Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bio Part II

To start off, in case you can't tell, I love playing with the colors and fonts. If this is annoying, please let me know. Now a bit more about who I am.

In November 1978, I left for the United States Air Force. I had signed up to become a fire fire fighter. When signing on, I told the recruiter that I wanted to be doing something where I could be outdoors and helping people. My options were security police or firefighter. They let me watch some videos. One was working with the dogs. But unfortunately this was not open to women just yet. That was my first choice. But the good Lord had other ideas in mind for me. I chose firefighting as my next selection and was very excited about it.

I went to Lackland AFB, TX. for Basic Training. Whew, was that ever an eye opener. The first night there, I cried myself to sleep along with several others. But it turned out to be one of the most important experiences in my life. Personally, I think everyone should have to go through Basic Training. It's great! You learn respect, which is something many of us needs. But beyond that, you learn to take pride in your country. Something that seems to be lacking a lot these days.

I'll admit, the first week I didn't think I was going to make it. Being a farm girl, I figured hey, I can handle this stuff. Well the one thing I was lacking was not being athletic. I wanted to be, but stunk at it all. :( I gave it my all, but never succeeded. Gymnastics was a big dream along with figure skating. Once we moved from the lake, I had no more places to practice which was a big let down. But any way, we had to work hard at the physical aspects. It got easy after a while though. Actually enjoyed getting up at 5 am and going out to do stretching and what not, then running the mile and a half. I never felt better!

I spent Thanksgiving and Christmas there at good ole Lackland. That was very hard, as this was the first time ever being away from home for the holidays. Christmas we spent waxing our barracks floor. Believe it or not, we had a blast! Some of us took turns running the thing, while others went for rides on the buffer. We had some great women that new how to turn difficult times into great times. We also were allowed passes for the base for two days and on in San Antonio. That was a trip in itself. We spent a day at the roller rink one of those days. Great memories that will never be forgotten.

From Lackland, I went to Chanute AFB, IL. (Air Force Base) to tech. school where I recieved my fire fighter training. What an experience this was. See I was one of the first group of women to join the fire department. So of course, the instructors were only all too willing to prove we could not handle the job and were tough on us. But that was good. Those of us that really wanted to be there were out to prove we could do it. It made us all that more willing to try. Was it pride, no! We wanted to do the job as we knew we could handle it and didn't appreciate the biases that were being handed out. Most of us worked hard, and earned some respect. It was a tough gruling experience at times, but very worth while and an experience I'll never forget.

One of those experiences was going on a mock crash. My room mate and I went into the mock plane and when we came out, the guys on the trucks doused us with foam. We couldn't see a thing. Thankfully we kept our cool and stopped until we could see. We were commended for not freaking out, as we couldn't have walked ourselves into a hot spot, or fallen and gotten fuel up our suits and down our boots which could have been deadly. At first we were peturbed, then laughed about it.

Another experience was going to our first mock fire. We had to make sure our air tanks were working before leaving to go to the training sight. The down fall is we didn't end up with our own tanks. I ended up with one not properly checked. I had an empty tank. I got reemed for it, and just dealt with it. I was given a full tank and went off to the fire. When getting inside the building, my mask fogged up and I could barely see, so I grabbed my room mates arm and followed her. We put the fire out and then someone shut my tank off on me. At first I panicked then remembered the safety features and all came out well. Were we being tested? Oh yeah, but you know, I'm glad they did, as that is what saves lives, being prepared!

So from there I get orders to Scott AFB, IL. which was a MAC base. Their main mission was C-9's which was medical flights. MAC stood for Military Air Command. Talk about having to prove oneself and earn respect and being put to the test. Wow! I had no idea what I was getting into. We had several civilians at our base. Some were older and were very set in their ways. They did not want women in their fire station and were determined to see us fail. Well for someone that came from a family that had a dad that always wanted a son, we learned to be stubborn and for someone to tell us girls we couldn't do something because we were female lit a fire under us.

The main argument; and this one came mostly from my supervisor, who was a civilian and fairly young was; "can you lift a 300 lb man and carry him out of a burning building or air craft?" I replied, "no; can you?" They would tell me that was besides the point. The point was women could not do it. I would then ask them what the difference was. If they couldn't do it, why should we be expected to? Their comments were always the same, "That's not the point, the point is you can not do it." I would counteract with, "It doesn't make any difference. If a man can not do it, a woman should not be expected to either. Besides, if there was a 300 lb. man that needed saving, I sure as heck would find some way to get him out." Well that never satisfied them.

Another major obstacle was the wives. Now I can understand where they were coming from, but they could have given us a chance at least. We were labled sluts that were there for one thing, and one thing only. Of course this gave us all the more determination to prove we could do the job. It made me angry, as I had one intention, and one intention only. That was to become the best firefighter I could possibly be. I spent many hours of down time--we worked 24 on, 24 off-- studying and learning the trucks and firefighting techniques. I would also spend down time working on keeping my truck clean.

We did sleep in open bunkrooms. There was no seperate rooms for women. This is part of what created animosity with the wives. Well, we never did undress in front of one another, we had to sleep with some clothes on as we never did know when we would be called out on a run, and everyone respected one anothers privacy. We did have our own bathroom thank heavens, but the showers were in the mens. The good thing is we had a sign on the door so everyone knew when one of us gals was in there, plus they would announce it over the intercom.

Needless to say, after much work we gained recognition all the way around. Men and wives a like. It turned out to be a great lesson in life and a great experience. I learned a lot from that place, made many a good friend, and finally gained some self respect. The down fall was drinking. I got into the drinking scene at tech school. It became much worse at Scott. I even experimented and almost died because I listened to some fool when I was drunk. He offered some stuff to a couple of the guys, and they convinced me it was harmless to just try a little. Big mistake. It was a life altering situation.

Shortly after the experiment, I went bonkers. I tried to fly off of a three story balcony that had concrete below. Thank heavens someone caught me just in time. Eventually they got me to a room and I passed out, or should I say I died. I literally saw myself floating above myself watching everyone trying to get me to breathe, freaking out, wondering what to do. They couldn't find a pulse, no heart beat, could not feel or see me breathing. I was motionless. I could't blink, wiggle a finger or nothing to say I was still alive. Talk about a freaky experience. Needless to say, I never experimented after that.

I also had someone slip something into my drink one time while at a party. That night I jumped out of a moving vehicle and ran to my dorm then stood in the bathroom beating my head on a concrete wall. The police were called, but thankfully a couple of my cop friends came walking through and kept me out of trouble. One of them sat with me all night to make sure I was okay.

Okay, why bring this ugly stuff up. Simply to say, don't give into peer pressure. Experimenting is only going to lead to trouble. It's not worth it believe me. Also, it doesn't matter if you drink or if it's water, etc. never let your glass out of your sight when with people you don't know or maybe don't trust. You never know. I was amongst what I thought was friends, but turned out wrong. My main point here is to show the Lord is always with us. He never gives up on us. Had it not been for Him, I would not be here today. He has saved my life so many times. I mean you think about it. I should be dead.

This assignment was about a year and a half long. My next assignment had me going to Shemya Air Base, Alaska! I had no idea what I was in for on this assignment either. It turned out to be a 2x4 island out at the end of the alleutian chain. I wanted to cry. What it the world was I being sent to now? Ha ha. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. There was so much to do there. And, a base that had seperate quarters for women! Although we did not want to be treated special. The bathroom was co-ed though, so of course we had to announce it every time we used the bathroom.

We done a lot of beach combing while there. This consisted of walking the island on our days off looking for old coke and 7-up bottles and prayed we would find the crates as well. I never did come up with any of the crates, but plenty of bottles. We also would find old fishing nets and floats (mainly styrofaom), but on occasion someone would bet lucky and find the old glass floats. Of course I never had the pleasure of finding one of those either. Of course the whole time I was there it was winter. I left again in November :( ; man they loved keeping me from family over the holidays.

We found old WWII bunkers and explored those. We did find old shells that had never exploded and were all rusted. We started a club house in one of the old bunkers. It was well set up for one. There was an old rusted ship that was partially on shore that we climbed around on, but it was well picked over. All this stuff we found on the beach was from the Japanese fishing boats. Occasoionally we would discover old C-rations too. Ewwwww! Let me tell you, opening up some of that old stuff was mighty gross. Some of it was still in tack though, and no, none of us had the guts to try it.

We had one bad experience while I was there. It was my day off and we were all over at the guys dorm partying--a normal pass time when we weren't at one of the two clubs--when we were notified of a plane crash. It was a complete white out. The base had been shut down outside of emergencies. Talk about sobering up fast and being scared. We had a plane go off the runway--the one we had based there--as it could not see the runway. It went off the side of a cliff, but thankfully not far down, as it landed on a shelf. This was my first real experience. It wasn't a nice one either. I ended up not being of much help, as my sliver hood would not stay in place and half the time I couldn't see where I was going. I did see a couple of the crew in bad shape. One was completely burned. I ran to get a truck to haul him to the makeshift hospital in the hanger. Another was laying on the ground with blood seeping from his mouth. He never made it.

There was worse that some of the guys on their first tour witnessed. It was not a pretty sight, but amazingly lives were saved. Unfortunatley one body was not found until late the next day. The crash happened at night. That is an experience that never leaves you. You train and train and train, but nothing prepares you for burnt bodies, dead bodies and what ever else one may come upon. It never leaves you. There are incidents that will happen to bring it to mind whether during the day or while sleeping. But you know, it sure makes one very thankful for all they have. We never did hear whether the charred man made it or not. We kept in contact with the medical team as to how the survivors were doing. The charred man had severe smoke inhilation. The prognosis was somewhat good though. The last we had heard, there was promise and hope that he would survive, although it sounded like it was going to be a rough rode for him the rest of his life.

We did have an earthquake out there at one point. I didn't feel it. I rarely do feel them which is odd. Then came the word that we had a sunami headed our way. The guys dorm was the place where we all had to go to, as they were on the highest point of the island. Thank the Lord it never happened. There was no sunami, but it was thought that there would be one, as with that size of an earthquake, one usually occurs out in the ocean. If it had happened as predicted, we probably would have been wiped off the island. But all was well. That was another sobering episode.

Okay, now for the good and bad of the assignment. You see, I'm not proud to admit it, but I was very premiscous after leaving home. I wanted to find me a man. Pretty sad, I know. I was raised that our bodies are dirty and disgusting and all. So after my first experience, I felt dirty, ashamed and worthless. I figured I had already blown it. I was determined and swore I would never give myself to anyone until I was married. Drinking, what a curse. I gave in way to easy to the enemy. Way too easy. I was unfortunately a follower. Why? I do not know. I was raised better than that. The only thing was I was forever put down and called a loser. So I wanted someone to love me. Was that rational thinking? Yeah right, not hardly.

But here is the good side. This is where I met my dear sweet hubby, that ended all premiscuity. I do believe in love at first sight. Hubby was not there when I arrived. He was on leave. One day someone showed me a picture of him. I knew the moment I saw his picture, and no it wasn't looks alone, I just knew. I knew he was the one. When I met him, I thought what an idiot, he won't have anything to do with you, but I still knew he was the one. We hit it off shortly after he came back from leave. I fell head over heals in love with him. He proposed to me, and I said yes. This is where it gets good.

Our assistant chief was a sweet heart. He was old fashioned too which is how I was brought up. He told hubby to call my parents and ask for my hand in marriage as that is the proper thing to do. Poor hubby was so nervous I couldn't help but laugh. I was so proud of him though. I knew if he was able to do that, then we were meant to be together. We had a blast for the most part. Drinking caused problems occasionally though. And then, well another problem, I became sick, and found out I was pregnant. Oh yeah. Great one huh? I called my poor parents and let them know. I was scared to death, as hubby and I weren't married yet, and we were having problems with our relation. Needless to say, hubby was on cloud nine and so excited!

Any way, calling the parents wasn't so much fun. Oh my gosh, they were upset! Can't blame them. I felt bad, as they spent many a night not sleeping worrying over what was going to happen to me. This was the last thing they expected from me. Well this had me leaving the island early as there was only an infermary (sp?) there. Hubby was sent to Castle AFB, CA. and luckily a friend at Shemya pulled some strings and got me sent there as well. Hubby left in Jun. and I left in Jul. We actually had a day of sun which meant a base down day. That was the ONLY day I had seen the sun there. And yes, it is true, there is a period of time when it never gets dark. That really stinks. Most of us put foil over the windows during that time. Thankfully the rooms had heavy curtians as well.

Well this is where I end another segga of the lifes and times of emwah. I led a very interesting life, but also a sinful life which I am not proud of. But you will find out in a couple more segments down the line as to what I've done to change all that. God Bless!
P.S. I apologize if there are a lot of typos in here, as it is getting late andhave to be up very early. So I didn't not proff read any of this. :( I'll make sure I do better next time. Until then, ta ta.

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