Yesterday, my family & I turned and walked away from a great job. For the last six years, I have been an active-duty JAG in the US Air Force. I worked hard at understanding my job and I even occasionally called it my hobby. But over time I have come to realize that I want to spend less time in Iraq and more time with my family.
My family has had to make sacrifices. Everybody I worked with in the Air Force knows about making sacrifices, and my family is no stranger to the sacrifices. In my six years in, I have not been home for 3 of my son’s birthdays. On three of his birthdays, I was on a trip. For two of them, the family had come along, so we just celebrated in the hotel room. But one was in the middle of a nine-week training in Alabama. I missed my daughter’s birthday when I was in Iraq one year. My wife and I have grown stronger while in the Air Force, but it was in spite of the Air Force’s demands, not because of them.
I don’t want to complain about the sacrifices we have made when I know that MSgt Randy Gillespie and his family made the ultimate sacrifice for his country this past July.
I worked with too many great people to list them all here. I worked with commanders who were smart and understood their obligations and took the time to make sure they had the best advice they could get before they made decisions. I have worked with first sergeants who really understood people and I gained so much from their wisdom and insight. I got to work with federal agents from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations who were also very smart, hard-working, and wanted to find the truth; they didn’t just seek convictions. I thank God for the opportunity I have had to work with each of them. My Mom always told me that when I meet someone and then leave, I take a piece of that person with me. I am thankful for the opportunity to have met all of these people and made them a part of who I am.
I have even worked with great people from within the legal offices. I even met one person whose email address is ‘honestjag’ if you can believe that. Seriously, there are alot of honest folks out there working as lawyers in the Air Force. The lawyers and paralegals I have met are now scattered around the globe. Again, there are too many to list, but I feel that I have truly worked with some of the finest people in the world.
So much has changed in the last week that I feel I can only post in bullet format. I’m sorry for how this may look, but I hope you can forgive me.
- Today the ABF pup was picked up and is starting its long trek from Litchfield Park, Arizona, to Sterling, Nebraska.
- We packed the ABF pup from Saturday through Monday. On Saturday we had lots of help and got 90% of the trailer loaded. On Sunday and Monday I worked alone and finally finished the trailer. Where did all that stuff come from?
- We have moved out of our rental house and are now living in temporary lodging on base.
- We leave Arizona on Friday. There will be a going-away lunch at 1200 and the van will be loaded in the parking lot. Immediately after the lunch, we will run down to the van, pile in, and start driving, aiming to reach Gallup, New Mexico. Saturday we will drive on to Guymon, Oklahoma. And Sunday we will finish the drive, possibly taking a slight side trip to visit family in Lincoln on our way in.
- We have ordered chickens and expect them to be delivered during the week of 24 September.
- I still need to set up a personal email account. I have always used my work email account, but I think it is time I set up a personal account to keep in touch with folks.
- When I visited the farm Labor Day weekend, I found a letter addressed to me telling me that I had a writing assessment with Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) in Lincoln! The problem was that my test date was for the week before.
- I called CIS and asked if I could take the test in Phoenix or if I could wait until the week of 17 September to take the test. Thankfully, they agreed to allow me to take the test in Phoenix on 11 September 2007!
- I had an interview the first week of September with the Tecumseh State Corrections Institution. The interview was a structured interview with pre-written questions that were graded by a panel of interviewers. I felt like I bombed the interview. Most of the questions were pretty far outside what I normally experience, and they left me feeling like I didn’t know what I was talking about.
- Last Friday, I was offered a job as a Unit Case Worker at the prison in Tecumseh. One of the things I like most about the job is that it is very close to home, only about a 10-mile drive. After receiving the offer, I contacted my friend who is a warden and we set up some time to discuss Monday morning.
- After talking with my friend Monday morning, I accepted the job offer with the prison in Tecumseh.
- Today, I drove into downtown Phoenix and took the writing assessment for the CIS job. I told the kids we will just wait and see what God’s will is – will he extend a job offer from CIS? And, if so, how good will the job offer be? Hopefully, it will be clear to us what God’s will for us is.
- I have an appointment next Monday at the Johnson County Medical Center for my physical exam.
- I am scheduled to start the Nebraska Corrections Training Program (a 5-week program) the following Monday, 24 September.
- There is still very little movement on this front. Eighteen months ago, we were approved by CIS to immigrate two children from China. That was about to expire, so a few weeks ago we submitted a renewal application, and last week we went to CIS in Phoenix to update our fingerprints. The story about our experiences there is perhaps a story for another day.
Phase 1 of our move to Sterling, Nebraska, is complete. We have loaded the pick-up truck and it was driven to NE over the Labor Day weekend. Here is what I wrote about my plan (although I never published it before:
The Ford truck will be driven to Nebraska one of these weekends by Gina’s dad, Dale, and I. We are planning to take two days to cover the distance, and I plan to load the truck up with some bulky items that would take up alot of room in the ABF truck but don’t need so much protection from the elements. Some definite items for the truck bed include: the gas grill, chicken plucker, garden cart, wheelbarrow, possibly garden tools (sledge, shovels, etc), patio furniture, kids outdoor toys, and possibly Caleb’s punching bags (at least the bases). I will want to cover these with a tarp and tie them down with ratcheting tie-downs. I can also put other tools into the toolbox, and fill the cab of the truck with other sensitive items (perhaps two of our long arms that I don’t have any ammunition for and some of the photo albums).
Here is a picture of what finally made it onto the truck (1380 pounds worth):
I didn’t quite make it to my planned capacity. I wasn’t able to load all of the patio furniture, nor did either of Caleb’s punching bags make it onto the truck.
On Monday I drove out to the farm and I talked to our tenant and it looks like he will be out of the house at about the same time that we get there. Almost there!
3 – Track: Ran 2×400 w/ Meagan (2:55, 3:16), Ran 3×400 w/ Caleb (2:34, 2:10, 2:35), and ran 1×800 (3:11)
10 – Track: Ran 1×400 warmup w/ both kids (3:07), Ran 2×400 w/ Meagan (3:12, 4:04), Ran 3×400 w/ Caleb (2:24, 2:29, 2:28), and ran 2×800 (3:51, 3:57) [Total 2.5 miles]
13 – Track: Ran 1600m (8:30), Ran ? w/ Meagan, Ran ? w/ Caleb (lost records of the kids’ runs)
17 – Beat the Heat 5K (28:00)
18 – Caleb ran his mile in 13:20 (3:05, 2:50, 3:44, 3:41); Meagan ran her mile in 16:11 (3:12, 4:12, 3:13, 5:34).
24 – Office PT at Track: Ran 1.5 miles while kids both completed at least 1 mile on their own.
27 – Office PT: Ran 1.9 miles
31 – PT on our own, so I loaded the truck with 1380 pounds of household goods