The Airman's Creed: living the warfighting ethos

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Norm West
  • 18th Wing director of staff
Just when you finally learned the words to the Air Force Song, along comes the Airman's Creed. You've lip-synched it at military ceremonies from awards to retirements to changes of command. 

You may ask yourself: What does it mean? Why is it important? Do I really need to know all the words? 

The Airman's Creed was first introduced April 18, 2007 after a collaborative effort from Airmen across the Air Force. Although we have had many official and unofficial slogans over the last half-century; the Airman's Creed unifies the warfighting ethos that distinguishes what it means to be an Airman. What does it mean to you? 

"I am an American Airman. I am a warrior. I have answered my nation's call." 

We are no longer a conscript driven military. You have volunteered. What made you take that step into the military versus a life in corporate America? Was it the events of Sept. 11th? A proud family history? Warfighting spirit? Or, simply an internal desire to serve our country? 

I entered the military for much the same reason that I entered the medical field...I truly believe in serving the greater good. As I stood at "Ground Zero" in New York City shortly after September 11th, I remembered all too clearly why I serve. Never forget why you entered the service...why you are a proud American Airman. 

"I am an American Airman. My mission is to fly, fight, and win. I am faithful to a proud heritage, a tradition of honor, and a legacy of valor." 

While at Air Command and Staff College, I was honored to help host the annual 
"Gathering of Eagles." This group encompasses past and present legends of air power. Past honoree's have included "Bud" Day, "Tex" Hill, "Buddy" Archer, "Boots" Blesse, Joe Kittinger, and the list goes on and on. 

Their courage paved the way for us, their bravery and service ensured our freedom, and their traditions are ones we will continue to honor and emulate as we move forward in today's Air Force. 

"I am an American Airman. Guardian of freedom and justice, my nation's sword and shield, its sentry and avenger. I defend my country with my life." 

I ask you this: If not you, then who? Your service ensures the freedom of our children and their children. Your dedication contributes to national security and defense of our country. I will proudly accompany each and every one of you into harm's way. 

"I am an American Airman. Wingman, leader, warrior. I will never leave an Airman behind, I will never falter, and I will not fail." 

Every one of you is a leader, every one of you is a warrior, and every one of you is a wingman. Never forget your duties to your fellow Airmen. The price of failure is one which we cannot afford. 

I am proud to be your wingman; checking your six on my never-ending watch. I am an American Airman!