For Bryan Lambert, Sr., enlisting in the military initially had a very practical purpose. He saw it as a way to support and provide security for his wife and young daughter. In the end, the Air Force became a way of life for the next 20 years, 17 of those spent as a recruiter. He chose the Air Force, he said, “because I was older, a little out of shape, and they had the easiest basic training!”

When he left the military, he had the lowest rank of any one with that much time in the recruiting service. “I got in early, and I was very successful. We had competitions, and wherever I was, we won. I think that’s because I believed everything I told them.”

Although his first marriage didn’t survive, he met his current wife Stephanie in the recruiting office when she decided to inquire about a military career for herself – an option she did not pursue, however.

Despite not being able to convince his future wife that a military career would a great choice, he says entering a branch of the armed forces isn’t a bad option for those high school graduates who aren’t ready to take college seriously. “So many aren’t ready or they don’t go to college for the right reasons,” he noted. Being in the military usually provides direction, skills and health care, as well as a steady paycheck.

Lambert, who received numerous medals and awards including one for meritorious service, credits the Air Force with instilling in him a sense of dedication and motivation. “That’s where I learned to work 70-80 hours a week for no extra money,” he quipped. “You had to be motivated to do it.” He spent four years in Massachusetts as a recruiter, and more years in San Antonio; in between those stints, he worked in the Classification Squadron, matching individuals with jobs. The last three years of his military career were spent in Portland, where he ran the Military Entrance Processing Station for the 19th Recruiting Squadron, but he and his family were able to move back to Auburn permanently.

Since his retirement in 1994, he has been employed with the United States Postal Service. “I’ve been with the Post Office 12 years,” he said, “and I’ve accumulated 1,500 hours of sick leave and vacation. The military taught me to keep plugging away, no matter what it’s like. Of course, you’re still serving the public.”

A portion of his walking route takes him through the difficult terrain surrounding Auburn’s Goff Hill, including Edward Little High School, from which he graduated as did his son, Bryan Jr. Recognizable to many by his white safari-style helmet, Lambert Sr. says he wears the post-office issued hat simply to protect his head. “You finger the mail as you’re walking,” he explained, “so it protects me, while I’m looking down, from low branches, trees and falling ice.”

Here, again, the military background has come in handy, because in 90-degree weather with a hefty satchel slung over his shoulder, Lambert still has to put one foot in front of the other and keep on going.

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