Finding the Good in the Sacrifices
PROVO, Utah – Jan 19, 2021 – After a fulfilling career in the United States Air Force, Major Dan McCombs is finishing his last few years in the military as an ROTC instructor for the Air Force ROTC at the BYU Marriott School of Business. He hopes to pass on to the cadets whom he teaches a legacy of finding the good in each situation while sacrificing for their country.
McCombs has served for the past twenty-four years in the U.S. Air Force and will be retiring in 2021. Throughout his career, he has been deployed and assigned to locations across the globe, including countries such as Afghanistan, Qatar, Iran, and Korea; he has also served in Texas, California, Maryland, New York, Ohio, and Alabama. While in Texas, he attended intelligence school where he learned to analyze data and military information. He also became a Korean linguist during this training, which led him to earn an Asian studies bachelor’s degree from Utah State University in 2003.
While deployed in Afghanistan in 2009, McCombs served as an intelligence officer and learned valuable lessons from unexpected friends. “My team and I were required to drive around Kabul several times per week in up-armored SUVs. Being in a dangerous place was frightening, but the Afghan people I met were great people,” he says. “Most people I had the chance to meet were just good people doing the best that they could.”
Even after returning to America, McCombs pondered on the kind people he had met who had to live in countries with war, corruption, and societal distress constantly surrounding them. “I grieved for them, and I still do. War is ugly, and I cannot imagine having that be a constant conflict in my family’s life. As a military official, I try to consider the people’s condition, regardless of what their governments are doing,” he says.
As an ROTC instructor for both BYU and Utah Valley University, McCombs hopes to pass on his compassion for others to his students. He thoroughly enjoys teaching cadets and overseeing their growth. “I love to watch our cadets grow. I enjoy seeing them embrace the Air Force values as a way of life,” he says.
One of McCombs’ favorite things to do is attend field training in Alabama during the summer. During the summer of 2020, McCombs went with several cadets from the BYU Air Force ROTC program for ten weeks. “At field training, the growth of our cadets happens at an accelerated pace. These cadets have to decide who they’re going to be and how they’re going to operate as a team,” he says.
Although he unfortunately contracted COVID-19 while at the training, McCombs still sought positive outcomes. For instance, he and his students were able to complete their training successfully, despite setbacks. McCombs uses experiences like these to teach his students how to find the positive and overcome inevitable obstacles in every situation.
McCombs hopes to pass on this positivity and his compassion towards others to his cadets and help them to see the value of sacrificing for their country. “I constantly advise my students to ‘never give up,’” he says. “Students are guaranteed to have setbacks, whether during their classes, while on missions, or in their personal lives, but I always encourage my students to keep their heads up and keep moving forward.”
Media Contact: Chad Little: (801) 422-1512
Writer: Emily Atwood