“You will never regret joining the service,” said Jesse Coburn Sr., to his son, Jesse Jr. “It will teach you respect, discipline, and responsibility.”
Not every veteran has seen war, but every veteran has given up part of his or her life to serve our country to keep the United States of America the land of the free, home of the brave.
Jesse Coburn Sr., an 83-year-old veteran, served in the United States Air Force from 1951 to 1955. He joined the service after high school and traveled to San Antonio, Texas for basic training. To thoroughly vet Jesse, officers traveled to his hometown Romulus, Michigan to interview his teachers, coaches, and friends to verify that he was a trustworthy man of character. This was highly important because he was about to be stationed in Rapid City Air Force Base (now Ellsworth) in South Dakota—where atomic bombs were kept.
“We weren’t supposed to tell people in town where we worked,” Jesse said. “World War II was over, but our base still had atomic bombs.”
Jesse Sr. spent the next two years in supply management before being stationed in Caribou Air Force Base, Maine.
“I joined the service with a bunch of friends because we thought it would be exciting, and we believed in our country,” Jesse said. “No, we didn’t fight, but we served our country.”
Likewise, Jesse Coburn Jr. served in the United States Air Force after high school from 1980-1984. He was 17 years old when he joined and turned 18 while attending basic training camp in San Antonio, Texas.
“My dad and uncle both served our country, and I knew it was an honorable service,” Jesse Jr. said.
After completing basic training in the Texan heat, he was stationed north at Eielson Air Force base in Fairbanks, Alaska. There, Jesse Jr. worked in supply and ensured that the runway was always kept safe. Jesse Jr. spent 18 months in Alaska before being transferred to Dayton, Ohio at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base where he worked with heavy equipment and maintenance.
“I made friends with people from all over the United States,” Jesse Jr. said. “Some had never seen snow, which, as a Michigan resident, was incredible to me. They’d also never heard of Euchre, so I taught my buddies that.”
Jesse Jr. served four years in the U.S. Air Force and went on to be a carpenter for the next 35 years of his career. He is also the proud father of two kids and one granddaughter. Both Jesse Jr. and his father are patriotic men.
“I stand behind this country and believe in this country,” Jesse Jr. said. “I will fight to make sure my son, daughter, and granddaughter will always have freedom.”
“I’m proud to be an American and to serve our country,” Jesse Sr. said. “It’s all about life and freedom no matter what race or religion—freedom for all.”