Wednesday, January 19, 2000

Off to This Island Kwajalein

I am returning to AFRTS. I have been offered a job at
the Central Pacific Network on the island of Kwajalein
in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. I would be a
civilian contractor working for Raytheon Range Systems
Engineering, and my official title is "Radio and
Television Announcer."

My job is identical to the one that I had while I was
on active duty in the Air Force. The station is very
much like a detachment, say Okinawa, Misawa, Sasebo.
There are about ten people who work at the station,
and everybody does every job. Since I have a lot of
experience in ENG, I think that I will get to do a lot
of production and ENG work, such as stories about life
and operations on the island. But then everybody is
also a shift worker, and we all pull master control
shifts.

Rich Vegler is my new boss, and he is a former Air
Force DINFOS graduate, serving in the Netherlands
before they closed down the detachment there in the
early 90's. I am the only person there with prior
experience like Rich, and from what I understand, most
of the other people who work in the detachment are
recent vocational or college graduates.

And it is just like being in the service. Rayhtheon
pays for all of your meals, your room, your travel,
and then pays you on top of that.

Kwajalien is where they test the Strategic Defense
Initiative. As a matter of fact, a crucial test of
the system occured last night, although the test
failed. Another one is scheduled for April. What
they do is the Air Force launches a missle from
Vandenburg AFB in California. Then, an intercept
missle is launched from Kwajalien. The missle is
supposed to destroy the ICBM in mid flight.

There are about 2500 DOD, Army, and Raytheon employess
on the island of Kwajalein and then the northern
island in the atoll of Roi Namur. Most people serve
one year contracts on the island. I am on a one year
contract, with the option to renew.

I am really looking forward to it, and think that it
would be an exciting time.

Sometimes, I'll get to work 7 days on, and then have
six days off. In addition, you get three weeks paid
vacation a year, and I plan on doing a lot of
travelling while I am on the island. Kwaj is about
halfway between Hawaii and Australia, so Bali, Tahiti,
Micronesia, Polynesia, Indonesia, and a lot of other
"esias" are all within a short airplane ride.

Everything seems to be on track to leave here not this
Sunday, but next Sunday. The only thing that would
hold that up is if there was a problem with my medical
tests or something came back wrong. And if that
happens, well then everything changes I suppose.