It's been 27 years since I resigned from the military; a bumpy, school of hard knocks transition to boot. My husband and I are both US Military Army Aviation veterans. We eventually settled in Wichita, Kansas, the Aviation Capital of the World. I thought it would be our last move, but, as times changed, we relocated back to Texas after my husband accepted a position with another company. We left behind 16 years of relationships, starting over, once again.
Though I could not deny, I missed my first love, my military family. In 2017, we began binge watching the new war movies coming out to include Lone Survivor, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, 12 Strong, Zero Dark Thirty, along with others. Nothing made our blood boil more than after we watched the movie, 13 Hours. We both knew there is no excuse for inaction. It was time to re-engage, to get back in the fight.
In 2019 I began reaching out to different non-profit military veteran organizations to volunteer my time, only to be met with rejection. "Sorry, we cannot use your help because you are not a post-9/11 veteran." Wow. Unreal. Another harsh reality came into play. I am considered a Persian Gulf War veteran, and quite honestly, it made me feel worthless. It is a constant battle, a road I have to fight hard against not to go down.
Undeniably, US military veterans from all eras face transitional phases after leaving the military which can result in a loss of purpose and mission. These outcomes may have devastating results to include unemployment, homelessness and/or suicidal thoughts and ideations. The right resources and tools can help refocus our attention on solving problems.
I discovered GallantFew, Inc., a 501c3 nonprofit military veteran organization which has now been in existence for 10 years. They took me under their wing to help me reclaim my purpose. I continue to volunteer with them today. As a result of the volunteer experience I have gained from working with them, I discovered a gap in veteran needs. So, we have partnered together as I have sought to launch Twin Rotors Mission, sharing what I have learned along the way, to pay it forward, so other military veterans who choose to do so can engage and improve their quality of life. My focus is to help fight the good fight in life!
Behind the Name Twin Rotors Mission
Though not married at the time, when serving overseas in South Korea in 1992, I met the man who would eventually be my husband. We were both assigned to the same unit: he was a Chinook mechanic, and I was an avionics mechanic. We eventually married in 1994. He came down on orders to go back to Ft. Campbell, KY to serve with the 160th. He declined, retiring his service in 1997. Shortly after this time, he was going through some struggles. I don't know what it was, but he couldn't sleep, he was agitated, and at one point was angry enough that he began to destroy his military awards, ribbons, and medals. I was able to salvage some of them. He has no memory of this action. Years later, however, we discovered through the end credits of the movie, Lone Survivor, that a brother warrior we served with during our time in South Korea was killed during Operation Red Wings in 2005 when the Chinook was shot down. Out of the 19 souls who perished, James Ponder, III was the sole individual killed from the 160th Unit in Ft. Campbell, KY.
Army Aviation is merciless. I often flew with the aircraft on different missions at the request of the pilots, particularly when there was an aircraft mechanical issue that required the expert advice of an avionics mechanic. The pilots joked with me, "If I am going down, you are going down!" I took my duties seriously. I share this to help people understand there was absolutely no room for mistakes. The year after my husband and I married, while he was in leadership training (PLDC), a Chinook aircraft went down in his unit. It was the same aircraft he was working on before he left for training. Everyone on board the aircraft was killed. It was later determined that cause of the crash was due to mechanical failure.
As I have sought to form Twin Rotors Mission, I have done so with the integrity, work ethic, and honesty one would expect to keep things going in the right direction. I don't want to crash. I do not want to see a US military veteran needlessly suffer silently. I believe with the proper resources, organizations, and people, we can advocate for an improved way of life. A seemingly impossible task, one might say, but here is a quote by Eddie Rickenbacker, "Aviation is proof that given the will, we have the capacity to achieve the impossible." Is this not an inspiration to carry on?
Twin Rotors Mission Founder, Paula Morgan