Fast track to losing stripes

  • Published
  • By Airman Adam Osgood
  • 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
April 17 started off just like every Friday. Wake up, get ready for the night shift and get through the work day to start my weekend. What I didn't see coming was the decision I would make at the end of my night, a decision that would ultimately put my career at risk. I made a choice that would affect many more people than just myself. My name was Airman 1st Class Adam Osgood, and I decided to drink and drive.

I finished the night shift and decided to hang out with some friends after work. It was about 3 a.m. when I reached the dorms and was ready to "throw back a couple" and relax. I had a wingman and good intentions to drink responsibly. I also had a plan to sleep at the dorms and drive home after waking up. That's it!  That's all there was to my plan.

It's very clear by my current situation that I didn't think this one through. What's the point of having a plan if you can easily defer from it when not thinking clearly. That's exactly what I did.

On the morning April 18, I received a DUI for driving drunk.

When I finished filling out my statement after being arrested, I was released to my first sergeant and flight chief. The look on their faces made my stomach knot; it wasn't a look of just anger, mostly disappointment. The feeling of guilt didn't end there. They told me I would have to go home to change into my uniform because the entire squadron was being called in for recent alcohol incidents. I was the reason, and it wasn't long after that briefing that everyone at work knew it. I am now known at work as a "drunk driver." It's a title I am not proud to carry.

Two months passed and I had still not heard anything about my punishment. It felt like two years to me, waiting and not knowing if I would still have a future in the Air Force. I felt like everything was at a stand-still, and I could not think straight. The stress and anxiety were weighing me down and taking their toll at both work and home. Everything I worked for since enlisting in the Air Force could all be for nothing due to a single night of bad choices, choices I made and will have to live with for the rest of my life.

I was called into my squadron commander's office June 25; let's just say nervous isn't even close to how I felt. I was allowed to give a statement before he made his decision on what to do with me. I had thought about how I would plead with him, but when the time came I had no words, just a dry mouth, shaky knees and a crackling voice. I knew there was no excuse for what I did and words wouldn't make an exception.

My future was in his hands, and he had every right to end it. A few hours later the decision came down:  loss of a stripe, suspension of a second stripe for six months, additional duty and an Article 15.

I can't drive for at least a year. I have to constantly ask for rides from friends or co-workers, or take the bus. While not being able to drive is a hassle, that is the least of my worries. Now I have to work twice as hard to regain the trust of my peers, supervisors and family; make a new budget with my E-2 income; and learn how to recover from an Article 15 -- all of this because I decided to drink and drive. I could have avoided all of this if I listened to what was drilled into my head since I arrived in Germany, "Don't drink and drive."

The message is loud and clear now.

I hope my story does not fall lightly to you as the reader, and you take a moment to think about my experience. If you drink, make wise choices, think them through before acting on them, and honestly ask yourself if your "plan" is actually a real plan.

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