Thursday, May 5, 2011

Osama Bin Laden, Milbloggies, and 8 fast years!

Well friends, family, and readers from around the world who stumbled upon my blog, it has been one interesting week!  Before I jump into the main thing I want to take about, my 8 year AF anniversary, I'd like to take a minute to comment on the death of Osama Bin Laden!  I, like most of the military community, was absolutely elated when I heard the news.  I have been completely hooked on all the details that are coming out about the operation and while I know we may never get all the details, the stuff we are hearing about is pretty awesome.  Even though I know it will not drastically change anything it is still a huge psychological win for the United States!

Next up, Milbloggies.  Sometime around the earthquake on 11 March my friend Jenn, who is a producer for an ABC affiliate in Phoenix, AZ, did a spot about my experience and linked my blog.   After that my little blog for friends and family took off and started getting read all over the world.  I was also linked on a number of blog aggregate sites, the mainpage, and a lot of other sites.  One of those was the military blogging community, Milblogs, which is affiliated with  Apparently they have an annual conference and they select some blogs from different categories for awards.  I didn't even know it, but I was nominated for Best U.S. Air Force blog!  I received an e-mail yesterday letting me know I had won the category.  Pretty cool for something that started as a way for me to show my family what I have been up to in Japan!  Thanks to whoever nominated me and anyone that voted.  I'm really glad people are enjoying the blog and I am sorry I have not been writing as much as I was!  You can check out the other winners by clicking the dogtag below.

Ok.... now that I've got all of the out of the way I want to talk about how this Friday I will hit my 8 year anniversary in the United States Air Force and what that means to me.  It's been a wild ride so far, and it's sort of hard to believe 8 years has gone by already.  My hairline can certainly attest to the time, but I'm not sure if my brain has caught up to the idea yet!

Eight years ago I was living in Philadelphia and I was not exactly heading in the direction I wanted for my life.  A friend of mine told me he was going to join the Air Force and after he told me about the college benefits and some of the programs they had, I decided to at least go talk to a recruiter.  The recruiter was fairly typical and told me whatever I wanted to hear, but the thing he told me that would stick in my mind was "you're joining the Air Force, you'll never see the front lines."  This was March of 2003 and the same week I processed at the MEPS in Harrisburg the US invaded Iraq.

I came into the Air Force without a guaranteed job and was given "Vehicle Operator" as my career field in Basic Training.  I was devastated.  I had come into the Air Force to do something highly technical, and driving was not what I had planned on doing.  Tech school at Ft. Leonard Wood was a breeze and two months after basic I was back at Lackland AFB, but this time as permanent party.  Immediately after in-processing I started hearing about a new type of deployment for Air Force Vehicle Operators.  The Army was short on drivers and needed help running convoys, the Air Force agreed to support the mission, and 9 months into my time in the Air Force A1C Scotty D on a plane heading to Kuwait to stage before heading into Iraq.  This was the beginning of 2004 when the IED threat was heating up, the insurgency was building, and we had no armor on our vehicles.

In Mosul, Iraq.

In Irbil, Iraq.

It is so tempting to turn this into a damn memoir and write more and more, but I will try to keep the details brief.  That first deployment cemented my love of the Air Force, and showed me that there are a lot of good opportunities in my career field.  I saw both good and bad out there on that deployment, and on my next.  I ended up logging over 35,000 miles on the streets of Iraq from 04-06, was shot at, blown up, and lost five good people.  Army Sgt Ladd and Lt. Stovall, and Air Force Sgts Peters, Norton, and McElroy.  I'll remember those names for the rest of my life.

The deployments were just one facet of the job, and at the risk of rambling I will just include some highlights!  There just always seems to be something going on and I am lucky to be a part of it.  I've been coined by two different Secretary of the Air Force and dozens of Generals.  I've helped with relief efforts with two major natural disasters, Hurricane Katrina and the recent earthquake here in Japan.  I had the opportunity to spend two years teaching combat skills to over 1,600 different Airmen across the Air Force who were deploying into dangerous countries.  I graduated college with a Bachelors in Computer Science at almost no cost to me.  The Air Force has been nothing but opportunities for me.

When I look back at the last eight years it seems like it went by so fast but at the same time it's like I've lived two lifetimes worth of events already.  This July I will put on Technical Sergeant, E-6, and just over 8 years.  That's pretty fast for the Air Force and while it may preclude me from getting to do as much hands-on work, it opens up a lot more opportunities to lead.  I'm excited about where the next 12+ years will take me, and the great thing is that I honestly have no idea where my final destination is.  I just know I want ride this gig out as long as I'm still having fun, and if the next 12 years are as good as the first 8 I may stick around longer!

So this blog sort of ended up a little random, and I tried not to ramble too much.  Next week I will maybe post some photos of cherry blossoms from the last week since I went to the Cherry Blossom festival in Hirosaki and then went out to a local park with some Japanese friends for a Ohanami style BBQ.  This weekend I will also be heading out to Hawaii for work for three weeks.  I've never been there and I am really hoping I get some time off to see some things! 


  1. This was a great post; it explained lots about who you are and where you came from. I started reading Milblogs at the beginning of the Iraq War. It was a way to learn and know what was happening in the war, and it was a way to support our military.
    Through blogs, I learned and became a Soldiers Angel. Over the years, the milblogs have slowed down. Soldiers are not blogging their day-to-day lives like they used to. When I stumbled across your blog, I thought "Yea! someone is telling about life in the military and doing it well." Air Force people seem to blog less than other branches - so I nominated you for the Milblogs Awards. I think you do a great job of writing and you do great things for your country. I'm looking forward to the cherry blossom pics. Have fun in Hawaii! My daughter and friends will be there next week.

  2. Congrats on the well-deserved Milblog Win!
    Thank you for your service and congrats on your 8 year anniversary. Time flies when you serve our Nation...I can't believe my son enlisted in the USAF almost 12 years ago!
    Keep writing, we'll keep reading!

  3. On one hand you were told,"You'll never see the front lines." on the other hand I had a friend who joined the US Marine Corp because he wanted to fight! He was classified as clerical, and he traveled around the world during one of those out breaks of peace, looking at it for the most part out of office windows.

  4. Congratulations on the Milbloggie!

  5. Yeah, we killed Osama. I am proud and happy for that but at the same time, we should also think... Is his death the end of terrorism? I do not think so. Do you still hear in the news of a bomb blast here and there? Well, its us humans that need to realize and keep the planet peace!

    Cyber Crime