This weekend was the end of a big part of my life. It may not be the end forever, but for now, it was the best choice for my little family and me. For those that don’t know, I was a member of the Montana Air National Guard. The ANG is a branch of the Air Force and I’m proud to say that I served our country, even if it was only one weekend a month. It was the last weekend I was allowed to put on the uniform and call myself an Airman.
Why did I decide to join the guard? Honestly, the main reason was to help pay for my college education. It did that and more. I was at a point in my life where I needed a challenge and motivation. I’m very proud of the commitment I made. I traveled 420 miles each way the first of weekend of every month for 6 years. While I know this is a small sacrifice compared to the many others who spend countless days away from their home and families, I’m still proud of doing what I signed up to do.
It started with 6 1/2 weeks of basic training at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas, followed by 6 weeks of technical school on the same base. The weeks flew by and even though they were challenging, I learned a lot about myself and gained a confidence that can never be taken away. In tech school, I was the class leader and also Distinguished Graduate. Please notice my baby cheeks and pre-brace smile. Let’s just say I wasn’t the toughest looking Airman, but I like to think looks are deceiving.
I never volunteered to be deployed anywhere as education was always my priority. Looking back, I’m a little disappointed, but every decision is made for a reason so I have no regrets. One good thing about the drive every month was not just the co-pilot I got to travel with, but seeing my family so often. I know that I won’t see them as much anymore and it breaks my heart just a little, especially since my nephew is is growing up so fast. We will make an effort to go as often as we can, though. Speaking of my co-pilot, this was my rear view. Let’s just say Riley is a professional car rider. Even though he can’t talk back to me, he’s the best company ever.
Another experience I’ll never forget and be forever grateful for was my chance to go to England with about 60 other guard members. We were there for 2 weeks and I trained with the Active Duty members at RAF Mildenhall. This trip deserves a post of its own as I got to experience a little bit of the European culture and see some amazing places, including London. I can’t wait to go back. I even got to fly over in a C-130 and hang out with the pilots on the way home!
My favorite part was the bathroom aka bucket with a curtain. The top right picture was my view while peeing. The plane was so loud you had to wear ear plugs. For 10 hours. I wish I had pictures of our seats. It was quite an adventure, to say the least, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
I may end up re-enlisting, but if I do, it will be closer to home. I am even considering getting back in as an Officer. For now, we are just going to see where life takes us. All I know is that whatever’s meant to be, will be. This sunrise on our way home this weekend said to me that beautiful things are ahead. I can’t wait to see what’s next!
The most exciting thing? Having 12 more weekends in the year to fill full of adventure! I also want to say a special thanks to everyone in every branch of the military. It takes a special kind of person to sign up and sacrifice their life for the rest of the country and I couldn’t be more proud to be an American. Our troops rock!