I have had many important life experiences in my short thirty-two years on this earth thus far. Some have been enjoyable while others dreadful. There is one experience that has both of these aspects and has spanned over twelve years of my life-my Air Force career. I would it is one of the most important experiences in my life. During this time, I have seen the good and bad in the world along with learning about life and its lessons. This experience allowed me to grow up, travel the world, and meet amazing people. Growing up is hard to do.
I went to college after high school, but dropped out not knowing what I wanted to do in life or get out of it. I do not believe four years in college makes anyone grow up, nor actually prepares them for life. I can’t speak for all though, not finishing my last three years. I can only speculate what my life could have been had I finished at twenty-three years old and entering the world as a college graduate. In lieu of college and being a “bum” living at my parents’ house, I decided to enlist in the United States Air Force.
Although I did not join until I was twenty years old, unlike many whom are still teenagers, I was still young and immature. Being an Eagle Scout, I had some paramilitary bearing and ideals, but had no idea yet what I was getting myself into. It was a frightful experience leaving home for the first time and not truly knowing or understanding what to expect. Little did I know, I was embarking on a whole new life adventure full of unknown experiences. I realized this once I stepped on that plane to Texas and arrived at Lackland Air Force Base for Basic Military Training (Boot Camp).Order now
Upon arriving and as soon as you step off that bus, it is open season on you for the training Instructors. I was definitely not at home anymore! After six grueling weeks of being broke down and built back up, you think it is over and you made it. Wrong. That was only one step of the many days, weeks, and years to come of lessons and experiences in my career. As a child I had only ever been to Oregon and Nevada for family vacations. Not coming from a military family, I was the first to endure this adventure. After Boot Camp I spent time in Northern Texas then eventually received my orders to my first duty station.
I was so excited and scared, where was I going to be sent? Hopefully one of the places I picked: Germany, England, Asia–nope, Albuquerque, New Mexico. I thought “where the hell is that? ” One important life lesson I learned right then and there, you can’t always get what you want or what you ask for. Meanwhile, I was still excited to be going someplace new and unknown. I spent six years there and actually enjoyed it and was glad to have been sent there. From there I was able to go on work trips and deployments. I went to the east coast of Florida to support the Air Force mission.
We would convoy across the south from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Cocoa Beach, Florida. In what other other job would I have been able to tour the south like that and at the employer’s expense? I was able to spend time in Iraq (twice), United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, England, Ireland, and Germany. Out of all those places, only Iraq was the scariest and most stressful. Having to arm up with a rifle and sidearm and wear body armor daily just to go to work and even the bathroom, was definitely eye opening experience. Traveling to all the other places, even though for work, was like mini vacations.
I was fortunate to be able to travel the Rhine River, tour one-thousand-year-old castles, drive the Autobahn, learn about Middle Eastern culture, try amazing foods/drinks, swim in the Arabian Sea, and meet many amazing people. One amazing aspect of my overall military experience is the people, friends and connections I have made across the world. In all the places I have traveled I was able to connect to other Air Force and other military people. The majority of the individuals I have met are outstanding and we still keep in touch to this day.
Like I mentioned before about seeing the good and bad, that is relevant to people I have met too. The vast majority of everyone relates somehow because we all have shared experiences or are in the same shitty location (i. e. Iraq). Granted we may not all be best friends, but we learn to get along and come together to accomplish the mission. There is always that one guy, or gal, that can ruin it for everyone though. I have to say I learn from them of what not to be, especially if they are in a supervisory position.
Since two thousand three, I have had huge life altering experiences. From when I left home to Basic Training to my last travel adventure of touring Germany and on to my new experience of being an Air Force Reservist. There are so many experiences that each experience has its own other experience within itself. It is somewhat mind boggling at actually how many experiences I have had from just enlisting in the U. S. Air Force. Even from this moment on, I can continue to have and make new, good and bad, life experiences by continuing to grow, by traveling, and meeting people.