“It was an accident that I got interested in the Air Force. They had security specialists, and I thought that was pretty cool at the time. I joined right after Reagan had been shot; it was April 12, 1981. I would retire on March 8, 2008. But at the time, I left home in West Virginia and went to USAF Combat Arms Training & Maintenance to learn about grenade launchers and machine guns and all that good stuff. It was before Desert Storm and it was exciting. I did four years, and left active duty for awhile to serve with the Capitol Police and Laurel City Police Department. But once 9/11 happened, everything was turned upside down. I was back on active duty, and was going to fight a war.
“I served as law enforcement on the flight lines in Oman. We were under strict instruction not to let anyone near the plane. I have so many memories from my time in the service. The close calls. The successful missions. The time we were on night patrol and I heard a noise behind me, and it was actually just a pack of dogs, but I couldn’t get back into the humvee so I jumped up on the hood screaming at the kid inside who had his headphones in and couldn’t hear me yelling for help. I was almost dog chow! So many memories, like being deployed when my second son was born. A U.S. Marshall from New York told me. We were upstairs watching Pearl Harbor when my wife called the barracks. I’ll never forget how happy and sad I felt at the same time. It sucked but I kept thinking, ‘At least I’ll get to go home. The people we’re over here fighting this war for won’t get that chance.’
“I got home and redeployed after only two months. I raised my hand; we all did. They needed us and we knew we had a job to do. The thing is, I’ve spent my entire adult life running into the gunfire. We don’t worry about the consequences if we run in—we worry about the consequences if we don’t. I miss it so much. I miss the brotherhood. And if they asked me to do it all again, to go fight for this country and once again defend freedom, I would say, ‘When can I leave?’