Craig Darling enlisted in the Air Force as a 21-year-old because he wanted to serve his country and he chose the Air Force because he wanted training in something he could use later on in the civilian job market. He was stationed in the Gulf during Desert Shield and Desert Storm for about a year and served stateside during some of his service. Darling served in the Air Force from 1982-1992.
The first thing he noticed when they landed in Saudi Arabia, early in the morning before the sun rose, when the tail of that C5 came down and the cargo door opened, it felt like he was “walking into a furnace.” One of the other guys told him just wait until it gets to about 130 degrees.
Darling said he did not have a problem staying motivated while serving in the Gulf because he knew they were there for a reason. “I had already been in the military for a number of years and I was already a Staff Sergeant,” he said.
When he returned to the U.S. after serving in the Gulf, he said the public support was very good for them. Darling worked in security forces and spent a lot of time out in the field. He was fortunate to not have sustained any injuries during his military service. “I got out without a scratch. Other than a bad back, shins, and knees, but that was after years and years. After his time in the Air Force, Darling worked in the federal prison system and is now retired. When asked which was tougher; Air Force or federal prison, he said both were challenging in different ways and the federal prison was “no joke.”
Darling received medals for his service in the Air Force including Air Force Achievement medal, Southwest Asia Service medal, and a Good Conduct medal.