What is a good wingman?

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kia Atkins
  • 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Sitting next to my first sergeant in a hospital waiting room while Urgent Care Center staff took care of my friend was not where I expected to be at 5 a.m. on a Sunday morning.

As I recalled the story of the previous night, nothing really seemed out of the ordinary. It was a Saturday night and my friend and I decided to go downtown for a drink or two. We were having a fun night, so time flew by. Before I knew it we were headed back on base to make curfew.

That night wasn't like other nights though - this time it ended up with me having to make a life or death decision.

I didn't think of the consequences or the repercussions, I just knew that we needed help. I knew my friend had alcohol poisoning, so I called 911.

I felt so guilty. I felt like the worst person in the world. Why wasn't I paying attention to how much she had drank? How did I not notice things had gotten to that point?

It wasn't until I talked to my first sergeant that I realized it was beyond my control. She told me that some Airmen in situations like that would've just left their friend there because they were scared of getting in trouble. I could never imagine leaving her there, she was my best friend ... I was her wingman.

Even though I feared she would hate me for making that call, I knew it had to be done. They told me that if I hadn't gotten her help, she could've died. So to me, I think that being a good wingman means having to make tough decisions to help out a friend who is in need.

I knew that night that I'd rather have her hate me for making that decision than to have to live with the knowledge that I let her die. Thankfully, my friend didn't blame me at all for the situation; she just thanked me for being there for her.

Being in a situation like that made me think about what being a good wingman meant to me. But what does being a good wingman mean to other people?

To Senior Airman Jeffrey Winfield, 35th Comptroller Squadron lead defense travel administrator being a good wingman means having someone's back on personal or professional issues.

"I guess you could say it's someone I can confide in, but also someone who can share the work load," he said. "In many ways you could consider a good friend a good wingman, but a good wingman is also someone who looks out for you professionally. Someone who will let you know if they think you should be doing something differently or if a new strategy should be used."

When Tech. Sgt. Amanda Tuttle, 35th Medical Operations Squadron maternal child care flight technician, was asked what being a good wingman meant to her she said it meant being concerned about the well being of others.

"You're not assigned to a specific person, so if you see behavior that is dangerous, step up and make a decision to avoid any (further) damages," she said. "I think one of the best ways to be a good wingman is to set the example and stay away from negative situations. Find things to do that keep you busy and broaden your view on life and the world, and then share your experiences with others and encourage them to do the same."

Staff Sgt. Jordan Atkins, 35th Medical Group referral management element chief thinks that a good wingman is someone who stands by you and won't leave you high and dry when the going gets tough. While 2nd Lt. Joyce Jackson, 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron assistant officer in charge, thinks that being a good wingman is about holding ourselves responsible for each other in the same way that we hold ourselves responsible for protecting the people who abide by the Constitution of the United States.

"We often forget that when we take our Oath of Office to support and defend, we are also a part of the Constitution because, we too, are 'The People'," said Jackson.

Everyone interprets being a good wingman in their own way. Whether it's being there to make that call, helping you at work, or being there when you're in need. Regardless of the situation, a good wingman is someone who will be there for you in one way or another to help you regardless of the situation.

What does being a good wingman mean to you?