Time To Go: An Airman’s Departure Message

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The following message was posted publicly on August 1st by Kris Grogan, a 14-year Air Force veteran who wrote as he transitioned out of the service. His message struck a chord. At last count, it had been shared more the 23,000 times on Facebook and was popping up in news feeds prolifically. I had Grogan’s message sent to me privately by no less than a two dozen airmen in the last day or so, all encouraging me to share and comment on it.

Why is this message generating such an energetic response? When you read it, you’ll quickly understand. Without descending into the standard pitfalls of self-absorption, bitterness, or overwrought nostalgia, as many “farewell messengers” tend to do, Grogan skillfully summarizes an idea on the minds of many who wear the uniform today: things have to make basic sense, and be worthy of sacrifice, to keep committed people serving. As the fabric of common sense continues to be torn and frayed within the Air Force, in some measure because of internal forces but in perhaps equal measure as a function of the forces of society exerting upon the service, more airmen are finding themselves out of step with something they once deeply loved. Out of step enough to forego a lifetime pension in exchange for a head start on a life that can give them the opportunity for self-determination and the minimum safe distance from unchecked lunacy that they fervently desire. What should bother us all is that the Air Force has, in the space of a decade, gone from being a shelter against BS to a firestorm of it, and it’s not clear that we’ll be able to find and keep enough Kris Grogans to properly do the nation’s airpower bidding unless things change soon.

I’ve reached out to Kris Grogan for comment and will update this story after we’ve spoken. Meantime, enjoy. -Q.


Tomorrow morning will be the final day I lace up my boots and put on my Air Force uniform. I have now served my country in uniform for 14 years but it is time to go.

As I was out-processing today my wife (who will be leaving service next month) and I were asked numerous times “Why don’t you just stay in one more enlistment for your retirement?”

It was somewhat difficult to answer with just one reason as to why I have decided to take off the uniform. Was it the pay and benefits? No not really (Even though I make less than $15 a hour which many people think the minimum wage should be!) Was it all the deployments? Ummmmm sorta of (I have been deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, and Bosnia just to name a few in addition to about 25 other countries) but I love my country and would always give my life defending this great nation for my family and friends.

Kris Grogan (far left) in Afghanistan, Christmas of 2011.
Kris Grogan (far left) in Afghanistan, Christmas of 2011.

So I just wanted to share a couple thoughts with all of you while I sit here thinking about my final day in uniform which will come at 0630 tomorrow morning. I currently am an AMMO troop. Our mission is to build bombs and process numerous other munitions to take the fight to the enemy. We pretty much put “Warheads on Foreheads!” But what I signed up for many years ago has changed dramatically. Even though our mission is to kill, we are more worried about upsetting someones feelings versus getting the mission done. We spend more time doing ancillary training then actually training. Even though I have a military drivers license I have to be signed off in another database to drive a vehicle and then have a competency card saying I know how to drive on top of that. That is just a few examples of why I have decided to call it quits.

And then we get to the bigger issue America. Can anyone tell me what the following names mean? Thomas Sullivan, Skip Wells, Carson Holmquist, David Wyatt, or Randall Smith? Or is this easier for you, Cecil the lion or Caitlyn Jenner? Yes we give more attention and respect to stars and animals then we do to those who continue to give their lives for this country.

I have met my greatest friends in the military. I have left home for months not knowing if I would return. I have written letters to my family just in case something happened to me while at war. I have looked war in the face and have taken the fight to the enemy. I have watched grown men cry and sat in the middle east wondering how big my kids were getting and how my beautiful wife was doing.

So would I do it again? Absolutely! But we as Americans need to realize what is going on and return to the greatest nation we used to be! If we as a society don’t toughen up and grow thick skin then we will definitely lose the battle to those who wish ill will upon us. Perception is reality, and right now we are more scared of speaking our mind and hurting someones feelings versus doing the right thing.

In closing 99% of America knows Cecil the Lion and Caitlyn Jenner. Only 1% will know the other 5 names (4 Marines and 1 Sailor) who gave their lives in Chattanooga TN at the hands of an terrorist!

So tomorrow I will lace up the boots head into work shake a few hands and be on my way. Its been one hell of a ride. To all those I have met along the way I say “Thank You for your Service”. To my brothers and sisters overseas right now “God Speed” and I will drink a beer for you all. Continue to put Warheads on Foreheads and you will continue to be in our prayers each and every night.


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