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That First Assignment

Doesn’t everyone want a clear view of Area 51? J You want New Jersey? Zoom – how about Nevada?


Our first assignment after pilot training was an exciting one that demonstrated that the government, in my case, the US Air Force knows best! ;) We had orders for Andrews AFB in Maryland and being a Midwest guy who had recently married an East Coast gal we were quite excited to get there and settle in for at least four years. We had delayed our wedding till Deb had finished her French degree. She would be able to use it in the multi culture area surrounding DC! I was a political science guy too! We were set!


Imagine my surprise, when the commander called me in two weeks before our departure date to say, Lieutenant your orders have been changed. The next words created near shock as he said your new orders will say “Indian Springs, Nevada”! Wow, a plush DC area assignment to someplace I had to look at a map to find! When I did find it, the heart attack was the next medical condition to raise its ugly head! Indian Springs was 50 miles northwest into the desert from Las Vegas. Later we would discover it was actually 49.8 but who was counting the tenths at the beginning. We would experience a 100 mile round trip to go get a Big Mac or see a movie or go to a doctor appointment (we had a clinic with medical technicians only). We had a two aisle BX in a trailer type of building and a commissary that was smaller than the produce section at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas.


Sounds pretty horrible! Oh I failed to mention that our on base house roof blew off the day we brought our first child home! Yeah, mom from New Jersey was really impressed. But, when I look back over a career of assignments this was the best assignment for us. We grew as a family and the development of my flying skills kept me safe for a long time. I had two fantastic mentor pilots who showed me the ropes; the flying terrain taught me to learn about its impact on flying low level; flying for outside agencies such as the Atomic Energy Commission taught me customer support. I learned that I needed to be the smartest and most knowledgeable pilot possible to best accomplish the mission!


Our family grew and we became a strong cohesive unit as we met the challenges of life we faced in the Nevada desert. We lead a chapel youth group, had time for each other and met some great friends for cards on Friday night. We missed our extended families who were so far away but wrote letters and traveled when we could to see them. We also had many visitors who came for visits to see this beautiful place (in its own way; after all, we were only 50 miles or so from Death Valley). We gave many tours to Scotty’s Castle, Death Valley, Las Vegas and joined some of them as we gave money to the slot gods. J


When it came time to move on to another location we took with us these memories, opportunities taken and strength gained. We had a wonderful experience but climbed the hills to the see the valley!


What kind of assignment experiences can you share? Do you have a favorite location or unit? We always look for ways to spread the word about military life experiences so share one with us.


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