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Why I Serve: Airman Finds True Calling as Part of 'Best Force'

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10, 2004 – "I guess this was a calling," said Air Force Senior Airman Stephanie Henry, of the 1st Communications Squadron based at Langley Air Force Base, Va. "As soon as I signed the papers and I came in, I knew I'm going to make this a career."

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Air Force Senior Airman Stephanie Henry of the 1st Communications Squadron, Langley Air Force Base, Va., said she knew as soon as she signed her enlistment papers that she would make the Air Force her career. Photo by Senior Airman Christian Michael, USAF

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

As a high school student, the thought of military service hadn't even crossed Henry's mind, until a classmate announced her intent to join the Army. Still, Henry said, she didn't get serious about military service until college. Then it was her husband's (then-boyfriend) mention of the Air Force that prompted Henry to aim high.

"I really liked the mission. It was a little low key, different from the Army, and that's basically what I was looking for," Henry said.

After nearly four years at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, her mission has changed a bit. Henry recently transferred from personnel at Laughlin to her current job in network security at Langley.

While she is proud that her position allows her to assist in providing network security for the entire base, she is even prouder of being a part of the "the best force out there."

"That's basically why I serve,to protect our country, to protect our nation," Henry said. "Whether the job I do here is big or small, I still feel that I'm providing the country safety with the little I do."

Sept. 11, 2001, was just before the one-year anniversary of Henry's enlistment. The events that unfolded after the attacks put the airman into the one position that had made her hesitate about enlisting in the first place. The country went to war.

Still, she said, she will always remember the events surrounding the attacks and how everyone in and out of the military reacted.

"Everyone just protected each other, basically just consoled each other when everything happened," Henry said recalling the immediate aftermath of the attacks. "Everything, basically from the time we got notice, everything fell into place to help out those who needed (help)."

She also realized that, though the country was at war, there were alternate ways to protect the country's freedoms, includeing what she does in network security. Henry said she is grateful to those who are fighting terrorism overseas.

"There are ways to protect the country and to serve rather than being out there," Henry said. "But, I'm very proud of what our troops are out there doing. I really appreciate that, because they're providing freedom for us in a different way (than I do)."

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Related Sites:
Langley Air Force Base, Va.
1st Communications Squadron
"Why I Serve"

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