Tag Archives: deployed

Grateful for our Airmen

By Tech. Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr. Air Force Social Media

Unofficially Thanksgiving is the kickoff to the season of gratitude and thankfulness expressed during the holidays. The Air Force social media team would like to say that we are grateful for the opportunity to highlight and share the stories of our most valuable assets in the Air Force’s inventory. That’s our Airmen! We would like to take a moment to express our thankfulness to the Airmen for all your hard work supporting the mission of the Air Force, to fly, fight, and win; in air, space, and cyberspace. You continue to demonstrate with confidence our Air Force core values: Integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all you do.

The First Sergeants Council made 125 Thanksgiving baskets Nov. 20, 2015, inside the Chapel Activity Center on F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., for Airmen selected by the first sergeants around base. After making the baskets, the first sergeants delivered them to the Airmen while they worked. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brandon Valle/Released)
The First Sergeants Council made 125 Thanksgiving baskets Nov. 20, 2015, inside the Chapel Activity Center on F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., for Airmen selected by the first sergeants around base. After making the baskets, the first sergeants delivered them to the Airmen while they worked. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brandon Valle/Released)
Airman 1st Class Natalie Corona, 99th Force Support Squadron food service apprentice, prepares garlic bread to be served for dinner at the Crosswinds Dining Facility on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Nov. 18.  The Crosswinds DFAC will be serving Thanksgiving meals to Airmen and Department of Defense ID cardholders on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mikaley Kline/Released)
Airman 1st Class Natalie Corona, 99th Force Support Squadron food service apprentice, prepares garlic bread to be served for dinner at the Crosswinds Dining Facility on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Nov. 18. The Crosswinds DFAC will be serving Thanksgiving meals to Airmen and Department of Defense ID cardholders on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mikaley Kline/Released)
Senior noncommissioned officers and officers serve food to Airmen during the 2013 Thanksgiving luncheon at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. (U.S. Air Force photos/Airman 1st Class Sandra Marrero/Released)
Senior noncommissioned officers and officers serve food to Airmen during the 2013 Thanksgiving luncheon at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. (U.S. Air Force photos/Airman 1st Class Sandra Marrero/Released)
Desserts and breads line a table during the annual Thanksgiving meal Nov. 27, 2014, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The base dining facility staff prepared Thanksgiving meals more than 9,000 servicemembers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kia Atkins/Released)
Desserts and breads line a table during the annual Thanksgiving meal Nov. 27, 2014, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The base dining facility staff prepared Thanksgiving meals more than 9,000 servicemembers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kia Atkins/Released)

Every March, I mustache myself a question

By Capt. Zach Anderson
931st Air Refueling Group Public Affairs

The razor hovered just above my upper lip. The blade was suspended millimeters from my skin. The consequences of my next move would have lasting ramifications for at least the next thirty days. Even at this moment of reckoning, I wasn’t sure which path I would choose.

The day had started like any other Monday: Slap the alarm, get dressed, head to the gym, and then on to work. But this morning was different. This was Monday, March 2, 2015, the first official work day of “Mustache March 2015.” Today, the typical morning routine of gym, shower and shave was anything but typical. This morning came with the added weight of a decision that had to be made–a decision that was reflected in the mirror, literally staring me in the face as I stood there with razor in hand.

To shave or not to shave? That is the question.

The pull to drop the razor, rinse the shaving cream off my upper lip and “let it grow” was strong. After all, Mustache March is a part of Air Force heritage, the roots of which go back to the legendary facial hair of Brig. Gen. Robin Olds, a triple-ace fighter pilot attributed with shooting down a total of 17 enemy aircraft in World War II and Vietnam. Wasn’t it in some way my duty as an Airman to do my part to pay homage to this tradition?

Besides, I already had a weekend’s worth of stubble in place which made for the beginnings of what could possibly evolve into a truly glorious mustache. Visions of a perfectly waxed handlebar danced in my head as I imagined taking the top prize for the base “Mustache March Madness” competition. (Granted, the handlebar style wouldn’t be within Air Force regulations for dress and appearance, which would mean disqualification from the competition, but still, it would look fantastic!)

On the other hand, my track record for growing a mustache, or facial hair of any type for that matter, is less than stellar. Prior to joining the military, I made a few ill-fated attempts at a goatee, and during a deployment, I even sported a valiant attempt at what turned out to be a miserable excuse for a mustache. Unfortunately, all my attempts fell well short of the initial goal of growing luscious, full-bodied whiskers. (The results were bad enough my wife informed me that, should I return to the United States from my deployment with said mustache on my upper lip, I could find my own ride home from the airport…and I’d be sleeping on the couch until the growth was removed.)

Plus, I’m a public affairs officer. What if I’m needed to give a statement to the media or appear on camera for a TV interview?  Would I come across as a professional representative for the Air Force with a scraggly bit of peach fuzz resembling a severely malnourished caterpillar adorning my upper lip?

These thoughts coursed through my mind as I stood there, weighing the pros and cons of participating in the yearly tradition against maintaining my usual, freshly-shorn face. After several moments of agonizing, I made my decision. I pressed the razor to my skin and began to shave.

I simply have to face the facts: I’m no Tom Selleck. Even at the ripe old age of 35, I still can’t grow what can be even remotely considered a real mustache. For this reason, I regretfully will not  participate in Mustache March 2015. For those of you who can pull off the mustache, I salute you and give my full support to your brave, month-long endeavor.

May your whiskers sprout thick and true and may no inadvertent slip of a razor blemish their growth. A part of me envies your facial hair generation ability. In a way, I feel like I’m missing out on a part of Air Force heritage and tradition. But in another way, I’m quite pleased with my decision to remain clean shaven.

The fact is, I honestly couldn’t have taken sleeping on the couch for an entire month, not even for the sake of tradition.

Best holiday deployed moments of 2014

By Tech. Sgt. Steve Grever
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

Let’s face it, being deployed during major holidays feels a bit like getting a lump of coal in your stocking. Some deployed locations have Wi-Fi access for Airmen to chat with their friends and family back home during these special times. However, there are still many places so small and remote they don’t have the communication infrastructure to accommodate commercial internet access.

To overcome these challenges at some “undisclosed” locations, Airmen rely on different base services to help them feel the spirit of the holidays. In 2014, there were five events that warmed our hearts, and brought a slice of home to our Airmen serving at deployed locations around the globe.

Continue reading Best holiday deployed moments of 2014

Holiday wish list

By Senior Airman Michelle Patten
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

Whether your Airman is stationed stateside or deployed to a remote location, the holidays are a special time of year. For many Airmen, the gift they really wish for is to spend time with family and friends. If this isn’t possible, or if you just want to make the holidays extra special, here are some ideas about what may be on your Airman’s holiday wish list.

Continue reading Holiday wish list

Dual-military families

By Georganne Hassell
Air Force spouse

Even before my husband and I met, people called us by the same name: lieutenant. When you wear a single bar on your shoulder, there’s not much else to call you by anyway. My then-fellow lieutenant and now husband, Jonathan, was a pilot in the 1st Fighter Wing at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., when we met. I was a public affairs officer for the same wing, and each of us was living the dream we had worked toward for years. While Jonathan worked on his tactics as a new pilot, I tried to shed a shade of green working with reporters covering the military beat. In between his upgrade rides and my airshow travel, we had the opportunity to take a temporary duty assignment, or TDY, together to South Korea. Apparently, flying for 13 hours in coach class without annoying each other gave us enough confidence to think about a future together. Less than two weeks later we had no doubt — we would someday be called husband and wife.

The day after Jonathan and I decided we wanted to get married, I received an assignment to move from Virginia to California within four months. Sometimes orders come at the least convenient times, but we both knew that living in the same place was more of a luxury than a guarantee. We were unsuccessful in trying to turn off the assignment, and so a few months after our engagement I settled into life with a new duty Air Force Specialty Code at a recruiting squadron, while Jonathan continued flying at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. Just three weeks after I arrived at my new base, I received another set of orders — this time with Afghanistan as my new destination. These orders caught me even more off guard than my recent permanent change of station for two reasons: recruiting squadrons didn’t traditionally deploy Airmen, and I would be working again as a public affairs officer, which was the career field I was just moved out of so I could work in recruiting. As confused as I was about this recent turn of events, it left Jonathan with a clear mindset. He would volunteer to deploy to Afghanistan.

We didn’t take this decision lightly. My deployment was inevitable, and in truth I was glad to be back working as a PAO and even excited to deploy, but Jonathan would be stepping out of his hard-earned seat in a dual-engine fighter and into a dual-prop aircraft, which is not normally the path of choice for his career field.

Before we took off on our own separate paths to the desert, we got married. We chose to say our vows in the place that brought us together, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis’ base chapel. We welcomed family and friends to Virginia for our wedding ceremony, but asked just one request of them: not to talk about our upcoming deployments. You could read the unease in many of their eyes about a young couple getting married and then going to war, but we didn’t need to discuss it then. We wanted one day of being present and at peace.

I flew back to my recruiting squadron after the wedding and saw Jonathan three more times before I left for my deployment to Zabul province, Afghanistan. He deployed just a few weeks after me to Kandahar, Afghanistan, and our fourth meeting as husband and wife came not long after. Work brought me to his base a few times during our deployment, but even those visits were overshadowed by military protocol and mortar attacks. My deployment only lasted a few months, and though I traveled through Kandahar on my way out, Jonathan was only about halfway through his tour. War brings many burdens. Leaving my husband behind to complete his duty was just one of them.

Thankfully, Jonathan’s deployment ended safely. He returned to Joint Base Langley-Eustis and to his role as a fighter pilot while I continued working in the recruiting squadron. The difficult decision for me to leave the Air Force was made soon after my husband’s redeployment. We knew that the best choice for our family was to only have one of us on active duty, and since he had several more years to go on his service commitment, I would have to be the one to drop papers. My time as a military officer ended later that year, and though my service was brief, it gave me a strong sense of purpose and the honor of working with some truly fantastic people.

The transition to civilian life was not an easy one, especially because of the near-pulseless job market. I looked forward to continuing in the field of public relations and putting my communications skills to work, but opportunities were scarce. Freelancing as a writer and editor offered a good transition, but I did miss many aspects of the service: camaraderie, structure and a fast-paced workplace, to name a few. Luckily, I found a new mission with my current work in academe, but I don’t believe there’s anything that can compare with wearing the uniform every day. I’ve come to accept that my career path will continue to look very different from what I imagined when I first said the oath of office as a new college graduate.

Though life as a spouse challenged me greatly in terms of my career and will continue to do so in the future, I have been overwhelmingly blessed with support of my husband, his squadron and our military community. I have found my fellow spouses to be gracious and caring; I am honored to know them and proud to call them friends. Jonathan and I both knew the day would come when one of us would have to leave the service, and even though it came sooner than I hoped, I look forward to being a part of the Air Force community for years to come.