Five months have passed and once again I write to thank you for your support and to tell you about my journey. First and foremost, thank you to all of you; the letters, calls, texts, prayers, and even happy thoughts were great life savers and morale boosters for my time away. Secondly, I graduated from Officer Training School as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force.
My journey started off with a trip to Sacramento Military Entrance Processing Station with my beautiful wife Christina. We got to experience a very heartfelt goodbye and promises to see each other when training was over. Thankfully to a paperwork hiccup my flight to Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, AL was delayed until after dinner on the first day. At the time I was worried about being late, in retrospect I am super happy I was.
The OTS complex, where I would spend the next 11 weeks, is 23 acres or one million square feet. It consists of dormitories, lecture halls, classrooms, a dining hall, and a parade field. What a whirlwind, each day lasted forever, yet my time there was over before it began.
OTS was hard. It physically demanding as it was mentally draining. The days began with lights on at 0430 and being outside and in place for PT by 0435. Classes from 0600 to 1830. Then drill instruction, homework, and dormitory maintenance from 1830 to 2300. Every second of the day was utilized. If one of us was moving too slow, then loud and authoritative instructors would be there to "motivate" us. Their voices cut through everybody and everything. I was able to keep it together for about a week, saying it's just yelling and screaming to add stress, but then TSgt Yi, loudest and most formidable of three military training instructors, taught a class on military customs and courtesies. In this class we got an overview of the history behind the traditions in the military. However, halfway through our class the MTI switched gears and made everything personal by telling us his story and where he came from. He closed the class by thanking us for what we were going through and the service that we have yet to perform. He also assigned us homework, we had to write home to our families and thank them for their support. Not a single one of us had dry eyes after that. I called my wife that night after writing my letters; the first time I got to talk to her since stepping off the plane in Alabama. I was
so thankful to hear her voice, I just sat there and cried for 15 minutes straight saying "I love you" and "I miss you" over and over. I slept really deep that night, and the next day was a little easier knowing that there were still people in my life that love me right back. It never felt like screaming or yelling after that night, just loud and impatient instructions.
I bonded with my squadron over the nine weeks. We learned the importance of "moving at the speed of excellence." The valuable lesson "do it perfect, do it fast" otherwise four to eight Captains or worse, one of the MTIs would bear down on you and tell you that you didn’t deserve to breath air or dirt. We learned it takes exactly seven minutes for three guys to shower and clean a room to inspection standards and be dressed and posted outside reciting the day’s knowledge. We learned that you can consume a 3000 cal meal in nine minutes and drink three glasses of water in one more.
The classroom lectures held invaluable lessons about history, heritage, strategy, tactics, global events, leadership, profession of arms, drill and ceremonies, and warfare studies. We spend well over 500 hours in the classroom and just as much studying outside it.
Any physical activity like the mock deployment or combatives was a welcome reprieve from the ridged structure inside the classroom, and it was always fun. I would say the most fun I had was during the ropes course. I was helping film for the class video so I got to go up and down the towers more than once. I am super thankful for my time working on signs and displays at Nevada Advertising in high school because walking on a round log 60 feet in the air was a breeze for me.
Just as I was getting settled into a routine at OTS we were performing graduation practice. My wife and parents came to see me graduate, I was so happy to see them! They were there for five days and saying good-bye to them again after graduation was tough. After they left, I had a week of causal status at Maxwell before I flew to go be with my wife for Thanksgiving. Home
cooked food is amazing. From there it was up to Wright-Patterson AFB, OH for more medical screening. I had a chance to visit the AF aircraft museum and wow is it amazing. I want to go back and spend more time there. I didn’t even stop to read a single sign and I couldn’t make it around to see every plane they have there. From Wright-Patterson I got on a plane and flew to San Antonio where I rented a car and drove the 150 miles to Laughlin AFB in Del Rio, TX and began in processing.
After in processing I got to go home and see my sister, parents and wife for Christmas. We had a great time and then Christina and I loaded up our car and truck and drove back on down to Texas. The trip was uneventful and smooth until we got 150 miles from our new home where we came to Fort Stockton, TX at midnight. I needed to gas up the truck but the town was sold out of gas, also the cars that were coming the opposite direction had ice caked on them half an inch thick. So Christina and I decided to get a hotel room for the night. Well, with no gas the town’s hotels were sold out. We were calling a bunch of hotels and found gas on the back side of town (for a little bit more money) when Christina said that one of the local churches was setting up a shelter for everyone who was stranded in town. We arrived at the church and were super thankful as freezing rain had started to fall and coat the town in a few inches of ice.
The next day we put on chains and drove the last little bit to our new home, crisis adverted. First off, Laughlin AFB and Del Rio are awesome. They are slightly bigger than Ridgecrest or Elko at 36,000 people, with just as much to do outdoors. The restaurant selection is really good on the franchise side including things like Chili’s, Applebee's, Wing Stop, and Fuddruckers to name a few. Also, every local dish I've tried has been delicious as well, there's even an old fashion soda jerk and ice cream shop. Three dollar movie night at the theater is currently captivating. I'm super happy to be here. I start pilot training in October and in the mean time I am working as an assistant executive officer for my squadron. It's really cool to see the inner workings and the behind the scenes magic that makes the squadron run. It’s a great learning opportunity.
I am so excited to start the next chapter of this journey. I am ready to take to the sky.
With Care, Love, and Respect,