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Editor’s note: Local soldier Army Spc. Brittany B. Gordon, 24, was killed in a suicide bombing Oct. 13 while serving in Afghanistan. She was a 2006 graduate of St. Petersburg High. Recently tb-two* talked with Gaither High senior Allan Romero about his plans for a military career, including the risks.
As told to JACKIE LAWSON, Gaither High
Since I was a kid, I wanted to be a pilot. I wasn’t sure how to approach this career, but eventually I decided that I was going to join the military when I graduated. Why? So I could travel the world.
Some people just know their calling. Mine is the Air Force. It’s the right career path for me because it will allow me to fly all over the world, serve my country — and I’ll be able to get a good amount of money for my work. There can be some downsides to joining the military, as it is quite risky. But that’s just a trade-off for the job.
However, I haven’t always known that (the Air Force) was for me. Not until I got involved in the NJROTC program at my school, was I completely sure that becoming an Air Force pilot was the right path for me. Through the program, I learned more about the military, what they do and how they work. That’s when I knew.
In my school’s NJROTC program, several active military members from all branches come to visit. We get the valuable opportunity to ask them questions. Learning more from these members and hearing their stories and all about the places they venture was very inspirational. It gave me the determination and willpower to become fully committed to my plans to join the military.
I got most of my information about the job by simply going online and doing some investigative research. My NJROTC instructors also helped me out a lot with my decision, and I owe them a lot of thanks.
Occasionally, our school’s NJROTC program will go on field trips to military bases, most notably, MacDill Air Force Base (in Tampa). At the base, we learned all about their mission and operation. It was a really great experience to be able to see the Air Force firsthand.
While I have contemplated going straight into the Air Force, I plan to attend a university and major in computer engineering before. During college, I will be enrolled in the school’s Air Force ROTC program, which gets you ready for the Air Force. At the end of my college career, about 60 days after graduating, I hope to be commissioned as an officer through the ROTC.
I train for the Air Force by researching as much as I can about it. I exercise every day in order to prepare myself for the rigorous physical activity. I’m glad to be so sure that it is my calling, and I can’t wait to be able to call myself a member.
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It’s always tragic to hear the news about the fate of soldiers like Army Spc. Gordon. I know there’s a risk involved in being in the service. I sincerely grieve for her, but I refuse to let the sadness change my decision. I’m sure she would have felt the same way.
Unlike most people, I see the benefits to being in the military more than the risks of being killed. Watching news about all the killings going on in Afghanistan doesn’t deter my goal of becoming a pilot.
My family is always concerned when they hear, especially my cousins and my grandma. They always tell me things like, “I don’t want to see you in a coffin before me.” They don’t like to directly think of me like that. Whenever my family hears things like this, they wonder why I would ever want to be in the Air Force. They’re more scared for me than I am.
As for my ROTC class, we try to talk about the war and news broadcasts. Our captain brings it up a lot so we can have class discussions. We’ve been hearing that the Afghan forces have been rallying up. We’ll go over it and analyze and educate ourselves about what’s going on in the global world. We learn from it and see what’s going on.
Despite all the terrible things that happen in Afghanistan, I want to do this because I want to give back to my country. I need to. I’m an immigrant from Honduras. Coming from such a poor country and experiencing the situations I’ve been in, it makes you really appreciate America’s military and the country itself. I’ve seen horrible things that my own government did.
It makes me appreciate everything this country has given me and other immigrants. I want everyone to have that same chance I did. America did many people a huge favor by opening its lands to all kinds of people and I want to give back because of that. I really appreciate being here.
My advice to prospective military men and women is to not let the risks stop you from doing something great for your country. Army Spc. Gordon is a hero because she did not let the risks stop her from serving our country. Go out and inform yourself, read the news, see what’s going on, and see if it’s for you. Interview with an official from the enlistment offices and make sure it’s what you want to do. After all, it is a risk. But if you want it, set your goal and go at it.