Within the Air Force, time-honored tradition of presenting a ‘coin of excellence,’ to Airmen within the communication field exists. For communicators, this coin marks the highest recognition of an Airman’s selfless dedication and professionalism to his job as a “Cable Dawg.”
During a recent 744th Communications Squadron coining ceremony, Staff Sgt. Nickolas Oakley, 744 CS cable maintenance craftsman, spoke to a group of young enlisted Airmen about Cable Dawgs who’ve had the most influence over them.
“While deployed to Afghanistan, I gained so much respect for Senior Master Sgt. Alan Weatherly, the highest senior enlisted combat advisor in charge of our unit,” said Oakley.
Oakley further noted during his tour in Afghanistan that Weatherly tasked him with something that he didn’t particularly care to do.
“At one point Weatherly told me to just suck it up and do my job. You know - he kind of gave me tough love. From then on, I did my job the best I could because I knew that Weatherly had confidence in me.- he knew I could handle the tough tasks. I truly respected him as a Cable Dawg.”
At the conclusion of the story, Oakley highlighted one of the 744 CS’s Airmen who he felt has the same potential that Weatherly saw in him.
“I believe Airman 1st Class Norbert Dudzic has that same potential to be a good leader.”
While extending his hand out to Dudzic, Oakley presented Dudzic with the very same coin which he himself carried in Afghanistan.
“This coin means a lot to me - the biggest meaning is commitment,” said Oakley. “This coin reminds me that our career field is a tight-knit community that has something in common a pride and commitment to our job as communicators.”
According to Master Sgt. Matt Cagle, 744 CS cable systems maintenance NCO in charge, prior to earning a Cable Dawg coin, an individual must be capable of assuming leadership roles, which require key elements of initiative, innovation and inspiration.
“Often times our communications Airmen must become engineers of sorts when a customer needs a solution that requires innovation,” said Cagle. Airmen earning their coins must also display a Service-Before-Self attitude, which most often takes a tremendous initiative to accomplish.
“Additionally, it is a communicator’s task to find something they enjoy, excel in that interests and becomes a n inspiration to others in that arena,” Cagle said. “Airmen earn this coveted coin because their supervisors and teammates feel they have epitomized these traits.”
Although any member can purchase most coins at the Base Exchange or uniform shop, Cagle noted that the Cable Dawg coin can only be earned. Cagle himself earned and received his coin more than 18 years ago.
“Our standards for earning our coins have more significance than others because we task Airmen in challenging ways in order to build their character and leadership skills, not to haze,” said Cagle.
When asked how he felt about the caliber of Airmen working for him, Cagle quickly answered.
“The young men and women that come into our career field are thrust into a fast-paced, technologically-advanced and physically challenging Air Force,” said Cagle. “The challenges we face today allow only the best and the brightest to advance through training, let alone become Cable Dawgs.”
As a final note, Master Sgt. Cagle issued a challenge to all Andrews and communication Airmen.
“Men and women of the greatest military in the world, I challenge each of you to carry on the tradition of the coin challenge,” said Cagle.
“Carrying on this tradition honors those who have led the way, those who have fought and those that will continue the fight at home and abroad. Coins remind us that we are from a ‘proud heritage - a tradition of honor and a legacy of valor.’ I encourage all communicators and all Airmen to remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice and those families who stand strong behind those willing to do so now. Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines: when a coin check has been initiated, and the rounds bought, hold your glasses high, toasting the men and women that watch over our great nation and thank God for watching over us all.”