21 May 2009

Letters From Iraq, Part 13

The first part of a letter sent 7/14/2007. The latest installment of this serious is between a fighter pilot and a newspaper reporter, doing a story on “Best Jobs.” Carol is the newspaper reporter and Ryan is the man these letters have evolved around since the beginning of this series. Someone recently asked me if these “stories” were true. Yes they are and I have been posting them as I receive them from Ryan’s Dad. Only one letter I didn’t show, because I wasn’t sure if by showing it I would put our troops in harm’s way.
Hi Ryan,
I’m a reporter for the Richmond Times-Dispatch and doing a story about people with the best jobs. Kay W——– forwarded part of an email that you sent to your Dad about your commitment to the military.
We would like to feature you in this story, if that is OK with you. I just spoke with your Dad, who is forwarding the entire email to me. Also, please accept my gratitude for your service to this country – for fighting for our freedom. Thank you.
Your Dad has some pictures of you that he could share, but is there any way you could forward a recent one of you from Iraq via email?
Carol H—–

Carol,
Greetings from Iraq! Military Service is certainly one of the best jobs in the United States. I agree to the story and look forward to working with you on this. I’ll find some pictures and email them to you along with when they were taken and by whom. Thank you for your support.
Sincerely,
Ryan

Ryan,
Your Dad wrote: Ryan has been put in for the Air Medal with “V” for valor for saving the lives of many soldiers on the ground who were caught in an ambush. He probably will not tell you about that however. Is this true? Can you talk about the medal and the incident? Is it your company commander who recommended you for the medal?

Carol,
I have enclosed 4 pictures for your story. The file name shows the name of who took the picture. If you need the dates let me know. I think the dates are embedded in the image file. I can talk about the duties of an Apache Longbow Pilot; however I cannot discuss operations due to security concerns so I will not be able to explain any of the events pertaining to the Air Medal. All I can say is that we were there for the ground guys when they really needed us and we were just doing our job as we have been trained to do.

The reason I believe I have one of the best jobs in the world is because:

1. I get paid to fly the most lethal and most technologically advanced helicopter in the world. No serious out of pocket cost to learn to fly. The Army will train you at their expense.
2. I am trained to employ an Attack Helicopter on any battlefield.
3. I enjoy working with computers and the Apache Longbow is like flying a huge computer, which contains lots and lots of little black boxes that are in itself little computers that manage different components of the aircraft as well as battlefield management. The Apache is one bad flying machine.
4. My fellow employees are like no other. I serve with men and women of honor and integrity. Men and women who fight to preserve the freedoms of our Country. Men and Women who would die to protect their fellow countrymen. I’ve been in the military for 12 years now with a little break in between for college.
5. The Army has a wealth of opportunity for all who are up to the challenge. Great benefits, such as health coverage and service for your entire family, 100% free tuition for college (advanced degrees too), and multiple avenues for advancement through a very organized promotion system created to instill Leadership.
6. Financially, pay for an aviation warrant officer is pretty good. I will not disclose my pay; however you can find a military pay chart at www.dfas.mil or www.military.com. There are also other benefits such as flight pay, Housing Allowance, etc.
7. The aviation field is constantly upgrading and there is always something new to learn, i.e. we recently added GPS (global positioning) to our aircraft and we can track each component on the battlefield. Email anyone, we have that too. We can actually send wireless email messages to our wingman and ground units.
8. Tradition and service to country. The military as a whole has a proud history and I am proud to have served as a Soldier and a Marine. Both services have taught me great life lessons that I could not have learned anywhere else.
9. People depend on Apache Pilots to be there when the going gets tough and if you ever wanted to feel like part of something then this job may be for you. It’s by no means easy however, countless hours of studying, training, hardship, danger and lots of time away from home. On a positive note, I will never forget my experiences or the people I have served my country with and all of these experiences and training have prepared me for just about anything I would like to do when I retire.
10. Retirement 50 % of base pay for 20 years and 75 % for 30 years. Every year after 20 you earn 2.5 % more through 30 years at 75%. Medical care for the rest of your life.
11. 30 days of paid vacation every year.
I hope this is what you were looking for. If you need any more information please let me know.
Ryan

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