U.S. Air Force photo by Mike Kaplan

August 2012, The Pentagon. I had just reported for duty on what would become my last assignment in uniform. Gen. Mark Welsh had just taken over as Air Force chief of staff. Having recently served in Germany, I was very familiar with him; he was the commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe for part of my tour there, and I’d heard him speak on numerous occasions.

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Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

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And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

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Photo via Wikimedia Commons

It’s often said that if we don’t study our own history, we will be doomed to repeat it. This is probably true, mainly because we can learn great lessons from it and use them in our own lives to grow. Twenty years in uniform taught me a great deal; there’s very little substitute for on-the-job training and experience to help with personal or professional growth, but about halfway through my career, I started asking questions that transcended what was happening to me day to day. How did we get here? Who came before me? Professional Military Education revealed some things, but it always felt distant and watered down. What if I dug deeper? What could I glean from learning the politics and individual experiences of the soldier on the ground? Could I apply it?

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Michael Ito

In early December, I had the humbling honor of being connected with a former Marine named Hershel "Woody" Williams, a World War II Medal of Honor recipient. Williams, a man with blood ties to the American Revolution, participated in combat on a rock called Iwo Jima in 1945, and I might not have paid as much attention to his incredible story had it not been for my own roots in our nation’s birth. It turns out that as direct descendants of Revolutionary War soldiers, both Woody Williams and I are able to claim membership in the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

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U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.

Flying machines have only been around for a little over 100 years, but the state of human aviation as a military discipline has always been dynamic. The U.S. Army adopted airplanes in 1907 under the Aeronautical Division, Signal Corps, but the uniformed piloting of airplanes has never been without controversy.

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AP photo by Yves Logghe

Most people haven’t heard of an elderly Belgian-Congolese nurse named Augusta Chiwy. But students of history know that adversity and dread can turn on a dime into freedom and change, and it’s often the most humble and little-known individuals who are the drivers of it.

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