Our Air Force family

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. James Price
  • 6th Reconnaissance Squadron, commander
Since the beginning of the New Year, the Holloman community has experienced the passing of several Airmen. These events are heartbreaking, but have also highlighted for me what I consider to be one of the greatest benefits of my service in the Air Force: Our Air Force family.

From the first moment we stepped off the bus at basic training to this very day, we have been part of something greater than ourselves. From our first indoctrinations in the Air Force, we are told that we are part of a team, a flight, a squadron, and that the success of that team is dependent on each and every one of us. For many of us who grew up playing team sports the idea is not new, but in a society that places ever-increasing emphasis on individual performance and success, it is more of a foreign concept. I am convinced that most of us, regardless of backgrounds, quickly learned under the stresses of basic training, exercises, deployments, or some of our other professional military education opportunities that this frequently encouraged notion of teamwork really was the key to our comfort, a reduced stress level, our general well-being and our eventual success. But it goes deeper than just being part of a team. As we overcome adversity and as a group push beyond our limits, we form bonds and friendships that will always be a part of us. In essence, our shared experiences and common goals mold us into a family.

I would like to share with you a personal story that recently highlighted to me the concept of our Air Force family. Last June I had the privilege and honor to become the commander of a squadron here at Holloman. Along with my parents, my guests at the change of command ceremony included a close family friend who had given me my first job and taught me many valuable lessons in my teenage years. He and his wife were not familiar with our military culture. Their preconceptions had been formed by the media and were not entirely positive. I quickly learned after the ceremony that they were in awe of the extent to which all three speakers had focused on family. Not only on family in the traditional sense, but that our squadron considered itself to be, and acted as, a family.

Their expression of awe only increased as the day went on, and they were able to meet the members of that family and see how our Air Force works together to get things done. They both confided in me that they had never encouraged their children, and in fact had discouraged them, from pursuing military careers due to their belief that if their children did join the military they would be alone and left to fend for themselves.

I enjoyed watching their misconceptions and opinions change. They had never expected the existence of the support network, which happened to be the togetherness and sense of community they encountered at Holloman. This experience struck me as odd since I had always taken our Air Force family for granted. It was second nature for me to expect my fellow Airmen to be there for me and my family in our times of need as well as times of joy and celebration because they always had been and always would be, just as I would for them. From day one, I have never felt alone and neither should you.

This concept of our Air Force family has always been apparent to me but has never been clearer than it is today. During these recent tragedies, we have been acutely aware that members of our family are not with us anymore. We feel these losses and the need to reach out to those in our family who mourn with us. We have felt the hands of our fellow Airmen across the base as they have supported us and lifted us up. While we continue to mourn the loss of these military family members, we rejoice in the strength of our family.

In conclusion, my hope is that we all remember and are aware that we are not alone and are a part of this great Air Force family. We are strengthened by being a part of this family and serving each other. This concept of family is dependent on us to nurture and foster so it will be there to support future Air Force generations. If we share this common vision to take care of each other, it will permeate our everyday interactions and bring us closer together as we continually work to protect this great nation.