I recently saw this video from Lt Col Mike Drowley, an A-10 pilot and Weapons Officer. It's excellent and it sums up the standard of every aviator I know, when it comes to protecting our guys on the ground. I do honestly mean standard. I am proud to say that I have never in my career, met an aviator that I thought would give anything less (or who wouldn't at least die trying to give the same), to protect our brothers on the ground.
There are fates worse than death. When we also realize, and act on, the idea that there are fates worse than career death, we will then be able to build an amazing Air Force.
Lt Col Drowley said that he "swore" to never let anything happen to those military members on the ground. I never swore such an oath with my mouth, but I certainly did with my heart. But I did, and Lt Col Drowley also did, swear an actual oath with our mouths. That was an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.
It's also a fate worse than death to watch our citizens (even the long-haired hippie Occupy protestor, or the the clean cut Tea Party protestor, and even the nutty Fred Phelps church member, or perhaps some American citizen Muslim who presents no imminent threat but is on a kill list--or at least as reported by media sources) lose their Constitutional rights to free speech and due process on our watch.
Nobody ever said defending America would be easy. But for those who swore to do so, there is a fate worse than death. And there is even a fate worse than death on foreign soil defending American soldiers, a fate where you forgot who you were really defending, and forgot your nation and why you were fighting in the first place.