Weather forecaster recognized as outstanding Wingman

  • Published
  • By Monte Miller
  • 375th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
A phrase that is often a cliché among Air Force personnel is being given new emphasis with a campaign in hopes of keeping Airmen looking after their fellow Airmen.

Chief Master Sgt. James Suttles, 375th Airlift Wing command chief, started the new program in an effort to keep personnel safe at work, play and home.

"The term Wingman goes back to our Air Force heritage," Chief Suttles said. "When one pilot would look after another pilot during a dogfight. Today, all Airmen are Wingmen. This should be more than a bumper sticker or slogan. It should be second nature and an everyday mindset."

Chief Suttles explained he began looking at issues that are affecting Airmen young and old including stress, long hours and deployments that tend to wear on them.

The idea of recognizing Wingmen for doing Wingmen acts is in hopes of inspiring others to go above and beyond as well.

When an Airman is identified for performing a 'Wingman act" they should be recognized by their superiors and peers. On occasion they may receive special recognition in the form of a Wingman coin.

"People do things for different reasons," Chief Suttles said. "Some do it because it is just the right thing to do, others for different reasons. Being a Wingman is not always easy. In fact, at times it is very difficult. We want to draw attention to this program as a way of promoting the Wingman concept."

Recipients of the Wingman Coin will be selected solely by Chief Suttles using a number of criteria, and candidates will come from commanders, chiefs and first sergeants.

"The criteria is difficult to quantify," the Chief said. "An Airman has to go above and beyond in an attempt to make a difference in somebody's life. We have to move beyond just a slogan."

The latest recipient of the Wingman Coin was Senior Airman John Apple, 15th Operational Weather Squadron weather forecaster, for his display of selflessness in helping another Airman move out of the dorms before separating from the military.

Chief Suttles explained Airman Apple went above and beyond by helping a fellow dorm resident move out of his dorm room when he only had a few hours before departure.

Airman Apple not only cleaned his fellow Airman's dorm room, but rented and loaded a moving truck and secured lodging for the separating Airman's family. All the while ensuring the Airman didn't do anything harmful.

"Everyone wants a pat on the back," Chief Suttles said. "If a coin is another hook to get Airmen to take care of Airmen then so be it. We've tried the traditional methods, this is a creative way to foster and continue to foster this concept and move it beyond a bumper sticker to an operational mindset. We will leave no Airman behind."