It has been nearly 15 years to the week that I graduated high school and two weeks later went off to basic training at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs to begin my career in the Air Force. Since that time I have had the unique opportunity to experience some incredible adventures, see places all over the world, and accomplish my dream of flying. The most incredible aspect of being in the military though is the people that you work with every day. In the military you have the chance to work alongside people from many different backgrounds, from every corner of the country and the world. All of them are bonded by a sense of pride, not just pride in the country and it's freedoms, but also pride in the job that needs to be done and pride in the people that work together to accomplish that mission. You work nights, you work days. You work outside and indoors. You work in the rain, the snow, and the heat. You work weekdays, you work weekends, and you work holidays. You work at home, and you work overseas. You work with all the best tools and technology, but more often you work with what you have and still make it happen. And through it all, no matter how hard it gets, the people you have at your side will help you along, and sometimes it's that one joke that someone can crack when it gets really bad that makes you want to keep going, because you know that it will be over and you will move on to the next day.
Every Memorial Day I think about those that were not able to move on to the next day. Those that have died serving their country, they have faced all that were given them, and unfortunately met their time. I have known more than a few over the past 15 years that have passed, some close friends, some were those that I had the honor of working with for a short period of time. I always keep them in my thoughts, their death reminds me to make every day count because when it comes down to it, living life to the fullest is what's really important so that in our last moments there are no regrets.
In my travels I have had the chance to visit many different war memorials and military cemeteries. I have had the chance to participate in missing man formations and flyovers honoring those that have fallen. I appreciate every sacrifice that those in uniform make every day and honor all those that have died serving their country, as well as those around them. - Johnnie
Plaque near Ground Zero, New York City.
Memorial to the Bataan Death March that went through Luzon, Philippines.
Gettysburg National Military Park