Whoa, that's quite a project! But you've got the time to spread your work out so that's a good thing.
Since it's such a project and you're new to scrapbooking anyways, if it were me, I would definitly use coordinating products, so even though you're going through the years, it all look cohesive and I find coordinating lines better for the stuff I make for men anyways.
I know that K&Company has a military line of papers and products if you're looking for stuff like that....http://www.kandcompany.com/products/military.jsp
(that's just a link to K&co's website, to find the product you'd need to look around on some online scrapbooking stores or local scrapbook stores, but it doesn't sound like you have any near you.)
Do you have a local library - if so, I would look up some scrapbooking titles, most idea books have a list of items most scrapbookers use, adhesives, pens, etc.
Here's another idea for a large project:http://www.simplescrapbooksmag.com/mag/article.ihtml?idx=451&issue_idx=20&page=1
I really like that for something with alot of photos, because it's easier to get done, easy to do over time and it's also very easy storage. Still personal, but not such a giant book or anything.
I would just keep looking online for ideas, start gathering your supplies and have a plan about what you would like to do, the type of album, the pages - keep it simple and cohesive so it doesn't get overwhelming! And have fun with it!
Sorry if this is all just a cluster, scrapbooking can be very overwhelming at first because there's so much out there!