Leader, wingman, father

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- I am a new Airman at Nellis Air Force Base, and, as Father's Day rolls around I'm not home to celebrate. Since I can't celebrate with my father, I find myself more inclined to produce a sentimental approach this year. In honor of father's day, I've decided to write a letter.

Dear Dad,
When I was born you had already been in the Air Force for 10 years. As your career progressed and I grew older, I began watching you from afar.

I remember getting excited when you would pick me up from school in your Battle Dress Uniform. I thought you were so cool and everybody else said so all the time. I felt a sense of pride and triumph that you were my dad.

My fondest memories are of the biweekly commissary trips. We would hop in the truck and you would pop in one of your CDs. I think of you every time I hear one of those songs on the radio.

I often look back at the times I was able to go to work with you. Being able to interact with your Air Force family helped me see a bigger picture of what camaraderie was. For years I longed for that in a job.

Being able to watch you for 16 years truly influenced me in my decision to join the Air Force. I am grateful to you every single day, not just for being my dad, but also for your 26 years in the United States Air Force.

I watched your work ethic and it inspired me to do my best and take pride in what I do. You bled blue, and still do to this day. I saw the pride you had for what you did. You've influenced me more than you know.

I remember feeling like I was going nowhere. I was being eaten alive by my job. I found myself thinking about joining the Air Force in my downtime more and more. I continued to reminisce about being on base, interacting with everyone you worked with, and just imagined myself being able to wear the same uniform you wore.

I remember when I first told you I wanted to join the Air Force. You did a double take. I knew you weren't sure if I had actually said it, or if you imagined it. But, look where I am now. I am following in your footsteps.

My job as a photojournalist is drastically different from yours as a pararescue training instructor. I've rejoined my Air Force family thanks to your inspiration. I'm surrounded by great people near and far. In my short time on active duty I've made some great relationships that I'm sure to cherish forever. I've also learned more about myself through the Air Force community.

I want to thank you for letting me make my own mistakes. Thank you for letting me decide what I wanted to do with my life through trial and error. Thank you for supporting me. Thank you for providing me the basic necessities in life. Thank you for caring. Most importantly, thank you for your sacrifices and 26 years of service.

Happy Father's Day,
Your Daughter.

I'll make sure to mail my letter to my father today. To my Air Force family remember to contact your father on father's day. I hope all the fathers out there have a happy father's day.