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Thread: service members

  1. #1

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    well, im thinking of enlisting in the air force. its still a thought at this point, but id figured id ask my fellow drumchatters who have been or are, what do you think of it?

  2. #2

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    I think that a lot of it that depends on a numbef of factors:

    1.) What branch you go into
    2.) What job you sign up to do
    3.) Where you are stationed
    4.) Whether or not you get deployed

    I did 10 years as an active duty solider in the Army, but my experience was considerably different than a friend of mine. Consider the above four points:

    Me:
    1.) Army
    2.) Army band program trumpet player
    3.) Fort Meade, Maryland/Fort Myer, Virginia
    4.) Never got deployed

    Him:
    1.) Army
    2.) Army band program trumpet player
    3.) Fort Campbell, Kentucky
    4.) Got deployed to Saudi Arabian and Kuwait during Desert Storm

    I had a great experience. I went to a band whose primary focus was to play real music. For the first year or so I was there I didn't touch a pair of BDUs - Battle Dress Uniform consisting of camoflage cargo pants/shirts and combat boots. When I was at Fort Myer I was in the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, so our primary job was to provide ceremonial support in the Military District of Washington, and that included doing jobs at the White House, as well as traveling all over the United States and abroad.

    My Friend went to Fort Cambell, Kentucky to a division band, and they like to play soldier at division bands. Add to this that he wasn't exactly the "play Army" type and always had issues with his weight and fitness, and it was pretty miserable there for him where the overall level of musicianship wasn't as high due to the fact that they mostly played reviews and Army school graduation ceremonies.

    Then he got deployed. When they first hit Saudi Arabia they did a smattering of goodwill concerts and shows, but ultimately they packed up the instruments, grabbed up rifles and grenade launchers, and became auxiliary support personnel where they got to do thankless tasks such as a burning out crappers with kerosene. He hit the end of his enlistment and ran as far and as fast as he could from military service.

    I stayed for 10 years active duty before deciding to get out to take advantage of the information technology boom, but I did an additional 4 years of National Guard time with the NG band in Baltimore, so 14 years total. The ONLY reason I didn't stick it out was due to our increased presence in the Middle East and being closer to being deployed than I wanted. By that point I figured I had honorably done my time plus some, and if I didn't have to leave my grade school aged kids for some far-off land, I wasn't going to.

    So, now that I have yammered on for a while, getting back to your question, I think that the Air Force offers some great opportunities, and by and large it is the safest branch to go into. You might get deployed, but typically you won't wind up right on the front lines and in the line of fire. But know this - if you do enlist, typically you give 8 years, no matter what your enlistment says. If you enlist for 3 years, you can get out, but you'll be considered inactive reserve until you've crossed the 8-year mark, so if they ever really need you, they can call you back in - that's part of the contract you sign.

    It's not for everyone, but if you can handle having your life structured and being able to cope with some of the BS that goes with it, it can be a great opportunity and a great way to serve your country.
    Last edited by trickg; 12-12-2011 at 12:02 PM.
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  3. #3

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    That's what Im afraid of, joining and hating it. I really woundn't be afraid of being deployed though, cause I believe I would try to fly while in. I didn't know however that you had to join for 8. Mine as well go for the whole 20 then, and just make a career out of it. I really should have done this right out of high school, when I was running 3 miles a day and working out everyday. Now I have to get my butt back into shape.


    Only thing is, my girlfriend says shes gone if I join :/

  4. #4

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    Do you mean you'd try to be a pilot, or simply to be part of a flight crew or something? The former is extremely difficult to do - the latter, not so much. You can be part of a load crew for cargo planes, or you can do other things like work on KC-135 refueling planes and that sort of thing. It takes a lot more to be a pilot and you'd have to be an officer, not enlisted, to be a pilot, and even then, it's EXTREMELY competitive. Only the very best of the best are selected for flight training.
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  5. #5

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    yes, I want to be a pilot. I've got the asvab scores for it. Flying is something I have dreamed of since I was little. I know I would have to be an officer, and getting to that point is something I am willing to do. When I set my mind to something, I so far have been able to do anything I try.

    Either that, or the navy called me one day...they want me to work with nuclear reactors.Lol

  6. #6

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    I've been in the Air Force for almost 15 years now. I am an Air Traffic Controller. Been stationed at a few bases here in the US...and also did a year in South Korea, and 2 trips to the sandbox. It's been a great experience as a whole. I'm set up now to do 20 and retire. The good thing about the military is you can finish up school, and you even get a ton of credit hours just for training in your job and other classes you have to take during your career. Let me put it this way, with all my training, I only needed 5, yes only 5, classes to obtain my Associates Degree in Airway Science. Medical for you and any dependants is pretty much free. I've had 6 knee surgeries that didn't cost me a dime. And once you retire you keep those medical benifits. Make sure you choose a job that will serve you on the outside as well though so when you get out you can market yourself well. I don't regret serving my country, I would do it again if I had the chance.

    Good luck with your decision.
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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xoferif09 View Post
    yes, I want to be a pilot. I've got the asvab scores for it. Flying is something I have dreamed of since I was little. I know I would have to be an officer, and getting to that point is something I am willing to do. When I set my mind to something, I so far have been able to do anything I try.

    Either that, or the navy called me one day...they want me to work with nuclear reactors.Lol
    OH man you should totally be a nuke. Go learn how to boil water.
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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xoferif09 View Post
    yes, I want to be a pilot. I've got the asvab scores for it. Flying is something I have dreamed of since I was little. I know I would have to be an officer, and getting to that point is something I am willing to do. When I set my mind to something, I so far have been able to do anything I try.

    Either that, or the navy called me one day...they want me to work with nuclear reactors.Lol
    This isn't something you can just enlist for. To be a pilot, you need to do one of three things first:

    1.) Go to college, get a bachelors degree, apply and be accepted to OCS (Officer Candidate School)

    2.) Go through college as ROTC and get your commission upon graduation

    3.) Go to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs


    There's really no other way to do it if you want to be a pilot. When my brother-in-law did it (flew Harrier jets and F-16s, first for the Marine Corps, then with the Air Force on an exchange program) he first got his degree, then he kept applying for OCS. Once he was accepted, he consistently graduated from all of his schools in either the top 1 or 2 of his class. Not percent - the top 1 or 2. That was the only way he made it through the selection to become a pilot.
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  9. #9

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    i thought i could enlist, get my degree and then do ocs?

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xoferif09 View Post
    i thought i could enlist, get my degree and then do ocs?
    You can, but I just didn't want you to think that it was as simple as enlisting to be a pilot. That's taking a different approach and nothing says that you'll have any kind of advantage by doing it that way.
    Your = possessive - your stuff, your dog, your car, etc
    You're = you are - a contraction.

    Learn it. Love it.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xoferif09 View Post
    i thought i could enlist, get my degree and then do ocs?
    I don't know how old you are, but I know that pilots (at least Army Rotary Wing) have an age limit...this can be waivered a bit, but I think the max is 32 years old...

  12. #12

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    Just another thought about the idea you have about enlisting first, getting a degree and then going to OCS, that's a tough road to go down, and you'd have to be very committed to seeing that through because by day you'd be doing your daily duty, and you'd have to almost crush yourself with classes at night to get your degree. Do you have any college under your belt yet?

    Years ago when I was first in, the Army had a program called "Green to Gold" and it was offered to young enlisted people who had GT scores past a certain point, or who looked like they might be good candidates for the officer corps. Essentially, you signed on for the program, finished your enlistment, and went to college - paid for in full by the Army - for 4 years on an ROTC program. There were some other stipulations - I think you had to major in one of the areas they wanted you to major in, but at the end of 4 years, you graduated with a degree and were commissioned as an officer in the United States Army.

    I was offered the "Green to Gold" program, but I turned it down. At the time the only thing I wanted to do was play music, and I didn't want anything to interfere with that. While the idea of being an officer was tempting, the Army got to choose the field where you would serve. If they wanted you to be infantry or a tank commander, then that was what you had to do, although I do think there was some latitude and ability for you to apply for specific fields, based on your scores and standings.

    I mention this because a girl who was in my class as the Armed Forces School of Music opted to do that, and went into the JAG corps - essentially became a military lawyer. She's still in, and is currently an 05 - Lieutenant Colonel. But, she gave up music in order to do that - she hasn't played French Horn since she left the band program.

    We chatted about it on FaceBook not long ago - we took very different paths in our military careers, but neither of us have any regrets about the paths we chose.
    Your = possessive - your stuff, your dog, your car, etc
    You're = you are - a contraction.

    Learn it. Love it.

  13. #13

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    i will have to ask a recruiter about that. that sounds interesting. i do already have about 15 credit hours and will have a few more, as i am taking classes. and, im only 20 so 32 is a way off. lol

  14. #14

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    Being a couple of years older can actually be beneficial because it puts you at a slightly higher maturity level with greater focus than a typical HS graduate going in straight out of high school.

    My brother-in-law is a good example of that. He got out of high school and worked at an auto body shop for 3-4 years, when one day he sort of had an epiphany about his future. This guy is one of the most intelligent, focused people I know. That was it - he enlisted in the Army National Guard for the college benefits and ground his way through that, graduating with a degree in jouralism/advertising. Unfortunately, at the time the job market for his degree field was pretty bare, and after going through a few interviews where he didn't get the gig, he decided to start applying for OCS. He was actually turned down a couple of times before he was accepted. The rest is history - he has had one heck of a military career as a fighter pilot. He currently still serves in the Air National Guard, but he's a pilot for Amerian Airlines for his day gig - considerably different life than had he simply chosen to continue working in the body shop.

    Anyway, back to the initial point - being a bit older - because he was older, more mature and more focused, he was able to take advantage of that among peers who weren't quite as mature, so it constantly put him in positions of leadership - squad leader, platoon guide, etc, and by that time he knew what he wanted to do while many of his younger peers were still trying to figure it out.
    Your = possessive - your stuff, your dog, your car, etc
    You're = you are - a contraction.

    Learn it. Love it.

  15. #15

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    I did 4 years in the Air Force (1965-1969).

    I know it has changed a lot since I was in, but if I remember right, for every 100 people who wanted to be a pilot, 3 made it.

    Before they put you behind the stick of a $50,000,000 plane, you are going to be checked 10 ways from sundown.

    I don't want to be a downer, but the reality of wanting to be a pilot is a long tough road. Best of the best is a understatement.

    Having said that, the Air Force is the way to go. There are a lot of career fields that will let you fly.

  16. #16

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    Rick, you hit the nail on the head - being a pilot for the air force is very tough - particularly if you want to be a fighter pilot, and I really only know the tip of the iceberg for what my brother-in-law had to do in order to make it through the programs he did. But again, he's one of the smartest, most disciplined people I have ever known. I've worked alongside of the military as a DoD contractor and most pilots I have talked to are a lot like him - especially the fighter pilots.
    Your = possessive - your stuff, your dog, your car, etc
    You're = you are - a contraction.

    Learn it. Love it.

  17. #17

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    I did 3.5 years in the Air Force from 1988 to 1991. I signed up for a 4 year stint, but in 1991 the Air Force was downsizing and I was allowed an Honorable Discharge 6 months early. I was an enlisted airman assigned as Security Police Law Enforcement Specialist (called Security Forces now I think) and my duties were not on the flight line. I have no idea what the life of a pilot was like.

    I was assigned to two bases. Anderson AFB, Guam and Mather AFB, Rancho Cordova (Sacramento) CA. Mather AFB no longer exists. It's called Mather Field now. The last time I was there I saw some UPS aircraft on the flight line.

  18. #18

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    Good luck...Whatever you decide to do, keep on drumming!

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by trickg View Post
    Rick, you hit the nail on the head - being a pilot for the air force is very tough - particularly if you want to be a fighter pilot, and I really only know the tip of the iceberg for what my brother-in-law had to do in order to make it through the programs he did. But again, he's one of the smartest, most disciplined people I have ever known. I've worked alongside of the military as a DoD contractor and most pilots I have talked to are a lot like him - especially the fighter pilots.


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