Sunday, February 23, 2014

Introduction - Phase 1: The Military Career

Hello there!  I am glad you have taken the time to stop by my little corner of the internet.  I hope you find this blog useful, interesting, and maybe a bit entertaining, as well.  Enough with the pleasantries, though, as it is time to dig in...

First things first, as the late Dr. Covey would say, my name is Jim Gross.  Glad to meet you.  Recently*, I retired from my career in the United States Air Force.  My twenty-two years of active duty service in the AF (or, as my retirement orders spell out, twenty-two years, one month, and three days) brought me many great opportunities, allowed me to travel about, and introduced me to many, many great people.  My career, though long by some standards, seemed pretty short, to be honest.  In fact, I catch myself, from time-to-time, thinking that I am still that fresh-faced nineteen year old that I was when I first joined.  Naturally, my body reminds me that I am not, in fact, still nineteen.  Drat!

When I first joined the AF, they sent me to Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.  Initially, it was for Basic Military Training, where I was assigned to the 3708th Basic Military Training Squadron (BMTS), Flight 628.  After my six weeks of basic, they put me on a bus and drove to the other side of the base in order to attend the USAF Security Police Academy.  My Air Force Specialty was Security Specialist.  After my six weeks was up and I graduated, they sent me...well, no where.  I was asked to stay behind and attend the M-60 Machinegunner Qualification Course (by asked I mean told...same thing, right?).  That was one glorious week of shooting a fully automatic, belt-fed machine gun, cleaning said gun, putting it back together again, and then, when all was done for the day, going back to my room in order to patch my fingers up.

After that week was done, they sent me to Fort Dix, New Jersey.  In December and January.  To train with the US Army.  Can you say culture shock?  All of our instructors, all of them, were Drill Instructors.  Apparently, Fort Dix was a Basic Training base.  Oh, yeah.  Let the fun commence.  So, after four to six weeks, our modified infantry course was finished and we were released onto the regular Air Force!  Watch out!

So, for seven years, I played the part of a highly motivated Security Policeman for the USAF.  They were gracious enough to send me to Missouri, South Korea, Germany, Turkey, and back to Germany during that seven year period.  At the conclusion of my seven years, I was asked to move into a different career field.  Thus started my Airfield Management journey, a journey that lasted for nearly fifteen years.

Training for Airfield Management starts and ends at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi.  While an Airfield Manager, I was blessed to be sent to Washington State, Turkey, South Korea, South Dakota, and Mississippi, with side trips to Maryland, Qatar, Washington State, Colorado, Tennessee, and Iraq (twice).

My last year in the AF was spent as a Wing OPSEC Program Manager.  Hehehehe...a beautiful job of learning how to make the adversary think one thing while you do another.  That required a side trip to is tough, right?  I had several little side jobs going on, ones we call additional duties.  My favorite, by far, was teaching an introductory OPSEC awareness class to young Airmen.  I have never had so much fun teaching a dry subject than I had teaching that.  The highlight of every class was an exercise that illustrated how social media, the internet, and bad habits can cause you to give way too much information to the adversary.  Average time spent searching Google, Zabasearch, and a few other sites?  Twenty minutes.  Average time to make a young, smiling Airman stop smiling and start thinking really, really hard about what their internet presence said about them?  One minute, max!

So, as you can see, I've been to a lot of places, seen a lot of things, and had a rather long, enjoyable career defending my country.  But, as happens to all good things, it had to come to an end.  That story, my transition to civilian life, is best left for another blog post.  So, in the mean time, thank you for reading this little missive and I hope to see you soon.


*By recently, I mean as of October 2012...might not be recent to some, but it is to me.