Living in a military city, it’s difficult not to interact with the personnel of Moody Air Force Base at some point during our weekly routine. Several people from Moody attend my church, in fact, including my pastor and his wife, and one of my closest friends I met there, and later found that she’d served security forces in Iraq. In listening to her talk with another young officer, Airman First Class Jawan Muldrow, I was surprised to find that the military is not quite the cold, mechanical place I’d imagined. I also found that love can even exist during war, and that it does, and that it exists among the men and women fighting for this country. Muldrow helped me to understand the family that forms within the military. Here is his story.


I have two brothers who have been in the military, and the oldest one just returned from his second tour of Iraq, with 21 years in the U.S. Army. Now, in all those years, I’m still not sure what it’s like for him being a military officer because he doesn’t mention his job much when he’s at home. He’s usually consumed with catching up on the family and seeing as many as he can, playing with my nephew, and getting one of our older relatives to cook for him. He’s the same old brother.

In talking with some people that I met from Moody Air Force Base, I found out that military life on duty is a lot like family life for civilians. Whether working together to finish up the duties of a day on base, or protecting each other in a foreign land, it’s always done in the spirit of camaraderie and brotherhood.

For Airman First Class Jawan Muldrow, 21, originally from North Carolina, being in the Air Force has provided him with the security he hoped for as he walks into the responsibilities of life and adulthood brings.

“I really didn’t want to go directly to college after graduating and so I chose this as my third option. I chose this branch because my dad was in the Air Force,” he said. “The thing that I appreciate about the military is that they give you an opportunity to have job security. And even though a lot of people might not take advantage of it, you have an opportunity for education and to go up in rank and be successful.”

Following in the path of his father, who served in the Air Force before him, Muldrow is also grateful for the life influence of the military.

“Being in the military is a disciplinary thing, and you’ll be instilled with it no matter what branch you choose,” he said. “And it’s there whether you’ve been in two years or 20 years because you know you have to have your hair cut a certain way, have your uniform a certain way, and you are expected to have a certain behavior.”

With just under two years in the service himself, he has already seen many places. Just recently, Muldrow returned from deployment in Qatar (located about 700 miles from Baghdad), which has remained a key area of U.S. military operations during the war on terrorism in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

“I wasn’t in Iraq, but I did go over to a country called Qatar, just east of Saudi Arabia, and I was there about 140 days,” Muldrow said. “It was a non-combat zone with no weapons, and basically,

we were there to finish up the jobs that everyone before us didn’t finish. Typically, we do six-month rotations.”

Although he wasn’t in the combat zone during this deployment, Muldrow says that he is always mindful of the possibility.

“I have friends in Iraq, yes; in fact, one of my friends left last Friday for Baghdad, and I have five coming back on the fifth,” he said. “I know that I could get called tomorrow to pack my bags and go. It’s always a chance.”

Knowing that, he learns from the experiences of those around him.

“I’ve talked to people who have come back from serving in Iraq ... people who’ve said they had missiles flying over their heads,” Muldrow said. “One of my friends in Security Forces actually had an IED blow up on his convoy, but no one was hurt, thankfully. To stay strong with the idea of going, I have to prepare myself and I do that by talking to the people who’ve been already.”

Even as he learns from the stories of his comrades returning from war, he is mindful as a friend that the best support comes less from asking questions than from sharing a listening ear.

“From my perspective, the people who I see come back are the same people who left, but it does have a mental toll on a person, being away from your family and what you’re used to,” he said. “For a family or a friend of an officer returning from war, I believe the main thing is to not keep bringing it up. And even if you disagree with the war, don’t throw it in their face.”

As he continues he hopes to continue his career in the military, and looks to those around him who take the same charge each day, he hopes that Americans will consider their sacrifice as a new administration comes into office this year.

“As someone in the military, I would tell citizens who are watching the presidential campaign and hearing the candidates’ views and stance on war, to really look at and consider our well-being, because we’re going to be over there for a while, possibly another 10 years,” Muldrow said. “

Although he and his fellow servicemen share the same devotion to their country and to the citizens here in it, Muldrow says that it is sometimes difficult to feel the appreciation for his duty outside of his military family.

“Sometimes I feel that civilian views of us are contradicting, because some people look at you and say, ‘You’re joining the military, oh, that’s a smart move,’ and others may look at you like and say, ‘Oh, that was stupid. I wouldn’t do that.’ And mainly, it’s because of the dangers of going to Iraq and the war,” he said. “ And then sometimes, I feel that civilians just look at us as a body, just a number.”

Still, the military experience is one that he has found enjoyable as he looks to more years of traveling the world and obtaining a college degree.

“I think that a lot of views about the military now have come about because people read too much into the television shows and movies that are out, and these movies entail things that are out of whack, because they just want you to see the dark side of it,” Muldrow said. “Even though we are in war, everything isn’t like that, and there is not always a dark side. Sometimes it’s fun, even being deployed, because you’re there with your friends. And in some places you have phones and Internet.”

Speaking with Muldrow, I found a greater peace with myself about my oldest brother, because for a long time growing up, I felt that he was over in Germany, over in Colorado, over in Texas and Iraq, alone, and there without family. I found out, however, that because of the bond military men and women share, they are never far from family, whether at home or away.

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