PCSing is a blessing in disguise <br> make the best of the journey

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Carl Engwall
  • 28th Maintenance Squadron
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face."

Several years back, my father-in-law gave me a picture of a train with a statement that read, "Life is a journey, not a destination." That statement has rang true for me and my family and we credit the Air Force with some of that.

The Air Force has offered numerous opportunities for my family and I that has added some twists and turns in that journey. I encourage all Airmen to take advantage of each and every twist and turn along the way. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger and the Air Force continues to offer challenges that make us all stronger.

As I look back to March of 1980, the beginning of my career, I remember stepping off the plane at the Rapid City Regional Airport. I was an 18-year-old airman basic, without a suitcase or a duffle bag. An older gentleman saw me in my service dress uniform and graciously offered me a ride to the billeting office. I'm sure he saw my frustration since my luggage did not arrive with me.

It was late at night when I checked into my room so I couldn't form concrete first impressions of my new environment.

The next morning when I woke up and saw the beautiful Black Hills from my window,
I knew Ellsworth was going to be a great assignment. I made the most of being in such a beautiful part of the country that has so much to offer, on and off base.

Six years later I received an assignment to Blytheville Air Force Base, Ark. According to my assignment officer it was also know as Hooterville, (Hooterville was a hick town from the 60's TV series' of Green Acres), and had to point it out to me on a map.

Although this was not someplace we planned to go, my beautiful wife and I packed up our Datsun 210 and made our way to Arkansas.

We arrived at Blytheville in March 1986 and even though it resembled Hootterville in some ways, we quickly made many lifelong friends on the base.

We were excited to be 'home' again and close to my wife's family and our old Air Force friends. The B-1 was a dream to work on compared to the B-52, and I thoroughly enjoyed my work assignments.

Eight years later in Sep. 2000, I received a call from my group superintendent who asked me if I wanted to go to Germany. He said I had two hours to decide. I quickly called my wife, we prayed and decided to go.

This was another opportunity the Air Force offered us to gain strength, courage and confidence in our lives journey.

My family and I endured the long flight to Frankfurt and the two hour car trip to Ramstein. We spent the next six weeks in a small billeting room until we could finally move into our house in the village of Steinbach, 11 miles west of Ramstein AB; an overseas move can be one of the most difficult moves.

Initially my daughters were intimidated and shocked with our new environment, but after a month they made friends and involved themselves with church and base activities.

What started out initially to be the most difficult move, transitioned into the most rewarding assignment of our career. We were able to travel extensively, and our girls got to see things most people only read about in the history books.

Our four wonderful years came to a close, and we found ourselves returning once again to Ellsworth...

Our Home.

I share these permanent change of station perspectives in hopes that Airmen, spouses and family members alike look upon PCS moves not as burdens, but opportunities - opportunities to grow socially, spiritually emotionally, to learn new cultures, make new friends and encounter new, thrilling environments.

As Air Force members, we have the unique privilege and honor to say we have an Air Force family who encircles the globe. So remember, when you get your new assignment, wherever it may be, think of it as a journey that will provide maturity, growth and memories that will last a lifetime.