In my last post, I posed some sarcastic questions for Zach and Amanda, a married couple who are the only two people I know who are “actively” serving in the military. I put the word “actively” in quotes because how active can the Air Force be keeping them since they have three young sons and they still had the time to individually answer my stupid questions?
So here are their answers, along with some follow-ups from me.
1. When you were deployed to Afghanistan (she was) and Iraq (he was), did you feel safer than an ordinary American here at home? (Statistically, they both were.)
Zach: I was deployed to Iraq in 2009, the U.A.E. and one more location in 2019 that is classified. In 2009 I felt less safe because, while you are there, your very presence is inviting conflict, whereas back in the states, the majority of danger comes from accidents. Most people don’t think about all of the things that can kill you each day, but when someone is actually trying to kill you it makes you notice it more.
Amanda: When I was stationed in Afghanistan in 2010 it still was unsafe but not as bad as going outside the wire. The army still has it worse than us.
Me: I don’t think the victims of mass shootings would classify their deaths as “accidental,” but I get it. When you go to a church or a school in America, you don’t feel like you’re in danger even though you are. But, more importantly–wow, Zach, you were stationed somewhere classified? Was it Area 51?
2. When you enlisted, did they tell you what was in Area 51? Would it freak me out?
Zach: Yes they did, and it would BLOW YOUR MIND!!!!! (Seriously, no they didn’t; all I know about Area 51 comes from documentaries.)
Amanda: Sadly no, we don’t have the need to know.
Me: Now I know that’s where Zach was stationed!
3. You’ve been stationed in Utah and in England. Which place has better accents?
Zach: England has better accents but that’s because there are more of them. We hear accents that are Irish, Scottish, Welsh, London, etc. So there is a larger range, kind of like New York City.
Amanda: Germany. They would talk shit about us in German.
Me: Amanda, how did you know? Sprichst du Deutsch?
4. Both of you post on Facebook a lot. Is any of that coded messages about enemy troop movements?
Zach: Personally I don’t make any coded messages although I do like to look at things that others post on military actions and try to inform them if they are incorrect.
Amanda: No that’s OPSEC.
Me: I have enough trouble with normal millennial text abbreviations, so don’t start OPSECing me.
5. Can you both sing the Air Force song? Can you harmonize?
Zach: I can sing the Air Force song if you pay me or put a gun to my head. Otherwise F that. And I can’t harmonize at all.
Amanda: Yes and maybe if we practiced, but we aren’t that cool.
Me: Only in the Air Force could singing the Air Force song in two part harmony be considered cool. The question for Amanda is, would she pay Zach to sing with her?
6. Back in the 70s, I worried about being drafted, because I have no sense of rhythm and I thought I might have trouble marching in formation. Do either of you know anyone who got discharged because of that?
Zach: Everyone eventually gets it, and they will keep you in basic training until you do. I have seen some crazy ass marching. There is a thing called “failure to adapt to military life” and you can get kicked out for it. It’s like if you are constantly late to work, you fail your exams, fail your physical training test, your dorm rooms are disgusting, etc. It shows that you are just not cut out for this way of life.
Amanda: No, they would just be super fit because of the extra push ups or sit ups or burpees they would do.
Me: I wouldn’t have lasted a week. And I do not want to know what burpees are.
7. I know that neither of you are pilots, but do they ever let you fly something anyway? If either of you were the Robert Hayes character in the movie Airplane, could you land the plane?
Zach: So they have an “incentive flight” program where if you do something really noteworthy, or are just a constantly shining star they will let you go up in a two-seater fighter jet. I put out an aircraft fire once and “saved” the pilot’s life. So they sent me up in an F-16. It was one of the coolest experiences of my life. The pilot let me fly for almost the whole 2 hours. And yes, if I had to, I could land a plane. I know enough about basic flight control systems and dynamics of flight to get the plane on the ground. The plane probably wouldn’t be able to make any connecting flights, but it would be on the ground.
Amanda: Zach has had the incentive flight. The pilot let him take the controls for a moment.
Me: “A moment?” Hmm. It seems like Zach may be exaggerating his “flight time.”
8. Some people wouldn’t work for a company that supported President Trump. The Air Force gave $18,456 to his reelection campaign. Are either of you going to quit because of that?
Zach: I’m not going to quit, because all of that money comes from individual people. Each year AF members can donate money to various charities or organisations, one of which is the reelection campaign. So that 18k is coming from 120k AF members which just shows me that he isn’t well liked among the majority of the AF. Down with the clown.
Amanda: If you didn’t like your boss would you quit? But would you quit knowing he could only be working for 4 years as your boss. Remember when you quit you lose all benefits and retirement.
Me: “Organisations?” Zach hasn’t been stationed in England long enough to be spelling with a British accent.
9. How many different uniforms do you have? Do they ever change the styles?
Zach: We have 3 distinct groups of uniforms. PT gear (work out clothes), Blues ( the formal blue suits with all the ribbons), and fatigues. The AF is currently phasing out the old ABU (airman battle uniform) for the new OCP (operational camouflage pattern). While we go through the transition, both forms of fatigues are allowed to be worn but by 2021 we will all have to be wearing OCPs. These uniform changeovers happen infrequently; it’s usually to meet the operational requirements of the regions we will be deployed to most often. Or to update old fashion styles with the times. (For example, the PT gear is getting updated from 70’s- style nut- huggers to more modern trends.)
(Amanda had basically the same answer but, for some reason, omitted the nut- hugger reference.)
More of Zach and Amanda’s answers in my next post! See you soon.