Onset native reflects on 24 years in the Air Force

Aug 31, 2020

An Onset native, Eric Behring joined the Air Force because he wanted to see the world beyond the South Coast.

After 24 years, and visits to 14 foreign countries and 36 states, Behring has retired from service and took time to reflect on his career with Wareham Week.

Behring is the son of Lynn Crocker of Onset and Paul Behring of Beaver Cove, Maine.

Behring graduated from Upper Cape Tech, where he studied plumbing and heating, before double majoring in French and US History at UMass Dartmouth.

He put himself through school by working in cranberry bogs, and worked a three-day stint at a car dealership before quitting due to his discomfort with talking people into cars they didn’t actually need.

“I knew there was more to the world outside of Southeastern New England. I wanted to do something important and make a difference for my country, and I don't know, something just told me to go into the recruiter’s office,” Behring recalled of a fateful afternoon in 1996 when, knowing that he didn’t want to work in the bogs or as a plumber, he impulsively went into a recruitment office in New Bedford.

He signed up, and said that before basic training was over, he knew he would be in the Air Force for at least twenty years.

“I think it was a combination of my love of US history and this urge to do something important that would not only benefit me, but would benefit my country as well,” Behring said.

He went on to become a signals intelligence analyst — a job he was not allowed to discuss, but that the Air Force’s website describes as gathering information about foreign activities and communications from electromagnetic emissions. Analysts then produce “combat, strategic, and tactical intelligence reports” for commanders, enabling the Air Force to respond quickly and precisely. 

One of the highlights of his career was traveling around the world on the Air Force’s dime, Behring said.

“I thoroughly enjoyed Germany and England, and my favorite stateside locations were Florida and, believe it or not, Alaska,” Behring said. “I was fortunate enough to go to Alaska in August. In August in Alaska, the sun stays out 20 hours a day and it was as beautiful as any photo you’ve ever seen in National Geographic.”

He was stationed on bases in South Korea, Georgia, Qatar, Texas, Virginia, and at two locations in Florida.

Behring married a fellow Air Force member 18 years ago, and the pair have four children together.

He said that he has “zero regrets” about his career.

“It was a spectacular journey and adventure,” Behring said. “It certainly exceeded the expectations that I began to form after I talked to the recruiter several times — in terms of job satisfaction, the opportunity to travel all over the world and have somebody else pay for it, the importance of the work being done, the health benefits, pay, vacation days — things like that. It was all well worth it. It really was a wonderful, wonderful experience.”

“For a kid from Onset, I‘ve done okay,” Behring said.