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The End of Act One

I am officially no longer in the Air Force. As of December 27th I have been honorably discharged from the Air Force. I was “in” for a total of 7 months and 9 days…that’s pretty surreal. I was able to live my lifelong dream since age seven for a whole 7 months and 9 days. Nothing about my active duty career was awe-inspiring to me, nothing really ground breaking or changing of the world. I did a month of flight school (it sucked) I did six weeks at Air Space Basic Course (probably the highlight of the entire 7 month career) and I worked a gate checking IDs for four months. There’s nothing glorious to any of that, I didn’t change the world, I didn’t change anyone’s life. It was all extremely lackluster. Given all the potential I thought I could have in the Air Force, all the big things I thought I could do, all the stuff I could influence…and here I am no longer a member of the military. It’s hard to comprehend, hard to deal with, and most of all it sucks. But it’s a new chapter in my life, or as I like to call it the end of “act one.” I learned tons from all my training programs and lessons from the Air Force and ROTC. I’ve met some awesome people, had some great times, and saw quite a few places.  Most of all the Air Force and ROTC has made me who I am today, and without all of that I would be a totally different person. It sucks I couldn’t have a twenty year career or something in the Air Force, but God and life have a different path for me.

So what happens next? That’s what most people ask me…Well my plan A is joining the FBI either as an Intel Analyst or Special Agent. I’m moving to Lubbock, TX in a matter of like 3 days. My girlfriend currently lives there, so that’s one reason, but I also want to apply to the FBI via the Dallas Field Office given I have a contact there. When applying for a Special Agent position you go through the Field Office you reside in., thus Lubbock works out perfectly. I’ve also been living my life in the past fifteen years (since I’ve wanted to join the Air Force) so concentrated on the future and the end goal of finally being in the Air Force. I’m tired of living life like that, tired of letting the good moments of the present go…I want to live my life in the moment, live each day to the fullest and see what doors open for me as I go along. I’m kind of a new man, with nothing really holding me back, and thus I’m going to take full advantage of it.

Plan B is some other type of Intel agency or government related agency. Most of these require me to probably be in Washington DC. Something like the Secret Service, CIA, DIA, and other agencies.

Plan C is to join the Air Guard. Given my experience with the Air Force this is why it’s the last option. I want to do some type of government service but I’d rather explore the civilian sector first and put my clearances to good use. The Air Guard would also be much easier for me to get into, as I am already an officer, and already have a lot of training. This is also only a part time job, and it’s hard to get a “full time guard slot.” This is more so a backup backup plan…but it’s of course an option.

Regardless of what I end up doing, I know I’ll find out what will make me happy. I didn’t enjoy flying (for work, I still want to go back and get my private) so I took the known risk (which we were told was quite small) that I would not be retained in the Air Force. I’m now living with that decision, and would still do it again if I was in the same position even today. You have to follow your heart if it’s telling you that something isn’t right. This required me to walk away from something I had planned for, for over 15 years. It’s hard to deal with the fact your heart isn’t in something you thought you always wanted to do…but the fact is there is no “lets give this a whirl” until the stage I was in at IFS in which I figured out it wasn’t my path. I’m now moving forward into a new Act of my life.

I have the rest of my life ahead of me and I’m going to ensure I live it to the fullest. This means more trips to places I want to go, more time with those I love…more phone calls to people I need to talk to more. Life is too short, I’m going to grab it by the horns and enjoy the ride. So here is to following your heart, following that voice inside your head when you know something isn’t right. Following your true calling even when it means leaving behind something you always planned on. Because in life, plans change, things change, people change, places change. Life is full of twist and turns and it’s not about the destination, but about the journey. For the first portion of my life I was so focused on my destination, and not on the journey. Now I’m going to enjoy the journey, until I arrive at my destination…whenever that may be. Because we don’t really know when that time of meeting our final destination is, and I don’t want to get there with some regret of something I didn’t do, something I didn’t try. So here is to Act 2 of my life. Let’s enjoy the ride.

Lastly, given this is the end to my Air Force career, it is only fitting that this be my last post in the blog of “airfocelt.” If you still want to keep up with my “journey of life” then head on over to michaelmerlinus.wordpress.com I’ll be updating it on stuff from here on out.

To all my readers, whomever and wherever you are, thank you. Thanks for reading, thanks for taking the time out of your crazy crazy lives to read about what a 23 year old guy is trying to do. It really means a lot. I know a lot more people read this than I ever thought would. I’ve got family reading and staying up to date that I never thought would even touch a computer. I’ve got friends I haven’t spoken to in years using it to stay up to date, and I’ve got people that I knew would always read it. Regardless of who you are, thank you for your support. Thank you for your inspirations, your words of encouragement, and the pats on the back when things didn’t work out how I had planned. But my head is held higher than ever, my sight is set on the horizon…and without such supportive friends and family I couldn’t have been so positive about all of this. I owe you all more than words can express. Thank you.

2d Lt Michael Hart

One door closes, and new doors open

Hello everyone! Here’s a quick update on everything.

Right now I’m working on doing my out-processing in preparation for my Dec 27th separation date (I know awesome date right?!) I should have most of it done come next week. I’ll be off my job starting next week so I can focus on that. Tomorrow morning is actually my last day on gate, which is actually kind of sad. I’ve made some pretty good friends here, and the crazy thing is they are all enlisted airmen I work with at the gate. They are all pretty sad to see me go, and they’ve made the whole casual status here much more enjoyable. I’m glad I got a position like that, I actually wish I could have had 12 hour days with all of them (yeah I know right, I wanted to work longer days so I could work with them longer!)

 

This very well could be the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Everything happens for a reason right?

My family and friends have also rallied behind me to toss out ideas or give support. Mom and Martin working on the Air Guard option. Among other people just giving me positive support. I couldn’t have such a positive attitude or be so optimistic if it weren’t for all of these people. Dad and Barb just being there to talk to, Grandma Shirley talking to me about God’s path for me (which helped as well.) and the rest of my family like Michelle, Grandpa Terry, and Aunt Sue just ensuring I’m doing alright. Thank you everyone. I owe you all many thanks.

Until next time.

The End of Active Duty: The Whole Story

11 November 2010 9 comments

Well, I don’t know where to begin with this entry really. I thought the one about dropping from Pilot Training was difficult, but this takes the cake. I wanted to write it sooner rather than later. The more time I let pass the less emotion I feel.  At this moment it’s been 18 hours since I was notified, so the wound is still quite fresh. I’m writing the entry so I can always remember, so my friends and family can better understand, and so the situation I found myself in with the Air Force doesn’t happen to other people. I’m going to be pretty honest, and I’m not going to sugar coat anything. People need the facts, and not empty promises or maybes. That’s what I got, empty guarantees and “Oh you’ll be fine!”

So here’s the whole story. I may be mentioning stuff from other entries, but here we’ll have it in the entirety. I dropped from Air Force Pilot Training back in August while at Initial Flight Screening. I didn’t enjoy flying, and some might say it’s just because IFS is hard. It is hard, and it’ll be a wake up call, but you either enjoy it, or you don’t. No matter how much it sucks it comes down to either enjoying being in the aircraft, or not. For me, I didn’t enjoy a moment of it. Flying wasn’t for me, and I experienced the same feeling when I was flying on the civilian side. I realized (with some divine guidance from God I believe) that I wasn’t meant to be a pilot, and instead needed to follow my passion…using my political science degree and going into intel. I talked to the Air Force side of things at Initial Flight Screening. I was told (and this is not verbatim) that if I dropped from Pilot training, I would meet a board to retain me or not and a reclassification board. I asked if they had any stats on how things have been looking recently with reclassifications. They didn’t have any numbers for me there, but after asking around back at Laughlin I had heard that 90% of people were being kept. I decided to drop because there isn’t any sense in the world to do something you’re miserable with. I didn’t want to fly for 12 years and hate it, or take the gamble that it would “grow” on me. I’m a dreamer, and I have big goals but I’m also a realist. The whole flying gig might be cool at first, but it’ll get old, and eventually those pilots will be sitting behind a desk too. Thus I was done with IFS on 20 August 2010, and went back to Laughlin.

Once back at Laughlin, the ball got rolling rather quickly for me to put my package together for reclass/retention. I wrote a one page memo explaining my situation. The memo detailed why I no longer wanted to be a pilot, that I wanted to go into intel, and why I was qualified to do so. On top of that I filled out a new “dream sheet” which had my top five job preferences. I also met with the Squadron Commander who wrote a recommendation on what to do with me. I don’t know what it said, but he has to deal with a ton of these cases a month…I am by no means a special case, or a rarity in this realm of things. He didn’t really know me, and he’s a busy man, so I’ve heard that we all get averages, which would make sense and seem only fair. Some people during the reclassification process have a better chance than others though. You may work for a Col, or a commander of some sort, and they can drop a good word for you and make things happen. It’s how the world works, it’s networking at it’s finest, even if I disagree with that. We all should be on an equal footing, but since we aren’t I’ll play the network card when I go to get a guard slot. I have no hard feelings towards anyone here at Laughlin though, they’ve all been great officers, and quite helpful. I guess I should have just worked in some office than being a gate guard, but that’s what I was assigned. I was dealt that hand, so I was going to play it.

The package went up and we waited, and waited, and waited. Two boards before mine, seven people from Laughlin met the board. All seven were retained. Five of the seven were classified as logistics officers, in which none of them had it as their top five, but at least they got to stay. One was classified as a scientist, and I think (don’t quote me on this) that the seventh was engineer. The board before mine I don’t know the specifics on jobs, but everyone was retained. Then came my board. My board I believe was the last board of the fiscal year. We have no real control when we meet the board and we don’t…we can’t try to push our package back, or push it forward, though I’ve seen odd things happen with some people. One guy submitted his package before I did, and was supposed to be in my board, but happened to be “pushed back” into the board after mine…and we’ll talk about it soon. My board called “009” had a total of 19 people in the Air Force. Four were from Vance AFB, 7 from Laughlin. I don’t know the numbers on Columbus AFB or the Naval Air Stations. Vance had 4 of the 19 people meeting the board…all four were separated. When I say separated I mean they were asked to leave the air force, and discharged within 30 days. This was last Tuesday when they found out 2 Nov 10. We kept hearing rumors and what not and I was unsure what to believe, but then we got some info. Only two people were retained out of the entire board of 19, both from Laughlin. Today we finally had our meetings with the Wing CC. My good friend Brandon and I both had meetings, along with 3 other individuals. Two people weren’t on the list for the meetings, and thus we knew most likely that these were the two that were being retained. Sure enough we were right. One was classified to weather, and the other to a Navigator slot. The five of us with meetings were all notified that we would be honorably discharged in 30 days and separated from the Air Force. That means I get to find another job. If you’re keeping up with the math, 17 people of the 19 people meeting my board were asked to leave the Air Force….never before has their been a board where so many people were not retained. We weren’t told why, it could be the end of the fiscal year and lack of slots, but all of us had clean records…I don’t even have a parking or speeding ticket to my name. It’s not a lack of anything, besides the fact I made the conscious decision to drop out of initial skills training (for me being pilot training) to pursue an avenue I thought I would enjoy and do better at. I was doing the Air Force a favor, and doing it at IFS instead of during UPT. We’re told if we do it during UPT that you’d definitely be done, and separated, so I made mine early. It turns out this didn’t matter at all. There are various situations that bring you to reclassification. It could be you drop out of IFS or UPT…Dropping at IFS is supposed to make it better than dropping at UPT. You can also be medically disqualified. The last is failing out (washing out) at either IFS or UPT. We’re told that fails at IFS sometimes can track to other rated career fields (Remotely Piloted Vehicles, Air Battle Manager, or Navigator.) This is true since one of the two retained went to navigator. UPT fails are usually not allowed such luxuries. I know for certain that myself and Brandon were IFS Drop on requests. Another guy not retained was a UPT fail. A fourth guy was an IFS fail. Across the board we were all asked to leave and will be discharged. To also give everyone some idea of how new this type of trend is…My flight commander in graduation flight has been here since April (longer than I was on active duty) and he never dealt with anyone being separated. Today he dealt with four.

Now many people are wondering why this is happening, and how this could happen to me. Well a lot of it is bad timing, I happened to be in a board that they didn’t have many slots for reclasses…end of the fiscal year most likely. The Air Force is seeking to eliminate far more people dropping or failing from initial skills training than ever before. What that means is your assigned career field is your career field, if you want to switch you run a high risk of being in a position such as my own. Either stick it out, or take the gamble like I did. Of course I’m telling you, your chances aren’t too promising at the moment, and I dropped with the impression and was told by many officers I’d almost be guaranteed a reclass since I didn’t have a negative record. False! False! False! During this time in the Air Force they are riffing people. That means Reduction in Force. The Air Force is only allowed 300,000 people and there is no telling how many people are leaving the air force on a yearly basis. Many people are sticking in longer than anticipated because of the down economy. At the same time the Air Force is continuously training new people to come in…ROTC, Basic, Academy…all have people graduating at a regular rate and joining the Air Force. Combine that with a lack of people leaving = an Air Force that’s over cap and thus over budget, cuts have to be made, and people have to be cut. The focused areas are people not completing initial skills training (like myself.) or people with negative records or criminal charges. Used to be a DUI wouldn’t seal your fate, now getting a public intoxication just might. The Air Force is looking to get rid of people, so keep your head high, nose clean, and stay in your training.

Now the future isn’t as bleak as one may think. The board after mine, had 9 people go up from Laughlin, and six of them were retained. I wish I could have met that board, but nothing I can do about it. It’s luck, and timing. The next board may cut over half of people…or worse, you just don’t know. Also, the Air Force may be in a situation in a year or more where they cut too many people, or too many people left…and thus they need people. People with an honorable discharge like myself, can still sign back up.

Another thing that the Air Force is doing is making people pay back tuition assistance. My friend Brandon is in a position where he accepted an ROTC scholarship (so did I) and the Air Force helped pay for his tuition. Now that they’ve separated him, they want to get that money back…So they notified him that he also must pay back all of that tuition money. The same thing can happen to people from the Academy, and it seems to be a case by case basis. The UPT fail from Laughlin was an academy grad…it said he owed money but it would be sent up the chain to be recommended he not have to pay it back…He’s waiting to be contacted by AFPC (Air Force Personnel Center) to see if he pays it back or not. My situation is basically the best you can be in. I have nothing I owe the Air Force. I took a scholarship but never used a dime to pay for tuition. I used  the stipend and book money only. My tuition was paid for by the good ole state of Indiana, who I hope to be serving in a matter of months via the Air National Guard. So if you’re in ROTC now and reading this…use other scholarships first.

Now some of you have asked me, or may be wondering, what am I going to do now?  Back home in TH is an intelligence Wing, for the Indiana Air Guard. Intel just so happens to be the career field I wanted to go into in the Air Force! I’m now going to do the rest of my 30 days and then go back home and work on trying to get into the Air Guard. Of course this would be as a traditional guardsman, which means one weekend a month type deal…but I’m going to apply for a full time spot whenever one may be available. I don’t really know how I can pass this opportunity up. It’s back home, it’s what I want to do, and I know plenty of people out at the guard base. I already have the necessary clearances, I’m already an officer…I just need the Intel schooling. Once I get back I’ll be going out there and meeting with a couple of the officers to see what I can do in the mean time. The officer board doesn’t meet until Spring when they select their new officers. I have a pretty good shot (but we know what guarantees get you so I’m not going to bank on it until it’s a done deal.) In the meantime I need to find something to pass the time and pay the bills. But I’m quite optimistic.

I just want to finish off with…I am pissed off, I am upset, and I am disappointed I couldn’t stay active duty. I enjoyed almost every minute of active duty. All the people I’ve met have been awesome. The Airmen I worked with were the best part of being in the military, and they were enlisted! I don’t blame anyone at Laughlin, or even the Air Force as a whole. They have a manning requirement and due to the economy people aren’t leaving as projected. They did what they had to do. I took a chance (more of a chance than I realized though) to do something I would enjoy far more than flying, and this is the end result. I don’t regret it, and I’d take the chance again even if it meant the same result as this. You have to follow your heart. You also cannot be constantly scared of losing your job, living with that fear will inhibit you to be the best officer you can be. I wasn’t going to stay in something I didn’t enjoy when I knew I could do better, be happier, and kick more ass elsewhere. All it means is I have to serve my country in a different capacity, but I’m still going to be in the military come hell or a high water. I was born to serve, and this may be a little stumble, but I’ll pick myself up and be a better officer because of this experience. The only thing I wish was that people in my situation or contemplating the same thing that I did, knew the numbers of retention and the chances of reclassifying. So that’s what I’m doing, giving people the information to make an informed decision. Just remember, don’t do something you hate just because you’re scared of losing your job, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Take a chance, and do what you love. Only you can make that decision though, choose your path, and find what makes you happy. It’ll turn out, I know it will. It’s your life, grab it by the horns and throw caution to the wind. Live with no regrets.

“When it comes to a point you’re scared of losing your job on a regular basis, you’re in the wrong place. You need to find what makes you happy, and that’s not living in fear.” -Rob, contractor at Laughlin

This wont be my last post =). I’m not finished in the military quite yet.

Home is where the Hart is =)

17 October 2010 1 comment

I haven’t updated because well, there honestly hasn’t really been anything worth updating about (save a couple trips which is what I’ll mostly be talking about in this post.) Casual status is still very much casual, but I have been getting assigned more additional jobs.

A quick side note for those finding this blog for info about ASBC and the like…my posts about my time there is accurate, but if you compare it to what people are now experiencing you’ll probably get a bit different info. They’ve taken out the week at blue thunder (and not sure when they’ll give you the training we learned there during ASBC now.) They’ve also changed the first briefing around, but I believe the doctrine briefing is still the same. I’ve got some friends there so maybe I’ll update about it when I talk to them. But now back to a day in the life of!

So let’s see, September 7th was the last update, what has happened since then… I went on a weekend getaway to San Antonio in September. On October 6th to October 13th I was back in Indiana also for eight days of very much needed leave. Other than that I’ve mostly just been at Laughlin.

The highlight of my past couple months was definitely going back to Indiana. I hadn’t been home in five or so months (since may,) and hadn’t seen most of my family and friends in that same length of time. I know it may not seem like a long time, but I’ve never really been away from home save like a month at a time. I attempted to cram in as much as I possibly could into those eight days. Time with my fraternity brothers, eBash friends, family, other friends…I was definitely running on empty by the time I got back to Texas. I definitely think I made the most out of the trip, and couldn’t have really asked for much more. I had plenty of nice surprises and good times to hold me over until my next visit. What’s depressing is that visit will probably be the last time that I can really see so many people. When I go back again many of my pike brothers will have graduated (at least the ones I was pretty close to like Josh and Jason, among those I went alum with that are still finishing up.) A couple other friends will have graduated and moved on, and who knows who else may not be there anymore. So that was kind of a downer when I was leaving…knowing that once again things were going to change and that regardless I had to accept it.

Tuesday night was spent at the San Antonio airport waiting for my 6am flight. I drove my car over to the Mitsubishi dealership near the airport in order to get some routine maintenance done to it (why not it’s still under warranty thus almost everything is free.) If I were to park at the airport it would have been like $90 by the time I got back, while I spent only $20 for my car maintenance…I was thus stuck at the airport since I had no car. I decided to go to the USO, which turned out to be an amazing idea since they were doing Air Force basic training in-processing by the USO. I then got to watch wave after wave of new basics in their civilian clothes to go off to basic for many weeks. In tow of the basics were several TI’s who were yelling and yelling…I found this quite humorous and enjoyable to witness. Also at the USO were around fifty or so newly graduated security forces two stripers on their way home or to their first assignment. It was fun being able to talk to all these airmen who have been in about as long as I have, and to see their perceptions about officers and the air force.

Wednesday was spent on a plane, in the car, and then finally back home in Terre Haute. I stopped by and saw mom at school, which brought her to tears of joy. I then went to my fraternity house and saw a bunch of my brothers that night. It was fun seeing everyone’s reactions as each person saw me for the first time since last may. I almost felt like I had celebrity status for eight days while I was home. Thursday I spent some time at eBash and got to see my friends there. I was sure to see Cliff, Kyle, Fred, and Ashley on my trip also. I played Dead Rising 2 with Cliff and I don’t think I’ve had that much fun in a co-op game…ever. Friday, I visited Megan at work and found this amazing book about Indiana micro-breweries that I instantly bought for Fred and Ashley. I was finally able to give it to them on Monday when we met for lunch, and I swear those two looked like kids on Christmas morning. It made me pretty happy that they liked their gift so much.

Friday/Saturday were spent doing homecoming festivities. Friday was the trike race, which I was able to see some ROTC peeps, and I also got to see more pikes I hadn’t seen yet. I had dinner with Mom, Martin, and Michelle that night. Something we of course don’t get to do very often now, and probably wont happen again for a long while, so that made it pretty special. It was great timing that I was back home for both My sister and Step-dad’s birthdays. Later that night several of the pikes and I went to the Bally, and I definitely spent a little too much due to my newly gained “alumni” status…which led to me buying several drinks for most of the people with us, including the AXO’s that I was friends with. Bree was there also, and it was nice to catch up with her.  Had a nice surprise while at the Bally that certainly made the trip even more epic. Saturday morning started at the Bars at 7am…which would last until finally making our way to the Pike Tent at 2pm via “The Walk.” I’m unsure if I’ll ever do that thing again…haha. It was pretty fun for the first couple hours going to each new “establishment” and running into the same crowd you started off at 7am with. As the day progressed and you kept seeing the same people over and over again, you steadily grew happier and louder at seeing them at the next establishment. I ended up doing most of the walk with Liz, Cainan, and Jared. That was fun being able to see three people I used to see quite a bit at eBash, but since then we had gone our separate ways. The best part of it was it was completely unplanned and I kept losing various people I had been with before like Josh and Jason. I also saw the three of them that night when I went back to the bally (and by that point I couldn’t believe I was still awake since I hadn’t slept since 11am Friday.) SO a big thanks to Liz, Cainan, and Jared for keeping me company on the walk!

Sunday I went to the Colts game, and I must say I got to go to one hell of  a game. I took my dad as his Birthday present. We’ve never really had too many chances for there to be “Father and Son” activities besides maybe going shooting once in a while. Even far fewer chances now that I’m over 18 hours away (by car.) The game was against the Kansas City Chiefs (which WERE the only undefeated team in the league.) A very amazing turn of events during the game was the fact that 3rd string running back Mike Hart ended up playing the entire second half…in which he scored the only touchdown of the entire game. My mom and step-dad have season tickets (and gave me the tickets to go to the game…so a BIG THANK YOU there.) There seats are behind one of the goal posts which also happened to be the endzone that Mike Hart scored. I was going nuts (so was dad.) The only thing that could have made it better would have been the fact that I would of had my Mike Hart (number 32) jersey on Sunday for the game, instead of it arriving the next day on Monday =(. Good job scoring that touch down and doing our name proud Mike Hart.  After the game we got to see my sister for dinner for her birthday. It was really nice to have both my dad and sister there for dinner…the only thing that was missing was Barb ;).

Monday I got to see Fred and Ashley for lunch. I had dinner with Mom and Martin for Martin’s birthday. We went to Texas roadhouse (I found this kind of humorous since I live in Texas now) but the food was good! I’m going to definitely miss being able to go out to dinner with everyone. I went over to the fraternity house and got to sit in on the end of chapter. I then went to Kyle’s house where we failed many many attempts at getting an age of empires II game going. Instead we played age of mythology. After that Kyle, Logan, and I played Halo: Reach for several hours which was really fun. I wish I could do that more often!

Tuesday I spent the last of my time with friends from eBash before going my Dad’s house to have dinner with Dad and Barb. Barb cooked my favorite dish she makes (ravioli), and earlier in the week Mom cooked my favorite dish (Chicken Pot Pie.) A big thanks to both of them for cooking for me  =).

Weds I packed up and flew back home….

Something I really realized while being back home is that it’s the people that makes a place home. It’s not the fact you have trees, corn fields, or cactus (though being able to see the leaves change in Indiana was a nice added bonus to my visit) It’s the fact that you’re surrounded by people you care about and that care about you. I like Laughlin, because that’s “home” since that’s where I am…(Home is where the Hart is) but I still miss all of those people I got to see while being back in Indiana. The trip was so “epic” because I got to see so many people that I care about with and that made my 22 years in Terre Haute so memorable. You will all be very missed. Thank you for making my eights days of leave so amazing. I hope to see everyone again soon. I have an amazing family, and quite a few pretty awesome friends. I’m pretty lucky!

This weekend was fun and relaxing. I stayed in Laughlin and played video games/spent time with some friends.

Now I’m back at Laughlin and back to gate guard duty mixed with other random jobs. It keeps me busy and I’m getting paid so I’m certainly not complaining at all!

As far as my reclasification process…I got an email last week saying that I had “Met the board, and the board was still underway.” I should hear something relatively soon I think.

I’m looking to do a road-trip one of these weekends before long. Might go to Lubbock and see a friend or two and  I earned a “one day pass” for working the combat dining-out and putting in a ton of time for that, so hopefully I can take a three day weekend.

Thanks for reading! I promise to update more regularly!

 

 

Casual Status Part 2?

7 September 2010 Leave a comment

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated mainly because…there hasn’t been anything going on…at all. Just been doing my casual job (still doing gate guard.) I’ve been working out quite a bit, probably the most ever? I also have a decent amount of free time, so I’ve been putting the new TV/Surround sound system to good use.

As far as the casual job goes it’s nothing “glorious” but I really enjoy being able to get to know the Airmen that work the gate with us. I’m actually really looking forward to hopefully be working in some manner where I’m in charge of people and helping them…leading them. Being their “LT” so that they feel like they have an officer really looking out and taking care of them…I get some mixed feelings from enlisted folk when you talk to them about their superiors, especially from different branches. I have tons of examples of things “not to do” but I’ve also seen some great officers, some great leaders. I’m confident I can do a great job regardless of the job they give me. So I may not get a lot out of just “checking IDs” but I do get a lot out of all the people. Even being the first face  people see when they come on base can make a huge difference. It may be a small thing that people don’t really think about, but it’s true. Someone is always watching, and you never know what they will see be it good or bad. I’m trying to take every opportunity and just do it the best I can.

Which brings me back to making the decision to reclassify. My feelings haven’t changed, though occasionally I see the planes and play the what if game. That’s mainly due to me not being in my new career yet, and I’m just doing gate guard. But once I get in that airplane my feelings would just be right back to dreading every moment of it. It may look “cool and fun” from the outside as an onlooker, and of course it could be if you’re just along for the ride. I like the fact of flying, and being up in the air…but I didn’t enjoy it that much where I wanted to do it the next 11 years of my life. I see flying more as something I’d enjoy as a hobby, as something to do on my “off time.” I look at it as similar to my job at ebash (a video gaming center I worked at in high school and college for those that don’t know.) I loved video games tons before that, but when I worked at eBash (www.ebash.com) I started to like video games less and less… it took away from the joy and the fun of video games. They say do what you love, but should that mean make your job the same thing as you really enjoy? Professional athletes just don’t only do that “job” as their hobby. I enjoyed video games less when I worked at eBash than before or after I worked there. The people and my friends being there is what made the job fun and enjoyable. It helped it was something I had a ton of background in and was pretty good at, but I didn’t enjoy my hobby anymore. I see that exactly the same way when dealing with flying, and it being my career. I would enjoy flying once a month or week or something just for an hour to get up and fly around…but as a job? For everyone outside looking in, it’s easy to make and pass judgments about it…for the pilots that enjoy it…it’s easy to pass judgment on. Those that haven’t been there and haven’t experienced it, they wouldn’t know if that’s for them or not either. And those that enjoy it and want to continue doing it, well it’s easy for them to think you’re crazy for dropping from the thing they enjoy. Those things just piss me off, but it doesn’t make me second guess my decision. What’s done is done and I’m glad I made the decision and I’m hopeful of the future. People can talk trash all they want, my happiness is what really matters.

I met with my commander and turned all the paperwork in so now it’s in the hands of the Air Force. The Col said the likelihood of retained is really really good, and he’s never really seen it go the negative way for people with nothing negative on their record (like myself) and a person that drops as early as IFS. He also said that in terms of reclassification he almost always sees people get reclassified as one of their top two, and I have a strong case for intelligence, so I should hopefully get that. I’d be happiest there, but I’d be happy serving my nation and being a leader for airmen regardless.

Also talked to one of my brothers who’s in the FBI today about the career opportunities of going from the Air Force as an intel officer to the FBI, and the likelihood is really really good…so there we go, already a career option after the Air Force. I’d like to stay in the Air Force as long as possible though, but working for the FBI would be pretty awesome.

Well time to go to gate guard duty!

Time to Fly – Week 2, as the Stress Multiplies.

Week two has finally come to a close. This week was definitely tough and it was a challenge along the way. I’ve always been pretty sure of what I wanted to do in life, but this past week really made me start to ask that question “Is this made for me? Do I still want to do this?” I don’t think I’ve ever had such thoughts before, be that good or bad. It was a challenge to deal with such thoughts, but then again this is IFS…this is the one time in our flying careers that flying is going to have this much suck.

For those people coming into IFS with a ton of hours (one guy in my flight has 1800+) than it really wont be that bad. For those of us with only a little time, or even no time at all (I have 13 hours in a Cessna 152) well, things are a little more rough. After all this is a screening process, it’s to really test us to see if we’ll stick it out and not just waste the Air Force’s money.

I flew four times this past week, everyday but Thursday. My Monday flight is your “intro” flight called a “dollar ride.” It went alright for the most part but I did feel a little nausea from the flight. I flew with the same IP again on Tuesday and Wednesday. This IP was alright, but I really wasn’t learning too much from him…he’d usually just correct the mistake himself instead of teaching me how to do it. It also didn’t help that I got active airsickness (actual vomiting)  on Tuesday, and then passive airsickness (Nausea that made me relinquish controls to the IP) on Wednesday. At this point my mind was a mess. Anytime I thought about flying my body would feel ill and not really encourage me to try to fly again. I switched Instructor Pilots (IPs) on Thursday and he could tell I wasn’t feeling well/doing well. I took Thursday to rejuvenate and study up for Friday. My Friday flight went about 300% better than the previous flights. I didn’t get airsick and only had a very momentary period of nausea. My new instructor is pretty awesome, and I learned a ton from him. I did my first completely unassisted takeoff and landing as well…so that felt pretty good. I am a good amount behind (about one flight) from where I need to do. This is due to my airsickness and I wasn’t able to execute a lot of the maneuvers or do some pattern work since I had gotten airsick by that point in the flight.

This place definitely makes you question what you want to continue to do in the Air Force. For some, they’ll leave because they just don’t enjoy it anymore (I don’t really enjoy it at this stage either, but that’s due to it being IFS…and flying a DA-20.) Though I did have fun on Friday…which was awesome. One of my friends (who is at Laughlin with me and was in my flight of 13 at ASBC) also left on Friday. His was more than just “this isn’t for me anymore.” With him it wasn’t about ability or not being able to fly, I mean he even has 60 hours in the DA-20 (the aircraft we fly here at IFS.) For him it’s just that he believes his happiness and life is meant to be doing something else in the Air Force. I hope he finds what he’s looking for, he’s a great guy.

With at least 10 people leaving from my IFS class of 80…it’s definitely a wake up call. Two of them were from my flight. I don’t blame or question any of their decisions…as I was wrestling with the same decision for most of Weds and Thursday. If I didn’t have a good flight on Friday, I don’t know what would have happened. I know my IP was going to make me fly a sortie with him before I decided anything. He knew what I was feeling and experiencing and his main objective on Friday was to make me comfortable in the aircraft so I stopped thinking about not being able to do it, as well as getting sick. Evidently it worked, and my self-esteem is renewed for the most part.

When it comes to academics or studying, I can do just fine…I’m not struggling or having trouble with that portion of it at all. What was happening was I wasn’t learning from my previous IP, and after I got sick then my body was just not wanting to have any part of it. I’m the only one of the 29 in my flight that were having airsickness problems. That’s an added huge obstacle for me to overcome. I talked to a couple people from the class ahead and they gave me some examples of people getting sick 5+ rides and still being able to pull through. It just meant I was going to have to chairfly (sitting in a mock up cockpit of the DA-20) and run through all the motions of the flight like radio calls, maneuvers, and navigation. Most of this stuff you have to commit to memory as  you just don’t have time to hesitate and think. The biggest hurdle is just getting the whole procedure of it all down…because each flight is very similar, it’s just knowing what to do and when to do it. “Being ahead of the airplane.” I learned a ton with my new IP so I’m pretty hopeful of what is to come. Regardless I’m going to stick it out and give it my all. I know I can do it now.

A huge help has just been the other guys here with me at IFS. If you get a little down or negative they’ll pick you back up and make sure you head is back in the game. Even the guy that left made sure I had a clear head about it all. One guy (Matt) has been chairflying with me…he’s got quite a bit more experience with it all than I do, so he’s been a huge help. He also went with me to Pikes Peak along with another group of guys.

Friday and Saturday definitely helped me to get my head back in the game and refocus on the next two weeks (hopefully I’m done before that.) Friday we had a class party for the three flights of people here at IFS. Beer, food, and friends…lol. I love the pilot type environment….gotta have beer. Then on Saturday I drove up to Pikes Peak with Matt. Got to finally use the lancer driving up a mountain…It was definitely an awesome time. I recommend anyone coming to IFS to go up to Pikes Peak on some weekend. And since it is “Pikes” peak….I definitely made it applicable to my fraternity (pike.) I even found a hoddie that had our fraternity colors.


(You can see my facebook album for more pictures)

Once the week was over though, I’m definitely glad I’m here and continuing on. I know this is probably about as much “suck” as there will be, and UPT also wont be fun, but it’s the people who make it a fun experience. Without these guys, It would be hell here.

Thanks for reading, and who knows, maybe next time I update I’ll have soloed!

Categories: IFS, The Journey, This and That

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!