By Captain Marisa J. King
U.S. Air Force.
It all began in Mrs. Hickey’s 2nd grade class. We learned about space and from then on, I knew I wanted to do something great. I wanted to be an astronaut and even if I never made it into space, I knew that anywhere I landed along the way, I’d be doing great and honorable things. Every move since that day was calculated. I refused to miss a day of school in grade school. I did the best that I could in every class, striving for every advanced class that I could put on my plate. If I struggled, I would fax my mother my homework to wherever she was that week for work.
Once I entered high school I learned about the Air Force and had fallen in love with the idea of serving my country. While applying for colleges, the Air Force and Naval Academies, my mother lost her job. It was a stressful time for us, however, it turned out to be perfect timing.
While I was preparing for interviews with Senators, she was preparing for new job interviews. Luckily, my mother found a job around the same time I received the news that I was accepted into the Air Force Academy Preparatory School. Initially I was heartbroken that I didn’t make it directly into the Air Force Academy, but little did I know, this small bit of adversity was foreshadowing my military career.
I was rarely able to achieve any goal I sought after on the first try. I always had to try a little bit harder but I never gave up. I finally made it in to the Air Force Academy where I studied Astronautical Engineering. This degree proved to be quite difficult, but to my surprise, I was able to survive. My grades left little to be desired initially preventing me from receiving my pilot slot. With time, however, others began to decline their pilot slots and I was able to receive one prior to graduation. Following graduation, I proceeded to Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas and learned how to fly.
It was a struggle at first. My first check ride in every airplane at pilot training left me with a failure. It was as if I needed this failure or “hook” in order to excel. Once I got that failure out of the way, I actually excelled enough to put me on the fighter/bomber track where I ended up flying the B-52. Still on track to be an astronaut, I applied to Test Pilot School after my fifth year in the B-52. Not so surprisingly, I did not make it in, nor did I make it in the second time I applied. I was devastated, of course, but when I submitted my second application, I also submitted one for the Weapons Instructor Course. For this course, I was accepted. This all brings me to today. I am a Weapons School graduate and I could not be any more proud of myself. The Weapons School taught me how strong I can be. It forced me to be out of my shell and into a confident aviator and problem solver. I found strength in the struggle, and even though I may not be an Astronaut, I love where I am and most importantly who I am today.
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