Called to Serve
Following orders to Alaska, I got to see how beautiful my country is.
s a country boy from the small town of Sugar Grove, Pennsylvania, I never imagined where my Air Force career would take me.
With my parents’ blessing, I joined the military at age 17. After basic training, I learned how to be a heavy-equipment operator, or “dirtboy,” at tech school.
My first duty station was Osan, South Korea, where I spent a year. Two of my most memorable experiences there included spending a day with children at an orphanage and going to the Demilitarized Zone. While in Korea, I received new orders that took me to Alaska.
Many people wait a lifetime to go to Alaska, but I got there as a young airman. I arrived at Eielson Air Force Base in March 2008. That June I married Eileen and brought her to Alaska. What an adventure for a pair of newlyweds!
During my first year of marriage, I was away from my wife for six months due to jobs out on the Blair Lakes bombing range. I was picked for the team that would build an ice bridge across the partially frozen Tanana River. The military needed to get equipment to the range, where we maintained the grounds and the airstrip.
AAlaska was good to us. Eileen and I were blessed with wonderful friends and a great church in North Pole, where we lived. In the fall of 2009, I deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, where my job was to work with the Afghan people and my Red Horse (heavy construction) unit as we built and repaired airstrips. I returned home the next spring.
The summer of 2010 was full of fun and adventure. My in-laws flew in from Maryland, and we took them on a tour of Alaska from North Pole to Valdez, Seward, Homer and Anchorage. They saw what beauty God created in the mountains, rivers and wildlife.
After my in-laws returned to Maryland, my parents and younger siblings visited. My dad grew up in Fairbanks, so it was neat for him to show me the changes and the old familiar places. I also enjoyed hunting and fishing with friends.
The most dangerous adventure was dip netting on the Copper River in Chitina. We took ATVs up a narrow trail, rapelled down a 200-foot cliff and tied ourselves to a tree or rock so we wouldn’t get pulled into the river swells. The danger was worth the 54 salmon we put up in our freezers.
In March 2011, my first child, a son we named Micah, was born. During this time, I was preparing for a permanent move to my next duty station. That May, I loaded up the truck and drove my family from North Pole to Las Vegas, Nevada. Driving along the Alaska Highway through the Yukon Territory, British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, was just an amazing experience.
When God called me to serve my country, I never knew I would go to such gorgeous places.
Junior airman Micah shares a hug with Dad at the base in Las Vegas.