Being the Wingman our Airmen need

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Hailey Haux
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
We hear the term "wingman" a lot. "Keep an eye on your 'wingman.'" "Be a good 'wingman.'" "Know what your 'wingman' is up to." But do we really know what it means to be a "wingman?"

Many people think being a wingman means you keep each other in check when out drinking, while others really have no clue. The reality is, being a wingman is so much more than a night of drinking together. The Air Force doesn't have an exact definition of wingman however, I believe being a wingman means to put others above yourself.

The holidays can be tough on some people, especially those single Airmen who are here, away from their families.

My first experience of being away from my family for the holidays was Thanksgiving 2012. Normally I would hang out at the beach, sitting at the campfire with my toes in the sand as the smell of deep-fried turkey, stuffing and biscuits filled the air. Thanksgiving 2012 was a much different atmosphere.

Instead of the soothing sounds of the ocean, the sound of video games and bantering filled the air. Even though it was my first time away from my family for the holidays, I knew there were many other Airmen who didn't have a place to go. I talked to a friend of mine and we decided to host a Thanksgiving dinner for the Airmen we knew.

That was also my first experience cooking a 20-pound turkey along with the rest of the Thanksgiving meal. It was a lot harder than it looked, but we got it done and more than 20 people were able to enjoy a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal. As everyone lined up to get some grub, I took a step back and just watched everyone. They were all smiling and laughing and the sight of it overwhelmed me with happiness. That is when I realized what it was to be a wingman and to put others above myself.

Fast-forward to Thanksgiving 2013. I have my own apartment and enough room to host another Thanksgiving dinner. This time I decided to have a friend deep-fry the turkey because I didn't have enough room in my oven for it. Once again, close to 30 of my co-workers and friends were able to enjoy a home-cooked meal. I could see it on their faces as they played board games after dinner, they were happy and in turn that made my Thanksgiving the best one possible.

Being a wingman doesn't mean you have to give up your holidays to make a huge home-cooked meal for your co-workers or friends, it's just an example of how I wish to show people I care for them and their happiness.

It could be something as simple as baking a couple dozen cookies to hand out just to show them you care. It could be staying late after work with a co-worker so they aren't alone or taking an Airman to The Exchange because they don't have a car.

There are thousands of ways a person can exude good wingmanship. It's the little things that mean the most to people and it's those things that keep us connected as a family even when we are so far away from our real ones.

I ask that the next time you go to the BX right after work, ask an Airman who doesn't have a car if they need to go too. Put your fellow Airmen before youself ... trust me, it's worth it!