By lex, Mon – February 2, 2004
I got a nice note from a Sailor on a cruiser homeported here in San Diego.
It’s really nice to hear from folks in the service, and of course those that have left. But this note made me happy indeed:
As I sit here and read your web page, my entire view of Aviators has pretty much changed.
I am an ET2 who just recently came back from Yokosuka, Japan. I was stationed on the USS Kitty Hawk and had many run ins with the pilots. See,I worked on the AN/SPN-43C (which doesn’t really effect you directly…it’s just what the AC’s use to see you) and the AN/SPN-41. Now the SPN-41 is what you probably know as the BULLSEYE. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had Aviators come up to me and tell me how Bullseye was X many balls off, or that I nearly ruined their landing/killed them because my system was wrong.
I often heard how I was the reason they boltered 3 times, or came in looking ugly even though the test equipment I used every night showed Bullseye was “on and on”.
The few off duty meetings I had were always an Us-Vs.-Them situation where it seemed the Mighty Aviators were humoring the lowly ET3 by letting him speak in their presence.
OK…my rambling is beginning to sound more and more like I’m bitching…and I’m sure you don’t really want to hear it…so I’ll get to the point…
Reading your web page has shown me that I pretty much let the bad seed few pilots turn me into a Brown Shoe Hating surface type. It helped me to see that our points of view are not too different. Office/Enlisted, Brown/Black shoe…. we were all out there doing what needed to be done and thinking all the same thoughts of home, why we were out there and our service to the county we love.
I don’t really know why I’m writing this…. I’m half asleep trying to stay awake so I don’t miss my watch from 0000-0400. I just wanted you to know what I’m thinking.
I thanked him for the note, and told him that I appreciated him standing the watch – which is what Sailors do, all around the world, even now as you read this. And the fact that you don’t know their names, and that they don’t know yours, doesn’t make the work they do any less important, or leave you (and me) any less in their debt. In spite of the fact that they don’t see the world that way, and would never dream of asking you to recognize it. If you ask them, they’ll tell you that they’re just doing their job.
I also told him that while pilots sometimes got the glory, it took all of us to make it happen – unless everyone contributes, nothing can get done.
If the plane captain doesn’t get the jet turned around, the sortie doesn’t launch, and the mission is not accomplished.
If the weapons techs don’t groom the systems, the target is not struck, and the mission is not accomplished.
If the ordnance men don’t assemble the weapons properly, the bombs don’t release, or fuze, and the mission is not accomplished.
If the avionics techs don’t maintain the defensive systems, the jet is shot down, or aborts, and the mission is not accomplished.
If the catapult crew, or arresting gear crew, don’t do their jobs, the jet falls into the sea, and the mission is not accomplished.
If the ET’s don’t keep the landing systems up to standard, the pilot cannot land, the aircraft cannot get turned around and launch on the next mission, and that mission is not accomplished.
Without them, we cannot succeed. Without them, the mission is not accomplished. Without them, we are nothing.
But with them, everything is possible. With them, we are so much more than the sum of our individual parts.
With them, we are an invincible team.
As I have written before , pilots can be forgiven at times for thinking that it’s really all about them. But hopefully the worst among them will mature in time, and realize that they are only the final link in a long chain – with everyone contributing their strength, and the chain itself only as strong as the weakest link.
And hopefully, they will not see that weakest link as a deficiency to be bewailed, but an opportunity waiting to be exploited. An opportunity to teach. An opportunity to lead.
Which after all, is what the country is paying them for.