Who I am today is a combination of more than I could have ever imagined when I entered adulthood years ago. I spent 3,780,000 seconds navigating anywhere from 25 to 3000 feet over a combat zone. Armed to the teeth with missiles, rockets and 300 rounds loaded in a suto grenade launcher. The sleek, beautiful AH-64 Apache attack helicopter was my most temperamental but trusted “mate,” as Christian would say during these hair-raising moments. More than anything, the experiences I shared with this machine would provide me a with the unique understanding of the beauty in personal perseverance and that anything you put your mind to is possible. This defines who I am today.
I came to this conclusion because I was never the star student, not even a good one. I didn’t learn how to read until I was in 6th grade, I spent more time daydreaming about the far-reaching possibilities this universe holds then learning the essential building blocks to make them a reality. My life revolved around being distracted, friends and sports. Let’s be honest; I barely graduated High School.
In 2000 after graduating, I was feeling rejected and ultimately submitted to the idea I was stupid. I walked out of the security of my known reality into the only option I felt I had left, the Army. The overwhelming disciplined regiment of United States Army as a Forward Observer, also known as a 13F in military circles. This was far from my dream job, but I justified my decision with the promise that the Army would pay for my college education after my contract was up. I just didn’t realize it would take 16 years of service, four long deployments in the war on terror and a life-threatening injury, for me to cash in on that promise. In the military, I would face unparalleled struggle, horrific conflict, devastating loss leading me to an incredible appreciation for the value of each life. Understanding the undeniable conflict inherent in actual change, the inherent traits to turn hopes into reality, a love for every moment and a deep-seated belief in a better tomorrow for everyone.
Holding to this understanding, I have the privilege to be married my best friend, and between us, we have five amazing kids that are a joy. I am using my educational benefits on a dual major in aeronautical/Astro engineering and physics. I do occasionally look at the world through a 35mm lens and have had the good fortune of being a published photographer in serval national magazines, but more than anything I have found an open mind that provides a foundation of faith, and the ability persevered over any trial. Today I am finding my stride, and I know my best is yet to come. In the words of Michelangelo “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”
I believe it’s becoming harder for just one person to change the direction humanities heading indeed, but with a focused community that believes in each other can and the greater good anything is possible. It is a pleasure to be able to speak to such an innovative and cutting edge group of professionals that I know embodies this idea and is on the verge of making tomorrow better for humanity.