Tag Archives: Army

‘Sir, tell the TACP thanks,’ Dec. 12, 2012


TACPBy Brig. Gen. Jack L. Briggs II
Headquarters, Air Combat Command

On May 13, 2010, an Airman First Class taught me some lessons I’ll never forget. I think of Airman 1st Class Corey Hughes almost every week. His actions on that particular day in May remind me to focus on others first, that heroic leaders exist among us all the time, and doing the right thing takes courage but is worth it.

When troops on the ground in Afghanistan run into trouble, our asymmetric advantage is our ability to bring airpower to bear quickly and accurately. It was no different on May 13. A patrol of soldiers ran into an ambush in eastern Afghanistan, receiving large volumes of enemy mortar, heavy machine gun, rocket propelled grenades and small-arms fire. My formation of two F-15E Strike Eagles was called to support the “Troops in Contact” situation or “TIC.” As we arrived on scene, there were already American wounded.

For the aircraft overhead, our contacts on the ground are young, well trained and brave Airmen embedded with each Army unit; they are called Tactical Air Control Parties (TACP). They are the node between the Army ground commanders and the Airmen providing support overhead. They translate the situation from the ground commander’s perspective, integrate airpower into the plan of maneuver or fires and guide our attacks with amazing precision. That can sound antiseptic and simple on paper, but in the thick of the battle, it is 100 percent adrenaline, noise and concentration as bullets fly.

The fight on the ground was very violent by the time my flight arrived. Our initial contact was with Airman 1st Class Hughes who was yelling into the radio. He had to be loud as he keyed the mic, because his voice was drowned out by the sound of gunfire in the background. His calls were quick and broken, as he stopped to fire his own weapon in between radio calls. At one point he said, “Stand by” and the radio went silent. For the next few minutes, we orbited overhead and waited. Where was he? We called but no answer. Finally, his voice came back. He was out of breath and huffing into his mic, but he calmly gave us the plan to provide a show of force and cover the ingress of helicopters to evacuate the patrol — first the wounded and then the rest of the team. The show of force bought them time and space, and eventually all were extracted safely from a tough situation.

After we landed and debriefed our mission, I headed to the Bagram Craig Joint Theater Hospital. Craig Hospital is one of the advanced coalition hospitals in Afghanistan that receives wounded from the battlefield and stabilizes them prior to their onward movement to more medical care in the US.

I visited regularly to talk with our medical warriors and see how the wounded were doing. On that day, I had a chance to check up on several of the wounded from the very firefight we’d supported only hours before. I spoke to a few of the Soldiers from that fight, told them they were getting the best care in the world and turned to leave, when a shout of “Sir! Sir!” made me stop. I turned to see a shirtless wounded Soldier who was shot in the legs, calling out for my attention. He motioned me back. His eyes reflected his urgency to tell me something. I walked back, closed the curtain behind me, and crouched to get to his level on the bed.

“Sir, tell the TACP thanks,” he urgently requested. I asked what happened. His story explained the mystery from earlier in the day when A1C Hughes went silent on the radio. This Soldier was moving from one position to another during the firefight and was hit in the legs. Unable to move, he took what cover he could. While performing his primary duty of directing air support, Airman 1st Class Hughes noticed that this Soldier could not move on his own, told us to “stand by”, and ran toward him. He picked the Soldier up and fireman-carried him to a covered position. The Soldier said the one thing he would never forget was that while he was being carried several hundred meters through deadly fire he was staring at a patch on the shoulder of his rescuer. The patch read “TACP.” The Soldier didn’t know the Airman’s name nor did he see him again. He just asked that I pass along the thanks somehow.

I spent the next few days tracking the TACP down and that’s when I met Airman 1st Class Hughes and heard his story first hand. I told him when our F-15E formation checked in we heard the shooting in the background of every radio call. I described how we listened to his clipped calls to us, his calm call to us to “stand by” and then how there were minutes of silence, leaving us concerned as to what was happening. I told him we then heard him breathlessly get back on the radio as he called for our show of force.

“What was going on down there?” I asked. He told me how some of the wounded were near his position and he was going back and forth, under heavy fire, to check on them, give them water and help them out the best he could until MEDEVAC arrived. Corey said he saw a Soldier who could not move on his own and immediately went to pick him up and carry him to safety. Airman 1st Class Hughes then retraced his steps through the enemy fire to get back to his position and continue to call in our effects. What immediately caught my attention was Airman 1st Class Hughes’ tone of voice. He clearly believed his actions weren’t anything special and others would do the same if in that situation.

I often consider the lessons Airman 1st Class Corey Hughes taught that day. His actions inspire us to put others first, understanding there can be a cost. His example affirms that there are brave leaders all around us willing to step forward when it counts, despite the risks. He reminds me that both success and courage are defined by doing what is right, even as the bullets fly. Like the wounded Soldier, I also want to tell the TACP, A1C Hughes, “thanks.”

Photo: Senior Airman Dustin Harris, left, and 1st Lt. John Day, center, discuss radio frequencies with a Soldier assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division during an exercise in frequency hopping at Fort Bragg, N.C. Frequency hopping is changing regular frequencies during transmission, a radio operation technique that ensures secrecy and protects against communication channel jamming. Day and Harris are tactical air control party members with the 14th Air Support Operations Squadron. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Robin Meredith/Photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Riedel)

Flashbacks of war: remembering red sand, Aug. 7, 2012

 Pfc. Ben Bradley ducks away from insurgent machine gun fire

By Master Sgt. Kevin Wallace
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Like many, I was prepared to lay down my life for my country each time I shipped off to war. There were a few times when I genuinely believed the cost would be my life, but, sadly it’s turned out to be much more.

The sacrifices paid in combat can’t be quantified in dollars or time, but are counted in tears shed by those who love and support us while we’re downrange or healing back at home.

I’m an Air Force Wounded Warrior, a purple heart recipient, and not ashamed to admit it.

On the outside I look just like any other Airman and relish in that. However, something nearly always feels different. I’m typically withdrawn and emotionally numb.

I’ve adapted and am learning to live like that.

A respected colleague of mine and someone I consider a friend advised me to try to put my feelings down into words – to share this experience.

So taking the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Public Affairs Functional Manager Chief Master Sgt. Tyler Foster’s advice, I’ve done just that and will recount one particular mission, as I remember Operation Red Sand.

A group of scouts, their medic, a Navy combat cameraman and I set out by foot April 2, 2011 into areas far north in the Bala Murghab (BMG) Valley, Badghis Province, Afghanistan.

We ventured further than coalition forces had ever gone, and spent the night reconning villages, plotting locations and fighting positions both for ourselves, and anticipating enemy locations and contact.

It was a rough night, but paled in comparison with what was soon to follow.

The next night the same scouts from Red Platoon, Bulldog Troop, 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, Navy dog handler Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Lee, his bomb dog ‘Valdo,’ a handful of Afghan National Army soldiers, Petty Officer 1st Class John Pearl and I returned.

This time we took to secure an area of ruins central in the location where we could operate patrols in known insurgent areas, and egress by riverbed if needed.

After securing the ruins in a field just outside Kamisari Village, we dug in fighting positions and fortified the eroded walls and doorways with sandbags, all under the cover of darkness. We also patrolled the nearby Kamisari and Joy Gange Villages, looking for evidence of mines, improvised explosive devices or booby traps.

At day break and without rest, we launched a patrol into a known insurgent hotbed and tried to convince locals to not support the insurgency and start supporting their government, with promises that a better life and development being made possible.

Army 1st Lt. Joe Law, Red Platoon leader, assured the men that if they worked with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, they would see bazaars and progress like that seen in central BMG.

Unaccepting to Law’s offers, the village elders became argumentative and accused our team of wrongdoing and trespassing. Tension grew in the air and the villagers became visually upset, spitting and behaving in a way you rarely see in people who typically put a lot of stock into saving face and respect.

Law ordered our team to move out.

As we headed out of the village, around a dozen fighting-age men began to line rooftops, and we knew a battle would soon ensue.

We headed back to our fortified ruins and dug our heels in for the inevitable battle that would find us.

The ruins we established as Observation Post Reaper was eroded and roofless, and was basically a dilapidated, old three-room mud hut.

I was in the western-most part of the ruins with scouts Sgt. Jeff Sheppard and Pfc. Ben Bradley. Pearl, Lee and Valdo were also in that room.

The center room housed an ANA soldier, his platoon sergeant, our interpreter, Law, scout Sgt. Peter Nalesnik and Maj. Jonathan Lauer, an advisor from the 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, who was along for the mission.

Three ANA soldiers, scout Spc. William Newland, medic Spc. Kellen West, and forward observer Spc. Dwayne Sims-Sparks were all in the eastern room.

Soon we began to take small-arms fire and started to locate where they were attacking from, and returned fire. Pearl was documenting the fight with video and I with still photos.

From where I stood, I noticed Sheppard and Bradley immediately engage the Taliban and lay down suppressive fire. Most of the incoming fire was originating from a compound several hundred meters to our north. Insurgents were also using canals to our east and west to flank us.

They were able to maneuver up and down the canals, spraying rounds at us at will from a wide array of cover locations. Almost immediately the fighting reached a level of intensity that forced me to lay down my camera and volley rounds back at the insurgents.

A few minutes into the firefight, I watched in awe as, while my co-worker Pearl was shooting video, an insurgent hit three rounds near his head, walking each round closer than the next.

I could hear several whizzing bullets passing very near to my face and body, and their sound is unforgettable. At a distance, they sounded like pops; near my position, they sounded more like loud cracks; and when they passed within inches of my ears, they sounded like a high-speed bullet train roaring by.

The Taliban were bombarding us with AK-47 and a barrage of heavy machine gun (PKM) fire.

As we fought, I could literally see the mud walls of our ruins being cut down by the incoming PKM fire.

Sheppard called out to Pearl that he’d better move. At that point, Pearl grabbed his video camera and moved into the next room. Our room was the smallest of them all, not well fortified and we were taking one hell of a beating.

The firefight continued for a few hours and we were literally pinned down and under attack from the compound and both canals.

We needed a mortar mission or close-air support desperately as we were severely outgunned, had minimal cover in the ruins and field, and the insurgent force attacking us was growing very quickly.

Italian Army soldiers from Forward Operating Base Todd began laying mortar fire into the field west of where most the insurgents were attacking. The first mortar hit about 25 meters from my position.

Each falling mortar shook the ground like an enormous bass drum, rattling my bones and soul. The first mortar stunned me for a moment, then coming out of the haze I joined Sheppard and Bradley, calling out mortar positions to Law. Under Sims-Spark’s directions, mortars moved closer and closer to the target.

The enemy assault grew in intensity and I recall wondering if we’d make it out alive. Our 15-man team seemed doomed.

Still, Law kept working the CAS mission and, despite the dangerously close proximity to which bullets were impacting, I could see Sheppard and Bradley keep fighting. It was inspiring!

Law was calling on someone to verify no insurgents were approaching from our south. I remember thinking that in order to see over the southern wall, I would have to run through a hail of enemy AK and PKM fire, jump up to grapple the top of the wall and peer over.

Shaking and petrified, I garnered the courage and ran through the barrage of bullets and verified, indeed we didn’t have any surprises coming to attack us from the rear.

When I raced back to the front of the room and returned scanning the western canal, Sheppard shouted at me to stay down. I knew any dumb move would burden my team in that they’d have to carry my mangled body off that field. Still, keeping insurgents off our rear was worth the risk.

Through panic and impending doom, the scout team kept their focus and wits about them, and we all continued to fight our hardest.

Law called out to check the south again. This time, without giving it too much thought, I checked the rear.

With each dash to the southern wall, my heart skipped beats and rounds bounced near my body and face. I could taste their proximity as dirt peppered my face.

The fighting went on and continued to intensify. Sheppard was keeping the insurgents out of the river beds by launching grenades and one of our ANA soldiers hit the compound center mass with a precisely aimed RPG.

No matter how hard we fought, they were growing in mass and their attacks were intensifying. It was clear they did not want us to set up a fire base in their backyard.

Our room continued getting pounded and we soon found ourselves taking three RPGs back to back, nearly destroying our northern defenses. Sheppard knew it was time to move and planned to lay down squad-automatic weapon fire to cover movement to the next room and he’d soon follow.

Before he had the chance to do so, the insurgents shot an RPG straight through the makeshift doorway in the front of our ruins, and I watched, as if in slow motion, as the grenade went straight over Bradley’s head, skimmed within inches of my face and impacted the ground a few feet behind me.

When the grenade exploded I was thrown into the front wall and saw nothing but sharp white light. I couldn’t smell, feel, see, and couldn’t comprehend what was going on for moments … then I heard clear as day, Sheppard screaming, “Medic! Medic! Medic! We need a medic! Get down here, West!”

I stumbled and regained my footing and found that I had all extremities and knowing Lee was dead, shuttered to look back. When I did, I learned he was alive, but Valdo was in really bad shape.

The RPG struck right behind Valdo and the heroic dog took most of the blast. Lee seemed extremely concerned for his wounded shipmate Valdo, Sheppard had shrapnel to the front of his arm, Bradley had shrapnel in his leg, and I caught some in my upper back and also had a concussion.

But we were all alive and while Lee and the West tended to Valdo, the rest of us continued to fight.

Knowing the insurgents were dialed in on our position and that another direct RPG hit would kill the four of us, Law called for more mortar fire and CAS.

An F-16 Fighting Falcon soon shrieked low and over head, popping flares to scare the insurgents. A remote piloted vehicle pounded the compound with 30 mm cannons, and we egressed towards the canal.

I didn’t know it at the time, but soon learned that Nalesnik, Lauer and an ANA soldier were already in that canal, clearing our path forward.

During the fog of the battle, I really only saw what was before me and around me. I knew Sheppard and Bradley were in the fight, I knew Law was leading us forward and calling in fire missions, I knew Lee was struggling with Valdo and that West was tending to wounds, but I had little knowledge of the vital parts the rest of the team was playing in the fight.

I learned later that at one point, the ANA sergeant bravely tossed Newland down and covered him with his own body, to protect the young specialist from a barrage of PKM rounds. That’s the type of heroism you see on movies but rarely witness first hand.

Meanwhile, we battled our way into the canal and for two kilometers, we fought our way through sporadic small-arms fire.

Pearl carried Valdo, our wounded shipmate, on his shoulders.

I was behind Pearl in the canal and could see Valdo had a hole about the size of a Pepsi can in his intestine. Pearl was soaked in vomit and feces, but kept pushing forward, determined to get Valdo to the medevac site.

Once we made it to a clearing, we found two Mine Resistant Ambush Protected all-Terrain Vehicles (Cougars) waiting for us, which Law had already coordinated.

Even coming out of the canal was intense as we had to climb up about 9 feet, while the roots we grabbed would break away. I had about 200 of the 550 rounds I left with still on me, plus an AT-4 (anti-tank weapon), 9mm handgun, four grenades, camera gear, back-up camera gear, food, water and supplies – it was hard as hell to climb out of that canal.

Once I got to the top, I quickly saw that the Cougars were under attack and were rocking their crew-serve automatic weapons at distant insurgents.

We quickly crammed as many as we could inside the Cougars, others jumped in back, and we moved our wounded to Combat Outpost Metro for a medical air evacuation.

Once we reached COP Metro, we found the COP was under attack and all our comrades who stayed behind during the mission were up on the walls engaging. West cared for Valdo and the rest of us, while more MRAPs arrived for a mounted re-assault toward Joy Gange Village.

We got Valdo, Lee and Sheppard airborne, and West then treated Bradley and me.

After being patched up, I was horrified to find that the mounted counter offensive left without me. I jumped in the back of an un-armored ANA Ranger about to ride back north but their movement was cancelled, so I hauled butt to the walls of COP Metro to man a sniper rifle, and provided over watch.

I was pleasantly surprised to find Pearl already up there on a machine gun. He and I had been through much together on that deployment and for all my life, I’ll truly consider him my brother.

Bulldog Troop’s first sergeant, 1st Sgt. David Dempsey, led a quick-reaction force and joined Red Platoon, and continued with mounted and foot patrols in the nearby villages, capturing and killing insurgents, destroying known compounds, capturing IED-making materials and destroying an IED-making facility.

No further coalition forces were wounded in the engagement.

An Air Force B-1 dropped four 38GBU bombs and Army CAS assisted with hellfire missiles and 30mm cannon support from the air.

Italian Army soldiers supported with eight mortars from FOB Todd, and provided observation support from COP Chroma, which overlooked the engagement, and allowed them to accurately advise Army scouts on insurgent locations.

In the end, we were all fine and ready for duty within days. Valdo was sent to a Role-2 hospital at Camp Arena, Herat, where he was stabilized by a team of doctors. Once stable, he was transferred to Kandahar Air Field, where a veterinarian could treat him.

Until then, it had been an Army field medic, doctors and nurses who strayed from their ‘human expertise’ and did their best to patch up the canine.

I’m not sure what became of Valdo and often wonder. As for the rest of the team, I keep in contact with nearly all of the Americans who fought at Operation Red Sand. I’m told the Army Combat Studies Institute will release part two of their Vanguard of Valor Book in the coming months, and that an entire chapter will be dedicated to Red Sand.

Have I suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?


Though I know I’ll continue to keep in touch with my team, I direly wish I could meet some of the insurgents whom we fought against at Red Sand. If I could, I’d plainly tell them this:

You should have aimed your shots better, you should have fired your RPG with precision … you should have pierced our hearts, but you didn’t.

No, your attempt on our lives failed. Our hearts still beat and they beat for your people, the people of the Murghab Valley whom you carelessly toss aside and grow fat from, as they continue to go without food, water or a peaceful existence.

As you attacked us on that field, I watched Afghan women and children take cover behind trees on the western side. As your men attacked us from within those families, we never once returned fire in their direction.

Why do we care more about your families than you? Why can’t you see that your cause is futile? Here’s my sincere recommendation to you:

Lay down your arms and join the reintegration process. You should stop terrorizing your people and start assisting your government in rebuilding and development.

If you do this, someday you will see an Afghanistan you’ve never imagined possible. Perhaps someday your grandkids and mine could play in the park together, or tour some of Herat City’s spectacular sites on the same tour bus.

If you don’t, more will needlessly suffer at your hands. And rest assured, there are many scouts from Red Platoon whom remember your faces as we met in the village prior to your assault.

Just join reintegration.

But, above all, I forgive you.

Photo: Pfc. Ben Bradley (left), a Bulldog Troop, Red Platoon scout from the 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, ducks away from insurgent machine gun fire, as fellow scout Sgt. Jeff Sheppard, launches a M-203 grenade at the enemy’s position, during a combat engagement in northern Bala Murghab Valley, Badghis Province, Afghanistan April 4, 2011. Bradley, Sheppard, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kevin Wallace, Navy Petty Officer 2rd Class Ryan Lee and his military working dog ‘Valdo’ were wounded by a rocket propelled grenade blast in the engagement. This photo was originally released April 7, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Kevin Wallace)

TACPs work outside the wire, Aug. 1, 2012

By Staff Sgt. Amanda Dick
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

“Because of you, I get to go home to my daughter.” Tactical air control party (TACP) members provide close air support for U.S. Army Soldiers while deployed. Read how TACPs live between blue and green and view the TACP – outside the wire photo set.

Photo: Army unit patches hang next to Air Force name tapes and uniforms at the 14th ASOS at Fort Bragg, N.C. To match their Army counterparts, TACP Airmen wear different uniforms in theater and in training. At the squadron, Airmen here have their own cage-locker, where they store gear and uniforms for use in training and real-world emergencies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander W. Riedel)

What independence means to me

By Staff Sgt. Amanda Dick
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

7/3/12 — In a few days, we, as Americans, will celebrate one of the most, if not the most, important date for the U.S. — our Independence Day.

As I figure out what I’ll be doing this Fourth of July, I also want to make sure I take the time to reflect on this most reverent of days.

What does Independence Day represent to me?

I mean, we’ve all been taught in school what led to our independence and how we achieved it, but what does it really stand for?

For me, Independence Day is more than just a day America gained its freedom. I learned from my Grandpa Randall, who loved to research our family heritage, that my family is deeply rooted in American soil.

The Randall side of the family emigrated from England on one of the first boats to the U.S. Our family is related to President Ulysses S. Grant, and one of our ancestors fought alongside President George Washington in Valley Forge. My family settled and fought for America’s independence, and for me, it’s pretty inspiring to know I have those roots.

However, that’s the beauty of being an American. It doesn’t matter if your roots are 236 years old or just a few days, we can all take pride in America and celebrate its independence.

One of the main reasons I joined the Air Force was to follow in my father’s footsteps and serve my country — to earn my place next to those who have served before.

While it’s not always fun or easy being in the military, I enjoy living the Air Force way of life. It’s truly amazing to know I’m a part of something bigger than myself.

For those times when life seems difficult, I think on my family and friends. Those are the people who get me through the hard days. Those are the faces I brought to mind while downrange recently. Those are the people whose lives I personally protect while in service to America, so that July 4th will always remain their Independence Day.

This Independence Day, I want to remember those who paid the sacrifice for America to gain her freedom. While we enjoy the company of our family and friends this Fourth of July, we should remember our nation was built on blood, sweat and tears.

Blood: The blood of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for America’s freedom, such as Army Private 1st Class James Arnold, who was killed in the Vietnam War. Though I didn’t personally know Arnold, as I reflect on the reason his name is on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., I am truly grateful and indebted to him for his sacrifice to this great country.

Sweat: The sweat of those who have worked hard to make America what it is today, such as the immigrants who toiled and labored to become citizens, or the settlers who moved west to create a life for themselves.

Tears: The tears of those who mourn for the ones lost to gain America’s freedom, such as the family of Capt. Francis Imlay, who recently paid the ultimate price during Operation Enduring Freedom. Again, I didn’t know Imlay, but I sympathize with his family and the families of the more than 6,000 military members who have died during Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn. I am thankful for all they gave to help keep America free.

So, enjoy the fireworks, enjoy the food, enjoy the company, but also remember to enjoy the independence and freedom we have and take the time to reflect on what those two words mean to you.

On this Independence Day, remember we have freedom at its finest, but not without a price.

Photo: The American Flag is flown over Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 9, 2011. The flag represents America’s freedom and the many military members who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for U.S. independence. Americans will celebrate 236 years of freedom July 4, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Staff Sgt. Amanda Dick)

Honoring my father


U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Dick

By Staff Sgt Amanda Dick
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

As it’s Father’s Day, I wanted to take the time to write about my father and how I honored him. I’ve pretty much known nothing but the military my whole life.

I was born into this world in Georgia at a U.S. Army medical facility. From the time I was 8 months old, I’ve been moving around.

As a little girl, I remember watching my dad put on his Army uniform and go to work. Several times, we took him dinner when he had to work overnight. I remember going to several Christmas parties at his work, and they always had gifts for the kids.

I grew up on his Meals-Ready-to-Eat, and loved chewing the gum and eating the dessert out of it.

Did you know military gear has a distinct smell to it? I do! Growing up around that smell has sort of made the military a “comfort zone” for me. Whenever I walk into a military issue shop and smell the military gear, it takes me back to being a kid again, and I’m instantly wrapped up in warmth – the same goes for watching football on Sundays.

My father was gone a lot – whether out in the field or on temporary duty to Australia or other locations. Despite that, he was always able to make it to every basketball, softball, soccer and volleyball game I had – home or away.

When he was in Korea my senior year of high school, he came back on his mid-tour during Christmas and worked it so he could be there for my graduation in May.

Then-U.S. Army Private 1st Class Michael Dick and Cynthia Dick When I had major surgery in 2009, he took short-notice vacation from his job in the postal service to come over to Germany and take care of me. He showed us that family mattered to him; that we were a top priority.

My father has always been there for us – even during trying times! He’s never been afraid to show us or tell us that he loves us.

Through his 20 years of military service to the U.S., he showed us how to work hard and be dedicated– he joined in 1982 and retired in 2002. Throughout my life, the military has been a constant – it’s also one of the reasons I feel a continuous need to move after just a couple years in one spot.

Watching the passion my dad had for serving his country sparked the same passion in me. That’s why in January 2006, I joined the U.S. Air Force. While my dad would have loved if I joined the Army, I figured since the Air Force used to be part of the Army, I’d still be “keeping it in the family.”

Among the many reasons I joined, I wanted to start a tradition of military legacy in our family. I wanted to honor my father by having one of his children join the military – it’s only me and my sister. I wanted to have pride in what I was doing in my life.

To me, my father is the greatest man in the world – my military superhero. We learned valuable lessons from him and my mother that I hope to pass on one day to any children I may have. So, Michael Dick, Happy Father’s Day from a daughter who thinks you mean the world to her!

Photos: (Top) Retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Dick waits for the air show to begin in August 2008, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. Dick served in the Army for 20 years, retiring in 2002. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Amanda Dick)
(Bottom) Then-U.S. Army Private 1st Class Michael Dick and Cynthia Dick take a couples photo while Michael is on Christmas leave from Army basic training in December 1982. Michael joined the Army in 1982 and served until 2002, completing 20 years of military service. (Courtesy photo)