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NEWS | Oct. 14, 2008

Air Force friendships

By Airman 1st Class Sylvia Olson 1st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Aug. 16 marked my one year anniversary of joining the Air Force. I remember the morning I shipped out from Niagara Falls Reserve Air Base, N.Y.; I was both excited and terrified. I took the oath of enlistment and kissed and hugged my family goodbye before flying down to San Antonio, Texas, for basic military training. 

Six and a half weeks passed. I was reunited with my family, a proud basic training graduate. The feeling of accomplishment when my fellow wingmen and I received our coins during the coin ceremony still brings a smile to my face when I think on it. All the sweat and tears I had shed doing pushups, being yelled at and surviving warrior week had brought me to that triumphant moment. 

In tech school, the Airmen I'd befriended in BMT became my support system. We studied together to learn our career field inside and out. A year later, I was at my first duty station and it began to sink in how much my life had changed since that day in New York. 

The transition from a civilian citizen to active-duty member of the Air Force has been the most challenging phase in my life. From the uniform I put on every morning to where I rest my head at night, nothing is the same. 

As with any job, I have my complaints and days I am stressed and frustrated. As a young Airman, I'm still learning and becoming accustomed to life in the military. 

One thing I know for certain that's helped me with this transition is that I've been blessed with the friends I've made this past year. Yes, I have friends from home whom I love dearly, but there is something unique about the friends I made during basic training, tech school and here at my first duty station. My Air Force friends and I share an exclusive bond that comes with being fellow Airmen. 

My suitemate in the base dormitories is one of the closest friends I've ever had. I have friends in different career fields and squadrons and of different ranks. My Air Force friends understand that a job in the military is more than just what we do to pay the bills, but a lifestyle and a commitment to one's country. 

I wouldn't have met my friends if I hadn't enlisted in the Air Force. Under other circumstances we may have never crossed paths. As important as my friends from home are, my friendships with my fellow Airmen keep me grounded and encourage me in my career. No matter what other challenges arise during my time in the Air Force; it's good to know that I have wingmen who will be there to help.