It was 2009, and 24-year Air Force veteran Ralph Davis had just retired. Without knowing what to do next, he moved to Missouri, which provided an opportunity that he hadn’t anticipated.
Early training in communication and coordination
Ralph spent his Air Force career as a coordinator, which he describes as “lots of boredom interspersed with chaotic moments.”
A prime example: the time he coordinated a mission to rescue a boater who suffered from appendicitis.
“[The boater] was part of a detail that was sent out to pick up the rocket boosters from the space shuttle Challenger,” Ralph says. “If we didn’t get to him he was probably going to die.”
Ralph had once read about joint training operations between the Air Force and the United States Marine Corps. Remembering that article, he coordinated with the Marines to get a helicopter to the man in distress and get him to a hospital.
Ralph moved to the Lake of the Ozarks after retirement. He and his wife Brandy chose Missouri on a compromise.
“She was born in Wisconsin so she loves her cold weather, and I love my summer heat being from Texas,” he says. “It provided all four seasons and a little bit of everything.”
A little bit of everything
Along with enjoying the weather, the culture and the food, Ralph wanted to go to school and continue to learn. After visiting the Missouri State campus, he was intrigued but didn’t know what he wanted to study.
Ralph attempted two majors but struggled to find what he wanted to do. He was on the brink of dropping all classes when his wife gave him some good news.
“It must have been fate or something because my wife said, ‘You may not want to do that,’” Ralph says. “It was a letter from Lori Rogers and other faculty that said I should consider the English department.”
The next day, Ralph met with Dr. W.D. Blackmon and registered as a professional writing major, following the track of a technical writer, with a minor in creative writing.
Ralph is finishing his undergraduate degree and plans to be among the thousands who receive Missouri State degrees in December. After graduation, he plans to begin graduate school at Missouri State.
Always more to learn
Ralph says his favorite times at Missouri State were his upperclassmen years, when teachers provided a guiding hand to the right path.
“They are more than willing to meet with you and talk about your future and what you are doing right and wrong,” Ralph says. “Even when you get an A, your paper is full of red marks of what you can do better, and I like that.”
“I still think there’s a lot more to learn and Missouri State gives me an opportunity to do that.”
This story was created for JRN 478 (Multimedia Reporting). All content was created by Missouri State students from the departments of communication and media, journalism and film. This story was originally published on The Springfield Report, a multimedia journalism project by Missouri State students.
All reporting by:
- Alex Calvillo
- Ben Gilbert
- Mike Ursery
- Editor-in-chief: Beaunea McNeil