There are good things and bad things about every deployment. You make some good friends on a deployment, but you also have to say goodbye to some of these friends.
About 45 days ago, Shanna Pike, Cordelia Magwood, and I started working on our Enlisted Expeditionary Warfare (EXW) pin together. There were a lot of late nights, and even one night where we were in a class together until 2:30 in the morning, learning what we needed to learn about the EXW program.
We started the program together, and this week, we finished the program together. We had our board Tuesday afternoon, the three of us, who had gone to every class together, had taken the test together, and even studied the material in preparation for this board together, were sitting across a giant conference-room desk at two Chiefs, two Senior Chiefs, and the Command Master Chief of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Group TWO.
The first round of questions started off great, taking turns, each of us answering with confidence and without hesitation, making it through the first of 20 rounds of questions in a little over a minute. Master Chief McLean told us, “You guys keep this up, and it’s going to be a fast board.”
But it wouldn’t be that easy. Going into the second round, we started to hesitate on a few questions, and by the third round, we were already starting to realize where we were lacking in knowledge. Luckily, for the most part, where one of us lacked the knowledge, another one of us would be able to provide it, satisfying the board of our collective knowledge. But things were slowing down.
MC1 (IDW/EXW) Xander Gamble, HM1 (IDW/EXW) Shanna Pike and LS1 (IDW/EXW) Cordelia Magwood show off their certificates that they were awarded for completing the Enlisted Expeditionary Warfare Specialist program while at Bagram, Afghanistan.
By the end of almost two hours, our board concluded, and there was only three things that we had to look up as a group, as none of us could provide the answers. They were the Decontamination Stations, the types of Chemical Warfare agents, and the types of work order requests for a camp. Within the day, we had those answers back to the board, and had our certificates drafted up.
It was Saturday afternoon that we were pinned and presented our certificates, showing that we were indeed, Enlisted Expeditionary Warfare Specialists. But our happiness would not last long.
That evening, we held our farewell for one of the Three Amigos. Shanna Pike left today to fly home. While this is good news for her, as she made it safely through her entire tour, it is sad that a friend that I had just made was already moving on to the next step in her life.
Members of the First Class Petty Officer Association on Bagram Air Field pose for a group photo at Shanna Pike’s farewell get-together at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.
Thanks for the fond memories, and may you excel at everything you do. Fair winds and following seas.
The Enlisted Expeditionary Warfare Specialist (EXW) certificate presented to MC1 (IDW/EXW) Xander Gamble for completing the EXW program with Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group TWO on Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.