He’s an Airman forever

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Chuck Marsh
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
He's in your way at the base exchange when you're in a hurry. He's the one pushing the cart in front of you at the commissary taking up the whole aisle. He's the one driving the Cadillac 30 miles an hour on the highway -- in the fast lane -- and in front of you with his blinker on the entire time. He's the one wearing the thick, 1970s style glasses and a crisp, meticulously cared for baseball cap with his unit from World War II, Korea or Vietnam proudly displayed on it. He's the one with a smile on his face as you rush past him on your way to nowhere fast. 

He's a retiree. He's proud of it. He wears it on his ball cap and on his sleeve; in his heart and in his eyes. 

He's in the exchange and the commissary as he has been for who knows how many years because it's what he knows and where he's surrounded by the people he knows and is comfortable with. They're still the same no matter what their ages or service; an Airman will always be an Airman; so will a Soldier, Sailor, Marine and Coast Guardsman. 

And he's driving slowly in the fast lane because in his years he's learned that you will eventually get where you need to be when you need to be there. (No excuse for the blinker though.) He's wearing thick glasses because of the strain he put his eyes through while crouching in a foxhole or peering from a watchtower in some strange country far from home staying alert for hours on end as his mind and the shadows play tricks on him. 

Most importantly, he's wearing his unit's cap proudly because of the men and women he trained, fought, bled and cried with; many of whom are no longer around to wear their unit's cap. 

He's your proud heritage, your tradition of honor and your legacy of valor. 

He's you. Can you be him?

Editor's note: Sergeant Marsh is currently deployed to Afghanistan.