Reflecting on Wingman Day

  • Published
  • By Kristian DePue, Staff Writer
  • Peterson-Schriever Garrison Public Affairs

The repetition of routine demanded by duty regimens can bring about a malaise, and the biannual Wingman Day offers a unique respite with the purpose of boosting morale and fostering a spirit of fellowship.

Wingman Day was established in October 2004 by U.S. Air Force Gen. John P. Jumper, the 17th Chief of Staff of the Air Force, to impress a culture of Airmen taking care of Airmen, which now includes our U.S. Space Force Guardians. The term Wingman stems from a time-honored tradition within the Air Force that stresses the dedication between lead pilots and supporting pilots in formation.

Looking back, Schriever Space Force Base’s most recent Wingman Day on Aug. 6, 2021, included an obstacle course, flag football, kickball, dodgeball, volleyball, tug-of-war and some leisurely lawn activities, such as bean bag toss, ladder toss and line dancing.

The day began with a commander’s kick-off at the soccer field, followed by the obstacle course, with all the activities going throughout the day. Mary “Jan” Devitt, Schriever SFB community support coordinator was the Wingman Day point of contact and the chief organizer of the fellowship and fun.

“Wingman Day is one of my biggest thrills, because it is my job to serve those who serve,” said Devitt. “Having our people get outside for some fun in the sun benefits everyone and unites us as an installation.”

On a sunny 90-degree day, smiling volleyball players were wearing socks to protect the soles of their feet from the superheated sand. While others donned eccentric and eclectic outfits: fun, festive unicorn and dragon onesies, a bright banana costume and an inflatable Tyrannosaurus Rex suit, to name a few.

“When I hear the word ‘Wingman,’ many things come to mind,” said Lawanda Ervin, 50th Force Support Squadron, Airman & Family Readiness Center, community readiness consultant. “The one that stands out most is a solid working relationship — cohesion, support and being on one accord. As Airman, civilians and humans, we’re not going to always agree on everything, but that is the thing that make us unique. Like the old cliché: We can agree to disagree. No one person is left behind, as Wingmen, we are all in this together.”

While Devitt was the POC and the chief organizer, Ervin served as the master of ceremonies: the positive and enthusiastic emcee.

“Wingman Day is intended to strengthen installation morale and camaraderie by devoting time to build connections, participate in athletic challenges, being outside, and simply enjoying a grilled hamburger,” said Devitt. “Wingman Day offers activities to Airmen and Guardians in order to build relationships, and it reflects the Wingman concept and strengthens our dedication to the [Peterson-Schriever] Garrison’s mission.”

There have been various themes for Wingman Day, and this latest iteration reflected the Olympics. However, a consistent through-line since 2004, no matter the theme, has always been connection.

“Creating connection and increasing someone’s feeling of belonging are two prevention factors for self-harm,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jessica Ditson, P-S GAR violence prevention integrator.

Wingman Day encourages civilians as well as Airmen to build relationships, unity, strength and connection throughout the entire garrison.

“As emcee, I was able to go around and speak to various Airmen and civilians to motivate each one,” said Ervin. “Because I’m prior service and now a government civilian, I was able to speak and relate to both sides. Unit cohesion, is a must in your working environment and we should be able to get along with each person, in order to accomplish the mission.”

When asked what she enjoyed most about the last iteration of Schriever’s Wingman Day, looking back, Ervin said it was everyone’s willingness to get involved.

“If you didn’t participate in any of the obstacle courses or activities, I heard and saw people on the side-lines cheering their fellow peers,” said Ervin. “No one was left out, even to the point where I witnessed leadership participating in line dances. There was even a time, I was able to select people in the crowd to even come do the “Electric Slide,” including the vendors. I really had a blast.”

“It was funny, because we sent out a map of the obstacle course and a lot of people underestimated it,” added Devitt. “It was much harder than they expected, and I got a kick out of it. That was my favorite. Wingman Day is just really unique.”