Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Citizen Airman

The patriot volunteer, fighting for country and his rights, makes the most reliable soldier on earth.” Thomas J. Jackson

Citizen Airman
            One weekend a month, two weeks out of the year; that was the plan when I joined the United States Air Force Reserve on October 2000. A 20 year old fresh off the streets that no directions in life living in a wasteland of youthful culture that lacked ambition.
            From the time I graduated high school in 1997 up until I joined the military I was going nowhere. I did not have good enough grades out of high school to go to a university nor the money. So like majority of the high school graduates I went to junior college. Junior college is great if you have the discipline, I did not. Walking around the campus and seeing people I went to high school with that graduated two to three years prior and still only a sophomore due to the amount of credits obtained only added to my non motivated attitude.
            Tired of the same routine and still a freshman after three years of community college, I decided I needed a change and from the time I got off the plane to getting off the bus at Lackland Air Force Base I was motivated and taught to move with a purpose. The guy with the funny mustache and Smokey the Bear hat made sure of that.
            Starting from day one, the civilian culture that I was a part of which consisted of minimal motivation, no sense of accountability me first attitude was forced out. It had no room, no bearing in the United States Air Force. We were to move as a unit, to proceed with a purpose and put the betterment of the flight above our own wants.
            The mindset of “Integrity First, Service before self, Excellence in all we do” was imbedded. By the time we graduated boot camp we were transformed from civilian to Airmen. We walked out with our chins up, shoulders back and direction. Gone were the limp walk, crouched shoulders and street slang that accompanied us when we came.
            When I came home to my friends and family I was a changed man. However as a reserve, I was not surrounded by fellow Airmen, Soldiers, Seaman, and Marines. I was back where I came from and by the summer of 2001 all I became what we called a “Dirt bag Airman” late for formation, always forgetting my gear, and making excuses on why it couldn’t be done.
            By not being surrounded by my military family on a regular basis I reintegrated myself to the culture I wanted to get out off. I failed at that time to integrate my military training and discipline into my civilian life. At this point, I lost motivation and wanted out.
            September 11, 2001 I am awaken by my mother’s out cry of repeated “oh my god, oh my god, oh my god” I get myself out of bed and walk into our living room and see my mother watching TV. I look at the screen and see calamity, an image so surreal I ask my mother what movie was she was watching and why was she watching it so early in the morning. She tells me it was not a movie. It was the news and New York was under attack. I was re motivated again.
            That morning, “Service before self” took new meaning. I embraced my military culture twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. I became vigilant, alert and ready to go at a moment’s notice because we have to be. Since September 11, I have answered my nations call to duty as well as many others because it’s what we were trained to do. It is in our culture to sacrifice self for country and service.
At first my transition from civilian life to active duty military personnel was difficult. For example as a civilian we are pretty much free to wear our hats in doors. However it is military customs to remove ones cover. Little details like these made the bigger picture of military culture. As the days carried on and my active duty time accrued I was transformed again. This time I would have to learn to adjust from living in military culture where within the compounds of the base everyone greets each other the simple pleasantries of good morning, good afternoon, good evening and good night. To the civilian sector of “I don’t know you; you have no business talking to me.”
This is why I prefer living within the military culture. It has made me to a more responsible adult. I have been able to distant myself from what I call the “Me Generation” and have dedicated myself to a livelihood higher purpose. This country has presented me more opportunities I could have ever imagined. It was only right that I contributed back what I can. By living the culture of “Integrity First, Service before self, Excellence in all we do” I have found myself. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Operation Pacific Passage

Being in the military we are told that every mission is critical, however there missions that critical does not do justice to describe it. This pass weekend I had the opportunity and honor to assist with the military dependents that had to evacuate Japan.
Over 2500 personnel this pass week alone majority of them mothers with their children had to leave evacuate Japan due to the nuclear plant being damaged due to the earthquake that registered a magnitude 9.0. Traveling 11 plus hours just to get from Japan to Travis AFB. Which was only the beginning for most of them. Many still had an additional one to two hours of travel additional to either Sacramento or San Francisco Airport to catch a flight home varying four to eight hours. 
Not all was able to catch a flight the same day as they arrived to Travis AFB, many had to stay a night at a hotel to await travel the following day.
Coming off the plane you can see the exhaustion from their faces, children scared and unsure of where they are. To ensure that all of the evacuees had a smile to greet them, a person to help carry their luggage, travel plans arranged, child care, food, and transportation provided hundreds of military personnel from all branches came together  donated their time and resources to our military family. It was the least that we can do to bring some sort of comfort to them.
We can only imagine the stress they are going through...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


You amaze me...
The strength that you possess.
You came into this world on your own accord...
Attacked your first breath with vigor that the doctors didn't even need to use the ventilator...
You nearly bit the doctors finger off to test your reflex responses... All he could do was laugh in amazement...
As they rolled you to the NICU you continued to announce your presence with a strong cry reserved for the healthy ones..
You amaze me my son...
The 22 days that your Mother and I had to wait to take you home was hardest we have had to endure...
For we weren't complete until you came home...
Now that you are home, you continue to amaze me with every minute... Every second that we are blessed to be with you...
And for that I thank you...
Your Father.
With my sons first breath, I breathe in new life.
Gone are my selfish worries.
Gone are my vanity of self worth.

With my sons birth, I am reborn.
Blessed with a clean slate.
Innocence, perfection blessed upon me.

If ever one wonders, if God forgives.
I say look inside the eyes of a child.
God forgives unconditionally.

Because of mistakes from my past, I never thought
this day would come that God would bless me with a son of my own.

With my sons first breath, he gave me new life.
With my sons first cry, he redeemed my soul.

So now with each borrowed breath
I give back to you my son
So you may pay it forward... the gift of life, love, and redemption.