Twenty years for Russ

 The Beatles have a very familiar song which starts out, “It was 20 years ago today, Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play.” Well, Sergeant Pepper didn’t teach me how to play but three military training instructors welcomed me to Lackland Air Force Base in the early morning hours.

Today marks my 20th anniversary in the Air Force. Wow, 20 years. It doesn’t seem like it could be possible. Back in August 1989, this day seemed so far away. Twenty years later, the time has flown.

My flight was the first one to wear the battle dress uniform. There were many Airmen who wore the fatigues. Those who wore them told me they were comfortable. Now, BDUs are gone…replaced by Airman Battle Uniform.

Early in my career, Airmen eagerly sought field training opportunities because it gave them a chance to do their job in a war-time setting. Now, the Air Force is expeditionary. Airmen are deploying frequently to war zones. Some are doing their jobs, and others are serving in Joint Expeditionary Taskings. They are bravely doing a war-time role outside of their normal careers.

The Air Force has been good to me, though the past five years have been rough. Spending a year in Korea, six months in Afghanistan and six months in Iraq—and let’s not forget require professional military education and training—I’ve been gone almost as much as I’ve been home.  While it’s been hard for me, it’s been even harder for my wife Lisa.

The Air Force has given me a chance to see the world. I’ve lived in England, South Korea, Honduras, Afghanistan and Iraq. I’ve also visited Scotland, France, Germany and Kyrgyzstan. I’ve had the honor of working in the Pentagon, first in the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Public Affairs Office and now in Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs.

Most importantly, the Air Force indirectly set the conditions up—assignments and friends—for me to find the love of my life…my wonderful wife Lisa.  It’s almost been six-and-a-half years since we were married. Through that time, she’s bravely dealt with me being away. If there’s been any personal good in my absences due to unaccompanied assignments and deployments, it’s reminded us how much we love each other.

Thank you, Air Force, for 20 years.


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