For once, I actually have too much to write about for my blog! First of all, MacDill Air Force Base was a blast! Our class was given a tour of the base on April 11th by Lt. Col. Jason Wolf, SSgt Tristan Nicholas, and TSgt Stephen Miles, and it was an incredible experience! We also got to meet Rex’s Mom, Maxine, who was really nice and friendly to us! Everyone at the base was really friendly with us, and were more than willing to answer our questions about the base.
I could write this whole blog about how much fun it was, the things we got to do, and the people we met, so I will just go over my favorite part, visiting the EOD unit. They are among the super stars of the war effort for their bomb disposal specializations, and the courage it takes to be one of those people taking care of an explosive, knowing there is nothing but a 50lb suit separating you from serious injury or death. They talked to us about their work, the things they do, and the dangers. They also showed us their bomb disposal robot and their bomb suit. They even let me try the bomb suit on!! Let me tell you, I have no idea how they can do what they do in the war effort wearing that beast! The suit weighs 50lbs, and is very difficult to move in, not just because of the extra weight! It is also insulated against fire, but unfortunately, this means it traps heat in as well as it keeps heat out. Even before they put the helmet on me, the suit by itself already had me sweating, and this was in the shade of a garage on an 80 degree Fahrenheit day, by no means the hottest it can get in Florida. When they put the helmet on, you start sweating even more, and on top of that, you have very limited hearing and vision. You can only see through tunnel vision and all sound is muffled. The only way you can hear well is the helmet’s built in sound amplifier. So I’m standing there in the full bomb suit, starting to sweat without any effort, wondering what this must feel like when they are over in Afghanistan or Iraq, where it can get 140 degrees Fahrenheit in the sun! I can’t even imagine actually having to run or carry things in that heat, wearing that suit. As sort of a test to get an idea of how hard it is to move around in, the EOD guys had my lay down on my stomach, and then roll over on my back. Then they asked me to stand up from that position… you know how turtle’s have a hard time rolling over when they are on their backs? Well that’s kind of how I felt! It was quite humorous! First I tried basically doing a sit up, but it’s like doing a sit up with a 50lb kid sitting on your middle! So what I had to do was basically try and sit up and stand up all in one motion so I wouldn’t lose my momentum and fall back on my back, and they still had to end up helping me stand up! After they took the suit off (and believe me, taking that suit on and off is quite a process!), I realized just how much I had been sweating, and the fact I actually felt a little tired. And I was only in the suit for 5 minutes! Even after that experience, it is hard to imagine being in that suit, for 20 minutes at time, in the sun, in 140 degree weather, disarming bombs and IEDs! You can read the blogs of my other classmates as well for the details on other parts of the our tour. Over all, it was a really awesome experience. You can also check out the pictures I took at the bottom!
This week, I had a pretty successful week for school supplies! Last Sunday, I was at a youth group on campus, when one of the students made an announcement for our charity, and let everyone know they had a donation box in the church! Well, I started talking to her, let her know I was in the class as well, and it turns out, she is a friend of Patrick’s! And it was an even bigger surprise when I was given a couple boxes worth of school supplies to give to Patrick! She is really excited to be able to help out with our charity. It’s kind of funny what a small world it is sometimes. So I passed on those supplies to Patrick last Monday. I also made progress on my donation box I setup in the Engineering building some time ago, and they moved it to a better location, and people already dropped off a few pads of paper!
This past week I also did a Bull Market table with my friends from Theta Chi, and it went pretty well!! Unfortunately, we did not have enough doughnuts, due to my inexperience, so we ran out before noon, but what we still made $50 with what we had, and got a couple school supply donations! So we are getting more doughnuts to do the next 2 bull markets! I also happened to meet a member of the New Tampa Rotary Club at bull market. Turns out, she is a very active worker for women’s rights in Afghanistan, and she was very interested in School Supplies For Afghan Children. It also turns out she is a fellow fan of Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea. She even got to hear him speak at last year’s international Rotary Convention! And she introduced me to the USF Rotaract club, and their advisor, who is another member of the New Tampa Rotary club. So I am currently networking with them to possibly find more opportunities for the class.