I am an USAF veteran, and a disabled veteran at that. My disability rating occurred during a chemical accident that happened when I was active duty. I make sure that every time I state this, I mention this very important caveat, as I hold combat veterans in very high regards. When I go on veteran’s websites, I see the Air Force the butt of every other service joke. The Air Force itself is called the Chair Force. We build decent golf courses instead of barracks. Our officers are Prima Donna’s, who zoom through the air in fancy air craft. Our enlisted force is usually portrayed as large men, eating donuts, and complaining about the bike test (that went away nearly 12 years ago). The Air Force is seen as the joke of the US military.
What people fail to mention are the heroes of our Air Force. Our latest hero, A1C Spencer Stone from Oregon was on a high speed train, when he and three of his friends stopped a lone-wolf terrorist from massacring 500 fellow passengers. Airman Stone sustained severe injuries to his hand, his back, and his neck. When the news first broke, the press reported that it was three US service members, then it was three marines, and finally as the story is continuing to break it was one active duty service member– an airman, his two civilian friends, and a 60-something year old grandfather of two. When the press hears of a military hero, it is the assumption that it’s not a marine.
The Air Force is full of heroes. In 2003-2005, my husband was stationed as an ALO (Air Liaison Officer) in Germany. He was deployed with the 1 ID during the height of the Iraq war. While there, my husband used drone footage to find insurgents hiding in a building, there was nearly 1,000-person convoy returning to the FOB. My husband called in an air strike, saving the regimen from the insurgents. He earned a bronze star for his actions. He doesn’t advertise that this had happened, he doesn’t talk about it much at all. I found out about it after I was there when he got his medal, and they read what he had done. Other airmen in his command did incredible things, especially during the siege of Fallujah.
Our airmen are strong, they are heroes, and they should not be seen as POGs. Of all the services, the Air Force is one of the only service that allows women to participate in front line combat. I have females friends, who I have known since I was in ROTC, who have flown missions along side men. Not only are women leading the way in the military, we also have suffered some significant injuries. One of my closest friends was in Iraq, helping fight fires after Saddam burned the oil fields. She now suffers from brain injuries, and debilitating pain from her service in the military.
It’s time to recognize some of the heroes, and stop portraying the United States Air Force as donut-eating, chair-sitting, e-mail sending fliers, and start recognizing them as the heroes that they are.