This article is written by and features Steve Hague
Steve Hague enlisted in the United States Air Force in May, 1976 at the age of 21. After basic training he went to Chanute Air Force Base in Illinois for technical training as an Airframe Repair Specialist. As the name implies, Steve was taught how to repair various components of an aircraft’s structural foundation, such as wing spars and ribs, fuselage and control surface systems, the sheet metal skin, and any other part of the aircraft classified as structure.
After completing the scheduled 16-week self-paced training in only 10 weeks, with honors, Steve received orders to the 436th Field Maintenance Squadron, Fabrication Branch, Dover AFB, Delaware, home to the C5A Galaxy cargo jet. At the time, the largest jet aircraft in the world. Steve was fortunate to get this duty station assignment because Dover is only about 50 miles from where he grew up in Talleyville, DE.
The Air Force has a program where after three years in one career field, an airman can cross-train into another career field as long as there’s an opening in that career field. Steve had worked in his Grandfather’s home machine shop since about twelve years old, and wanted to become a Journeymen Machinist.
However, when he enlisted, there wasn’t any openings in the machinist career field. After four years as an Airframe Repair Specialist, not only was he accepted into the machinist career field, he was also able to stay at Dover. In January of 1980 he reported for duty at the base machine shop, which was literally right across the street from the airframe repair shop. By this time Steve was an E3, Senior Airman. After another year or so, he was promoted to E3, Sergeant, the first grade of the NCO ranks. When eligible, he tested for the rank of Staff Sergeant and passed on the first attempt. Steve also attended the NCO Leadership course and finished near the top of his class and was awarded 2nd place for “Best 5 Minute Presentation”.
By this time Steve had been stationed at Dover AFB for close to seven years and official orders to a new location would be imminent. Being a single parent with two small children, Stephanie 8 years old, and Michael, 6, a remote tour of duty was out of the question. Through a stroke of luck and the grace of GOD Steve was granted a special duty assignment to Lackland AFB, Texas, as a Basic Military Training Instructor, aka “TI”, the Air Force version of a Marine drill sergeant. Having meet and married his current wife Leslie, and with a new four-month-old, Collin, Steve and the crew reported for duty at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, in January 1985. After six weeks of on-the-job training and another six weeks of “TI” school, he was now able to wear the coveted Instructor Badge and the fear inducing campaign hat and was assigned as a Team Leader, 3708 Basic Military Training School.
Still stationed at Dover, and having already attended college and earning close to 20 credit hours before enlisting, Steve was eligible to enrolled in college courses through the Southern Illinois University extension program that offered junior and senior level courses towards a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering. This was a rigorous 18 month program where the student attends classes every other weekend for 8 hours per day, both Saturday and Sunday. Each three credit hour course is completed in three weekends.
The 12-16 hour days, sometimes for weeks in a row as a TI, prevented Steve from getting the supplemental courses required in order to get the 125 or so credit hours required for his BS degree. At the time, the Air Force was undergoing an R.I.F. (Reduction in Force). With his fourth child on the way and wanting to get back to machinist, and to Delaware to finish his degree, Steve started the process of getting an “early out” discharge. In the meantime, Joe, who was supposed to be a Shelly, was born three months premature. Again, by the grace of GOD, Joe was born in July 1987, at the Wilford Hall Medical Center, the largest training hospital in the military which also has the most comprehensive and largest neo-natal intensive care unit in military, maybe even the world. Born at 3 lbs, 10 ozs, Joe wasn’t allowed to leave the hospital until reaching 5 lbs. Exactly 30 days later, a very healthy and happy Joe was able to come home. Thanks to GOD that all his various bodily systems were fully developed; he was just little and wanted to make an entrance into the world.
Steve was honorably discharged in September 1987. Wanting to get back to his passion for making things out of metal, Steve, Leslie, Stephanie, Michael, Collin and Joey stayed in San Antonio for about two more years.
He was working for EG&G Automotive research as a machinist and was also able to pick up a few more courses needed for degree completion. Steve and family were able to move back to Newark, DE in December 1989 where he and his lovely bride, Leslie, still reside. Steve was working for Chrysler at the Newark Assembly plant as a Journeyman Toolmaker when he finally got his Bachelor of Science degree in October 1993. He was then promoted to the position of Tool and Process Engineer in January 1994.
Steve worked for Chrysler for a total of 15 plus very satisfying, successful, and thankful years. Seeing the writing on the wall, he took a buyout in May 2007 to start his own business. He’s currently the owner of PolarStar Engineering & Machine in Newark. DE. A 10,000 sq. ft., veteran owned and operated fully equipped CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine shop. PSE&M currently produces the most advanced, sought after, award winning, and patented electro pneumatic airsoft launching systems in the world.
It’s with honor and humility that I thank all the Veterans, past and present who served this great country of ours.
Always remember: “All gave some, but some gave all.” – (author unknown)
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