7 years in the Middle East.
3.5 years in Afghanistan.
Another 3.5 years in Qatar.
That's how long I spent over there working as a defense contractor supporting the U.S. Military. I flew drones, and never went off base, but incoming mortars and rockets don’t discriminate. It’s either going to be your day, or it won’t.
What does someone who has a passion for adventure do when offered a job flying drones in Afghanistan? They take it. The promise of not only learning and experiencing something new and exciting, and doing it halfway around the world, and I’m eyes-in-the-sky for our troops! Come on! For me that was beyond any daydream I ever had before.
Being deployed often left me with hours of seclusion, thinking about the time I would spend with my family when I got home so we could maximize the time and memories.
I couldn’t wait to show them more to life than video shorts and chicken nuggets, but I needed to think this through.
That turned into a lengthy list of needs for at least 3 of us to be away from home for a few days. Hours and days of thinking and rethinking. The excitement and frustrations of working out the details of a project like this was reminiscent of a carnival ride at the local fair. Happiness, laughter, sadness, and fear are all part of the process.
It didn’t take me long to realize I needed to maximize every square inch of that vehicle.
I couldn’t afford all of the bells and whistles like bumpers and armor so I was searching for creative ways to pack necessities. Extra fuel, and water for that matter, were a top priority but the available options were extremely limited and left me exhausted searching for the solution.
Putting any fuel on the outside of my rig wasn’t an option because I’m hauling precious cargo.
In my line of work, I have to manage risk, and that isn’t optional. This was not an acceptable risk.
“Okay”. There isn’t anywhere else to put it except under the truck where the spare was, but I couldn’t afford a custom fabricated unit. I’ll just buy whatever premade tank is out there and figure out a way to mount it under there, some forum has a link to someone making something. I just need to look harder.
It took me a couple weeks of searching the internet, coming up with only one mediocre solution, to realize that I wasn’t going to find what I needed.
So, as it turns out, that someone, creating something to go under there, that was me. If that was the best option, I would have to make it myself.
I can do this. I’m creative and have an overactive imagination and the need was there.
I just needed to live up to the demand for something undeniably smart, and useful. Not something that was an afterthought just to get a product out there, but something that felt second nature. Something built to take us beyond our current boundaries. The cost to do this would be manageable, if I was smart. I did all the research already, and the thought of not capitalizing on all that work I had put in so far was too much.
I'm all in.
What unfolded after that is where I am today.
Humbled by amazing people I’ve met along the way, and the memories in a lifetime of adventure. I don’t know what the future looks like, but I am extremely excited about the journey beyond.