Do Ask, Do Tell: A Pride Story

  • Published
  • By SSgt. Scott Warner
  • 621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs


Chapter 1: The Murdock Beginning 


Pride has many definitions, for example, one definition is actually a designation for a group of lions, but the most well-known definition of pride is respect and appreciation for oneself and others as members of a group, especially a marginalized group with a shared identity, history and/or experience

Respect within defining pride is the operative word as respect is also a long-tenured value of the Department of Defense. However, it is one word that has not been fully felt by most members of the LGTBQ+ community until recently.  

In 1993, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was enacted, which allowed private LGBTQ+ members to serve in the military. Although military service members would not be asked about their sexual orientation, they could be discharged for disclosing it.  

During “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, LGTBQ+ military service members would still meet and start relationships as they would normally do now, but due to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” being in place, they could not speak publicly about their relationship at all in the workplace. 

Even when people talk about their sexual orientation, it is usually a conversation that must be had multiple times, with multiple different people, and often, it can be a very difficult conversation for some.  

”Nothing worth having ever comes easy''
President Theodore Roosevelt

Master Sgt. Blakeley Murdock, 321st Air Mobility Operations Squadron operations superintendent joined the U.S. Air Force in May 2008 while Master Sgt. Sarah Murdock, 60th Maintenance Squadron production superintendent, joined in June 2010. They both understood what military life was like during “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” 

On Sept. 20, 2011, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was ultimately repealed under President Obama, finally allowing military service members, if comfortable, to talk openly about their relationships in the workplace. 

Never will forget the day when Sarah proposed to me,” Blakeley said. “She actually proposed to me next to a KC-10… in front of some of our closest friends and co-workers.” 

The KC-10 Extender aircraft is an advanced tanker and cargo aircraft used by the USAF, which is the aircraft that Blakeley was a flight engineer for and flew in for more than seven years. “I  love the KC-10,” Blakeley emphasized. “It still makes me sad that it is being retired.” Yet, it isn’t the KC-10 that brought them together, it is timing, some might call it fate. When they both made the rank of master sergeant, they met when they were required to attend a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Enhancement Seminar for the USAF.  

Honestly, I’m glad we joined the U.S. Air Force when we did,” Sarah said. “The timing couldn’t have been better and we knew we wanted to get married shortly after we started dating, so everything worked out great.”  


Chapter 2: From Meeting In The Middle 


Love, marriage and now years of military service together. Deployments. New places. New faces.  

Fast forward to now, the Murdock family has since added a son to their pride. A young cub and son named Brener. 

“Blakeley and I had a conversation on our very first date about starting families. It was something we had always wanted,” Sarah said. “Once we knew we were ‘it’ for each other, the process to start in vitro fertilization just naturally happened from there. All-in-all, it took us nearly 10 months from start to finish until we found out we were pregnant with our son.” 

Sarah explained that it is not for the faint of heart and that process takes a lot of time and that a couple needs to be patient. 

Patience is also a virtue, one that many parents will surely understand.  

“Being a mother, a parent, has completely changed me and how I live my life,” Blakeley said. “I’ve always been a dedicated and motivated person, but now my main priority is to do things that will make my family and son proud.” 

Sarah detailed how her calling in life was to be a mother. She also noted how rough and unloving her upbringing was, which is why creating and giving her son a loving, nurturing and understanding environment to thrive in is now her top priority.  

“The thing I enjoy the most about being a mom is just watching him grow and learn and come into his own little personality,” Blakeley said. “He’s almost 5 months now and the amount of growth and development is amazing.” 

During a Murdock family photoshoot next to KC-10 Extender, Brener smiles and makes baby cooing noises. Every time, both parents respond with excitement, positivity and loving reinforcement.  

“I love every smile, every roll, every tear and every stage of our son’s life so far,” Sarah adoringly admitted. “He is just incredible, and Blakeley and I are so lucky to be his Moms.” 


Chapter 3: What The Future Holds 


Before September 2011, this reality for the Murdock family would have been impossible in the U.S. Air Force. However, taking care of family has always been a long-standing tradition of what it means to be within the USAF.  

The USAF pays its members extra basic allowance for housing for having dependents.  

The USAF also financially takes care of most family-related medical bills to include the birth of a child. 

Every USAF base offers services designated for families, and when members deploy with families, co-working Airmen often offer to support each other’s families during their absence.  

“My leadership was absolutely accommodating throughout my pregnancy and eventually had to force me to step down from being a production superintendent to performing a less job-intensive administrative job the last few months of my pregnancy,” Sarah claimed. 

Another the way the USAF cares about its Airmen is offering 84 days, or 12 weeks, of paid parental leave, effective as of December 2022. This includes men who wish to become fathers while serving in the U.S. Air Force.  

‘I’ve always been passionate about my career in the military, but I think it means more now to me than it ever has because of our son,” Blakeley said. “He’s able to go to college in the future because of my military benefits, and as I approach retirement in 4 years, I’m comforted knowing we’ll still be able to support him financially. Overall, our military careers will serve as a great example for him to see his mom’s do something bigger than themselves.” 

What is also bigger than any one person is Pride Month.  

Blakeley appreciates the importance of awareness and respect during this month. Meanwhile, Sarah emphasized that is should be strength of character more than sexuality when it comes to identity as she also appreciates privacy when it comes to private matters. 

Instead of celebrating Pride Month this year, Sarah and Blakeley are in the midst of another permanent change of station, focused on having to move to support their family and their dedication to their military service.  

And while the road to becoming married and parents wasn’t ever easy, just as President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “nothing worth having ever comes easy.”