This is a picture of me, a young Air Force Captain, but it's really about my Dad and brother, Gene, who went before me. Dad served in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. Gene was killed in a flight line accident at Elmendorf Air Force Base in the run up to the Vietnam War. They truly *served*. My service pales in contrast. The United States Air Force gave me much more than I gave to it. More than anything else, it taught me quiet, deep self-confidence. If you can survive and thrive through the training and stress of the military, everything that you face in life after that is a cake walk... and oftentimes, boring. Nothing in the civilian world compares to the responsibility and trust that you are granted in the military. God bless all those young men and women who are serving today in our troubled world, especially my nephews, Kyle Nabors and Tyler Dennison. Duty, Honor, Country.
I really appreciate all the wonderful comments and thanks... but the thanks are not necessary and make me a bit uncomfortable. Day-to-day, greater thanks should go to many others more deserving. This post is about giving thanks to the United States Air Force for what it did for me. It totally changed my life for the better, at a time in my life when I needed that help, desperately. When my Dad passed away, just a few days after I graduated from high school, I lost the anchor of my life. For whatever reason, his death stripped me of my self-confidence and identity. I was, without that anchor, completely adrift in the seas of a very confused young man, trying to find his way back to port. I struggled through college, hanging on to new role models who were a horrible influence and the worst example of manhood, imaginable. After college, the Air Force stripped my identity down even further... then rebuilt me. No mercy, no excuses, no escape. Up was the only direction that the Air Force made you feel was a viable option because so many other people and principles depended on you... YOU. There were other options of course-- you could always quit, dropout, or fade out to mediocrity-- but your mind never really believes that those are viable options. You have to keep climbing because if you don't, others will fall.
Thank you, United States Air Force. No thanks are due me.