Don't forget your wingman

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- Before a weekend, a trip or just a day off, supervisors, first sergeants and commanders often give their Airmen the advice of, "Be safe, have a wingman and be a good wingman."
Some Airmen hear this and think, "Yeah, yeah, have a wingman," but there is a reason why our leadership says this. It's common sense, having two sets of eyes is better than one, especially if one set is seeing blurry.

In today's Air Force, being a wingman is considered to be one of the most important jobs, and even though there may not be an Air Force Specialty Code for it, the job has important instructions.

A wingman is willing to be there for their fellow Airmen and lend a hand if need be, thus making the entire wingman concept very important.

"The wingman concept is not new, it's something many of us have been taught even before we entered the Air Force," said Chief Master Sgt. Robert Ellis, 39th Air Base Wing command chief. "As children crossing the street, we were taught to hold hands as a safety measure, and that there's safety in numbers. While our focus today may be a little different, it's important because it helps us become a harder target for our enemies."

Air Force leaders continuously stress the importance of being a wingman, but some Airmen may wonder how they can practice good wingmanship.

"Take care of each other, look out for each other, and don't take anything for granted," Chief Ellis said. "If your friend's going to drink, be more than a designated driver, be a designated thinker and stay sober so you can watch their six. But being a good wingman applies to on duty as well. A good wingman on duty holds their fellow Airmen accountable to standards of compliance and excellence. So don't settle for anything less than excellence and your work center, organization, and our Air Force will be better for it."

One of the most important duties for a wingman is understanding and practicing situational awareness.

"Situational awareness means being aware of your surroundings while traveling on or off base," said Staff Sgt. Lisa pope, Anti-Terrorism Force Protection office. "Having a wingman is crucial to every Airman's safety and always having a wingman helps ensure situational awareness. Airmen need to practice situational awareness to ensure their safety. If a person is not aware of their surroundings, a threatening situation can occur around them and they may not realize it until it's too late to avoid it."

Whether it's being a designated driver for a night out on the town or helping other Airmen deal with stressful situations, there is always a chance to step up and be a good wingman. Like Col. Eric Beene, 39th Air Base Wing commander, often says, "We need every Airman to fight for what's right."