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My Air Force Journey

August 7, 2018

It’s been almost 8 years since I joined the Air Force and I can’t believe it. It feels like so long ago that I walked out of the bus at Lackland AFB in Texas to a bunch of people screaming in my face to pick my bags up and then put them down over and over and over again. But before I get into that, I’ll explain why I joined in the first place.

 

Senior year of high school was amazing. I was hanging out with my best friends all the time and having the time of my life. The only thing was was that I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life or what the next step should be for me. I had 3 options: go to the local community college, get a scholarship for soccer, or join the military.

My favorite option was soccer scholarship, but deep down I knew that wasn’t going to happen for me. It’s not that I wasn’t good enough. The varsity coach and I had a history and I knew she was going to take it out on me. she was one of the coaches that invited her players over to her house to party and drink. If you weren’t “buddy buddy” with her, she didn’t like you. If you weren’t a bitch, she didn’t like you. My junior year, she had her team vote for who they should fill the last open spots for varsity. Luckily one of my really good friends was voted on the team and she ended up getting a scholarship. So when tryouts came around, I was hopeful but not naive. Sure enough, I didn’t make varsity. I was ok but I was still upset by the fact that my favorite sport had turned into this nasty “girls club” and not a team based off talent.

 

My second option was the local community college. I will just tell you now, I didn’t want to go there at all whatsoever. It was just like high school. Pretty much 13th grade (if it existed). And everyone, I mean EVERYONE, went there after high school. It’s not a bad thing at all, but I wanted to get out. I didn’t want to get stuck, and I knew I would if I stayed. I knew I would never leave my hometown and see the world and make something of myself.

 

So that left option number three: military. Now I knew I didn’t want to join the Army or the Navy. My top choice was Marines because my dad was a prior enlisted and my brother was currently serving. I was pretty set on the Marines until my brother told me that I should do Air Force instead. I graduated high school in June, went to MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) on October 5th, and here I am 7+ years later.

 

October 5, 2010 | Lackland AFB, TX: My first day at BMT (basic military training) at Lackland AFB, Texas. I’m not going to lie and say that I remember everything about those 8 1/2 weeks because I don’t. BMT was a huge blur. Sure I remember getting yelled at, being told to beat my face (do push-ups), having an MTI (Military Training Instructor) tell me he was going to throw me out a window, and marching for what seemed like days. I remember crawling up a hill in the mud while getting trampled by other trainees during Beast Week. I remember the close friends I made and the trainees that made us pick up these slack. But the rest? It all happened so fast. One minute it was pitch black and I was just coming off the bus and the next I was standing with my basic flight in front of our families and friends getting coined as an Airman in the United States Air Force.

 

This is my older brother, Jesse, and I at my BMT graduation. 

 

December 2010-April 2011 | Sheppard AFB, TX: After I graduated BMT, I sewed on A1C (Airman First Class) and was sent to Sheppard AFB, TX for technical training, or tech school. My job is to load bombs, missiles, and ammunition on fighter jets. When I got to Sheppard, I was slotted for the F-16 tech school. So that meant I was going to learn how to do maintenance and load on that particular aircraft. In our job, we can load on all types of fighter jets and bombers. Some bombs and missiles are universal and some have different versions for different aircraft. I spent 4ish months at tech school learning all the skills that would prepare me for my first duty station, Osan AB, Republic of Korea.

 

May 2011-May 2012 | Osan AB, ROK: I was not prepared. I was so out of my depth when I got to Korea it was ridiculous. Korea, especially during this time, was fast paced and intense. I was assigned to the flight line where you work directly on aircraft. You work in the rain, sun, snow, day or night. You get dirty and have grease under your nails and by the end of shift you feel like you’ve been run over by a truck over and over again. If you didn’t know something, you had to learn it yesterday. I can’t tell you how many weekends and 12 hour shifts that I worked. I think I worked almost 2 months straight. And add in exercises? Done. Exercises are week long training scenarios that we do to prepare ourselves if we were under attack, and in this case North Korea was the very obvious threat. I participated in 7 exercises by the end of my year in Korea. I met so many amazing people that I became family with and I have so many good memories from my first “real” year in the Air Force. But I was ready to leave because my next duty station was what I was really looking forward to.

 

May 2011-May 2014 | Spangdahlem AB, GE: I met my husband he first day I got to Germany. He was in the dorm room of someone who worked with a person I worked with in Korea (confusing, I know). It was super awkward and I walked out of the room as fast as I could. I quickly became friends with him and all his friends and soon I was traveling Germany with these amazing people seeing amazing things. 4 months after I got there, my husband (boyfriend at the time) had finished his 3 year assignment to Germany and had to PCS (permanent change of station) back to the states. It was a rough situation, but we were both determined to make it work. During my 2 years in Germany, I worked hard. I learned everything I hadn’t been taught in Korea and I was proud of what I was doing. I sewed on SrA (Senior Airman) and was given more responsibility within my workplace. George and I got married! I tested for SSgt (Staff Sergeant) for the first time and did horribly. I didn’t study so I didn’t have anyone else to blame but myself. Germany is hands down on of my favorite places to be. The country is beautiful and the little towns are so quaint and lovely. But as much as I loved it there, I was ready to be with husband.

 

May 2014-Present Day | Mountain Home AFB, ID: Idaho is a hidden gem. I honestly couldn’t remember where it was on the map when I first found out we were getting stationed here. I’m so glad we did. This place is amazing. There is so much to do here and we know that, after we get stationed other places in the future, we want to retire here. When we got here, I was placed in backshop, which is where you work on equipment that goes onto the aircraft, rather directly in the aircraft itself. It  was definitely a nice change of pace from the flight line. I had a/c in the summer and heat in the winter, and a set 1 hr lunch break. After 4 years in backshop, I was sent back out to the flightline to work on the F-15E. When I say that the F-15 is a big jet, I mean it. I feel even smaller than I already do on a regular basis. But since I've

been out on the line, I've met a lot of amazing people and am becoming a better supervisor to my two subordinates.  I love being able to interact with them and the other Airman to help them with personal and professional issues and help shape them into becoming the next generation of leaders. 

 

 This was taken during my reenlistment ceremony where I signed up for 6 more years.

The hubby and I in front of a loaded (not live) F-15E during his reenlistment ceremony.

 

Almost 8 years later and I can't believe how fast its gone by.  I've seen so many places, met so many people, and created so many memories that I can't imagine doing anything else for a long time.  I hope to make SMSgt (Senior Master Sergeant) by the end of 20+ years. I am so proud to be in the Air Force and to serve my country.

 

Here is a video of a bunch of my friends showcasing our job.  We have a "Load Comp" quarterly to highlight the best weapons loaders to see who can load certain bombs in a certain amount of time without making mistakes.

 

Always,

 

 

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