Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Army Mayhem

Ok folks, this is a loooong story, even without my more colorful commentary. I have placed here the short version. Yep, this actually is the short version. Good luck!

Most of you know that Jake is an Army pilot.  He's got over nineteen years in, and we have two more years to serve before he's done. He's had several different jobs during the course of his career, but right now he's a pilot.  Specifically, he's a Lakota pilot at Ft. Polk.

Now, when Jake went through flight school, we had no idea the Lakota was out there. Jake was trained as a Chinook pilot.  We also had no idea that Ft. Polk would wind up being an option for us. There are no Chinooks there. We figured we were headed to Hood, Lewis, or maybe (if we were lucky) Hawaii, but Louisiana never crossed our minds.  But there was a problem when Jake finished flight school--there were way too many Chinook pilots for the aircraft available. Jake, and many others, were coursed to new aircraft in order to reduce the number of pilots without a helicopter to fly.  Honestly, it was ideal for our family.  Ft. Polk is as close as the Army gets to Houston, where my job is. It has made seeing each other on a weekly basis (as opposed to bi-monthly before) pretty manageable.  And we were content for Jake to finish out his Army career at Ft. Polk.  Seeing each other only weekly is not ideal with a toddler who is mad about his Daddy, but it's doable.  This year, unfortunately, we have been learning a hard lesson in not resting on our laurels.

See, the problem with flying a new aircraft like the Lakota, is that it's simply too new.  There's no "job designation" for Lakota pilots yet. So while Jake has been flying the aircraft for three years, he's still designated a Chinook pilot. So when the Department of Defense issued a requirement that all Chinook pilots be transferred to Chinook units for training on a new version...yep, aparently that includes us.  And no, there still aren't any Chinooks at Ft. Polk.  We learned earlier this year that in December Jake must report to Ft. Riley in Kansas, where he'll be trained on the new Chinook...and then asked to sit around with nothing to do because there are still too many Chinook pilots. Gotta love bureaucracy!  And don't get me wrong, I hear that Manhattan, Kansas is a great little town. But there's no job for me there, and no way for me to work from there.  As many of you know, my work requires a lot of travel. There's no commercial air within an hour of Manhattan. So now we're looking at reverting back to a bi-monthly (at best) family--unless we come up with another plan.

When Jake heard about Kansas, he immediately reached out to his old unit and the SF community generally to try and transfer back. He'd rather be working in a unit that will actually use him than sitting around in a unit that doesn't need him. Also, Tacoma is much closer to a large airport (and a large city, Seattle, where I could potentially work).  The SF community was thrilled at the prospect of having him back, and has bent over backwards trying to help him get transferred.  Unfortunately, when it came time to actually secure the release, Aviation said "no."  They want to keep him.

So what happens next? Apparently there's an adjudication board that willl decide (allegedly this Friday) what happens to Jake. Don't even get me started about my thoughts on an adjudication that does not actually involve the subject being adjudicated...it's not pretty.  Needless to say, we are on pins and needles this week waiting to see what will happen to our family.  So, blogosphere, we will take all the prayers you can muster!

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