I miss being in, the above essay is the best I've seen on the subject.
Currently today I serve with the Alaska State Defence Force, a Title 32 State Militia that falls under Alaska's Adjutant General (the General in charge of both the Alaska Army and Air National Guard, Alaska Military Youth Academy, and Alaska State Defence Force). I've gone from being an Airman fighting for the nation as a whole overseas to a Soldier for Alaska defending the United States from within Alaska. I'll always likely be drawn to jobs and volunteer opportunities involving security, its forever in my nature now.
I joined the Air Force 10 years ago out of feelings of patriotism and the need to be ready should something terrible happen. Nine years ago something did indeed occur that vindicated my decisions. I found myself right where I was needed when I needed to be there (even if I didn't go to war where and when I thought I should have!).
Every year this day comes, I'm haunted by two conversations from high school. First was my Creative Writing Teacher laughing at the notion that terrorist could possibly attack our nation. Apparently the 1993 WTC bombing was lost on her, and the more obvious threat was from the McVeigh crowd... She laughed... In 1999... Then there were the Pearl Harbor Survivors that I heard speak when I was a snot nosed Navy JROTC Cadet standing in formation at the US Air Force Academy honouring. I remember the old retired Navy Sailor who survived Pearl Harbor very worriedly with pain in his voice decry how our nation had forgotten the lessons and was not fully prepared... (I even found the article from this event as few of these survivors are left today: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4191/is_19991208/ai_n9962942/ it was always a special occasion in Colorado Springs).
On September 10 2001 I was loading Humvees into a KC-135 at Topeka's Airport getting ready for my first National Training Center rotation (a month of war games out at Ft. Irwin CA). I'd just achieved my Combat Mission Readiness status in JUL01 and was fully deployable. I'd just been in over a year (02AUG00 was when I went to Basic...). The next day I was supposed to have the day off after dropping one of our Airmen off at the stating point as he was part of the Advance Party going to fly with our trucks... Needless to say, it became one of the longest days in my military career. I remember walking out of our squadron break room on Ft. Riley and closing our motor pool gate and putting a holster on my TA-50 gear after watching the Pentagon getting hit. A short time later our Squadron Commander called us into the briefing room and we watched the events unfold on our projector screen, we all had that sick feeling in our guts knowing we were at war right now. As our Squadron Commander released us to go home to our families for the day, and to expect a phone call at any minute, the towers collapsed. Living in the dorms, there was no sleep for me. Just interrupted rest as we rotated who would do a building walk around each hour...
We ended up going to NTC a week later. I didn't deploy to Afghanistan, ever... However I ended up supporting Operation Enduring Freedom from Kuwait in 2002 by working at the bombing ranges and training pilots (and getting training myself...) that were flying through on their way to Afghanistan. I did go to Korea for a year, and served in the long war that never ended there (its still under the 1953 ceasefire) from 2003-2004, and finally went to Iraq twice before getting out. Now I serve locally in Alaska...
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