Portrait of an American Family

Airman First Class Rawle “Adrian” London and his mother Donyale Hall recount their family’s military heritage and tradition of serving in the United States Air Force. The 166th Airlift Wing ensured that their new recruit, Airman London was able to attend basic military training with his brother, to allow their mother to be able to see both sons graduate together.

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Hi, I’m Airman First Class Rawle Adrian London, and I’m with the 166th Airlift Wing.

I’m Donyale Hall. I’m a veteran of the Air Force. I’m also the daughter of a Vietnam veteran, and I am the proud mother of two sons, Airman Rawle Adrian London and Airman Daniel London.

My grandfather, his name is Calvin Price, he joined the Air Force right before Vietnam had started. Before he joined the Air Force, he came up with an agriculture background, came up, I think, from like the lower areas of Virginia, grew up farming his entire life, and he wanted to get away from that and kinda start something new, start a different chapter of his life, so he joined the Air Force during the Vietnam War, so it was a very hectic time. He told us that, we got older, that if we wanted to join the military, it was kind of our option to do so. He never really encouraged us to do it, but he encouraged us more towards education of course, ’cause college is like the big thing nowadays. Everyone promotes it.

My son, to his credit, is a mother’s dream in terms of raising a son. I’m very grateful to the ROTC program at Caesar Rodney High School. That was a huge turning point for him. He was struggling academically at one point. He was struggling to find his own identity, and when children have those types of things going on, the temptation to do the wrong thing can sometimes add into that. That coupled with my dad and his influence in my son’s life. My dad came from an agricultural background. He served 26 years in the Air Force and retired. He had heart issues, and that led him to have an, well, it wasn’t really an early retirement, but it wasn’t the time that he wanted to get out, but he’d served 26 years. He was a Vietnam veteran. He had a lot of health issues due to his exposure to Agent Orange. Over time, he just declined, and I’m grateful because I moved back to Delaware in 1997 even before Adrian was born. Well, we call him Adrian, Airman London. We had an opportunity to spend more time than the doctors gave him. They actually gave him two years to live in 97, and he didn’t pass until March of 2019. So, we had him 20 years longer than what even medical science gave him.

My grandfather was diagnosed with colon cancer, and unfortunately at the time, I was a freshman in college when I found out the news. It hit me hard just because my grandfather was the biggest fatherly figure in my life, and also he was just someone who really encouraged me to follow through with my dreams, and when I found that out, of course I told him, “I will do everything in my power “to help out and help you and Grandma out, “because I know that it’s a lot for the both of you, “and especially her just to take on everything.”

He had a passion for life. He shared that with his grandchildren. Adrian benefited tremendously from the guidance of not only the ROTC program, but my father. He shared his wisdom, he shared his passion for service. He was definitely a man that embraced service above self, and he instilled that in myself, which I passed on to my children, and Adrian, in his last days, was a huge support to my dad and to me. Daniel graduated high school in the spring of 2019, and he had started seeking out a recruiter and talking about the possibility of full-time Air Force, and that was the path that he chose to take. And so within a matter of months, he was graduating high school and had a ship date, and so Adrian was very frustrated that he had not yet received a ship date, and I said, “Well, when we were talking to the recruiter,” my son was 17 when he began talking, so I was a part of those conversations, and I saw in the paperwork that they had the buddy system, and so I urged my son to kind of figure out where that would benefit he and his brother.

I talked with Chief Horay, and I was extremely happy when everything was able to come about how it did. It was funny how it all started out by Chief coming into our student flight and telling, reminding the new incoming airmen who wanted to park, to park not in the spots, of course, that had letters on them. I guess someone parked in one of the colonels’ spots, and afterwards I met up with Chief and I told him about my little dilemma as far as my brother got his dates to go to BMT, and I was a little bit upset just because I kinda waited around a little bit. When he had heard about it, he did his best to make sure that I left with my brother, so the events all came down just really fast, and I was not really expecting it, but Chief walked me through each office to talk to each one of the individuals to help me out to get to where the process ended up actually happening. And basically when, I think I was home, and I saw an email saying from Chief and also Sergeant Fernandez that you got accepted for a BMT and I would be leaving the same time as my brother, and I was extremely happy to hear that. I shared the news with my mother, and of course she was extremely happy to see it, and it actually helped out a lot, and I don’t know how much I can thank you guys for being there to support the both of us and making sure everything happened.

I was in Lackland 29 years prior, and my own training was during that hellacious heat. It was 104. It was very hot. September 20th was when they were due to graduate. It’s a whole festivity of events that go on with the whole graduation. It’s not just what I remember as the parade grounds and finishing the coin ceremony. That one, it was awe-inspiring. I remember them playing “I’m Proud to be an American,” and on an average day, that tugs at my heartstrings. We live in a time where some people don’t want to stand and honor the flag and the playing of the national anthem, and to each his own. We all fought to give people the right and the liberty to choose that if they so desire, but for me personally, I have goosebumps just thinking about the anthem playing, and when they played that song, it was a moment where I found myself just peering up at the pretty blue sky and thinking to myself, “My dad has got to be somewhere “looking down at this moment.” Now, the boys weren’t in the same squadron, they weren’t in the same flight, so out of that 800-and-something-odd trainees that were going through that coin ceremony, one was on the right and one was on the far left. So, if you can imagine me with the camera trying to do the panoramic picture and zoom in, and it was just a moment that I fail to have adequate words for. The awe of that moment was so huge.

[Announcer] Raise your right hand and repeat after me. I, state your name.

[Announcer] Do solemnly swear or affirm.

[Group] Do solemnly swear.

[Announcer] To support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

[Group] To support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

[Announcer] Against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

[Group] Against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

[Announcer] And I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.

[Group] I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.

[Announcer] And I will obey the orders of the President of the United States.

[Group] I will obey the orders of the President of the United States.

[Announcer] And the officers appointed over me.

[Group] And the officers appointed over me.

[Announcer] According to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

[Group] According to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

[Announcer] So help me God.

[Group] So help me God.

Most of the parents are running around and they’re trying to figure out, where’s my airman? And I’m thinking to myself, “Where are both of my airmen?”

It was so funny. So he’s cheesing, and then the other son is doing the same thing. So he says, “Mom, please don’t submit that video, “’cause they’re gonna see that I’m gonna crack up on here. “Why’d you have to do that?” I said, “That was the fun of it, “and it’s the fun of the moment.” He said, “Most parents just walk up “and tap their kids out. “You had to just do all this extra stuff.” It was a wonderful experience. I thank the Guard and all of the personnel that went into creating that wonderful moment. I will never forget it for as long as I live, and it was an honor to see both of my sons in uniform at the same time graduating. So again, I thank you for making that happen.

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