TMCC Veteran of the Month - April 2010
Professor, English Department
I was born at Camp LeJuene, North Carolina, but because my father was a Marine Corps officer, I lived all over the United States. Serving in the military was common in my family, so when I enlisted in the Air Force, no one was really surprised except for maybe a neighbor or two who couldn't understand why a girl (especially in the 1970s) would want to choose such a profession. They didn't understand that as a second-generation American, giving back to the country that gave so much to us was seen as an honor and a duty and encouraged by our parents, who as my mother once told me, had decided to dedicate their lives to uphold and defend our constitution. A few years ago, my son-in-law, Gabe Abel, was killed in an accident at Ft. Irwin. While speaking at his memorial service, I looked out over my family and realized with pride that nearly fifty percent had served in the military. My uncle fought in WWII, my father in Korea and Vietnam, my cousin, brother and husband in Vietnam, and my sister, Mary, served as an air traffic controller in the Air Force. Today, one of my nephews recently returned from Iraq. Enlisting in the Air Force was something I did to fulfill a family tradition.
Because we were at peace, my military experience was rather routine. After basic training in San Antonio, I was stationed at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California to learn German and information gathering techniques.
The message I have for returning vets is first to say thank you for being here. Your presence has changed the dynamics of my classroom in the best way. Your dedication and hard work is inspiring, not only to me but to the other students as well. Tom Brokow wrote about the greatest generation as being those Americans who returned from World War II and produced a wealth and prosperity never known before to this nation. Never let go of the lessons learned and experiences gained while you were on active duty — not the pain of combat, but the importance of freedom. Get your education and continue to serve the communities you live in, for you are the future leaders of this country, and we need you.
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