Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Why I Picked Air Force

I was originally going to be in the Navy.

After seeing "Top Gun" all I wanted to do was fly the now-retiring F-14 Tomcat and zip around like Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer. When I showed up at The Citadel I enrolled in Navy ROTC and was well on my way. The requirements for a pilot slot out of Navy ROTC were a lot higher than they were in Air Force, but even though I had a 1.48 GPA after my first semester I still had my hopes up...

After another year of school, I was approaching a point in ROTC when I had to make a final decision as to what I was going to do for a career. My grades were still in the toilet, I had been pretty much told by the officers in the Navy Department that being a pilot was a pipe dream, and I was about ready to give up. In the middle of the night while studying for my final exams for my first semester of my Sophomore year, I went outside onto the gallery and asked for guidance from my guardian angel.

My sister, Jenny, was born with her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, and wasn't breathing when she came out. Mind you, this was the early 70's and the doctors tried to get things right but couldn't in time. As a result she was severely brain-damaged at birth, and never developed mentally past roughly six months old. I don't remember much, but I've been told that we were very close until she became too much for my parents to take care of and we had to place her in a home. She stayed there until she passed away in 1987.

After her death I actually came to feel closer to her than I did when she was alive. I talked to her all the time, and occasionally received "signals" back from her that were so bizarre that I could only attribute them to be messages from heaven. The night that I had reached my wit's end as to what path I should take in life, I was given an answer from Jenny.

As I stood on the gallery looking at the stars above the cold white walls that I called home, I said a quiet prayer to Jenny alluding to my confusion and asking for direction. "I don't know what to do, Jenny," I said to the night air. "I need some help."

Out of nowhere, breaking through the midnight calm, a four-ship of Air Force F-16's enroute to Charleston Air Force Base slowly roared overhead on final approach. As their engines droned off into the distance, my decision was made.

It was Air Force or a life as a civilian.

The next day, in between exams, I went to my counselor and changed my enrollment for the next semester from Navy to Air Force and never looked back.

It was one of the best decisions I've ever made.


  1. Interesting...which company? "C" '76 here...and skippy-san (Far East Cynic) is '79...

    Story: In 75, they called all the AFROTC out to the bleachers and did the take one step forward if you're going to fly "NOT SO FAST!" routine to them. The spooling down of Vietnam finally came to roost and only trade school guys would get to fly. Well, being the enterprising guys they were (and now seniors w/o a career), they ran stright to the Navy Dept in Jenkins Hall, where they were met with great joy...and they all became Naval Aviators...Such are the times of life and history

  2. I was H company, 79.......

    Went Naval Aviation, loved every minute of it ( well maybe there were more than a few I could have done without). However truth be told, when my son was thinking about joining the service ( he did not) I tried to persuade him to join the USAF.......