I have been with Boeing for more than 30 years. It started with Hughes Helicopters in Mesa, Ariz. I started out in the wire fabrication shops for the AH-64A Apache helicopter and at that time I was only 19 years old. The youngest employee on that site. I remember the first day walking into that building (520) and saying, "Wow, this is like NASA." Everything was white, blue and new. Spotless, and only three helicopters in the whole building.
I was so impressed with the aviation history and what we were about to do. As time moved on, I progressed in experience and job roles.
Then McDonnell Douglas bought us and things changed. The site became busier, with more programs and more opportunities. Then the Gulf War started, and that was a huge change for us. We were really close with our customer. The U.S. Army became our sole focus. It became personal for all of us, because we realized the machine we built saves lives.
A few years later, Boeing bought out McDonnell Douglas and another chapter in history was written. We were very excited but at the same time unsure of what the future held for us. Boeing gave us more opportunities in more markets. The company gave us commercial, space, services, defense and many other ventures to grow into.
On a personal note, we, too, benefited from more career opportunities and the ability to move across programs such as Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Boeing Defense, Space & Security and space and systems.
Boeing is a great company because of people -- they are the best in their fields and diverse as well. Yes, we have great products and services, but it's really the people of Boeing that make our products and services the best in the world. Our customers buy our legacy and history. That is the underlying theme in all the acquisitions throughout the years -- it's our history.
When you step back as I have and reflect, you not only ask where the time has gone but you also say what a great ride this has been. If someone told me that I would grow up to work on the platforms I have worked on, I would have said: You're crazy. I am truly grateful for working with such great people and a great company.