Dear Dad: A letter to my father Published June 19, 2015 By Airman 1st Class Mikaley Towle 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- I sat in the very back of the classroom, not paying much attention to the man in blue giving a presentation to my eighth grade civics class. He was saying something about core values, pride and doing something for the community you could be proud of. He told stories of how the students in his program grew and gained the confidence to lead. He spoke of how even troubled students were able to turn their high school careers around and find success. I didn't understand it at the time, but when I looked up, it felt like he was looking and speaking to me. I wasn't too sure why I signed up for Air Force Junior ROTC that day, but reflecting back now it was one of the best decisions I ever made. I didn't know it that day, but I had just met that man that I am proud to call my father. Since I can't be there to celebrate Father's Day with you, I'll write you a letter to express the things I can't tell you in person. Dear Dad, By the time you met my mom, you were already retired from active duty after serving for 26 years. I personally didn't grow up in an Air Force family, but I spent years watching and listening to your stories about your time flying and all the friends you made along the way. I wanted that same camaraderie and closeness with people. As my time in high school was coming to a close, I still wasn't sure of what I wanted to do with my life. One thing I was certain of was I wanted to go out and do something you would be proud of. I wanted to be like you. It was because of you that I made the choice to follow in your footsteps and join the Air Force. Being stationed at Nellis Air Force Base, just as you had once been, gives me a small glimpse of what your time on active duty might have been like. Granted, my job as a photojournalist is drastically different than yours was as an F-4 Phantom pilot. I've learned many things from you; to have compassion when it's needed, to honor my commitments, to always do my best, to be proud of the work I do, and to always have an unwavering determination to get the best for myself out of life. Most importantly, you helped give me something I had been searching for myself for years -- the confidence in myself to help me grow into the person I am today. I know I didn't make it easy for you to get to know me. I kept myself distant, I constantly picked fights with you, and I generally didn't listen to the things you were trying to tell me. Despite all these things, you still loved me and always considered me as one of your own. I want to thank you for always being there to support me. Along with knowing when I was making mistakes, but letting me make them and learn valuable life lessons. Thank you for inspiring me to reach for more in my life and guiding me along my own Air Force adventure. Even though your kids were all grown-up, I wanted to thank you for being the father you didn't have to be to my brother and I. Happy Father's Day, Your Daughter. To my Air Force family, remember to contact your father this Father's Day. I hope all the fathers out there have a happy Father's Day this weekend.