Each interview I’ve done so far has been very educational and fun. Every story of a military member is so inspirational and I learn so much just by asking some questions. By the end of each interview, I get so excited to share the interviewee’s story with all of you. I hope you enjoy this interview with Petty Officer Hurd as much as I did.
Petty Officer First Class Christopher Hurd
United States Navy
Serving a little over 6 years and filling the position of a recruiter in the state of Colorado, Petty Officer Hurd definitely has had a fulfilling career in the US Navy so far. His story is an inspiration for all those who read it.
Why did you decide to join the military?
Partially because of family as my Grandfather was in the Navy. I grew up on the coast. I wasn’t doing anything with myself. Now, I am doing something useful with myself.
Where have you been stationed?
Boot Camp in Illinois
A year of school in Pensacola, FL
Whidbey Island, WA
San Diego, CA
How do you feel while you are serving in the US Navy?
It’s kind of stressful at times. For me, being a recruiter is more stressful than working on helicopters! Being in the military is fulfilling. It’s a good career. You feel like you are doing something worthwhile, and its fun. You get to do things in the Navy that you don’t get to do in the civilian world.
What is it like while you serve?
For the most part, it’s just a regular job. Deployments are different. At home, you just go to work, do what you have to do, and then go home at the end of the day. I’ve enjoyed my deployments. Its long days because you work every day of the week and get 3 days off every 2 weeks or so. You are working 96 hour weeks. It gets a little grinding as every day is pretty much the same – the same scenery every day. It’s fun to see new things traveling around the world.
What was training like?
Long. I’m in electronics, so there’s a lot of schooling. I came in with barely any electronics knowledge. Our school is the Navy’s boot camp. It’s mostly about just following instructions. It’s not tough like you see on TV. It is a lot of classroom time and doing what you’re told.
Schooling starts off with basic electronics. After that, you go through learning about whatever specific air craft you are going to work on. My first duty station was on the most electronics heavy aircraft the navy has so my school was really long. I had to learn about every little component in the aircraft with little electronics knowledge at that point. Navy schools are fast paced. They’re designed by the contractors, but the Navy condenses it down to make it in to a time period that’s doable for us to get up and start doing our job quickly.
We don’t really do any combat training unless you choose to go that way, because that’s not the Navy’s mission for the most part. My job is to make aircraft fly. I’ve gotten to fly one helicopter.
You enlisted, what was your experience like?
Boot camp is not intense. We do a lot of class work. Learn how to fold clothes properly. It is a lot of hands on training about the basics of being a sailor. It’s only 2 months long. I came in at 25, so I was a little older when I joined. The bad part for me was just dealing with younger kids that wanted to just play around and stuff. I just wanted to get through this and go do my job. That was the most frustrating thing about boot camp for me.
What specifically is your job in the military?
I am an aviation electronics technician. There’s different sides of that. I have always worked on aircraft. My job is to work on radios, radar systems, cameras anything that is part of the mission of the aircraft. If the radio is messed up, it’s my job to figure out why it’s messed up. The other side of that is the guys that actually fix the boxes. I could have gone either way when I came in. I’ve just always been around aircraft. So I find out what’s broken, and then I send it to the other aviations technicians that actually work inside the radios to find whatever is broken and fix it. I just haven’t done that part of it yet.
Have you built good friendships?
Yes. You get really attached to people in any job where you’re working closer with your coworkers than you are at home like whoever you are deployed with. It’s hard sometimes keeping in contact with those people because of the time zone changes. It takes time to get the feel of another job across the country. When I think about calling people in Virginia, it is already too late there, or it’s too early to call people on the other side of the world. You make good friendships. You just have to make sure you make them last. That’s the hard part.
What does your family think of you being in the military?
They are happy with it. My mom’s dad was in the Navy, so she grew up Navy. She likes that my Grandparents are really happy about it. I showed up for Christmas in my uniform. They loved that. They had never seen me in my uniform. You don’t get to spend a lot of time with your family, because I have always been on the other side of the country from where my parents, grandparents, sister, and everybody lives. I don’t get home to see them as often as I would like. That’s one of the downfalls of it – being away from family. But even that’s not so bad.
Were there any moments you were afraid?
No. Not of the job or in general. My deployments have been drug operations, so we haven’t been in combat. We are just finding fishing boats out in the middle of the ocean.
We did scare each other on the night shift though. We’d hide out in the hallways and scare each other. So I could say we were afraid because you never knew when somebody was going to be hiding behind a box to scare you. The ship I was on had a rumor that the helicopter tower had a ghost living up there. Somebody would go up there, turn the lights out, and just wait until somebody had to go up there for something.
As far as being afraid for my life, no, I’ve never been in any kind of scary situations that I thought were dangerous. Working on aircraft in general is a dangerous job, but there’s so many safety rules that we strictly follow that I have never been worried about my life.
Did you serve in a war?
I’ve been deployed but not to a war zone. My deployments have been mostly to Central America just floating around on the coast.
Do you feel like your career with the military is a successful and fulfilling one?
Yes, I’ve made rank quick. I’ve decided I’m going to retire as long as they let me. I’ve still got awhile to go. It’s been fun. There’s a lot of experiences you don’t get to experience in the civilian world.
Any stories you’d like to share?
We were getting ready for deployment. It was supposed to be a 3 day exercise, but we got a call that there was a stranded sailboat with a family on it. We heard it was a dying baby, but it was really sick. They had lost radio communication. They were without power, so they were just floating out in the middle of the ocean. Our whole ship, a Coast Guard ship, and some Air Force Para Jumpers all got together and saved this family. Our ship drove an extra 1200 miles which turned our 3 day trip into a 2 week trip. The coast guard found them in the ocean. The Air Force launched Para Jumpers. They jumped out in the middle of the night into the ocean onto the ship to give the baby first aid and saved the baby. They hung out there 4 days while they waited for us to get there. We took them all onboard our ship and got them back home safely. It was kind of a big event. It was like probably 15 foot seas too which is really bad for down south because the waters are usually like glass down there. It just happened to be a stormy time. The Air Force guys were pretty sick when we picked them up too just from riding around on a little tiny boat. They were happy to be on a ship and on a somewhat stable platform again. The families’ boat was scuttled. They let them keep the steering wheel. The father didn’t want to take anything. He was just so grateful to be safe, but they made him take the wheel, so he had something to remember the boat by. It was big news in San Diego. I don’t know if it made national news. The guy was prior Navy too so it was a big deal for him.
The final two questions below gives the interviewee the opportunity to share their voice in the issue “Connecting & Protecting” is addressing.
Do you feel like there is a disconnection between the military and the general public?
I don’t know. I think everybody’s really supportive of the military around here. I mean they might not understand what we do on a day to day basis, but everybody in the Colorado area is really supportive or at least says they are. You don’t see protests or anything around here. As far as everywhere I’ve been, not so much. Everybody thinks highly of us.