Let me begin with last weekend when I was on duty as the navigator for the duty driver. Myself and a fellow officer were slated to take that duty from 0700-0700 the next day. I didn’t think it would be that busy since the others who had been doing it before us almost never got calls. We are required to take the cell phone with us at all times and respond to the orders of the Command and Assistant Command Duty Officers. Basically, we are a taxi service. Before we had even gotten report from the off-going shift, we had our first customer! We took many trips off base to a clinic for those trainees in need of medical care. It seems that quite a few people have become sick this week. Anyway, we did lots and lots of those trips. That wasn’t so bad and we thought that after our morning was done with those things may quiet down…how wrong we were. We had only a few short hours of down time during the whole 24-hour shift. I think we decided that we had been driving for about 7-8 hours that day. A good amount of time was spent waiting for calls, but we would finish one thing and get a call 20-30 minutes later.
It was pretty steady for most of the day. It may sounds like a bummer duty to pull, but I had so much fun. We mostly transported Officer Candidates…and I really enjoyed talking with them. It is so funny because we see the OCS students all the time, but can never really interact with them. In fact, we are not allowed to say one word to them until they have completed their ninth week of training…so for the most part, we are in the dark about what they are doing and vice versa. It was funny though, because every time we see them and when we would drive up to pick them up, they are standing at attention…not allowed to move or talk or look at anything. Once they would get in the van, they would start smiling and wouldn’t stop talking. I enjoyed hearing about their experiences—both the ups and downs. I met a bunch of them…mostly from engineering, aviation, and intel schools. I even met someone who went to Letourneau University (about ½ hour from ETBU!). We took many groups here and there all day long. At one point, it was funny because as they were getting out of the van after a boisterous ride, one of them said “smiles stowed” as he got out…since they have to maintain military bearing all the time. I must say that I really respect what they do since it doesn’t look fun. Sometimes, during physical training, they have to roll around in the sand while they PT and then have to go to breakfast. They have Marine drill instructors and it just doesn’t look fun. They have to earn everything…forks and knifes, salt, pepper, etc.
Anyway, we didn’t finish our duty driving till around 2am. We met a bunch of the new candidates because they arrived a day early for training and we had to transport them off base to hotels. Those poor students have no idea what they are in for. I tried to give them some tips from what I had heard via the grapevine, but I don’t know if anything can really prepare you at all.