“Do you ever regret entering your field of work?”
On February 29, 2016, I retired from the U.S. Army after 20 years as a 67T/15T, a military occupational specialty (MOS) officially known as a “Utility Helicopter Repairer.” During that time, I logged a total of 3904.9 flight hours – 1230.2 of which were combat hours. As a Flight Instructor and later, Standardization Instructor, I trained 57 other crew chiefs, 20 medics, and six other instructors.
The missions sets I was familiar with were diverse: air assault, external loads, aerial firefighting, minelaying, and gunnery; I have flown dignitaries, rock stars, wounded, civilians, and dogs during VIP flights, Medevac missions, and other missions.
Along the way, I have lost 12 coworkers and friends due to causes ranging from enemy fire to human error to mechanical failures.
Physically, the toll was by back, knees, and my first marriage…
Do I ever regret entering that MOS?
I have experienced amazing things. The green glowing plumes from the exhaust of the “straight stack” engines of the helicopter in front of us as we gently banked over Tak, Thailand, at 2am as we lined up to wake up the inconsiderate Cav Scouts in our building with a flyover of 5 ‘Hawks with door guns a’blazin’ with blanks… The bright halo of silver light as a bird came in for landing on volcanic dust at night… The utter chaos of a 3am “point of injury” mission with three other people talking over the internal communication system (ICS), four different radios saying five different things, two OH-58’s providing overwatch in one part of the sky and a pair of AH-64’s inbound to relieve the Kiowas due to low fuel… Flown through the mountains of Afghanistan at night with no night vision goggles (NVG’s)… (long story for later)… The utter exhaustion and frustration of doing CPR for what seemed like hours, only to lose the patient after we got him to the combat support hospital (CSH)… The camaraderie… the anger… the stupid and silly pranks…
I have the memories which are priceless and the inspiration for my future writings, teachings, and successes…
So, nope. I regret not one damn thing.
Even the plums.