Some Heroes Wear Wings, Not Capes.

I was recently asked to explain my "obsession" with the military and more specifically, military aviation.

It's not an "obsession."

Most people have heroes they look up to. Sports stars, actors, musicians, CEOs, etc. I've never idolized these people. Truth be told, I don't "idolize" anyone. But for me, my interest in military aviation has always fulfilled this spot in my life.

Starting from a young age, after witnessing a crash that claimed the life of a Naval Aviator just minutes away from my house, I began identifying with the strength of character and willpower to sign up to give everything for a cause you hold dear.

As I matured and my interests grew, I started looking to military aviators for pointers on how best to conquer the challenges in my personal life. I used the characters they outwardly exude as a guide: pride in accomplishments, attention to detail, and an unrelenting, unapologetic pursuit of passion and excellence.

Now, this is important: I don't "idolize" people in the military or obsessively collect photographs and signatures from military pilots/aircrews or anything like that. I don't see them as celebrities. Not at all. Not everyone who wears a uniform is an example of the aforementioned traits, either.

Rather, I see military aviators as one of the most potent examples of one of my personal guiding principles: the bold pursuit of passion and doing what you love. Flight really is freedom, and the passion required to fly is arguably one of the most powerful forces on earth. As Walter Lippman said in 1938, "They have been possessed for a time with an extraordinary passion that is unintelligible in ordinary terms."

Why not identify and look up to those who set good examples? I may never wear a uniform or wings of gold, but I am constantly inspired by those who have, do, and will. Their willingness to take up the mantle in our defense really is humbling--and their pursuit of excellence and humility is something I appreciate it.

Many aviators I've spoken to and come to know have said things like "It's just my job. I love what I do." Humble sentiments like that make my point for me. I don't want to be famous. I don't want to have my photo on somebody's wall. I just want to do my job the absolute best I can--becoming the best version of myself through a bold pursuit of passion and excellence.

That's why I identify with military aviators.

It's not an obsession. It's an interest that aligns with my own personal ambitions as a person--in whatever field of work I do.