In honor of Veterans Day, meet some local veterans.
Name: Tony Muir
Branch: Air Force Colonel; Chief of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Division at the 601st Air Operations Center
Years Served: 32 years, retiring in March
Where Served: Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida (currently stationed here); Bitburg Air Base, Germany; Maxwell Air Force Base, Alamaba; Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar; Osan Air Base, South Korea; McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base, Tennessee
Give me an overview of your service:
Born and raised in Toledo, graduated Whitmer High School. I spent my first few years at the University of Toledo. I left there after about a year and a half. I kind of knew all growing up that I wanted to be in the military. So I was in the Air Force in 1992, where I specialized in communications. Basically I did computer networking and things like that. I spent 10 and a half years enlisted and then I got my commission in 2002, where I got commissioned as a communications officer. And then in 2005, I changed career fields and I got into intelligence. So I’ve been an intelligence officer ever since 2005.
What were some of the reasons that you joined the military? How did you choose your branch of service?
That’s pretty funny, actually. I always knew I wanted to join the military. I had two uncles when I was really little that were in the Marine Corps. I was always awed by them. And I have some other family members that were in the army. When I was in high school, I actually got recruited by the Army and I actually delayed enlisted in the Army and I was supposed to be an MP. And then I decided I was gonna go to college instead. And then my uncle in the Marines, he said that of all the branches the Air Force took the best care of their people, so that’s what attracted me to the Air Force when I finally decided to join.
What was basic training like?
Our basic training was in San Antonio, Texas, at Lackland Air Force Base. I don’t know how it is compared to the other services. You get off the bus, first thing you got training instructors in your face yelling at you, trying to get you confused, things like that. But the ultimate goal of basic training is really just to get everybody down on the same level, and then build you up to how the Air Force wants you to be trained. Quite honestly, military life is nothing like basic training, but they obviously go to the extreme so that when you get into the service, you’re ready. You have a mindset that they try to instill in you. Basic Training was tough. Being away from home for the first time, I think at the time I was 19, it’s a little tough, but it wasn’t that bad.
How did you stay in touch with family and friends back home?
This was in the early ‘90s; we didn’t have cell phones. We would have a certain time each week where we could use the payphone and we would have to call collect. Definitely limited in time – no more than five minutes. I actually got married two months before I went into basic, so I called home as much as I could. And a lot of letters – I wrote letters almost every night.
Was the experience different than you expected?
I don’t really think so. It’s a lot different than what they show in the movies. I grew up watching “Heartbreak Ridge” with Clint Eastwood and a lot of military movies like that. It was nothing like that. I don’t think it was much different than what I was expecting. Again, like I said, I had family members (in the military) so I didn’t go to the military not knowing what to expect.
How did your growth in the military prepare you for this job in intelligence?
It’s funny because, like I said, I enlisted – I never had the intention of becoming an officer in the military. I set a goal for myself. I knew if I joined I was probably going to stay until at least 20 years to get 20-year retirement. And my goal was to make Master Sergeant. And I actually made it in like nine and a half years. So I was like, “Man, I need to set some different goals.” So I set a goal to get a commission. So I finished college when I was in Tennessee – small school, it’s called Tusculum University in Greenville, Tennessee. So I was working full time and going to school part time. I finished that, got my bachelor’s in organizational management. So then I took all the tests and stuff to get a commission, so I got picked up to get my commission as an officer. Then after I became an officer, I’ve gotten two masters degrees that the Air Force basically paid for. One is a masters of science in military operational art and science, and then I got a masters in philosophy of military strategy.
How do you think your time in the military affected you?
My wife will tell you I’m very direct. I’m a fast talker, very to the point. That’s what the military taught me. I’m a very black and white type thinker. I can work in the gray but very driven by regulations and things like that. I’m very disciplined.
What’s something you want people to know about veterans?
That’s a broad category. First of all, anyone who served our country, hats off to them. I’m more of a humble person, so I don’t advertise that I’m in the military. But I think what the military does for veterans is, for the most part, a lot of people come out of the military and they have a good work ethic. They’re very focused, and they’re dedicated to whatever their task is. I think it’s a mindset. Most military folks are very focused on the mission and they will do anything to get the mission done. I’m getting ready to transition right back to the civilian world, after 32 years. And we go through this thing called the Transition Assistance Program for people that are getting out of the military, they basically prepare military people to get back into the civilian workforce. What I understand is a lot of a lot of military folks when they get into a civilian job, they get forced to go home a lot, because they’re just trying to get the job done. We’re gonna work until the job is done.
Any advice for young people considering joining the service?
I have people right now that are just coming out of basic training that worked for me and they’re younger than my kids. It’s weird for me. The one thing I would say is if you’re gonna join the military do it for the right reason. Paying for school is a benefit but in my mind, that’s not the reason to join the military. There reason to join the military is when want to serve. You want to serve your country; you want to do something for the country.
Just enjoy your time. If you get opportunities to go places, go do it. Volunteer for things. You’re gonna get life experiences you would never for the most part get otherwise. The military has been great to me. It’s hard work, but the military has been really good for me, ethics wise, discipline wise, maturity wise, things like that.