Four more years of honor

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol
  • U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center Public Affairs
Every time I cite the words, "to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States," I am reminded of what an honor it is to serve in the military.

I said those words for what most likely will be the last time during my reenlistment ceremony here in front of the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center June 13. As I stood at attention with my right hand and arm turned up and forward as one would do for a pledge or a promise, I thought of how the moment was special in so many ways.

I picked June 13 because it was the 16th anniversary of my "second wedding." On June 13, 1992, my wife and I held a formal wedding ceremony in my hometown area for family and friends. We had actually gotten married officially several weeks before by the justice of the peace in Indianapolis, Ind., while I was in technical school. We had to get married then in order for my wife to be put on my orders for an overseas assignment.

The officer I asked and was honored to have completed my reenlistment was Lt. Col. Christie Dragan, my director of public affairs at the USAF EC. I asked her because in June 1995, it was because of her that I did my first reenlistment.

As the story goes, she was Captain Dragan back then and I was a senior airman. We were both working in an operational readiness exercise at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, and we both worked 12-hour shifts for the exercise - she had the daytime 12 hours and I had the overnight 12 hours.

Still a first-term Airman, I wasn't having a great time in the Air Force leading up to June 1995. I had supervisors who didn't seem to care and I was sensing a little bit of burn-out even though I never told anyone that.

I was planning on getting out of the military after that first enlistment and doing something different. One night during that exercise, however, she asked questions about how I was doing and what my plans were. I was more than happy to answer and it took several hours. Before we both knew it, her 12-hour day had just grown into a 16-hour day.

Eventually she talked me into reenlisting, which wasn't an easy thing. So, as you can imagine, it was an honor to have her complete my final reenlistment ceremony. The fact that she was the first person to really take the time to listen and show some interest in the welfare of my military career made me believe there were more people like her in the Air Force. As it turns out, after all these years later, there are and I'm glad I'm still serving.
This new enlistment will take me to 2012 and beyond the 20-year point. It's during that year that I will also celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary and one of my daughters will graduate from high school. But that's four years away.

For now I know I have four more years to give my all to the world's greatest Air Force. I know I have four more years to do what I can to help not just my fellow Airmen, but my fellow military members as well to win the Global War on Terrorism.

I know, simply, to get to this point in a military career is a complete honor. To serve and defend our country is not something I ever thought would be in my future plans when I was a young boy, but I am so happy it has turned out like it did. No regrets whatsoever.

So here's to four more yours of honor - the honor I have to be able to serve with some of the greatest people I've ever known.