Never Too Late To Dream
By Tech. Sgt. Lynette Olivares, 133rd Airlift Wing
/ Published March 28, 2016
St. Paul, Minn. -- Not all girls dream of princesses and desire to be pretty in pink when they grow up. The story of dreams and aspirations of serving in the military differ for each and every one of the members of the 133rd Airlift Wing.
For Master Sgt. Lynn Olkives, a first sergeant with the 210th Engineering Installation Squadron, the road to military service held some detours before she got where she wanted to go.
"I had my first child when I was 17, got married at 18, and ended up a divorced single mother by the age of 20," said Olkives. "As a single parent, I felt that joining the military was no longer an option for me, but I always wanted to serve in the military."
Military service was personal for Olkives. She came from a long family of proud military members of all branches. Her father served in the Marine Corps during Vietnam and an uncle who served in the Army. Her grandfather served in the Navy and her brother joined the Army Reserves when she was just a teenager.
"I thought it sounded so admirable and I was inspired to do the same," said Olkives. "I had what I considered my 'mid-life crisis.' I turned 34 and it suddenly occurred to me that I had not yet accomplished all that I aspired to; going back to school to get a degree and starting a career doing something I felt passionate about and where I could make a difference. I felt a sudden urgency to make a change in my life, but I did not know what was next for me."
Olkives worked full-time while maintaining her home and taking care of her husband and children. Still looking for something more, an unexpected surprise happened during a weekend at a wedding.
"I believe it was fate, I met someone in the 133rd Airlift Wing at a mutual friend's wedding and I learned that she was serving in the Minnesota Air National Guard," said Olkives. "I shared with her that I had always wanted to serve in the military and that unfortunately I thought it was too late for me. She informed me that in fact, it was not too late for me to join the military; that the age to enlist by had been changed to 35."
She was so thrilled to learn she still had a chance to fulfill her dream of serving her country in a military capacity, she turned to her husband on the spot and informed him, "I will be enlisting in the Minnesota Air National Guard next week."
A woman true to her word, she did all the necessary paperwork and was finally able to enlist in the Minnesota Air National Guard and was sworn in by (then) Maj. Sandy Best on July 21, 2001.
"I had always wanted to be a police officer and felt it was a bonus to fulfill two dreams at once by serving in the military as a Security Forces member," said Olkives. "I had no idea at the time how my one weekend a month and two weeks a year would change so quickly by the tragic events that happened to our country on September 11, 2001. When I came back from my training in May of 2002, I was almost immediately activated in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom and accumulated nearly four years of active duty."
Olkives might be short, but she stacks up tall with her drive and determination to be the best she can be and make a difference.
"I served in the Security Forces Squadron for 13 years, until I was selected for the best job in the Air Force. I currently serve as the first sergeant for the 210th Engineering Installation Squadron," said Olkives. "Being a first sergeant was the 'dream job' that I aspired to achieve after observing the security forces squadron first sergeant."
She hopes to inspire the next generation of airmen coming behind her. Her words of wisdom to any military member are: "Follow your dreams, take risks, and never say no to yourself. If you don't try, the answer will always be no."