Brandon Fendel, 21
Photo: U.S. Navy
Born and raised: Grover, Colorado
Graduate of: Pawnee High School
Petty Officer Fendel is an interior communications electrician, responsible for the maintenance and installation of a myriad of communications systems from simple telephones to the most state-of-the-art navigation systems in the Navy. He repairs alarms, engineering salinity equipment and the ship's closed-circuit television system.
Petty Officer Fendel's goals in the Navy include earning warfare qualifications and becoming a work center supervisor. His long-term goals include securing a duty assignment on the island of Iceland and earning his degree.
I know that it has been a long time since the last update, but things have been kind of hectic around here. I have been working a lot of long hours lately. Things should slow down again in the next couple days.
It is unbelievable how many people respect someone that they have never met before and I love you all for it. The e-mail I have received from around the world has been great. I was asked how I dealt with being out to sea for a lengthy amount of time. Well truthfully, the first week is the hardest. After we hit about the one-week mark, everything becomes pretty much routine and 10 days doesn't feel any different than a month.
Being out to sea is really not that bad. I get up around 6 a.m. and I have to be in my shop by seven. Once we get to the shop, we clean for an hour, then I work until my two-hour lunch at eleven. Then we go back to work, then I either go to sleep, play the guitar or stand watch. The days really start to run into each other and after a while I completely forget what day it is.
I have to say that I am ready to go home, where I work normal hours and can actually walk to 7-11. It really seems that things are getting much better out here and we should be home hopefully soon, but if things take a complete 180 and everything goes sour, I won't mind staying out here to make sure that everything gets back to normal.
That's all I have for right now. I will give all of you an update in a couple days when I have more time to sit down and get on the computer. Thank you all again for all the support and respect that you have been giving us.
Well, I'm sitting here listening to the Dwarves and thinking about how I
can't emphasize how much I appreciate all the support that all of you are
giving us out here. I would like to send thanks to all the people that
e-mailed me to tell me how much they admire what we are doing out here.
Right now I am going to answer a couple questions that I received via
e-mail. To start off, Andrea from Williamsville, New York, asked me how I did on my
test. I won't know for a couple months, but I feel that I did much better
than on the last one that I took. I feel confident about my answers. Even if
I don't advance to E-5, I will at least know that I am improving. Andrea also
asked what I miss most while I'm out to sea. Well, I haven't seen my family
in over a year and I am really starting to miss them, especially my sisters
that I haven't seen in about five years. I really miss Taco Bell. I know that
it sounds weird, but they don't have a Taco Bell in the Middle East, let
alone on a Navy ship in the Gulf!
Jen from Riverbank, California, asked me what I thought of the protesting that is going on at the moment. To tell you the truth, I feel that the general public is always looking for something to complain about. I don't see why these people are protesting. They aren't
being forced to be over here and fight. Everyone that is in the war now,
enlisted in the military knowing perfectly well that there was a chance that
they would go to war. In my eyes, the protesters are saying that they don't
have faith in their military. We are over here for a reason and if they don't
like it, they can come over here and take care of this themselves. There is
considerably less danger to the people in the United States. All the
fighting is more than likely to take place over here. Iraq can't even hit a
city close to, let alone in, America. I think that the protestors should sit
down and think about what they are doing, instead of following a couple of
idiot's ideas. Thanks for the question Jen, it was a good one. I would like
to make the note that people all over the world are supporting us out here,
and not just in the United States. Shane from Australia gave his thanks to
the military, thanks Shane. Well, that's about it for right now. To all
those people I didn't mention personally, thank you for your support. I hope
to hear more feedback about the war.
I know that many of you are wondering what it's like to be in my position
at this moment. Well, to tell you the truth, I am glad that it (the war) is
happening. I think that this should have happened a long time ago.
Nothing has really changed for me in the last 24 hours. I do pretty much the same
work every day. Really, the most obvious change is that everyone is more
alert and aware of what is going on around us. I feel that things are going
to heat up, and if that happens, so be it. I have faith in our armed
forces. We have all trained hard for this day and I am willing to say that
there is nothing to worry about. I could be wrong, but almost everyone that
I know feels the same way.
I have a feeling that this war will not last long. I believe that these times are harder for the families in the States than the sailors in the Middle East. It's the fact that the unknown is
scarier than the known. We see what is going on over here, and we know how
things will go if an attack were to happen. I have no worries. I want this
to end with us being the victor so I can go home. I just spent over $1,000 on Ozzfest tickets! I plan on making the last four shows of the tour with two of my best friends, Derek and Marc. If we're not back in time for the show, which I am sure that we will be, I will be very upset. I don't want to have to sell these tickets!
That is only one of the few reasons that I want this to end. I think that Saddam needs to realize that he isn't Hitler, and we won't let him get away with anything anymore. I say let's get this over with so we can all go home and live normal lives. I hope
to hear everyone's view on the war. Just drop me a note with questions or
what you think and I will answer you to the best of my ability. Just
remember, your support is what we need most to keep going.
Brandon here again, and I have to admit that it feels great to know that there are people supporting us even though we are so far away. I would like to thank Vanessa for the morale booster she sent in her last e-mail. In the last couple days, I have been studying for a promotion to the rank of E-5. I have to take an exam on Thursday. I have already taken it twice, and it is really tough. I have faith that I am going to make it this time.
I have been studying hard and I feel that I am almost ready. It is really imperative that I advance to E-5 because then the Navy would provide me with a housing allowance to live off the ship when we're back in Norfolk. I could continue to live on the ship, but you have very little space to put all your belongings. I think that the living conditions on the ship would be a lot better if we had a little more room.
Anyways, we had the day off today and I slept in. It really felt good after an entire week of getting up at 6:00 and working 12-hour days that included standing late night watches. Basically I had a very lazy day. At 8 p.m. the ship had "Big Bucks Bingo," a game that is shown over our televisions. I bought two tickets hoping to win the $1,000 grand prize, but I lost. I really don't know what I would do with a $1,000 while we're out to sea, but I'm sure that I could find something once I got it.
Well, I really don't have too much to tell everyone right now. It would really help me out if everyone would write and ask me questions that they want to know. Well, it's time for me to go to bed. I will be looking forward to hearing form all of you ... until then, good night.
Just to let everyone know, things really haven't changed too much
since we first departed Norfolk, Virginia, on January 12. We all get up at
the same time every day, grab our tool bags and get to work. The only
difference is that lately the work lists have started to get smaller. Our shop has been working hard enough lately where we can
actually take it easy a little more than we did when we first started
I think we're all ready to start heading back though ... It's not that the work is overly strenuous, but dealing with being separated from friends and family is the worst. None of us are really scared that I know of. We pretty much try to keep our minds off
the subject while this whole thing is going on. I really don't think
too much about why we are out here, but more of, "Hey, I got to go to
work again today." My job doesn't get any harder when we go out sea, so
it is easy to forget what is really going on.
I do have to say that being underway has given me time to start working on putting a band
together. Sunday I actually had some time off where I could sit
around and just play my guitar and relax. My friend Derek (keyboards)
and I decided to do an acoustic version of the song "Get Back" by
Zebrahead. After we get it finished, we're going to send it to
Zebrahead and see what they think. We have been working on a couple
new songs in the last couple months and they are going to start coming
together nicely once we find a new bassist. So far we have three songs
and are constantly working on more. Coming up with new ideas for
future projects and music is the way that I like to spend my free
time. If it wasn't for the Dwarves, Kittie, 2 Skinnee J's, Zebrahead,
and Manson, I would have lost all ambition to keep with the whole
music thing, and the days would drag on.
Well that's pretty much all I have right now. If anybody has any questions, professional or
personal, just let me know.
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