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Reservist leads double life as pilot, lawyer

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jeff Kelly
  • 315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
A recent magazine poll asked parents what professions they would like to see their children undertake when they reach adulthood. The top three jobs selected were doctor, lawyer and pilot.

If this is true, Maj. Steve Bruce, a 315th Airlift Wing C-17 pilot here, should have happy parents because he can claim two of the top three jobs. He recently passed the bar exam and is now licensed to practice law.

"I thought about going to law school while I was on active duty and the Air Force allowed me to use the tuition assistance program for my masters degree," said the chief of training for the 317th Airlift Squadron. "But I couldn't pursue the law degree because the Air Force really needed C-17 guys at the time."

Major Bruce spent 12 years on active duty before joining the Air Force Reserve in May 2005.

"The tuition assistance was great, but the most important reason I got to where I am is how being a reservist helped me," Major Bruce said.

Major Bruce went to Lt. Col. Rick Davis, 317th AS operations officer, to ask him if he could fly as a reservist and earn money while he continued to study.

"(Colonel Davis) was so supportive," said the major. "I would encourage anyone to give the Air Force Reserve a try. People say that it is the best part-time job you could ever have, and I think that is the truth. It would not have been possible to do this without them. The Reserve is a great opportunity, and a lot of guys getting off of active duty don't realize what the Reserve can offer."

Balancing flying and studying was a three-year-long ordeal that Major Bruce is glad is over. Twelve-hour plus days were the norm and took their toll on his personal life.

"My wife knew it was an investment of time and money," Major Bruce said. "The time investment impacted our family life mostly, but now that it is over it was all worth it. I am blessed to have my wife who has also been so supportive. It is great right now."

Now that Major Bruce is licensed to practice law, he intends to put his new skills to work practicing aviation law.

Major Bruce said his law firm does a lot of "aviation law, government contracting and FAA enforcement and compliance work."

"One of the really cool things is that one of the two guys I work with is a former T-38 instructor pilot, and the other is a current Navy Reserve 0-6," he said. "There is a military comfort at work that is really nice."

Colonel Davis calls Major Bruce "a true role model."

"He is a model Citizen Airman who shows outstanding integrity," Colonel Davis said. "He's never been afraid to fight for what's right."  (Air Force Reserve Command News Service)