When Love Takes Flight: A Dual Military Family's Journey

  • Published
  • By SrA Lauren Cobin

In the vast skies, where wings carry the dreams of those who dare to fly, two individuals found more than just a love for aviation; they discovered an unwavering commitment to each other and their country.

Maj. Woody "Hollywood" Bowman and Maj. Meagan Bowman, both pilots in the U.S. Air Force, exemplify the true meaning of love, sacrifice and resiliency as they navigate the challenges of parenthood, their dedication to each other and their military careers.

Both Meagan and Woody knew from early on that they wanted to serve their country as pilots.

Megan, currently serving as the Assistant Director of Operations and Evaluator Pilot for the KC-135 Stratotanker, started her career at the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2012. There, she would meet her husband and discover a strong bond that would stand the test of time.

"We met during Pilot Training,” said Megan with a smile. “I had just flown a really tough sortie. After the debrief I stepped outside the flight room to take a deep breath and pull myself together, and there he was.”

Their dreams of aviation did not halt their aspirations to create a family, however, the journey of dual military service is not without its challenges.

For the Bowmans, being a dual military couple meant having to find balance and cohesion in all aspects of their lives, especially when the demands of their respective careers may seem overwhelming.

Woody praises Meagan's ability to see issues from various perspectives and find solutions to complex problems, a quality that makes her a spectacular partner, parent and pilot. Similarly, Meagan deeply admires Woody's commitment to his values, which include being a devoted husband and father, doing what is right even in challenging circumstances and embracing kindness.

Woody, now serving as a joint operational planner at U.S. Central Command, explains, "One of the most challenging aspects of being dual military has been deconflicting our schedules to ensure our family’s needs are met. Having a solid support group of family, friends and coworkers has been crucial."

The Bowmans have learned to be "all in" with both work and family and have dedicated their full attention to each aspect when required.

"We’ve always been on the same page when it comes to the things that matter most: our family, our values and how we want to raise our kids,” said Meagan. “We know each other’s strengths and lean on them. Whatever I go through, Woody goes through, too. We share every project, every challenge and every victory."

As their children grow older, the couple hopes to find ways to include them more in their working lives, fostering a sense of pride and understanding about their parents' commitments to serving their country.

"Whenever I put my flight suit and boots on, Charlotte [her daughter] says, 'Mommy going to work,'” Meagan shares. “It reminds me that while being away from our kids is difficult, we are teaching them the value of hard work and dedication. I try to explain to them that just like they get to go to school, we get to go to work!"

The couple made a commitment early on to place their relationship as a top priority, knowing that a strong foundation would serve as the anchor for their family life and careers.

"We made a pact that if we could figure out how to be right as a couple, which included being stationed near each other, we could be right for our kids and our careers," says Meagan.

Now, the couple embraces change as Meagan opens a new chapter of their lives, preparing to transition to reservist status as an Admissions Liasson Officer for the U.S. Air Force Academy.

“I knew I needed a break from active duty, yet I wasn’t ready to be done serving,” said Meagan. “I've since learned that endless choices exist within our military—full and part-time options, location and mission requirements vary greatly depending on the unit. I'm seeing that there can be all sorts of endings to a military career and different versions on how we hold the middle to best support the needs of the member."

To fellow dual military parents and military parents in general, Woody offers words of wisdom, "Build your community and keep up the hard work. It's challenging, but it's worth it."

Navigating the challenges of parenthood and military careers is no small feat, but with a solid network of family, friends and coworkers, the journey becomes more manageable.

Meagan reflects, "It is important to recognize the difference between the things that serve only to fill your time and the things that serve to fill you up. We should prioritize what truly matters, and not forget to lean on our support system."

Meagan and Woody remind us that with a strong foundation of love and support, individuals can conquer any hurdle that life throws their way. As they embark on new adventures, their story continues to inspire others to soar to new heights both in the skies and on the ground.