Thursday, December 22, 2005

Back to the grindstone

I was just looking over my posts, and I've noticed that I've kind of steered away from "life in the military" as it were. So I figured I'd better get back to doing what I said in my header that I'd do. First though, I'd like to say thank you to Shannon. Other than my wife you are the first person, that I know of, to check out my blog, and the first to leave any comments. I always value input of all kinds, so please, leave any questions, concerns, or suggestions in the comments section of any post.

I Know I kind of skimmed over my entry into the Air Force, and I'd like to cover that now.
I will add more and cover my time in the military so far, the places I've been stationed, places I've been sent TDY (temporary duty) to, and my one deployment, soon to be two deployments.

I'll start from the beginning. First off, my father is a retired Marine. He served for a total of 26 years, 10 active duty, and 16 in the reserves. I grew up a so called "military brat." So I knew a lot of what I was getting myself into for a long time before I ever decided to join the military. There wasn't too much about it that I didn't know. I learned basic marching a drill movements, how to keep your "military bearing," and how to make "hospital corners" on my bed by the time I was ten years old. At ten years old, I was no different than any other kid in that I wanted to grow up to be just like dad, in this case, a Marine.

By the time I was in high school, I had changed my mind about the Marines. I had the utmost respect for them, but I knew I did have the self discipline, physical fitness level, or the "KILL, KILL, KILL!" attitude that it seemed to require. I also had no desire to develop those traits. In fact, I wasn't sure I wanted to be in the military at all. My father didn't encourage it, talked about it wasn't that conducive to having a family, which is something I knew I wanted since I was in 6th grade. He instead urged me to work to be an engineer of some sort. Not a technician type of engineer that goes out and builds things, by a designer type. He always talked about how cool it would be to invent a car that cost less to run than your phone bill, or some other bit of technology that still hasn't been created. He made me believe that I could do that, even made me believe that's what I wanted to to. So, by the time I finished high school, I had already had college level math and science classes done. It also helped that I picked up on math easier than most people...

Anyway, my senior year, I decided I wanted to go ahead and join the military, but I wanted to do it as an officer, which meant college degree first; what better way than through ROTC? The Sir Force was the most technologically advanced branch of the service when it came to specializations in jobs, so that is why I chose it at the time. Well, that and the fact that my father told me they valued family and education much more than the other three branches.

Anyhow, I went through the process of applying for the ROTC scholarship, I had only one problem. My SAT scores got to the review board two days after the deadline as a result to a computer failure at the SAT Board scoring centers. Well, the Recruiter I had at that time wouldn't do the paper work to get me a waiver, so I was denied. Then my Recruiter said he could no longer help me and told me that if I still wanted into the Air Force, I would have to go see another recruiter who just happened to be 80 miles away. Needless to say, I decided to forget it. I graduated in 1994 and head to community college.

Five years go by, I've decided I want to be a high school history teacher instead of an engineer, and I was dead set on staying out of the military. Don't get me wrong, I still respected the military and the people who served more than anyone else in the world, but it just wasn't for me. I felt that everyone had a responsibility to serve their country, and I was going to fill it by becoming a teacher and teaching the next generation of Americans.

Anyway, its 1999 and I'm working at McDonalds as a manager, trying to make enough to pay for school. I got fired because someone else stole some money and no one know who. I was the one responsible for it, so I was held accountable. My choice was to go back to living with dad, or on the streets, then I get an instant message from an Air Force recruiter while surfing the net. Well, I'm 22, just lost the only dead end job I could find, and I needed to get my life on track again. My choice wasn't hard to make.

As to why I chose the Air Force when I finally joined up over any of the other three branches, well, I already told you about my reasons not to join the Marines. Joining the Army was similar, they didn't place a high priority on college either, so I decided against them. The Navy was one I never wanted to join because I didn't want to go be on a ship or a sub for six months at a time, so that left the Air Force.

I signed up and two weeks later, I was off to Basic Training. That's how I got into the military. If you have any questions or want any more details, please leave a comment and I will answer those questions.

I will address my choice of career field in my next blog post.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Brain farts in congress

Hey everyone. Hope you're all having a good holiday season. Got all your Christmas shopping done? Hope so, its going to start getting hectic at stores soon as all the last minute shoppers go out to do their last minute shopping.

I was watching the news today while I was eating lunch. Can you believe what Saddam is saying? Giving alegations that he has been beat and tortured while in U.S. custody. The nerve of that man! Well, if a man is what he can be called. I hate to say it, but if I had been one of the guys that found him, I would have shot him and claimed that I thought he had a gun. I hate feeling like I would have killed a man in cold blood, but there are few people in this world that I think deserve death more than him. Beat and tortured, huh, in my opinion, he's lucky to be alive at all. As it is, he still has AC and television, which is more than 3/4 of the Iraqi population can say.

Another thing they said on the news is that the defense spending budget is being held up because of the issue of drilling for oil in the north east part of Alaska. Tell me something; what in blazes does oil drilling in Alaska have to do with the defense budget?! Why has the drilling there been tacked on as a side note to the defense budget?! You trying to tell me that my shop, squadron and base is running low on money for repairs and such because some braindead polotician decided to add a controversial footnote to the defense budget bill that has nothing to do with the defense of this country? What kind of idiocy is this? Who voted tese morons into office?! Wait, we did... Makes you wonder what we were thinking, doesn't it? Time to send another letter to the congressman. This is the kind of stuff that makes people who are brain dead raise their hand and say, "Isn't that kind of stupid?"

Anyway, just though I'd ramble on about stupid people in control of things that seem to be beyond their intelligence.

Well, gotta go get back to work. More water breaks to fix.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Frozen brains

Well, its been a few days since I've been able to log in. With the Holidays here and a probable upcoming deployment to the Middle East and half my shop there now(to return home before I deploy), life has been a bit hectic.

It's been worse here lately. Last week the temperatures here dropped below freezing. That in itself isn't bad, but there seem to be a lot of people that are bound and determined to prove that there is no intelligence in the military. As everyone knows, when the temperature drops below 32 degrees, water turns to ice. Anyone who has passed a basic high school level chemistry class can also tell you that when water freezes, turning it into ice, it expands. If that water is in an enclosed space where there is no room for expansion, it will break what ever is containing it in that space, a pipe for example.

Now, I'm sure everyone knows that water is delivered to most buildings through a system of pipes, and distributed through out those buildings with more piping systems. So, how do you keep pipes inside a building from freezing, and breaking because of the expansion of the ice? Well, most anybody with an ounce of common sense would tell you that you keep the heat on, and the doors and windows closed. Would you not agree with that? I sure would.

Well, like I said, some people are just bound and determined to prove that there is no "military intelligence" in the military. As I'm sure you can guess by the content of what I've written so far, a bunch of people left doors and/or windows open all night long, and all day in some cases. We've got more than 2 dozen water breaks on base right now. And we've got about 8 or 10 people that work on the base water pipes. Water breaks take an average of 5 to 8 hours to fix with 3 or 4 people working on them. So, that means about 2 water breaks a day that can be fixed on average with the number of people we have available to work, and that's only if we have all the parts we need. If we have to go downtown for parts, that will add an extra hour to the fix time. And sometimes, we end up breaking a part we need in the process of installing it, meaning we have to go back and get yet another one. Anyway, if everything goes perfectly, we can get 2 fixed per day. That means it will take more than 12 work days before we get them all fixed. Here's the kicker though, it's supposed to get below freezing again next week, and every night this week. So you can pretty much be guaranteed that some moron will leave a window or door open in several buildings across the base, causing even more breaks and making our work period that much longer.

These people make me think that their brains were froze by the low temperatures as well as the water. I mean, its common sense. They graduated highschool, passed the ASVAB test(well, I hope they didn't get a waiver for that), and they are trusted to maintain billions of dollars worth of equipment, so what's the deal? Is it too much to ask to close the door? What was the phrase mom always used to say. "Close the door! Were you born in a barn?!"

Thursday, December 08, 2005

What's wrong with this picture?!

I've been doing some reading in the past couple of days. I know the primary purpose of this blog is not political or current events, but this stuff I've been reading and hearing is getting out of hand.

All around me is why we should be out of Iraq, why we should never have been there, why we can't win, yada, yada, yada. Whet the heck kind of country are we turning into?! How in blazes can someone think that the most powerful nation and military in the world can't win this fight? What, do they think our opposition is a bunch of Halo characters with powerful technology?! Or are these just deranged, paranoid, idiots? What ever the case, they are elected leaders in our government. John Kerry, Howard Dean, and John Murtha, just to name a few, are out of their minds! I'm no politician, but it would seem to me that they are trying to commit political suicide. Kerry's statement that U.S. troops are terrorizing Iraqi women and children and Howard Dean's statement about not being able to win in Iraq are sure fire ways to turn many people against them, including those who voted them into office.

I tell you, if they were my senate representative, I'd have a few choice words to say to them. I want to see a politician that forgets about what he thinks, and puts out what the people he represents think. That's a politician's job right? Represent the people in their districts? These guys must really be disconnected from reality to think they can say and do these things and not upset most Americans.

Here is a page of the "terrorist" acts which our American troops are committing in Iraq. Makes you wonder about the sanity of Kerry and his statements.

On another note, you should really check out this post from a recruiter. You can also find his web page in my favorite links list. This will let you know a lot of the good things that are happening in Iraq that you never hear in the news. It does have a bit of swearing in it just so you know. He got a little riled up before he wrote it, and you will see why. In any case, any of you who read this and happen to be represented by one of the offending government representatives, please let them know how you feel. Write a letter, send them an e-mail, whatever, but make it clear to them what you expect from them. They need to start doing their job, not spouting off their mouths about things their constituents don't agree with.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Flags at half mast

If you notice flags at half mast today and wondered why, please referr to my previous post about what happened on this day many years ago. We honor the lost American lives from the attack on Pearl Harbor today by flying the American flag at half mast today. Please remember them and their sacrifice today, as well as those currently serving and risking their lives on your behalf.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

A fatefull day

In 2003, I spent the Holiday season in Iraq. I don't have a lot of friends, and very few family members that actually keep in touch, so I didn't get a whole lot of correspondence while I was over there. There were a few very dear friends of mine in Alaska that kept in constant touch via e-mail while I was there though, and they kept my spirits high. Christmas is hard on many military members. The holiday season has the highest suicide rate of the year because of the loneliness that our job generally causes us, especially when we have family that we are away from for the first time in a long time, or when we're single and long for the comraderie and togetherness we knew as children. Many people just don't understand what it is we go through while we are away from our friends and family, and, sadly, many people just don't care. This Christmas we again have thousands of military members around the globe, away from their family and friends, and who feel isolated, lonely, and uncared for.

For Christmas, I got half a day off from work. We generally worked 12hour shifts, 7 days a week. It wasn't fun, and it wasn't easy. I remember what it was like. I also remember that I got 3 care packages, and a few letters. Mail is the life and soul of morale while deployed. I could get a letter from my worst enemy, and I would be overjoyed because I got a piece of mail. People here in the states take little things, like a letter from a friend, for granted, especially in this day and age of computer technology where I can send you an e-mail in an instant. When you're deployed though, you don't always have time to read your e-mails. You can't take them with you when you go off shift so you can read them one more time before you go to bed. You can't sniff them, or hold them to your heart, and you can't keep them private, cause someone is always hovering over your shoulder waiting for their turn on the computer so that they can check their e-mail too.

There is another date in December that we should all remember, and remember well. It is the date of one of the most infamous events in American history. Until September 11, it was remembered as the most tragic, single event in American history. While I was in Iraq, I wrote a short essay and sent it to someone back at my homestation asking him to try to get it published in the base newspaper, but he was unsuccessfull. Below, I write it for you, as it is something I feel everyone should know and think about. Especially as the anniversary date of this tragic event draws near.

A Day To Remember
Sunday, December 7, 1941, a day that should resound in the hearts of every American. On that day, for those of you that do not recall, we were intentionally and deliberately attacked. Bombs and gunfire fell on us like rain in a thunderstorm. We were caught unaware and unprepared. A valuable lesson was learned that day at the cost of thousands of American lives. On that day, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor!
60 years later, we learned that lesson all over again. This time though, the American lives lost were civilian men, women, and children much more than the military. And once again, we, as a nation, decided to take the battle to those who hate our freedom and peace.
This year, December 7th falls on a Sunday all over again. As that day approaches, I ask you to think on these things. It's the same fight now as it was then. It's the same price to pay now as it was then. And we learned the same lesson now as we did then. These are some things we need to remember in light of that lesson. 1) We are Americans. 2) Freedom has a cost; it never has been, and never will be, free. 3) Americans will always, willingly, pay the price for that freedom.
Some people back home think we shouldn't be here now. Some think we should leave now, and that our leaving is past due. Some think our president made the wrong decision to come here in the first place. I have one question for those people and any of you who may believe the way they do. "Where would this country be, if we had chosen to turn the other cheek back in 1941 as you expect us to do now?"
We are the United States of America! We put on this uniform for our country by choice! We chose to protect the rights we enjoy! We chose to stand while others run! We chose to place our own lives at stake so that those at home wouldn't have to! We are the strongest, richest, most powerful country in the world, and it is the choice to serve, that we have made, that made that possible, for nothing is stronger than the heart of a volunteer. My friend, our choice to do this makes us volunteers.
So, on December 7, 2003, remember where we've been. Remember those have have done this and gone before. Remember that now, just as then, we will prevail. And when you finally go home, you will do so knowing that you are the reason we are free.
Keep in mind that I wrote that in 2003 while I was deployed. I know December 7th isn't on a Sunday this year, but the message still remains the same. Also, keep in mind that I was writing it for a primarily military audience. I share this with you all so that you might be reminded of things that are important. If we can't recall and learn from our past, then we are doomed to repeat the mistakes we made again.