A successful enlisted career starts with a goal

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- I have a friend who said a few years back that when you are in the military you will not be rich, but you will be able to live a comfortable, good life and do something noble by serving your country and that is a type of richness in and of itself. To be honest when I joined the service over 23 years ago I never thought I would serve for more than four years. When the time came to make a decision I decided to reenlist because I didn't know what I wanted to do with myself and frankly because I was having a fun time. As time went by I realized that I enjoyed being a part of something much greater than myself, able to look someone else in the eye and proudly state what I did for a living and serving with others who I was happy to call a friend as well as coworker.
Promotions came my way for two reasons. First, I made an effort to know my job and do it well, but I also had a lot of fellow Airmen who helped me along the way. They looked out for me and provided me with opportunities to grow and take on more responsibilities. I didn't want to let them down, so I did the best that I could with admittedly limited natural abilities. I suppose that is what being a part of a team is all about. The sum of the parts is greater than the individual pieces.
I wanted to get promoted and make more money like everybody else, but that emphasis started changing when I became a noncommissioned officer and only increased when I became a senior noncommissioned officer. My focus shifted. I wanted to do more than help myself. I wanted to help others achieve. I wanted the Air Force to continue to be the preeminent air force in the world. I internalized the ethos that the Air Force had been promoting.
I can't help but smile each and every day knowing that in some small way, I am the reason Americans live free from fear and in a democratic culture. I feel especially proud when I see that glint in an Airmen's eye when they fully understand the noble thing they do and the sacrifices freely given for their country by the entire Air Force family.