...I guess I'll take care of mine.
I was raised in the "Heart of Naval Aviation" seeing Navy planes and helicopters fly over my house as I was playing in my kiddie pool in the back yard. It was always fun to see them fly over. One hot summer day I was out playing in said pool when I swear a plane flew really low, right over me. I think I must have been in a sun haze. You know the ones where you have been out in the sun so long your brain is almost fried? I know in actuality it couldn't have happened, but I still say it did. I saw it, I felt it and it exhilarated me! I ran inside to ask my mom if she had seen it. She promptly sent me to bed since I must be exhausted to "see" that happen. So off I went to bed for my nap. Of course I didn't nap. I sat there and played it over and over again in my head, dreaming of it being me flying the plane and flying over housetops and the beach. I think of this day often.
It's about 8 years later and my mom is driving me to school. We see smoke coming from the woods behind the house of an acquaintance. I learned at school that a plane had crashed there and left two men dead - a Navy flight instructor and his student. My heart broke. I thought about their families and wondered if they had wives and children. I told myself that I may want to be a pilot, but I wasn't going to marry one.
I'm now in college in the same town. I meet a lot of flight students and befriend them. They come to my parents house for holidays when they can't go home to visit family, but I never get into a serious relationship with one. We are friends and that's all I want. I do not want to marry into the military. My sister did that and it didn't end up well. I have a lot of friends who did that and they worry about their spouse all the time.
I start looking into Officer Candidate School (OCS) for the Air Force, Navy and Marines during my junior year. I want to be a pilot and they are looking for women - the whole minority thing, ya know? The Air Force is the only one that will accept me with my eye sight. The others will accept me, but I'll have to be a navigator and I want to be a pilot, so no deal. You may be asking yourself why the Coast Guard is never mentioned. Well, because I didn't know the CG had pilots. No idea. I grew up surrounded with Navy and Marines and didn't know much about the CG except they had boats. Little did I know, right?
My senior year comes around and I'm talking with the Air Force recruiter almost weekly and something keeps holding me back from signing papers. I wasn't sure that's what I wanted because I had other dreams as well. Then, September 11, 2001 rolls around. I'm watching the news as the second plane hits the World Trade Center. Once again, my heart breaks. Next, the Pentagon is hit and as soon as I heard Al-Quida claimed responsibility I knew a lot of my friends were going to be going over there and some would likely not come back.
Let me back up a little here. I was managing a restaurant and this guy would come in to study all the time. I knew he was in flight school, so while I was friendly, that was it. He never knew my name, I never knew his. The waitresses were gaa gaa over him, but I didn't want to date anyone and just wanted to get out of town after graduating.
Back to Sept. 11 now: This was the night I looked at him differently. He came in without his books that night. I take that back. He did have a couple and his little airplane that he used to practice maneuvers, but he never opened a book and just kept fiddling with the plane. I was hooked to the radio that night, but kept watching him. Two weeks later, I look at him and tell my hostess, "It's going to be really funny to tell my kids I met their dad while he came here to study". I didn't even realize it came out of my mouth until I said it. I knew at that moment, not only was I not going to go into the Air Force, I was also going to do what I always said I wouldn't and marry a military pilot.
He asked me on a date that night and 4 nights later we went out to dinner (at a fancy place I always said my future husband would take me on our first date - crazy, huh?) and were inseparable for weeks. About a month after our first date, his On-Wing (basically his advisor/mentor) asked how the date with the restaurant girl went and his response was, "It's still going". Seven months later we were engaged, three months after that we were married. It's now 5.5 years and we are still going strong.
By the way, I now know the Coast Guard has pilots and all sorts of other things I never knew of. I also couldn't be happier that I'm not in the military myself and I'm eternally proud of my husband and the work he does. Though, I am kind of jealous that he gets to fly around. Lucky duck.