National Military Appreciation Month continues on this 3RD Thursday of the month with my own appreciation of my 35-year career with the United States Air Force. It’s no secret that I’m currently in the greatest 13-year era of my career. It started at the end of July of 2007, and it continues to this day. But there’s a runner-up to this great era, and that’s January 1991 to February 1993.
I was sent to war (Operation Desert Shield / Storm) as 1991 began. I didn’t volunteer for it. I’m actually quite antiwar. I was sent as punishment by my supervisors at the time. They didn’t like me, and they made life miserable for me. I threatened to report them for harassment. Before I could take action on that they sent me away to Saudi Arabia.
As it turns out my deployment overseas into the war zone turned out to be the turning point of my career back then. I was scared over there due to an uncertain future, but I also made new friends with fellow airmen from other bases, and I matured quite a bit in “Tent City” in the desert. I flopped at building fuel tanks, but I exceled at building bombs.
When I returned home to Homestead AFB after the war I was immediately sent home to my family near Washington D.C. for up to 30 days of uncharged “rest and recuperation” leave. When I returned to the base I met my brand new supervisor. You see my previous supervisor, and a few others as well – were relieved of their duties and sent away while I was away. I wasn’t informed of the specifics, but the outcome was great. There was even a reorganization of our squadron and flight structure. We even moved to a different building down towards the other end of the airfield. It continued the peak of my career at that time that started at wartime.
And then Hurricane Andrew destroyed the base. I became a “refugee” at Andrews AFB Maryland. I picked that base because it was my hometown base at the time – closest to my family. I really liked my supervisor and coworkers at my new base. They treated me nice. They respected me. I respected them. I informed them quite early on that I would not be reenlisting for a 3RD 4-year term in early-1993, so they had me for about 6 months to do what they wanted with me. They had me teach them everything I knew about the computer system and database that we managed and utilized in my career field at that time. They were so impressed that they had me teach the rest of the base as well. I was essentially a teacher for my 6 months there. They gave me a bunch of awards for my work during my short stay there – the most prominent of which hangs on my wall just above my computer workstation here.
My last duty day was the same day that the World Trade Center in New York City was bombed the first time around (Friday February 26TH 1993). We found out about the bombing via overhead TV sets at Pizza Hut where we had my farewell luncheon. I went on “terminal leave” for a month after that, and at the end of March I was officially out of the Air Force after nearly 8 years, or so I thought …
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