In early April of 2007 I left the life I knew. In the months previous I made the choice to join the United States Air Force. My wife and I were not in a secure situation when we found out she was pregnant. I was working at Pizza Hut for minimum wages in Wyoming; hardly enough to afford insurance of measure or to raise a child. My head hurt thinking about my options at this point. The military seeped into my mind and I tried to talk my self out of it. “Can a Mormon be in the military?” I pondered. We, as Christians, teach to love one another and about other lessons of peace. Affiliation with a military organization seemed so contrary. What I did with a quiet heart, the Army and Marines were a no-go; I didn’t particularly feel like getting shot. And the Navy… Well, to this day, I am not a fan of water or swimming in it… or being surrounded by it. You could surely classify it as water aversion.
The US Air Force was left. I didn’t know much about it. I looked up the number for a local recruiter. which was not very local where we lived. He drove two hours out of Salt Lake City to a Wyoming town of 1300 people to meet with my wife and I. The door bell notified us with its classic tones and I look to the door; to my future. We open the door to a man in his AF blues uniform on the door step. He looked very formal in the three-button suit with several ornate features. The buttons shined like his smile. He greeted us with a firm handshake. His grip was confident and sure. I felt relieved with a feeling that he’d be able to help my growing family out; out of this miserable situation. We talked a bit, the sergeant prodding to determine if I would be a good fit. I was surprised to learn that he was also a member of our church; a Mormon. This gave me so much relief, knowing that it was ‘ok’ and learning more about my church even, in this situation.
for the next step to take place, I would have to go to Salt Lake City to the MEPS. The military loves their abbreviations. MEPS is short for Military Entry Processing Station. This is a military installation where the paperwork and such is handled. I spent the better part of the day here answering questions. And filling out paperwork. And medical exams. And at one point, flawlessly reading a paragraph by memory. They had an standard sheet of white paper with a paragraph typed out in the center. A couple people would stand there gazing at the wall for a moment. Then take their chances against the sergeant. If it weren’t perfect, you’d get sent back to again staring blankly at the paper hoping to commit it to memory and praying to get it all out the right way. These trials really test your determination. You can walk away at any point, until you sign on the line and take the oath. “…against all enemies, foreign and domestic….”
Paperwork and signatures. Done.
Medical clearance and drug test. Done.
Vocational test, reading/reporting test and minimum strength test. Done.
With all these steps complete, the only task left, to get on a plane and fly away from my pregnant wife and the life I knew. We held on to each other as tightly as we held on to hope. A hope that this would be our opportunity to have a better life. It would challenge our new marriage and our emotions. I nervously boarded the plane with uncertainty in my heart. Off we go into the wild blue yonder…