I was eighteen years old. When I had graduated high school two years earlier at sixteen, I would have laughed hysterically had anyone suggested that I would have a career in the military. I had plans to go to college to become a missionary nurse. But there I was entering the door of a local recruiting office for the United States Air Force. The recruiter looked me over and sat me down showing me a plan of why I should enter the military. I in turn, tried to tell him it was wasted time. I had already made up my mind to join the United States military.
I had been attending college and work close to a full time job. One of the jobs I had was at night, at times, I would catch myself falling asleep in my 7:30 class or even skipping class entirely for just a few minutes of sleep. When a nurse at the hospital told me the military would pay for me to attend college, I didn’t need any more convincing. The Air Force recruiter administered a test to measure my intelligence to join the military. I scored rather well on an office test so he signed me up to get further testing. I was sent with other recruits to a nearby city where we endured a circuit of tests. The testing included medical tests, physical weight tests, and another job specific test.
Within three weeks of signing paperwork with my intentions to enlist, I was bused then flown with others to six weeks of basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. During a stop before my flights, I went to a nearby beauty salon and I told the hairdresser, “Cut my hair to my shoulders.” Waist length golden blonde hair started flying to the floor and I began to have my first doubts about the military. These doubts would continue during my entire six years, eight months, twenty-one days of my military career.
A typical enlistment in the United States Air Force is four years. I was promoted from Airman Basic to Airman First Class upon graduated basic training because of my college credits. Basic training was an eye-opening, terrorizing experience to a little girl who grew up in a religious household with long skirts, no television, and uncut hair. I was literally terrified and would cry myself to sleep nightly. I had a girl that bunked next to me that was a great help and I am forever grateful for her for helping me survive the marching, exercise, military customs, and rules. When I graduated basic training, my basic training instructor was addressing a group of us trainees and startled me when he spoke my name and said, “I never expected you to graduate from basic training.” But I did and there I was heading to my next training base in Keesler, Mississippi to eventually become a Staff Sergeant and an Air Combat Command’s Aviation Resource Management Instructor.
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