Career Focus: There ain't any chance of me staying

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Joseph Mulcahy
  • 377th Air Base Wing
A few days ago, I completed my 19th year with the Air Force. This milestone was especially significant because I was the smart-alecky and arrogant Airman who many thought would never complete one enlistment. I had a propensity for speaking my mind, questioning orders and testing my boss' patience. I was the unit "problem child" until a superb staff sergeant taught me how to use my ideas, skills and energy in a positive way. My career smoothed out and flourished. Still, I never intended to make the Air Force a career. I would frequently say, "There ain't any chance of me staying."

I originally enlisted because I believed that each American had a patriotic duty to serve this great nation. However, I also dreamed of working on America's graceful and deadly fighter aircraft.

I was a little disappointed with my first assignment to Myrtle Beach AFB, S.C. I was sent to a maintenance shop that rarely participated in launching aircraft. I wanted to work on F-16s, but the Air Force assigned me to A-10s. In time, I learned to respect and admire the A-10. I was at the base for a mere four months when I received an assignment to England.

England was one of the best assignments of my career. I got to work with great maintainers and pilots at RAF Bentwaters. Our A-10 unit seemed to win Outstanding Unit awards every year. We were constantly aware of our mission to kill Warsaw Pact tanks should the need arise. We knew we were defending the free world, and this kept our morale high.

After three years in Europe, my enlistment came to an end. I started looking for civilian jobs and actually had several offers. I was certain that I would leave the Air Force. Instead, I received an assignment to an F-16 unit at Hill AFB, Utah. My dream had come true and it wasn't long before I reenlisted.

Working at Hill was demanding and rewarding. My assignment there was full of Middle East deployments, war exercises and launching hundreds of aircraft sorties per month. Our wing was called on to support a myriad of global operations. With all the excitement and fun, my second enlistment passed away almost undetected. Once again, I prepared to return to the civilian world until I received an assignment to an F-15 unit at Elmendorf AFB Alaska. I couldn't believe it. I had been given the honor of working on the world's most superior fighter. I became a "lifer" and never thought about separating again.

Today, I counsel Airman who must decide to stay or leave our Air Force. I'm not a recruiter. I simply advise folks on civilian and Air Force benefits. I mention the good and bad of both worlds and let folks decide. Regardless of their decision, I remind them that our Air Force offers more than monetary compensation.

This week I was able to reflect on my career. I have not stayed this long for money. It has always been the opportunity to see the world, fulfill my dreams and make a difference. On a recent visit here, retired Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Eric W. Benken, helped me see the value of staying more clearly when he said, "The uniform we wear, our great and varied missions and the people that serve next to us make our team unbeatable."

If you are having trouble deciding on reenlistment or would like assistance with other enlisted career options call me at 846-6636 or e-mail me at

See you in the wings!