Commentary

June 29, 2012

Celebrating freedom with pride this July 4th

by Chief Master Sgt. David VanVlack
AFOTEC, Det. 1, outgoing superintendent

This story starts 11 days before the 4th of July on June 25, 1996. I was in the U.S. Air Force, deployed to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

On that night, I was bare-chested, clad in jeans and tennis shoes as I turned my back to a sliding glass door. The 25,000-pound truck bomb threw me to the floor. My neck, back and arms were ripped apart with glass and concrete. The wounds were serious but didn’t hit any vital organs. I was medically evacuated home.

By July 2, I was healing well, still covered in bandages, but kicking with energy. Much to the surprise of many, I went out and bought $500 in fireworks. The truth is I was pretty confused and thinking of walking away, but I planned to celebrate our freedom with pride.

On the 4th, as I lit off thousands of firecrackers, a young boy approached me. Seeing the bandages, he asked, “What happened?” I told him some terrorists blew up a bomb to try and scare us away. Wide-eyed, he said, “Wow, what are you going to do?” I told him I was planning on calling it quits. He cocked his head to the side in deep thought and then said, “Well then, I guess if you quit, they win.” That young boy changed my life; there was no way I would let them win.

That was 16 years ago, and at almost 27 years of service, I am still on active duty. Every 4th of July, I think back to that young man and his words of wisdom and I celebrate the freedom of our Nation with great pride and joy.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Gaining Altitude – Growth Opportunities for the Week Through our character – an opportunity to reflect on important issues in our community

- Have you ever wanted to be part of something bigger than yourself-to make a difference in this world?  Will you be ready when the time comes?  Winston Churchill put it this way: “To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance...
 
 

It is my honor and privilege

How do you respond when someone says thank you? Do you smile and nod your head? Do you say, “No problem.”? How about, “I am just doing my job.” Perhaps a thank you catches you off guard and you fail to provide a response at all? I understand all of these reactions. It is easy...
 
 

Look past 1947 for Air Force roots

The Air Force officially turns 67 this month, but my uncle Gino thinks it’s older. He’s 90, and the lone surviving brother of my father. Both of them served in World War II, as did two of their siblings. My father was in the Navy, as was his eldest brother, Europeo (his real name, I...
 

 
Untitled-1

Suicide prevention more than a month-long campaign

WASHINGTON (AFNS) – All Airmen have a responsibility that lasts much longer than a one-month campaign. This responsibility extends beyond ourselves and includes our work environment, our families, friends, fellow Airmen ...
 
 

New paradigm aims to ‘zeroize’ sexual assault

Why does the U.S. Air Force need a Sexual Assault Awareness Month? Is it really a problem? Isn’t sexual assault more prevalent outside the military? Where do these statistics come from anyway? Is it realistic to aim for zero assaults? Thankfully, these outrageous questions represent the vestiges of a retreating mindset. A new paradigm aims...
 
 

Gaining Altitude – Growth Opportunities for the Week of 29 Aug

Through our character – an opportunity to reflect on important issues in our community - Labor Day is a holiday that is held in honor of working people but we must see work as more than something we do to earn a paycheck.  Work is honorable because God establishes Himself as the very first worker...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>