Fast track to losing stripes

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- April 17 started off just like every Friday. Wake up, get ready for the night shift and get through the work day to start my weekend. What I didn't see coming was the decision I would make at the end of my night, a decision that would ultimately put my career at risk. I made a choice that would affect many more people than just myself. My name was Airman 1st Class Adam Osgood, and I decided to drink and drive.

I finished the night shift and decided to hang out with some friends after work. It was about 3 a.m. when I reached the dorms and was ready to "throw back a couple" and relax. I had a wingman and good intentions to drink responsibly. I also had a plan to sleep at the dorms and drive home after waking up. That's it! That's all there was to my plan.

It's very clear by my current situation that I didn't think this one through. What's the point of having a plan if you can easily defer from it when not thinking clearly. That's exactly what I did.

On the morning April 18, I received a DUI for driving drunk.

When I finished filling out my statement after being arrested, I was released to my first sergeant and flight chief. The look on their faces made my stomach knot; it wasn't a look of just anger, mostly disappointment. The feeling of guilt didn't end there. They told me I would have to go home to change into my uniform because the entire squadron was being called in for recent alcohol incidents. I was the reason, and it wasn't long after that briefing that everyone at work knew it. I am now known at work as a "drunk driver." It's a title I am not proud to carry.

Two months passed and I had still not heard anything about my punishment. It felt like two years to me, waiting and not knowing if I would still have a future in the Air Force. I felt like everything was at a stand-still, and I could not think straight. The stress and anxiety were weighing me down and taking their toll at both work and home. Everything I worked for since enlisting in the Air Force could all be for nothing due to a single night of bad choices, choices I made and will have to live with for the rest of my life.

I was called into my squadron commander's office June 25; let's just say nervous isn't even close to how I felt. I was allowed to give a statement before he made his decision on what to do with me. I had thought about how I would plead with him, but when the time came I had no words, just a dry mouth, shaky knees and a crackling voice. I knew there was no excuse for what I did and words wouldn't make an exception.

My future was in his hands, and he had every right to end it. A few hours later the decision came down: loss of a stripe, suspension of a second stripe for six months, additional duty and an Article 15.

I can't drive for at least a year. I have to constantly ask for rides from friends or co-workers, or take the bus. While not being able to drive is a hassle, that is the least of my worries. Now I have to work twice as hard to regain the trust of my peers, supervisors and family; make a new budget with my E-2 income; and learn how to recover from an Article 15 -- all of this because I decided to drink and drive. I could have avoided all of this if I listened to what was drilled into my head since I arrived in Germany, "Don't drink and drive."

The message is loud and clear now.

I hope my story does not fall lightly to you as the reader, and you take a moment to think about my experience. If you drink, make wise choices, think them through before acting on them, and honestly ask yourself if your "plan" is actually a real plan.