I was asked recently to write about what it means to me to serve in the Air Force, and, in general, what it means to be a Veteran. Frankly, I’m not ready to write to you about that just yet. However, I’m also often asked, “What is it you do with the Air Force?” Now that is question I can write to you about. Especially since I’ll be at the Air Reserve Station in Youngstown, Ohio, this weekend.
In the event you are new and don’t know me well yet, I’ve been a member of the Air Force Reserves for the past 18+ years. Prior to the Reserves, I was on active-duty for four years in the early 1990s. I currently spend my “part-time” (my wife and Rhona will be rolling their eyes at those words) as a Flight Engineer on C-130 cargo planes. It’s a great job and I love the flying.
What many of you don’t know are the specifics about what I do for the Air Force--the Aerial Spray mission. It is a specialized mission and my group out of Youngstown is the only unit in the entire Department of Defense (DOD) tasked with this mission. What and why are we spraying? There are three type of missions we support; I’ll share those that I’ve flown:
- Deep Horizon (BP) Oil spill: we were tasked to help with the oil slick cleanup/containment in the Gulf;
- Hurricane Harvey: we worked with FEMA to conduct night spraying operations to help alleviate the break out of mosquitos in and around Houston (I even ran into a West Virginia electric-line worker a few years after who thanked me for the work we did);
- Assistance with placing fire breaks on the bomb ranges out west: we are able to help control the vegetation so the bombers and fighters can conduct their training;
Of course, a picture or a video can be better than 1,000 words. This video I’m including was taken near Williston, ND. I remember showing this to my Grandfather when he was still alive. I had told him we fly low. As he was watching it, he said, “Wow, you do fly low”. I simply replied, “Grandfather, he’s not low yet.”
The video is 1:51 long; please make sure you are watching during the :48-1:03 mark. When you can see the top of the plane, that is when we are getting down to our swath altitude of 100’. Yes, I said 100 feet. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XR9uI6EDMT4
I hope you enjoy the video, and now you know a little of what I do for my “part-time” job!
Please remember that we are “here” and available for you as well. If you have any questions or concerns, financial or otherwise, please do not hesitate to call or email. If you have friends, family, or neighbors you feel would benefit from a conversation with me, I’m more than happy to have a call or jump on a Zoom meeting with them.
As always, I hope that you are doing well, and staying safe & healthy!