Tag Archives: love

My mother; my hero

By 1st Lt Tori Hight
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

When people ask about your hero, your response is likely to be someone well-known and famous; someone who impacted history or led an important movement; or someone whose words you live by and use as motivation to continue on.

My hero is not as well-known and famous. My hero is my mom.

Born in a small town in Poland in the 1960s, my mom and her family lived in a small cabin with a wood stove. They used it to cook and provide heat in the winter. No stranger to hard work, she’s told me stories of tending the gardens, milking and caring for the cattle and seeing to the chickens they kept for food.

When she turned 12, my mom left everything she knew behind to come to America. She lived with a distant relative of her family, a wonderful woman we always referred to as our aunt. She learned how to speak and write in English, how to sew and make her own clothes, and eventually, how to drive.

Although she was teased in school for her accent, she persevered and graduated with her peers. After graduation, she became an official citizen of the United States, a process she started five years earlier.

A year later, in the midst of the Iranian hostage crisis, she decided to join the U.S. Air Force and enlisted into the air traffic control career field. Her service stemmed from a desire to give back to the country that became her second home.

The author's mom, pictured as a Tech. Sgt. in the Air Force.

My mom served the Air Force for 21 years and retired as a master sergeant. She now works as a Department of the Air Force civilian and has been for nearly 12 ½ years. Through it all, she raised my brother and me while we moved every two years with the military. We learned about different cultures, how to work hard and contribute around the home and community, and eventually, how to give back to the country. My brother and I both joined the Air Force and have a combined 13 years of service.

An Airman reenlists her brother in the Air Force.
PHOTO: Then 2nd Lt. Victoria Lalich reenlists her brother, Staff Sgt. Christopher Lalich, at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., in 2011.

I think my mom is a remarkable woman. Her devotion and dedication to this country and her job is inspiring to me and always has been. It’s what made me want to join the Air Force, and why I am so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had in this country and in the military. I love you, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.

20 photos that will make you fall in love with the Air Force

By 1st Lt Tori Hight
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

It’s no secret that the men and women of the Air Force are passionate about their service — and why shouldn’t they be? The Air Force is amaaa-zing. With facinating missions, sleek aircraft and technology and super talented Airmen, it’s pretty hard to find something you truly hate about the Air Force. Whether or not you’ve enjoyed your time as an Airman, you’ll appreciate the photos we’ve (the Air Force Social Media Team) compiled for you here. They’ll make you fall in love with the Air Force all over again.

Here are five of the many reasons why we love the Air Force:

1. The sacrifice our brave men and women make every day

An Airman meets his son for the first time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PHOTO: Lt. Col. Philip Wielhouwer, 74th Fighter Squadron commander, is pictured here meeting his three-week old son, Ryan, for the first time at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., Aug. 9, 2009. We all know fellow Airmen who have sacrificed precious time with their families for the Air Force mission.

2. The camraderie we share with our fellow Airmen and sister services

An Airman participates in joint service training.

 

 

 

 
  

 

PHOTO: Who else can you punch and still be friends with? All joking aside, our Airmen share a special bond with our fellow military members and each other. If you’ve ever served in the military – you know what we’re talking about.

3. We have some pretty cool aircraft and technology

A JTAC contacts a U.S. Navy F/A-18

 

 

 

 

 

PHOTO: This is just epic.

4. Integrity, service and excellence

Airmen lay flags for Veterans Day.

 

 

 

 

 


PHOTO:
Airmen honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and embrace the Air Force herritage, while looking forward to what the future brings.

5. We sleep better at night knowing our Airmen keep watch
A pararescueman scans his sector over Afghanistan.

 

 

 

 

 

PHOTO: Fly, fight and win.

BONUS: We have really cute puppies

Future military working dog, Xxplorer.

 

 

 

 

 


PHOTO:
Ok, so that’s not just an Air Force thing..but come on..this guy is pretty cute!

See the rest of the photos we picked for this special set.

Now it’s your turn. Share with us any photos or videos you have that remind you of how much you love the Air Force. Email your photos to us, post them on our Facebook page or use #AFLove to tag your creations on Twitter, Vine or Instagram. Your submission just might be chosen to be featured on one of our social media sites.

Don’t mourn in black, travel well

By Staff Sgt. Alexandria Mosness
81st Training Wing Public Affairs

Alison Miller, widow of retired Master Sgt. Chuck Dearing, sits in her pink painted vehicle as military memorabilia is displayed on the passenger seat during a travel break Jan. 16, 2014, at the Keesler Air Force Base camp site, Biloxi, Miss. Prior to the death of her husband, Miller told him that her intent was to continue traveling in a pink painted car so that he could find her while out on the road. (U.S. Air Force photo/Kemberly Groue)

In her deep blue eyes, you not only see the sadness, you can feel the grief of her soul. The agony within her comes from losing her husband to cancer last year. A moment later, those blue eyes dance and what you see isn’t that grief, but love — intense, raw love.

This love from within has recently started Alison Miller, the widow of retired Master Sgt. Chuck Dearing, on a trek across the United States — revisiting places she and Chuck visited together.

She is on a journey to spread his ashes, but also take in the beauty of what is happening around her — something she calls magic.

“He wasn’t a war hero, but he served with such dedication and honor,” Alison said of her late husband. “And by God, if it is the last thing I do, everybody is going to know about him and know about our love story.”

With a plan to share their story of love and commitment, Alison set out on a tour of remembrance in her pink SUV and attached pink teardrop trailer, both displaying her slogan decal “Happily Homeless.”

Chuck’s cremains and flag sit in the passenger seat next to her.

Her journey to happy homelessness had its beginning with a simple idea. A little less than five years ago, Chuck and Alison sold all of their possessions and their house in New Jersey after they decided to hit the road. At first, the pair thought they would move to a different state, so the first three months consisted of a lot of driving. Both felt they had to get somewhere, Alison said.

One day on their journey, Chuck looked at Alison and said, “Why do we want to stop doing this? We are having the time of our lives.”

Together they decided to travel the open roads and stay primarily in affordable, military lodging. Though it sounds like something people only talk of, Alison said they were living their dream.

Alison Miller, widow of retired Master Sgt. Chuck Dearing, sits in the doorway of her pink painted teardrop trailer during a travel break Jan. 16, 2014, at the Keesler Air Force Base camp site, Biloxi, Miss. Following Dearing’s retirement, the couple sold their home and belongings and traveled the country for four years staying primarily in base lodgings. Prior to the death of her husband, Miller told him that her intent was to continue traveling in a pink painted car so that he could find her while out on the road. (U.S. Air Force photo/Kemberly Groue)

“He was my home and I was his,” Alison said, struggling with emotion. “We didn’t have anywhere else, and that was OK — I reveled in that. He was everything to me in the most wonderful way.” People always wondered how the two could stand being together all the time, but Allison said they loved every moment of it.

“It was an ordinary marriage, but we were so deeply in love,” she said. “We had a passionate and romantic marriage. One friend used to comment, ‘When Chuck walks into a room, your eyes just light up and when you guys say goodbye to each other it is like you are never going to see each other again.’

“He would look at me across the room and just wink,” she said with a giggle.

Finding Chuck was unexpected, Alison said. After her first marriage ended in divorce, she said she was certain she would never meet any man again, especially since she had three children.

But Chuck changed all her views on love, she said.

The two were married in 1990 and blended their families, his daughter and her three children.

“It wasn’t easy by any means, but we made it work,” she added.

There were ‘whopperdoodle’ fights, but mainly there was love, Alison said. The strong bond of love played an important role in getting Chuck through cancer the first time.

In September 2010, they found out about his diagnosis, but with aggressive treatment, he beat the cancer.

Even after five surgeries, the couple would not let the disease stop their life. They planned to have the car packed and ready to go after Chuck’s post-operation appointments.

“We would wait to get to Kansas and open the moon roof, turn on Willie Nelson and blast ‘On the Road Again,’” Alison said. “We would see those wide open blue skies and say ‘OK, it’s behind us again.’”

The moon roof she shared with Chuck is the reason she was so adamant about having a moon roof in her new vehicle, which is painted in a special customized color — Chuck’s-watchin’-over-me pink, to give Alison courage to go back on the road again, she said.

The reason for all the pink in her life is that Chuck told her not to mourn for him in black — it wasn’t her color. Instead, he told her to wear pink in his honor. Before Chuck passed away, Alison told him she would continue to travel and would paint her vehicle pink so that he could find her on the open road.

In what she calls Pink Magic, her SUV and trailer combo, she is a woman on a mission and has received an outpouring of love from those she meets.

“There’s something happening here,” she said. “I use the words magical, but I don’t know what it is. Chuck is connecting with me and putting signs in my path.”

Alison speaks of those signs coming from every direction. One man, who she calls her Highway to Heaven Angel, told her, “Chuck wants me to tell you he wouldn’t leave you without a road map.” After all, Chuck was a flight engineer and his nickname was Pathfinder.

“Chuck is leading me because that is what he did in my life, he supported and loved me and encouraged me,” she said. ”He told me to find my dreams and he would help me make them happen. And, he is doing that now in a way where he is not physically present.”

The things that keep the blue-eyed woman with the short blonde hair going is not only Chuck’s love and magic, but the memories they had together.

One of her favorite memories with Chuck is their Death Valley dance. The sun was setting on the desert as they drove and it was the time just before dusk when the beauty of the day shines through brightly, she said. The song “Inspiration” by the band Chicago came on and Alison knew she wanted to mark the moment.

She looked at her Chuck and said, “Let’s get out and dance.”

Due to his health problems, she said Chuck didn’t think he could dance, but she asked him to try and he did. Alison pulled to the side of the road and turned up the music. The duo got out of their vehicle and met at the front and danced. For a split moment, Alison almost didn’t pull over because she thought it might be silly, she said.

Chuck ended that dance with a dip like he always did because, “I told him right from the first time we danced that I thought that to be the height of romance,” Alison recalled.

She said she is eternally grateful because it would end up being her last dance with Chuck.

“I will always have that last dance,” she said. “Chuck was always romantic. We never took a moment for granted; we made it count.”

Those lasting moments were vital when Chuck was in hospice care. Alison remembered her final conversation with her husband.

“My last conversation with him was saying goodbye and telling him I would be OK,” she said. “I thanked him for being in my life, for loving me and showing me how to trust again. I told him I would always remember him.

“He told me, ‘You know, I love our children so much and it is hard to say goodbye to them, but it is hardest of all to say goodbye to you. It’s hard to say goodbye to us,’” she recalled.

Dealing with the loss of her husband hasn’t been easy, but Alison said she discovered her own fearlessness.

“I have no fear anymore,” she said. “After losing this man and watching him die in front of me, there is nothing left to fear.”

Alison has expressed this to her children as well and her wish is for them not to worry.

“When the time comes and I die, what I want you to picture in your heads and in your hearts … is that I have no fear, and I am picturing myself lying on the bed wherever I am,” she told them. “Chuck is going to walk across the room like he always used to and hold out his hand for me to dance and he is going to take my hand and pull me up, and we are going to dance.”

Until that final dance with her beloved, Alison continues sharing their story to those who listen.

You can follow Allison on her journey by visiting her blog here.

Left behind

By Senior Airman Alexandria Mosness
20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

A 4-year old girl with shoulder-length, light-brown hair and big brown eyes sat on the edge of the countertop with her legs dangling over the side, swinging back and forth. A strong man three times her size with hardworking hands touched her gently, and looked at her with tears streaming down his weathered face. “Mommy is not coming back. Mommy is in heaven with Grandpa,” he told her as his voice cracked. The brave little girl reached her tiny hand up to his sad face and wiped away his tears, as she said, “Don’t worry Daddy, it will be okay.”

But it was not okay; her mother, my aunt, had committed suicide only days earlier.Suicide prevention

Everyone has heard about suicide, but many people may not think it will affect them. But I guarantee if you ask around, it hits closer to home than you might think.

Yet, we still believe it won’t be someone we love. I didn’t think I would ever hear the news that my aunt Maria, who was only in her mid-30s, would take her own life.

I was a freshman in high school when I turned around at lunch one day with a smile still fresh on my face from a joke I overhead, when I saw my father’s pain-stricken face. I knew right then something was very wrong.

From then on the moments are a blur. When I look back, all I sense is a heavy dread and pain, a pain that tears deeply each time I look at my little cousin Olivia. Although Maria committed suicide about 8 years ago, it still breaks my heart to think about the life she missed out on.

She, like many people who commit suicide, dealt with depression. The one thing I wish I could have shown her was her funeral and all the people who sat in the pews crying. I wish she would have been able to see her 4-year-old daughter walk down the aisle of the big church, side-by-side with the coffin, and lay a rose on top of her mother’s lifeless body. I wish she would have felt the love of those who cared for her dearly, and those that might have been able to pull her off of that edge.

But my wishes are just that… wishes.

What I don’t want is for you to be the one wishing. Once a loved one takes his or her life, we have no control. We are the survivors, and we are the ones who must keep going.

From the time I began high school and throughout my military career, I have been inundated with computer-based training modules, classes and countless Airmen days on the topic of suicide.

But even with all of this knowledge and available resources, the Air Force battles this issue. Some might not think it can happen to them or someone they know,

So, what can we do to help those in need?

Many may think it is cliché, but I always smile at everyone. I always think especially since I am a survivor, what if that one act brings them back. Maybe it is not that simple, but kindness does go a long way.

We are always told to be good wingmen. This goes hand-in-hand with improving our resiliency. When you see your co-worker down or acting different, pull him or her aside. See what is wrong. A lot of times, all people need is someone to talk to.

If someone comes and tells you of a plan to hurt him or herself, don’t laugh it off. The person is reaching out to you. Listen and then help find the assistance he or she may need.

Social media is huge these days. We may take what our friends say online as a joke or not take them seriously, but if you start noticing a trend or something that makes you raise your eyebrows, do something about it. Heck, it might not be anything, but how would you feel if you found out later that person had harmed him or herselves? You truly can save lives.

There will always be challenges in this world, but if we all take that extra step and treat people like valued human-beings, maybe we can stop losing our Air Force family to this dreadful thing.

I know that if we had seen the warning signs, my little cousin would not be walking around on Easter grasping a picture of her mother because she missed her, but instead holding her hand and celebrating the joyous moments in life.

Photo: (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Corey Hook)