Monday, February 02, 2009

"What Comes Around..."; A true story. (Part I)

[NOTE: This is a retelling of what is probably the worst thing anyone has ever done to me and how I ended up getting a small measure of revenge in the end. Everything in this story is true to the best of my recollection.]

I came to Italy from Germany in May 0f 2000. I ended up working on the division staff doing a job that was highly sophisticated and detail oriented. I loved it right away because jobs like that are few and far between in the Army. In Germany I worked on radios and spent a lot of time in a field environment which I’ve never really enjoyed so when I fell into a job where I would be working at a desk in an office behind a computer, I welcomed the change. But what I loved most was that the job was difficult, challenging, always changing and so you had to stay sharp to keep up. There was a lot to learn and I devoured it all. I took to it right away and became rather good at it. Most of the officers that I worked for didn’t really know exactly what my job was but they knew it was important enough that if they had someone who was good at it, they were extremely fortunate. And so I developed a good relationship with pretty much every officer I worked with and enjoyed a certain amount of autonomy. I never thought the job was so hard that the average person couldn’t learn it but for some reason, every single other soldier, officer and NCO alike, had trouble learning the job. Most never even got the slightest grasp on it at all and because of that, spent most of their time doing everything BUT what they were supposed to be doing. I didn’t mind as much because it made me, by default, the go-to guy. For all of my time doing the job as a soldier, I was quite literally the only person there who knew how to do it. Over the course of my time there I’d met and worked with civilians who did the same job as me and I always had it in the back of my mind that I would love to one day get out of the Army and do my job as a civilian. After all, it would mean better pay, still serving my country and yet not having to put up with most of the Army crap that I didn’t like. Unfortunately there were no civilian positions here in Italy doing my job so I continued to re-enlist to stay in Italy because I did not want to leave this beautiful country. There were several civilian positions in Heidelberg, Germany but…Germany is not Italy. And so I stayed.

In the summer of 2003, I was approached by an Air Force friend and told that they (the AF) were now accepting candidates from the Army for their officer training school. I had always wanted to join the Air Force and had often toyed with the idea of getting a commission and finishing my military career as an officer so I took the test and scored high enough to submit a packet. Several officers I worked with at the time were thrilled and wanted me to succeed so through them I was able to acquire not only a letter of recommendation from my Commanding General, but also an emphatic recommendation for admittance from an Air Force General Officer who was the 86th Wing commander at Ramstein AB. I was told by the Air Force recruiter who was supervising my packet that these two recommendations together meant that my acceptance was guaranteed as soon as my packet was submitted. Unfortunately, the Army was late supplying me with the last remaining document I needed and literally nine days before the packet was due, the Air Force filled their slots and closed the process for that year. The recruiter told me it was no problem, I just had to wait a year and submit the finished packet, that it was guaranteed, but for me the die was cast. My future as an Air Force officer was not to be. I was already 32 years old so waiting another year and then getting a commission at age 34 just was not an option for me. But by that time, I had really grown tired of much of the day to day Army bullshit that I had to put up with. I enjoyed my job tremendously but didn’t enjoy being subjected to the whims of idiot NCOs (and occasionally officers) who had way too much control over my life for my liking. I hated the fact that I couldn’t just come in, do PT, do my job and then go home. I’d always told myself that I’d stay in the Army as long as I enjoyed it or could at least tolerate it and after nearly seven years active duty, the time had come. And so my options became limited to one: get out of the Army and get a civilian job.

To be continued...

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