Ineligible for Military Service, But Blessed to Build Military Hardware

Ineligible for Military Service, But Blessed to Build Military Hardware

Bryan has been in the defense industry for over a decade, contributing to the multi-person mission of putting birds like the F-16, F-22, and even the brand new F-35 in the air. Plus, he rocks an epic beard.

A childhood spent with asthma made me ineligible for service in the Navy. But if I couldn’t serve in the military, I thought I’d find a different way to contribute. I took an internship at Lockheed Martin, and ended up spending the next 12 years working on the most incredible aircraft to ever fly.

I think the work I do contributes supports the brave man and women that serve in the military. I regret that I couldn’t join them, but I honor and respect them in heart and action every day.

I worked in offices with special badges and secret squirrel handshakes; places that you badge into with alarms that go off if you don’t. The last eight of those years were spent on call, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I carried a phone that required a secret security clearance which sent your heart rate to redline when it rang. Once it did ring, my plane was already grounded and I was behind schedule with a MICAP or AOG SITREP (Mission Incapable or Aircraft on Ground). I’ve even endured a lost aircraft in a training accident and a destroyed supply truck in a traffic accident. No lives were lost, but the value in aircraft and support material destroyed well exceeded $100mm and the squadron suffered the loss. I’ve also been honored to have my ass chewed by truly fantastic, high ranking military brass. I mean that sincerely. It’s an honor to have that level of conversation with a leader responsible for my freedom; regardless of the temperature of the topic.

I’ve also been honored to have my ass chewed by truly fantastic, high ranking military brass. I mean that sincerely. It’s an honor to have that level of conversation with a leader responsible for my freedom.

To be clear, we have the finest military aircraft protecting our freedom. The political garbage in the news and the seemingly controversial cost associated with these vehicles can all be thrown aside. We have the best pilots, the most give-a-damn, and can stand toe to toe against any enemy. The F-16 is undefeated in air-to-air. No one wants the F-22 pointed at them. And the F-35 is becoming the game changer that it’s meant to be. My heart races just thinking of these amazing vehicles and the talent that flies them and hearts that support them.

Here’s the simple truth: We have the best pilots flying the best aircraft, and those pilots have the largest, most successful support network behind them. None of this is easy, and certainly none of this is cheap. But it’s worth it.

Go to an air show and feel your heart race as a fighter rattles the fillings in your teeth. Now imagine feeling that while walking down a flight line or through a production facility for that same aircraft. Imagine watching the first STOVL F35 take its maiden voyage. I got paid to do that. I’m the lucky one.


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