This excerpt comes from Leadership from 30,000 Feet: Attributes of Effective Leaders as told by Five Air Force Generals, an anthology by Two Blue Aces’ contributors. To read the rest of this story and many others like it you can purchase your own copy on Amazon!
Title: A Higher Calling
Author: Richard "Beef" Haddad
“A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.” —Martin Luther King Jr.
I grew up in Kearny, Arizona, a small copper-mining community where my highest aspirations should have been landing a job at the copper mine, earning enough to buy a brand-new pickup, marrying a local girl, and raising kids to follow in my copper-toned footsteps.
But, thankfully, that’s not what my father wanted. As an entrepreneur and the owner of his own clothing store, as well as a three-decade justice of the peace, he wanted more for his children. I wanted more too.
Like many small-town high school athletes, I thought my ability on the football field could carry me away from Kearny. I thought I was a pretty good offensive and defensive lineman. In fact, I assumed I’d be a state standout. But my senior year didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped. Still, I dreamed. I had a burning desire to play D-I football for some powerhouse.
During my senior year, I received a few requests from some small four-year colleges and a few junior colleges, but I wasn’t interested in playing for such comparatively low-level colleges. I wanted the thrill and the challenge — and, let’s be honest — the respect of playing for a Division I school.
That changed when I received a recruiting letter that would forever alter the trajectory of my life. The United States Air Force Academy outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado, wanted me to apply.
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