Archive for July, 2010

Casual Status is Exactly That, Casual

Since the last post I’ve now been through two more weeks of casual status. I’m grouping two weeks together in this post because honestly not too much really happened. I leave for IFS come next Saturday, so once I get there I’ll have a little bit more to blog about. I’ll be pretty busy, but I’ll try to get an hour or so on the weekends to drop a note here. But now lets talk about the past two weeks.


And that’s about it.

Ok, I’m kidding. I started my gate guard shifts which actually aren’t too bad. This generally entails just checking IDs as people come in and such, but it gives us some time to chat to some of the enlisted security forces people. I have to say that being able to talk to them one on one has been pretty cool. I’ve also had some various odd jobs, like picking up trash, directing traffic. I’ve gotten the drug reduction duty twice…where we go and “supervise” to make sure people aren’t cheating or lying on drug tests. So far I’m two for two in not actually having to “supervise” as it’s not been a testing day. One guy apparently has gone four times to work it, and each day has been a testing day. No luck for that guy!

Other than that I’ve been running around and finishing up in-processing stuff and getting everything done to go to IFS. I finally have my military email in the global, the first thing I did was get the discount for my cell phone bill with it…lol. I finally have a place to live come this next week. I’ll move in Tuesday/Weds/Thursday…one of those days. It’ll be good to get all my stuff in there before I leave for Colorado. I’ll be living in the dorms on base, so should be convenient for getting to class. I didn’t get the option to live off of base, so I guess the dorms will definitely have to do. I’m in the “new” dorms, they were built in 2006, and apparently that makes me “lucky” according to the housing guy. I also have my address down here now, so if you would like, that send me a message on facebook, shoot me a text, or leave me something on here and I’ll give it to you. I don’t want to just post it on here though.

My Mom and Step-dad made it over here last weekend. They came down to visit some other family and then came over to see me. We just relaxed for the most, went out to eat, and Martin helped me make my car shine so much you can see it from space. As far as places to eat, there are a couple awesome places to go. Chili’s is the local favorite, and my personal favorite is a place called TB’s (Todd and Bullet’s). They have this amazing entree called Corona Shrimp with stuffed shrimp (cheese and jalapenos) and then the shrimp is wrapped in bacon. Hunter was also here for majority of their stay and he was able to meet us for Dinner one day and Lunch another. Mom and Martin were asking him a ton of questions about everything, so I got a chance to see what I was like when I first got here. Of course once Alex and Zach get here I’ll be giving them all the info, much like Hunter did with me. It was awesome being able to see them for those couple days, and I hope to get more visitors in the future. They’ll be coming back after I get back  from IFS to bring down some of my stuff, so looking forward to that.  Dad and Barb were talking of coming down around Christmas time, but I’ll be back on leave for both thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m trying to decide if and when I should take a week or so in October or September before my UPT class starts also.

Hunter also left the same time that my parents did. That made this last week pretty boring for me. Before he left we had been hanging out or going out to eat almost every night for the past two weeks. He went off to SERE (Survival school) and by the time he’s back from it I’ll be off in Colorado. By the time I get back from IFS, he’ll be gone to his next base. So that’s definitely a bummer, but it was great being able to even get those two weeks in. He’s been one of my best friends that I’ve met from college, and it sucks we weren’t here at the same time longer.

Once I get back from IFS I can get my internet going. Go get a new TV and hooked up with some cable and a DVR…get my netflix hooked up on the xbox…Once all that happens then I’ll be in technology heaven. I’ve missed xbox live and netflix the past couple months, never realized how nice it was to have that readily available. Of course my dad made the comment tonight when I talked to him on the phone. Imagine what it was like 25+ years ago when we didn’t have any of this stuff. Of course then I’d probably be reading all the time, which I’ve actually done quite a bit of lately.

Yeah I know…reading! I bought The Pacific (the book) which is to accompany the miniseries. Band of Brothers the book, was more so what the mini series was based on, not an accompanying book. The Pacific (the book) instead covers several people that the miniseries does not. Overall it’s a pretty good read, but I’ve really just started it. Hugh Ambrose definitely continues on the family legacy of a great historical writer, his dad would be proud. Stephen E. Ambrose is/was my favorite writer.  The other book I picked up is I am the Messenger. My friend Jenn recommended it to me and damn it was a great book. I read like the first 20 pages, set it down for about two weeks, and then this last week I picked it back up and knocked it out in like two days. I literally couldn’t put it down. Once I get back from IFS I’ll probably go pick up some more Markus Zusak books. I plan on reading more than just playing video games to pass my time.

All in all Air Force life thus far isn’t bad. I’m pretty bored (but that’s a good problem to have since I won’t have that luxury once UPT starts.) This week I’ll be studying Boldface and emergency procedures like crazy…. I’m getting paid, and meeting some pretty cool people.

On a side note to those people coming here for training…The Fitness Center here is awesome. I’ve started swimming every week, and man did it kick my butt the first time. Definitely a great alternative workout to always running. Maybe I’ll start doing weights again too. The bummer is I don’t think the complex at IFS has a pool.

We’re also about to get a ton of people awaiting pilot training. The class after me at ASBC should be here tomorrow or Tuesday. The Air Force Academy has 200 some people arriving here in the next week and a half. Another reason I’m happy I already have a place to live…being on that waiting list would be terrible, or even trying to find something in town if you were given the option…would be impossible. When I get back they probably will have a hard time finding me a casual job to do for the two months before pilot training starts. More reason to take a week of leave or so I guess.

Alex and Zach, you two need to get here pronto to keep me entertained. Those Puma’s better watch out for Zach though, that kid’s got moxie.I can just see it…we’ll be the Tres Terrors or something (mainly Zach being the terror)

Thanks for reading, and as always feel free to leave comments or drop me a question or something.

Categories: Casual Status

The Start of Casual Status: In-processing

Ah the beginning of the beginning of pilot training. Well, pilot training won’t take place for awhile since my class start date isn’t supposed to be until October. In the meantime, while we wait for our class start date, we are on “casual status.” Casual status starts off with in-processing, which in-processing happens at any base you ever go to. When you leave a base you’ll also “out-process” (go figure right?) I’m not going to break it down little by little in painstaking detail so no worries there. Basically what you do during the in-processing part is you go around to all the various places on base and get checked in…These include medical/dental, finance, housing, personnel, etc. The one I was focused on was finance of course, as I’m running pretty low on funds due to ASBC. We were supposed to receive a “TDY” advance at ASBC to offset the cost of the lodging and food but it never showed up for me…Other people did get it though. So once that hits I’ll be in good shape and can start investing and buying things I’ve been waiting to get (Like a NEW TV…oh yeah.)In-processing with a group of 40+ people does slow this whole process down when you compare it to a friend of mine who is the only person in-processing at his job.

The other part of casual status, besides the in-processing part (because you’re supposed to have that done after a month or so) are various casual status jobs. These jobs range from things like secretary work, gate guard duty, or even DDR (I don’t know the acronym but you’re the guy/girl that makes sure people do the drug tests correctly when they pee in the cup.) Not the most glorious job in the world…but we’re getting paid right? The Air Force is pretty genius for the whole Casual job concept, even if all of us casual LT’s get restless. It allows us to get settled in over the course of several weeks instead of trying to do it all at once and then immediately job into pilot training. A casual job also allows the base to fill in vacancies and use us as an augmentation group to help the base out where it needs manning. A great example of this are the gate guards. The security forces here have a good number of people deployed so they augment us to help fill the role, thus alleviating some stress put on these people. Of course we aren’t security forces or any of these other roles that people may need us to fill in, so no worries, we aren’t doing anything all to serious.

My casual status job will be doing the gate guard stuff, so it should be pretty interesting. Got some training on it today and I’ll be good to go for next week.

Right now I’ve just been sitting back and relaxing when I have the time. I’m usually running around trying to turn in all my in-processing paperwork or going to mandatory formations like briefings and stuff. Besides that I’ve been playing some WoW and hanging out with Hunter before he takes off to his next base. Right now I’m just playing the casual status waiting game and first up for me will be IFS on 3 August. I really need to  start (not )stop hammering away at the bold face, but it’s coming to me pretty easily. Having a whole year of ground school and some flight time under my belt definitely helps, but so do a bunch of other people. I’m also waiting on a place to live, as I’m still in the Inn here. After 40 some days at ASBC and another 10+ already here…I’m ready to have a place I can call home and I can start to unpack and get situated in for the next year and a half or so.

I’m hoping that people don’t find all of this too long and in-depth and boring…So hopefully this is proving useful to some people, if at the very least just a means to keep updated with me. I’ve read some other blogs of similar LTs doing what I’m doing and there’s are relatively shorter…lol.

But yeah, this place is getting better after every passing day. You meet more people, you get to know the area more…and right now I’ve got my WoW to pacify me…I just really want a place of my own.

Ops limits and emergency procedures will be my life the next couple of weeks before IFS, and there probably wont be much to talk about…but I’ll try to update a little bit.

Thanks for reading!

After ASBC enroute to Laughlin

I’ll post another post this weekend about the happenings of my first week here at Laughlin, but it wont be too long…It’s pretty damn slow.

But after ASBC on Thursday (1 July) I packed up and spent some time with the flight for that last bit before I decided to leave. Most of the flight were sticking around an extra week for “ECAC” and I really don’t know what it stands for. It’s about 4-5 days of survival training for Officers that aren’t going into direct combat career fields or high risk career fields. Since I’m a pilot student, I don’t do ECAC…I have to do an extended survival training up in Washington after I finish pilot training. My friend Hunter is done here at Laughlin, and about to head to this survival school (SERE is the name of the training.)

After that I headed off to Laughlin AFB, with a quick stop down in Florida for a quick mini vacation and to see a friend. The mini vacation was definitely needed…got some quick beach time in even, though the water was closed due to the Hurricane/Oil…So that was a bummer. But it was a nice quick getaway before I headed to Laughlin on Saturday. It was definitely worth the extra two hours down there to see someone I haven’t seen in a couple years and to relax for a quick bit.

Once Saturday rolled around I made the 16.5 hour journey to Del Rio, Texas (Laughlin Air Force Base.) I didn’t plan on doing it all in one go..but I ended up getting to San Antonio at about 1am and attempted to find several hotels…None of the hotels I stopped at had any vacancies. I decided to keep going towards Del Rio (about 2.5-3 hours) and try to find hotels along the way. I stopped at a total of 12 hotels before I said screw it and drove the rest of the way. That 2-3 hour drive felt like an eternity…most everyone was asleep at this point, but one or two people were occasionally texting me to make sure I was still alive…the music kept me awake and I made it to Laughlin AFB at 4am. Below is a map of where I am now…yep right on the Mexico Border!

My friend Hunter is here, so that’s made being here a little better. Del Rio really isn’t all that grand…the Walmart is pretty cool? I guess that’s one plus. And once I get into my job more and start flying I’ll be less bored and have less time to just sit here and do nothing…I’m really just looking forward to flying.

I think I also get to see my mom and step-dad like the July 15th…so that will be awesome. If anyone wants to come visit me for whatever reason, I wont be opposed! =).

My dates as of right now are …Introductory Flight Screening on August 3rd, and undergraduate pilot training on October 4th…So I’ve got quite a bit of time of “casual status.”

I’ll post more about all that in the next one though. Till next time!

Categories: The Journey, This and That

Week 6 and Graduation

Week Six was last week, the final week of my time at ASBC.

Week Six is mainly Blue Thunder all over again (at a different location called “Vigilant Warrior”) but this time around you’re mainly applying what you’ve learned over the past several weeks. Some ASBC classes do Blue  Thunder on week 1 and Vigilant Warrior (VW) on Week 6, and other classes do Blue Thunder on Week five and VW on week six. I’m not sure which I’d prefer really.

Day 1 VW: We left at about 0800 in the morning on that Monday. The buses took us somewhere near Wetumpka I believe, as the route looked familiar since it was the same one we took to go kayaking. The first thing we did was find our tents/unpack a little/ and get everything set up. We then did the Assault Course (oh joy…) It’s like Field Training, but a longer distance and you do them together as a flight. With almost black flag conditions, this was absolute hell. The plus side is we didn’t have to wear our battle rattle, but it was still way too hot. About halfway through I was getting really dizzy and lightheaded due to not having eaten that much the prior 24 hours. Definitely wasn’t a good idea, but what can you do when you just don’t feel like eating. Later on we rested and recovered from the Assault course (definitely needed it) and we did the IED lane. This was kind of spooky shit as we saw all the different IED’s in a close up fashion and how they all worked. We then walked the “lane” where IED’s were placed along it so we could see the real life application of what we were up against. This was definitely a learning experience.

Day 2: Day 2 we spent out in the field doing Base Defense and Land Navigation. My chalk of 6 flights started off with the Base Defense portion. I was a radio man in one of the 8 Defensive Fighting Positions (DFPs) and went to assist my DFP in building our fortification. We started moving sandbags and there were a couple of huge spiders, and a fricken 4 foot long snake. This definitely made me NOT want to get inside this bunker like structure knowing those things were just in there. Oh what fun! I really cant stand spiders at all. Needless to say I dealt with it, and we manned the DFP for 3 hours while we were occasionally attacked (with paintballs) It was a hot three hours, and we didn’t kill anyone but we also weren’t killed either.

Land navigation was a bit interesting. In the morning the chalk that did land navigation had to do land nav as well as fight enemy opposition along the way. Due to the black flag conditions (black flag=fricken hottttt) we didn’t have any of our paintball gear on or battle rattle…so that made it a little cooler. Navigating through the thick woods of Alabama wasn’t exactly a vacation though, but we did it.

Day 3: This was mainly site cleanup and our “capstone.” I had a lot of fun for the capstone event actually. The two squadrons square off against each other for the capstone in which the 12 flights from the gryphons and the 12 flights from the blackhawks each man a base and defend it. My flight’s job for the capstone was to be one of the three mission teams. Occasionally a mission would come down from our headquarters saying we needed to go do this or that. If we completed the mission we’d get points, and whichever squadron (Gryphons or Blackhawks) had the most at the end won. Our first mission was to scout the Blackhawk base and engage a few defenses to test their strength. I was pointman, and once we eventually made our way to their base we decided that myself and another guy would pop off a couple shots to engage them and thus test their defenses. This didn’t work out too well in my favor as they were deploying a mission team (12-14 people) with the same exact mission we had. I was right next to the road in pretty decent concealment and the guy with me stepped on a branch and snapped it. All 12-14 of them wheeled around and faced the TWO of us. I started laying down the paint and took the first two closest to me down, and turned to engage the rest when I got hit by about 8 paintballs. Three broke, one in the face, and one in each arm. The other guy ran for it back to our flight. After still being fired upon for a good minute they finally figured our I was indeed dead when a member of their mission team came and used me as cover. I got up and went to the road to walk back. When I did I turned around and faced their ECP to get some intel and there sits about 50 people with paintball guns…all pointed at me. THAT was fun.

After sitting in the medical tent for 10 minutes in the Air Conditioning…I was “respawned” back to my flight. About 45 minutes left in the capstone we went with the other two mission teams to all out engage the enemy base. We took the middle area and started making our way. My flight decided to take a left route while I was at point in the middle and one of our guys was still far right. I decided to stick with him and make sure he wasn’t separated, and at the same time secure the flights right most flank. We ran into three separate patrols of three people each (just “wild weasel” and I.) I’d hide behind some good cover and be pretty well concealed while he would engage and draw their attention/fire. They’d start to move up to engage and I’d line them up and take them all down. We did this for awhile until we started to run into a rather large force of blackhawks coming our way, and we also linked up with the surviving portion of our flight. At this time exercise was over =(. We found out that we won (the Gryphons) because we were able to retrieve the “black box” which was the main objective of the day.

The rest of the day we just cleaned up the base and waited on the buses to go back to Maxwell.

Graduation Day!: We had our last squadron commander’s call, which we found out that we were last out of all the flights for the assault course. The SQ/CC said these are the “final results” so everyone was giving us shit because it seemed like we were the last flight overall in the gryphon’s…Which we found out later wasn’t so, that was only for the assault course. We also did our final feedback with our flight commanders. My Flight Commander for the most part confirmed what I already knew about my leadership style/who I am in settings like these. I come out of the gate reserved and a little “shy/quiet” but I build up relationships with the people around me and gradually assert myself over time when the opportunity arises. The weakness in this is in settings like ASBC or field training, where we are all working together but competing at the same time…Is I don’t like to step on other people’s toes, and instead want to help them to succeed. If the rest of the flight are all speaking up and out-loud constantly, I’m not going to add another voice to that mess. I wait until my input is needed, or the input I have is needed. I’m not saying people that speak up all the time are bad, in no way at all. (JB I’m talking about you, you don’t talk too much, I promise…you’ll be a damn good officer.) Those people do what I can’t and that’s get the ball rolling early on, but to succeed you also need me there to make sure you have all the help you can get. It’s a nice mix I think, because too many of either kind will just pose problems. I also need the out-loud leaders to help me become more assertive, so we help each other. My flight commander said “I’m not going to tell you to speak up more, or be more forward, because that’s not who you are…you just need to put yourself in a role where you’ll have to be in that leadership position earlier that way everyone can see what you can do.” The problem at Field Training was I really didn’t find that niche or that role I could really hit a home run with until the very end…While other people, like JB, stood up early and often and showed that they knew what they were doing and we could follow them. I like to wait…wait for the chaos to start to develop in a given instance, when it’s most stressful…kick it in the balls and show it who’s boss. I did it at Field Training, I did it at ASBC. Both times I stepped up and really did well were during two exercises that were pretty chaotic. So moving forward into my career, I need to find that chaos earlier and get out of my comfort zone to make sure I’m seen as the leader earlier on. So it was useful feedback, and it’s nice knowing I have what it takes to be a good leader. Not really sure why I always want the chaotic stressful situations though…

After feedback we had graduation. Graduation was about an hour long with a couple of the senior leadership of the school talking to us and giving us some nuggets of wisdom to take away from it all. After that we went to flight room, got our diplomas…said our farewells. I made a lot of friends here at ASBC, and I think a couple will carry on. I certainly hope so.

It was a bummer to  finish and the flight be no more, but I was ready to move onto my next step. (and getting out of Maxwell wasn’t so bad…but Laughlin it just a hell of a lot smaller and going to be just as hot.)

Categories: ASBC, Training Tags: ,