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Archive for May, 2010

The Calm Before the Storm

So currently it is Saturday, and classes start Monday. I did do in-processing on Friday, as well as some other errands, and Thursday we had an “introduction briefing.” Monday will be when things actually kick off and we start the ASBC course (Air Space Basic Course.) On Monday we’ll have a welcome briefing, and then split into our flights (and meet our flight-mates for the first real time.) Get our flight pictures taken, and then we go off to Blue Thunder. Blue Thunder for most of us will be a refresher on what we did at Blue Thunder during ROTC Field Training (It’s literally at the same place, it’s just been upgraded  a bit.) There we’re going to be doing the assault course (again for those of us that did it at FT) some self-aid buddy care (kinda like first aid but aimed more at combat) and some small unit tactic stuff. The kind of cool thing is we’ll be getting M-4 Carbines to carry
along with combat gear, the M-4’s just don’t have the firing mechanism in them. (Better than the orange rubber duckies from FT.)

Speaking of FT….I saw the Maxwell 1 cadets roll up in their buses today…oh the memories. That brought me back two years ago when I had to do that. It’s a nice motivator also, because I know I’m actually in the Air Force now, getting paid, and not going to be going through that hell again.

So far I haven’t met anyone from my flight, and I also haven’t met anyone going to Laughlin…though I’ve met a lot of people going to Vance, and Columbus (the other main two Pilot Training bases.) For the most part it looks like the Pilot Trainees in this group will be who I go to IFS with.  I found out that I’ll probably be in Laughlin for a bit before I go to IFS…which gives me a chance to see Lt Horste for a while before he goes off to SERE school (SERE School.) What they do at SERE is mostly classified, so you won’t find too much info on it.

The last couple of days have been me just relaxing for the most part. As a brand new accession from ROTC it’s been stressful, I’ve never lived on base, I didn’t know where anything was here, and I didn’t have all my uniforms. They wanted us to have three ABU (Air Battle Uniforms) ready to go for Monday…which means Name tape (I didn’t have any extras from the detachment), and ranks sewn on (or pinned on if you want to go that route but 90% of the people here have it sewn on…and it looks a lot better.) Needless to say I had one Air Battle Uniform with the name/air force tape sewn on…with no rank on it. To add to that my service dress also needed the officer braid sewn onto it so I could actually wear it as an officer…(We need that for Monday also.) When I went to the briefing on Thursday they told us we needed to be in uniform for the next day (ABU’s>BDUs>Blues) so it’s a good thing I ran to clothing sales earlier that day and purchased by shoulder boards for the short/long sleeve blues. Thursday’s briefing was just to help us prepare for Monday, and what we needed for in-processing on Friday. This was helpful because we were all either going by word of mouth from the class before us (which Lt Keith is in and was from Detachment 218 (my det) and was able to help me quite a bit) or we were going by the website.

In-processing isn’t a stressful experience (unless you don’t like needles or giving blood, but we’ll get to that.) It started off at 0730 (7:30 A.M.) and we (all new ROTC accessions (143 of us total) were given our finance brief. For this we needed 5 copies of our orders, a void check or bank statement with your bank info on it (so they can match it with what you write in the direct deposit form) and if you’re married or have dependents you needed a copy of the marriage certificate, and the youngest child’s birth certificate/social security card. We filled out a direct deposit form (YAY!) an advanced travel pay form, clothing stipend, and if you had dependents you filled out a housing allowance form. If you’re single you don’t receive housing pay since you’re living in the TDY quarters and you receive money for that to reimburse you the cost. TDY stands for Temporary duty assignment which is what the Air Force calls things like Training here at ASBC, Field Training, IFS etc…IF you’re leaving your main duty station for training or something of that nature, than you are going “TDY” and while you are TDY you use a government travel card for gas, lodging, etc. Since none of us have a government travel card (you’ll get one at your first real duty station) we all are getting an “advance” on the money it will cost for our stay here ($39.00 per night for lodging, and $29.00 a day for meals (per diem.) Generally you would use the government travel card, or in some cases you would pay out of pocket and it would be reimbursed to  you once you filed a travel voucher…In this case, the Air Force knows we don’t have almost $3,000 to use to pay for our TDY here…thus it gets “advanced” to us. Once I get to Laughlin I’ll then file a travel voucher…in which I’ll get paid for my travel to Maxwell, travel to Laughlin, and my stay at Maxwell. They will then deduct that “advance” from this travel voucher and I’ll receive only the funds for both of my driving trips. It’s a pretty good system and it saves all of us from going in debt a lot. We will have to pay out of pocket temporarily while all of this pay is being processed and up until it actually hits our accounts.

I’ll also be receiving my $400 one time clothing allowance (which I’ve probably spent that much.) And I’ll start getting my monthly pay, which will be awesome.

After finance we went to medical, where we gave them our immunization records. IF YOU ARE COMING TO ASBC, GET YOUR IMMUNIZATION RECORDS BEFORE YOU COME HERE!!! If you don’t have any records than you’ll be getting all of the shots, which is what will probably happen to me, though I had some records. We had to give some blood for them to DNA test (and then link to our CAC card I think) (CAC=Common access card, our new military ID.)  I’m not entirely sure what the DNA smear was for, and then they took a second vial for I don’t know what. One guy passed out and banged his head off the floor…so that was bad.

After medical we went over to get our picture taken and match our fingerprints with our preexisting military ID card. This took about a whole two minutes per person. We’ll receive our sweet CAC cards in like 5 days. (Right now it just says I’m an Airman (E-1.)  After that I was done for the day, so I went exploring a little more into Montgomery. At first it’s confusing, especially due to the tons of construction, but I know my way around a decent bit now. I made a trip to the closest game-stop/Wal-mart/everything else it seems…So I now know where a LOT of businesses are. I also went downtown, and I must say it’s a pretty cool looking downtown. For those of you coming down here, and want to know where businesses  are…get on I-85 and take exit 3, then turn left.

A couple things have happened to make me kind of “down” or stressed out. The first is that the internet completely sucks here…so no online video games, no netflix, no HULU, nothing really…It’s quite depressing. The TVs in the rooms also suck, so I wish I still had my TV, or maybe I’ll just go buy a flat screen. Also, I seem to know no one here (Besides Keith and he’s about to leave) while so many people know people from their field training, their detachment, their job, or their school. I’ve met a few people, but I’ve spent most of my time getting stuff organized, unpacked, or driving around and figuring out my bearings.

Lastly…my uniforms. When we were told Thursday night that we needed Three sets of ABUs, and our service jacket with the Braid on it…I was freaking out. On Friday I rushed and bought a second set of ABUs (I’m only going to have two sets and so will most other pilot selectees/rated career fields) I would recommend only two sets to anyone that’s going into a career field where they will wear a flight suit mostly…As a pilot at IFS and UPT, a Navigator, an ABM…you will not be wearing the Air Battle Uniform…you’re pretty much only going to be wearing it here at ASBC. They recommend three sets because when you are out at Blue Thunder doing all sorts of “expeditionary” stuff you’ll be sweating and getting dirty…There’s no way to wash them when you’re out there from Monday to Friday. I’m going to take plenty of febreeze and it will be just like Field Training! Better than wasting 100 bucks or so on a uniform I’ll wear maybe 6 times total. The big stressful thing about the uniforms was the fact that I needed a name tape MADE and then I needed that and the ranks sewn on by Monday. This was Friday…I also needed the braid sewn on for Monday. I went bought all the stuff on Friday, took it right over to the alteration place and they told me their would be no way to do it by then and it’d be 4-5 days…That means it would be done next Friday, after Blue Thunder. I had them go ahead and put me in for a name tape and they said that alone would only be done by Monday. I called another alteration place…same deal. I then took all of my uniforms that needed altered (an ABU blouse for the ranks and tapes, and my service dress for the braid) back to the on base alteration place and pleaded with them…Two of the ladies were pretty pissed, they kept telling me there would be no way on earth that this would be done until the end of next week, it was just too much to do and they were extremely backed up. The start of Maxwell 1 field training, a new ASBC class full of people in the same position I was in…among tons of other officers and enlisted getting stuff sewn on…They were booked. The lady at the register then wrote on my paper “Before 3 pm May 22nd” she said “Come back tomorrow and check on them since you need them for Monday.” I didn’t know exactly what that may have meant, especially because I think she just runs the cash register.

I went back in today before 3pm and everything was done. I couldn’t believe it. I walked to the register and the lady that came up was on of the two that told me “no way on earth” yesterday…Needless to say she wasn’t thrilled at all to see me.

Nice Lady- “Oh no, you again…Hun I told you yesterday it’s not going to be done for awhile, you’re just going to have to wait.”
Me- “I Know and I completely understand, and I know you’re probably getting fed up with me, I know I would be if I was in your position
Me- “I’m only back here because the lady at the register yesterday marked on my receipt and told me to come back before 3pm tomorrow…so here I am.”
Nice Lady- “Well alright, I’ll check for ya. I know your name tapes ARE done because I did them myself yesterday, so we’ll see.”
Nice Lady- (After checking and coming back) “Holy cow…Somebody back here loves you. (and then she laid on the counter all of my altered and FINISHED uniforms)…
Nice Lady- “I don’t know how on earth they possibly got done, I don’t understand it. You must have done something right…well here you go.”
I thanked her about 1000 times….

So I definitely think someone up in heaven helped me out there quite a bit…I know it’s something kind of small to be so happy and amazed at…But I was looking at going to blue thunder with one set of ABUs, and not even having a service jacket to take pictures in (when we were told we HAD  to have.) So That’s a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. MY recommendation to anyone just commissioning…Get everything ordered before hand, \ or go to a base nearby and buy everything in advance…get it all sewn on IN ADVANCE, before you come here. That way when you start the whole process you uniforms are good to go. Also get some “high gloss low quarters” because I barely see anyone with the self shined shoes (Like These)

Other than all of that, I’ve gone to the BX and Commissary and bought some food. I saw a great show on TV about all financial stuff…the guy’s name is Clark Howard (Clarkhoward.com) It was definitely a show worth catching or a site worth visiting for anything dealing with finances from investments, buying/renting houses, scams, etc….

Until next time…God Speed! LT, out!

(The title is a shout out to all those nasty storms Terre Haute has been having, and it parallels to classes about to start here, and thus me actually being somewhat busy.)

The Frist Drive

I set out on my first destination today. Leaving was by far the hardest part. I’ve been away from home a couple times like trips or field training…but this is a bit different. This time I know I will not be coming back unless I’m on leave. The next time I will probably be home is Christmas. The next time I may  see my family and friends is Christmas…that’s kind of hard to take in right now. I hope I see some of them before then.

It’s one thing to think of the coming day when you will part your loved ones and your close knit of people…it’s an entirely different story when that day rolls around. Today is my first day of “farewells” and “see you later” days, with many more of these heart wrenching moments to come. Deployments, transfers, the end of my leave, etc…I guess I better get used to it…but I don’t think, regardless of how many times I actually have to part with those I love and treasure the company of, that it will get any easier. It’s just something i have to deal with, and those that are in my life (and any member of the military and their loved ones) have to deal with. I’m certainly not the only one going through this experience, or these emotions, but it’s the first time that I’ve actually had to deal with them myself to such a degree. You just don’t really realize what you have with those people until you’re gone, until it’s not there to have….that’s when you really realize how much it means to you. “Distance makes the heart grow fonder.” I definitely think that’s true and I’ve been gone for twelve hours. Even if it’s only twelve hours I know that it’s going to be several months in reality…so that’s why it really sucks.

I cannot keep thinking about that all the time though, I need to start focusing on the tasks at hand (even though I don’t have any currently, but in a couple days I will.) I inprocess tomorrow, and start class on the 24th. I just want everyone to remember though that what I detail or share on this blog, do not reflect the Air Force or anything related with the Air Force. I’m merely talking about my experiences and things I learn/feel.

Buy anyways! I started off in Terre Haute, Indiana and as of this post I’m in Montgomery, AL at Maxwell Air Force Base.
Trip from 6128 W Empire Dr, West Terre Haute, IN 47885-8971 to Maxwell Air Force Base, 10 N Pine St, Maxwell Afb, AL 36112.
There’s the entire trip right there…took about nine hours with traffic and everything.

I saw three accidents (they didn’t happen right in front of me but I happened by them when emergency crews were still responding.) I came to two complete stops on separate areas of I-65….that was fun. I really think that Alabama and I-65 is just one huge interstate full of road construction and speed zones. Then when I finally got to Montgomery and I go to turn off on my exit to Maxwell Air Force Base…the exit is closed…so I took like a thirty minute detour…and get back to the gate I was supposed to take (according to my phone)…and it was also closed. Needless to say I wandered around for about an hour before I finally found the gate that was opened…Meanwhile I was getting extremely frustrated and Mom was really worried about me. But I made it…Safe and sound after about nine hours of driving. I’m all checked into my room and everything, and even have somewhat decent internet. (Though the cell phone reception sucks inside the dorms.)

Expect more updates relatively soon. I miss you all. Thanks for reading.

Categories: The Journey

The first few steps on a journey I’ve been waiting my whole life for.

This is the very start…the start of my journey into the REAL Air Force (not ROTC.) This is where I will chronicle my journey as an officer, whether it be training, random occurrences, or just my daily life. This will help me stay better connected to family and friends back home, and maybe even help someone that comes after me in the Air Force in the years to come. Who knows what’s next, because I certainly don’t. I’m excited, and nervous. I’m hopeful, and sad. These are the first steps on a road in which I have no idea what the future may bring. I’m leaving everything that I know, and practically everyone that I know to chase my dreams. My dream to be an Air Force Officer and fly for the World’s greatest Air Force. So this is it. I leave May 18th for Maxwell AFB, AL.

At Maxwell I’ll be doing Six Weeks of ASBC (Air Space Basic Course)

After Maxwell I go to IFS (Initial Flight Screening)  at Pueblo, Colorado.

After Pueblo I’ll be going to my actual training base at Del Rio, Texas which is Laughlin AFB. I’ll be there by October 2010 and remain there for over a year.

So it’s time to start packing and await my departure. It’s time to start doing what I’ve always wanted to do. What I’ve always dreamed of doing, and what I was meant to do.

Categories: The Journey