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Meet Your Military: Air Guard Couple Juggles Military, Civilian Lives

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Alabama: On July 16 here, an Air National Guard officer took command of the Air Force Officer Training School's Detachment 12 from another Air Guard member. While that may not seem strange, what is unusual is that the former and new commanders have 23 years of history together.

Air Force Lt. Col. Loralie Rasmussen assumed command of the detachment from her husband, Air Force Lt. Col. Reid Rasmussen. Detachment 12 of the Academy of Military Science falls under the Air National Guard Readiness Center. The detachment is a line officer commissioning program and its staff of 31 total force members commissioned about 500 total force officers in the past year with plans to commission more than 1,000 next year.

Meeting at the Air Force Academy The Rasmussens’ military journey began in 1992 when they were single freshman at the U.S. Air Force Academy. "I remember we were being organized based on home states, and while walking toward the group of other Virginians, I noticed a lone cadet holding up a Delaware sign," Reid said. Cadet Loralie Edinger stood alone as the sole representative of her home state. At that moment, two things were clear to Reid: he was a cadet and he wanted to know more about Loralie. While at the academy, Reid and Loralie began a friendship that developed into a relationship. Considering the time and distances they were going to be apart from each other as an Air Force couple, they decided not to marry after graduation and braced themselves for a long-distance relationship. After completing flight school, with Loralie on the RC-135 Rivet Joints at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, and Reid on the A-10 Thunderbolt IIs at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina, the pair received permanent assignments, more than 1,200 miles apart.

Keeping in Touch To keep their relationship going, they took advantage of military space-available flights as much as possible. "I have so many nights spent on airport floors and only getting to see him for 24 hours," Loralie said. "A lot of people said we should have ended the relationship. They didn't think we could handle the long distances and flying the very different air frames, but clearly we have proven that wrong." In March 1999, Loralie and Reid finally said their "I do's," only to be apart again after she received a deployment notification just days after returning from their honeymoon. This would be a never-ending cycle for the couple.

Arrival of Children However, in 2002, a life-changing moment occurred with the birth of their first child, which prompted Loralie to join the Air National Guard in 2004. Two years later, the family added their second son. Loralie's decision to leave active duty provided much needed stability over the years while Reid continued his career. "Honestly, my Guard time reminded me who I was as an officer and not just as a single parent," Loralie said. In 2012, Reid assumed command of the detachment and looked after their two sons while Loralie worked as an executive officer at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, pregnant with their third child. For a year Loralie made the trip from Tyndall to Maxwell every weekend until she received an assignment in 2013 as the Air National Guard advisor to the commander of Air University's Carl A. Spaatz Center for Officer Education here.

Selection for Command With her family and not wanting to venture away again, Loralie assumed that a command position for her would be out of the question. Her assumptions were proven wrong when she was selected to assume command of the detachment from Reid. Loralie said she's appreciative of the opportunities she and her husband have had at Maxwell's Air University to be together as a family and plans to plant roots for a while. "I wanted to command, but I had just gotten my family under the same roof, so I didn't want to explore other opportunities to put us back apart. I'm definitely grateful to be able to command and not separate our family," she said. When asked about commanding a total force detachment, Loralie responded, "I don't feel like I'm Guard, I feel like I'm Air Force. I know a lot about the Guard, and I know a lot about the Air Force ... so this will be exciting. I'm thrilled!" Taking command of a unit from a spouse could sound daunting to some, but Loralie said she's ready to continue what Reid started, but in her own way.

‘I Am Not My Husband’ "I don't know if I would have chosen to follow my husband, but we work really well together ... so, in this capacity I couldn't have asked to follow a better person,” she said. “I know what he's gone through, I've seen it from a leadership perspective and I know I have big shoes to fill. I hope to allay some fears right off the bat and say, 'Hey, I think very differently from my husband, and I am not my husband.'" Her biggest supporter and wingman has no worries either. "My first reaction was that it's good for the unit," Reid said, who is now an Air War College student. "They're lucky to have her. She will 'kill' it like everything else she's done."

Written July 24, 2015: By Air Force Airman 1st Class Alexa Culbert 42nd Air Base Wing

Republished and redistributed by SOT by permission of DOD

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