Happy to be on-it: One Airman's experience at Offutt

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Rachel Hammes
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs
"Once you get on it, you don't get Offutt."

That was my first introduction to Offutt Air Force Base, given to me by a sergeant in my public affairs office at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

It was meant to be a warning - I was trying desperately to get join spouse orders to Offutt in order to be stationed with my husband. The sergeant had been at Offutt for his entire first term, and hated it with a passion that remained over a decade later.

Despite that less-than-positive introduction, I pushed through all the uncertainty and paperwork, determined to get orders and join my husband. I got them, sooner than ever expected, and despite all of the last-minute out-processing and doubts that it would ever happen, I arrived at Offutt when SAC Boulevard was still studded on either side with trees bursting into autumnal gold.

I thought I knew what to expect - frigid winters, and a base full of people dying to leave. Half true, maybe, but I also found a base full of civilians and service members who love it here - love Nebraska, love the base and love their mission.

Never was that clearer to me than when I joined my supervisor, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Rachelle Blake, in one of the 5/6 Network's local projects - the Random Acts of Kindness Committee. It was the Friday before Thanksgiving, and Blake, committee member U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Destinie White and I were huddled in the entryway of the Child Development Center 1, trying to stay warm while not looking suspicious. We found, among other things, that it is hard not to look suspicious when you are a group of three in a tiny entryway, pointing excitedly at parents trickling in to pick up their children.

However apprehensive those parents may have felt upon seeing us, that feeling evaporated when we presented them with gift cards to the Commissary, in the hopes of making their Thanksgiving shopping a little easier. It was amazing to see their faces light up, and it was exciting to be part of a project that just wanted to help, with no strings attached.

That kind of intentional caring is exactly what I'm coming to love about Offutt. I meet people every day who, after finding out I've just moved here, let me know they're available if I ever need help. On Thanksgiving I went to the dining facility and found colonels, chiefs and first sergeants grinning and cracking jokes as they served turkey and pumpkin pie to Airmen and families.

Despite the blistering cold of the winters here (which I am still dreading!) the people I have met and worked with are so warm, and so ready to help. The Airman's Creed promises never to leave an Airman behind, and I believe the civilians and service members at Offutt are living that promise.

Sometimes I think back to that sergeant, who was so confident I'd regret coming here. But I feel so lucky, every day, to be part of this mission, and to work with the people I do. If this is Offutt, I'll be pretty happy to stay here.