U.S. military second to none

Published 4:16 pm Tuesday, October 9, 2012

We all know what the words duty, respect, loyalty, honor, and integrity mean.

But how often do we actually live up to them?

I recently had the opportunity to take a civic leader trip hosted by the 908th Airlift Wing, and met men and women who live up to these words and so many more, each and every day.

Email newsletter signup

The purpose of the trip was to give people a first-hand look at United States Air Force people and equipment.

We took off aboard a C-130 Hercules from Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, the home of the 908th Airlift Wing, Alabama’s only U.S. Air Force Reserve unit en route to the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Texas.

I don’t particularly like to fly and I was extremely nervous to board a “cargo” plane with mesh seats that lined the walls with a simple lap safety belt.   I managed to make it through takeoff without passing out, and much to my surprise the flight was smooth.

I even had the chance to join the pilots in the cockpit of the C-130 and view their world at 23,000 feet in the air.  The view was amazing, but I am better suited for passenger seating.

On arrival at Fort Worth, the group visited Lockheed Martin’s production facility where we had a chance to tour the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter plane production line.

The production, technology, and procedures that are involved in developing military planes and equipment are unbelievable.

Lockheed employs more than 14,000 people at its Texas facility and is the training operation for all fighter pilots, U.S. and international.

While on the two-day tour I also had the chance to fly a plane, eject and parachute, and navigate my way through a hostile situation; all through virtual simulators, of course.

I was so pumped up after getting a chance to do these things that I convinced myself that I might like to join the Air Force and participate on a regular basis until I realized that I was over the age limit for active duty enrollment.

I thought I had a pretty good idea of what the military does and the importance of their presence in our country.  But what I learned on this trip is that I only had a small clue as to what military men and women do.

I did not come in contact with one airman (male or female) that didn’t love their job and their country.

Each person I encountered at each base location was dedicated to doing what it takes to keep me and my family safe each day.  The professionalism, respect, dedication, and loyalty that I felt from each person there was second to none.   I thank the 908th Airlift Wing at Maxwell AFB and the millions of other brave individuals who serve their country.