David Rupkalvis

As most of you read this, Thanksgiving is just about a week away, and I, for one, have a lot to be thankful for this year.

To start off with, I am grateful to be back in Southern Arizona. For those of you who may have missed this when I started six months ago, I have always claimed to be an Arizona boy.

I was an Army brat, so I moved a lot as a child. But when we came to Fort Huachuca when I was in sixth grade, I felt like I found home. I grew up on base, and a little bit of luck kept my family here longer than normal.

Traditionally, we moved every four years or so, but about the time we would have moved, the Army paid for my mom to go back to college. So while she went to the U of A for two years, we moved to Sierra Vista.

By the time she was done and the Army was ready to send our family elsewhere, I was old enough to stay behind. High school graduation and college followed and then I was lucky to find my first job in Sierra Vista. For years, I thought I would never leave that job, especially after I married a Sierra Vista girl and we had our first son.

But real life intervened, and we did.

And I honestly believed I would never make it back. For 13 years, we lived and worked around the country — Texas, North Carolina and North Dakota — but my wife and I always hoped one day we would like to get back to Arizona.

And now we are. And we love it. The mountains, the sunsets, the reasonable temperatures in November, all remind us how lucky we are to be in Southern Arizona.

As I write this, I am also grateful to come from a family that served our country. We are a week away from Veterans Day, but I would still like to thank my parents, my grandfather, my father-in-law and two brother-in-laws for their service.

My mom and dad both served 20 years in the Army. My mom retired as a nurse practitioner, my dad retired from the Army band. 

My father-in-law was an MP in the Air Force. They were all lucky to serve during a time of peace and never saw war.

My grandpa and my wife’s grandpa both saw war and survived. My two brothers-in-law have both been deployed and made it home.

My wife’s grandpa had the closest tell or terror. He served on the USS Indianapolis when it delivered the atomic bomb. A few days later, the Indianapolis was sunk and the men spent days in the ocean waiting for rescue. As the wait grew, sharks were attracted to the splashing and blood in the water. Around 900 men went into the water, and only 317 were rescued. The rest died for a variety of reasons, with many eaten by sharks.

My wife’s grandpa was one of the lucky ones. He came home to see his family again. But his family is convinced his days in the water ultimately led to him becoming sick and dying years later. 

Either way, he’s an American hero, and I am grateful for his service and for all those who have and continue to serve our country.

Finally today, I am grateful that I get to work in the newspaper industry. 

After half my life reporting the news, I am still excited to come to work every day. I’m still excited to hear stories of amazing people and I still look forward to seeing what stories are being completed in time for publication.

In my 20-plus years, I have seen and written about amazing things. Who else can say they saw Kartchner Caverns long before it opened, saw a hive of killer bees removed and met the secretary of defense in the same year.

I’m a pretty lucky guy.

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