Next Airman Up

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt Justin Strain
  • 97 Operations Group
As my time comes to an end here as the interim Operations Group superintendent, I can't help but think of something I heard while watching sports the other night. The sports broadcaster was talking about an offensive line in football when he said, "When someone gets hurt or retires, it's just 'next man up,'" meaning that you always have to be prepared to play and the game must go on with or without you.

I thought about this from the view point of an Airman in the Air Force. The opportunity arose for me when the group superintendent had to deploy and it was my turn to be the "next Airman up." I took the job without hesitation and have learned a lot since I first sat in the seat.

This is not unique by any means. Each and every one of us in the military has done this and, in most cases, people excel when given the opportunity. I look around the base and see more Airmen getting opportunities to excel.

One example is Chief Master Sgt. James Powell III. He is the "next Airman up" as the new command chief on base. He will take all the lessons he has learned and will excel in the opportunity to help lead the 97th Air Mobility Wing.

The Wing Historian highlighted the outstanding leadership of Maj. Gen. Clarence Tinker, 7th Air Force commander, and how he led his flight of B-24s into the Battle of Midway, where he and his crew of eight perished during the battle. At that time, you would have thought that the 7th Air Force Airmen would have been crushed and that there is no way that they could have gone on to win the war when their leader had been killed in action doing what he asked them to do.  But Brig. Gen. Howard Davidson was the "next Airman up" and filled this crucial role until Maj. Gen. Willis Hale took over a couple of weeks later.

Each and every one of us, military or civilian, must be prepared to step up and into the next higher position and take on that role when we are given the opportunity to do so. Be confident in yourself and know that you have what it takes to step up.  As a leader in a work section, also take the time to train your replacement. We never know when will be tasked to deploy or obtain a permanent change of station. It is our job to have that next individual ready to take our spot in a moment's notice.  Be ready to be the "Next Airman Up."