On July 26, 1999, my oldest son enlisted in the United States Air Force. He was 17 years old and freshly out of high school.
My youngest daughter and I drove B to a Holiday Inn, just minutes away from BWI (Baltimore Airport). He was departing for Lackland AFB in San Antonio, TX to begin his Air Force adventure. My heart was full of pride. Mom tears were rolling. It truly was a Vegetable Soup of Emotions kind of day. We'll negate the fact I had to pull over on the beltway (495, for those of you who know the DC area) until I stopped crying. My poor daughter thought for sure, her moments were numbered...in other words, you don't cry and drive on the beltway!
B is my oldest son. He was the little boy; I always dreamed of and hoped for. B quickly became a ‘big brother’ to his two older sisters. His quiet demeanor, heartwarming smile and intelligent wit have always been his finest characteristics. We often are befuddled how he survived living in a house with two older sisters and a mom, which ultimately meant he had three ‘moms’. He had a knack for getting out of Dodge, when the drama of two teenage sisters thickened. And then, he would reappear when all was quiet. He played soccer and ran Cross-Country. B was an avid reader and still has a quirky smile! He is my son...the little boy I wanted long before I even grew up.
B is brilliant. He is smart; always excelling in school, except for a Child Development class in his Senior Year. I guess even the best of guys, have their limit. B and I would often sit and watch Jeopardy, he would somehow answer question after question…when I asked him how he knew all this stuff, and he’d reply that he just knew it. He’s a sponge for information.
I remember well the day in February; he came to me and asked what I was doing the next day at 3p.m. I asked him what he planned for me and that is when I learned how intent he was to enlist. Since he had just turned 17, he needed parental consent to enlist. We had talked of college, but his interest was to go into the military. I looked into his eyes and knew this is what he wanted for his life.
On that fateful 11th day of September in 2001, my son was the one person in this world I needed to talk to most. I can still remember clearly his words, “Momma, I’m packed and ready to go.” Mom tears rolled. Vegetable Soup of Emotions took over. It never ceases to amaze me how as a mom, my heart can be filled with so many emotions…some of which contradict the other. Pride, fear, love…to name a few.
B served his four year duty, most of which he was stationed at Tinker, AFB in Oklahoma City. He deployed several times, to various Middle East locations. On one visit home, he presented me with a flag which had been flown over Afghanistan in October, 2002. We were fortunate enough to meet him at BWI when he came home, from his deployments. (ahhh, the memories I hold in that airport!) I believed when B first enlisted, that he would make the Air Force his career. When he fulfilled his contract, he chose to depart and went into the Reserves. He has been serving at Hill AFB for five years.
B is an awesome guy. Yeah, yeah… I know, but he is my son. B graduated from Weber State in December and will take the GRE on Monday…next stop Graduate School! He is pursuing a degree in Psychology. Oh, the places he will go!
Ten years ago, my teenage son began his path of manhood. Following six weeks at BMT, I had a glimpse of the man he would become. Ten years later, I could not be any more proud.
It is my honor to call him, Son. It is my honor to call him my Airman.
B, I do love you so!