My son… my hero!

by Mark Timm, CEO Ziglar Family

April 12th and 13th of this year (2018) are two days that I will most certainly never forget, as they are the days when I came to understand in an all-new way what a  great honor and privilege it is for me to be a father.

On April 12th, I woke up at 4:51 am so that I could get from my hotel over to Lackland Air Force Base to be with my son, Markus, and watch him do his “Airman’s Run,” which is an event that occurs just before graduation from United States Air Force Basic Training.

I had no idea what to expect, not having any preconceived notions, because I’ve never done or been around anything like this to experience it.

The first thing I noticed was the spirit in the air. Just being part of something like this is breathtaking. It really is breathtaking. It’s something that I truly wish everybody could experience.

So there I was, sitting on an Air Force Base of the most powerful Air Force in the world, and I’m watching my son, who is running around with his squadron as a leader of his “flight” (a group of recruits, similar to what the US Army calls a platoon).

Just watching him in action, seeing his intense focus, was incredible.

And then we got a nice surprise when we saw that he had earned the title of Honor Graduate. To be an Honor Graduate, you have to be in the top 10% of all of the graduates of the entire Basic Training, and in this case there were a total of 637.

He was also the Top Marksman in his flight, and while earning these accolades,  Markus really learned a ton about himself as a leader. He learned that to lead, to really lead, you can’t just lead from a title because by that title alone he didn’t have any real authority.

The only way he could truly lead was by example, so he had to earn the respect of the guys that he was with. What a powerful lesson! He learned a lot about himself, what he’s capable of, and how strong he is.

The next day was the actual Basic Training graduation. I know there is so much that I should be saying about this graduation, but it’s hard to put it into words.

It is so impressive, so powerful.

So many times during the graduation, I felt all the hair on my body stand on end as 14 different flights, 657 Airmen total, were officially brought into the Air Force.

Every time the leaders gave a command, the Airmen all responded instantly and uniformly. It was so incredibly impressive; I’m not sure I can even adequately communicate just how impressed we all were.

In a perfect world, everybody would be able to witness a graduation like this, just to understand the discipline and the commitment that these young men and women are making to our country and to the military.

The general who spoke had great words of wisdom for all of us. He shared the history about when our armed services started implementing basic training and why.

It goes all the way back to when George Washington actually asked a Russian to help train and prepare the military. He’s the one that implemented a lot of the basic skills, maneuvers and salutes that our military uses today. The training that  General Washington put in place didn’t change at all for 85 years after Valley Forge. It’s one of the reasons why I think our military is so strong and powerful, because we have a rich history of tradition and discipline.

I’ve always loved the military, and I’ve always had a lot of respect for the military. But now a part of me is actually in the military, and I don’t take that lightly. I believe everybody should serve if given the opportunity, and I even wish I personally had taken the opportunity at Markus’ age, looking back. That’s how strongly I feel about his experience and the fact that it’ll change his life forever.

At the end of the day, I saw someone wearing a t-shirt representing what I would say is the best way to wrap up this monumental time in our life.

It said, “Most of us never get to meet our heroes. But I got to raise mine.”

That’s how I feel right now. I’m so beyond proud of Markus, and I look at him as one of the heroes in my life. How cool that although he’s just 20 years old, I am humbled to be able to look at my son as a hero.

  (From Left) Mark’s brother Ron, Markus, Mark, and Mark’s dad Larry.

 (From Left) Mark, Ann, Markus and Cassandra




  1. Leona Coburn July 7, 2018 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    I come from a family that has served all the way back to the Civil War! My husband and I served in the Navy during Desert Storm. My son-in-law is in the Air Force. . My daughter would have served in the Air Force,but she has exercise induced asthma.

    • Mark Timm July 15, 2018 at 9:23 am - Reply

      Leona, Thank you and your family for your service!! I get it and will never forget it! Mark

  2. June Ching July 7, 2018 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    Congratulations Mark! I can totally relate! It’s an incredible feeling to see the young men in our military work so very hard during bootcamp to accomplish their goals to be in the United States armed forces. Hats off to their sacrifices. My son graduated from the Marine Corps bootcamp in May. Words fail to describe how incredibly proud I am. The accomplishment is all his. He is my hero too!

    • Mark Timm July 15, 2018 at 9:25 am - Reply

      June – so very cool that we share this experience together! It is hard for me to contain how proud I am of him and what he is doing for our great country! Mark

  3. Mary Johnson July 8, 2018 at 1:24 am - Reply

    Congratulations!!! My son also served in the Air Force, as do both of my nephews. The graduation events at Lackland are very impressive. I am beyond grateful for the sacrifices these young people are making for their country. Thank you, Airmen Timm, for your service!!!

    • Mark Timm July 15, 2018 at 9:26 am - Reply

      Mary – can I be honest? Even reading the word you have written – Thank you, Airmen Timm, for your service – sent chills all over my body. Thank you for reaching out and sharing with us on this journey! Mark

  4. Lucy Edwards July 8, 2018 at 2:08 am - Reply

    Wow! Congratulation and thank you, Markus, for your service. And thank you mom and Dad, for raising that top-notch young man! I can understand your pride because on July 2nd, Monday this week, we delivered our just-turned-18 year old daughter to the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT. Her summer break before starting her rigorous academic four years with military training and athletics thrown in as well, will consist of 7 weeks of Swab Summer, the Coast Guard equivalent to boot camp. We returned home with younger daughter, to Washington State, on the opposite side of the country. My daughter is my hero as your son is yours. She’s chosen not an easy path, to eventually become a leader of character as an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard. It’s the first military experience in our family… And I am in awe, beaming with pride, underneath my tear-stained cheeks. Thank you for sharing your story, and allowing me to share ours.

    • Mark Timm July 15, 2018 at 9:30 am - Reply

      Lucy, wow the complete other side of the country! That is amazing and yes hard all the same. We have a daughter that wants to be in the Air Force Academy – she has a lot to do in order to be there but we are 100% behind her. Sounds like you have one amazing daughter and I am very thankful for you and your family for raising her to take on this critical role for the safety and security of others! Thank you indeed for sharing your story! Mark

  5. =andy July 8, 2018 at 2:56 am - Reply

    I can relate as I remember or sons graduation from navy basic training some 16 years ago. It is truly an inspiring moment to watch all the new recruits graduating and responding as one. We should be the same as followers of Christ Jesus.

    • Mark Timm July 15, 2018 at 9:31 am - Reply

      Andy, thank you for sharing your with us! I agree with you completely! Mark

  6. Fran T Hilsmeier July 8, 2018 at 8:20 am - Reply

    Congratulations Markus. Proud of you and thanks for being God’s servant to help protect us. Also, much credit goes to you, Mark & Ann, for his training growing up. You helped lay the foundation for his whole life.
    Mark, well written and very interesting article.
    A note about Zig: While we were still in business, we attended every rally here in Cleveland, OH that Zig spoke at. Also attended training he had in TX & enjoyed attending his Sunday School class. We used his video tape series in our training classes and our Son-in-law (Principal of the middle school) used the tapes in the school’s opening exercises. Zig was “one of a kind”

    • Mark Timm July 15, 2018 at 9:33 am - Reply

      Fran, thank you so much for sharing and supporting our journey with Markus. AND thank you for sharing about Zig – he was without a doubt “one of a kind.”

  7. Jackie July 8, 2018 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    I never looked at my Navy graduation from boot Camp. My Parents and little sister came to my graduation but they never said how they felt about it. I wish they had. I knew they were proud because they fought to give me the chance to Join going so far as to contact our Congressman who had been a friend of my mothers since she was a child. I know my dad was proud. He had been in the Navy as had my paternal grandfather. My Maternal Grandfather and my mother’s brother were both in the Army My grandfathers in WWI and my Uncle, Dad and Father-in-Law in WWII. In fact I met my husband who was given a billet in a Navy School because the Coast Guard did not have room in the Coast Guard School. Thanks for opening my eyes as to how my parents and sister might have felt when I graduated.

    • Mark Timm July 15, 2018 at 9:34 am - Reply

      Jackie, I am promise you they were proud. They may not have said it but inside they were beaming! I can assure you of that. Thank you for your service and for sharing with all of us here at Ziglar Family! Mark

  8. Shanita July 8, 2018 at 6:13 pm - Reply

    Congratulations Markus!
    Thank you Mark for sharing this!
    Our firstborn is serving as a Navy helo pilot, heading to Guam.

    • Mark Timm July 15, 2018 at 9:35 am - Reply

      Shanita, congratulations to you for raising a Navy Pilot! That is amazing. Our daughter wants to be a pilot and attend the Air Force Academy! Mark

  9. Judy July 9, 2018 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    Wonderful sentiments! Our son is a retired Air Force Lt. Col. and the pride never diminishes. He was called up 4 hours after 911 to go “somewhere” that he couldn’t tell us. That was a scary time and I walked in my grandmother’s shoes because she had sent her only son (my father) off to WWII and he didn’t return. My blood runs red, white & blue with pride for our country and our military and especially my father & our son. My brother was also in Vietnam and now is enduring the trials of the affects of Agent Orange.
    So many take so much for granted but definitely not the parents, family and friends of those who have served, those who are now serving and those who will serve. No taking a knee during our national anthem for us. We understand the price paid for their right to do that. Freedom is not free!

    • Mark Timm July 15, 2018 at 9:37 am - Reply

      Judy, I had chills over my body the entire time I was reading your comment. WOW – you are amazing and your story is amazing. Thank you for sharing it with us. I could not agree with you more – Freedom is NOT FREE! Mark

  10. Laurie July 9, 2018 at 2:30 pm - Reply

    Congratulations, Marcus! Thank you for serving our country.

  11. David Hicks July 10, 2018 at 5:43 am - Reply

    God bless the USA. It is great to hear certain songs sung that bring tears to my eyes. Tears of joy

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.