When you’re in the Air Force, there comes a time when you have to think about punching out. There are many meanings to “punching out,” but there are only two that matter.
The first is illustrated in this photo. In 2003, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds lost a jet at a Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho air show. The pilot ejected, or punched out, safely less than two-tenths of a second before the plane hit the ground. In fact, this photo is the first ever taken of a real-world ejection.
The second type of punching out is when you decide to leave the Air Force. The analogy is as if you were the pilot (you) abruptly leaving the plane (the Air Force) before its scheduled landing (retirement).
No doubt, my punching out is the second type.
On Thursday, I received word that the Air Force wanted to deploy me again. This time it was to be for nine months in Afghanistan. Everything else, I can’t tell you. By Thursday night, my family and I decided that we were done.
It’s not really something we decided lightly. I imagine there were any number of scenarios that would have allowed me to stay in the Air Force, but there were few scenarios that allowed me to stay in and be a father to my son.
The irony is that it’s the “Year of the Air Force Family” according to their latest family-focused slogan. However, the reality is that in order to have a family, I have to sacrifice my career.
Given a choice between mission and family, I’ll choose my family every time. If there is a way to do both, I’ll figure it out, but that option isn’t there in this case. Sometimes you just have to know when you have to punch out. The aircraft isn’t always recoverable.
So, I presume I’ll be out of the military in August.
The job hunt begins. I haven’t seriously updated my resume since 1998.
(U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)