Airman Austyn Middleton | 50th Operations Support Squadron
When people ask me why I joined the Air Force, I usually just say it’s because I was unsure of what I wanted to do. Getting closer to my high school graduation, nothing I could think of seemed good enough. I joined in hopes of making it a life-long career I could be proud of or use it as a stepping stone to get to where I want to be. The benefits and financial stability alone were enough for me to sign on that line. However, no one asked me why I wear the uniform. There is so much more to it than just free college and healthcare.
The Air Force is like one big family and even though I am just recently becoming a part of it, I grew up around it. My dad, grandpa and step dad have all been part of this family. When I put my cap on and step outside in the morning I know I am making each one of them proud. I even got so lucky to be in the same career field as my grandpa who retired as a master sergeant and who is still contracting in Nebraska. Being able to put on my Airman Battle Uniforms every day and follow in his footsteps as the space domain continues to evolve is amazing. There is a great sense of pride when I look down and see my name, my grandpa’s name, next to U.S. Air Force. It’s like two families coming together as one.
Knowing my family has done and continues to do great things makes me strive to do the same, if not more. To do so, however, takes confidence in what you do. Coming to work every day, I am challenged with things that are slowly making me better; making me stronger. For example, I am very bad at public speaking and I have had to do quite a bit of it in the short time I’ve been here. From giving a mission brief to something as simple as standing up and introducing myself to the class. I’ve noticed it’s been getting slightly easier and that makes me excited to see how far I will be able to go. In order to be strong for my country, I have to be strong for myself.
To me, putting on this uniform means I am not only fighting to keep my home safe and make it stronger, but I am doing the same for me. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without this wonderful family I became a part of just last year and I hope to continue to grow.