Our heritage is now

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Garrett Lethco
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
When we think of the term heritage, our first instinct is to think of the past. Often thoughts of ancestral lines, property, and traditions handed down from generation to generation cross our minds. Each of us has a heritage that defines where we came from and who we are, but all of us share a common heritage as well.

Raising our right hand, we promised to support and defend the Constitution and instantly entered into a heritage to be proud of; a heritage of service, devotion to duty and selflessness that can only be honored by returning such service. At that point we were born into a family with an amazing birthright, one that deserves reverence and respect. Our way of life has been forever changed by those who have gone before us as well as those who serve alongside us.

It does not take long to find a story of heroism relating to our Air Force heritage. You can learn of Staff Sgt. Robert Gutierrez who put service before self in Afghanistan, in 2009. After being shot in the chest during a mission, he continued to direct airstrikes which saved the lives of everyone with him. Under enemy fire, an Army medic was able to insert a 7 inch needle into his chest, without anesthetics, to inflate his collapsed lung and allow him to continue his communication with the aircraft above. Once the threat was removed, he made the mile trek back to the team's vehicles losing half of his blood because of his chest wound. Only after the mission was accomplished did he request an air evacuation for himself.

Other Air Force heroes have saved the lives of the citizens we protect. Tech. Sergeant Pedro Guerrero, Staff Sgt. Brent Olson and Staff Sgt. Donald Nachand worked together to save the life of a complete stranger in an airport when the businessman suddenly collapsed and had no pulse. These three Airmen worked together to revive the man until medical professionals arrived. The first responders even reported that the victim would have perished had those three Airmen not intervened. The servicemen told reporters that they did what they needed to do. Again, we see the dedication to serving others.

The people of this nation take notice of and appreciate the sacrifices that are made to defend freedom. An 8-year old boy in Ohio recently demonstrated this through a small gift. He found a sum of money which he had plans to spend on a video game, but all that changed when he saw a member of the United States Air Force. He wrapped the twenty dollar bill in a heartfelt note and gave it to the serviceman. The note explained how his father was a soldier who was killed in Iraq. This was his way of paying it forward and thanking the Airman for his service. Our military heritage left an impression on this boy and drove him to action and self-sacrifice.

These examples are members we serve with right now. This is our heritage in the Air Force. Putting the needs of others above our own is what the profession of arms is all about. The list of examples goes on and on. Just take a moment and read the placards in the buildings we work in every day. As we look to those who have served as well as those we currently serve with, let's all ensure that we contribute to the heritage of the Air Force in a positive way and reflect our core values in all our actions.

These individuals provide examples for all of us to emulate. Some of us may have missed the birth of a child, a child's first steps or a birthday, but those sacrifices are just a small part of who we are and reinforce our faithfulness and commitment to our Air Force heritage and our nation. Let us continue to be faithful to this heritage and apply the Airman's Creed in our daily actions and engrain the Air Force core values into the very core of who we are and how we act. Continue to put service before self and show excellence in all we do with integrity at the forefront.

This is our heritage.