Robert Berger, Lt Col (retired),
United States Air Force (1983-2008)
What inspired you to serve?
You could say I bleed Air Force Blue since I was born into a military family and I spent my entire childhood and adult years in and around the Air Force. My father was a 28 year veteran of the US Air Force and he retired at the rank of Chief Master Sergeant (E-9). I was fortunate to see parts of the world that others only see in magazines and the highlight of my youth was spending three of my high school years in Europe (Italy and Holland). I traveled the European continent playing sports and consider my trips to Rome (Italy) Bonn (Germany) and London (England) the highlights of that time.
After I finished community college back in the US I struggled to support my family so I decided to follow in my dad’s footsteps and enlist in the Air Force in 1983. At the time I only wanted to serve 4-years, but after seeing what the Air Force offered and how well they treated my wife and our young family I decided to make it a career. I finished my college degree courtesy of the Air Force, got accepted into Officer Training School and spent the next 20 years as an officer leading the Airmen in our service. Although we moved 10 times in 20 years every assignment we had was awesome because of the Air Force family and how the local communities supported the military members. Some of my favorite assignments included Washington DC (Pentagon); Tinker AFB, Oklahoma (where I commanded combat comm troops); RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom; Hahn Air Base, Germany and Manas Air Base, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (deployed for Operation Enduring Freedom–Afghanistan).
What was the best part of your military career?
The best part about my military career was exposing my wife and children to different environments and culture. We spent six years in Europe (Germany and England) traveled to every country on the European continent, and learned how to order food in a multitude of languages.
After retiring in 2008 with the rank of Lt. Col I decided to continue my service to the Air Force as a civil servant and spent the next 9 years working at the Air Force Personnel Center in San Antonio where I was in charge of developing strategic policy for the Military and Civilian Human Resource IT systems.
Looking back, what do you treasure most?
Upon reflection I’m a very lucky man. Thanks to the Air Force I saw more and did more than most people will do in their lifetime. I lived in Europe for nine years; pulled 9 Gs in an F-16 (that was fun!!!), developed strategic policy for our nations leaders; lived in a tent for six months in a foreign country (Kyrgyzstan); exposed my family to sights/sounds others only dream about; broke bread with foreign leaders, and most importantly commanded the young Airmen of today’s Air Force. To say I’ve led a blessed life is an understatement.
Thanks for letting me share my story.
Thank you to Robert Berger, Lt Col (retired), for sharing his story and to all veterans who have served this country, past and present.
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