November eyes on report

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- Before receiving this assignment I was a little frustrated, I was not looking forward to this at all. I thought it would be another briefing that I didn't want to sit through, another inspection that I would have to worry about failing. However, I was pleasantly surprised, as fate would have it, it turned out to be a tremendous eye-opener. I have taken many English and writing courses in my life. It may show or it may not but I believe this is the easiest paper I will have written to date.

The moment I set foot off base in the Alley, a fellow Airman shouted a profanity at me. At first I was really taken aback and upset. Then as I got closer to this Airmen he replied, "Oh man, I'm sorry, I thought you were someone else. I have had a little too much to drink tonight, you know?"

I talked to him for a little while longer. He asked me if I was going to the Enlisted Club later, I said yes and went on my way. I continued to walk and it hit me, as soon as he called me a name I was really angry, but the moment he said I had a little too much to drink tonight, the anger subsided and everything was okay. So I asked myself, "Why was that?" Is that really an excuse? 'I've had too much to drink tonight,' or would I have just been there myself and made the same mistake he did?

Our group kept walking a little way down getting further and further away from the gate. I witnessed many people stumbling over each other slurring their words, and screaming at the top of their lungs. I expected this and it seemed to be okay. I just figured it was drunk people doing what drunk people do. It's not the first or last time I will be around, and somehow found it acceptable, thinking it's okay to have fun and be stupid as long as no one gets hurt. Well if no one ever got hurt, taken advantage of, or senseless then what is the point of a Wingman?

That opened my eyes to the meaning of the true Wingman concept and how small situations of just stumbling and slurring your words lead to people getting hurt and some people getting ARIs. So if you have a Wingman that allows you to get to the point of just having innocent fun after a week's work, to the point you're having so much fun that you can't fully grasp your surroundings, then your Wingman has failed you. My point is that people need to make better choices on how much alcohol they think they can consume.

So after our long night of watching people make complete idiots of themselves, we finally manage to make it back to the Consolidated Club. I sat down to observe and take notes like I was instructed to and reflect on the evening. As time progressed, I talked to a young Airman, and asked him why he joined the Air Force and what he wanted to be. He said he signed up with the hopes and dreams of becoming a pararescueman. He thought about it all the time and how much it would mean to him. He felt that was where he could make his mark in the world. He never even made it to the full program. He passed the test, made it to basic and waited for them to come into the MPF and recruit him, but it never happened. He got placed in the open mechanical field and became an ammo troop because they stopped recruiting in basic six months prior to him joining. He blamed his recruiter and anyone and everything he could think of. He sat there drinking with his buddies smoking cigarette after cigarette saying how many pull-ups, pushups and sit-ups he could do, how well he could swim and how long he could run. Then I snapped of out the little daydream I was having and realized it was me.

Instead of pursuing my goals and dreams I allowed myself to get stuck in the mainstream, going out, drinking, smoking every night, and wasting my potential. An even deeper meaning of the Wingman concept came out that night too. A Wingman does not only help you make it home safe, but they always have your back and not let you fall into a hole you can't climb out of.

There is nothing wrong with going out and having a good time, and I know I still will, but I will never let it interfere with my future again. I will pick a good Wingman and I know I will be a good Wingman. Because of a lot of things you only get one chance at, I know there are many people in the Air Force like me who I believe have great potential. It's sad to think that instead of saving someone's life or building a new plane, a person is being separated, because of a DUI or is in the hospital because he fell down the stairs or at the worst was killed. And to think it all could have been prevented by just choosing the right Wingman.