From Ernie M. (Veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Retired Pilot)

At the tender age of nineteen, I got my first “real” job. Sure I had newspaper routes, hardware store clerk and gas station attendant duties prior to this job, but this was “real.” I was hired as a Fleet Service Helper, a cleaner for Trans World Airlines, a premier airline in that day. Within 3 months, I was transferred to a Ground Service Helper position, a “gas man.” That involved a 10 cent an hour pay raise and liberation from “honey bucket” duties!

Up on the wings, fueling aircraft, I would occasionally visit with the Flight Engineer. I soon recognized that airline operations were good, but working as a cockpit crew member was more desirable than any ground job. I joined the U. S. Air Force and enlisted as an Aviation Cadet. After a seven year career in the USAF piloting KC-97 and KC-135 aircraft, I returned to TWA as a Flight Crew member and retired 28 years later as a B-747 Captain.

My work experience taught me many things. Don’t be afraid to start a career on the bottom. A good work ethic will give opportunities for promotion. The military gives lots of responsibilities and authority to young and somewhat inexperienced personnel. That doesn’t happen in the civilian world. Feel proud in what you do. You should feel as good about doing an excellent job as a Captain as you did as a Cleaner. Remember, “A chain has many links; all links must be strong or the job will not be done with success.”

Welcome home to the United States. Hopefully your future will feed on good events you may have experienced.

(My 22 year old grandson is visiting on leave with his bomb sniffing dog, “Issi” after their tour in Afghanistan. He will soon be experiencing a civilian transition when his tour is up next year.)



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