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168 Days: Duty Calls

By Ken Snyder

I initially joined the 190th Air Refueling Wing of the Kansas Air National Guard in September 2003, after being out of the service for 16 years. In all the years I have served with the ANG we've never had what some call a "summer camp" -- we have been allotted a number of additional days in a given fiscal year and given the freedom to schedule them as our personal schedule allowed. With the schedule of activations for off-site training and inspection activities the 190th has been tasked with (on top of the activations for Operation Enduring Freedom -- like the one I went on just before I started at BPU) these days haven't always been needed to complete a satisfactory year for retirement purposes. However, in 2010 the 190th decided to bring us in for a "summer camp" consisting of two weeks -- there were two sessions in different months, the one I chose was 14 to 18 June and 21 to 23 June. The second week was scheduled to coincide with a four-day Unit Training Assembly -- normally this would be a two-day weekend, but at times the unit's leadership decides to have us in for four days and forego another month altogether, which was what they did in June so we would not have to show up in July.

My orders for these two weeks came down on 18 February. As soon as I knew the exact dates I informed DeGraeve about these weeks and he marked them on the shop's calendar, much like the other employees' vacation days. Once I had copies of my orders I gave him a copy of them along with a copy of my drill weekends for the rest of the year.

Clark, who by now was the shop's supervisor, once asked me about my ANG duty days and "how to handle them" in regard to being called in for overtime trouble calls. What I had talked with DeGraeve about (and I thought we had agreed would be the best way to handle this) was that I would call the Trouble Board and let them know when I was not available, then call back in once I had returned from duty. I relayed this to Clark and thought we had an agreement.

My "summer camp" was listed on two separate orders, this made the weekend in between them actually two days that I could have worked if a trouble call would have came in. The 18th of June we were dismissed early enough in Topeka that I drove back to KCK and arrived at the Service Center before the end of the day -- I had bought two tickets to a Kansas City T-Bones baseball game (as part of the BPU Employees Club Night) and knew they would be waiting in the shop. It was good to see my co-workers, since I was not happy at the time with the way some things were going on in Topeka, and I felt glad to be away from there and in a place I thought was "friendly territory."

After the two weeks (and the weekend after the second week) were over I returned to BPU on 28 June. Before I had left for ANG duty I was so far ahead on the Washington Boulevard project (only the 10th & Washington Boulvard cabinet had been installed, and we had it up and running just fine) I had turned to adjusting the shelving inside fiber optic splice cabinets according to the preferences made by DeGraeve and Castle.

Not long after I returned I remember passing Clark on the dock and telling him I was glad to be back. Obviously the feeling wasn't mutual.

We were told that another project had been made a priority: replacing cabinets along Fairfax Trafficway. Dunn picked out one, and I picked out one -- my cabinet was to replace the one controlling the signals in front of the General Motors plant. This cabinet would only have four phases: a southbound, a southbound left-turn, a northbound, and a westbound out of the plant. This also was the first cabinet I worked that did not have camera traffic detection equipment, it had detection loops in the pavement and I would have to adapt what was already there to the new cabinet. I had this cabinet assembled, the controller programmed, the conflict monitor certified, most of the documentation finished, it was being tested in the shop and I was making labels for inside the cabinet on 8 July 2010.


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