What's your name and job?
Justin L. / OPSO/Military Technology Expert at the McMaster Center for Securities Studies, Valley Forge Military Academy.
What does a day in your life look like? (Walk us through your normal day)
After LARPing in full kit around the house, and sometimes outside to get my mail I’ll spend anywhere from ten minutes to an hour in front of the mirror in said kit. After I’m satisfied of how high-speed I am, I’ll PT for an hour or two. While showering I alternate between contemplating the universe and trying to understand why Pokemon Go was such a huge hit. Post shower I’ll scream my General Orders at my dog while donning my uniform. I’m usually late to work because any mirror I walk by on the way out of the house means a good fifteen “mikes” of checking myself out while reciting lines from ‘A Few Good Men’, ’Top Gun’ and ’The Rock’. My commute to work means sitting in traffic essentially the entire what-should-be-a-forty-minute-drive-but-is-really-two-hours wanting to stab my eyeballs out. Once I do make it to work, most of my time spent is stopping a former Marine from eating crayons and licking that damned window all the time. I was an F-18 driver in the Navy, so on the way home when there is no traffic I blast ‘Danger Zone’ and daydream of volleyball in jeans, aviator sunglasees, and nothing else…but I’m totally not gay. Multiply everything said just now by five and that’s my week. You don’t want to know what I do during the weekends, but it involves a dog (not my dog of course) and a pallet of peanut butter.
I was an F-18 driver, but a couple bulging turned herniated disks that I kept secret as long as I could, ended my flying career eight years too soon. I decided to get out, because if I wasn’t the tip of the spear at the time I no longer wanted to be someone flying a desk. I struggled for years, it wasn’t pretty and took a toll on myself and those closest to me. My biggest struggle was watching my squadron mates go on to fight and make a difference to those on the ground. I was recently given the honor of working along side a former scout sniper who served in Fallujah, stepped on a landmine on two separate occasions upon which neither detonated. His report afterward went on to become the manual with which grunts use to fight today (I’ve included it as an attachment, only request is to keep his name between us).
Today, I have the honor being a plank holder in helping stand up a security studies center and think tank of which my time is split between that and helping a Royal Marine train our future warriors at one of my former alma-matters, Valley Forge Military. It took a long time, but I have finally found a purpose and I’m climbing the ladder back into the Active Reserves. Life is good and I can wear my uniform again and be proud, even if I’m not the tip of the spear and I’m ok with that.
What makes you get up in the morning? What do you love about your profession?
An alarm clock also, see above.
What lead you to become a soldier, officer, etc?
Top Gun, no joke. I saw it at age four and never looked back. Out of High School I went to Valley Forge Military Junior College, where I learned how to be a soldier by shadowing all of the Army ECP’s (Early Commissioning Program) in the separate courses they would take, and going into the field as OPFOR every time they did. After that I took the Navy ROTC route at the George Washington University and the rest was history. Top Gun wasn’t the only reason, it just planted the seed; my father is a huge Military History buff and from a young age I learned what it took to found the country we are so fortunate to live in. Joining the military wasn’t just because I was chasing a dream. It was to be part of something bigger than myself, and to answer the call like millions have done before me and maybe, just maybe, make a difference. As an aviator it wouldn’t have been the guy next to me, but the one 30,000 feet below who’s life and the live’s of his element depended on being on target on time, every time.
And for those who never came home, who’s blood make our flag’s stripes red.
What are the most challenging aspects of your profession?
Flying a desk…most of the time.
What do you love to do in your free time?
DON’T LAUGH - But, what got me through the bad times before I took the position I am in now was gardening, but not the Susey homemaker kind you're thinking of. I literally learned on-the-go everything there was to know about growing indoor tropicals. The result was pretty remarkable..my entire downstairs is now nothing short of a jungle (picture(s) also included.
What are your thoughts on the HHV ATE Helmet?
Most comfortable lid I’ve ever worn.