As far back as I can remember my family went to church. My earliest recollections were going to a small building next to a public school which was near the entrance to a Navy military station on the little island of Bahrain. I can remember being in a Christmas drama and singing with the other kids in the choir. At that time, my Dad was a Senior Chief Petty Officer (E8) and was stationed on this island which is about 20 miles off the coast of Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf. That was his last tour and he retired from the Navy in 1976.
After he retired, we moved to a farm in northwest Wisconsin. I was 11 and quickly discovered the meaning of hard work. We busted out the entire floor of the barn which was set up for milk cows. Then we mixed cement by hand and poured the entire floor of the barn and converted it to hold pigs. My Dad grew up on a pig farm in Iowa and he had a dream of raising pigs again once he retired from the Navy. I reveled in being able to do more work at such a young age then most of the adults I knew. From carrying bags of feed, bags of cement, hay bales or 5-gallon buckets with water, not many grown men could keep up with me. There was one occasion when a neighbor had a sick sow that was just sitting on the floor in the middle of the barn. The neighbor had backed a pick-up to the entrance of the barn and was trying to coax the pig up a ramp and into the truck. Well, the pig was not budging. So, I bent down, wrapped my arms around it as best I could, and then picked up the pig and carried it up the ramp and into the truck. The farmer was dumbfounded because the pig weighed over 300 pounds. During our early time in Wisconsin in the late 70’s, my family and I went to a church fairly regularly. At times I sang in the choir or played my trombone there. While there I accepted Jesus as my Savior and was baptized. Then, for no apparent reason, we stopped going to church. I was just entering high school and started to stray far from living a Christian life. Once I graduated from high school, I went on and completed one year of college. Sick of fulltime classes while also working 40+ hours at a self-service gas station, not to mention clashing with my parents on a regular basis, I was ready to leave. So, I decided to join the military.
On 27 November 1985, I shipped off to Air Force basic training in San Antonio, Texas. I finished that and then completed about one and a half years of training to become a medical laboratory tech. I enjoyed the science of the career field, but actually started to miss working outside like I did when on the family farm. As my Air Force career marched on, I realized I wanted more. The government was making a lot of cutbacks and in its infinite wisdom made those cutbacks in personnel instead of the ridiculously inefficient way it did business. So the old adage of “rank has its privilege” did not hold true. The new coined phrase was “do more with less” but felt like “do everything with nothing.” After 10 years I was definitely becoming disgruntled. Through all of this time I never went to church, did not read my bible (I can embarrassingly say I didn’t even own one), and barely if ever prayed. Because I crossed over the halfway point to retirement, I decided to stay in the Air Force. I will not start a diatribe about my 20 years of service, but most of it was