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20-Year Airman Works to Instill Same Pride That Keeps Him Serving

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany, May 3, 2006 – Family tradition may be what inspired Air Force Tech. Sgt. Tom Landenberg to join the military, but 20 years later, he said it's pride that keeps him serving.

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Air Force Tech. Sgt. Tom Landenberg said pride inspired him to join the Air Force and keeps him serving as he helps prepare young airmen for combat duty. Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Larry Chambers, USCG

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The Pine Mount, Ga., native followed in the footsteps of his father, a 22-year veteran of the Army and Coast Guard and, like six of his eight siblings, joined the military.

Landenberg's older sister and a brother are in the Army; two other brothers served in the Army; a younger brother is in the Navy; another sister is in the Air Force; and yet another sister married into the Army.

"It was always understood in my family that everyone goes into the military," he said. "I think it's about patriotism and a sense of pride."

Initially Landenberg thought he'd serve for four years, then rejoin civilian life. But after just passing the 20-year service mark, he's not quite read to make that transition.

"It's a great way of life," he said. "The camaraderie is a big part of it, meeting people from every race and part of the country and working with them in the same shop and in six months becoming best friends."

The lifestyle he's enjoyed in the military got driven home to him when he recently went to a high school reunion and started comparing notes with a former classmate. "He said he'd gotten a job and bought a house, and that was it," he said. "I started telling him about where I'd been and what I'd done, and he couldn't believe it."

Military life isn't for everyone, Landenberg conceded, and he admitted to some trying times along the way. "But I wouldn't change anything," he said. "I tell people that as long as I'm still having fun, I keep serving."

In his current assignment with the 52nd Fighter Wing Maintenance Group here, Landenberg teaches airmen to load the weapons system on the F-16 Viper aircraft and certifies them within five to seven days. Landenberg said he realizes that many of his students will deploy to Southwest Asia after their training and rely on their skills in a combat environment. "It reinforces how important what they're learning is," he said.

As he teaches the students to perform their jobs, Landenberg said, he also hopes to instill what he learned first from his father, then from leaders throughout his Air Force career: "It's all about pride in what you're doing," he said. "That's the most important thing you can bring to the job."

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Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany

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