Force Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper has requested all official Air Force publications spell airman with a capital “A.” The change follows an October decision by Army chief of staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker to capitalize soldier in Army publications.

Air staff executive officers, secretaries and staff groups of major commands were first told of the change in late February, said Lt. Col. Michael Caldwell, strategic communications adviser for the Air Force chief of staff.

Public affairs offices and broadcast detachments put the policy into effect March 5.

“Airmen in the United States Air Force are the heart and soul of our unique fighting force and should be identified as a proper noun,” Jumper said in a release. “Capitalizing the word ‘Airman’ recognizes their historic achievements and signifies our unique contributions to fighting and winning America’s wars. It shows we’ve earned the respect a proper name imparts.”

The Associated Press Stylebook, used by Stars and Stripes and most newspapers, has not made the change, but the Air Force has requested it, Caldwell said.

This is the second style change Air Force publications have faced this year. A directive issued Jan. 1 required all Air Force publications to use courtesy titles when referring to someone for the second time, also different from AP style.

Airman 1st Class Melissa Maraj, editor of the Kaiserslautern American, a joint-service command publication serving the Kaiserslautern military community, said the change was easy.

“We did soldier first,” Maraj said of writing soldier with a capital “S.” “As a matter of fact, it was a nice change to keep things consistent. It points out that both [airmen and soldiers] are pretty important.”

When the official Air Force publication made the change from soldier to Soldier, Maraj said the overall response was positive. Readers felt that in light of the continuing responsibilities soldiers are faced with in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was a worthy honor.

It was simply a matter of time before the Air Force took that same step, she said.

“We’re recognizing that airmen are a huge part of that mission as well,” Maraj said. “We’re all airmen, enlisted or officers. It’s almost like a title for all of us, regardless of rank.”

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