Life Member Aspires to Carry Forward His Grandfather’s Pride of Service

Life Member Aspires to Carry Forward His Grandfather’s Pride of Service
Photo by Mike Morones/MOAA

When Col. Chris Mulder, USAF, reflects on his more than 26 years in the Air Force, he concludes service is in his blood. His almost 99-year-old grandfather served in the Army Air Corps in World War II and tells his military service story whenever he gets the chance.


“My grandfather only served for approximately two years, but those two years clearly had a profound impact on him,” said Mulder, a Life Member of MOAA. “The intensity of that service, reflecting on those that he served with, the impact the greatest generation achieved for our nation, and the overall purpose of serving must be the reason that it has gripped him later in life.”


His grandfather passed down that example of service to his children and grandchildren. Mulder’s father served in the Air Force, including as a flight instructor and C-130 pilot, which took the family to the Philippines, an experience that had a lasting impact on Mulder.


“When I was a kid living in the Philippines, I was exposed to a quality of life that definitely does not meet our standard in the U.S.,” he said. “But the people there are super appreciative of what they have, so I always try to keep that in mind in my life — that we are pretty blessed living in this nation."


His own path to the military began, Mulder jokes, when he was born. “I was born at the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1978 when it used to have a hospital,” he said.


Nineteen years later, he returned to the academy as a student. After graduation, he was selected for pilot training and went on to serve as an instructor pilot for both the T-6 before being selected to fly F-16s. Assignments took him to South Korea; Shaw AFB, S.C., flying NORAD alert missions; Germany; and Iraq in 2011.


[RELATED: More MOAA Members in the Spotlight]


Those assignments gave Mulder an important awareness of himself and others.


“There is not another better way to learn about yourself, others, and the nation and the world than by serving in the military,” he said. “Even if you don’t get a chance to travel or be stationed overseas, you’ll be exposed to things that open your eyes and create opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise.”


After his F-16 assignments, Mulder then had staff assignments at the Pentagon, and today he serves at Defense Security Cooperation Agency working in security cooperation/assistance space.


He points to leadership as being the most valuable skill he’s gained from his service.


“What we’re exposed to and what were expected to do in the military, a lot of times our civilian counterparts don’t have the opportunities we often have,” he said. “I’m engaged in certain community activities, and lot of times people look to me for leadership, which is really interesting because I’m not wearing my rank on my shoulders. It must be something I picked up that translates well, and people pick up on that.”


He hopes his service has an impact on others as the service of his family members has had on him.


“I want to provide all entities — family, community, the nation — with opportunities they wouldn’t have had if we didn’t have a strong military and those willing to serve,” Mulder said. “I am privileged to have other family members serve prior to or during my own service, setting an excellent example for me on my own military service journey. It is also a significant blessing to observe my grandfather’s current reflections on his own military service approximately 79 years ago. I aspire to carry forward his pride of service, in and out of the military, well into the future.”


Want to Help Servicemembers in Your Community?

Learn how you can make a difference with your local chapter.

Get Involved Go Virtual

Related Content

About the Author

Blair Drake
Blair Drake

As managing editor of Military Officer, Drake coordinates and edits content for the magazine, including the Never Stop Serving section.