After basic training most, if not all, are allowed two weeks "leave" or vacation to go home. I was so proud when I got off the plane in Reno in my "blues". Dark blue skirt and light blue top with my name tag, no stripes. My then boyfriend, my sister, and my mother picked me up.
My first assignment was at Edwards AFB in California. My sponsor picked me up at the airport in LA, I'd flown in from Reno, and drove us towards the base. At one point we were driving in the desert and I said, how much longer? He told me we were already on base property it's just that it's so big.
Imagine, I'm six and a half hours from home, about 40 minutes from a halfway decent city, and I have no car. In fact, I have no license, and I shared a small dumpy room with one other girl. I hated it. I wanted out. I wanted to go home. I didn't care. But part of the reason I'd joined the Air Force was so that I couldn't quit. Any other job, if I didn't like it, I just quit. Remember I was very young, I could still do that, but I knew sooner or later it would look bad on a resume.
Funny story (to me). I had just gotten my license and I might have had one stripe. The Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force was visiting the base. The absolute highest enlisted rank in the Air Force is Chief Master Sergeant (CMSgt) except ONE person is the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. His name was CMSgt Binniker. Anyways, I think "they" thought it would be appropriate for the lowest ranking person to drive the highest ranking person around. I look back and think, what were they thinking? I mean I was brand new, had just gotten my license, and barely knew my way around the base. He was lucky to get where he wanted to be, lucky that I didn't get lost or in an accident.
Unless you have gone to a number of years of ROTC, you don't get your first stripe until you'd been in six months, until then you are an Airman Basic, then you're and Airman. Ten months later you're an Airman First Class, then a Senior Airman, then (at the time) a Buck Sergeant--finally an NCO or Noncommissioned Officer. They don't have Buck Sergeants anymore, personally I think they should have kept that rank but my reasons will take to long to explain.
I remember walking around the building I worked in with another Airman. We were "policing" the building which means picking up trash. He'd been in one year and I was so impressed. One full year, wow.
I worked in the 125th Communications Squadron, they were responsible for computers and phones, things like that. In a squadron there are flights, flights are like different divisions within a company. Within the flights are sections. I worked in the Orderly Room, in civilian speak that would be comparable to the Human Resource department. The heart of the squadron. Nobody came or left without first having gone through the Orderly Room. We were also in charge of performance appraisals, called Enlisted Performance Reports, or Officer Performance Reports. Also, awards and decoration, doctors/dentist appointments, and a number of other things. We received the least amount of glory, but without us--things went wrong. Now, most flights have civilian secretarys who do what the Orderly Room used to do. When I retired 20 years later, the Orderly Room that I was in charge of was shut down. Sooner or later they'll bring them back, sooner or later everything comes back around. Things they stopped doing when I first joined the Air Force, they started doing again 15 years later. It's all about who's in charge and what they want.
I was at Edwards for four years, in August of 1992 I left for Korea. I've already written about Korea, if you're interested scroll down.
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