Do what it takes to get the job done, then and now…

Maintainers slogging back to the hangar after working on a bird in a snowstorm in Kef, 1983.

To understand a veteran you must know:

We left home as teenagers or in our early twenties for an unknown adventure.

We loved our country enough to defend it and protect it with our own lives.

We said goodbye to friends and family and everything we knew.

We learned the basics and then we scattered in the wind to the far corners of the Earth.

We found new friends and a new family.

We became brothers and sisters regardless of color, race, or creed.

We had plenty of good times, and plenty of bad times.

We didn’t get enough sleep.

We smoked and drank too much.

We picked up both good and bad habits.

We worked hard and played harder.

We didn’t earn a great wage.

We experienced the happiness of mail call and the sadness of missing important events.

We didn’t know when, or even if, we were ever going to see home again.

We grew up fast, and yet somehow, we never grew up at all.

We fought for our freedom, as well as the freedom of others.

Some of us saw actual combat, and some of us didn’t.

Some of us saw the world, and some of us didn’t.

Some of us dealt with physical warfare, most of us dealt with psychological warfare.

We have seen and experienced and dealt with things that we can’t fully describe or explain, as not all of our sacrifices were physical.

We participated in time-honored ceremonies and rituals with each other, strengthening our bonds and camaraderie.

We counted on each other to get our job done and sometimes to survive it at all.

We have dealt with victory and tragedy.

We have celebrated and mourned.

We lost a few along the way.

When our adventure was over, some of us went back home, some of us started somewhere new and some of us never came home at all.

We have told amazing and hilarious stories of our exploits and adventures.

We share an unspoken bond with each other, that most people don’t experience, and few will understand.

We speak highly of our own branch of service and poke fun at the other branches.

We know, however, that, if needed, we will be there for our brothers and sisters and stand together as one, in a heartbeat.

Being a veteran is something that had to be earned, and it can never be taken away.

It has no monetary value, but at the same time, it is a priceless gift.

People see a veteran and they thank them for their service.

When we see each other, we give that little upwards head nod, or a slight smile, knowing that we have shared and experienced things that most people have not.

So, from myself to the rest of the veterans out there, I commend and thank you for all that you have done and sacrificed for your country.

Try to remember the good times and make peace with the bad times.

Share your stories.

But most importantly, stand tall and proud, for you have earned the right to be called a veteran.


Veterans… — 16 Comments

  1. I finished high school in June of 1970. On July 1st the draft lottery picked my birth date as number 28. Sooner or later I would be drafted, so I enlisted. After basic and MP school I was sent to Ft Ritchie, Maryland. I hated the Army, but I learned that I was a lot tougher than I thought I was. I learned how to be part of a team and made friends with people who are still my friends. I got out in September of ’72 and went to college on the GI bill. Later I bought my house on the GI bill. The Army was good for me. I know people who never grew up, who would have been better people if they had gone through what I went through.

  2. That nails it Sir.

    The picture reminds me of a trip in our old Alfa, (VX-1 had an Alfa, a Bravo, and two Charlies) from Key West to Brunswick in January. Temps were close to 0 and the brakes were wont to leak essential fluids. To put the plane into the old hangar the nose had to be jacked up on a special towing jack contraption to clear the top of the tail. The process took a long time and we went through that twice before we could leave. The water separator bags were frozen so we didn’t get heat in the cabin until we were down over New York. Fun trip.

  3. Robert- It was @#%@#$ COLD!

    Bob- Don’t disagree at all!

    Flugel- Ah yes… ‘THAT’ freaking hangar…

    GB- Agreed

    RHT- Sadly, that they have.

  4. While I’m proud to be a veteran I don’t make it a big deal. At the place and time of my youth it was something you did. I did my three year obligation, wasn’t called to join the Reserves, so got on with my life.

    Great respect for those who made it a career and especially those who were downrange.

  5. Took the ASVAB pre-test as a joke when a buddy was trying to join the Navy. The recruiter informed me I was his new project. I laughed. 4 months later I was at AAFEES St Louis swearing in. 4 years became 20 and a bit more. One of the best things I ever did. Many friends and adventures along the way as well as some crappy times. A career well lived.

    • Rey, I enlisted August 3, 1966. Raised in the STL area. Attended Mercy, University City and Normandy High School and Flourisant Valley Community College (270 Tech).

  6. Looking back and looking at where we are causes me significant pain. I’m optimistic about the future, but I won’t be there to see it.

  7. My dad was there from June of 1942 until early November 1943, the stories he told……..hooo boy!

  8. WSF- You are, that is what counts.

    Rey- LOL, funny how that works out sometimes…

    LL- Sadly, I have to agree.

    Nylon- It’s an ‘interesting’ place…

  9. Met hubby in tech school at Keesler AFB in Mississippi. He went to McClellan AFB in California and I went to Kelly AFB in Texas. A few months later we were married and got Join Spouse assignments to Beale AFB in California with the 9th SRW.
    Never went to Kef; but hubby went to Shemya several times and was familiar with the “rope trails” in winter.
    I did 20, he “bought back” his 16 years of Air Force time and finished with 33 and change Civil Service at MCAS Cherry Point in North Carolina.
    I remember being surprised by how different things “functioned” in society compared to the military back then, when I got out.
    I definitely understand the pain of where we are now.
    Thank you, all, too.
    Be safe and God bless.

  10. Is “Kef”, Keflavik, Iceland? Tree Mike, Crew Chief, USAF, May’72-May’73.

  11. Rey, I enlisted August 3, 1966. Raised in the STL area. Attended Mercy, University City and Normandy High School and Flourisant Valley Community College (270 Tech).

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