Thoughts on patriotism with Illinois wing

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As of March 2016, I became a member of the 932nd Airlift Wing, 932nd Medical Group, and the 932nd Aeromedical Staging Squadron (ASTS). I was welcomed to the squadron with open arms. I had the opportunity to participate in an exercise at Patrick Air Force Base shortly thereafter, and met other members from the 932nd Airlift Wing in a challenging environment. What I learned very quickly from my experience is the 932nd AW is very family focused for both the military family and the civilian family.

My wife and I had the opportunity to walk in the St. Louis VP Parade this July. This was my first ever experience of walking in a parade as a military representative of my wing. The patriotism of the other unit members who were also walking in the parade was amazing. We had Master Sgt. Gerald Sonnenberg, the 932nd Airlift Wing Historian, who spent time behind the scenes building a set of flags which we carried in the parade.  The wing commander, Col. Jonathan Philebaum, took a couple of minutes before we started to tell us how proud he was and to thank us before we pushed forward, celebrating our nation's birthday together as a team.

I felt an overwhelming pride.  As I was walking, I could not help but think of my brother-in-law and his experiences of returning from Vietnam. In the St. Louis parade, there were young children who were waving flags, people standing on pillars down the street above the crowds and waving with people yelling "thank you for your service and thank you for keeping us safe". However, the one person I really noticed was a man wearing a Vietnam veteran hat saluting. We made eye contact and I saluted him back. He smiled and lowered his salute. That act alone made it worth it for my wife and I to attend the St Louis parade. I truly enjoyed the experience.

Finally, to the 932nd Public Affairs Office media  members in our Illinois unit, Maj. Stan Paregien and Tech. Sgt. Christopher Parr, your ability to cover these community and wing events and post updates quickly to the different  types of social media is a true testament of what our members of the 932nd accomplish on a daily basis.  I'm proud to be part of this incredible wing at Scott Air Force Base, 22nd Air Force, and the Air Force Reserve Command.  

Thank you.

Lt. Col. Steven Secraw