HomeNewsArticle Display

Chief's Corner - October: What is your Why

McLaughlin Air National Guard Base, Charleston, W.Va. --

Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Why did I join the military?” Most of us would say we were offered the GI bill, tuition, bonuses, kickers, and even rank as an incentive to join the military. To most, this sounds really good, and so we join to pay for our education, make money, and to receive all of the great benefits.

In 1984, I joined the military to help pay for my college education. I was young and my family didn’t have much money to help me through school, so I knew I had to find a way to pay for my college education on my own. When I learned the WV Air National Guard would not only pay me, but also offer monthly benefits for going to college, I knew that this is what I wanted to do.  At the time I didn’t realize what I was really getting myself into, I just knew I was going to receive a monthly drill check, VA benefits, and they would pay back my college loans. 

During my first enlistment I began traveling and experiencing the different places, cultures, and food from all over the world; this quickly became my passion.  Here I was a young man in college trying to get a degree in teaching, with the path to my future quickly changing.  I loved traveling and seeing the world flying on the C-130.  I felt like it was the best job in the world. I finished my degree and immediately found myself volunteering for more and more trips, taking one every chance I could get.  I never realized the opportunities I would have to travel and see the world when I joined the military.

In August of 1990 our unit was asked to volunteer and go to Saudi Arabia during Desert Shield. Of course I wanted to go, so I immediately volunteered.  I could not believe that I was about to go to a place where I would be involved in a war; a realization that had never entered my thoughts. I wasn’t alone, it didn’t take long to realize there where many people with me on this mission who had similar thoughts, but some found themselves not wanting to be there.  I can remember their words, “This is not what I signed up for!”  As a young sergeant, these words and attitudes bothered me because I found myself feeling this was our duty as military men and women.  I had a deep feeling that I needed to be there for my country to fight the fight. I took an oath saying I would defend the constitution and obey the orders of the Commander and Chief. Later in my career in 2003, our unit entered into another war, and by this time I had become a Flight Engineer, and was now being sent off to war again.  I knew from experience what was about to happen. I felt prepared in knowing how we would live and what to expect, and knowing this is what I had signed up for.   I spent the next two years rotating in and out of the theatre. During this time I started to realize that I hadn’t just signed up to get the benefits and just to fight the fight. I was there for my kids, my wife, my family and friends; it was more than just an oath. I knew this was something I had to do in order to insure their freedom and safety.

After the first six months of the deployment I returned home for a short break. While I was home I attended a Veteran’s Day program at my son’s school.   As I sat there amongst all of the other veterans dressed in their VFW uniforms along with their wives dressed in red, I found myself thinking about the wars they might have been in, WWII, The Korean War, Desert Storm or was it Vietnam?  I thought about the pain and suffering they may have experienced and wondered what they had been through.  I can’t describe the honor I felt because of the service, the sacrifice, of all those men and women sitting there next to me.  I remember that day all too well, my heart was pounding, the tears stinging as they were running down my cheeks while I watched the children marching around waving their little flags and singing “America the Beautiful,” “The Star Spangled Banner,” and “God Bless America.” I was overwhelmed with emotion.  These were my kids, our kids, families and friends, all there, honoring and supporting our veterans. These people, most of whom I didn’t even know were there to support us, for what we had done and continue to do for our country and our freedom.

 I realized right then and there what my “Why” was!   I will never have to ask myself “Why?” again.

Mabey you should ask yourself why you serve.  We need airman who are in it for more than just the education, benefits, and trips around the world.  So, ask yourself…What is your Why?

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.