My name is Jack and I am a Captain in the United States Air Force. I am originally from Boulder,CO but also claim Minnesota and Arizona. I have been on active duty for almost 5 years and have had many great experiences. My AF career started at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, AZ where I studied Electrical Engineering, with a minor in military studies. I committed myself to the ROTC program, with the intent to become an AF officer after graduation. It is in Arizona that I met Janae, the love of my life, marrying her in-between my junior and senior year at the age of 20. She transferred away from the very prestigious nursing program at Arizona State University to attend a lesser known YSCU, in order to be with me. This was the first sacrifice that Janae had made for me and my career and was not to be the last.
Upon completing ROTC, I was commissioned in the USAF as a 2nd Lieutenant and fast on my way to USAF Pilot training. I was selected for a very competitive training program, where only the top 10% of pilot candidates are able to attend. The program is called Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training (ENJJPT), where the top pilot candidates from all NATO countries gather to train and learn together. The program is located at Sheppard AFB in Wichita Falls,TX. So, we packed up all of our belongings, and moved to Texas. Janae would transfer, yet again, to Midwestern State University, losing nearly half of the credits and work that she had put into her degree up to that point. Despite circumstances that could have made her impatient and angry with the AF, she stayed exceptionally and outwardly positive. In fact, her positive attitude and confidence set the tone for our family and has helped our marriage to flourish. We spent the next 18 months in Wichita Falls, experiencing the ebbs and flows that are associated with a student pilot lifestyle.
I graduated pilot training and was assigned to the 99th Air Refueling Squadron in Birmingham, AL flying the mighty KC-135 Stratotanker. We were both very excited, especially when we learned that the University of Alabama has a world renowned nursing program, located in Birmingham, which is where we hoped that Janae could finish her 4-year degree that was looking to go on for 6 or 7 years. Finding ourselves trapped, once again, in the loss of credit transfers and repeating courses, we both decided that Janae would finish her degree in Wichita Falls while I moved on to Birmingham. That was the toughest year, financially and in our marriage. We were forking out rent on Janae’s apartment and our home in Birmingham, a modest house that we purchased with hopes of starting a family when Janae moved out to Birmingham in a year. Not to mention, the travel costs of seeing each other every once in awhile. This was tough on me, but truly difficult on Janae. She had sacrificed her career up to this point, but with the direct support of her husband. She was now doing it alone, not truly but I’m sure it felt that way to her sometimes.
During the following year, while Janae was still in Texas, I arrived at the 99th, became a mission capable tanker pilot, deployed and traveled many times, and set up our new home. That year flew by. Before we knew it Janae was home, with her long sought-after degree, and had been hired at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s hospital. She was just thrilled to be home, not to mention with a well-earned, excellent job at a prestigious hospital. We have been in Birmingham for two years exactly. I have now been promoted to Captain, am in training for aircraft commander, have been deployed a total of 3 times in support of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, have been on the road an additional 4 months, celebrated our 6th year anniversary, begun my MBA degree, and recently found out that Janae is pregnant and due in early January.
Our Air Force life has been anything but predictable. I said that Janae has sacrificed a lot, and it’s true. We are truly still in love and excited for the challenges that await us in our future. From a military man, I hear people thank me all the time for my service and sacrifice, and I am truly thankful for their support. I continue to say it’s just a job, a great job, one in which a lot of great opportunities have been presented to me, with a lot of challenges and frustrations. I like to remind people that it is truly our families that give the most. They put their lives on hold, move away from their families, have some of their dreams put on hold or even squashed, spend time away from the ones they love, and have to put up with the losses of loved ones, sometimes the ultimate loss. I am thankful for Janae and I will love her until the end.
Thank you again for your consideration. We greatly appreciate it. The reason that we were looking into a security system is that recently there have been many break-ins in our neighborhood. The most recent was 8 homes down the street and I was deployed. I guess they have been kicking in front doors in the middle of the day. I do not understand how people get away with this or why people would do this. I would feel much more comfortable, knowing that someone is looking over my family while I am gone. Thank you again.
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