December 9th 1999. My youngest son's 2nd birthday. I was home for it, thank goodness. My bags were packed though, as I was on my way to Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia the very next day.
That was a difficult, if rewarding deployment. Difficult because it was my first away from my baby boy. I'd been away from my wife and oldest son before, and while it was far from easy, at least it was a road we'd been down before as a family.
It was rewarding on a professional level as my experience in both heavy equipment and M-series vehicles was both extremely useful and appreciated by my management. My group of mechanics was responsive and cohesive as a unit. We all worked well together and could easily solve almost any problems that came our way.
I was shop foreman for a good part of that deployment, and my guys did me proud. I worked 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week. Nothing else to do really. The more down time one had, the more thoughts of home crept in.
My superintendent was outstanding and treated all of us well, specially those of us who got things done. Possibly the best Chief Master Sergeant I'd ever worked for. He remembered me, when I ran into him years later at an Airlift Tanker Association conference. Probably 2006 or 7.
That deployment was pivotal in my life, professionally and personally. It was the point in my life where I had an epiphany about what to do and where I wanted my life to go. In more than one measure too. I found I could do what I wanted in the military rather than simply let things fall where the military let them fall.
Returning from that deployment was a sweet homecoming. My wife and baby son met me at the airport gate. It took my son a good few minutes to realize who I was again. It was such a good feeling when he did. I got back to my family life, and put in motion all those life changing realizations.
I applied to re-classify to a flying job as soon as I got back to work. I also jumped all in on the first offering of the Federal Thrift Savings Plan. That put me in a good position once I joined Civil Service as it transferred directly over. In simple terms, I had a ten year head start on my career after active duty.
20 years on, I'm well on my way to realizing the epiphany I had in sands of the Arabian Peninsula. My 2 year old turned 22 today. I've finished my degree, my second career is pointed where I want and day to day challenges aside, life is pretty good. One day, not too far in the future, I'll retire a second time and just ride every day.....until I can no longer ride, or motorcycles as we know them now are no longer allowed on the road. .....sean
PS. Please feel free to post your own "20 years ago today" post. No response to mine is needed. No segue or transition either. Just post what you got.
My intent is to fuel discussion and involvement during the winter doldrums.