Growing up in Nevada, Tara Black, couldn’t have imagined the adventures her life would include.
At only 45 years of age, Tara King (her married name), has experienced more things and lived and visited more places than most of us could even dream about.
Part of her traveling has to do with the fact that she joined the Air Force in 1992, just a year after graduating from Nevada High School. It also has to do with the fact that she married another Air Force member, who is now a pilot.
Let’s back up to right after graduation. “I attended Northwest Missouri State University for a year,” Tara said, “and then joined the Air Force in December 1992.”
While in the Air Force, Tara learned electronics maintenance, and she maintained various radios that air traffic controllers used to communicate with aircraft. She continued her studies to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in electronics management.
“During the six years of military service, I was stationed in Texas, Mississippi, California and Nebraska. I stayed in Omaha after leaving the Air Force with an IT job, handling war planning code in Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base,” she said. That’s where she met Jason King; he was a 1st Lieutenant at the time.
Jason is originally from the small town of Belton in South Carolina. “He was a computer programmer for the Air Force when we first met, but then was accepted into pilot training, and we got married right after he graduated from that program in Del Rio, Texas. He’s now a Colonel and flies the C-17 — a big cargo plane. We’ve been married 17 years as of last September,” Tara said.
During those 17 years, the couple added two sons to their family. Jacob, 14, was born in Tacoma, Wash. Tara said Jacob is into video games, reading and the latest YouTube trends. He started his freshman year at Radford High School, Honolulu, this past fall. It’s the sixth school he’s attended. Dillon, 11, was born in Altus, Okla. He is very much into sports and being outside with his friends, his mother said. He is currently in fifth grade, at the third school he’s attended.
Tara said her sons have lived in seven states — Washington, Oklahoma, Alabama, Illinois, Washington (twice), Alaska, Virginia and Hawaii.
“I really don’t know for sure what we’re going to do once Jason retires from the Air Force,” Tara said. “I’ve been moving since I left Nevada and have enjoyed pretty much every minute of it.”
Moving every few years has created the challenge of having to make each place a “home” quickly. “We must make friends, find the ‘best’ of places, and mainly, take advantage of each location for our limited time,” Tara said. And as the self-proclaimed “homemaker” of her family, Tara is always up for the challenge and willing to help others along the way. She mentors younger officers’ spouses, plans events for the airmen’s families in their unit to help them feel a part of the family, and she enjoys as many moments as possible in each new home. At present, she’s enjoying their home in Hickam, Hawaii at Joint Base Pearl Harbor.
She has loved all the moves, though she admits it’s getting a little more challenging as the kids get older and as she gets older. “But we get to do and see things we would never have had the chance to do and see if we were just visiting the location.We always look for the positive experiences with our next move.”
She now lives a very different life than the one she had as a child, growing up on a farm north of Nevada. And she loved that life too.
“I loved being in the 4-H program growing up. I always looked forward to the fair. I also remember, before having my driver’s license, riding my bike the five miles (on gravel, because it was the shortest way) to town to visit my grandparents and hang out with my friends at the (old) pool — that was before it became a parking lot at the high school.”
She also loved the sports programs — softball, volleyball and golf. “Those were a big part of my high school years. I played pretty much year-long in some kind of sport and really enjoyed being part of a team,” she said.
And she worked at Daehler’s Pharmacy on main street. “Mr. Ron Daehler … was my boss when I worked at the pharmacy in Nevada. He was a wonderful person and a great boss. I really enjoyed working there all through high school.”
Besides her parents, Tara said, Ron helped instill in her a great work ethic and a desire to try to help others when she could. “He always tried to put people at ease and help bring out a positive mood.”
Working on the farm and out in fields, was also positive as she looks back on it. “It really helped me realize the benefit of hard work. As much as I hated it, I loved it more, and I miss it quite often.”
Being from a small Iowa town helped to shape her into the person she is today, she agreed. And living on an Air Force base is a lot like living in a small town, she said. “Everyone knows your neighbors, we help raise each others’ kids, and generally, we look out for each other.”
When it comes to what she enjoys most in life right now, her roots of growing up on a farm, come back to the forefront. “I love plants and growing things.” If there were ever a possibility in her future to have a career with plants, she might pursue it. “I love to be outside, where I can fiddle with my flowers and plants.”
Living in Hawaii offers other fun too. “We’ve been surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, getting certified to scuba dive, and we’re starting a sailing class this month. I also love video games,” she said with a little laugh. “I will game with the boys, and they get upset when ‘mom’ beats them.”
She and her family try to make it back to Nevada a couple times a year if possible, but it all depends on where they are stationed she said. Most of her family, however, is in this area, so it’s fun to visit. Her family includes her parents, Roy and Janet Black of Nevada; her brother, Cory and his family, of Nevada; and her sister, Kaela and her kids, of Ames; along with many cousins. With social media, she can now keep up with everyone better, including old school friends.
Her family and friends can also keep up with her, which probably isn’t easy. She and her family are busy…and she wouldn’t have it any other way. “We’ve skied in Alaskan mountains, rode on a dog sled, been to almost every single state in the U.S., have visited the museums in Washington D.C., been swimming in Pacific and Atlantic oceans, been scuba diving in Hawaii… It just boggles my mind. If you would have asked me what I’d like to try growing up in small town Iowa, I couldn’t have dreamed of half the things we’ve done in our travels. But Nevada will always have a special place in my heart.”