My Kaleidoscope of Moments

Another great post from Joel Peterson, one of my professors from grad school. If you are active on LinkedIn, I recommend following him. He turns out a lot of high quality posts.

Waupaca, WI, 1994 – A Teacher Suggests Military Academies: One of my teachers (Joan Schultz) suggests I think about attending one of the military academies, as they seemed a good fit for someone who loved sports and was doing well in academics. I was intrigued and set it as a target. It was the first time I really focused on a long term goal.

Waupaca, WI, 2000 – The Medical Waiver: A month prior to high school graduation I had lost my spot at West Point because the medical waiver for my ACL reconstruction had not gone through. Two weeks later, the waiver was approved and I went on the waiting list. Two days before graduation, I was offered an appointment. I learned that things work themselves out in good time.

West Point, NY, 2000 – Stay or Resign?: A few months into my first academic year at West Point and I was considering leaving. No one would have called H3 an easy company with the likes of John MorrisJonathan HopkinsJoe Palen, and others. I had had a particularly difficult week and was leaning more towards resignation, but great classmates like Jason HolbrookAdam KingNathan StricklandRyan ClearyTim Hsia, and many others were there to help. I really learned what teamwork and a brotherhood was.

USAFA, CO, 2002 – Failure: After two poor jumps, I was booted from the USAF Free Fall School.  It was embarrassing and tough to handle the fact that I had failed out of the course, as exchange cadets were generally expected to easily pass both jump school and glider school while at USAFA. But things are always how you shape them – I also succeeded in twice surviving a jump and free fall from a perfectly good airplane.

West Point, NY, 2001 – 9/11: The world changed for everyone on 9/11, but particularly for those in the military. On 9/10, war was hard to picture, but 9/11 would be the start of our nation’s longest span of combat ever, which certainly shapes us all.

Fort Rucker, AL, 2004 – No Flying: After a lot of searching, I had finally found a great career path for me in the military … a MEDEVAC pilot (DUSTOFF). Shortly after arrival at Fort Rucker for flight school, I was medically disqualified due to a back condition that makes me prone to lower back pain (which I had entered West Point with). There was nothing I could do about it, except embrace whichever alternative path I chose.

Fort Huachuca, AZ, 2005 – Not Dennis: I had just returned from a morning run when I received word that my friend, classmate, and fellow B3 Bandit Dennis Zilinski had been killed by an IED in Iraq. The shit got real that day — our class was at war.

Pakistan, 2006 – Helping Others: In Pakistan to help deliver aid in the wake of a massive earthquake, we were warmly greeted by almost all Pakistanis I encountered. Many remarked that they never thought Americans cared. Let’s first look for ways to work together and help one another before we vilify a country, a race, or a religion.

Camp Taji, Iraq, 2007 – Not Always A Reason: On 23 June 2007, SGT William Brown of C/2-227 AVN was killed by mortar fire as he pre-flighted his MEDEVAC aircraft. He was the first and the only member of 2-227 Aviation, my unit, to be killed on our 15 month tour in Iraq. SGT Brown was a great soldier and a great person. Some things in life just cannot be explained.

Seoul, Korea, 2008 – Yoomi.  I met a girl, and fell in love.

Isaka Village, Tanna Island, Vanuatu, 2009 – We Define Our Happiness: The villagers of this island nation live in “rich poverty”. They have almost no money, but food grows abundantly and water is generally available. They could use more antibiotics and dental care, but health is good in many folks. I’ve never seen more cheerful kids. We define our own happiness.

These are the ones that come immediately to mind for me. What are your moments?

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