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The Evolution of an Airman

Author: Gary Kunich
Source: user submission
Webmaster Note:

I have received word from the author of this on 28 April 2006:

True story. My name is MSgt. Gary Kunich. I'm in the Air Force and will retire in 87 days. I wrote, "Evolution of an Airman" four years and nine months ago. I sent it out to about 15 friends without my name on it, because I didn't want people to complain about me goofing off at work. I promise you, I wrote it, and can show you the original. I'm still kind of proud of that one. Thanks for including it on your site!

With this, he did sent me the orginal and i have updated Staff Sergeant comments accordingly.


Think you're tough stuff because you are joining the Air Force and all the girls will dig you once you learn how to fly a plane in basic training.

Airman Basic

You're shaved bald, given a uniform that is two sizes too big, and have developed a nervous tic from some T.I. screaming at you all day. You don't think about the girls at home, but you think that female airman at the snack bar at the Lackland Chapparell is checking you out. You push up your government-issue glasses and work up the nerve to ask her to dance. You don't want to learn how to fly a plane. You want to fly on a plane home.


You've graduated basic training AND tech school and you are proud to be in the military. You think all the chicks dig you AND your one stripe while you are home on leave. You call everyone, "sir," including veterans, your mother, and that slightly-masculine looking mail lady. You spend an hour putting your uniform together at night, using a ruler and level to make sure your one ribbon signifying basic training graduation is centered perfectly on your uniform, as if the uniform itself didn't already signify your graduation from basic training. You obsessively check your name tag in the mirror because when you breathe in a little too much it looks slightly uneven. You spend your entire pay on dry cleaning with extra heavy starch and go through a can of Windex and furniture polish each week on your corofram shoes. Damn, you look sharp.

Airman 1st Class

You are a mentor to all those younger troops, and feel it is your duty to instill pride as you strive to achieve status as senior airman. You now call your mother, "mom," you make fun of the slightly masculine mail lady behind her back and call every enlisted person, with the exception of chief master sergeants, by their first name. Anyone named Jim is an automatic, "Jimbo." You've been able to stretch the Windex and furniture polish to last for an entire month, though you haven't used it in your dorm room because why clean your room? It's not like there are any inspections or anything.

Senior Airman

Twelve months after putting on this stripe you think everyone should give you more respect, because had you been in the service 13 years earlier, you'd be a buck sergeant by now. You've learned that laying a towel on the floor is not a good way to iron your shirt, so you buy an ironing board on you AAFES DPP/Star card, and you think it's a good deal because you only have to pay $3 a month on it for the next five years - just 30 years less than it will take you to pay off the Hyundai you bought from the unscrupulous car dealer outside the base when you were a one-striped airman trying to impress the girls with your stripe AND new car. This makes no difference because you sold the car for $1,000 before you PCS'd to Korea two years earlier, and you haven't seen it since.

Staff Sergeant

You realize you need to set an example, so you take your uniforms to the cleaners once every couple of weeks, then iron it the rest of the time until it no longer maintains a natural crease. You can't remember which pants material is authorized because it has changed so often so you just wear anything blue in your closet and hope no one notices. No one does notice because they are equally as confused, except maybe the new Airman in your office who is too busy obsessively checking his slightly lopsided nametag in the mirror.   -- Updated from the original sent by the author.

Technical Sergeant

You really should clean off that coffee stain you spilled on your shirt earlier in the day, but it can wait until you e-mail all your buddies from your previous six assignments. Those pants are a little snug. Better cut down to only one box of Girl Scout cookies a night. You grumble with other NCOs about all these uppity Airmen First Class walking around calling everybody, "Jimbo." Your can of Windex and furniture polish lasts a good year unless the kids are spraying it around the house to make it smell lemony.

Master Sergeant

Thank goodness you can wear shoulder boards now. No one notices you forgot how to crease your sleeves and you're tired of paying the AAFES dry cleaner to do it because it always comes back with double creases, and who needs that headache? Bitter that your colleagues in the other services make E-7 within six months of graduating basic training, you obsessively go over how many days you have until retirement, making sure your figures haven't changed much since you first start calculating that as a Technical Sergeant. Good thing AAFES makes those uniform belts with the stretchy material.

Senior Master Sergeant

You spend your latest pay raise to pay off the Hyundai a couple years ahead of schedule AND to buy some new uniforms, but refuse to go up in size as a matter of pride. You take the shirt out of its plastic wrap, give it a couple good shakes and are impressed with the fact that it sort of looks like a couple sharp creases from a distance.

Chief Master Sergeant

You walk around all day because it looks good for a Chief to mingle, and it might help you to pass the yearly bike test. You tend to wear BDUs more often these days. You are a warrior, after all, and they do have a slimming effect. As a bonus, you can't even detect the coffee stains. You put off those retirement plans because suddenly you get more respect than a four-star general, and you figure this gig ain't so bad after all. You go through a can of furniture polish each week shining all the wooden busts of Indian chief heads that you have decorating your office and house.

Send me Comments and Suggestions

Joke added on: 26 June 2005 & Updated on 28 April 2006