|This is the 34th story of Our Life Logs|
I watch people go through life planning everything out and feel disappointed when something doesn’t go according to the plan. Yes, you can plan everything, but life can just come along and change it. I don’t feel that disappointment because I have allowed life to take me on whatever path it chooses to take.
I was raised in the 1970s and 1980s in Massachusetts. It was a time of positivity and rock music, and I loved living in that age. You could be anything you wanted. I was lucky enough to grow up to fulfill my childhood dream. Ever since I was 11 and won a ride in an airplane, I knew I wanted to be a pilot. My inspiration to join a branch of the military came from my grandfather. He was my role model, a humble man with incredible integrity and an unwavering love for his country. My grandpa was a retired colonel out of the army, and he taught me the important lesson of servitude to others. This is a lesson that I have worked to maintain my entire life.
I joined the Air Force Academy right after high school. I was not the strongest candidate, but my commitment to discipline, mental toughness and self-sacrifice helped me stand out among other students. Upon graduation, I went into my two years of pilot training where I kept that discipline. I was the #2 student in my training class, which helped me obtain a coveted position right after the program ended. Air Force Operations usually only take pilots with more experience, but they were going through a shortage of pilots at the time. I was the third person ever up until then to be offered a job immediately after training. I like to call it luck, but I believe it was my devotion to leading and helping others that got me this position. While in training, I liked to help fellow students work on their weaknesses. My instructors noticed my leadership skills and devotion to self-sacrifice, so they recommended me for the position.
While in the Air Force, I didn’t experience any injuries, but I did have one near-death experience. I was flying a plane the night of the Iraq War invasion, and a missile was launched at my team and me. It thankfully didn’t hit us, but I learned an important lesson that night. It’s easy to forget how fragile life can be. Being in danger of losing your life helps you see what the important things in life are.
After working for the Air Force for 12 years, I made the decision to leave when a family situation came up that I couldn’t ignore. I asked to be let go, and they were willing. They found my devotion to my family admirable. It was hard to leave, but my family has always been my top priority. No matter what your career is, nothing is more important than the people you are close to, so I decided to put my family first and changed my career.
We moved from our home in Florida to Virginia with no idea of what was waiting for us. We were starting over. I was about to transition back to civilian life, and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. My wife was a writer and stay-at-home mom, so luckily, she didn’t have to give up any of her aspirations, which I was thankful for. The future was unknown, but we weren’t afraid. I knew that everything would work out if we were together as a family.
We had found a townhouse for rent, so we packed up all our things into a big U-Haul and began the drive. We were about two hours away when we received a call from the realtor telling us that the place wasn’t for rent anymore. What were we supposed to do now? It was a Sunday, and a lot of places were closed. We had trouble finding a place to park the U-Haul until we could figure out what to do next. In the end, I had to park it in the parking lot of a grocery store and hoped it didn’t get towed. We then rented a storage unit and loaded all our stuff into it the next day. We were essentially homeless, but I didn’t panic. I knew we would figure something out, and we did. I had a friend from the Air Force that lived nearby and let us stay with him until we found our own place.
After we got a place we could afford, we moved all our things in. Within a month, I found a job in one of the top consulting firms through my Air Force connections. Things started to fall into place.
A couple of years passed before my wife and I realized that living in Virginia was getting too expensive. I suggested that we move to Dayton where she was from, and she agreed. My company was kind enough to arrange an easy transfer for me. I continued to work for this firm in Dayton for the next few years before I marched onto another opportunity at a technology company in 2010. I was brought in to craft and execute strategic plans for the business. I stayed there for about five years before I moved onto my current role at an integrated product development company as its general manager.
I have found my niche. I believe life is defined by what you are good at and what you are passionate about. What I’m passionate about is helping people achieve success. I was given the opportunity to use my strategic thinking to lead the company I work for to success. The importance of servitude was instilled in me by my grandfather, and I have made it an important staple in who I am as a person.
I have learned that we can’t always control the way our life goes, but we should always look at it with a positive view. As I watched the way my life changed on its own and worked out, I came to see that life has its own route. It is like a river with a current I can’t control. I have to let it flow the way it wants, and I know it will work itself out.
This story was anonymously told by a former US Air Force pilot, who currently works and lives in Mason, OH with his wife and two children. He loves spending time snowboarding and taking adventures with his kids. He loves heavy metal and is happy to see his son also does. His goal is to be patient zero during a zombie apocalypse.
This story first touched our hearts on November 16, 2017.
| Writer: Kristen Petronio | Editor: MJ |