But I open up my Ohana (family) album to share our legacy in the Air Force. I first started as an AFROTC cadet at the University of Tampa.
The university is housed in the old Tampa Bay Hotel. Its distinctive minarets serve as the city's landmark. I can remember my first cadet Dining In at MacDill AFB - a group of pilots "crash landed" at the event and took over the band's equipment. This would be first of many surprises to come in the Air Force! I keep in touch with the classmates who made sure I attended the early morning AFROTC drills on time - Julie, Isa, Lisa, and Pam. AFROTC gave me a Math Scholarship, career opportunity, and lifelong friends.
After college, I attended Communications training at Keesler AFB near Biloxi, Mississippi. We spent most of our weekends in New Orleans (long before Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast). After training, a classmate and I drove to our next assignment - Hanscom AFB outside Boston, Massachusetts! I worked in the AWACS Program Office and traveled to contractors' meetings in Baltimore, Seattle, and even Germany.
I also traveled with my friends to Westpoint and Annapolis to see the Air Force Falcons play the Army's Black Knights and the Navy's Midshipmen. I keep in touch with the Hanscom gang - Dawn, Sharon, Bobby, Courtney, Jay, Rick and Trish. The Air Force gave me valuable experience with program management and more lifelong friends.
It also gave me a European assignment with NATO AWACS near Aachen, Germany. My college friend, Pam, worked for NATO in Brussels. Together, we explored the Benelux, Germany, France, Italy, and even Russia.
The Air Force gave me the opportunity to see history in the making as the European nations worked together to bring peace in the former Yugoslavia. It also gave me an assignment to the Pentagon. The basement, to be exact. Still, it was in the basement where I meet my future husband.
We married at the Fort Myer Chapel next to Arlington National Cemetery. I had two distinct honors during our Pentagon assignment - we toured the White House's West Wing through my husband's alumni association. We dined several times with General Shalikashvili, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, (we worked with his niece). In fact, my husband moved to Scott AFB (in Illinois) just as I found out I was pregnant. Six months later, just before I moved to Scott, the Shalikashvilis included me in a "joint" baby shower another family member. The co-ed event ncluded "baby" games pitting the AF vs Navy! And this is the way of the military - friends become part of one's extended Ohana.
The Air Force gave me one more assignment in the Tanker Airlift Control Center at Scott. Despite the 12 hour rotating shifts, this was my favorite job in the Air Force. Working alongside the mobility team, I learned about the Air Force's global reach. We delivered supplies to overseas personnel, supported presidential missions, and responded to natural disasters and terrorist attacks. The most perplexing mission was determining how many telephone poles we could fit into a C5 after a typhoon damaged Guam's infrastructure. It was a challenging job but one that I gave up for a more rewarding position - motherhood.
As a military spouse, I followed my husband to his assignments in Japan, the Netherlands, Baltimore, and now Hawaii. I am grateful for the education and experience I received from the Air Force. I am thankful for the friends and family who have joined me on the journey.
|Yokota Air Base, Japan|
|American Cemetery in Margraten, Netherlands|
|Aloha 'Aina Park over looking the Pearl Harbor Channel|
My husband was an Air Force brat. His parents volunteer at the National Museum of the Air Force. Between our overseas assignments and Camp Grandma, my children are well versed in European cultures and vintage aircraft. Now we are learning about Hawaii and the Pacific. All because of the Air Force.
|Welcome home from Vietnam|
|Welcome back from Japan|
|Benefit of Camp Grandma!|
Join us on Monday, September 20, as we celebrate "Talk Like a Pirate" Day with romance author Darlene Marshall, http://www.darlenemarshall.com/.
And don't forget the premiere of Hawaii Five-O!
Kim in Hawaii