Reaching New Heights

A Love of Flight Since Childhood

The first museum Michael Kolk ever visited was the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. Even though he was only four years old at the time, his mother, Patti, said, “I know that made quite an impact on him.”

In fact, that trip to the museum may have led to Michael’s lifelong love of flight and eventual enlistment in the Air Force Reserve.

When Patti found out that Michael wanted to join the Military, she supported him, especially since she didn’t think he was the type of person who would be happy working in an office. She said, “I couldn’t see him sitting behind a desk at a 9-to-5 job. He is someone that needs to be not only utilizing his brain but also the physical aspects. The Military is a perfect combination of those two things.”

Michael was especially interested in the Air Force Reserve because it would give him the chance to have two careers. Patti said, “He could pursue another career… It would just enhance his life more than he could ever dream of.”

 

A Global Cultural Education

Soon after Michael signed his papers and took the Oath of Enlistment, he went to Basic Military Training. Several weeks later, Patti attended his graduation. She said, “I was as proud as a parent could be. He was doing something that he felt he needed to do, that he wanted to do and this was the direction he wants to go. And that’s my job as a parent, to bring him up and give him the tools to help him find the kind of life that he would like to lead.”

I was so thrilled for him for being able to meet his dreams.

Michael, who works on computers for the Air Force Reserve, has been deployed to Iraq. His deployment has broadened Patti’s horizons as well. Once she heard about his deployment, her whole family started learning about the nation, and Patti even tried her hand at making Iraqi cuisine. She said, “We really wanted to understand the religion of the area, the traditions, the whole culture. I think that helped us a lot to make it a more human experience.”

 

A Son's Dreams Accomplished

Michael is a paramedic in his civilian life, and his military experience has served him well in this job. Patti said, “He has to keep his cool in very dire situations at times… You need to be prepared for anything to happen.” When his deployment is over, Michael will be able to return to his civilian career. Since members of the Reserve and Guard components often have civilian careers, their employers must hold their jobs for them while they are deployed.

In the future, Michael plans to stay in the Air Force Reserve, attend nursing school and become an oncology nurse. Patti said, “No matter how long he is here on this earth, he really wants every activity that he does, all of his energy, to go toward others.”

When thinking about her son’s decision to serve, Patti sometimes reflects on the museum trip that influenced her son’s path. She remembered how Michael looked at the planes on the tarmac, and she said, “I was so thrilled for him for being able to meet his dreams.”

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