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August Chaplain's Reflections

1st Lt. Kirby Whitley, a chaplain assigned to the 169th Fighter Wing

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Kirby Whitley, a chaplain assigned to the 169th Fighter Wing, at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., May 3, 2019. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Megan Floyd)

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

For those who are users of Facebook, you’re familiar with the application’s “Memories” update which pops-up when you first log in. This is one feature Facebook has done well; it reminds you of where you were and who you have become. This past month, my Facebook memory was from eight years prior which showed a younger me standing with my right hand held high, facing a flag, and taking my first oath of enlistment. I reflect on that day and the special feeling I experienced from taking the initial step to serve my country. There was an excitement of the unknown but there was also the adrenaline rush to face the future knowing extensive physical training was ahead as well as the Air Force Specialty Code specialized training that would eventually shape my military career. 

I’m sure many of you can remember your first oath of enlistment and the experiences you have gained while serving this great nation. The paths we have taken to get to this point in our military career is the result of hard work, dedication, and honing skills that set you apart. Beyond the individualized training and special skills attributed to you, did you know there is something deeper within each of us that separates military members from the remaining 99 percent of the U.S. population? A warrior ethos.

As Airmen, we face many challenges; especially in the guard as we balance our lives at home and continually plan for future drills and trips on the horizon. Can I ask, what motivates you and keeps you pressing on toward goals? What empowers you? As members of the Air National Guard, we have an inner calling that propels us to serve, our warrior ethos. In 2009 Master Sgt. John Deegan, the Civil Engineering Group first sergeant from Hill Air Force Base wrote an excellent article describing the warrior ethos mindset, it reads:

“What is warrior ethos? A warrior is 'one who is engaged aggressively or energetically in an activity, cause or conflict;' ethos is 'the distinguishing character, sentiment, moral nature, or guiding beliefs of a person or institution.' The warrior ethos is a guiding principle by which we live. It guides more than just our professional life as Airmen. By dedicating ourselves to the warrior ethos, we become better people overall.” [1]

We all are warriors engaged in physical, mental or spiritual conflicts that may or may not be on a battlefield, but through these trials, we become more seasoned and more prepared for future conflicts. Similar to the process a goldsmith uses to refine gold, the heat of the metal is raised to a very high temperature which removes the dross or impurities. Our impurities are removed and we are strengthened through our conflicts. Job 23:10 reads, “but he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.”

As warriors, we are currently refining our skills to face any opposition. As Airmen, we are currently being refined to withstand unforeseen personal battles. At the end of the seasoning process, we should come forth as tested and “shall come out as gold."

If you desire more information or support on spiritual strength or religious provisions, please call the SCANG Chaplain Corps office at 803-647-8265.

[1] https://www.hill.af.mil/News/Commentaries/Display/Article/398653/what-is-warrior-ethos/