Name: Brad S.
Hometown: Houston, TX
Service history: 2004 to 2009
Occupational specialties: Aircraft mechanic, crew chief, Weapons and Tactics Crew Chief Instructor
Reflection on the job:
I worked on CH-53s, a heavy-lift transport helicopter. As a crew chief, I support the pilot and serve as a lookout while flying. I can be a door gunner, a cargo loadmaster, and … yeah … at times, a glorified stewardess.
I did some hard and fast training to get qualified before a deployment to Iraq. I’d always wanted to serve. My grandfather was a pilot on the TB Avenger during WWII, and I wanted to be a Naval aviator too. My older brother is a Marine, and he pushed me toward enlisted in the Corps, and was helpful to make sure I got the MOS I wanted.
The best story I think I have from my time in us when I got to see my sister in Iraq in 2006. That was a time I’ll always remember. She was an Army JAG officer stationed at Al Ramadi. We’d fly there every night we conducted flight ops. I’d only been a corporal for less than two months, but I mentioned to my CO at the time that I thought it’d be great to see her. “I don’t see why not,” he said. “We fly there every night.”
So I hopped on the helo and we got going. When we landed, it was actually the first time I’d been on the receiving end of a dust cloud.
I hadn’t seen my sister in two years. She showed me around the base, and I basically shadowed her while she worked, feeling a little out of place as a Marine. It was a lot of fun, though, especially when we got our hands on some local confiscated weaponry, like this chrome-plated short barreled AK.
At one point we crossed the Euphrates to go to a different part of the base. We were told not to wear armor, because falling into the water and drowning was a greater risk than sniper fire. Made me pretty uncomfortable to be in the open like that, but it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
After that, we went to a local Iraqi police station to accompany some suspects back to base. We were in a convoy (another first for me). When the day finished up, we headed to the “bar” near the airfield and had a couple of near-beers and shot the shit for a couple of hours while I waited for my ride. My squadron returned to the A/DACQ and it was time to leave. We hugged it out and said our goodbyes and got back to work.