MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL AIR RESERVE STATION, Minn. --
Why are you here? Why do you wear the uniform? Why did you raise your right hand? Why do you choose to serve?
Be it on active duty or in the Reserves, there are more than 2 million people serving in the U.S. military and millions of veterans have served before them in the several hundred year history of the country’s armed forces. With such a broad number of current service members and veterans alike, there are countless reasons as to why people have joined the military ranks. Many do so as a call to service by giving back to their country. For some, the call to arms is a family tradition. Some join for stability and to learn a skill. Others volunteer for the benefits associated with service such as medical, education and retirement benefits.
With Veteran’s day 2020 taking place after the November unit training assembly, the 934th Airlift Wing hosted a Share Your Why event during the UTA for Airmen to come together and share their reason(s) for joining the service and as an additional option, to share why they continue to serve.
“As we go into Veterans Day week, this is an opportunity for us to get together and share people’s stories and why they serve,” said Col. James Wall, 934th Airlift Wing vice commander. “I’m a big fan of Simon Sinek who wrote the book Start With Why and the premise behind the book is people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
A pilot by trade, Wall expressed that he initially joined the Air Force to fly.
“When I was 5 or 6 I went to my first Chicago Air and Water Show and when the Thunderbirds came flying over and scared the crowd from behind as they flew over, I was like I’m gonna do that,” Wall said. “From then, that was my dream and that’s always what I wanted to do.”
Although that was why Wall initially joined, as his career began, events to follow would shape his future.
“As I continued throughout my career, my service became a calling,” Wall said. “My unit was deployed in 2001 when 9/11 happened and the rest is history. At the heart of it, when you look back on events like 9/11 and now that I have kids, when I look at raising them up in today’s world, that is why I’m here.”
Tech. Sgt. Scheress Hendricks who works in the 934th Equal Opportunity office was another one of the nearly 20 Airmen who shared their why with the attendees explaining that being a wingman is what he really enjoys.
“I have multiple whys but I can’t talk about my why without talking about my faith, because my faith is who I am,” Hendricks said. “After four years of active duty, I went into the Reserves and went to college. I got into graduate studies and left the Reserves behind because I wanted to devote time to that, but I started to miss the Air Force. When I re-enlisted I met another guy and he told me ‘these people need you; these people in the Air Force need people like you to support them and pour into them.’”
A common theme explained by many throughout the event focused on people, the value they bring to the Air Force, and the impact they have on their fellow Airmen.
“The culture of the Air Force is so unique and I believe it creates people and it fosters people to be a wingman for someone and I get to do that for other people.” Hendricks said. “I Love it!”
“I’m retiring in June and I can tell you that what I will remember most is the amazing people I have had the privilege serving with,” explained Wall.