Sunday, March 16, 2008

Three Generations - Four Services

Okay…so many things have happened in the past few months, but I would like to go back to Christmas which was the first Christmas that my family has spent together since my son became a Marine. As you can perhaps maybe tell from the picture above, we have a slew of Military Men in the family -- three generations and four services. Since some of the “elders” could no long fit into their respective uniforms, my brother found some covers (a term I had to correct him about) for them to use. I may have to pay dearly for using the following pictures with the blurbs - sorry guys - but I did have to definitely show what a difference a day (or so) makes.

A History of the Generations

On the far right in the picture above is my dad, Gene (Marine grandpa). He is a retired Army Sergeant First Class. He began his career in October 1950 at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina. From there he went to AIT at Ft. Gordon, Georgia to train in pole line construction with the Signal Corps. He then went to the Test & Evaluation Command at Ft. Bliss, Texas. From Texas, he made a big puddle jump and spent a few years in Germany doing pole line construction then back to Ft. Polk, Louisiana. Ft. Rucker, Alabama for aircraft maintenance was the next stop on the Army tour then onto Columbus, Ohio. Dad was back at Ft. Bliss, Texas to attend about 6 months of training at the Radar school after which he was reassigned to the Test & Evaluation Command and promoted to E-6 (yeah Dad!). Another puddle jump over to Korea where he worked on electronics at a radar site. Once again, back to Ft. Bliss (they must’ve really liked him) to Test/Evaluation & Research/Development Command. One more hop over to Germany where he was stationed at Kaiserslautern. There he was Platoon Sergeant for five maintenance teams and worked in Communications/Microwave Radio. It was here that he was promoted to Sergeant First Class (another yeah!). The final stop was at Ft. Knox, Kentucky working in Depot Maintenance. Throughout his career, Dad received many Army commendations. After 20 years, Dad retired, moved to Texas and worked for Texas Instruments until his final retirement. He now spends his time learning how the Marine Corps works and hunting deer for jerky for our care packages.

Next to my dad is my oldest brother, Mike (Marine uncle). He joined the Air Force in June 1985. From September 1985 through June 1989, he was stationed at Langley AFB in Virginia where he was assigned to the 94th Tactical Fighter Squadron and the 48th Fighter Interceptor Squadron working on the radar and navigation of the F-15. Mike was also crossed-trained in the Communications and Computer Systems career field. He then worked on various computer systems for the 1912th Computer Systems Group; the most notable system of which was the World Wide Military Command and Control System. In January 1992, he was assigned to the 8th Communication Squadron stationed at Kunsan Air Base, Korea where he was NCOIC (Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge) of the Base Communications Center and the Small Computer Repair shop. After a year in Korea, Mike headed over to Misawa Air Base, Japan to join the 35th Communications Squadron. In Japan, he was NCIOC of the Base Communications Center and Data Processing Center. After a couple years in the Orient, Mike was off to Brooks AFB, Texas. While at Brooks AFB, he was assigned to the Office for Prevention and Health Services Assessment which is part of the Air Force Surgeon General’s office. He did computer systems support for medical research doctors and was also the technical lead for a DoD wide program called the Health Enrollment Assessment Review. September 1999 found Mike stationed at Royal Air Force Base in Molesworth, England. There, he was the NCOIC of the Theater System Operation Center which basically provided computer support for over 2,000 intelligence analysts throughout Europe. The final leg if his journey was at Buckley AFB, Colorado. At Buckley, he was one of two Test and Configuration Managers for the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS). The SBIRS detects missile launches around the world. On July 1, 2005, Mike officially retired from the Air Force; however, they could not get rid of him that easily. After retiring, he went back to work on the SBIRS as a government employee doing software logistics support.

My older brother Wayne (Marne uncle) is the next in line. Wayne was a Navy man – joining in May 1984. He did Recruit Training at Great Lakes, Illinois; then went on to Journalism-A School at Ft. Harrison, Indiana. While at school in October 1984, Wayne was presented the award for Youngest Sailor present at the Indiana Navy Ball. In November 1984, he worked as Shipboard Journalist on board the USS Pensacola (LSD-38) in Norfolk, Virginia. Near the end of 1988, Wayne moved over to Italy. He worked as a journalist for a couple years on the Panorama Newspaper at Naval Security Activity in Naples. The next three years, he was stationed at the Naval Security Group Activity in Winter Harbor, Maine. There he was a Base Journalist and won a Chief of Information Award – Third Place for small station newspapers (way to go Bro). In about October 1993, Wayne went back over to Italy. He worked as a Broadcast Journalist for the American Forces Network in La Maddalena. In December 1995, Wayne left the Navy and moved back to Texas where he completed his Journalism degree at Texas Tech University. He did some work for the university radio station and then worked for a local television station. He now lives and works out in California.

Last but not least, on the far left….my pride, my joy, my son, my Marine (yes…I am a little biased here). He is a 2005 graduate of Lubbock High School. While in high school and a member of the Navy Junior R.O.T.C., he had the opportunity to meet General H. Norman Schwarzkopf who was in Lubbock as keynote speaker at the Ethical Leadership Conference. During his senior year, he was part of the Delayed Entry Program for the U.S. Marine Corps. On July 11, 2005, he headed off to Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, graduating in October 2005. What made his graduation even more special to me was that the day he received his EGA was also my birthday. Who could ask for a better present!?! After boot camp and a little visit home, he returned to complete his MCT (Marine Combat Training). The next destination for this Marine was Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo. for MVOC (Motor Vehicle Operator’s Course) which he completed in December 2005. In January 2006, he completed LVS (Logistics Vehicle System) training at Ft. Leonard Wood. He then came back to lovely Lubbock, Texas and reported to the Marine Corps Reserve Center. By April 2006, he got word that he would be making his first deployment to Iraq. By early July 2006, he and his unit left for Camp Pendleton for training, and by last August 2006 was in Iraq. It was the first Christmas that we had without him, which is why this one was so great. He returned home in March 2007. He is now readying for his second deployment. He wanted to go on this deployment because he has become good friends with many in his unit. I know they are truly ‘brothers’ because they all joke, hassle and give each other the “what for” all the while watching each others' back. He says when he gets home from this deployment, he would like to go Active Duty and I will stand behind him 110%.

Special Recognition

I know, I know….when am I going to stop? However, aside from the U.S. Government having to deal with this bunch so did a very special person. I could not close without giving a special kudos to the woman who has dealt with so many aspects and services of the military…my mom. Being a Military Wife, she had to deal with the rules and regulations of the Military Spouse and raise three children (hooligans at times) alone while my dad was stationed or training elsewhere; and do it all with grace, understanding and the ability to not totally lose all her marbles. As a Military Mom, she had the joy and pride of watching her sons work their way through basic training and become honorable men. Now as a Military Grandma, she has shared with me the joy and pride as my son became a Marine. She has let me “volunteer” her to do projects for the Marine support groups that I am associated with. She, and of course the rest of the family, have been my leaning pole of strength during my son’s deployments. And yet, through the years and through all the changes the world has experienced, she still manages to handle it all with grace, understanding and the ability to not totally lose all her marbles. I am in awe!

I have always been very proud of my family’s accomplishments and service to this country. Men and women like this are the best thing to ever happen to America. I honor and respect each and every one of them…past, present and future.

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