Retired!

Retired from the Nebraska Air National Guard after 25 years of service

Retired with flag reduced

United States Air Force Retired, what does that feel like today? I woke up with the realization that something that has been a big part of my life for many years is now over.  My military career began almost 4 decades ago as I looked for a way to pay for medical school.  Though I have a few token weeks officially remaining, my career as an Air Force Officer is now over.

I still have a job, I’m a doctor and I teach family practice residents. It is full-time and is not a slack position.  For the last 15 years, though, I have had another job.  Its minimum requirements were 60 days of duty per year.  Some years this exceeded 100 with a significant portion of them away from home and overseas.

Though I began in the 1970s I have actually only served 25 ½ years, some on active duty and some in the Air National Guard or Reserves. The last 15 years I have been a flight surgeon in the Nebraska Air National Guard.

So what does retired mean? I guess I don’t have to get a haircut in a few weeks.  It was never supposed to be the “high and tight” variety but we were supposed to keep it short.  It will take some getting used to.

I won’t have to wake up on Monday after a drill weekend (once a month) and try to juggle all the things that I need to accomplish for the Guard with my day-job. My focus can narrow a bit.

I won’t be in charge of the medical services provided by the medical professionals in our wing. We have nearly a thousand people to care for.  We are an important cog in a very big wheel.  Our wing provides fuel to planes all around the world.  In addition we have many other missions to be a part of.  I won’t be a part of that any more.

I won’t be gone from home 60 days, 12 weekends a year. I won’t have to come home and work on plans, charts, waivers.  I won’t run out to the base to sign some document or have to call the National Guard Bureau to try to advocate for someone’s health related issues.

Not being a part of the mission means not going with the planes when they travel to a far off place. I have had some wonderful opportunities to do this.  Iceland, Turkey, Crete, Spain, Guam, New Zealand and Antarctica were among the locations I had to go.  I wasn’t a tourist, I had work to do.  But I got to see those places and experience the culture and was paid to do it.

Of course it was the grim reality of war was the ultimate reason our planes were and are needed.   That fuel goes to aircraft that have supported our troops, flown protective patrols over our nation, and helped put offensive aircraft where they needed to be to carry out that war.  I would rather that we weren’t needed, that 9/11 had never happened and that the past 15 years could have been just a boring desk job.

As many who retire from the guard have said, “I’ll get my life back” but I will always carry in my heart a desire to be a part of that great organization, the United States Air Force. I has been great to be needed and I will keep those who take my place in my prayers as they go forward.  We don’t know how the world will change in the next 15 years but I know that the Air Force will be there and the great people of the Air National Guard and the medical service will be right there in the midst of it all.

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About smcpherson58

Aside from loving chocolate and coffee (not necessarily in that order) Scott McPherson has learned that he loves to write. He writes fiction and, so far, has published two novels. Scott has many varied interests, though he tries to focus on one at a time. He has worked for nearly thirty-five years as a family physician, a pass-time that gives him great pleasure and pays the bills. He has five daughters and dotes upon three grandchildren. Recently married, he really loves life. Scott writes from his life experiences and from travel. His career in the active Air Force was brief, but he has been a member of the Nebraska Air National Guard since just before 9/11 in 2001. The aftermath of that great disaster changed the face of the Guard and led to missions in far-away lands. He has spent time in Turkey, Iraq, Spain, Crete and Guam in missions related to support for Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. He has been to Iceland and Antarctica as well. Scott has no personal experience with violent death or murder, but has gained knowledge from experts. In his first novel, “A Step Ahead of Death,” his character, Jack Sharp MD, becomes embroiled in a murder mystery. First as suspect, then as amateur sleuth, Jack tries to make a difference. He finds himself right in the middle of an investigation well beyond the scope of a local murder. A man of faith, Scott traveled to Africa with his small family in the 1980s and served as a medical missionary in Zaire (known as Congo today) with a church organization. The vast difference in what it takes to exist in such an environment served as a basis for much of his second novel, a thriller, “Congo Mission.” His character, Jack, is twenty years younger than in the first novel. In “Congo Mission” Jack serves as a physician in a missionary hospital in the jungles of northwestern Zaire. There he is not only captivated by a young woman visiting the region, but falls victim to his nemesis Jacques Levant. His motivations and faith are tested and his resolve to do God’s work gets pushed to the limit. When he is not writing Scott enjoys walking, a practice that actually led to his first attempt at writing a novel. He began making notes and writing prose about the mundane things around him. He tried to make the details sound interesting, even though it was just for his own pleasure. Eventually he found that he could expand his prose to “what if?” “What if I just kept walking?” “What if I, or my character, found a dead body in the ditch along the side of the path?” That was the premise for the first novel, “A Step Ahead of Death.” Scott McPherson is an avid trombone player and has played since he was nine years old. He marched in the Cornhusker Marching Band at the University of Nebraska and now takes advantage of one free football game a year by playing in the half-time show with the UNL Alumni Marching Band. He plays in the Lincoln Civic Orchestra and a community band from the nearby town of Waverly, Nebraska. Scott loves to sing as well, though his range seems to have diminished in recent years. He has sung in college and church choirs and remembers performing parts of Handel’s Messiah as a highlight of his singing experience. One little-known fact about Scott is that he once sang soprano in a boys choir. Scott plans to keep writing as long as the ideas flow and others show interest in his stories. He loves to interact with other writers or readers about what has become a passion in his life. Reviews are always welcome as are questions and comments.
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