I’m Glad I’m Able to Help My Wife

I am going back to work tomorrow after a few weeks off courtesy of my transition from active duty to the Guard, and I am thrilled about it.  As much as I enjoy time off when I am getting paid, I start to get antsy to get back to work and actually do things.

The biggest upside of these last two weeks is all of the time I have gotten to spend with my family.  Just today I was able to go and have lunch with my kids at school and it was great.

It has also been nice to be able to help my Queenie so much after all of the amazing work she did by herself for the two and a half months that we were apart.  I cannot begin to express how grateful I am to her for how amazing she does every time we are apart.

I can’t even imagine being a military spouse, so I am grateful that I have been able to make up for the time apart these last few weeks.  We have had more time to talk and be together too, which has been great as well.

I will miss all of that time now that I am going back to work, but it will just make our time together after the kids are in bed that much more special.

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Continuing on the C-130

Today is one of those truly bittersweet days in life.

For the last five years I have had the distinct pleasure of flying on the C-130H.  It is an historic aircraft that has played an important role in not only the wars of the past 60 years, but the humanitarian disasters that have occurred all over the world.

To be honest, when I first started nav school I wanted nothing to do with the C-130, but that was out of complete ignorance.  It did not take me long to fall in love with her, which is why I am so sad to see her leave the active duty Air Force forever.

It truly is the end of an era and a shift in the Air Force that means things will never be the same.  While I have my own biased views, there is no denying the advances in technology that have made this shift possible.

Swearing In

Fortunately, my own selfish desires will continue to be satisfied as I am now a member of the 192nd Airlift Squadron in the Nevada Air National Guard.  Just going in today and seeing those beautiful birds out on the ramp brought joy to my heart.  I haven’t flown in over a month so I am dying to get back up in the air.

I try not to write about it too often here, but the depths of my passion for this plane and her mission can be found on my other blog, aviationguy.com.

 

Helpful People are so Wonderful

For those of you who have been in the military you are likely familiar with the helpfulness of personnelists.  Having served in two branches, and worked a lot with a third I am going to assume all four are the same.

For those of you who may not be familiar, the personnel office is often the least helpful office on an entire base.  They have extremely complex processes for things that should be simple.  They have unusual hours that always seem to involve being closed for training on the day you really need their help.  They are generally a major pain in the butt.

Now this is not a complaining blog so let me get to the point.  Over the last couple of days I have been blessed with some incredibly helpful people.  They have broken from their normal procedures to try and help me with my unique situation, and they deserve credit where it is due.
It still remains to be seen if I will actually get what I need taken care of in time, but I am grateful for the people who have done their part to be helpful.  It is not always a common occurrence these days, but it never goes unnoticed by me.

A Patch Hanging is a Chance to Remember

Lots of units in the military have all different types of traditions when it comes to saying goodbye to people.  Because this happens so often in the military, it is an important part of building unity and cohesiveness.

In our squadron, the tradition is to have a patch hanging when people leave.  It is an opportunity for anyone who wants to tell funny or inspiring stories about the person who is leaving, and then they take their name patch off their uniform and hang it on the wall where it will hang forever.

It is a great time to laugh and think about all of the great times you had together as a squadron family.  As someone that does not drink alcohol the stories about me were very take but greatly appreciated.

It really sucks that I am having to leave a year earlier than planned, but now that it is here I am ready for the next chapter.  As I hung my patch today it was really weird to be the one standing up there saying goodbye.  

I had some amazing experiences here, and met even more incredible people that influenced me in so many ways.  My life has changed more in these last two years than in any other two years before now, and I am so grateful for these changes.

It is definitely bitter sweet to be saying goodbye, but I will forever be grateful for the memories.

Finally Getting Something After More Than a Year of Waiting

I can only think of three things I waited nine months for, and I can honestly say they were well worth the wait.  After waiting over a year for something else I am pretty sure I am not willing to ever wait that long again.

I finally received my final approval to separate from the Air Force and move to the National Guard.  It has been a long and painstaking process but when I get back to flying the way I enjoy it most in about a month it will all have been worth it.  

The really great thing is that I won’t have to be away from my family anymore.  In just a few short weeks we will be together again.

I don’t think there is anything else I could be more grateful for.

Coming/Going Home is the Sweetest of Gifts

I knew what I was going to write about today this afternoon as I was flying, but I had to adjust my message a little due to news that came shortly after we landed.  More on that in a minute.

As you may have guessed from recent posts, I was on a work trip for the last little while, and today was the day we finally came home.  We had some delays along the way, which I really didn’t mind because with my family not here I really had nothing to get back to but desk work.  The per diem is also always nice.

20170825_152152As we were flying up the Japanese coast we were directed to fly on a path that looked like it would take us near Mt. Fuji, which is always fun, but not very common.

We actually saw the summit more than 100 miles away, but as we got to within about 10-15 miles it dawned on me just how great it feels to come home.  I have mentioned numerous times before how much I love the majesty of Mt. Fuji and have thoroughly enjoyed seeing her rise above the horizon these last two years.  She has also been a beacon of sorts letting us know that we were close to home.  I doubt I will ever have something quite so remarkable as a landmark, but I will never forget her.

20170825_152239I really do love to travel and see new things, but no matter how long you are away, there is just something wonderful about coming home.  As you can see from the pictures, she was looking quite lovely today, which is good because the crazy people I climbed her with a few weeks ago went back up for a second serving of punishment today.  Fortunately, the weather looked equally as lovely as the day I did it with them.

Normally when I would land from a trip in the past, I would call my wife just to let her know I was on the ground safely, but seeing as how it was after midnight her time I decided not to call her.  As luck would have it, a message I had sent before taking off hadn’t sent but did go through upon landing.  She happened to still be up so she called me to see how it had gone.  It is always nice to hear her voice after a long trip, but the call was short so she could try and get some sleep.

I went inside and was going about my business so that I could go home and do some laundry, much needed after that many days on the road, when my good friend came up and said congratulations.  I’m not sure why he was still there so late on a Friday, but I just looked at him funny and told him thanks but I have no idea what he was talking about since I had been in the plane all day.

Then he explained himself and confirmed my suspicion that my Palace Chase package had been approved!

The short explanation for the uninitiated is that I get to move back to the States and be with my family again.  We have been working on this for close to a year, and it is finally happening.  I cannot begin to express how happy this made me.  My commander also came up to congratulate me, which he also deserves a ton of credit for with all of the effort he put into it.

When I finally got to my desk to check my email myself, I just sat and stared at the email; not really believing the email was real.  After months of back and forth and denials and clarifications, and the efforts of others, it had finally been approved.

As excited as I am to get back to flying more regularly, the real joy of this approval is that I get to go home and be with my family again.  No more staying up late just to say good morning before the kids go to school.  No more missing out on the fun they are having.  And, no more having to tell my sweet little kiddos I have no idea when I will see them again.

20170629_171554I would keep writing, but I am starting to get speechless again just thinking about how excited I am.

This whole situation reminds me of a line from the great movie Mr. Holland’s Opus that I believe is actually from a Beatles song that Lennon took from someone else but either way, here it is: “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.”

When my commander and I first sat down about a year ago and talked about my desires he told me that he wasn’t sure how we would do it, but that one way or another we would get it done, and true to his word, it was a crazy journey getting there, but we got it done.

Life is full of all different kinds of journeys, and there is no way to know where those journey’s will take us.  Some of them are planned and only last a few days or weeks, but the biggest ones, the ones that matter the most, never really stop.  The adventure called life just keeps on going and going.  That is why today, I am more grateful than ever to have come home, and even more grateful to be going home.

What are you grateful for?

Safety When I Fly

In the modern world, flying is so darn safe that we honestly take it for granted.  I could look up specific numbers about exactly how safe it is but that is not my purpose here today.

As someone who flies for a living, I have a vested interest in ensuring that flying is safe, which it largely is.  Airlines fly millions of passengers everyday with only rare situations of dramatic safety issues.  The safety of military flying is even that much higher, despite our increased risk, because of all the extra time we put into safety.

So what does any of this have to do with being grateful?  I guess the fact that I fly all the time and arrive back home to my family safely is what I am truly grateful for.

I recently had a flight where we landed with eight different write-ups for maintenance to take care of.  As much as I hate leaving them that much work, it is a credit to their continued diligence that not a single one of those things was so vital that we weren’t able to finish our mission.

Stuff is going to break on a forty year old plane, that’s just the way it is.  However, the strict standards that we adhere to in maintenance and mission planning and preparation of everyone involved, ensure that I continue to make it home safely at night.

Earlier today I had a discussion on Twitter about what to tell your kids as they get older and start to realize how dangerous your job can be flying.  I guess I won’t know the results of my efforts until my kids get older, but I am always honest with them about how much time and preparation we put into what we do.  That it is still dangerous, but we mitigate those risks through our efforts.

That seems to be enough to placate them now, but I know my safety standards will never change so I hope they will understand all I am doing to make sure I am safe.

Safety is one of those things I think we take for granted, until an accident happens, but like many other aviators I know personally, I will always be grateful for my safety when flying, and I will forever remain diligent to ensure I remain that safe.

What are you grateful for?