Airman explores the world through skating
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- A solitary skater takes a couple strides and smoothly steps on to his three-and-a-half-foot board. He rolls onto a bike trail with no idea where it will take him. He can feel every inconsistency of the ground beneath his heels. With his wheels gliding over the pavement, he waits to discover the world as it unfolds before him.
Airman 1st Class Vince Ligon, 36th Communications Squadron cyber system server administrator, long boards as a way to explore places he has never been, meet new people and uncover new adventures.
"One of the great things about being a part of the Air Force is that it lets me experience all these different places while long boarding," the first-term Airman said.
During his travels, he has seen everything from a festival in a busy city to peaceful coastal views, he said. His self-propelled mode of transportation has also provided him opportunities to stop and admire things like a group of sea lions and local art he would have missed if he had been driving in a car.
"The difference between long boarding and skate boarding is when a person is skating, they are more focused on their tricks and trying to impress people," Ligon said. "When I am long boarding, I am more concerned about the time with my friends and the time that we're sharing together."
Ligon began skating when he was 7 years old, but no one in his small neighborhood shared his hobby. He taught himself tricks because there was no one to help him learn. But learning tricks on his skateboard did not give him the same thrill as picking up as much speed as he could to travel.
Ligon purchased his first long board after he finished high school. After learning the mechanics of the massive board, which is about a foot larger than a skate board, the young adult completed his first cruise which was 20 miles long, the shortest distance he has traveled on a trip.
After he finished the trip, his legs were shaking and there was a weakness in his knees that took two days to recover. However, in just three months, that weakness in his legs turned to strength that could stride over 65 miles.
Ligon later traveled from Merrillville, Ind., to Chicago in one trip. Ligon started to visit the windy city on a regular basis from that point forward to see the skyscrapers and weave through the busy sidewalks.
"Usually I don't notice how long it's been because I go into the zone and I feel like I am flying," Ligon said. "When you are going really fast in a car, and you stick your hand out the window, it's the same thing you experience while longboarding all over your body."
While the 26-year-old was in training at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif., he met a group of long boarders from all different branches of the military. Longboarding was a unique pastime that connected Ligon to many people.
During this time though, Ligon had an accident and broke the hand he writes with, forcing him to take a break from his board and it eventually forced him out of his training to become an Air Force linguist. However, the Air Force provided a new opportunity for him in a communications career.
Three months after his hand healed, Ligon said he had to learn to trust the board again around the time before graduating from his new technical training school. After learning the mechanics again, he started being much more cautious of his skating techniques.
He said it felt great when he graduated because it was a chance to further his adventure. One of his first adventures on Guam when he arrived in August 2012, was along the beach in Tamuning to explore the coastline.
"I came to Guam because I always wanted to travel, and the island is really remote and beautiful," Ligon said.
Now, Ligon looks at the island of Guam as a new journey, with his board in hand, ready to explore.