“‘Dad’s going to play Army.’ That’s what they would say.”

Produced by Rebecca Werner.

Transcript for Lineage

man in military gear

John Metz
Army, Air Force veteran

My impression of the military probably comes from my family. Members of the family have been in every major conflict since, like, almost the beginning. My dad, most recently, was a Vietnam veteran before he passed away. My grandfather on my mom’s side was in World War II. We actually have lineage that goes all the way back to Washington. So, yeah, it was kind of a family history.

I enlisted in the military in April of ’93 and served six years in the United States Army. And then I got out for a little bit, 9/11 kicked off, and I went back into the Air Force for about four years.

At the time that 9/11 kicked off, I was working as a civilian police officer. Like the rest of the country, that impacted me greatly. I found myself at the recruiting station. I thought that there was still something that I could contribute. I was married to my wife and we had four kids. Eight months pregnant, and I said, “Hey, I just joined the Air Force, so, going to be leaving soon.” And she said, “Ok. What do you want for dinner?”

My wife is a very gracious soul. This was a course that had been charted way before her and I got together. And I said, “This is my passion. And I want to make this a career. And if you sign on to that, I won’t tell you that it’s not going to be exciting, because if nothing else, it’s going to be exciting.” And she was all in. And she knew that was part of the game. Tension was rising, you know, in a lot of places in the world, and she knew it was a matter of time.

My daughter—my youngest daughter—was born on April 10th, and I stepped down in Kuwait City on the 14th. I have a picture of her, and she’s still in diapers, and got my hat on, and she has a cell phone, and she’s looking out the window, pointing up. And she said, “There’s my dad. On that plane.” So that’s really fun to get a memory like that which are few and far between. The rest of them are, “When are you coming home?” And, “Are you going to be safe?” And things of that nature, you know? Because, “Dad’s going to play Army.” That’s what they would say, you know?

With as much stress as I had keeping myself and my troops alive, I thought being distracted by family and, obviously, all the emotions that go along with that was going to be a very difficult road to hoe. And I wanted to stay as sharp as possible. So I made sure that I gave myself an ample amount of time on whatever day that I designated—I can’t remember what day it was—but I spent one day for writing, and I spent one day for talking. That was it. Everything else was all business.

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