Military veterans booked on an HonorAir Knoxville flight all tend to have at least one conversation with flight coordinator Jim Cundall.
“Four out of 10 applications I have to call to get more information,” said Mr. Cundall from his living room that doubles as his office.
His volunteer efforts keep him busy on the phone and the computer hours a day before each flight. But his duties are far from a burden.
The two-war veteran of Vietnam and Desert Storm credits his work for keeping him active, alive and healing from the trauma he experienced during five years of flying wounded troops homes during the height of war in Indochina.
“I had one week where I flew over 70 hours air time and was exposed to close to 350 patients during that time, I don’t ever remember being tired. You don’t get tired when you see what these kids went through,” said Mr. Cundall.
In all, the retired Chief Master Sgt. served in U.S. Air Force units 36 years, 11 months and 18 days.
In addition to our on-camera interview, Jim Cundall also took time to answer the following 10 questions about how his military service influenced his life.
What one person influenced you most of your life?
1. My mother for the person I try to be. Professionally, Dr. David Jenkins. He helped make me a better manager and scientist.
2.Do you feel honored and respected for serving your country?
3.How can people thank you for your service?
By respecting the United States Flag and National Anthem.
4. How do you honor your fellow service men and women?
By respecting our flag and national anthem. However, I am in a unique position. As Flight Coordinator for HonorAir Knoxville I have the privilege of speaking to most of the veterans that go to Washington D.C. with HonorAir. I get to hear their stories and get to share their good stories and also get to feel their pain.
5.How do you think this generation of military men and women is different or similar to yours?
Similar because young people are still fighting our wars. Different because the new military is made up of volunteers. I do believe the professional military of today is better equipped and better trained.
6.What influence did your military service have on the rest of your life?
When you put your life on the line you find that the small petty things in life are not that important. You can concentrate on important things and leave the rest alone.
7. Does your family have a history of military service?
My Father was a Marine. I had two Great Grandfathers in the Civil War. One was with the North and the other was with the South.
I had one Grandfather several generations removed that was in the Navy during the Revolutionary War and served on a ship captained by John Paul Jones.
8. Would you encourage younger generations in your family to join the service?
I would neither encourage nor discourage. The military should be a personal decision. If asked, I would discuss the values of military, and if I thought they had the personality to fit with the military, then I would encourage and support them.
9.How has your opinion of war changed?
When you see firsthand what bullets and bombs can do to the human body you realize that no war is good. We have to hope that the cause of the war is worth fighting and dying for.
10. How did your military experience shape your faith?
I never felt alone in either of the two wars in which I participated. I felt that I was being cared for and I still have that feeling today.