Veteran's Reflections: Military Provides Conduit to World
(November 27, 2010)
John McAllister, a veteran who served both in the National Guard and the U.S. Air Force, stands at the World War II Memorial in Washington. D.C., July 1, 2010. In an interview McAllister reflected on the dramatic impact military service has had on his life. DOD photo by
USN Petty Officer Second Class William Selby
||WASHINGTON, Nov. 24, 2010 – As a
child, John McAllister saw the military as a ticket
to a new world, beyond anything his rural Midwestern
home could offer.
“I'm from a small town in northern Minnesota, and it
was a way to learn an occupation, and also to get
out there and see some things besides the small town
we grew up in,” he said.
His two older brothers had set the example for him,
both joining the Army National Guard and then going
into active service. It was easy to follow in their
footsteps, because McAllister also had a strong
desire to serve his country.
“It all comes back to being grateful for what we
have in this country, and being a representative of
that when we're over there in these other
countries,” he said.
In 1988, two years after joining the Army Guard,
McAllister enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and went
to its firefighter academy. His service would take
him far, far away from Minnesota, around the U.S.
and eventually to Guam, where he was stationed when
Operation Desert Storm commenced.
Though he was far from the war geographically, working at
what he called a gas station for large-frame aircraft
carrying people and equipment to the battlefield, he had
close friends stateside who were departing for the war zone.|
“The day the ground war started in the Persian Gulf War
happened to be my 22nd birthday; it was February 24, 1991,”
McAllister said. “I remember waking up the morning they were
pushing in -- up to that point it had just been aerial
bombings going on -- and I knew that it was my friends going
into harm's way.”
“I was concerned about them, so I made a point after I left
Guam to touch base with them, and to make sure they're all
okay,” he added. “I took a trip down from Minnesota to New
Mexico, just to visit with them.”
McAllister said he recalls his military service with
fondness. Without it, he said, his life would be drastically
different. He wouldn't have met his wife in Greece, and he
wouldn't have developed the lifelong friendships only the
services' camaraderie can foster.
“They're probably the best friendships you'll ever make, the
ones you make in the military. The things you learn, the
places you see, the people you get to know [are
indispensible],” he said.
By Ian Graham|
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity
American Forces Press Service
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