As a veteran of the U.S. Army, I was recently given the opportunity to tell my story of my transition from the military to Southwest Airlines. The story will be published in G.I. Jobs Magazine, which is a publication specifically designed for transitioning military members and those companies who hire veterans. I gladly accepted the opportunity. I was given a very short deadline to answer a questionnaire as well as submit some photos of my daily work with Southwest. This is where this story gets interesting. Having very few photos of me at work, I had a plan to take some "action" photos. I approached a couple of pilots who were waiting to take out a flight to SFO, and asked them if they would take a photo with me, explaining the rationale behind the photo. They gladly obliged.
Through conversation, I discovered that both pilots were also Army veterans. And as with most veteran conversations, one of the first questions is "Who were you with?", meaning what unit were you stationed with. Amazingly, First Officer Marty Martin, the gentleman shaking my hand, and I had both served in the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York. Not only did we serve in the same division, but we were both in the same Brigade—the 10th Aviation Brigade! Mr. Martin was a Blackhawk helicopter pilot in 2/10 Aviation, and I was a hydraulics mechanic in 1/10 Aviation. Upon further conversation, we realized we had both deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina during SFOR6 (Stabilization Force 6, a peacekeeping mission) in 1999 and we were both at the same base—Comanche Base. We continued to chat about our shared deployment and incredibly uncovered some mutual friends! We laughed about the blizzard that hit that winter, about how we were both working guard duty on the eve of Y2K, giving our soldiers the night off for the holiday. We even shared some photos of those times.
It was such an excellent experience to cross paths after nearly 20 years, at a gate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to reminisce about old times and old friends, and to hear once again the 10th Mountain Division battle cry of "Climb to Glory!"
The irony of it all is the literal meaning that Climb to Glory has for both of us as Employees of Southwest Airlines! Mr. Martin as a Pilot, and myself as a participant in the Emerging Leader Development Program.
Thank you, Southwest Airlines, for not only providing a path for our continued success, but for helping a couple of veterans relive a moment in time that was very special to both of us. Climb to Glory indeed!!