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30 Reasons Never to Leave Air Force

Osan AB, Republic of Korea -- I'm going to tell you why I'll never willingly leave this great Air Force.

A few weeks ago, my first child was born, more than 8,000 miles away in Virginia. He was born on the living room floor of our house, a month early, to the great surprise of his mother and me. Both mom and baby are doing very well, and now I get to bask in the pride and excitement of being a new father.

After the excitement was over, I had time to analyze the sequence of events. I realized I was part of something very special -- something I probably wouldn't find outside the warm walls of this military family.

At 2:30 a.m., my wife, eight months pregnant and alone at home, awoke to feelings of pain. Her first instinct was to call a close friend, also a military spouse. Within minutes, Jean, an Army major's wife from nearby Fort Monroe, Va., arrived.

Jean realized my wife was in advanced labor and called an ambulance. She also called Monica, a friend and Air Force major stationed with my wife at Langley Air Force Base, Va. With the help of these two friends and some local emergency medical technicians, my wife delivered a healthy boy in our living room. Jean and Monica are two reasons I'll never leave the Air Force.

Monica knew I was in Korea and immediately contacted the command post at Langley. They connected her to the Osan command post and explained the situation. On a hunch, Monica told them where I might be and, without hesitation, the Osan command post tracked me down at the base library. I may be wrong, but hunting down a captain to inform him of the birth of his son is probably not in the command post controller's job description. But they did it without even blinking. They're two more reasons I'll never leave the Air Force.

After being connected to my wife and being assured everyone was all right, I called my flight commander to tell him the news. Before I even asked, he contacted our squadron commander and they approved my leave and offered to help get me home. They, too, are reasons I'll never leave the Air Force.

I needed to get home on the next flight to the states, and that meant getting on the Kimpo International Airport shuttle bus at 6 a.m. But I needed leave paperwork to get off the peninsula. My first sergeant, no stranger to late phone calls, jumped into action. He made one phone call and the orderly room NCO in charge was in her car heading to work to personally type up the necessary papers. With a smile on her face and hearty congratulations, she handed me my leave papers and disappeared into the freezing winter night. Two more reasons I'll never leave the Air Force.

The whole time during my long series of flights home, my wife had a close network of military friends who stayed with her. Even though her husband and family were far away, she was never alone -- from the moment she made that first and only phone call. These were all people who understood the unique situation of our shared military lifestyle. They immediately jumped in to help, as Air Force families often do.

Less than 36 hours after I received the first phone call, I was home with my new family. Waiting for me were flowers from my flight and reassuring e-mails that my duties and responsibilities were being handled in my absence. The people in my flight are 22 more reasons I'll never leave the Air Force.

If I were working for some big faceless corporation, I wonder if I'd even have my boss's home phone number, let alone an entire organization that would jump up in the middle of the night to help a fellow airman.

Could I make more money working for a major corporation? Absolutely. Would the above events have happened if I worked for one? I doubt it. I promise you, the last thing on my mind that night, as I boarded the plane to meet my new son, was the size of my paycheck.

Would I trade my part in this military family for a few extra bucks? Never.

I've shared 30 reasons why I'd never voluntarily leave our Air Force, and yet these reasons come from only one single experience. I could fill this story with hundreds of other reasons, and they'd all be Air Force people like these, whom my wife and I are proud to call family.

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