Sunday, August 19, 2018

Gulfport TDY

New Orleans, Bourbon Street

Work is an exciting thing for me these days. I have three big hats that I wear right now and one of them took me to Gulfport, Mississippi on for a week-long training course this month.

Now, before I get more into the story--let me tell you about these 3 hats. The first, as you already know, is my Security Forces Operations Officer role. I'm not doing that position full-time right now, though some days it still feels like it. I'm still assigned to SF militarily and still work my drill weekends there. But the job I had been doing for them full-time was only temporary and didn't come with any benefits. So earlier this year in March, I accepted an indefinite Federal Technician job in the Inspector General's office as the Wing Planner. I was excited about learning something new and having a bit more of a permanent job (it was intended to last for a year). Well, the same day that I started that new job, our Vice Wing Commander came in and asked me to also take on the "extra duty" as the Wing's Chief of Information Protection, or Information Protection Officer. I agreed, looking forward to even more job experience and another role to learn. Well, fast forward to August and that "extra" duty now takes up approximately 90% of my time. I really, REALLY love the job, and have been having a great time learning all the ins and outs of information protection, including information security, personnel security to include security clearances, industrial security, and bits and pieces of operational security. I have my fingers crossed that it can turn into a full-time opportunity, but until then I'm happily plugging away in the IG office with IP as my third hat.

Anyway, back to Gulfport. So my IP position has an annual training course and this year I was lucky enough to go back to Gulfport, Mississippi to attend it. Gulfport, or Biloxi if we're being specific, is where I spent 6-weeks for my enlisted Personnel Technician training school, and I loved the area. I didn't have a car last time I was down there, so this time it was a lot more fun to be able to do whatever I wanted to do!

The course ran Monday - Friday and about 0745 - 1430 each day. That meant there was a lot of time for fun after each day's lectures. We had all sorts of lectures and discussions from professionals in the field, and I was able to meet about 100 other people across the Air National Guard who are doing the same job. I made some great connections--many of them have been doing the job for 10+ years, so I will be utilizing their experience in the future!

Each day, I woke up at 0430 and went to go lift or run from 0500-0630. Then I'd attend classes and plan an activity for the evening with my new friends. We honestly had so much fun, and I didn't really take many pictures of the training... only of the fun stuff!

Check out some photos from the trip below:

Gulf of Mexico, Gulfport Mississippi Coast
That's about as far into the Gulf of Mexico that I was willing to go. The water was warm and inviting, but horror stories of bacteria infestations kept me (mostly) out of it. But gosh, it was so beautiful.

Felix's in Gulport
I enjoyed a beverage (or two) during the week. This Corona and the view from Felix's in Gulfport almost couldn't be beat.

Charbroiled oysters, Shaggy's Gulfport
I sure had my fill of oysters throughout the week! There wasn't a day that went by that we didn't get our fill of seafood.

Gulfport Nature Trail
Taking a nature walk along a path in Gulfport.

Hardrock Casino Biloxi Mississippi
This was the group of friends that welcomed me and my coworker in... they were from Kansas and Connecticut and they were an AMAZING group of guys. I couldn't have been luckier to have found guys who wanted to go on fun adventures, eat lots of seafood, and who were just an absolutely blast to hang out with. I still talk to each of them weekly... hoping to see them again soon!

Bayou Vista Golf Course Gulfport
We golfed in an impromptu scramble at the Bayou Vista municipal course in Gulfport. We didn't golf so well, but we sure had a fun time (and took 2nd place!).

New Orleans
My two best friends on the trip. This was in New Orleans on our last day.

NOLA 300, New Orleans
When you're only an hour and a half from NOLA, you MUST go. I didn't love it at first but I was sure having fun by the end of the evening (and after a Hurricane!).

New Orleans penny press
Tourist stop to a NOLA penny press--complete!!

Mississippi River New Orleans
Overlooking the Mississippi River in New Orleans.

Despite only lasting a week, I could have stayed in Gulfport for so much longer. The friends I made, places we went, adventures we had, and laughs we shared made the trip what it was. I was so grateful to be able to attend the week-long course to gain valuable training for my job, but man--that trip was A TRIP!

Traveling with the military is such a big passion of mine. I love to see new places, meet new people, learn new jobs or skills, and have so much fun while doing it. Already looking forward to the next one...

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