.m. and went until 7 p.m., allowing enough time for residents to sit and enjoy free food, or take some to-go.

Right as I entered the annex, a second lieutenant and chief greeted me and pointed me in the right direction for food. They told me to eat as much as I wanted, and I intended to do so.

While I stood in line talking to one of my friends, a chief came over to talk to us. He asked us where we were from, and before I knew it I was standing in front of the wing commander holding out my plate for him to give me a scoop of stuffing.

I had spoken to many of the leadership who were present at the event before, but it felt refreshing to be around them in this relaxed atmosphere.

As I sat enjoying the delicious dinner with fellow residents and the second lieutenant from my public affairs shop, I witnessed officers and senior NCOs taking time to give every Airman a warm smile and genuinely asking how he or she was doing. I was taken back because I could imagine my dad sitting at one of the tables talking to Airmen.

It finally made perfect sense to me why he made such an effort to be at the lunch event that Thanksgiving morning. Although it does not replace spending time with my loved ones, I felt like I was actually part of a new family.

I really appreciate the leadership taking time after the duty day to spend time with me and the other Airmen living in the dorms. 

Events like this have a significant impact on Airman morale, and I hope to pay the same hospitality forward.