AF culture: Something you can hang your hat on

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Kevin White
  • 350th Air Refueling Squadron

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word culture as a set of shared attitudes, values, goals and practices that characterizes an institution or organization. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that our core values form the base of our culture.  However, while our Air Force culture begins with our core values, it’s not what I wish to discuss today. Instead let’s talk about the manifestations of these values and how they form a culture that sets our organization apart from all others. 

An Airman’s performance far exceeds the norm of society; in part simply due to the caliber of person that chooses to serve, but also because our brothers and sisters in arms are counting on us to perform exceptionally well. However, truth be told, there are other organizations in this world that also have a track record of excellence and I don’t believe our performance alone is enough to set us apart. 

In addition to our performance, the importance of our work is realized around the globe. At McConnell we enable airpower worldwide through air refueling and have played a part in every major operation for years. As air refueling professionals, we put the rapid in rapid global mobility operations, as we enable our forces to be anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice.  Yet again, there are other organizations that support important causes and have global impacts, so this alone does not distinguish us. 

Now to get to the part of our culture that I believe truly distinguishes us from other organizations. It’s obvious whenever I swap war stories with veterans, some of them even true, there’s normally one common theme: It’s not the mission they miss, but rather the camaraderie with their fellow Airmen they long for.

We have established a culture of caring for our Air Force brothers and sisters that no other organization can compete with. We spend holidays together, we drink together, we play sports together and when life gets truly hard, we step up to the plate and act in ways that is sometimes unfathomable to others outside of our community. 

We will sit for hours on end in a hospital to ensure a co-worker is okay, or attend said co-worker’s child’s recital while they’re gone and may even be seen cutting their grass on the weekend. This is the Air Force I joined. This is the reason why I still serve today, and this is something that you can be proud of and hang your hat on.