Military Service, Random Musings, Veteran

Memories: Part 2 – Mountain views

March 3, 2022

Memories:

Part 2 – Mountain views

The next assignment was being shipped off to Denver, Colorado and to attend technical training at what was previously known as Lowry AFB (Air Force Base). The initial job classification I was assigned to was Avionics Test station for the FB111. I had wanted to fly the jets, but bad eyesight made that impossible. Instead, I was happy to be working on or near them.

As stated before, my military career had rocky points. Lowry AFB was just one of them. I arrived, immediately made a new group of friends, and had my very first boyfriend.

Walking on the path to adulthood required moving through different obstacles. Managing my own finances, maintaining  good grades towards completion of the school, and developing relationships whether romantically or with just people to hang out with.

I had never been in a relationship or had a boyfriend up until that point. I also lacked social skills, due to not having any real friends prior to joining the military. There was a big learning curve because most were older than me and only a handful were the same age.

When I joined the military, men outnumbered women. It was approximately twenty-five men to every one woman. This was not a real problem for me at the beginning because I grew up and spent my time with my male cousins. I was always just one of the guys.

Then I began living in this unfamiliar environment were not all men just wanted to be friends. I was good at setting the boundaries and expectations at the beginning. While stationed there, I did not have any issues especially after I started dating my boyfriend.

Upon arrival in Denver, everything moved so quickly, or so it seemed.

I met this person I thought was this great guy. He made me laugh and I thought he was cute. He ended up being my first boyfriend. He was nerdy and into gymnastics, running track, and listening to Prince, Depeche Mode, or The Cure. Those were my first introductions into new genres of music.

The new group of friends I had made did not care for him, at all. They tolerated him because I was their friend, but they thought he was weird because he did not drink, smoke, or like to go out. He did like to dance, and I had my first ever dance with him. All my free time was split up between them and him.

Denver 1990

The person I have fond memories with while in Denver was Juanita. She was this fun and crazy girl I met from Idaho. We became instant friends and she kept me motivated even when things were not going right, she was always there to keep pushing me forward. I will always be grateful to her for those long walks and talks.

Juanita and me, Denver 1990

Also, while stationed in Denver, I had the opportunity to visit my uncle and his family on the weekends. It was so much fun with them, and I learned about their activism as it pertained to Indigenous people and the causes they supported. Sadly, they have both passed away, but I will always have those fond memories.

Uncle Tommy – Denver 1990
Aunty Mary – Denver 1990

Through all the distractions of being in my late teens and on my own, I still had to manage developing the career path I was on.

Unfortunately, the one thing that I had never been exposed to, prior to joining the military, had a profound impact on my learning capabilities while there. I failed the section of the training dealing with microprocessors and computers.

I graduated from a semi-small high school in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1989. At the end of my senior year is when the school received new computers for the following school year. I had never seen a computer, nor had I ever used one. That lack of knowledge of how it worked, and the importance of the microprocessor was hard for me to grasp. Up to that point  I was able to learn by being shown the inner workings of things. The microprocessor was being taught through drawings on paper, out of a book,  or on the chalkboard but it was just not the same. I could not understand the concept. I failed the test to move on, twice.

After being there for almost five months, I washed out of the technical school and was reassigned, again. I would be leaving my newly found friends and the only boyfriend I had ever had up to that point. It was hard, I cried about it, but had to move on.

I did charge of quarters night duty for a month, while waiting for the orders to a new technical school. Then one day, before my shift started, I was called into our advisor’s office and handed orders with an out-processing checklist. The Technical Sergeant apologized because of the short notice, the orders were delivered late, and I was shipping out the next morning. I had to quickly change into my uniform and start the process of leaving.

It was a mad rush to out-process, pack up all my belongings, and find time to spend those last moments with everyone.

I had to have assistance with purchasing a suitcase. A friend who was there when I got the orders notification helped me pick it out and he paid for the bag. He happened to be on his way back to the dormitory when I was leaving to out process. He asked me if I was okay because, I looked stressed. He understood after I told him what happened and showed him my orders. He went with me to all the places that I needed to go on the checklist.

That was a source of contention when my boyfriend found out later that evening. He and my friend had words over it. They got into an argument and started shoving each other. I got mad and reminded them that I had less than twenty-four hours and then I would be gone. I also reminded my boyfriend that he and all my friends were still in classes when I received the orders and went to check out of the base. They did not find out I was leaving until we met up for dinner that evening.

In those days, the rank of Airman Basic and Airman, paid less than $700 a month. Due to the short notice, the military would not be shipping any of my belongings, I had to bring everything with me. They also, were not going to give me any advance pay for my travel. It such as stressful way to travel, oversized luggage and little money. After finding out that I was going to have to bring everything to the airport, my boyfriend said he would take me instead of calling for a cab. My girlfriends all came to my room to help me pack.

The last night I was there, everyone wanted me to hang out with them. They were throwing me this impromptu going away party in our day room, but I was trying to spend time with my visibly upset boyfriend. I kept going back and forth between them. Looking back at it now, knowing what I went through with him later, I should have spent time together with my friends.

The next morning after having a last breakfast with my friends, my boyfriend drove me to the airport. When we arrived and were checking in for my flight, is when we found out the orders were missing the statement that said my baggage was paid for by the Air Force. It was too late to call anyone, and I had to get on that plane. My boyfriend paid the luggage fees for me. I paid him and my other friend back later. I was leaving the beautiful mountain views and traveling again.

Denver 1990

I was financially deficit all the time, due to constantly sending money home to my mother. The money issues between me and my family is a whole other topic that would take too long to explain in this article. I will just leave it at, they were not good people. They were abusive mentally and emotionally. They were only supportive during my active-duty days when it benefitted them.

The day that I found out that I had failed my test, I called my mother to let her know. The only response I got was about the money she had asked about in a previous letter. I could hear her husband in the background yelling at her if I had sent the money or not? Once again, I was disappointed by the lack of care.

That conversation was the same as when I called to let her know that my basic training date had been pushed back because I failed my run. It was my grandmother who I called, right after both times, to console me. She told me it would be okay.

I had to keep pushing on.

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Thank you for taking time to stop by.

Have a great week!

Peace, love, happiness, and good vibes, always!

Suzanne