LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – I was struggling to think about what to write for this Commander’s Corner before a young Airman approached me and asked what my favorite base/location has been throughout my career. As she and I discussed the difficulty in answering that question, it dawned on me that this topic is exactly what I should write about.
There is no one single location my family and I can say is our favorite throughout our 16-year career. A reason for this is because it has never been about locations, but rather the people and relationships built during our time at various bases. We’ve been to bases some would argue offer experiences on both ends of the spectrum. However, the relationships and friendships cultivated at these locations grew stronger because of those very experiences. Experiences we accomplished together, not only as a family, but also with other families.
As I discussed with that Airman, our very first base was in fact here in Del Rio, Texas with Team XL. We call this base and our experiences here nostalgic. This is where my family’s Air Force journey began. Many of our strongest relationships with friends started here during our time in pilot training and as a First Assignment Instructor Pilot. Laughlin and Del Rio are where we fell in love with the small town feel, Mexican food, hot summer nights and great times with others who were also beginning their Air Force journey. Laughlin will always be the base we remember for allowing us to call our best friends truly the best.
We then moved to Dyess AFB in Abilene, Texas. This was our comfortable and goal-achievement base. For the longest time I wanted to fly B-1’s and this base was the culmination of a lot of work and finally achieving a career goal. We quickly fell in love with the easy-going atmosphere of the town and the fellow Air Force families. Families who were also going through some of the same struggles.
Possibly one of the more exciting locations we were stationed is Doha, Qatar. In the summer of 2015, we made the tough decision to move our entire family to Doha so we could stay together as I moved jobs. At first, we were well in over our heads and it took a village for us to get through that first year. Being that far from home and the uncertainty of living overseas worried us. We learned to build upon the relationships of other families and those experiences became more real and memorable. Our time in Doha ended up being fantastic and our children still talk about their friends they made from around the world. Doha forced us out of our comfort zone, and once again, our family grew stronger. The relationships we formed are some of our most cherished.
Following our time in the Middle East, we made the move to Washington D.C. We were excited to be back in the United States, but being from Texas and Colorado, we were nervous about living in the Northeast. However, the ease of access and abundance of diversity amazed us. Washington D.C. allowed us to experience things with new friends who we now call family and who we rely on to keep us grounded, offering a different perspective to life.
While in D.C., an opportunity to come back to Del Rio was presented. A flood of emotions came over my family because it brought back so many great memories. We immediately thought about the opportunity to meet more fantastic Air Force families and Airmen Laughlin would bring. After a year and a half here, and as a brand new commander, I can tell you that Laughlin still provides those very same opportunities. We are all in this together.
It is often said, the greatest part of the Air Force is its people and it is without a doubt the reason my family and I are still on this amazing journey. Every single location has its positives and negatives; however, my family and I often ask ourselves what opportunities, experiences and relationships will we be blessed to be a part of. The Air Force may not always take you to your number one or most desired location, but the nation’s best will surround you and experiences many can only dream of will come your way. The Air Force has become our family and the relationships we fostered are the journey.