It would be tricky to capture eight years of guard experience in one single post, as each drill can vary substantially in training.
Let’s start the first drill weekend.
There may be a theme to my military duty, especially in new situations. The theme being the word “awkward”.
I was told the week before that Drill would be the following Friday at 1600 at the West Jordan Airport Armory. Not to be ill-equipped, I packed all of my gear I thought I may need for training and packed enough for a weekend stay. For once, I was over prepared.
I showed up at roughly 1500 as I hadn’t a clue as to where to report. As I scanned the armory, I only saw a few vehicles. I suppose other soldiers aren’t as early as me (or anxious to be on time). I wandered around and asked a soldier where I could find SFC Craudell. This soldier was more than friendly, he gave me a tour of the armory, showed me where to report, and took me over to the airfield. For the first time, I saw the Blackhawks and Apaches I would become intimately familiar with. I gazed over them in awe and noticed immediately how dorky I must’ve looked next to another soldier who had become more than accustomed to their image. I’m grateful for his assistance and vowed to pay it forward when I had become more accustomed to the military.
I later reported to my unit for formation where we received instruction on what to expect for first drill. 1LT Sherman reported that the government was on the cusp of a shutdown, and if they fail to pass a budget, we would be sent home. One hour later, we got the news that the government failed to pass a budget, and we were to go home. Exciting first drill, right?
Our commander informed us that we would need to make up the drill after the government passes a budget.
Three weeks later we were told to come to make up last drill. This time I had indeed learned that I had overpacked. A typically duty day was 7-5, and we were released to go home after. Some troops elected to stay at the armory as they drive from many miles away. My first drill I met my leadership, and did work related to my MOS. I recall the awesome experience seeing the entire function of aviation, and the pertinence of petroleum operations.
On a typical drill weekend, my section would perform functions related to our MOS. In an aviation unit, it’s obvious to point out that the function of the battalion is to fly helicopters. In this General Aviation Battalion, our aircraft would perform transportation, recon, medivac, and other duties. It was awesome to see these in effect, and equally awesome to see how much it takes to keep these birds in the air.
Other drill weekends served to check boxes. We would shoot weapons, perform PT tests, listen to boatloads of briefs, ruck march, land navigation, etc. Each drill weekend seemed to differ from the others, especially as I moved up in rank and obtained more responsibility. Nothing was more exciting to me than to watch the aircraft in motion. There’s just something about thousands of pounds of metal floating in the air that’s beautiful.
Watching aircraft land and take off was a wonder to behold, this was more so when I took my first flight at my first Annual Training (AT).
Speaking of AT, lets jump to that.