Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Thursday, September 17, 2015

What it means to be a good wingman

by Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

9/16/2015 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont.  -- Being a good wingman may not always be an easy task. Sometimes, it requires people to go above and beyond what is normally asked of them. For Senior Airman Thaddeus Johnson, 341st Force Support Squadron customer support apprentice, a quick response and the will to go the extra mile in order to help a fellow Airman was exactly what was required of him, and he rose to the challenge.

Midway through a seemingly normal workday, Johnson met with an Airman during a routine appointment to help him take care of some paperwork. It was during this appointment that Johnson noticed the Malmstrom team member display signs of serious stress.

"During our appointment, this Airman had made some comments where I knew he was in need of help," Johnson said. "It was easy to see something was wrong. As I spent more time with him, I knew whatever was troubling him was severe and that he needed a helping hand.

"I had never expected to be put in a situation like this but I am thankful to have been in the right place at the right time," he continued.

After finishing his appointment with the Team Malmstrom member, Johnson exchanged numbers and let the Airman know that he was there to help, that he was not alone in whatever was troubling him.

A short while later, after speaking with leadership on what to do with the situation, Johnson contacted the team member, found where he was and put his work on hold to stay with him until proper care could be provided.

"Being a wingman means that you're there for your fellow Airmen," said Johnson. "On duty, off duty, no matter what; it means to be there when it counts.

"I feel confident knowing that I have someone there who is going to keep me on the right path," he continued. "I know that I have someone there who is going to do the same thing for me that I would do for them.  In this case, an Airman came in who needed assistance and I just offered him the help that would have been given to me by my wingmen."

According to Johnson, we all fall and have our own respective issues that we deal with on a daily basis but it is the way that we handle them and get back up that makes the person.

Offering the help he did was not an extraordinary act, he believes, but just the observance of a fellow Airman in need and the will to act on it.

"You can always get back up from where you've fallen from," Johnson said. "I've been down before, we all have. It's not how you start, it's how you finish. To establish our core values - Integrity first, Service before self and Excellence in all we do - we need each other."

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