The Three W’s

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Daniel Stellabotte
  • 21st Medical Group

Let’s go back to that moment when you decided to join the world’s greatest Air Force. For some of us, that was not too long ago and for others, like myself, that was over 24 years ago. I vividly remember the “why” behind making the decision to join the Air Force.

I come from a very strong military background. My father, step-father, grandfather, great uncle, and great-great grandfather have all served faithfully and honorably in either the Air Force, Army, Navy or Marines. While attending Penn State University, I knew it was time for a change, and I definitely needed a heavy dose of discipline. I remember the phone call to my parents, talking about needing something different in my life, something bigger than myself. The decision was easy for me, given that I had been around the military my entire life; I wanted to continue the legacy.

As we continue to forge ahead in our day-to-day operations, we often think about what lies in our futures. Where will we be in the next year… three years… five years? What would be the next cool duty assignment or four-day weekend? It’s equally important, but sometimes overlooked, to reflect and remember “where” we came from. I don’t mean what our home town is or where we lay our hats, but that memorable, life-changing day we all raised our right hands and took the oath of service. Or perhaps it was the day we went to basic training, officer training school, or technical training. During those key life moments, most of us can look back and identify the transformation, where we went from members of society to extraordinary Airmen in the U.S. Air Force! The key question is this: Do we really look back and bring those experiences into what we do today? Do we remember what it was like to learn about the military and Air Force customs, courtesies and heritage that have built our foundation as Airmen? If so, do we still operate with that same passion and bearing?

Plenty of talk about the “why” and “where,” but I will ask you to reflect on the “when.” When did you decide to commit as an Airman? For a lot of us, that didn’t happen when we first joined the service or even during the first few years of service. From my lens, as a new Airman, I thought I was fully committed from day one. When I am honest with myself, I know when I committed: September 12, 2001, the day after the attacks on America and over six years after my initial enlistment. I realized at that moment America needed me. America needed all of us. From that point on, my commitment has never wavered.

With the three W’s in mind, one final thought I challenge all of us to think about. Ask yourselves, “Have I committed to this great Air Force and to my fellow Airmen?” Reflect back and never forget where we came from or why we joined the Air Force. I ask you to remember that America needs all of us today and will continue to need us. Thank you for what you do every day! Proud to serve alongside all of you!