“It’s like a story life.”
That’s how Dan Wilson describes his 20-years in the Air Force, like a storybook.
It’s a time that took he and his family around the world to places like Panama, England, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Germany.
His story all began on May 1, 1984, when he decided to join the Air Force. After training at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas, Wilson and his wife moved to the Republic of Panama.
“You went straight from here into kind of a third world nation and it took a while to get used to that,” Wilson said. “It was a little bit scary at first.”
While in Panama, Wilson served as an air transportation specialist. His primary job, moving goods and passengers in and out of the country.
“Cargo could be anything from literally beans to bullets and everything in between,” he explained. “It could be medical supplies.”
After a few years working with all branches of service, Wilson returned to the U.S with his wife and now two daughters, becoming an airborne airdrop instructor at Fort Lee, Virginia.
“I wound up in this perfect career field, that breaks everything down from here’s the whole process into every little segment,” he continued.
Eventually, the Wilson family crossed the pond and ended up with the Royal Air Force Mildenhall in England.
“I have to give my wife full credit for all the things that she did because she just did it. She made it all happen,” Wilson said of all the times his family moved.
Although his family was moving around the globe, Wilson also made several solo trips to Africa, Saudi Arabia and South Africa, among other destinations.
“It was good fun. You would drive into work in the morning and some days you’d see a giraffe or something. It would just be on the side of the road like you’d see a deer here,” Wilson remembers of one particular trip.”
The Wilsons’ final chapter of the story began in 2001 with their final overseas move to Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
“You see a lot of the staging going out for the Middle East and all that,” Wilson said. “It was the largest airbase in Europe at the time.”
It was during that time, and shortly after the family’s arrival, that the military and the world felt the shock of 9/11 which turned an already bustling airbase busier.
“We helped the original group of Special Forces troops that got into Afghanistan within days after 9/11 happened,” Wilson continued.
Wilson retired from the Air Force in on August 30, 2004, moving his family back home to Ohio.
“The Air Force was great to me and my family,” he said. “I just, I love the Air Force.”