That’s my dad in his airman’s uniform just hanging around in the mid 1950’s, long before I was born.
He joined the Air Force in the waning days of WWll and shook the dust of Luxora, Arkansas, off his feet, returning only briefly before being summoned back to duty by the advent of the Korean War.
I was born at Fairchild Air Force Base and by the time I was 5 had lived on Guam and in California before Dad decided to retire back in Spokane, Washington. I learned to stand at attention and salute the flag before I could walk.
Dad was proud of his two-plus decades of Air Force service. His love of God and country anchored our family and his passing in 1994 left a void in my heart that cannot be filled.
So, of course I fell in love with a man in uniform!
I met my husband just after he graduated from flight school. He served in the Washington Army National Guard for 23 years– most of our married life. He’s duties took him to Panama and to Honduras, but he loved flying and mentoring other young pilots.
My love for my father and for my husband gave me deep empathy and added insight when I begin to tell the stories of WWll soldiers, sailors, pilots and corpsmen.
I understood duty, courage, leadership and self-sacrifice because I’ve lived with it all my life.
Today I honor my father, Tom Burnett and my husband, Derek Hval.
Of all the veterans I’ve met, these are the two I love the most and their stories have made my own story so much richer.
Happy Veteran’s Day.