AIRMEN these days: Volume 2 - Airman Haakon Storm

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Stefan Blazier
  • 37th Training Wing

I’ve heard the comment, “Airmen these days” quite a bit over the years. It’s usually from a negative standpoint; how today’s Airmen are not as disciplined, dedicated, or mature as those from “back in my day…” To help others see the greatness in our Airmen who join and stay on our team (no matter what age) – this series of posts called “Airmen these days” will demonstrate it.

Let me introduce you to Airman Haakon Storm. In September he made the trip to San Antonio to attend Air Force Basic Military Training (BMT). Upon arrival, his Military Training Instructors (MTI) noticed he was somewhat withdrawn from his flight and showed little to no self-confidence. This is overall not uncommon as trainees face the stressors of transforming into Airmen and becoming a team with a group of people who only days prior were complete strangers. To help their flight get past this challenging period, Master Sgt. Philip Lowery and Tech Sgt. Daniel Sayarot ask their trainees to write a letter to explain and reflect why they came in the Air Force, or to share something the trainee would like the MTI to know about them as they begin training.

Here's Trainee Storm’s answer to that question: “Why I joined the Air Force - I wasn’t really doing anything with my life. I dropped out of college two weeks in because I was depressed. My best friend committed suicide on Feb., 2018 and everything just kind of seemed pointless. I wanted a fresh start and being an Air Traffic Controller perks my interest. I consider myself a failure even though none of my family or friends did. I feel like I failed my best friend. Joining the Air Force gives me the chance to save people when I couldn’t before.”

This is the point where you should stop and pause for a minute to really take that it in (it gave me chills when I did). What happened next is powerful. His MTIs recognized the fighting spirit within Trainee Storm and immediately began working to use it to shape and motivate him. With every challenge Trainee Storm was given – he excelled. He was named a Tactical Deployment Leader at the Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills Training (BEAST) exercise, helping fellow trainees work through how to communicate and operate in a combat setting as a team. He scored a 99/100 on his End of Course examination which tests all aspects of the foundational competencies of what it means to be an American Airman. He achieved a perfect score on his physical fitness test.

Basically, anything we put in front of him – he absolutely crushed and did it all because of his desire to SERVE OTHERS.

The results of his demonstrated leadership, teamwork, and warrior-mindset culminated in his selection as the Top Graduate from more than 750 Airmen, who completed BMT on Nov. 1, 2019. While this recognition is a very rare and a significant honor, the best part of this story is Airman Storm’s heroic journey to fight through the punches life threw at him. It’s the definition of what RESILIENCE is all about. Pure grit, determination, and hunger to turn tragedy into inspiration. He made the choice to not sit idle on the sidelines and went out on the hunt to be a better version of himself. And just like how Storm realized he wanted to be able to help someone else, his Military Training Instructors were fueled by the same internal desire. They played a vital role in his success because they believed in Airman Storm even when he didn’t believe in himself. Airmen of different tenures and positions in the team, with a common bond to serve and uplift those around them – there’s massive beauty in that.

HUGE salute to Airman Storm, Tech Sgt. Sayarot, and Master Sgt. Lowery for making this story possible! It’s one that reminds me that no matter how much you feel like you’re failing, your ability to stand again is dependent on purpose, will, and help from others. This is something each generation depends on and we’ll always be at our best when we cheer each other on to RISE and FIGHT as one Air Force Team.