Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Soldier Who Wants to Fly is Already Soaring Toward America’s Miss Pageant

National Guard soldiers all learn to move from the civilian world to the military world and back again.  It is the nature of citizen soldiers to adapt and make that change.  But some soldiers make a much bigger change than others.

On drill weekends, Pvt. 1st Class Karissa Grossman is logistics specialist with Charlie Company, 2-104th General Support Aviation Battalion, Johnstown, Pa.  During the week, Grossman is a full-time Army technician working as a tool and parts attendant at the Aviation facility in Johnstown.  Recently she has been serving as the Hazmat coordinator for the facility while the technician who normally holds that job is deployed to Afghanistan.

In addition to her work as a Soldier and technician, Grossman has another uniform.  This uniform has a sash and the headgear is a crown.  Karissa Grossman is currently Miss East Coast after winning her region in the America’s Miss Pageant earlier this year. In July, she will be competing against women from around the country in the America’s Miss Pageant in Maryland. 

Grossman wanted to fly and to be Miss America for much of her life and she is on track to realize both of her dreams. 

“I joined the National Guard because I’ve always wanted to fly,” said Grossman.  “I looked into different branches and saw the National Guard Warrant Officer Program would let me go to flight school and the Army would pay for my schooling on top of that. Right now I'm working on my flight packet.”

Born in Kings Park, Long Island, New York, Grossman’s family moved to Johnstown when she was in the third grade.  She said moving to a new place is difficult, but she has done very well in Western Pennsylvania.  Grossman went to Johnstown High School where she graduated at the top of her class.  She was also elected class President, President of the Key Club, and President of the National Honor Society.

During high school she also modeled, competed in beauty pageants and threw the javelin for the track team.  “My dad served in the National Guard in the 1970s,” Grossman said.  “He did his six years as a Cobra mechanic in the New York National Guard.  He is the only one who served in the military in my family.”

“Everyone was shocked when I joined,” she said.  “I modeled. I entered pageants I was not the kind of person they expected to join the military.  I told everyone I wanted to fly and I did not want to be in debt for the rest of my life because of something I wanted to do.” 
As she simultaneously works toward completing a bachelors degree and the requirements for flight school, serving in the Guard, working as a technician, and competing in higher level pageants she integrates her many roles in her pageant platform.

“When I compete in pageants I have a platform,” she said.  The platform is the issue that she will bring attention to in her public appearances.  “I am very big on women's rights,” Grossman said. 

“When I speak at schools sometimes it will come up that I am in the Army,” she said. “Right away, the kids will ask what's that like being in the Army.  And the little boys who thought I was just a girl and had “cooties” suddenly get interested in what I am saying.” 

Grossman said the Army and pageants are two different worlds.  “I go from wearing camouflage and being relaxed to being all dolled up and appearing in front of a large audience.  Sometimes the transition is difficult and people wonder how I can do it.”  She admits it is not always easy to transition from standing at parade rest while talking to someone in the military to having people at a pageant crowd around her for autographs and pictures.

She makes the transition among the various roles in her life smoothly most of the time, but not always.  “I come to work in my army uniform and then right after work I have an appearance as America's Miss in my sash and crown,” she said.  “Sometimes I will walk into a building and try to take off my crown off like it's my army headgear.”

Her plans are moving forward on parallel tracks.  The next step in her Army career is going before a Warrant Officer board prior to flight school.  Then, in July she will compete at the next level of America’s Miss and if she wins that pageant, flight school could be delayed during her reign as America’s Miss.  At the same time she will continue to pursue her college degree.  Eventually she will add a tasseled mortarboard and an Army flight helmet to her choice of headgear to go with the crown and the patrol cap she wears now.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Lunch with Chalid

Today we are making our quarterly visit to our former foster son Chalid. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Boalsburg memorial Ceremony Photos

From the annual 28th Division Memorial Ceremony at Boalsburg PA.

It's a beautiful ceremony in a beautiful setting.  Ceremonies like this one remind you that small-town America can do big things.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Apocalypse Now??

Last night I talked with my best friend from the Army back in the 70s. We were talking about the future and he was more depressed than a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. He said we can't pay off the debt--"we" meaning all of us Americans--and he started to bring up all the troubles around us. I hadn't thought of this before but I am in the middle of reading the Gulag Archipelago:  a book of almost 1400 pages about Russian labor camps and the politics of the Soviet era in the Soviet Union.

I asked my friend, "If you lived in Hamburg Germany in 1943 and looked around you at the firebombing and and the black cars that came in the middle of the night to take people away who never came back and you knew Jews and others were being slaughtered by the tens of thousands per month what would you think then? What would the future look like? Would you think the German economy would be one of the strongest in the world and that Germany would be one of of the freest and most peaceful nations on earth within 20 or 30 years? No you what you would think the Apocalypse is coming and it's got a come soon just like you hear from misguided preachers and from TV and talk radio.

"And what if you lived in Japan in 1945. Your country has a completely wrecked economy and two smoldering nuclear waste sites with more than a hundred thousand dead in each one. What would you think that with that economy come back to be the third strongest in the world with that country have better health in general than most countries on earth?"

No there is no way you would think that.  

But it is true.

And here we are with the most abundant food the best healthcare and still one of the strongest economies on earth ever in his history and some people can do nothing but BITCH.  

You might think because I read about Soviet gulags that I would be as depressed and worried about the apocalypse as Survivalists in Idaho. But it's the reverse.  Reading about the horrors of the Soviet Union--the horrors it visited on its own citizens--and reading about the slaughter that was World War II and how little any of the armies, even ours, cared about its soldiers that I am so thankful I live in America RIGHT NOW.

it's true about people in every country in the world at every time in history that those who have the best circumstances bitch the most. Who files the most lawsuits? Rich people. I've served in both the Air Force and the Army. In my experience airmen bitch way more than soldiers. And I'm sure Marines bitch less than either the Air Force or the Army. So it just makes sense that the bitchiest country on the planet would have the most food the best healthcare and and still think the world is coming to an end.

If you still believe that you are stuck in the worst place in the history of the world in the hopeless situation please shut off your television and turn off talk radio and ignore Facebook for a while. Read what life was like in Moscow in 1937 or in Berlin in 1945 or in Beijing in 1970 or in Nagasaki in 1945.  Those people could have been hopeless.  They weren't.  They rebuilt their shattered world.  

Each one those places is 1000 times better than it was at its worst.  And if you are a Believer, how much worse that you profess eternal Hope and can't be as optimistic as non-believers in in the rubble of World War II.

We live in a great country and those who think otherwise should find something else to fill their fantasy life.

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