8 to 1; I’ll take that bet!

  • Published
  • By CMSgt Atticus C. Smith
  • Command Chief, 388th Fighter Wing
I enjoy playing poker; it's not too hard to figure out especially if you visited my "man cave." The décor is decked out with poker items from wall to wall. First impressions would lead some people to bet that I'm a good poker player but that wouldn't be a smart wager. My excitement for the game far outweighs my skills nearly 8 to 1; however, that doesn't stop me from trying to improve. These odds remind me of days past.

I can remember arriving to my first duty station; Elemendorf AFB Alaska. I wasn't too excited especially since I selected all southern bases on my "dream sheet." After nearly three months on station I was getting somewhat settled in. I was slowly meeting new friends and experiencing numerous things that just amazed the small town boy in me. I was in awe of flight line operations, so many dedicated people working hard to prepare the aircraft for their missions. I was amazed at all the neat attractions and opportunities available on the base such as the education office, community center, movie theatre, outdoor recreation and the club. The big city shocked me; streets with more than three traffic lights, buildings taller than three stories, fast food restaurants nearly on every corner. Wow, I was a big city boy now, in fact, the base and big city attractions outnumbered my small town experiences nearly 8 to 1.

Another big attraction, perhaps not that big to many people but certainly big to me, was when I earned my first stripe. I was very excited; finally I can wear something on my sleeve! After my promotion ceremony "tack on" I spent the night ironing my uniform. The spray starch just wasn't cutting it for me. I couldn't get the stiff, razor sharp look I wanted so I upgraded to liquid starch. I was on a mission, I wanted everyone to notice my new stripe...I was very proud. I mixed a batch and could see it getting stiff as it dried. Soon, the BDU top stood on its own. After an hour of ironing it was nearly a thin piece of plywood. The liquid starch worked better than I expected maybe it was because I increased the mixing proportion to nearly 8 to 1.

The next day I wore my uniform proudly. My one stripe clearly communicated to everyone that I was part of the enlisted corps. I must admit, I really didn't know all that much; in fact, my excitement to serve outweighed my skills by at least 8 to 1; however, that didn't stop me from trying to improve.

Today, I proudly display 8 stripes but I will never forget the day I had 1 stripe. Some people might bet that my life has changed dramatically but that wouldn't be a smart wager. After nearly three months at assignment number 8, I'm somewhat settled in. I'm meeting new friends and experiencing some amazing things. I'm awestruck at the dedicated efforts to ensure the mission succeeds, I'm fascinated with how many attractions and opportunities are available on base and the local community and I see proud Airmen wearing their first stripe.

Would I do it all again? Well, let's examine the pot odds. The people, experiences, travels, sense of purpose, fun, laughs, pride, teamwork, discipline, education, healthcare, leadership skills, fitness centers, memories, legal assistance, outdoor recreation trips, housing, 30-days of paid leave per year, community service, making my mom proud, having help available for nearly anything that challenges me in my life, etc...

So, would I do it all again? Seems like a very smart wager. In fact, I would immediately be ALL IN!

Bring credit and honor to the United States Air Force and take care of each other in all your actions.