Friday, May 18, 2018

Thoughts on Our Air Force Life

And just like that, the life we have known for the past 26 years is over.

Prior to the actual retirement date, I tried to think through what this change will mean to us and how it will affect us.  The truth is, I have no idea to both of those quite yet.  There is still a lot to process and quite frankly I am so tired I am having a hard time putting complete sentences together.

I don't want to forget a thing, about the actual retirement certainly, but about the past 26 years especially.

26 years ago, two young people stood before God and friends and family and committed their life to each other.  Days later they headed off to pilot training, eager to see what the Air Force had for them.

For the next year in Columbus, MS, days and nights were filled with studying but also fun with friends, buying a puppy, and getting pregnant.  Our oldest was born just days before our first AF move.

We proceeded to helicopter training in Albuquerque, NM, where we rented a furnished apartment for 4 months.  Add in a newborn who never slept, a new dog, a husband learning to fly a new helicopter, and one car, well, let's just say, fun times. 

After that we got stationed in Spokane, Washington.  We moved in the same day a B-52 crashed and just days after a devastating shooting at the base hospital.  It was a hard time to arrive on base, but the community embraced us and we loved our short time there.

Back to Albuquerque, NM we went for more training followed by our first long separation - Clarke's first special ops assignment to Korea.  Ashton and I moved to NC to be near family, we got pregnant during mid-tour leave, bought a house, and moved to Florida to await daddy's return.

Three years in Florida brought the sweet birth of our second child, Riley. It is a time spent with dear friends, fun times at the beach, oh, and a dad who was rarely home.  Praise the Lord one of my dearest friends also lived there.  We raised kids together and sat in closets through hurricanes together.  She was my rock when my husband could not be due to travel.  Lots of bittersweet memories from that assignment.

Back to NM we went, landing at the most amazing church that grew our faith by leaps and bounds.    We learned to camp with sweet friends, enjoyed the Balloon Fiesta, and ate our fair share of Mexican Food and Rudy's BBQ.  Again, we were blessed by a new baby- Salem!

Off to the AF Academy in Colorado!  One of my favorite locations ever!  Such fun being a part of cadets' lives, living near Clarke's beloved mentor, and my mom joining us for two of the three years. Three of us were baptized in CO, along with my mom. The kids got to experience so much there and we loved every minute.

We were surprised by a school slot for a year in Montgomery, AL next.  Admittedly, not one of my favorite places but I survived.

Another surprise was moving to Minot, ND next.  Yes, why not, Minot?!  And yes, it is cold there.  Like so cold it hurts!  But we made amazing friends there that we will cherish forever.  My eyes well up with tears at the beautiful memories of that assignment, as well as the hard 7 month deployment to Africa.

Cheyenne, Wyoming came next!  A fun place of living in a 103 year old historical base house, Cheyenne Frontier Days, and the most fun group of base friends ever!  We finally brought our fourth child, Colby, home from Guatemala and deemed our family complete!

Off we went to Suffolk, VA, finally back in the same time zone as family.  We were able to spend lots of time with them as well as at the beach while Clarke toured the world for three years.

That took us to Brooking, SD.  You are right, there is no base there.  But there is a great college, SDSU, and a great ROTC department Clarke had the privilege of heading up for a while.  Someone must have decided we were having too much fun, so in the middle of our non-deployable job he got deployed for a year- to Afghanistan.  Despite one of the hardest years of my married life, God was kind and gave me some of the dearest friends ever.  They held me up during that time and were and are truly a God-send! (They also happen to own the best little Indian restaurant ever!)

I bought a house in Omaha, NE next and we welcomed Clarke home after his year away.  Here, in a place we NEVER thought we would live, God redeemed all the past years' YUCK and set us right down in the middle of the most loving church and church family ever.  These God-loving people do life together and it is beautiful!  We were reunited with old friends and have made even more amazing new ones.  It has been a place we could call home.

And now because of God's sovereign plan we are headed to Arizona after retirement to begin a new chapter.

My heart races with excitement for the new things ahead, and at the same time mourns the things we are leaving behind.  It is always hard to leave, but this one is even harder.  A chapter of our life is ending.

I close my eyes and I can see...

the many friends we have made
the AF wives I have walked this journey with
the pride in my husband's eyes as he left for work each day to protect his country
my children standing at attention with each playing of the National Anthem
the pinning on promotion ceremonies
the places we have been blessed to visit and live
the many helicopters taking off with my husband in them
the planes that brought him safely home from three deployments

Memory after beautiful memory!  I pray I will always remember them, and I thank you all who have been a part, whether big or small, of them.

YOU will always be in my memories and in my heart!  May the Lord bless you as you have blessed us!



  1. Beautifully said!
    Blessed to have been on a small part of your AF journey. Congratulations on your retirement!

  2. Thank you for your family's service to our nation!!!


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