Dependent wins AF writing contest Published Feb. 24, 2010 By Tech. Sgt. Mike Andriacco 36th Wing Public Affairs ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- The daughter of one of Andersen's senior NCOs received a pleasant surprise when she was notified she won a short story contest sponsored by MyAirForceLife.com. Ashley Nelson, daughter of the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron's Master Sgt. Dennis Nelson, won a laptop computer and gift certificate for a total prize package worth $2,000. Ashley, a homeschooled high school senior, submitted her short story, "From Sea to Shining Sea!" to the competition when her mother read an article about it and encouraged her to enter. She was not notified of her accomplishment until after she arrived at Andersen's teen center and found Col. Tod Fingal, 36th Wing vice commander waiting there with a certificate. "We here at Andersen are all proud of the write up that you did," Colonel Fingal said to Ashley during the presentation. "It means a lot...for us to be able to do our job by having great kids like you and I guarantee you your parents are extremely proud." Though she was going to be late for soccer practice, Ashley was ok with that after hearing the news. "I was very surprised," Ashley said. "I was very happy!" Keeping the secret wasn't easy for her parents, who got the news several days earlier. "We found out Friday night the 19th so we had to wait all week-end without telling Ashley that she won," Sergeant Nelson said. "She thought she was coming here for a group band picture that she's in at the youth center." Ashley was saving for a computer when her mom told her about the contest and she decided to go ahead and give it a try and hope for the best, she said. Now that she has a computer, she's got other plans for the money she was saving. "I'm going to put it towards tuition," she said. The contest is one of several that will be held in the upcoming months. Each contest has two age categories; those over the age of 18 and those under, and the winners are decided by popular vote. All contests and activities on MyAirForceLife.com are being held in honor of the Year of the Air Force Family. Upcoming contests include a video contest running currently and upcoming photo and music contests. Please see the http://www.myairforcelife.com for more information. "From Sea to Shining Sea!" by Ashley Nelson. The Air Force has always been a part of my life! Ever since I was a baby, I have moved from Air Force Base to Air Force Base. No matter where we went, I was always able to find something unique about each AFB to love. The climates varied, the scenery varied, and the activities varied-- You never knew what to expect when we moved! The first base I was old enough to remember was Minot AFB, North Dakota. Flat as far as the eye could see and windy, Minot was very peaceful with a great tight-knit community. Me and my older brother used the long, cold winters to our advantage, and in addition to sledding and skating, we would dig huge snow forts in the backyard with my dad when he got home from work. Then we moved to Hickam AFB, Hawaii. The Hawaiian islands are so beautiful! I loved going swimming in the Pacific Ocean and was so excited to learn how to snorkel, boogie-board, and surf. After Hickam, we moved to Misawa AB, Japan. Misawa had breath-taking snow capped mountains during the winter and hundreds of fragrant cherry blossoms during the spring. Along with experiencing the Japanese culture, I particularly liked going to all of the festivals. Now we are at Andersen, Guam. Even though it is a small island, there is a lot to do here. So far we have hiked several different nature trails, explored some of the natural caves, and have discovered how fun it is to jet ski! I have enjoyed being a "military brat" immensely, and could not picture my life any other way. I cannot wait to hear where my dad will be stationed next!