Where did you serve and what did you do?
I’m a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel with over 27 years of active duty service (1986-2013). During the War on Terror, I served in Saudi Arabia (Operation SOUTHERN WATCH) as a Communications Planner in the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC/CJ6) supporting Joint Task Force Southwest Asia (JTF-SWA) and Operation ENDURING FREEDOM combat communications; in Iraq (Operation IRAQI FREEDOM) as an Air Advisor/Trainer in the Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq (MNSTC-I) Coalition Air Force Transition Team (CAFFT) rebuilding the Iraqi Air Force; and in Afghanistan (Operation ENDURING FREEDOM) as an Air Advisor and Executive Officer to the Commanding General, NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan (NTM-A), Coalition Training Advisory Group – Afghanistan (CTAG-A) building the Afghan National Army (ANA).
How are you #StillServing?
Due to the shortage of personal protective equipment, especially N95 masks, in the local medical community (Jefferson County, CO), my wife Giselle found an opportunity to support local medical personnel with homemade masks and enlisted my support. We accepted fabric donated by local volunteers and purchased elastic bands from the local fabric store, where we also acquired a pattern for masks. The only sewing machine in our home was a c. 1915 Singer Treadle Sewing Machine, purchased new by Giselle’s great-great-grandmother and long since turned into an antique furniture item in our home.
After some research, I brought the machine up to a fully operational state by replacing the needle, installing a leather drive belt, cleaning and lubricating the entire machine, and adjusting controls for sewing. Since Giselle didn’t know how to use a sewing machine and was determined to learn, I recalled the lessons my grandmother taught me as a boy in East Texas and walked Giselle through the process of using a pattern, winding bobbins, threading a machine, and laying down a straight stitch. I produced our prototype (pictured) and Giselle has taken off with a new hobby and passion for service. We’ve donated our first installment of beautiful homemade masks and will continue to manufacture them for local medical personnel until there is no longer a need or we exhaust all supplies, whichever comes first!
In addition, as an avid fly fisherman and fly tier conveniently located on the Front Range near several cold mountain streams, I’ve recently created a blog called “Vets On the Vise” to provide a welcoming venue for veteran enthusiasts to share ideas, anecdotes, images, and stories related to their service, fly tying, and fly fishing exploits.
Why do you do it?
Service to country is a vocation…a calling…that is (or becomes) a part of your fabric. Moth-balling the uniform will never change that, so we look for opportunities to serve our community and our nation.