Cancer can't stop one man's dream of Air Force service

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Lisa Spilinek
  • 66th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Nov. 20 -- the day Hanscom Pool Lifeguard Kyle Causey leaves Massachusetts for Texas to attend Air Force Basic Training, is now just days away. It has taken him more than six years to reach this milestone.

The self-described Army brat had always dreamed of following his father's example by serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. His father, John Causey, now working at Hanscom as a contractor for the 66th Medical Support Squadron, is, as Kyle described, "the biggest Air Force advocate there is." Mr. Causey encouraged Kyle to consider the Air Force because of the high quality of life the service offered members.

Everything seemed to be all systems go - during his senior year in high school Kyle met with an Air Force recruiter and was set to leave for Basic Training shortly after graduation.

Then, a week before his departure date, he learned he had been permanently disqualified from all military service.

Two years earlier, Kyle had a tumor removed from his abdomen. The tumor turned out to be cancerous and Kyle underwent another surgery so doctors could ensure they had removed the cancer entirely.

Despite the surgery's complete success, Kyle was disqualified from the service and lifestyle he had always dreamed about.

"That pretty much crushed those dreams," he said.

Kyle changed plans and enrolled in the Criminal Justice program at Fitchburg Stage College.

"I decided, after a while, that since I couldn't do what I had always hoped to do, to go to college," he said.

His dreams of serving in the military, however, persisted.

While attending college, he learned that he could apply for a waiver to enter the service since he had been cancer free for more than four years.

"Why not give it another shot?" he asked.

Applications for "waivers upon waivers," later, each requiring both documentation that Kyle had no reoccurrence with cancer and an OK by the Air Force Surgeon General -- Kyle will be allowed to serve in the Air Force at last.

"That was a great phone call," he said of learning from his recruiter that his waiver had been accepted in January 2007.

He has since been on delayed entry status for his chosen career field, Air Traffic Control.

Kyle has had a taste of Air Force camaraderie by working at Hanscom for the past five years and by playing intramural sports with others from the base community.

Stephanie Herlihy, 66th Services Squadron aquatics director, described Kyle, who saved two lives while on lifeguard duty at the pool, as an "asset to the base pool."

"He was always reliable and someone for the staff to look up to. Kyle always went above and beyond -- increasingly taking on additional responsibility. It is a great loss to the Hanscom community and a tremendous gain to the Air Force," she said.

Kyle said that joining the military family, as he has wanted to do for so long, will be very special to him. "That first day I get my uniform issued is going to be touching for me."

Though his journey to becoming an Airman has spanned years, Kyle said he felt there was a reason for it.

"I feel maybe the reason why I was 'DQed' in the first place was so I could get a college education. I was the first person in my family to go to college. After that was completed, I found out that I could still make this dream come true. I am very thankful for everything that has happened," he said.

While getting up bright and early each morning at Basic Training may not appeal to Kyle, he said he is looking forward to the teamwork the training will offer and the opportunity to set and accomplish goals.

One goal that he hopes to attain one day is to become an Air Force officer, but he said he was happy to serve regardless of his rank.

"Leadership comes not just from putting rank on your collar, it comes from who you are as a person," he said. "Everybody is needed somewhere and everybody is needed for a particular purpose."

Kyle has found his purpose through his determination.

"As long as you stay strong as a person, everything that you want to come true will come true. The stronger you are, every thing will fall into place. As much as everybody says it and people don't like hearing it, everything does happen for a reason," he said.