Air Force Tech. Sgt. Paralyn McClain joined the military straight out of high school, but after an eight-year stint, decided to get out. Five years later, however, a love for the military and a desire to serve brought her back to the Air Force, and she hasn’t looked back for seven years.
During her break from the military, McClain attended the University of Maryland and traveled with her now-ex-husband, who was in the military. She said coming back into the Air Force was a decision she doesn’t regret.
“I really enjoyed being in the military, and I came back in to make a difference,” she said.
McClain joined the Air Force in January 1986, and her first assignment was intelligence collections at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. She was assigned to Osan Air Base, South Korea, in 1991, and Misawa Air Base, Japan, from 1993 to 1995, when she separated from the Air Force. She re-entered the force in December 2000 and was assigned to air operations intelligence at Langley Air Force Base, Va., where she worked until she was assigned to her current position as an intelligence analyst for the Expedition-ary Operations School at the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center, Fort Dix, N.J.
McClain is now touring the country as part of the Defense Department’s “Why We Serve” program. The program sends recently deployed service members around the country to talk to various business, community and veterans organizations about their experiences. McClain said she volunteered for the program because after her latest deployment, which she returned from in April 2007, she saw a need to get accurate information to the public about the military and operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“When I came back from this deployment, I had so many questions from family members, being I’m not from a military family, and so many people I just happened to run across along the way would ask me all these things,” she said. “So it was very important for me to be able to have people know more than what the press is putting out there, because there is more than one way of looking at things, and there are many other stories that are out there that people just aren’t hearing.”
During McClain’s deployment to Afghanistan, she said, she appreciated that everyone had something to contribute. “I had the great experience of working with over 20 coalition countries and working with a lot of Afghans. Seeing how everybody’s pieces could help out, that was probably the biggest thing for me,” she said.
McClain, who’s originally from Mays Landing, N.J., said she plans to make the Air Force a career. For now, she said, she’s happy to be part of Why We Serve, bringing her message to the American public.
“It’s a very good program, and definitely something that’s needed, and I’m happy to be part of it,” she said.