Friday, August 13, 2004

on Reserves

I have orders to San Diego in January, it's going to be strange seeing other Navy people around after being the sole squid stationed at Edwards AFB. Theoretically, with my job title as inspector instructor corpsman, I'm not supposed to be able to deploy at war because I&I Duty is considered shore duty, our main job is to train the reserve corpsman when they come in on weekends and their two weeks of drill. Somehow it didn’t work out that way, partially because we weren't able to find enough reserve corpsman to fill the billets.

Being a Marine Reservist isn't a bad deal as far as reserve duty goes, unlike the other services, you know what to expect because they actually tell you. We usually have a game plan on deployments and a schedule of when our relief is coming in. Our leaders have this thing about actually keeping their word, unlike some other services we haven't been extended in a war zone. I'm still shocked about seeing so many National Guard troops out here specially the older ones, do they have the same standards as regular army soldiers? When I was in Kuwait I saw more then 20 E-3's and E-4's in their 50's. What do these people do for a living in the rear? I do know when I'm 50 I don't plan on making that little for a living, I wonder what their story is? I have never worked with the National Guard before coming out here, I always associated them with natural disasters, riots and such, soldiers had the same ranking system that the regular army had but didn't deploy out of the country, I'm glad I didn't listen to that recruiter! I'm sure I'm not the only one that thought these thoughts.

Since I'm in the Navy, might as well put a few words in about our reserve program. Of which I only have experience with the medical aspect. Each time one of my two Marine units gets called up they're supposed to receive a couple of reserve corpsman and a reserve flight surgeon. I have yet to receive one that was not surprised by this, meaning they were yanked out of their lives with no notice, having no clue that somewhere it said that they belonged to a Marine Reserve unit at Edwards AFB. There was one girl that our head quarters gave me the name of 2 years ago that was supposed to be drilling with me. Each month I usually spend a couple of idle hours searching by phone and internet out of curiosity for her when I remembered that was. Never found her and I'm good at finding people in the military, called everywhere, the computer kept saying that she was drilling with me. Comes to find out she was drilling with a hospital unit up in Washington, even went off to war with them in OIF I. The entire time thinking that she belonged there with them, she gets back and 6 months later she gets pulled to go off to war with me.

So you can understand why I don't have to much faith in reserve policy unless it's written by Marines. We don't have the biggest budget or the coolest new toys, we're using aircraft that still have bondo from the Vietnam war. We do have a plan and we take care of our own. I haven't seen Marine unit's extended out here like numberous Army units were, we have replacements waiting to take our place when our times up. I'm sure our leaders fought for this and kept their word to us the troops even in time of war. Being a reserve you expect to get the short end of the stick but you can do much worse then being with the Marines.

There's a lot of fun to be had with a reserve Marine Air Wing squadron, much more then if you were attached to a ground pounder unit, our basic mission is to transport people to hard to reach places. Having these abilities to offer makes us extremely marketable to certain circles. Missions that could used well trained pilots with a support staff that will fly almost anyplace for basic operating expenses. It's a good deal for them money wise and it keeps up our flight hours, we never seem to have enough money for flight hours and we're always fighting a battle for a bigger budget that usually gets kicked back. So we volunteer ourselves for these missions that the active duty squadrons don't have time to do because they're using up their big budgets on flying around doing training. All of the flight hours go towards the same goal, keeping pilots and aircrew in flight shape. It doesn't hurt that most of these missions we "volunteer" for are "cool" missions that the active guys wish they could get.

The war on drugs is something that I don't totally agree with, well at least the part against marijuana, I don't recall a great number of pot heads, robbing people to get more smoke or going to rehab. I do know it's not for everybody, I didn't like it back in the day because I would forget what I read and it took away my motivation, all I wanted to do was chill back. I've done worse things then chilling back happen when drinking but I'll let those stories just remain legends the I nether confirm or deny. Personally I think we should legalize marijuana and go after the hard core drug folk. There's enough violence in the world and most pot smokers just want to get along, which I think is a reasonable goal. Even without strong having any conviction for the mission, as a whole we still have a blast going on them.

Our job as hired help is to transport observers from various agencies, we don't land next to marijuana fields or take part in any of the more dangerous law enforcement aspects. We just fly around over a different grid each day, if somebody sees something odd or note worthy we slow down, write the number shown on a GPS and the observer writes a brief description and we move on. We got to stay in nice hotels in non military towns and some of the sights I've seen while flying still boggle my mind. Wish I had some of the cool camera equipment I have now. I was still using film, sigh.

One Det we flew all over southern Utah. People would have paid good money for the quality of flying we had, Bryce Canyon was beautiful but what stick in my mind were the canyons southeast of Moab, they were beyond breath taking, if someone wanted to grow drugs out there, I thought he was welcome to it. I'm a rock climber and I couldn't imagine how someone could get around, the place was insane. There were no signs of human contact. No trails, cars, people, trash. We would fly for hours over vertical landscapes , cliffs and canyons as far as eye could see. Even out here in the middle of the desert, no houses for 50 miles in all directions, there's 4X4 tracks everywhere. Utah was untouched.

Not much happening with me, just getting ready to head home. The advanced party for the replacement unit has arrived and getting settled, sorry if I hadn't responded to any emails in the last two days, the powers that be shut down the internet and phones if something happens. If you're wondering what it was, do a search on google news for CH-53 to see what I'm talking about, kinda hits close to home. Is it a wonder that I’m nervous flying sometimes? I might have some bad news about me coming home advanced party, a situation that is out of my control. Way bigger then me. Will let you know as soon as I do.

Take care

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