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Couldn't let go

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Christina Russo
  • 910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

For Senior Airman Matthew Weems, an aircrew flight equipment technician with the 910th Operations Support Squadron, joining the military wasn’t an easy task. In fact, it took him a couple of tries.  

In 2001, a teenager fresh out of high school, Weems was battling a shoulder injury he sustained during football season. Rather than taking the time to rehab his injury, he pushed onward with joining the Air National Guard.   

“I joined when I was 18 out of high school,” said Weems. “And I just couldn’t get it done when I was younger.”  

What seemed like a minor injury eventually put a halt on his military career. Unable to complete the Physical Training requirements at Basic Military Training, Weems was sent home and began his civilian life.  

Years would go by, and Weems would become a husband and father. He’d earn a culinary degree and become a truck driver averaging 600 miles per trip. However, during all his life accomplishments, one thing continued to weigh heavily on his heart.   

“I couldn’t let go,” said Weems. “I was like, I kinda want to give it another shot.”  

So after much consideration, Weems decided to reenlist, but this time, not as a young teenager, rather, a grown man ready to achieve his goals.  

“I left for BMT on September 4, 2018,” said Weems.   

During his training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Weems noticed the drastic difference compared to the first time he’d been there. From helping fellow trainees mail letters to pushing himself in PT, Weems embraced every aspect of his military journey.   

“The first time I went to basic training, I didn’t get to the point of getting my name tapes,” said Weems. “And when I finally graduated, it felt awesome.”  

For Weems, joining the military wasn’t so he could get all the praise and glory. It was for a different reason.  

“I didn’t join to get a bunch of pats on my back,” he said. “I joined for myself, for my family, and to serve my country.”  

As an Airman working in aircrew flight equipment, Weems has the weight of fellow Airmen on his shoulders.  

“Attention to detail is important,” said Weems. “You hope no one ever has to use those things (aircrew flight equipment) but they’ll be ready if they do.”   

Testing and preparing aircrew flight equipment is vital to the overall mission. Weems has to always be attentive and prepared because when the aircrew is having their worst day, they can only hope he was having his best when he packed their parachutes, prepped their life rafts or ensured the essential survival items were in their kits.   

“There is a little bit of pressure there,” said Weems. “If something ever went wrong, I’d want to know I did as much as I could to make sure they would come back safe.”  

Looking back on his life, Weems doesn’t regret his decision to not go to rehab to address his shoulder injury. For if he did, his journey would not have ended up the way it has.   

“I want this to last as long as it can,” said Weems. “I’ve a great sense of pride wearing this uniform. I feel like you have a really solid backing with this uniform. With all the resources and people you have working with you.”  

In the end, Weems has come to understand that it's not about accomplishing the mission when everyone else says it's best. Rather, when the timing is right for you. And for Senior Airman Weems, he’s right where he belongs.