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According to my plans – which are always superseded by God’s plans (I wrote and preached an entire sermon on that) – I’ll be retiring sometime in December 2023 at the age of 56½ (my minimum retirement age).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

Memorial Day

2008 Memorial Day Poster #3.

It’s Memorial Day here in the U.S.A. It’s not appropriate to say “Happy Memorial Day”, for this is a truly solemn holiday. It’s the day each year that we honor our fallen heroes – those military personnel who served their country in a time of war – and who gave the ultimate sacrifice to keep our freedom strong. They gave their life.

This is not a day for those like me who once served in the U.S. Armed Forces, for I am still alive. My day is Veterans Day on November 11TH. It is not a day for those who are currently serving in the military. That day is Armed Forces Day – the 3RD Saturday of May.

On this day I remember our fallen heroes. I will never forget.

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)

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

Home Sweet Home

Home Is Where The Heart Is

That’s right, and I’ll be at home for awhile. My kitchen is now my professional workplace. Due to the current real-world conditions I brought my job home with me earlier this week, and it will stay here at home indefinitely. It could be a few weeks. It could be a few months. But I’m determined to continue working here at home in my kitchen to support the mission – whatever that mission may be. (I don’t discuss my job in public other than the fact that I’m a 35-year employee of the United States Air Force.)

Incidentally this is a COVID-19-free blog. I won’t talk about it on here in any way because this is also a political-free blog, and you can’t talk about COVID-19 without getting political.

My goal over these next few weeks (or months) is to – believe it or not – lose a few pounds (by eating less), and get more physically fit by engaging in my favorite exercise – walking. This past Sunday morning at dawn I actually did something for the first time in a little over 3 years. I walked around the entire perimeter of my own neighborhood – 1.37 miles in 23 minutes and 21 seconds. I hope to do more neighborhood walks early in the morning, as long as weather conditions permit.

Well this is my spontaneous Thursday at 3 AM blog post. I have no idea what I plan to write until I actually write it. My Friday, Sunday, and Monday blog posts are programmed. You pretty much know what you’re gonna get from me on those 3 days. Incidentally this upcoming Sunday I’ll present Part 2 of my multi-part sermon titled “Faces & Heels”. Part 2 will pick-up where Part 1 left-off this past Sunday. This is shaping-up to be a 4-part sermon, so it will culminate on Easter Sunday (April 12TH).

Over on my Flickr site I’m posting photos of my January 19TH 2020 visit to the Edison And Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers Florida. I love that place. If I lived over there in that region I’d probably hang out there on a regular basis if not volunteer there and give guided tours. It’s one of the coolest museums that I’ve ever visited – even cooler than the last museum that I volunteered at inside Everglades National Park.

Well this concludes my Thursday blog post. I’ll be back again tomorrow morning for my weekly RETRO. This week I’ll be looking back at Sunday March 25TH 1990. A 19-year-old had the # 1 smash on my chart, and it eventually hit # 1 nationwide on Billboard’s Hot 100. He got help on the song from the hottest band in the world at the time. Find out who he is when I turn the page on a new day.

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