How AFA changed my perspective on serving

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Myriam Harchaoui
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


“You walk through thousands of doors every day; don’t be afraid of the one that changes your life,” said retired U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Todd Simmons.

My name is Senior Airman Myriam Harchaoui from the 436th Logistics Readiness Squadron at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. I recently had the opportunity and privilege of attending this year's Air Force Association's Air, Space and Cyber Conference in Washington, D.C. The AFA conference is the premier professional development symposium for all Department of the Air Force service members.

I went to AFA in hopes of finding someone who can see my fire and passion in protocol and what I can bring to the table. While working directly with our Dover AFB Wing Protocol team during a POW/MIA event, I found my calling in protocol.

I will never forget that warm and proud feeling I had while watching that event come together. AFA came up shortly after the event; the timing couldn’t be more perfect. I couldn’t let the opportunity to attend pass me by.

You realize that the Air Force is a calling and not a job. I learned very quickly that I’m a sponge, and I’m fascinated to learn more about the Air Force, to try and understand the strategic perspective of the big picture.

While at AFA, I was able to understand more of what supply chain and logistics was all about. Being around like-minded individuals who are just as driven and resilient reenforced my passion to serve. The technology expo revolved around those two heavily, which in turn allowed me to get a better understanding of my hand in the mission and my role in tomorrow’s fight.

Serving in the logistics career field, the AFA conference opened my eyes to the vitality of global logistical services and their impact to the Air Force—whether we’re performing combat, humanitarian or support roles. Additionally, the technology presentations helped further develop my understanding in why my job is so important and my impact to the Air Force.

During the conference I had the honor of listening to our senior Air and Space Force leaders.

I want to highlight one individual’s speech that was the most eye-opening for me: Gen. Mike Minihan, Air Mobility Command commander. Minihan spoke from a place of passion and conviction for his Airmen, tying his people to the AMC mission. What inspired me the most was when he said, "fly it as if you stole it … it's based on winning … nobody is going to care about our five-to-ten-year plan if we are going to lose tomorrow." Those three statements, combined with the impactful sentiment behind them, were powerful because it starts with the foundation of making the best of what we have and staying ready.

"We are going to take a roll with who we have, and we're going to take a roll with the toys we have, and we are going," said Minihan.

During a discussion after his speech, Minihan communicated that he noticed Dover Air Force Base represented themselves nicely at the AFA conference and recognized me by coining me. It is an honor to be coined by the AMC commander. Moments like these really embody “coming full circle,” where my constant dedication to the mission, and relentless hard work to tasks at hand were appreciated by such a senior leader within our Air Force. I want to thank General Minihan for recognizing my intellectual potential and drive to learn. This moment helps make the late nights and long hours well worth it, and I will pay it forward.

I went to AFA in hopes of finding someone in the position to help me succeed in transitioning into protocol at the Pentagon, my ultimate goal. I believe coming as far as I have personally and professionally, my abilities would serve me well in such a position. While I still aim to pursue a new career in protocol, my experience at AFA reinvigorated my passion to serve and reminded me how important and impactful my current job in logistics is.