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There I Was...

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Andrew Mayer
  • 6th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
"You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you", (Walter Elias Disney, The Story of Walt Disney 1957). There I was in my living room making plans with my wife to take our nieces to the local water park. We had just enrolled in college with everything set for us to continue our education and had plans in the work towards taking a vacation. Then I got a call from my office, they needed me to deploy overseas in less than two weeks. This was my (our) first deployment and as such we had no idea what to expect. This sudden news completely took us off guard. In the week we had to prepare, I ran around base getting my wife ready for the deployment; items such as life insurance policies and roadside assistance. The Airmen and Family Readiness Center helped out a lot with providing information for my wife to use in case of emergencies. Finally, we used that week to spend as much time as we could together and did what we could to make the most of the time we had until I departed.

At first there was a lot to absorb. I was not nearly as prepared as I thought, but it is to be expected for your first deployment. After a few weeks my wife and I nailed down a pretty solid routine with the little amount time off with my new duty schedule in the desert. About every five days or so I would get a day off before having to go into work again and during this time off I would go to the library or Community Activity Center and chat with my wife. At first, my conversations with family and friends revolved around where I was and what it was like over in the desert which is to be expected. After about a month, I really didn't want to talk about where I was at anymore. Every day was pretty much the same at my deployed location and I soon yearned to hear about home and the significant things happening back in the states. However, hearing about home all the time is bittersweet as it would constantly make you miss it.

Contrary to popular opinion I thoroughly enjoyed the work atmosphere overseas. Of course, I was consistently busy either launching or fixing the aircraft so they stayed in the air. In between the humidity and constantly being outside it was hard work resulting in a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Not soon after I got there however, I stood in debrief where I got to see firsthand just what the aircraft I was maintaining were doing. Sure, at home station I did the same job I did overseas, but the outcome and effect of my work was far greater giving me a very strong sense of pride and morale. Though it may not have been directly, the work I did with my very own hands could have ensured one of my fellow wingmen went home to their families to see another day - A thought before my deployment never really occurred to me.

Merriam-Webster defines a crucible as a place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development. If I could use one word to describe my deployment it would be crucible. My first deployment was a crucible which led to my growth as a maintainer and as an Airman.