Skip to main content

Military Lessons

To be completely honest,  I was always a bit afraid of the military. To the outsider, these men and women seemed gruff and emotionless. They dedicated time to physical fitness and cleaning their weapons. They lived in tents across oceans and fought bad guys in the desert. They got yelled at and sometimes humiliated. Who would voluntarily sign up for all that?

After college, I nervously accepted a position in Alabama working literally side by side with these fine Americans. We were mixed together: civilian and military, pilots and engineers, green suit and flight suit. But though this lens, over 3.5 years, I grew to absolutely love these guys (I say guys, just because there really weren't any girls in my group). These men that I used to be so afraid of took care of me, embraced me, and fought for me. They weren't emotionless - they were inspiring. Some of their stories were absolutely gut-wrenching but I'm so thankful I got to hear them. Their patriotism, even when times were tough, was unwavering ... and it made me so proud to call them peers.

I still talk to many of these guys on about a weekly basis. Even though I'm 1,000 miles away in Texas, they still care about me. Working with them was a completely different environment than working in my space station office now. I mean it had to be - I had to list one of them as the person I would like to deliver the news to my family if something were to happen. We all knew some of the testing we did was risky, some of the helicopters we flew were completely redesigned, and some of the equipment required dangerous maneuvers. We all had to trust each other, and even though not all of us were military, when we stepped on that aircraft together we were a cohesive team - more than office partners, we all knew that our duties that day may go far beyond recording data and tracking test points.

I am honored for the short time I had with these heroes. In some small way, maybe the work I helped with will one day save a flight crew. But the work they do on a daily basis continues to grant us freedom. Love you guys, you know who you are.

Night vision testing, thankful for good pilots, heavy goggles, and finger-lights!

Did I mention trust? This was my view from the jump seat. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The road to curing Type 1 Diabetes

From the moment of diagnosis, the road is rough, the learning curve is steep and the stakes are literally life or death. The map is less-than-helpful - paths originating from virtually every corner, coalescing at a center point (aka "diagnosis") and bursting back outwards - some paths cross and wrap around each other but others are isolated. And even with all of these roads, most of the territory is uncharted - how did we all get here and how will we all exit? Where are the obstacles we haven't found yet? Which passage holds the key to unlocking the solution? On any given day I feel pretty isolated with this disease - I'm the only T1D in my group at work, the only one in mission control, the only one in my family. I go through the logistics of calling insurance companies, ordering supplies, changing sites and troubleshooting malfunctions mostly on my own. Even those pesky carbs really only get counted in my brain, no group think for a meal bolus here. But there i

The Diabetes Transportation System DTS-T1

I was looking forward to the Space Shuttle launch on Monday, then it was pushed to Wednesday and now it is scheduled for Thursday due to several electrical issues from a main engine computer controller. Ironically, our little MH-47G (due to start testing on Monday originally) has been having it's own issues and it is still unclear exactly when we will start testing. And all of this uncertainty, schedule changes, and issue-working reminds me of my little friend Diabetes [come on, you knew that was coming :-)]. Even with hard work, super awesome bolusing skills [ check out Holly's blog today, the number crunching is very impressive] and constant blood sugar checks, Diabetes can still be unpredictable, necessitate schedule changes, and cause the carrier to work through the issues. I have been lucky today, even after a late-night cocktail last night, I woke up this morning at 112, and before lunch I was an amazing 113. I love being steady like that, cruising along with hardly an

What it's really like being a woman engineer in 2020

Today is International Women in Engineering Day (#INWED)! This year marks a full decade since earning an Aerospace Engineering degree, launching my journey as a woman engineer. So, what does it feel like as a woman engineer today, in 2020?  It probably comes as no surprise that women are still the minority in most engineering fields, mine included. The real statistics? At my first job out of college , women made up 10% of my group and that percentage came from only one woman: me. There were a handful of other women scattered throughout the rest of the organization but it was probably around 10% at best. I relied solely on men to teach me how to interact with military officers, when to speak up in meetings, how to don and doff flight gear and talk on the radio, how to avoid red-out during aerobatics, how to take engineering notes during night flights, how to setup and run data, how to run a pre-flight and post-flight briefing, how to conduct myself at customer sites, how to layer up an
01 09 10