What does a Civil Engineer do in the Air Force. Check out Rachael’s story of serving in the Air Force as a Civil Engineer. Rachael and I served on active duty together as Air Force Civil Engineers at Wright-Patterson AFB. I had a chance to interview her for my deployment series in 2017 which is where the podcast idea started. So, if you want to learn more about her deployments to Manas Transit Center and Honduras.
She served in the Air Force as a Civil Engineer for 5 years. Currently, she is a professional engineer, floodplain manager, consultant at Cross Timbers Consulting, rancher, beekeeper, racquetball player, wife, hopefully, future mother, and born-again Christian.
Going to the Academy
She got an opportunity to attend the Air Force Academy when she was noticed for her talent playing soccer. She was able to get a nomination and accepted to attend the Academy and couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Looking back, she wished she would have taken advantage of more of the opportunities given to cadets who attend the Academy, but she was young and didn’t realize their value until years later. But she did have a number of great opportunities while at the Academy including visiting Guam and Africa. Her first year she struggled academically, with barely at 2.0, but she was able to figure out how to balance her class load, cadet responsibilities, and soccer and graduated with above a 3.0.
Deploying as an Air Force Civil Engineer
Her first assignment was at Moody Air Force Base. It had a great mission and there was a lot of work to do. She deployed to Kyrgyzstan to Transit Center Manas which was the gateway to Afghanistan and many troops would bed down there before and after a deployment to Afghanistan. You can learn more about her deployment here. When she got home from her deployment she was already slated to deploy again, this time to Afghanistan. But the opportunity arose for her to go to Honduras on a short tour (more than 179 days, but typically a year) and she took that deployment instead. You can read about that deployment here.
When she got home from her deployment she moved to Ohio to work at Air Force Materiel Command Headquarters. It was the first time in her career where she wasn’t moving and actually got to spend time with her husband. He was not serving on active duty in the military. He moved up to Ohio so they could live together. She didn’t get a deployment tasking for two years. Then when she got her deployment tasking to Afghanistan all the feelings of being gone and not having stability came back. That was why she decided to leave the military.
Leaving the Military Behind
She not only left the military but also left her career as a Civil Engineer. But she decided to go back to what originally drew her into the military, soccer. So, she became a coach at a college level. She was surprised by how unorganized everything was. She came off as abrasive with her get the mission done attitude and it was an adjustment to civilian life. After a few years of coaching, she went back to her Civil Engineering degree and got a job in her field. The pay for coaching wasn’t a lot. And was a lot of hours. And having a Civil Engineering degree to fall back on especially as she hopes to transition to being a mom was the right step for her and her family.
Check out the whole story here!
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