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The Distance

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- With a guard unit within close proximity to my place of employment, people often ask why I travel so far to St. Joseph, Missouri to be a part of the 139th Airlift Wing.
 
A little biographical information on me... I reside in a small community evenly positioned between Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; three hours away from St. Joe. To set the record straight, because I do get asked by both native Nebraskans and 'out of towners' as we call them;  by no means am I a Nebraska Cornhusker fan!  My idea of a great game is when Nebraska is losing. 

For just under 10 years I was a part of the 155th Air Refueling Wing in the Nebraska ANG; almost half of my military career.  After a long conversation with a retired KC135 pilot who I supervised at the time, I decided to entertain the idea of joining the 139th.  I was younger back then and in search of new opportunities. The feedback I received from this retiree was that the 139th had everything I was searching for, to include a close-knit community.

At first when he brought up a unit in Missouri, I thought, "Missouri? What can they possibly have to offer over there in the sticks?"  The same question my Missourian comrades have asked me when I tell them I am from Nebraska.  As fate would have it, I ended up spending a week in Alpena, Mich., with the 139th and before that week was up, I had a new home with the 139th.  I have never looked back. 

Thinking back on those units that I have spent time with (155th Air Refueling Unit, 185th Fighter Wing, and the 132nd Fighter Wing) I could have made myself a permanent member with anyone of them.  Yes, some of those units would not require me to stay in lodging because the distance traveled is far less than that of St. Joe. 

However, each one missed the element that St. Joe has given me for over eight years; a second family.  Just like a traditional nuclear family, my second family has taken care of me and given me many opportunities that I may have not otherwise had.  They are worth driving the distance for.

About the author: Capt. Rhonda Brown is a public affairs officer with the 139th Airlift Wing, Missouri Air National Guard