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Need to know – Who’s your Wingman?

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- I know what you're thinking ...Wingman is a buzz word thrown around without much thought; I can take care of myself and this is just another way for people in my unit to rat me out to my first sergeant or commander when I'm having a bad day or go out partying with my friends. 

How many times have you been briefed or read about how important it is to have and be a good Wingman? You may even think this is just another fad like the Total Quality Management initiative from the 1990s. Let me tell you that you're wrong. 

Take a minute to look around. I'll bet there's at least one Wingman willing to help you out anytime, day or night, whether it's someone from your unit or the dorms. 

I'm on a mission to instill the Wingman culture in my squadron members. 

Why? I've seen it work. 

In my previous assignment at Langley AFB, we had a great Wingman program. With the Wingman ethos, we were able to go over 500 days without a DUI in our more than 500-person squadron. We did this through a conscious effort to make sure every individual had a Wingman. 

My goal is to ensure we never leave an Airman behind. Like the Airman's Creed says, we are all Wingmen, leaders, and warriors. It's our duty to take care of one another whether that means driving someone home after they've had too much to drink, calling to check up on their spouse while they're deployed, or just getting them out of the office for a break when they're having a rough day. 

Our 55th Wing Airmen constantly deploy across the globe. As we work through all the issues associated with getting folks out the door, check in with the family left behind. Make sure you ask how the spouse at home is doing and don't just focus on your friend at the deployed location. An offer to shovel snow from the driveway, mow the yard or watch the kids while he or she goes grocery shopping is not only a stress reliever but will leave a lasting impression with that spouse. It reinforces the fact that we're all in this together. 

Our squadron put together a small team of Airmen and developed a Wingman concept for our unit. They put a twist on the Wingman philosophy and we emphasize that you can have one or many Wingmen watching your back. 

In order to be a good Wingman, you need to set the example and do the right thing. Show the courage to step in to steer your Wingman in the right direction to avoid getting into a situation which could potentially turn out to be fatal. It only takes one person to have the guts to take the keys from someone that you know has had too much to drink but insists they're really okay to drive the three miles to their house. You may be the one person who steps up to break the chain of events on the path to certain disaster. Your Wingman will thank you the next day when he's made it home safely. 

The Wingman concept is nothing new, it simply formalizes what we've always done...take care of one another. It ties in perfectly with our core values and the Airman's Creed. 

I encourage you to go out and be the best Wingman you can be and ask yourself, "Who's my Wingman?"