A few days ago, my husband and I had an all out laugh session reminiscing on our time in the military. I wanted to share a bit of this with you all. Below is an excerpt from my self published work, “Military Wives: Rare Details You Must Know Before & After the Vow.”
January 12th, 2010…….
The best day of my life, and the scariest day of my life. How is that possible, you ask?
That day, I made the choice to join an organization that was above the norm; a group that makes up less than 5% of the population. A group that many will ATTEMPT to join, but few will make it past the test. I’m talking about the United States Air Force!! Doesn’t that title sound so empowering?
The Air Force……Mighty Mighty Air Force……………
It’s funny but I can still hear and visualize my MTI calling cadence. “Pivot on the left foot pivot on the left. GET IN STEP!!!”
My sister was already a reservist in the Army. She told me firsthand, “Do not join the Army! Do Air Force it’s a better way of life.”
My Pastor, at the time, told me to really think about it. And to enlist for 4 years instead of 6 years JUST IN CASE!!
My Recruiter was A1! He told me EVERYTHING; the ins and outs, ups and downs, the good and the terrible! He never sugarcoated anything.
My mentor from the church, who was also a part of the armed forces, told me something that no one else had told me. He said “No matter what you do, stay prayed up and don’t COMPROMISE who you are.”
That made me raise an eyebrow. I went from a full stretched out smile to now a halfway grin and I’m thinking “What the heck am I signing up for, a cult?” But I kept that in the back of my mind, not knowing how that would be all I needed to help me later down the road.
So I’m prepping my mind. I’m like, “Ok, I’m good!” I couldn’t be any more prepared. I’ve talked to just about everyone I can think of. Now I just have to do it! There’s nothing stopping me now!
Oh my gosh, I was super excited to leave that day! Being the person that I am, I was ready for the challenge. I said “Okay, I can get through the yelling part! That’s easy! My Mom did more yelling in my whole lifetime than 2 months of basic training!” This will be a piece of cake, right?!
I get to the military entrance processing building to do the final physicals/examinations. Everyone is as friendly as can be. They ask us questions about our medical records and let us know off top “If you lie during this process, you will get caught!” So I put EVERYTHING on that paper. I didn’t care if it was small, I was not getting in trouble!!
Then we do our very last swear-in. I will never forget the older gentleman who kept asking us with his eyes buck wide “ARE YOU SURE?” He asked about three times!!
By this time, I’m really getting worried. It was one of those moments like someone was about to rob me and I was naively unaware. Looking back, I believe he was genuinely trying to warn me. I didn’t know that up until the last swear-in, you could change your mind and say no. So I said yes! I’m thinking, what could be worst? I’m failing college. I’m 19, and there’s no way I’m going back home to work a minimum wage job and sleep on my mother’s couch! So I stared back at him with the same wide eyes and gave him the look like, YESSS!! I SOLEMNLY SWEAR OR AFFIRM BROTHER!!! LET’S GET THIS ROLLING BEFORE I CHANGE MY MIND!
We arrive at the airport. My family is there to see me off. It didn’t hit me until I sat in my seat on the plane. I turned to the window so no one could see me and cried like a baby! But I was content with my decision to better my life.
Fast forwarding to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas……
If you’ve ever seen the Basic Training video of people who first arrive at Lackland, then you have a pretty good idea of how it first began.
Processing was the longest part of it all! It seemed like it took forever!! Imagine 80-100 people sitting in a room doing absolutely nothing but looking straightforward. Not fun at all. And then the question came up, “Did anyone of you play an instrument in high school?” My hands stayed on my lap the whole time. My recruiter set me up for success and told me that if anyone asked a question about previous experiences, DON’T VOLUNTEER INFORMATION! I sat still and watched everyone else fall for the trap. As they answered, they got separated into different sections. I later realized that this was their process of setting up squadrons.
After getting sorted, we sat in this one room for what seemed like eternity. The only thing that is on my mind is “When are we going to eat? Because I can be quiet but at least give me some cheese crackers and juice!” I’m a southern girl. I love some fried chicken, mustard greens, candied yams, and cornbread. But I knew we definitely were not about to be eating like we were at a buffet.
I had the worst hunger headache! And it’s a good thing we weren’t talking because at this point, my breath was probably deadly from hunger! And likely everyone else as well!!
They didn’t let us starve for long though. They made me help issue out the lunch boxes since I had gotten caught earlier laughing at another trainee. But I didn’t mind walking around after sitting for so long.
I finally get to eat! I’m trying to rip this box open as fast as I could!
Then all type of emotions hit me at once. I felt confused, slightly angry, slightly bothered.
I’m thinking “This can’t be for real. Are they serious right now?” This box had a sandwich with frozen meat, and a frozen juice box. For the finale we had cookies; BUT we couldn’t enjoy those, had to toss those back in the trash bag!! My heart dropped in my stomach. I’m looking like someone had taken my favorite Barbie doll. All I was left with was frozen meat, frozen juice, and bread! But my stomach was like “Girl we’ve came too far to turn back now!” So I dived right in and enjoyed every bite!
I’m saying to myself……“How am I going to survive not being able to eat when I want? Watch, I’m probably going to be the trainee getting caught sneaking food back to the dorms.”
I get over that part, but my headache is still present. Soon they start to separate us by the squadron and flight we were assigned to.
We load up on the bus again and prepare to meet our fate.
No one knew what time it was, since we weren’t allowed to use our phones or any electronics. But I would probably say it was past midnight when we got to our dorms.
They made us hold all of our bags in one hand. Luckily, my recruiter set me up for success once more! I only had one small bag and I was feeling good about it. A couple of girls were struggling and I’m grinding my teeth together trying not to burst out laughing.
The female MTI yelled out, “I don’t know why y’all brought all of these bags like you’re going on vacation!” Then she gets real close to one girl’s ear and says loudly “What you got? Some high heels, some cute outfits? You think you going to the club huh?!”
I’m laughing so hard inside!!
After about what felt like 20 minutes, we march upstairs to our dorm room and prepare to wind down. After all, we had a long rough day. Yes! They’re going to let us take a long hot shower and get some beauty rest for the next day.
We get inside of the dorm and male MTIs were waiting on us, ready to tear us apart. I’m thinking, “Great, more yelling and my head is still killing me.”
The man who was in charge of the whole squadron was ready to greet me. He got in my face and said “Oh you have an attitude!” And in my head, I’m saying, “You would have an attitude too if you had a frozen sandwich for dinner and a headache. And you must be hungry too because your breath is not on point!”
He left me alone when he saw that the yelling didn’t faze me. He wanted to get someone who it was actually going to affect.
After that, the male MTIs leave, of course, so that we could shower and get ready for bed. The next two and a half months felt like I was in jail. That’s the best way I can describe it without going into too much detail. We received letters but weren’t able to open it until maybe the 5th week of training. So just imagine having a letter smack dab in front of you from your mom, your siblings, or your boyfriend, and you can’t even open it. You could if you wanted to, but the consequences would not have been worth it.
I realized that it was all just a tactic to get us to our weakest point so that we could be easier to…well…control.
Man, I’m really second guessing this decision.
I knew THEN that this choice I made would only be temporary.
I made it through training with a sprained knee, but I ran that Airman’s Run like it was nothing! Especially when I saw my family and boyfriend (now husband) cheering for me. I didn’t want them to think I was broken, but they could tell I was in pain.
Up until this point, we still weren’t able to make physical contact with our family. We were instructed to stand at parade rest until one of our family members came to tap us out of formation. My little brother was the first to spot me. He tapped me on my shoulder and I just hugged him as tight as I could and cried! I felt so relieved to be able to see my family again. And boy did I have some stories to tell!!!
Fast forwarding to graduation, then tech school, and now active duty life.
All I can express is a melody from an old African-American spiritual…
“Nobody told meeee that the road would be easy but I don’t believe he brought me this far to leave me!”
Everyone told me that it would get easier. They said active duty life was going to be more laid back; said that I would have a little more freedom. That was partially correct. But, for some reason I still felt like a prisoner in my own skin. I felt as if I had lost ME. I lost my voice. I had to wear my hair in this ugly ponytail every day, because I had long hair. And I wasn’t going to cut it just to be able to wear it down in uniform. Short hair is not for me. My head is way too round for that! No thank you!
I couldn’t figure out why this job/career was taking me away from myself. Why wasn’t it simpler?
I would come home every single day complaining and stressed.
I chose to separate in 2014 under the conditions of pregnancy…..
Alright, I hate to cut it short! I wish I could post it all here for you to browse and pick out the points that interest you the most.
But if you enjoyed this much of my book and you want to learn more about my experience in the Air Force, click here to purchase a copy! Feel free to leave a review after you have reviewed its contents.
If I can help just ONE person, my role in this Universe is fulfilled.
Thank you for your continued support! I genuinely appreciate all of the feedback and contributions to this work.