The Re-enlisted Airman

SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. -- It actually began long before this flight ever took off.

Long before the crew chiefs began running their checklists and before the pilots got on board - before they "stepped" as they say in Air Force lingo. Before the security Airmen went to roll call and before the commander approved the day's orders.

No, this story started, oh, we'll say about 15 years ago. That's when an Airman on this flight, this mission, got the word to go. On that arbitrary day, 15 years ago, that's when the Airman raised his or her right hand and swore in to the Air National Guard - for the second time.

Truth be told, no matter how much a recruit Googles or asks around, no matter how many stories he hears from his dad or cousin who was in the ANG, until that Airman put on the uniform himself or herself and spent a couple of years schlepping out to drill weekends and picking up extra duty here or there, that Airman just doesn't really now what he or she is getting him or herself into.

And so when that Airman, 15 years ago, we'll say, enlisted for a second time - or a third, fourth, what-have-you - well then he or she really knew. And enlisted anyway.

Every job in the ANG is different. Squadrons are different. Some are better than others, but I'll let those in the know make those arguments.

No, instead, I salute to you Mr. Re-enlisted Airman. Mrs. Re-enlisted Airman. You know what you were getting yourself into and you did it anyway.

So when this flight ends, in whatever country you find yourself - and hopefully this one lands at home station! - know that you do so with the extra thanks of someone who truly knows what it means to enlist. And then enlist again.