My Final 3½ Years Of My Air Force Career

I am currently in my final 3½ years of my Air Force career (hence the title above). In 2 weeks I’ll observe my 35TH anniversary as an Air Force employee. After 5 years, and 10 years, and 15 years, and even 20 years – I never imagined making this my career. Even in 2007 after 22 years I was on the verge of moving on. But then the greatest 13 years of my career began, and it continues to this day.

According to my plans – which are always superseded by God’s plans (I wrote and preached an entire sermon on that) – I’ll be retiring sometime in December 2023 at the age of 56½ (my minimum retirement age). I plan to move about 3 hours north of where I am now – up into the central part of the state of Florida along the Lake Wales Ridge – the spine of the peninsular part of Florida. A long long time ago when present-day Florida was submerged underwater – only the spine existed as a narrow series of small islands (much like the Keys exist today). The sandy ground of the region are remants of when beaches existed there.

There’s a 54-mile stretch of U.S. 27 that rides high atop the Lakes Wales Ridge from State Road 70 to the south to State Road 60 to the north. It includes the historic small towns of Lake Placid, Sebring, Avon Park, and Lake Wales. That’s my retirement destination – with Sebring being Ground Zero.

I’ve already selected a few neighborhoods (online) that I’d like to check-out for future living possibilities. At some of them you have to be 55 years of age or older. OK – I’ll see you all in 2022.

Sebring Pier over Lake Jackson looking back towards downtown

During my retirement years I hope to work part-time somewhere (maybe Publix), and volunteer hours at various places such as a local military museum and a large state park. I also hope to go in to full-time ministry with a local church. I’ll be very busy during my upcoming retirement years, but I’ll also make time to travel more – especially right here stateside – where I’ve only set foot in a little more than half of our 50 states.

It’ll be a brave new world that I’ll enter into in about 3½ years, but I’ll be ready for it.

All rights reserved (c) 2020 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

My Last 2 Years On Active Duty Air Force

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 …

gray plane inside hangar
Photo by Kelly Lacy on Pexels.com

All rights reserved (c) 2020 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

Happy Armed Forces Week

armed-forces-week-military-benefits

It’s Thursday May 14TH 2020, and National Military Appreciation Month continues with Armed Forces Week (all this week), and that culminates this Saturday with Armed Forces Day. Unlike Memorial Day (later this month) and Veterans Day (in November) this is an opportunity for us to honor everyone who currently serves within our military.

I’m a few weeks away from celebrating my 35TH anniversary within the United States Air Force. I actually committed to 4 years of active duty service about a month into my Senior year in high school in 1984. 7 days after graduating from high school in June 1985 I was on my way to Lackland AFB in San Antonio Texas for 6½ weeks of Basic Military Training.

I’ve been living in or near Homestead Florida since the end of 1987, so 32 out of my 35 years in the Air Force. I work at Homestead ARB (formerly AFB prior to Hurricane Andrew). During the 19 months immediately after Hurricane Andrew (as the city and the base was being cleaned-up and rebuilt) I served at Andrews AFB Maryland and MacDill AFB in Tampa Florida.

My 35 years in the Air Force includes 26 years as a civilian. Prior to that I served 8 years on active duty and 6 years as a reservist (overlapping with the early years of my civil service).

Up until about the age of 16 I was supposed to go to college after high school and emerge with a degree in either Meteorology or Communications (radio and television). That didn’t happen, but here I am 35 years into an Air Force career at 53 years old. The Air Force determined that I was great at math, so they made me an analyst / statistician.

In the Air Force I’ve had some great years, some good years, some bad years, and some horrible years. There’s an entire 13-year era that was the worst of my career (and life). Thankfully I’ve followed that up with the best 13-year era of my career (and life) – where I am now. I’m ending this career on a high, and I’ve got about 3½ more years to go before I retire and move away from here.

To all of my fellow military service members – whether you are currently on active duty, a reservist, a civil servant, or a contractor working alongside all of the above – I thank you for all that you do with each new day.

All rights reserved (c) 2020 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

My First Car

1980 Chevy Citation

My first car was a 1980 Chevy Citation. I bought it used with my own money as a 16½-year-old in early-1984 as a Junior in High School. It was a beige 2-door hatchback. It looked very much like the car that is 2ND from the bottom in the ad above.

I was a “paper boy” back then. Once I bought the car my delivering of the newspapers around my neighborhood early in the morning became so much easier. It got a major upgrade. I went from a 10-speed bicycle that often got flat tires to an actual car !

I also drove my car to school sometimes, but not all the time. I’d get made fun of for my “cheap used car”. I lived in a rich neighborhood at the time, and my high school was one of the top in the nation as far as income of the parents of the students, so naturally the students were rich too. My parents were not rich, so I wasn’t either.

On June 12TH 1985 I shipped-off to Air Force Basic Military Training at Lackland AFB in San Antonio Texas. 2 months later I was at Tech School at Chanute AFB in Rantoul Illinois. Right around Labor Day Weekend my Dad and my little brother drove my car 700 miles from McLean Virginia to Chanute AFB. They essentially delivered my car to me. I showed them the base and the local area, they spent the night at a local hotel, and then they flew back home the next day.

Here’s a photo of that day. My 10-year-old brother took this picture:

Chris Soldier Dad_0002

Unlike high school I suddenly became popular in my dorm when people saw me with car keys and an actual car. Everyone wanted to be friends with me. People wanted to be advised whenever I planned to drive off-base to visit places in Rantoul or Champaign.

In October 1985 I received notification that after I graduate from tech school my first permanent duty station would be – overseas in the United Kingdom. I was enjoying the final month of my car. After graduation I drove my car back home to McLean Virginia, and then about a week later I shipped-off to England. My dad sold my car.

May is National Military Appreciation Month. I’ll present military-themed stories every Thursday this month.

All rights reserved (c) 2020 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

Facebook Revival

I was on Facebook for not quite 5 years – from 31 March 2013 to 31 December 2017. Before Facebook I was on WordPress and Twitter, and after Facebook – I’m on WordPress and Twitter. OK – I’m still on Facebook; although, I stopped posting new material on 31 December 2017. I’m only on there now to keep up with my friends and family – nearly all of whom are only on Facebook and nowhere else.

Lately though I’ve been enjoying somewhat of a Facebook revival. I’m essentially reminiscing on my 35-year United States Air Force career. I’m a member of groups of alumni of my:

  • Basic Military Training Squadron (at Lackland AFB Texas)
  • Technical Training Base (at Chanute AFB Illinois)
  • 1ST Permanent Duty Station (at RAF Fairford United Kingdom)
  • 2ND Permanent Duty Station (at Homestead AFB Florida)

The Lackland, Chanute, and Fairford alumni pages are lots of fun, and I enjoy seeing all of the photos of yesteryear and interacting with my colleagues of the era. Eventually someone is going to post a photo of me from back then. I’m looking forward to that. Those 3 bases represented my first 2 years and 5 months of my military career from June 1985 to October 1987.

The Homestead AFB page is a bit different. The photos from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s are fun, but for the most part it’s a bunch of long-retired guys with somewhat faded memories chitchatting back and forth about how beautiful the base once was when it existed back then. Most of them have moved far away from Homestead and South Florida, and many of them don’t even think that the base exists today. Some who have recently visited the area surrounding the base think that it looks post-apocalyptic.

It’s actually a bit annoying to read at times because I’m still working there, I’ve been working there since 1987, and these days I have a little something to do with the beauty of the base and its upkeep. So I take it a little bit personal when I read disparaging remarks about my workplace then and now. I think I’m one of just a few members on that page that actually works on the beautiful and busy base today.

So I’m keeping up with my military career over on Facebook. It’s a whole lot more fun than the political hatred that some of my Facebook friends and family engage and indulge in.

military-appreciation-month-mb

May is National Military Appreciation Month here in the U.S., Armed Forces Week is May 10TH to 15TH, and Armed Forces Day is May 16TH. Throughout the month of May I’ll feature military-themed stories here on my blog.

All rights reserved (c) 2020 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

Work At Home; Walk Near Home

I’m nearing the end of Week 5 of working at home (out of my kitchen). The commute from my master bedroom to my “desk” (kitchen table) is right at about 6 seconds.

I actually drove to my actual workplace for the 2ND Monday morning in a row this past Monday, and I spent over 5 hours there trying to work as normal of a traditional work day as possible. I plan to do it again this upcoming Monday !  Maybe in May I’ll expand to Thursdays as well at my actual workplace.

I still don’t miss the traffic between here and there. My workplace is about 5 miles away as the crow flies, but it’s currently a rough and tough 9½ miles away by road (due to road detours). On a really good day it can take 20 minutes to get between home and work. On a bad day – 40 minutes or more.

Meanwhile my walking (for exercise) has intensified recently. Between March 22ND and April 22ND (a full month) I walked on 9 mornings at dawn. My start times were as follows:  0715, 0709, 0707, 0706, 0705, 0701, 0703, 0658, and 0650. (Dawn is starting earlier each morning.) I’ve walked a total of 13.09 miles. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic I had only walked 3 times this season (once in December, January, and February) for a total of 8.50 miles. Those 3 walks were at the walking / jogging track at the (currently closed) city park down the road from my neighborhood.

This is Season 13 of my fitness program (also known as “The Major’s Walk-A-Thon”). It’s my busiest season since Season 10 (2016-2017), and it’s my 5TH-busiest season ever.

I probably have a few more walks to go before this season ends (due to unbearable weather conditions). Here in South Florida we have a 5-month rainy season that runs from the middle of May through the middle of October. We receive over 70% of our annual rainfall during those 5 months. That’s about 4 feet of rain in 5 months. Additionally minimum temperatures at dawn generally hover between 77°F and 83°F with relative humidity at or just below 100%. Did I mention all of the bugs (many of which bite) that love that moisture ?

Yeah Season 13 is nearing its end, but Season 14 shall commence later this year once a new dry season takes hold here in South Florida.

“The Major’s Walk-A-Thon” is dedicated to my dad – William L. Day – who lost the ability to walk on his own in 2006 due to the crippling effects of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). The disease would take his life less than 4 years later. 54 years ago today – April 23RD 1966 – he and my mom got married in the Philippines.

All rights reserved (c) 2020 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

Weekend Kickoff Mini-Thoughts

It’s back for the first time in 5 months – a rapid-fire session of thoughts on my mind right this minute:

  • I miss doing these fun blog posts.
  • This was a fan favorite from the early days of this blog.
  • By “early days” I mean late-2000s.
  • Most of you weren’t tracking with me back then.
  • “Tracking with me” – that’s a favorite phrase among pastors and preachers.
  • This “Sunday Scripture” I’ll look back at my 4-part sermon “Faces & Heels”.
  • It’ll be a nice wrap-up of that 4-Sunday experiment.
  • So I’m nearing the end of Week 4 of my work-at-home experience.
  • It’s an experience – no longer an experiment.
  • The biggest “pro” – not having to deal with traffic.
  • The biggest “con” – working longer (and more erratic) hours at home.
  • I’m working out of my kitchen.
  • I never eat in my kitchen.
  • I always eat in my living room.
  • I’ve driven only 88 miles over the past 28 days.
  • I last filled-up with gas 37 days ago.
  • Last week I walked only 11.63 miles.
  • That was barely over 25,000 steps in 7 days.
  • That was the lowest ever during my 4½-year #Fitbit era.
  • 3 weeks ago was my 3RD-lowest week of the era.
  • Ironically despite little to no exercise – I’m losing weight.
  • I can’t explain that.
  • Maybe I’ll get up and walk at dawn this morning.
  • Lately we’ve been close to 80°F at dawn.
  • This morning we could actually dip into the lower-70s.
  • That’s an incentive to get up and walk around outside.
  • Next week marks 12 years since I quit smoking !
  • I smoked from age 11 to 41.
  • You know I’m doing a lot less laundry since I’ve been working at home.
  • My washer and dryer are using less electric power.
  • My A.C. is using more electric power.
  • It runs at the same temperature day and night now (77°F).
  • Happy 39TH Birthday tomorrow to my sister-in-law Christina !
  • She doesn’t read this blog.
  • Nobody in my family reads this blog.
  • Happy 10TH Birthday this coming Monday to my oldest niece Taylor !
  • I met Taylor for the first time at #DFW when she was 24 days old.
  • I’m looking forward to seeing my family again at the end of June.
  • Well I’m running out of things to write, so let’s end it here.
  • That was abrupt.

All rights reserved (c) 2020 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries