Culture Shock My Bag

An Airman’s Bag | Avary Ann Noto

Name: Nicholas Martineau 

Age: 21 

Occupation: United States Air Force-Grounds Transportation 

Rank: Senior Airman

I knew from a young age that I was going to go into the military. I was planning on enlisting in the army, but it was my older brother who convinced me to go to the United States Air Force, and now I get to work right beside him. I am currently active duty stationed at the Bradley Base in Connecticut working in Grounds Transportation which is AFSC2T1 (Air Force Specialty Code). Essentially I am responsible for moving people and equipment in ground vehicles, such as stake trucks, a flatbed truck with built in stakes to provide a frame, and passenger buses. My rank is Senior Airman and my pay grade is E4. The paygrade goes all the way up to E9, each rank gets a different pay, the higher the rank the more money you make. The United States Air Force allows me to attend University of Connecticut full time and they pay for my education. 

Nicholas’s backpack (Avary Ann Noto for Blue Muse Magazine)

This is my government issued bag that was given to me at BMT (Basic Military Training). Usually everyone keeps the bag that was given to them when arriving at BMT; I still keep items inside my bag that were given to me during my time there. I use it for both military and school purposes. 

School spplies (Avary Ann Noto for Blue Muse Magazine)

I am going to college because in order to be an officer in the military you have to have a college degree, so I am majoring in Geographical Information Sciences which is satellite light mapping and geographic mapping. Being both active military and a full-time student can be quite miserable because of the packed schedule. There are days where I need to miss school and just hope my professors are understanding. When I was on my COVID-19 orders two years ago I would go to school from nine in the morning to one in the afternoon and then go to New Britain and work at a warehouse from four in the afternoon to midnight six days a week. I was able to get some schoolwork done when I was at the warehouse and now that it has slowed down a little I need to work for the Air Force at least three days a week. 

Air Force equipment (Avary Ann Noto for Blue Muse Magazine)

I always keep ChemLights in my bag, which are essentially glow sticks. I keep them on me in case any of my vehicles break down. On the range I tie them to a strap on a firearm so I can see it in the morning or at night. I also put them in the cargo when it drops so they are visible. The emergency blanket is a precaution if any of my vehicles break down. The portable charger is essential because I have to drive to Cape Cod once a week to transport cargo from my base to the Joint Base Cape Cod base. I pick up airplane parts and drive them back to my base. The portable charger keeps my phone from dying mid-route while using the GPS. It’s crucial for me to keep a knife on me at all times because there are endless amounts of jobs I need it for on a daily basis. 

Air Force patches (Avary Ann Noto for Blue Muse Magazine)

The patch to the far right is our squadron patch, ours is the bear claw. It has a catch phrase in latin, “semper progrediens” meaning always progressing. It is a form of pride and identification. The patch in the middle is my rank, there is one line less on the patch than the paygrade. For example, I’m an E4, so I have three stripes. This patch needs to be on me at all times on the outermost layer of my clothing; it’s another form of identification. The patch to the far left is the American Flag which is backwards because that is what the flag looks like when you are running into war. It is critical to have these patches on me at all times, especially for rank recognition and identification. 

Apex Parka (Avary Ann Noto for Blue Muse Magazine)

This is my Apex Parka which is basically just a rain jacket. On here you can see my rank patch displayed along with my last name and the United States Air Force. This jacket is essential because we work in all and any weather conditions. For example, when I go to Cape Cod every week, I go regardless of the weather conditions. So when I have to drop off the cargo and pick up the airplane parts, my parka is crucial. 

Header Photo Credit: Gwenavere Noto for Blue Muse Magazine

Avary Ann Noto is a Staff Writer for Blue Muse Magazine

Blue Muse Magazine is a general interest literary magazine published by the students of the English Department at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut. We publish poetry, fiction, and a gamut of creative nonfiction on anything and everything the blue muse inspires us to write.

2 comments on “An Airman’s Bag | Avary Ann Noto

  1. Mary Collins

    Love this posting, Avary! Amazing story about his service during COVID.

  2. Kyle LaMay

    Very well written Avary! It’s always nice to read stories about people who serve.

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