James Williams | Features Editor
58-year old Air Force veteran, Eddadiyah Yisrayl has returned to college after 31 years. “Last time I attended school was 1982,” he said.
Yisrayl did not think school was in his future at his age but explored the opportunity through the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program.
Raised in Philadelphia then moved with his mother at the age of four to Florida, but later joined the Air Force at the age of 20 years old.
“When I joined the Air Force, my duty station was March Air Force Reserve Base in Moreno Valley and spent three years there,” he said.
Yisrayl was a security specialist. He was responsible for guarding nuclear weapons systems and air crafts with nuclear weapons on them.
It was during these three years in the 1970s that he met the women that would years later become his wife.
She was also a cousin to his best friend in the Air Force. It was his best friend who introduced him to her.
But three years after Yisrayl arrived in Moreno Valley and met his future wife, he was deployed to Italy.
“We split up when I went to Italy, so I did not see her for 27 years,” he said.
He spent the last three years of his time serving in Italy, and then he returned back to the United States.
“The military persuaded me to do my discharge state-side; I wanted to do it in Europe,” he said.
Yisrayl returned back to his home town to be with family in Philadelphia in 1980. Upon his return, he decided to go back to school with the hope of someday returning to Europe.
While he never did return to Europe, he did return to Moreno Valley in Aug. 2004, following a chain of events.
The events which led to him getting back into contact with his old girlfriend, he had split up with prior to his deployment to Italy.
“One day out of the blue when I was in Philadelphia, her cousin called me up,” Yisrayl said. “We were talking but I didn’t hear from him for another year after that.”
The following year, Yisrayl received another phone call from him asking if he can give his number to his cousin.
Shortly the two were speaking on a regular basis for the first time in 27 years. Yisrayl flew to Moreno Valley to spend the month there.
They got back together then moved in with her. The couple got married in Oct. of 2005.
“She is the one I always said I should have married,” he said. “I was thinking it was a mistake that I did not.”
After moving in and getting married, he tried looking for a job around the Inland Empire.
After several years working back on the base doing security, he returned to school to focus on the air conditioning program, with the hopes of working toward a certificate.
Yisrayl states that the education system now has a greater impact.
“Strike while the iron is hot, come out of high school and continue with higher learning,” Yisrayl said. “Get as far in education as fast as possible. You need it now.”
He also has a message for all students entering college or that are currently at college as well.
“When I came out of high school you did not need a college degree to make a decent living. Now you cannot do anything without a college degree,” he said.