Why I Serve

  • Published
  • By Col. Michael Jordan
  • 354th Fighter Wing vice commander
Five years ago my son surprised me by announcing he was applying for the Reserve Officers Training Corps. I was surprised because he made it quite clear he wasn't interested in the military when he left for college the previous year. He had experienced firsthand the effects of a military lifestyle -- the deployments, exercises, long hours and change of station moves, and decided there must be easier ways to make a living.
When I asked him what had changed his mind, he struggled to put it into words, but he said he missed being around military people and the military culture.

As I enter my twenty-fourth year in uniform, I'm often asked why I choose to stay in the military. Quite simply, I stay for the same reasons my son decided to join -- I get to work with extraordinary people every day. Our Air Force is made up of men and women from many different ethnic, social and economic backgrounds, but we have one very big thing in common -- we're Airmen.

We share a common heritage of service and sacrifice; we have shared experiences that bond us in ways those outside the military would never understand. We serve our country, knowing we may be expected to lay our very lives on the line -- ordinary people wouldn't do that. We work long hours in austere conditions with little compensation -- ordinary people wouldn't do that. We uproot our family from schools, jobs and friends on short notice to move halfway around the world -- ordinary people wouldn't do that.

I stay because I know each day I'll be working with people who share common values -- Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence in All We Do. These are not just catchy phrases; these values are reflected in our daily efforts to serve our country. Whether it's a crew chief launching an F-16 at 20 below, a finance specialist making sure Airmen are paid correctly or a Security Forces Airman responding to an emergency in the middle of the night, members of the Iceman team demonstrate their commitment to each other and to these values on a daily basis.

I stay in the military because what we do is important to our country and our way of life. Our nation is at war with an elusive and deadly enemy, yet everyday brave Airmen step forward to do their part. Our Air Force is going through some tough times, but the commitment to excellence I see from Icemen everyday assures me that we'll emerge a stronger, more focused force.

I want to thank each and every one of you for what you do day in and day out. I'm amazed at what you continue to accomplish in support of our county. I'm proud of my son for joining the Air Force, and I know his future, and our nation's future, is in good hands.