This is a story about never giving up no matter what happens
The night I graduated from pilot training was the night I learned my first assignment would be at Fairchild AFB in Spokane, WA flying KC-135s. I was ecstatic because my family, including my little sister who was only two when I left for basic training, still resided in the city I grew up in, only two hours south of Fairchild. After six years of only seeing my family during the holidays, I would finally be close enough to see them regularly again. On graduation night, at a post-graduation party, I spoke with my classmate and long-time friend Chris Fei, who was also to be stationed at Fairchild. I pitched the idea of buying a duplex together (a suggestion from my father who invests in real estate) and living on one side while renting out the other to cover our mortgage. Much to my surprise, Chris agreed to partner up!
In April 2013, Chris and I flew up to Spokane, WA to go house hunting. We settled on a duplex and submitted an offer, only to be rejected immediately. We tried to negotiate with no luck, and after a final “NO” from the seller, I moved on to try purchasing an investment property in the Tri-Cities but had the same results.
After our failed trip to Spokane, Chris and I set out for pilot training in our newly assigned plane, the Boeing KC-135. We were to live in Altus, Ok for the 5-month duration of training before moving on to our permanent stations. This was our first experience on TDY, and we had no idea where we would live. I just assumed we would live at the on-base hotel. Luckily, Chris was much more astute than I was, and he introduced me to the concept of a “crashpad”. We did our research and called a couple of crashpad websites to reserve our rooms, but unfortunately (or fortunately), all of the Crashpads were completely full. I call this fortunate because it prompted me to think we could open our own. We knew plenty of new pilots that would want to stay with us rather than stay on base so, I pitched the idea to Chris and he was all in.
I called the first realtor that came up in an Internet search and that’s when I found Gregg Buck. Boy, was I lucky to have called him first because he has been the best realtor I have ever worked with, and I’ve worked with more realtors than I have fingers and toes. I flew out to Altus, OK and bought our first house on Foxtail and within a couple weeks Chris and my buddy Evan helped me furnish the place from top to bottom. We put in beds, desks, couches, big screen TVs, PS4s, grills, kitchen utensils, pool tables, etc. We decked that house out to make it an all-inclusive bachelor pad. Chris and I, along with two buddies from pilot training moved in and just like that our first Crashpad was full!
After only a short time, there was much interest from other pilots that wanted to live in the house. I moved into the game room and Chris moved into a closet, just so we could make room for more tenants. He lived in that cramped closet for three and a half months and he didn’t complain a single time! After that experience, we knew it was time to expand.
The first 5 tenants of Military Crashpad
We brought in more partners and purchased another home, and another until we had five! It was then that I realized this could be so much more than a rental business. I had a vision of a service that would provide to all military members, not just Air Force pilots. Our vision began to extend beyond our small group of pilots and moved toward the entirety of our country’s service men and women. Today, we not only provide the best off-base living for our service members on TDY, but we also transformed our website to be a helpful tool for anyone in the military looking for other lodging options whether it was temporary or permanent. Together, with my irreplaceable partners, we continue to strive to find ways to contribute to those who serve our country.
It’s now 4 years later and we’ve come a long way from our first home in southwest Oklahoma. Our company has grown and so has our vision and values. We are committed to creating a long lasting product that provides a great service to help the men and women that defend our great nation. As veterans ourselves, we know what it means to serve and we’re proud to be able to serve the great men and women who defend our country.
Hatton (far left), Jeremy (far right), Johnny (being thrown into the solo pool)