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January Chaplain's Reflections

Maj. Christina Pittman portrait

U.S. Air Force Maj. Christina Pittman, the wing chaplain assigned to the 169th Fighter Wing at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C, October 31, 2018. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --

“Dare to be First”

I like to invite you to take a moment and reflect with me on some of the events of this past year. As you come to the eve of 2019 there are memories of 2018 which encourage and sadden your heart. From these memories, you can mark history. The interesting aspect about history is the opportunity to learn from it and challenge yourself to be the first to “dare to do it differently” in the New Year.

What are some events which stick in your mind? You may recall across this world there are battles that may seem distant, yet have a ripple effect in your life and service. Such as the ongoing war in the Middle East, turbulence in Africa, tensions in South America, instability in North Korea, and the list goes on. How about in your own backyard with natural disasters like Florence and fires burning out of control in California.

Also, do not forget those events in our own homes and communities. The struggle of too little time and too much to do, relationship strains, financial uncertainty, elections, losses, and even deaths. “Life happens” you are told and yet the realities of life do not make this phrase any more comforting. What is reassuring is that you have control over how you handle the situations in your life, which makes all the difference.

Think with me to a time when you had to take a step of courage. Where you knew there was another who could face the challenge, however, it was up to you to muster the strength to act boldly. You may even recall a time as an Airman on the ground or in the cockpit, faced with looming fear when a leader or supervisor turns to you and says, “You take the lead on this, you go first.” 

One such soldier experienced this stark reality and shared his story when asked by his son, “when was a time you were afraid, dad?” The retired soldier replied by sharing a story from his days in the military. As he canvased the muck and mire of the fields and jungles of Vietnam, he faced a fear which etched into his memory. Knowing the dangers surrounding him yet having the protection of a group moving together with weapons and visibility on all sides was a comfort under the threat of attack. The feeling of, “safety in numbers,” made the reality of the mission bearable. But when his troop approached the tree-line of the jungle, he shared with his child he was afraid as he heard the sergeant call out his name commanding him, “You go in first!” The trees were dense and their shade made the sight light minimal. He went on to tell his son how he “dared to be the first” to lead out and enter the wooded area. Though gripped between fear and panic he faced the command with sweaty palms, racing heart, and doubt in his mind. He did what no one else could do for him, to turn his fear to courage and step out in front of the line. 

Maybe you can recall a similar incident in your life. At the bottom of my email, I have a quote which reads, “Courage is fear taking the next step” I came across during a challenging time in my life, where I realized the grip of fear is the same energy I needed to turn my fear into courage and step out of my difficult circumstance. I share these reflections to help each of us consider the situations in our lives where we may need to turn fear to courage and dare to be the first. I can imagine you may have experienced a similar position as the Vietnam soldier, either on deployment or some point in your military career. The soldier lived to tell about his plight with fear. There is no doubt training and resiliency helped him take the step of courage. 

I hope your heart can be strengthened through opportunities to fortify your resiliency pillars. In this New Year and holiday season of giving, bringing hope to the hopeless, and reconnecting with your faith through spiritual renewal; I hope you can find the moments to “dare to be the first.” On a global level with your mission, at home with your family and in your faith journey, by undergirding your resiliency in mind, body, spirit, with family and socially. Though you may have fear in the beginning, be the first to take the humble way out of an argument. Be the first to step up on a project at work no one else wants to do. Be the first to share with your family; whether spouse, child, parent or relative, the deep love and care you have for them. Be the first to reach outside the circle of co-workers and bring in that person dangling on the fringes needing mentoring and a friendly hand to lift him or her up from discouragement. Dare in the new year to do some firsts in your life you may not have taken the step toward in the past, due to fear. 

Finally, I say thank you for your service and leadership in the SCANG. For the many times you dared to be first and continue to turn your fear into courage. You are not alone; your wingman is beside you and God is uplifting you all the way. Semper Primus, Always First!


For more information on spiritual resiliency please contact the Chaplain Corps:

By phone: 803-647-8265 or email: usaf.sc.169-fw.list.fal-hc-ang-chaplains@mail.mil.

We also have a diverse library of books to check out in the hallway outside our new office in the 245th building 1070. Happy New Year!