I asked Chat GPT, “What is a ‘Nonner’ in the USAF?” and this is what I got back.
“In the United States Air Force (USAF), the term “nonner” is a slang term used to refer to airmen who serve in non-combat, support, or administrative roles. The term is derived from the word “nonnuclear,” which suggests that these airmen do not work directly with nuclear weapons. While the term is often used in a lighthearted or humorous manner, it can carry different connotations depending on the context in which it is used.
In the military, every branch has its own unique jargon and slang that develops among its members. The term “nonner” has become prevalent in the USAF and is primarily used by operational or combat-oriented airmen to distinguish themselves from those serving in support functions. It is important to note that the term is not an official or sanctioned term by the USAF and is considered informal slang used within the military community.
Nonners typically include airmen who work in administrative, logistical, medical, legal, personnel, and other support roles. These individuals play a vital role in ensuring the smooth functioning of the Air Force by providing the necessary infrastructure, resources, and administrative support to enable the operational units to carry out their missions effectively. While nonners may not directly engage in combat or operate advanced aircraft, their contributions are essential to the overall mission success.
Nonners can be found in a variety of positions and career fields across the Air Force. They may work in administrative offices, maintaining personnel records, processing paperwork, and coordinating logistical support. They may also be involved in medical services, providing healthcare and support to active-duty personnel and their families. Additionally, nonners may work in legal offices, assisting with legal matters, military justice, and the administration of military law.
While the term “nonner” is often used in a teasing or playful manner, it is essential to recognize the importance of all personnel in the Air Force. Every member, regardless of their role, contributes to the overall mission readiness and effectiveness of the force. The Air Force is a highly interconnected and interdependent organization, and the success of combat operations depends on the support provided by nonners.
It is worth noting that the term “nonner” is not universally embraced by all members of the Air Force. Some individuals feel that it creates unnecessary divisions within the service and undermines the teamwork and camaraderie that should exist among all airmen. The Air Force emphasizes the concept of the “Total Force,” recognizing the contributions of both operational and support personnel to achieve mission success.
In recent years, efforts have been made to promote a more inclusive and respectful culture within the Air Force. Leadership has emphasized the importance of recognizing the value and contributions of all airmen, regardless of their career field or role. This focus on unity and teamwork reinforces the notion that every member of the Air Force is essential to accomplishing the mission.
In conclusion, the term “nonner” in the USAF refers to airmen who serve in non-combat, support, or administrative roles. While it is a slang term used informally within the military community, it is important to recognize the vital contributions made by these individuals to the overall functioning and mission success of the Air Force. The Air Force places value on teamwork and unity, emphasizing the importance of all airmen, regardless of their specific role or career field.”
Lol! Good try but no cigar AI. Okay, maybe you get a Swisher Sweet. And yes Chat, you made me want to puke.
You got a few things right, such as the basic definition of what a “nonner” is (although your explanation of the name origin is totally fabricated) and the fact that the USAF is becoming sensitized to words just like much of “modern” society.
Here’s an easy way to know if you are a USAF nonner or not.
Do you ever touch the aircraft to fix it, load it with munitions, or service it? If the answer is no, then you are a “nonner.” The term comes from “Non-flightliner” or “Non-sortie generating ‘person’” and has no connection to “nuclear” or the phonetic alphabet as some sources suggest.
Pilots and aircrew are not considered “nonners,” but they aren’t “flightliners” either. They are just part of Ops or Operations and are their own category. Mainly they are viewed with annoyance because they frequently break our aircraft, and simply walk away to do other pilot things like demonstrating their last flight maneuver using their hands as little airplanes.
Yes, the term “Nonner” is somewhat derogatory. It comes from a disdain of people who sit in a nice air-conditioned office all day, take long lunches, are closed for training for big chunks of the week, work regular hours, have weekends off, and when a flightliner needs help with pay or some other nonner duty, they tie them up in bureaucratic red tape. Aircraft maintainers work long hours outside in all weather conditions and have the burden of the crew/s life or death on their shoulders. It’s tough and thankless work. And the pay is the same as the guy handing out towels at the base gym, a job that could be done by a vending machine or a cheap civilian contractor.
But nonner is mostly just used to refer to anyone who isn’t aircraft maintenance. The Army does the same thing with the term POG, Person Other than Grunt. To people in the Army, I’m a POG. Guess what? My feelings aren’t hurt, and I don’t need therapy because they view me that way. Wanna know why? Because it’s true. I’m not a Grunt. And even if they have some disdain for me, it’s not the end of my world. In fact, it’s not even a blip on my radar because it’s such a minuscule thing. I know that if they were deployed and surrounded by bad guys and running low on ammo, they would be grateful to see my fighter or attack aircraft overhead with a full load. At that moment the POG term would disappear from their minds. And in the end, actions mean way more than words.
Different groups in the military have always viewed themselves as a cut above the rest. In the USAF it’s typically been the aircrews, Pararescue, Tactical Air Control, and aircraft maintenance personnel (in particular the Crew Chiefs). Security Forces try to horn in on the list, but you don’t argue face-to-face with the junkyard dog. You just occasionally toss him a bone and go about your business.
So “Nonners” – wear your badge with pride and let it roll off your back as you sit in your “closed for training” air-conditioned office. Yes, the Air Force can mandate against the term “Nonner,” but we will still think it. And if you need counseling about it then head over to Med Group or the Chaplain. I’m sure they will be sympathetic.
BTW – if anyone is offended, much of what I’ve said is just in jest, but you’ll have to decide which parts. Good luck!
Dave Chamberlin served 38 years in the USAF and Air National Guard as an aircraft crew chief, where he retired as a CMSgt. He has held a wide variety of technical, instructor, consultant, and leadership positions in his more than 40 years of civilian and military aviation experience. Dave holds an FAA Airframe and Powerplant license from the FAA, as well as a Master’s degree in Aeronautical Science. He currently runs his own consulting and training company and has written for numerous trade publications.
His true passion is exploring and writing about issues facing the military, and in particular, aircraft maintenance personnel.
As the Voice of the Veteran Community, The Havok Journal seeks to publish a variety of perspectives on a number of sensitive subjects. Unless specifically noted otherwise, nothing we publish is an official point of view of The Havok Journal or any part of the U.S. government.