To fly, to fight, to serve
For more than 20 years the military has been Audry’s life. The Air Force combat veteran has flown missions in some of the most challenging wartime environments, but it is the simple love of an adopted dog that brings her back to earth.
It all started in October of 1995.
“I was enlisted for my first 10 years, five driving refueling trucks at Davis Monthan Air Force Base (AFB) and five with the Virginian Air National Guard as an F-16 (Viper) Crew Chief/Jet Mechanic.”
Audry completed her Bachelors degree and, in 2007, commissioned through ROTC at the University of Virginia. Since 2008 she has been an Air Weapons Officer/13B, part of an elite team of specialists expert in the complexities of what the Air Force calls “integrated battle-space dominance.”
“My most memorable experience thus far in my military career was getting to fly in the back seat of one of my Aggressor Squadron’s F-15’s. It was an exciting experience doing ACM – dog fighting – over the Nellis ranges with the guys I controlled every day,” Audry shares. “I LOVED being an Aggressor controller – better known as Baron control – and was very fortunate to get the opportunity to partake in a sortie with my guys before I PCS’d (Permanent Change of Station) to South Korea.”
Baron controllers, or Aggressors, work closely with combat pilots to understand enemy aerial battle tactics and train other airmen how to defeat them.
As part of her military service Audry deployed to many of the most inhospitable places in the world. She has flown combat missions during the war in Afghanistan.
“I’ve deployed to Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, [and] Egypt,” she shares, “and have flown over 200 combat hours in Afghanistan. It’s been a crazy, yet life changing 20+ years.”
For the love of an adopted dog
These days Audry spends more time closer to home – and to earth. She serves as Mission Crew Commander, ensuring the training and readiness of crew members, supervising mission specific training, and advising other Air Force commanders. Her life now affords her something that eluded her during her more high-flying days: the love of a dog. And not just any dog – an adopted dog.
“I chose adoption over a breeder because I wanted to give a dog that was thrown to the curb the chance at a loving and fun life,” she explains. “Too many pets end up in shelters and SPCA’s, and they need loving homes. I ALWAYS choose adoption.”
To find her new friend Audry visited the Virginia Beach SPCA, a Pets for Patriots adoption and veterinary partner near her home. The organization offers veterans in our program a 25% adoption fee discount and access to their low-cost veterinary clinic when they adopt an eligible dog or cat. The shelter staff told her about their work with us, and she was sold.
In August of 2016 – just days after being approved into our program – Audry met her match: a six-month old, 53-pound beauty of a dog. Named Shadow at the shelter, the Air Force veteran has since renamed her Roxy.
Life is a Virginia beach
The big, bouncy shelter dog fit in immediately to the rest of Audry’s family, which includes her husband, Dan, and father-in-law. All live together in Virginia Beach.
“When I’m not on military travel, I spend most of my days walking Roxy on the beach with my husband, letting Roxy play at the local dog park with all of her fur friends and chilling on our porch watching the ocean,” she shares.
While Roxy was in need of hope and a home, Audry and Dan were in search of a new beginning as well. And the love of an adopted dog turned out to be just what the couple needed.
“Roxy has been the very blessing my husband and I needed,” she says. “Both of us went through painful divorces [and] were forced to start our lives over, and wanted a puppy to complete our new family. In Roxy we found such a loving and innocent soul. She keeps us busy laughing, playing, and cuddling. She’s amazing.”
An adopted dog paws it forward
For her part, Roxy has been rewarding her saviors by learning her manners. In turn she receives abundant love, not to mention countless visits to the beach, which has become her favorite pastime. The birds on shore may have a different perspective when Roxy comes for a visit, however.
“Roxy is loving the beach life!” Audry exclaims. “I’ve been training her every day and she’s doing very well. She now comes to her name – for the most part – lays down, shakes paws, and she loves to go out on the beach play in the waves and go for long walks. Her favorite thing to do off leash is sprint after the birds.”
Audry has dedicated her life in service to our nation. She has made great sacrifices in her personal life while risking that of her own in wartime. Now grounded – literally and figuratively – with the loyalty and love of an adopted dog. In fact, “love” is a word that comes up often when Audry describes what she appreciates most about her new family member.
“She loves to be near me all the time,” she says. “She’s such a love bug.”