Shaw Air Force Base: finding my sweet Southern Belle

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- -- On the day a new Airman receives their first duty assignment, they are usually filled with several different emotions. Fear, excitement, uncertainty, hope, and unfortunately often times there are bits of sadness as well. After checking multiple times a day for weeks on end, that day will finally arrive when the assignment comes and one of these emotions will be pushed to the forefront of your mental being.

Shaw Air Force Base ... South Carolina. This was the base assigned to a fresh young airman basic from the Empire State known as New York. On that day it was sadness which filled the Airman's heart.

Preparing to trade in the big cities and bitter cold winters for a small country town whose military presence is nearly equal to its civilian population - well at least in his eyes - this Airman was more than disappointed.

Without taking time to consider any positives of a southern location, he immediately began looking for someone, anyone, to trade assignments.

Luckily for him no one was willing.

As time went on he slowly began to accept the fact that South Carolina was his fate. Not the one he chose, but the one the Air Force chose; the one where he would soon have all of his expectations blown away.

For it was at this location that he stepped out of his vehicle, observed the environment, and took in a deep breath of fresh Carolina air. The freshness was something that had seemed scarce in his northern kingdom.

Blue skies, a warm 64 degrees with a slight breeze, and a smile on everyone's face who issued a pleasant hello as they passed by. What was this foreign land?

Clearly this can't be the same base he had heard of? The base where, when his training instructors asked what his first duty location was, they offered condolences. No. This couldn't possibly be the same place ... but it was.

Days went by and the young Airman quickly began to see the silver lining.

This lining was represented by the bright community that welcomed him with open arms.

A community that thanked him for his service and sacrifice to his country. A community where no one hesitated to lend a helping hand to a neighbor who needed it.

A community that seemed to have uncommon patriotism.

Shaw Air Force Base ... South Carolina. Except this time these words were read with a smile and a feeling of joy.

These were the words spoken when the young Airman was asked about his first duty location.

The words he uses to tell people where fate had landed him, and where he now calls home.