Mark Aguilar, 20
Photo: Virgil Magee
Born and raised: Born in Anaheim, California; raised in Palmdale, California
Graduate of: Highland High School
Airman 1st Class Aguilar is a pneudraulic systems journeyman, responsible for the overhaul and maintenance of hydraulic and pneudraulic system components on military aircraft, specializing in F-16CJ aircraft.
His goals while in the Air Force include finishing his college degree in media arts. He hopes to be a computer animation technician or comic book illustrator one day.
I'm overjoyed to have the privilege to be writing to you and hope you can have a better understanding of what the Air Force calls "roughing it."
I've been in the Air Force for a little over two years, and this my second trip to Southwest Asia in the last eight months. This second time around is different than the first tour, because here we're not authorized to leave base, but in Kuwait on my first tour, I was allowed to leave the base and take in the local culture that Kuwait City has to offer. Also, with the uncertainty of the future, things can be become tense, but whatever happens I'm going to try my best to keep the planes in the air and know that I'll be home in no time.
As a pneudraulic systems journeyman I'm assigned to the 363 Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron. My shop is located inside a canvas hangar, more often called a "Rubb." My normal day consists of overhauling hydraulic parts, such as brakes, landing gear struts and all sorts of actuators, and building up high pressure hoses for different shops on base. The work load here is fairly light, so when there isn't work to be done my co-workers and I will inspect shop equipment and programs and clean the hangar. One of biggest concerns among all aircraft specialists is Foreign Object Damage. Anything from lost tools to little pebbles can cause severe damage to an aircraft or maybe even cause it to crash. That's why it is especially important that we make sure our work area is always clean and the parts installed on the aircraft are free from debris.
After the work day is completed I'm free to do whatever I please. The majority of my time after work is spent at the gym, and afterwards I'll grab a bite to eat at one of the base dining facilities. This base has gone to many lengths to make the stay here as comfortable as possible. If I don't want to eat at the dining facility, I have my choice of fast food burgers, pizza and oriental food or for dessert a dozen or so flavors of ice cream. If there is a day I don't go to the gym, then I'll slap some bones (dominoes) at our Learning Resource Center, which offers a wide variety of activities to kill hours of potential boredom. They offer a computer lab, pool tables, foosball, library, free movie rentals, University of Maryland college classes, video games and phones for morale calls.
During the first couple of weeks here, every Monday night, I'd get with friends for miniature golf. I had to keep score 'cause of my lack of talent. Even when I'm not in the mood to lose at dominoes or golf and my roommate is sleeping (which he always does), I'll kick back and do what I love most, drawing. I put my headphones on and can doodle in my sketchbook for hours. When drawing, I listen to all kinds of music — anything from James Brown, the Temptations, Pantera, the Kottonmouth Kings and everything in between. Deftones are my favorite and I make sure to take their CDs with me everywhere I go.
Well, I've taken up enough of your time and I hope that I will receive many questions about life on a deployed Air Force base. I'm always trying to keep a positive outlook towards my stay here. I look forward to answering your questions and telling you a little about the Air Force.
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