Thursday, November 12, 2015

Eight Formative Years

It wasn't until Joel was his sixties that he would accept with grace that he is a veteran. He spent nearly 8 years in the U.S. Air Force, but never saw combat, so did not feel the recognition was really for him. But he served his country and he did it well.

Just a few months before we were to marry in June of 1968, Joel received his draft notice.  The war in Viet Nam was going strong, and Joel had to make a decision that he knew would impact our lives.  Did he want to apply for a deferment to finish college and go to Seminary, or would he attempt to get into the Air Force.  Even though his draft notice would enlist him in the Army, he could opt for another branch.  He did not feel comfortable getting out serving, so he enlisted in the Air Force.  That way he felt he would not need to carry a gun and use it against others.  Joel grew up with a gun in his hand, and later in our life together he would sit with one loaded and ready in case the deranged man the police told us was coming to kill him would arrive at our home before the law.  He would have defended our family. Here he had a choice and he chose the Air Force.

He applied for an education program during the first year as an airman, and when he was accepted he was promoted to sargeant and then sent to the University of Utah where he received his degree in meteorology.  He became a weather forecaster for military pilots.  By the time he graduated from the university we had two children and had lived in Minnesota, Illinois, New Mexico, and Utah.  He had been through basic training and then went through officers training before being sent to Duluth MN as a Lieutenant.  Very unusual to move up in the ranks the way he did, but then he is an unusual guy!

After spending two years in Duluth we were sent to The Philippine Islands where he finished his commitment time with the military and we were blessed to bring home a daughter and a son to join our family. Getting out after 8 years brought mixed emotions, but Joel was eager to go to seminary and we were eager to begin a new chapter in our lives.

Those eight years shaped us as a couple, as a family, and as Americans.  We are very patriotic and believe strongly in defending our country.  When 9-ll happened we seriously discussed Joel going back in as a chaplain, and we looked into it, but he did not meet the age requirement at that time.  In every war before and since, we honor those who served and their families.

I remember the times when we joined with others to salute the flag and say the pledge of allegiance in military theaters, or stopped our cars while on the bases to get out and stand quietly or salute the American Flag when it was taken down at night.  One of my greatest memories is of being part of Operation Babylift during the fall of Saigon, where the military wives came together to help the base take care of orphan children as they arrived at Clark Air Base from Viet Nam.  It was wonderful to be a part of such a wonderful mission.

Today we remember the eight years Joel served, and we are grateful for all the veterans who served. Grateful to our family members: Joel, Danny, Orville, Bill, Deb, Sigurd, Orv, and any others I may have missed.  Thank you all for serving your country, our country.  Thank you.


Sharon said...

Renee, would you please pass on my heartfelt gratitude to Joel, and to the members of your family who so selflessly served our country, and in doing so, served us? I am so thankful for the people who serve to defend our freedoms. My heart is touched by their sacrifice, and by the sacrifice of those who love them and stay on the homefront.

Thank you.


Renee said...

Will do. God bless you, too, Sharon.