When did you join the armed services?
I joined the Navy in 1981 after graduating high school, from the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen, TX. I joined the Navy to seek admission to the US Naval Academy (USNA) in Annapolis, MD to become an Officer in the Marines. My father was a pilot and I also wanted to be a pilot at some point. Bottom line, I wanted to support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic… so help me God!
While I did get to the USNA, I failed to graduate due to lack of applying the necessary attention to my studying. I focused more on the military than the academics. After leaving Annapolis, I joined the US Marine Corps, where I was able to achieve one of my goals of becoming a Recon Marine. I served six years parachuting, scuba diving, shooting, setting off explosives and all of the other “awesome stuff” the Marines advertise in their excitement-driven commercials. I also attended the US Army Special Forces qualification course and earned my Green Beret, even though as a Marine I wasn’t allowed to wear it.
As much as I loved doing all of that, I still had a strong desire to be a pilot. By the time I was ready to leave the recon world behind, I was too old for any of the programs that would allow me to attend flight school as a Marine. I discovered the Army Warrant Officer Flight Training (WOFT) program and applied for it. In February of 1992 I left the Marines in Camp Pendleton, CA to join the Army. I attended flight school in Fort Rucker, AL where I learned to fly helicopters in the venerable Vietnam-era Bell UH-1 Iroquois (“Huey”).
Eventually, I transitioned to fixing winged aircraft and ultimately flew a UC-35 (Cessna Citation business jet) as a VIP transport pilot. This was an incredible job that took me to every state, as well as other very interesting locations.
I retired in 2006 as a Chief Warrant Officer 3 after a combined 24 years of service. I went from enlisted Marine rifleman to recon team leader and finally to a Senior Aviator instructor and Standardization Pilot.
Where were you stationed?
In my 24 years of service I was stationed in Newport, RI; Camp Pendleton, CA; Fort Rucker, AL; Fort Hood, TX; South Korea and aboard the USS Peleliu. I served in Kuwait and attended the “after party” for Desert Storm. In other words, I was not in on the short-lived ground war.
Share some of the ways you continue to serve?
I continue to serve as a contract pilot providing services to the military in various locations around the world. Since retiring, I have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as several locations around the US.
What are some life memories that stand out to you the most?
I have many memories of my father who died in a plane crash in 1977, when I was only 14. He was a rancher and a pilot who absolutely made a significant contribution to my life’s journey. Much of my early accomplishments was always with the expectation and hope that, “Daddy would be proud of me.” Even though I know I let him down occasionally, I am confident that he would be proud of the man I have become. That has always been significant to me.
Meeting my wife, and seeing her run away from my house after falsely being accused of breaking a box of my dishes (oops). We have been married 26 years so far and this continues to be a funny topic. We have many memories, some rough, but always pulling through. I’m blessed to have her.
The births of my children were and will always be very special to me. Who can see something like that and not be moved by the miracle of creation? To reflect on the fact that I had a part in that is awe inspiring.
What brought you to FASTSIGNS?
The internet! I had a “mom and pop sign shop,” but I always knew that I wanted it to be much “More Than” that. Often I would research the sign franchises and other sign companies to see what they were doing. I realized that FASTSIGNS® was everything that I envisioned my company becoming.
I learned that FASTSIGNS was the top ranked sign franchise. When I noticed that FASTSIGNS had opened the Killeen market and were actively seeking a franchisee in the area, I certainly didn’t want to compete with them; I decided to become the competition.
Being a standardization pilot, I understand the need for standard procedures and clear, published guidance. With FASTSIGNS, I appreciate that so much of this has been done and is provided for the franchisee to have the best opportunity for success. Since I am not in my center on a daily basis, I have an onsite manger. He is tremendously trustworthy and honest, but having these standard procedures to follow will ultimately lead to a much more cohesive, effective and profitable business.
Anything else you would like to share?
Freedom is a wonderful thing. It allows us to do anything we want to do, anytime we want to do it. It also allows others to do what they want to do. Make the connection.
Likewise, we are all free to do what we want, but we shouldn’t expect to be free from the consequences of doing it.