Senior Airman Douds and his ‘seven wonders’

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Allison Payne
  • 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Growing up alongside seven siblings, Senior Airman James Douds, 51st Logistics Readiness Squadron petroleum, oils and lubricants (POL) journeyman, was no stranger to caring for others. Because of his upbringing, he always knew he wanted to have a big family of his own someday. Little did he know he would eventually see that dream come true.

Fast forward to 2017 when James met Gina. After encouragement from friends to put themselves out there in the dating world and still with strong reluctance from the two, James and Gina gave it a shot. Upon meeting they hit it off and were eventually married on July 8, 2019.

“Living in our big family is a lot like a built-in circus,” said Samantha, one of Douds' children. “Everyone has different personalities but it makes it more fun. We know we can all rely on each other when we need it most and I love it. I couldn’t have asked for a better family, or a better bonus dad.”

Gina has two step-children, Emma and Joel, who view Douds as their dad. Additionally, they are legal guardians over Samantha, Isabel, Carmen and Kime’wan. Douds has one biological son, Nolan, with Gina.

“My dad has always been my biggest supporter,” said Samantha. “He’s been there through all the crazy things I’ve done, my first heartbreak, my first big girl job and dealt with my attitude all while showing no judgement. He’s my best friend and the one I run to for everything because he’s always supported me no matter what I do or where I go in life. My parents go above and beyond to help me grow mentally, emotionally and spiritually, and I can’t wait to be able to give back to them.”

Douds explained being overseas and away from his family is difficult but he saw accepting a short tour in Korea as an opportunity to save money and grow in his career. For this reason, due to the sacrifices that military families make like the Douds family, each year, April is observed as the Month of the Military Child. The intention of the month is to recognize military kids for the sacrifices they make while facing deployments, moves and parents being away.

“I constantly want the best for all of my kids,” said Douds. “I want them to be ten times smarter than I am. Since I had a great childhood, I know what a great childhood looks like and that’s what I want for them. The world they are growing up in is completely different than it was for me as a kid, so it’s definitely a struggle being so far away and only being a ‘cricket in their ear’ until we’re together again.”

Douds said he always wanted to be a dad to be in the position to have a positive influence for the next generations.

“The love and care James shows from across the world is amazing,” said Gina, Douds' wife. “He’s strict when he needs to be but always leads with grace and love. The family we’ve built means everything to me. I would do anything for them.”

As an Airman, Douds prioritizes not only sustaining his familial bonds but also creating new bonds with his Osan family and ensuring they know he’s there for them. He hopes to one day become a first sergeant to have a greater ability to take care of people, as he does his own family.

“The ultimate goal for me would be to wear a diamond on my sleeve and hold the title of first sergeant,” said Douds. “Helping people really fulfills me. The ultimate service to me is taking care of people and doing what I can to make their lives better while I can, my kids included. I want to make this tour count for all involved.”

Douds looks forward to getting home and reuniting with his family once his tour at Osan Air Base is finished. He said he’s most excited to give all of them big hugs to make up for the time lost.

“My family is everything to me,” said Douds. “I owe it all to them. My parents and siblings are my rock. They are all so supportive, love me endlessly and are always there to back me up. They’re the foundation I’ve built myself upon to be the parent I am today.”