Search This Blog

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Return to the Army green... Part two

After only a few short weeks with my new Army National Guard unit word came that the 211th Aviation Group had a moderate number of group members being activated for around 45 days to work security at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games.  I actually wanted to be assigned to this detail, but unfortunately there wasn't a shortage of volunteers and I was told I would not be needed. Or maybe I wasn't told that I "was" needed to fulfill any role in the security operations at the games.  I was a little disappointed, but would survive.  How often does the opportunity arise to work the Olympic Games, especially as part of the military?  Almost never, the games only happen every four years, or every two if you toss in the summer games, so it would have been an experience that would be etched as one of the defining moments in my military career.  I thought it wasn't meant to be.....

I recall a early Sunday afternoon at our home in Magna, Utah.  My wife was working, I was home with the kids, Dylan and Destiny were still young, Dylan approximately 10, Destiny 8, and Dakota, well she wasn't even one year old yet, boy, seems like forever ago.  Anyways, I was all wrapped up in the last game of the New York Giants season, I think it was the game against the Green Bay Packers when Michael Strahan sacked Brett Farve to become the all-time sacks leader in the NFL.  I actually recall getting very frustrated with the lackluster end to a disappointing season after going to the Super Bowl the year before.  I received a phone call, land line of course, not sure I even had a cell phone at that point in time.  Funny how the cell phone is now just another accessory, back then it was almost a privilege to own one.  Back to the Giants (then the phone call), I have had several episodes of anxiety and panic attacks over the years watching the Giants (true in the present day also), but luckily, at the end of the 2001 season I knew there wasn't hope for the playoffs, but a win against Green Bay would have allowed the Giants to finish at 8-8 on the season.  I looked at the caller ID and it was the last name of my company commander, oddly, I had no idea why he would be calling me directly.  I picked up the phone and he seemed confused as to why I did not report the our armory for the first day of activation for the winter games.  He wasn't upset, but we were both confused, I had never been told to report or been given orders, but he told me to just show up on Monday and begin the process of being trained up to perform security.  This began a fun experience, although, I was still new to the unit and didn't really know anyone.

We all spent a few weeks being trained on how to check vehicles for hidden devices and explosives.  Following 9-11 there was a big push to make sure that the games would go off without a catastrophe.  The Secret Service was in charge of security and they were a nice, slightly arrogant, bunch of guys and gals, but respectful none-the-less.  Even though I was a medic and not assigned to the Utah Army National Guard's Medical Detachment, I wasn't involved in medical activities at all.  The Medical Detachment had set up various locations to provide aid in case of medical emergencies in coordination and collaboration with local and state emergency medical services.  So, I was assigned to searching vehicles for two weeks, then I transitioned to a detail at one of the entrances to the large venue in downtown Salt Lake City where pedestrians would enter to attend events.  Our days were actually quite relaxing, we arrived early, but the venue would not accept pedestrian entrees until approximately 11 AM, so we had time to kill.

Most mornings I would head to the Gateway Mall with a small group of fellow soldiers to get breakfast and browse the various shops.  We spent quite a bit of time at Barnes and Noble and discussing our future military careers.  At this point, being in an aviation unit, a few of the guys were looking at becoming Apache or Blackhawk pilots.  I was still focused on expanding my medical career, but I was almost talked into pursuing a career as a pilot.  Obviously I decided against that, I had spent the last five years working in the medical field, so I would continue down that path, initially I thought I would go to nursing school, but during those years, PA or medical school were also interesting to me. 

I didn't encounter too many celebrities or athletes in my Olympic experience, but I did meet Ahmad Rashad when his vehicle came through our security check point, he had to exit the vehicle so a few people struck up conversation with him.  I have never been star struck, but it was interesting to see these TV personalities in the flesh.  I also passed by Apolo Ohno while walking through a venue and also saw Evander Holyfield and Merlin Olsen while working the pedestrian entrance.  Otherwise it was just enjoyable being around the individuals I grew to know during those days and spend time with.  Funny how that after the games we all went back to our perspective sections and rarely saw one another during the time I was assigned to the 211th Aviation.  I would soon attend the Primary Leadership Course (PLDC) and move to another unit for a long awaited promotion to Sergeant.  A rank for which I desired since I was a private in the regular Army.

The games ended, no major emergencies or catastrophes to note.  But a great beginning to my Army National Guard career, and a great introduction to the type of soldiers I would serve alongside for years to come.

Next... PLDC and my promotion to Sergeant.

No comments:

Post a Comment