LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, VA, UNITED STATES
JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. - "It's not so much a father and son relationship now - it's like a brotherhood."
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. William Delphia said he has gained both strength and wisdom from his father, a former airman. Delphia, a 633rd Security Forces Squadron combat arms training and maintenance instructor at Langley Air Force Base, Va., has spent his enlistment continuing the legacy of his father and paternal grandfather.
"I talked to him every day before I left for basic training," said Delphia. "He still talks about the military. My dad says once you've been in, you have this connection with everybody else who's ever been in. I am now basically walking the path that he walked."
His father, Bruce,served the early part of his eight-year enlistment first as an Air Force security policeman, then as an office of special investigations agent. Coupled with William's grandfather and mother's service in the Air Force, it seemed natural that he would do the same.
"I wanted to come in the Air Force as a member of security forces. It was my number one choice," said Delphia. "My grandfather was air police in the '50s and my father was security police in the '70s and '80s, so I'm a third-generation cop. It's pretty much been my entire life."
After graduating college, Delphia joined the Air Force in 2009 at the age of 24. Even though he had a degree, it was still difficult for him to find a job and juggle the responsibilities of being a new parent. He decided it was time to call his father for a long conversation.
"I was on the phone with my dad one day and I was going on about how difficult it was to make any money," he said. "I needed stability, I needed focus and I needed something that would be a career, not just a job. He told me, 'The Air Force was good to me and your mom. They took care of us and they gave us everything we needed.'"
That encouragement was all Delphia needed to make the decision "to grow up."
"It's like I just knew it," he said.
After deciding to join the Air Force, Bruce's words encouraged him to finally make up his mind to join the security forces team.
"I originally wanted to be an aerial gunner, then my dad told me the story about him being security police and his experiences with it," said Delphia. "He said it was part of the best years of his life, so that kind of sold me."
After graduating basic training, Delphia spent the first three years of his enlistment in another state at Joint Base Cape Cod, Mass. Located away from home made it difficult to see and talk with his father as much as he liked.
Once Delphia took his chance to cross-train into CATM, one of two separate career fields within security forces along with military working dog handler, he felt everything had fallen into place. He knew it was the perfect decision when he found out his new base would be an hour away from where his father lived.
Langley is Delphia's second duty station, and also where he attended Airman Leadership School. He was very excited about the move as it allowed him and his father to become closer than ever.
"I graduated ALS from here and he came down to my graduation," said Delphia. "I was with the [MWD handlers] who were graduating, and we were all at the same table. [My father] said it was just like when he was in the military. They welcomed him as soon as they found out he was a prior cop. He said he felt like he belonged."
After Delphia graduated ALS, he was excited and ready to begin his mission as a combat arms instructor.
Delphia instructs U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines on various weapons, supporting the Joint Task Force-Civil Support command in the area, and enjoys every detail of his job.
"I love it - I absolutely love it. I don't think I've ever done anything that makes me as happy," he said. "I'd always been fascinated with weapons and really enjoyed learning about the different mechanisms, so it's like the dream job. I couldn't imagine doing anything else."
As much as Delphia adores his job, he admits there can be some monotonous days. That doesn't stop him from continuing the ongoing mission of getting his fellow service members weapons qualified.
"It has its moments, but that's with any job," said Delphia. "You're going to have days when you just don't want to do anything, but there are other days when you think, 'this is it - this is exactly why I wanted to do this.' With combat arms, every day I think, 'this is exactly what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be.'"
At the end of the day, Delphia feels it all comes down to cherishing every aspect of the job. Although he is partial to being a CATM instructor, he plans on continuing to serve his country for at least 20 years, no matter the profession.
"My ultimate reason for staying in 20 years - I love my job," said Delphia. "You have your sense of patriotism, but it's really all about enjoying what I'm doing. I think that's the only reason to stay in a job. I'm going to have to bounce around - I know I can't do combat arms forever. But, whatever job I pick next, I will love it."
Delphia now understands the joy and pride Bruce feels when reminiscing about his time in service. Their shared commitment and pride in the mission has created a stronger bond, fostering a proud tradition that has lasted three generations.
||LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, VA, US
This work, Through the ages: CATM instructor carries legacy, by SSgt Ashley Hawkins, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.