Sweet Home New Mexico: Spouse incentive flight leaves lasting impression

I love being a military spouse. Even with all of the sacrifices and

hardships that come with the job, I love it. Those in charge of our spouses know what a hard job we have, and I am impressed that when they can, they find ways to tell us ‘thank you.’ I was so excited to hear about the spouse incentive flight that took place in October. I took a flight on the AC-130H Spectre gunship and if I may be so bold, next to giving birth, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

One of our family friends was an Air Force combat controller that was killed Sept. 2010 in Afghanistan. His death has affected me greatly. While very tragic, it has given me an even greater appreciation for our armed forces and more specifically, for our special forces. After his death, I discovered an intimate connection between combat controllers and the gunship on which I flew. I know our crews on the ground love to see the gunship roll in during battle, and the enemy hates to see it roll in.

During my flight on the gunship, I was walking throughout the plane observing the crew. I could tell how much they loved their aircraft and their job. They let us walk and sit wherever we wanted, offering a hand to steady us and made sure we were getting everything out of the experience we could. I got off that aircraft feeling like America is in very, very good hands. My heart surged with pride for the work these men and women accomplish and for the families they leave behind so often to do that work.

I am almost positive I will never again in my life have the opportunity to fly on an active warplane that has flown in every war since Vietnam. I may never again have the opportunity to fly in an aircraft I personally know provided overhead support to my combat controller friend in his times of need on the ground before his life was taken too soon by a cowardly enemy. It was a tremendous honor, truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I am so thankful for that experience and especially thankful to those that made it possible. I know it must be no easy task to organize the hundreds of spouses that flew or for pilots and crews to give up their Saturday, but from the hundreds of Cannon spouses that were given that amazing opportunity, we say ‘thank you.’ And my hat is off to the members of the 16th Special Operations Squadron. Everyone I met epitomized honor, patriotism and bravery. I was flown around by a crew of heroes. Not many people can claim that.