Chit Chat about Basic Training

Photo during my basic training in February 2000.

I started my morning yesterday with coffee and chit-chat with my coworker’s daughter, who is heading to Air Force basic training in a few weeks. We did the math: she was THREE WEEKS OLD when I arrived at Lackland AFB back in January 2000. I must seem ancient to her, but I like to think my advice is timeless. What an exciting time for this young lady!

I told her to be wise in choosing a battle buddy, and later, good mentors. Seek out those who are level-headed, optimistic, and genuine.

It’s pretty crazy to think that the people I went thru basic training with … if they are still in the service, they are probably thinking of retiring in the very near future. Isn’t that crazy?

Crazy.

My Encounter with the Glenns

DOD photo from Dec. 17, 2000,  by Linda D. Kozaryn

John Glenn passed away last week.  In December 2000, he and his wife Annie visited Ramstein Air Base, Germany as part of a USO show with then-Secretary of Defense William Cohen, as shown in this DOD photo. I was a brand-new public affairs Airman at Ramstein, tasked with writing about the show for the base paper.

For most of the show, I was back stage, standing next to this tiny, older woman, chatting up a storm about Ohio and Cincinnati, not realizing WHO I was talking to until someone came up to her in a panic, saying, “Mrs. Glenn, you are supposed to be in the DV lounge! You’ll be more comfortable there. Why don’t you come with me?”

And she said, “No, no! I’m having a delightful conversation with this Ohio girl here. I’m staying here.” Continue reading

Flashback Friday: Reporting from the Triangle of Death

[dropcap style=”color: #9b9b9b;”]I[/dropcap]n many ways, it seems like a complete lifetime ago. But all it takes is a blink to return to that summer in 2007 when I was deployed to Iraq with some of the most incredible people I’ve ever known.

Eight years ago this week, I landed in Baghdad with JV and JB for our second trip through Iraq.  We all know what happened there.  Yet my experience in Iraq was definitely more than that one incident.

I hate reading about what is going on in Iraq these days. I have little interest in the politicians changing their tune about it all in accordance to the election seasons. It doesn’t bother me as people dissect the purpose and role the United States played in that part of the world. I feel such a disconnection from all that chatter.

But when it comes to my memories, to the things I saw happening there, and especially when I remember the people I met and served alongside over there, I remember everything clear as day and remain proud for having been there among them.

And I also remain so grateful to have made it back, to be here eight years later and remember.

You can read this week’s Flashback Friday post HERE.

Memorial Day in France

Memorial Day is an American holiday meant to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our countryWhile living in DC, we regularly visited Arlington Cemetery to pay our respects. Now, we have the ability to visit one of the many American cemeteries over here in Europe.

Continue reading

Veterans Day 2014

[dropcap style=”color: #9b9b9b;”]W[/dropcap]hen I decided to dedicate this week on the blog to our Cincinnati farewell tour, I forgot about Veterans Day. And how can I not write about Veterans Day, especially when this year’s celebration was especially sweet? So before I resume posts about Ohio, here’s what today was like for us.

This year, I was the featured speaker at one of the local elementary schools. My friend Jennifer teaches there and asked if I would come in and talk. So, I participated in their assembly, which was adorable and very patriotic. The kids worked really hard, writing essays, learning songs. It was such an honor to be a part of that.

Although, I later told my friend that while I usually have no issue getting up in front of strangers, meeting with senior leaders, and in front of cameras and everything … getting up in front of kids? Oh my goodness. So much energy! I’m not sure how teachers do it every day, and I am so in awe of them for doing so. Despite my nerves, the kids were so attentive and responsive as I talked about the Air Force core values (Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do) and how those core values are similar to their own school’s core values about respect and working hard. And the best part was when all of them … I mean, ALL of them … responded with a hearty “HOORAH” when I introduced that to them. Awesome.

Afterward, I popped into one of the first grade classrooms to show them a video I made with some school kids in Afghanistan, and answered some of their questions, which ranged from topics about food, travel, different countries, and jobs in the military.

And as soon as that was over, I drove across town  to attend lunch with the girls at their school. Martin and Jaz met me in the school lobby. By request from Lola, he was wearing his ABUs, nice and clean-shaven. We waited for Lola’s class to get to the cafeteria, and the look on her face when she rounded the corner and saw us … priceless. She was so proud to have us there, and was so eager to show me how to go through the lunch line, which food to take, and how to pay for the items.

And once her lunchtime was over, Miss C was rolling in with her class. And even though she’s in the sixth grade and getting to that age where parents aren’t cool anymore, and even though we’ve been attending these lunches with her for years (as you can see HERE and HERE), she was so excited to see us, too.  It was fun listening to her explain our jobs in the military to her friends. Most already knew us, but others didn’t, and they were all very sweet and welcoming.

Such a great way to spend Veterans Day.

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Photo from 2011

I was up late last night, printing out photos for Lola’s “star of the week” poster makes me all kinds of weepy.

How is this kid almost six years old already?