One Final Military Thanksgiving

 

Today marks my final Thanksgiving Day in uniform. I have spent it largely alone, as the Middle East dust has been playing Old Harry with my sinuses, sharply limiting my opportunities for fellowship. I did make an exception to go serve the troops at the dining facility, or “DFAC” in our military lingo. I was entrusted with the corn-on-the-cob, collard greens and gravy. They kept me away from the carving knives, which was probably the right call, manual dexterity not being my strong suit.

I can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic–indeed, thankful–as I tic off each of these “lasts” through this final year on active duty, an extraordinarily fulfilling 35-year adventure from start to finish. The Air Force collected me from a disastrous early college experience, gave me a trade and sufficient structure to get me through those undisciplined early adult years, and then let me go back to school once I’d grown up enough to handle it. It sent me to amazing places and introduced me to even more amazing people–including my lifelong friend and soul-mate, who willingly signed up for the rest of the journey.

The Air Force also gave me the chance to have incredible experiences, some carefully planned but most completely unexpected. I have briefed Congressional delegations and cabinet secretaries, organized Presidential visits abroad, and flown with an allied Prime Minister to the deck of an American aircraft carrier. I’ve walked to the summit of Mount Fuji, upon the ancient birthplace of Abraham, through what’s left of the Hanoi Hilton, and beneath the “Arbeit Macht Frei” gate at Auschwitz. I have marched down Constitution Avenue on the Fourth of July and laid our veterans–including one U.S. Senator–to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. I have lived through typhoons, earthquakes, coup attempts, insurgent attacks, Australian bushfires, and a Philippine volcanic eruption. I’ve been evacuated from one country by air and another by sea. I have organized medical outreach missions in developing countries, as well as urban outreach projects in Southeast DC.

All this in just three and a half decades! For this and so much more, I am deeply thankful this year–this final Thanksgiving in uniform.

Published in Military
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  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    God bless that, even in a new relationship with your country, the adventures continue.

    • #1
  2. Jules PA Member
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Thank you for your service.

    And thank your colleagues from me, especially today.

    Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

    • #2
  3. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Wow! What a great testimony to all that is good about our armed forces and freedom. That is an amazing life so far. Are you new to Ricochet? I look forward to your posts especially regarding the upcoming new (old) foreign policy team……..Thank you for your service and Happy Thanksgiving!!

    • #3
  4. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Happy Thanksgiving, and thank you for your service to our country!

    • #4
  5. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    Welcome. You will have beat my uncle’s time in the Air Force by one year. He had amazing adventures as well. He flew up to and including his last day in 1974. Thanks for your service.

    • #5
  6. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge
    Gazpacho Grande'
    @ChrisCampion

    Thanks for your service, Jailer.

    Sounds like a few of those experiences would be great to elaborate on, here on Ricochet.

    • #6
  7. Mim526 Member
    Mim526
    @Mim526

    God bless and thank you for the 35 years and more, @jailer.  May you be home with family soon.  Happy Thanksgiving!

    • #7
  8. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    May the next 35 years be as exciting and rewarding.

    • #8
  9. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Thank you, and when the time (soon) comes, “Welcome Home.”

    • #9
  10. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    What an amazing career! I so enjoy when you write on Ricochet, Jailer, and look forward to many more posts. I hope your career planning is coming along, too. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • #10
  11. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, man.  Please let us know when we can wish you a heartfelt, “Welcome Home; Well Done.”

    • #11
  12. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    You, more than most, can appreciate how extraordinary this country is.  Thank you for all your service, and we hope to see you at a Ricochet meetup in the coming years.

    • #12
  13. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you for your service. I have the highest respect for your work. God bless. 

    • #13
  14. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Jailer: Today marks my final Thanksgiving Day in uniform. I have spent it largely alone, as the Middle East dust has been playing Old Harry with my sinuses, sharply limiting my opportunities for fellowship. I did make an exception to go serve the troops at the dining facility, or “DFAC” in our military lingo.

    Congratulations on reaching this milestone. I know I speak for all of us when I say, first – Thank you; and second – we want a report about your retirement ceremony. With pictures!

    This, however, doesn’t have to mean an end to your military adventures. In my own case I deployed as a civilian about 3 years ago to support OIR and was stationed in Kuwait. I wrote about it as my Mid-Life Crisis. My final Thanksgiving, while serving overseas, was with an extraordinary group of people including my friend, Roger –

    Thanksgiving 2017

    He managed to retire this year, after reaching sanctuary while deployed with me.

    Godspeed and come home safe.

    BTW – only dweebs call it the DFAC. The real name is the Chow Hall.

    • #14
  15. PappyJim Coolidge
    PappyJim
    @PappyJim

    @Jailer, Welcome to the CivDiv.  Your skills are sorely needed here.  Shuck your pack, take a knee for ten then get back into the fight.  Thank you for your three and a half decades of service.

    • #15
  16. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    One thing for us all to be thankful for is being protected by fine people like you.

    • #16
  17. Eleanor Member
    Eleanor
    @Eleanor

    Thank you, Jailer, for your service.

    • #17