Soldier Q&A


John Budiao


Captain O3-E (The “E” is for 4 or more years prior enlisted service.)

Enlist / Commission:

US Marine Corps 1994 /1998 (+4 years Inactive Ready Reserve)

US Air Force 2002 /2007

US Coast Guard 2007 /2011

US Air Force 2011/Present

How long have you been in the military?

I have been in the military for 18+ years. It has gone by faster then I had even thought it would.

Do you plan to re-enlist?

I took a commission as a US Air Force Officer and Officers don’t re-enlist every 4 years.  If I had to re-enlist I probably would.  The military is a way of life for me and not just something I do.  It becomes a part of who you are in this world.

Why did you join?

When I was a little kid, I was truly inspired by the part of John F. Kennedy’s historic speech that states, “Ask not what your Country can do for you, but what you can do for your Country.” Serving in the Marine Corps was my way of giving back to this great nation of ours and doing my part. I’m also very patriotic.  Just think of what our country would be like if every abled person served our Nation, State, City, or Community in some way shape or form. Not just in the military, but in churches, charities, hospitals, Red Cross, soup kitchens, colleges, schools, libraries, non-profits, habitat for humanity, SPCA, and much more.  They would gain a vested interest in our country in that way.

Why did you pick the military service branch you did?

I first joined the Marine Corps to challenge myself. I got just what I expected. (Be careful what you ask for.  GOD might just grant your prayers.)  Those four years were some of the best and most challenging years of my life. Being a Marine is mentally and physically demanding beyond my personal previously set limitations and fears. I grew in so many ways that it dwarfed all my sporting experiences and team sports. I later joined the Air Force Reserves, because I felt I had to serve in some way after the events of September 11th (9-11).  At that time I already had a family and the Air Force fit my family & personal needs as I filled a need for the Air Force. In that capacity I could honorably serve the Air Force and still be a big part of my growing family. My Unit (The 83rd Aerial Port Squadron) was later BRACed (Base Realignment and Closure), so I found myself again looking for a good military fit.  Thats when I applied to become an US Miliatry Officer in the US Coast Guard. I served in the Coast Guard in a Meritime Law Enforcement capacity and it was one of my greatest experiences.  I now serve as a Logistics Readiness Officer (21R) and am enjoying all that the Air Force has to offer.  I really enjoy the “Military Corporate Atmosphere” in the Air Force.  I have found a unique career that is vastly flexible in all that can be done under the title of Logistics.

What is your Military occupation?

USMC – 0311 Infantry Rifleman- Corporal E-4- (Point Man, Assault Climber, Communications, Squad Leader, Company Training NCO, Primary Marksman Instructor, and much more motivating positions)
USAF – 3AO51 Information Manager -Staff Sergeant E-5- (Armed Courier, Records Manager, Information Management, computer construction and programming, Awards and Decorations, Command Staff, and much more)
USCG – Law Enforcement Officer – Lieutenant (VBST-Vessel Boarding Security Team Leader, Unit Health Promotions Coordinator, and more)
USAF- 21R1 Officer – Captain (Logistics Readiness Officer) Squadron Operations Officer, UDM Supervisor, Ramp, Squadron Command Staff Supervisor, and much more.

What is your current Duty Station?

My current duty Station is with the US Air Force at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM).  It is located just South of Tacoma Washington on I-5.  Great high tempo mobility base.

Best duty station?

I love them all in some way shape or form for very different reasons. Camp Pendleton has a rough Marine Corps high mission training tempo atmosphere about it. I loved the verified training and ranges there. Being a wild life preserve, Camp Pendleton had buffalo, rattle snakes, fire ants, Eagles, wild bores, and many more exciting wildlife intermingled with training.  Especially when we were training to attack “Derka-Derkastan” for the umpteenth time.  Portland Air National Guard Base (PANG) is a military oasis in the Pacific Northwest for the greater Portland metro area. I worked with some well educated people there and was very disappointed to see my 83rd Aerial Port Squadron decommissioned due to the BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) list of 2006-2007. Sector Columbia River (Air Station / Group Astoria) is a small, but fully functional, Search & Rescue / Maritime Enforcement base that is due to grow in the near future. I really liked the close knit military family I had there.  The Vessel Boarding Team I was in charge of reminded me of my Squad Leader days of the Marine Corps and I treat these individuals, as I would my own brothers.  To my Columbia Pirates “Band of Misfits,” I bid you all safe Boarding.  The punishments will continue till morale improves.  They really didn’t know how important they are to me.  The Air Force has now offered me the best opportunity to be a part of a bigger family of the 36th Aerial Port Squadron.  They are a great group of motivated individuals that I’m very proud to serve with.  In all the inspections and deployments i know i have found my point and place of duty.  I look forward to all the adventures that await us.

What are some are your past duty stations?

Camp Pendleton, Coronado Naval Amphibious Base, 29 Palms, Joshua Tree National Forest (California), USMC Mountain Warfare Training Center (Bridgeport, California), USS Juneau, Camp Doha (Kuwait), USS Ogden, USS Carl Vinson, Portland Air National Guard Base (PANG), Keesler Air Force Base (Missippi), Travis Air Force Base (California), McChord Air Force Base (Washington), AL Dhafra Air Base (United Arab Emirates), and USCG Air Station/Group Astoria are some of the places I have served. I have also been to 13+ countries (Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, etc.) with the US Military.  I look forward to serving in any “Clime and Place” the military will send me  to serve in next.

Best part about serving?

The best part about serving is that I get to experience the great sense of the “Band of Brothers” (Sisters too) that I serve with in every military branch. There are people from all over this great nation (some are even from Mexico, Canada, Japan, and other countries serving in our armed services) serving to protect it. If you are not exposed to the military you would be very proud of these individuals who are serving for you and your family. While you are serving there is a big rivalry between all the DOD branches, just like when you are playing any high school sports. When you are out of the military, it’s always good to talk to other individuals and discover that you both may have served in some of the same locations, and have had the same experiences (regardless of when you served or how old you are).  A great thing about serving in the US Military is that some people always wonder if they have ever made a difference in this world, but the US service members don’t ever have to worry about that. Without a doubt, you will make a difference in yourself and serving in our Armed Forces is a great calling.

What is the toughest/worst part about serving?

I’d have to say that the three worst parts about serving for me was getting through the hard 13 weeks of Marine Corps Boot Camp . That was only a short term issue.  The second (toughest) is the long deployments away from my family.  At least we know there is a scheduled end to the deployments.  I have missed anniversaries, weddings, being best man at my best friends webbing, births, birthdays, holidays, and much more.  This is just one of the costs for Freedom.  The third is the hardest for me.  Suicide among my military friends has directly impacted me.  After the loss I question if I had done everything I could to ensure my friends know how dear they are to me.  My friends, my brothers, and my family, because they are my extended family.  GOD is 1st as always, Family is next (real, military, & work), Community, and Country.  Suicide is always a long term answer to a short term problem.

Short Term – Boot camp was definately an eye opener and tough physically, mentally, and spiritually. It taught me that I can do anything in this world if I just apply myself to it. I was never more prouder when my Senior Drill Instructors referred to me as a “United States Marine” for the first time. I earned the Ealge (took it from the AF), Globe (stole it from the Army), and Anchor (pryed it from the hands of the Navy & Coast Guardsmen) and from that point on in my life I would always be a Marine. It was hard to earn that title and only a very select few can do it.

Long Term – Being away from my family is the other tough part. I know that in this world that I have to earn the good things in life and that they come at a steep price. FREEDOM in the U.S. comes at the price of our military members and especially their families that support them.  Military families are unique in the reality that they face loosing their loved ones.  Their loved ones may not come back from deployments.  Being on the front lines I think it is tougher on my family then it is for me.  I have already given my heart to GOD and know where I’m going, but for my family, I miss a great deal if their day to day lives.  Being absent from my family is the hardest sacrifice and it pains me that I will never get that time back with them.

Awards & Decorations:


Air Force Achievement Medal w/One Bronze Oak Leaf

Coast Guard Achievement Medal w/One Bronze oak Leaf

Army Achievement Medal

Air Force Meritorious Unit Award

Air Force Outstanding Unit Award w/One Bronze Oak Leaf

Coast Guard Unit Commendation Ribbon

Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal

Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Medal

National Defense Service Medal w/One Bronze Star

Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal

Southwest Asia Service Medal w/One Small Bronze Star

Iraq Campaign Medal

Global War on Terrorism (Service)

Coast Guard Special Operations Service Ribbon

Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon w/One Bronze Star

Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon w/Gold Border

Air Force Longevity Service Award

Armed Forces Reserve Medal w/ Bronze “M”, 2nd Award & Hour Glass

Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon

Marine Corps Expert Rifle Badge

Marine Corps Expert Pistol Badge

Awards: There are too many awards to post here.  When you do your job and do it well the awards will come.

What is your advice about enlisting in the military?

Decide what you want to do in the military as a long term career with short term goals. Decide later if the military is a life career. Choose wisely, because you may be doing that very thing for the next 4+ years. Pick the best branch of service that fits you (personality and goals) and that will train you in the career field you want. You want to advance in that same field, so you can get paid more as you progress up in rank. Try to pick a field that will not disappear in a few years. When choosing this career field, ask yourself if you can be employed in the civilian world within that same career, and earn a good living doing so. Get fit, get smart at taking the ASVAB, and educate yourself on all the various branches of service. Don’t just choose one because the uniforms are snazzy, or “Uncle Bob” was in that service. Choose for yourself! Only you will be the one in boot camp saying, “What the hell did I just get myself into?”, and believe me you will ask yourself that. The branch of service you choose will become part of your personal identity for life. For life!

How would you advise someone to prepare for serving?

Take a good hard look at yourself and evaluate your fitness and education levels. Ask yourself if you can take loud directions and follow them. Can you take directions at a decibel higher then a loud commanding scream. Are you mentally stable to know that “mommy” is not going to come and make everything better after a hard day in boot camp? If you answered “yes” to these simple questions then all you have to tell yourself is that thousands upon thousands of US citizens have graduated boot camp every year and so can you. It will not be easy, but life is not easy. Are you ready to take the challenge? Now take an educated step in the right direction.

How was boot camp (best/worse/funniest)?

Marine Corps boot Camp was very hard. The best part was actually earning the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor (the iconic symbols of the Marine Corps) that signifies that I am now and forever will be a US Marine. The worse part was, the third night into Boot Camp.  I was laying in my rack during Taps asking myself, “What the hell did I get myself into!” (and not in those same exact words) Every single person I’ve ever talked to about any boot camp has said they have had the same feeling at some time or another in boot camp. I knew the long hard road was still ahead of me, but I thank GOD above every day that it had passed and I was still there. The only easy day was yesterday. I knew I wasn’t broken, sick, in trouble, and that I was making a big change in my life.

The funniest thing in boot camp was a guy across from me woke up with a morning “woody”. In a male only Boot Camp this made me laugh, because we were so open about our bodily fuctions.  This story is not for the common work place or the average conversations.  I vividly remember Drill Instructor Staff Sergeant Vasques passed by him for morning inspection and then he yelled at the Recruit that he had to actually salute the thing. That situation made me laugh out loud when I was already trying not to, and of course all three Drill Instructors were on me and thrashed me in my skivvies. Still, as we lined up for morning chow I smiled thinking of the whole situation over and over again. It’s still funny to me now and I chuckle that there are not any drill instructors around to make me do push-ups (I do those on my own).

How long was boot camp?

Marine Corps Boot Camp is about 13 weeks long, depending on when you go in (various holidays can make it longer). The other branches vary from 6 weeks to 12 weeks in duration with other primary schools afterwards. In the Marine Corps you are a Marine Rifleman first and your MOS second.  In my case, I chose to go into the Infantry (0311) and I’m proud of the title and name ”GRUNT”.

What is your favorite military story?

My favorite military story, so far is “Band of Brothers”.  Even though these people and events had happened over 60 years ago I can still see those same characters (good leaders and bad) and miliatry personalities in today’s military.  I also like “Lone Survivor” by Marcus Lutrell.

What is an average day like?

My average officer day is to be super flexible, trainable, and adaptable in my leadership position to my fellow Airman. I have yet to have any day the same as the next day.

What is a crazy day like?

A crazy day is when my training schedule has been solidified for some time and for some unforeseen reasons (weather, no ammo, power ourtage, aircraft down) it just becomes impossible to accomplish the task or training. That is frustrating and demoralizing at the same time.

What is your future plans military plans?

I plan to retire from the Air Force with 20+ years of service. I hope to make the lives of the Airman assigned to me a better place to serve. I hope to inspire them to seek higher rank, educate themselves, and potentially become officers, or at the very least make a sound difference in their lives, duties, the Air Force, and in the US.

What are you educational aspirations with the military?

I plan to educate myself in Spanish, learn SCUBA diving some day, and all that my position has to offer as an Air Force Logistics/Readiness Officer. I already have a BS in Criminal Justice Administration and a Masters Degree in Business Administration, but I’m always open to higher educational opportunities.  I may pursue another MBA in Logistics.

What military books/movies/publications do you recommend?

I’ll list them on this web site on another page soon.

Best advice you’d give somebody considering the military?

Do it for yourself! Take your life as a journey seriously and fulfill the warrior needs of the US. Have a good time doing it too.  About 3% of the US population can even serve in our beloved military. Of that 1%, less than half will even consider the military as a good career move. Even less (approximately .33% or less) will even serve.  The military has opened so many career doors for me. Do your research for yourself and not just what any single recruiter is telling you.

Semper Fi and God Speed!

Thank you for visiting the web site!

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This entry was posted on Thursday, March 18th, 2010 Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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