Flight School ~ PCS ORDERS ~

The other big, important day while in flight school is the day you receive your orders for your follow-on duty station!  The aviators are allowed to maintain a list of the Top 3 places that they would like to go, and the Army (most of the time) attempts to grant it to you and your family.  As with anything in the Army, nothing is guaranteed, and it’s both exciting and nerve-wracking waiting for these to come through!

“They say” can often get you into trouble and for us it did.  We were told an average of 4-6 weeks from selection he’d receive the draft of his orders telling him where we’d be sent next.  4-6 weeks turned into 7, then 8….then the rest of his class (all but Ryan and 1 other) received their orders.  I’ll admit, I didn’t handle this frustration in the most graceful way!  I’ve moved around my entire life as an Army Brat turned federal contractor, turned Army wife.  Literally my first passport had my hospital birth picture.  However, we’ve been trying to get back up North for 7 years.  Ryan’s first duty station was supposed to be Alaska…then those were pulled for Ft. Bragg.  Ugh!  Our family is in Maine and New England will always be HOME, so we were so anxious to find out if our hopes would come true!

FINALLY, 9 weeks from selection and halfway through his advanced airframe training his orders came through!!

And our next duty station is….

FT DRUM, NEW YORK!!!!!!!!

Ft. Drum was our #1 choice and we were praying so hard that Ryan would get selected to go!!!!!  We are beyond excited for the next chapter of our story and to FINALLY be back closer to home.  It’s about 7 hours back to our home town in Maine which is the closest we can get.  We are so thankful for snow…and 4 seasons!

FLY TO GLORY!!!!!

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Flight School ~ SELECTION ~

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Life in an active duty Army family comes with many tear-jerking and monumental moments for your soldier and your family.  Some are sad and oh so difficult…while others can be some of the most memorable moments of your life.

Ryan (and TeamGrim) has had many of those!  Flight School on the Warrant Officer side (there are Commissioned Officers as well) goes through several phases which are best broken down as follows:

  1. WOCS: Warrant Officer Candidate School.  About 5 weeks of training that is worse than basic (according to Ryan haha) that breaks down the enlisted soldier to turn them into an officer.  At the end is a very special graduation where your loved one(s) can pin your new rank on you.  Logan & Emma (and I) had the privilege 🙂
  2. WOBC (A) Follow-on Training for their rank that lasts for about 3 weeks.
  3. SERE/Dunker: Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape.  POW training that is called the best worst school you can attend in the army.  Ryan already had this training so he able to bypass it.  Dunker/HOST teaches them how to survive a water landing and techniques for water survival.
  4. Finally, FLIGHT SCHOOL BEGINS: This is being revamped by the Army, but Ryan’s was broken into a few different sections of training where he had “check rides” showing his proficiency in each before he was able to proceed.

At the end of this first portion of training a very special and much anticipated day arrives that determines the course for the rest of their careers: ADVANCED AIR FRAME SELECTION DAY!!!!!!!

Up until Selection Day the active duty flight school students have no idea what air frames will be available when they walk into that room!  The board will be revealed (dramatically!) and each student is able to pick their bird from the ones that are available based on the OML (Order of Merit List: ranking by their grades in school, check ride grades, PT Test, etc.).  The OML is so competitive that the top people are usually only separated by .001 of a point!!!  These people are truly the best of the best in the army!

Since Ryan spent the first 7+ years of his career as a Chinook maintainer his heart belongs to the big girl.  We prayed so much over the course of our time here that he’d be able to have his number 1 pick.  Of course, he would have loved any rotary wing, but to get your #1 is incredibly special.  To add to the intensity, there are well under 200 slots a year so it’s the hardest airframe to choose!  Most classes have 1-2, if any, and Ryan’s class had 8 slots available for Warrant Officers!!!!

“You guys, God is an on-time God and His timing is ALWAYS perfect.”

This was totally a God thing!  When Ryan’s packet took a while to get a waiver and a few pieces of the puzzle to come together I told him it was all God’s timing.  I said “I’m claiming it and God’s trying to put you in a class flooded with Chinooks!!!  You guys, God is an on time God and His timing is ALWAYS perfect.  He’s taught us over and over again to lean on Him and one of these days maybe it will stop blowing me away.

From here Ryan will move on to his Chinook training that will last approximately 16 weeks.  After that he’ll got another short training to pick up his CW2 rank and he’ll be able to pin on those wings at his graduation!!

When you are the village.

A good friend of mine posted on Facebook last week and reminded me that sometimes things aren’t your fault.  Sometimes, people are so wrapped up in their own problems/joys/lives that they simply don’t think about you.  And that’s okay, but it’s still hard to keep it from hurting sometimes.  I tend to internalize everything.  If people don’t call, text or visit…I feel like they must not care, and that’s not always the case.

Things have been really rough since Ryan went back to work.  He burned through all of the vacation that he’d been saving since we’d started trying to conceive just so he could spend 6 weeks with us after the babies were born.  And Thank GOD he did!  Since then he’s worked until a minimum of 6:30 pm every night…often later and missed out on so much with me and the kids.  (No, there’s no particular reason…just new requirements for his platoon).  I’m alone, as a new mom, with twins, for 14 hours a day (minimum).  He leaves by 5-530 every morning and isn’t back until at least 7pm due to work and the INSANE Savannah traffic.  Plus, I also work from home 20 hours a week.  I love these sweet babies more than life itself, but it can be so hard to feel so lonely.  I feel like i’m not enough for them by myself because neither get me all to themselves…ever.  That’s a lot for a newborn to handle!  By the time Ryan gets home, I have to have dinner made so that we have time to eat it and get the kids sleeping at a decent time.  I’m trying very hard to establish a schedule. 🙂  To make matters worse, thanks to the Army life, he’s leaving for training for several months very soon after Christmas.  YAY!  We’re still trying to find a way for us to be with him…if possible.

Yes, I know that our children are our responsibility.  But everyone always says: “It takes a village”.  Apparently i’m a village of 1 1/2 when Ryan is able!  Haha It’s hard when we don’t have any friends or family to help.  My sister, who also has twins, gave me the advice to ask visitors to come once Ryan went back to work.  She said she had scattered help and it made a world of a difference because the first few months are so hard.  That didn’t work. 😦  It’s so hard to not feel so lonely and forgotten.  I had visions of people being so excited and visiting lots once the babies were born, but I think people get so wrapped up in their own lives that it’s not exciting once the babies aren’t “new” anymore.

This isn’t meant to be a bashing of anyone, just getting my feelings out.  It’s okay that people have their own joys, their own families, and their own struggles.  Heck, we all get wrapped up in our own lives.  I know that as much as I always try to be there for everyone else, it hasn’t been as easy now that I have two newborns.  Sometimes you just hope that when it’s your turn and you really need people to care that they’ll return the favor.  I hate it for our babies.  They’re the most amazing and precious gifts EVER and i’m sad that it seems that more people don’t want to be a part of their lives.

Thankfully when Ryan does get home or is around on the weekends, he’s the most amazing husband and Daddy.  He tries so hard to give me breaks and let me take baths or helps with Yawkey and the cooking/cleaning (or takes the babies so I can do all of that).  I seriously don’t know what i’d do without that man!  I just oh so wish he could be with us more.  I know it wears on him to be away from us so much and stuck in such a time consuming job.

As my friend said, I have to remind myself that it’s not always because of us or that people don’t seem to care…often times they do…it’s just that they have so much in their own lives that they forget to notice.  I’m going to keep on trucking and praying that God will carry my little family through to easier days.  I’m going to do my best with what we’ve been given and snuggle my quickly growing babies a little tighter today and show them as much love as I can possibly show them.  I have my perfect little family and we have each other…and that’s enough!  And i’m going to lean on my Heavenly Daddy for the strength that I need to carry us through.  I’m going to try to be “Army Strong” even when I don’t feel it.

~Melissa G.

Home is where the heart is?

Let me start by saying that I am so thankful for the way that I grew up and for all of the many experiences that I’ve been afforded and above all else, I am an American. I am from Maine. My family is from Maine on both of my parents sides. However, when your entire life has centered around the military people sometimes don’t understand. In the first 30 years of my life I lived in 8 states and 2 countries. My husband’s family is from all over: California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Florida and a few relatives in Mass. However, on his first trip home with me he fell in love with New England! If home is where the heart is then he’s definitely from Maine. 🙂 The only reason that we do not live in New England now is because of his (our) service to the military.

There will always be a part of me that wishes that I could have grown up in Maine. It’s arguably the most beautiful state in the union, it’s where my family is, it’s the birthplace of a Nation, and above all: it’s home. Part of me will always be sad that I didn’t get to grow up near the rest of my family and that always hits me when we go home. It was all the more apparent when we said goodbye to my Grammy and Grampy Walsh. When someone passes, everyone shares fun memories that they had with that person, and it broke my heart to not have more of my own to share. I felt left out of a lot growing up when I didn’t have more memories with my family back home. It is still difficult to see my cousins’ wedding pictures with our grandparents and wish that we could have some.

There are many advantages to life as a military. I was afforded many opportunities that some never get: we were in Germany when the Berlin wall came down and I’ve visited almost every country in Europe, I’ve climbed to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa, I’ve lived in more states than some people travel to and visited 3 times as many, I feel much more resilient than I would have been and have an appreciation for other people and cultures. I also have a unique stance in that I know what it’s like to send my Dad and my Husband off to war. I wouldn’t trade the way I was raised and I am excited that our kids will grow up with their own adventures as Army BRATs. 🙂

However, it can also be difficult to always be the “outsider”. Yes, we have MANY southern friends and there are plenty who love us and don’t act negatively toward us, but there are still FAR too many fighting the Civil War. I’ve been discriminated against since moving to our current state as many (most certainly not all) people from the south still hate “Yankees”. We’ve been kicked out of restaurants since moving to our current duty station because they “don’t serve” our “kind” in there. We walked out thinking we were in some sort of backwards movie from the 60’s (which is even funnier because Ryan isn’t technically from the North).  I’ve had a few people tell me to “Go back where I come from”. There is a shrine erected in a park downtown always facing the “enemy to the North” and we were told that no part of this monument was allowed to even TOUCH Northern soil on its way down from Canada. Umm, what??!! I’ve never been exposed to such hatred in all my life. Even at a civilian doctor in Tennessee a nurse said, “Oh you must be so glad to be away from all of those a$$holes up North and down here where people are nice”…which is a judgmental and rude statement to make in and of itself. Now, it’s become even worse with the church shooting of 9 black people in Charleston (1.5 hours from where we live) and the North/South battle is heating up again. Funny thing is…you don’t see it up North. I was always taught that it was a dark part of our Nation’s history, that Jesus has called us to love all people as ourselves, and my family fought to keep the USA together after the slave (southern) states seceded.

On the flip side, some people feel as though i’m not “from Maine” because I didn’t get to grow up in one place. So, let me get this straight…no Army BRAT is from their home state since they didn’t grow up there? I’m a New Englander through and through and I will never turn my back on it. Our kids will probably be born in a few different states, but they will still be New Englanders since that is where we’re retiring one day.

Remember that not everyone grows up traditionally and some of us still sacrifice every day in giving up where we would like to be living for service to our Nation and ensuring our freedom and the freedom of others.  But we wouldn’t have it any other way and we appreciate experiencing other cultures.  We don’t want sympathy, but love and acceptance (or at least kindness) would be perfect.  Besides, aren’t we all Americans?

~Melissa, Army Wife and American

Team Grim

I recently changed the name of the blog to “Team Grim” since this has really become more of a place for my family than for just me and my thoughts.  When I originally started my blog it was to get out some of my thoughts and feelings about my husband’s (then boyfriend) first year long deployment.  Now it has become a way to document some of our life together and the excitement/difficulties that we face.  “Team Grim” was started as a bit of a cute name for ourselves when we got married and stuck when we started running our obstacle course races together.  I truly believe that marriage makes you a team and that has never been more apparent than it has in the past year-ish of our lives and dealing with infertility, but i’ll share more on that later.

As most people do, we had a lot thrown at us in our first year of marriage and even a bit prior to our wedding.  Surprisingly to some though, there were never issues between the two of us.  Ryan was gone for a total of about 9 of our first 15 months of marriage.  We started PCS-ing (permanently relocating for those non-military friends) about a month in and he had several schools to attend in order to be spun up for a new unit.  That led to multiple TDY’s, schools and a deployment to close out the year.  On top of that we had a few very painful family situations relating to both health and relationships that gave us no choice but to learn to depend on each other and God.

I truly believe that our relationship has been made easier by keeping God at the center of our marriage.  We prepared a lot for our marriage beforehand and I prayed often for my future husband before we ever started dating.  I’m a firm believer that everyone should spend considerably more time preparing for the marriage than for the wedding (as beautiful, magical and fun as ours was).  Recently we’ve been told by a few people, who we respect dearly, that we should start training/outreach to other married couples.  While I think we still have a lot to learn about marriage ourselves, this truly touched me to hear that people believe that we are on the right track and have something to give back to others.  With me as the aspiring counselor, who knows what may be in store for our future 🙂

“I’m a firm believer that everyone should spend considerably more time preparing for the marriage than for the wedding.”

I don’t say any of the above to brag on us as people, but to demonstrate how much God can lead a marriage when you continuously give it over to Him.  I want to be a testament to others that marriage can be wonderful and fulfilling!  There is no way that we would be this strong and still so much in love were it not for His love and guidance.  We are still learning every day to trust in Him as we face the most difficult journey of all so far, but we wholeheartedly believe that He will give us the desires of our hearts.  As a dear family friend and former teacher reminded us this week that faith is what it takes:

“He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” – Matthew 17:20

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