Friday, May 26, 2006

Homesick...


I was surfing my favorite blogs today and I ran across SGT Hook's blog recommendations. I decided to check out some blogs new to me. I went to The Yankee Sailor's site and parked there for a while reading his take on current events. As I read through the Land Lubber's Dictionary I got incredibly "home sick" (for lack of a better term) for the Navy. I found myself smiling and saying "Oh yeah, I remember that!" And laughing at some of the terms that we used to describe unfavorable events or people.

I highly recommend his site for the Navy point of veiw on the war. He is a SWO or Surface Warfare Officer. He is hard core Navy. It reminded me of great men I had the honor of serving under. Crusty Salty Sailors who knew what duty and honor meant.

I was in when beards were still allowed (for men) and bell-bottomed dungarees were the working uniform. (see above left). I wore dungarees and a ballcap with "Pearl Harbor" and "NAS Moffett Field" on it.

When I was a junior enlisted person and new to the Fleet I was stationed at Pearl Harbor. I tried really hard to be the everything person. I managed in a year to attain the position of Training PO (Petty Officer), Career Counselor, Test Equipment PO, and CPR Instructor. When my evals came out I had received a 3.6 out of a possible 4.0 A 3.6 is mediocre at best. I was livid to say the least.
ET3 Lori "Chief, what is up with these evals?"
CPO "What's wrong with them?"
ET3 Lori "A 3.6?? I do everything! I am a hard worker, I am doing the job of three E-6's!"
CPO "You are doing everything but your real job."
ET3 "huh?"
CPO "What did you go to school for? What is your rate?"
ET3 "ET or electronics tech."
CPO "Then do your job. How can I evaluate you as a tech if you're not doing your job..."
ET3 (steaming rolling out of ears) "I quit"
CPO "You can't quit, you're in the Navy."
ET3 "Oh yes I can. I quit being your "boy". You can send me to the worst site on the island, I don't care but I ain't your boy no more!"
CPO "That can be arranged Petty Officer." (striding away).

Well I got the worst site on the island after that. All the losers were sent there. No one wanted to be associated with that site. And to top it all off they had just gotten a new supervisor who had reported in from a ship out of the Philipines. I was ready for a very crusty experience. I reported with nothing but a bad attitude. The new supervisor didn't disappoint me. He told me I was going to work on a peice of equipment in the signal tower. I replied that I had no training on this particular peice of equipment. He shot back with a "you've been to ET school right?" Then tossing a huge 10 pound tech manual at me he said "Go fix it."

I worked on that sucker for 6 months. Each week he sat with me and guided me through a plan of attack. Each day I loaded up 40-50 pounds of test equipment and climbed 5 ladders to the top of the signal tower. I worked on that transciever each day. Over the years it had been cannibalized for parts. I had to rewire it, order modules and replace tubes. Each day I worked on it trying to get a signal. Each Friday I went over what had been done and what results I had. Finally the day came when it transmitted and I got a confirmation back that I had reached someone. I excitedly told my supervisor that I got it to work. He said "Will it pass PMS?" Meaning "Planned Maintenance Standards" or standards that dictate if a peice of equipment meets certain perameters. I stood there dumbfounded KNOWING it wouldn't. I stood as all the air went out of me like a deflated balloon. "Take the day off tomorrow then come back and try to get it to pass PMS." I stood not believing my ears... Liberty with no request chit? OK.

I took the day and came back with fresh resolve. I worked on that equipment for a few more weeks and got it to pass every test except one. I returned to the shop a little defeated. As I slumped on the stool next to the bench with the tech manual open trying to figure out why it wouldn't pass, my boss tossed a log book to me. "Open it up, what do you read?" Page after page of E-5's and E-6's that had tried and FAILED to get that equipment even operational. As I turned each page it was slowly dawning on me that I had accomplished what others who outranked me couldn't. I was speechless. My boss came over to me looking over my shoulder reading the log and said "How do you feel?" I sat stunned and then a huge grin spread on my face and I said "Like I can fix f*cking anything." He said "Good, then I did my job."

The rest of my career in the Navy (and civilian jobs) was spent fixing the problematic equipment. I wouldn't give up. Once we had an issue with some comm equipment between the ATC tower and the radar room. I had pulled out whole consoles chasing a ghost tone that would appear and disappear. Right before I was transferring out they finally called the company that designed and manufactered the equipment. They sent two engineers to look at it. They couldn't fix it and I heard through the grape vine that years later it was still giving them problems. Yeah, I followed up on it because that was the only problem that ever kicked my butt.

I got my 4.0 evals and kept them for 5 years. I moved up from that site to better locations on the island. I then transferred to NAS Moffett Field and loved every minute of it. I learned a valuable lesson from my CPO and my boss. Mission First, believe in your men, expect more and you'll get more.

I really love being a Soldier...but boy I sure do miss my Navy days.

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