Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Air Commando excellence: Affirmation, retrospect after 30 years of service

link Courtesy photo

27th Special Operations Wing

Two years of college and half a year of credits. In 1984 that was my story, and I was looking for a new direction. I had two brothers that were involved in music and in successful bands, so in high school I thought that was my destiny. In fact, my stated goal in my 1982 high school yearbook was to attend college and someday form a band.

I looked the part with my long hair, but unfortunately I could not sing or play any instruments. I had several family members that served in the Army, Navy and Air Force over the years, so that began to emerge in my mind as a possibility.

The Air Force campaign during that time was “Air Force, a great way of life”. That drew me in, and I was intrigued by this new way of life that was described to me by my recruiter over a free steak dinner in Morristown, Tennessee.

Sign me up, give it a try; I did not have any long term goals at that point. I entered basic training in December 1984, and was trained at Chanute Air Force Base, Illinois, as an aerospace ground equipment mechanic with a follow-on assignment to Hahn Air Base, Germany.

Four years later, I cross-trained to become a flight engineer on C-130s. I did not know we had enlisted aircrew members and did not know anything about aircraft or aerodynamics. That’s the great thing about our Air Force. Always providing new opportunities and the resources and training to go along with them in order to be successful.

Over the next 30 years, I was blessed with many opportunities to fly on different types of aircraft, lead airmen, and live and travel around the world experiencing cultures in lands I had only dreamt about. Each re-enlistment was a blessing; I had settled into my new way of life and planned to serve as long as I was able.

I thank the Air Force, its airmen and our joint teammates for the opportunity to serve alongside them. I get thanked for my service often, but I want to thank the Air Force and our great people. The Air Force provided me experiences that I never could have imagined, and the opportunity to serve with great military leaders and teammates. It also enabled me to meet my wife Tami and raise a wonderful family.

My Air Force assignments and opportunities enabled my children to experience different cultures and have friends across various countries. My Air Force career also enabled me to support two children through college — one police officer and one teacher — and watch them start families of their own. I now have six wonderful grandchildren. My youngest son just started college and I am able to use my GI Bill for his education; these are a few of the great benefits that I am very thankful for.

I was able to complete my Bachelor of Science degree in 1999 thanks to Air Force tuition assistance, completing half of my stated high school goal. For the other half, I have tried several times over the years to learn how to play the guitar; I have even gone to the point of purchasing a guitar for dummies book, but have not gotten it down quite yet.

These 30 years have flown by, and I remember heading to basic training like it was yesterday. I have been blessed with great mentors, opportunities and teammates. Each assignment was a gift, and my family and I have great memories of friends and places we have been.

As I look back, I can positively affirm what I already know. We are the greatest Air Force on the planet — always have been and always will be — because of the dedication and innovation of our people. We are highly trained, capable, and ready to conduct combat operations anytime, anyplace. I look forward to seeing what great things our force will do in the future.

I also realize I have accomplished my stated high school goals. I attended college, and actually completed it; I formed a band, one made up of brothers, sisters, teammates and friends.

I am forever grateful to the Air Force, our airmen and our joint teammates for my 30 years of service — thank you!