Monday, November 23, 2015

Haley's letter

On Thanksgiving morning I'll take my daughter to catch a flight to Big Sky ski resort in Montana. She's accepted a job that will last until April...

Leaving home and everything that is comfortable is hard, it'll be the hardest thing youll probably ever do. You won't have me to point out the briar patches or the thick mud like I did on our fishing and camping adventures. This is all you and I'm confident that you'll be fine. This may a bit cliché but its in your can groom this urge for further adventure or put it on a shelf.

Fear will tell you to quit. Don't listen. Be hard headed and prove to yourself just how tough you are.

You are going to change but it will be good change...some people call it a soul search...this is a time that you realize just how strong you are, when you understand things that you've been clueless about in the past. You'll realize how smart you are and just how ignorant you've been. It's OK, learn from it...this will only make a better "you".

You'll realize that what scared you in the past was silly and that the real fear is not have a ticket to live large, to see beauty that others only see in books. Take it all in and thank god for the opportunity and courage to go on this adventure.

This is the time in your life that you go with the flow... you'll see that Rome awesome as it is has its faults...Have an open mind and embrace what every single person you meet brings into your life, whether it's positive or negative, tuck those observations back in your mind because 20 years from now what information you gathered will be nuggets of wisdom. It will make life much easier down the road.

Never turn down a chance to see the country side...especially with a local. It could be a river, a ski run or a restaurant. Go check it out. They don't call it Big Sky country for nothing.

Don't worry about home...I've got this. It'll be here when you return.

If you need anything... Call me. I have been exactly where your mind is right now. I've felt the same fears and anxiety that you'll feel. I've also skied down an 10,000 foot mountain, dove in to local culture and had the time of my life. It changed me too...

So, these tears that you may see flowing down my face on Thursday may alarm you...don't let them. Not one of them will be sad tears...they're simply tears of pride and happiness. You see, I see some of me in you. I want you, my daughter, my teammate to live life like its an ongoing adventure.

Make friends...

Work hard...

Play harder...

This is all you...kick some ass.
I love you

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

"My First Ultimate Adventure "

    My friend Bill Clifton's mom, very bluntly said, "you're 19, school or the service."

Those words hit home...not what I wanted to hear but definitely something I needed.
I had never folded, ironed or washed clothes, hell, I'd only shaved a couple of times but I went to see the recruiter and I chose the United States Air Force Security Police.

On 28 November 1988 I flew to San Antonio Tx for basic training...I was green, scared and the prototypical Mamma's boy. After 14 weeks in San Antonio and  4 weeks of training at Fort Dix NJ I emerged a changed man and could iron the hell out of some clothes and could put a sweet shine on a pair of jungle boots.

My first duty station was Carswell AFB (aka...CarsHELL) in Fort Worth Tx. The duty was less than desired but I have some great memories and made some great friends...Joeseph G. Schmauss III, Ali Turon, Andreas Liss, Bob DeLeon were some of the best people I'd ever met.

Word got around our dormitory that a pile of orders were at headquarters and they thought I was going to Turkey...oh hell naw! I had requested Germany, Guam, the Azore's, Italy and Japan...something had to be wrong but then again I hadn't requested Fort Worth Texas in the previous "dream sheet" either.

When I arrived at headquarters I found that I indeed had orders but to my surprise, they were orders to an fairly unknown base in Germany....Buchel Air Base.

 Buchel was actually a German Base known as Fliegerhorst Buchel with a small US detachment of about 100 Americans. It was on top of a mountain surrounded by agriculture fields, farms and small villages. In the valley below was the Mosel River and wine country. It was some of the most beautiful country I'd ever seen with it's castles, vineyards and cobblestone streets.

I left a sunny 70 degree Atlanta day knowing  that this leg of my military service was the adventure that I had sought. I landed 12 hours later in a rainy cold Frankfurt Germany and was met at by fellow airmen Dave Torok and Mike Fluck at my gate. I remember thinking on the ride to Buchel, "Hoss, I'm a long long way from home." While that was true, everybody else was a long way from home too.  I made friends with David Towler, Dan Smith,  Eric Nollman, Don "Ski" Swiatkowski, Paul Flaherty, Dave Mapus, Jeff Richardson, Bill Haldeman, Wolf Shiedel, John Cunningham, Cephus Sturdivant and Greg Murphy (RIP)...we were all in the same boat. We partied hard, worked hard and played hard. We won best USAF small unit and in our off time went to numerous wine fests and skied in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

While I'm much different now than I was then, those 4 short years were the single most educational, mind opening piece of my life. It was a pleasure to serve and a blessing to have served with the quality of men that I did.