I have been retired now from the Air Force for 37 years and fully retired from commercial aviation and the maritime industry for almost 14 years. I see the world as I assume everyone else sees it – through their own eyes. I have experience in war, but not as a mother. I’ve piloted planes and boats, but I’ve never driven a tank. Some people assume I see the world differently because of my experiences, but in truth, we all have experiences that shape our worlds.
One thing I will say is this (in regards to how I see the military, as opposed to how the average citizen sees it): even when we’re not fighting, we’re working to protect you.
I have been asked to be the guest speaker at a number of events. At one such event, I told the audience that their military is always in harms way, whether there is conflict somewhere on the earth or not. Even when there is no active conflict to be engaged with, we train to be prepared. I shared the story of an experience as an instructor pilot – I was training SAC crews in the KC-97 to complete aerial refueling missions. We practiced daytime aerial refueling of fighters or bombers such as the B-47 or B-52 in calm air is not so bad.
I dare you to try refueling a B-52 at night in the clouds, in turbulence. Things get mighty testy, but you have to do it. In times of war, you can‘t say “it’s too dark” or “the visibility isn‘t good enough” or “it’s too bumpy.” That doesn’t work. During a war, the fighter or bomber you’re working with is desperate for fuel. While the public is asleep at night, snuggled in your bed, SAC crews are up there training for the worst possible situations.
The point is this: your military is always in harm’s way, whether in actual combat or training for combat. Many people don’t realize this and as such, take times of peace for granted. Your enlisted neighbor, friend, cousin, coworker may not be fighting overseas, but they’re fighting at home.
I wish that our society had a greater understanding of our military. Ever since WWII, we have had a first class military. When we asked our military to do a job they got it done. Not only in the people we had but the training and equipment that they had to get the job done. I sincerely hope that it stays that way. It’s only by recognizing the dedication and hard work of our soldiers that it can.