Monday, March 28, 2011

Our future's going to be a blast!

For six years, we searched for a job that we could do together that would give us the freedom to travel and get paid to do something we both loved to do. We began researching careers as Unexploded Ordnance Technicians in the summer of 2010. We did our homework and picked the best UXO school – TEEX. A UXO company we checked with told us that companies will hire teams of husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, or brothers. We love to travel and be out-of-doors, hunting and fishing, or finding treasure with our metal detectors. So, we thought becoming UXO Technicians seemed to be the perfect job for us. Our children are grown, and we saw this as an adventure.

We arrived at the Texas A&M Rellis Campus in Bryan, Texas, on Jan. 24, 2011, to begin the TEEX Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) Technician I course. It turned out to be a challenging, exhausting and exciting four weeks.

Perspectives on the Training

Evelyn’s Perspective: I’d worked as an Emergency Department Technician, and knew nothing about UXO. William had spent many years in the Army and knew a lot about munitions, so I figured he’d be the perfect study partner. But on the first day of class, I thought, “what have I gotten myself into?” I had no idea what a mortar, projectile, rifle or grenade was and …what was that fuze stuff all about? I felt like I was in a whirlwind. Fortunately, Instructor Ed Fritz taught on all levels. Plus, he cares if you succeed!

There was a lot of information to absorb and retain in a short period of time. The first two weeks were difficult, mostly classroom and bookwork. That meant going to class from 7:30 to 5:30, then studying for three to five hours every night. The stress level was extremely high. The third week was demo week. The fourth week, when we were working on the grid, was the light bulb moment. I understood! Everything came together and made sense. And the Number One safety message was MOVEMENT.

William’s perspective: Mentally, this was very challenging. The first two weeks were so condensed. You were force-fed a lot of information, and it was hard to see where they were going. We were warned not to try and memorize the munitions, but to learn the identifying parts (body, base and fuze). Plus there were a million other things we needed to know. Demo, equalizing potential, FIRE-IN-THE-HOLE … would it never stop? But by the end of the second week, it all began to fall into place. Ed and Phil Yeaman just kept pushing us. Thanks guys, the training was awesome!

Best parts of the UXO course

My favorite part of the training was the start of the third week – half-way!– and then the fourth week, both of which were hands-on. The third week was demo week, and we got to blow stuff up. It was for real when I got to yell ‘Fire-in-the-hole.’ And I liked the last week we spent on the grid finding “treasure” or UXO, something that I love to do.

I am proud to be a graduate of TEEX Class #46. The training is excellent, and I left the school with confidence, knowing I have the knowledge to work as a UXO Tech 1. I feel that the training I received at TEEX was worth the money I paid.

William: I guess my favorite part was being able to do this with my best friend and wife. She never fails to keep me focused on the task at hand, even if it’s the dishes! Seriously, during this training, she and I sat beside each other in class, studied together (along with others in our study groups), walked, crawled, dug, sweat and almost cried together. Then we got to blow stuff up and then graduate together. It was great.

The instructors - Ed Fritz, Phil Yeaman and the demo week instructors - were very knowledgeable and never failed to help when asked. They made this a class to remember. Christy Robinett was the first voice we heard from TEEX and had answers to every question we had. My overall view of this experience is that I have never paid so much money to be so abused (Thanks, Ed) and learned so much. 

The Future
At graduation, TEEX gave us a list of potential employers to contact and we’ve found others through some contacts on the TEEX Facebook page and UXO buddies. We’ve sent out resumes to 25+ companies and definitely want to get hired by the same company. We really want to go to work and use all that we learned at the TEEX UXO School.

We’d advise anyone who is seriously considering taking a UXO class to attend the TEEX UXO Tech 1 course. If life as a UXO Tech 1 is half as challenging and half as fun as this class has been, it will be an awesome life.

William and Evelyn Turbeville are graduates of the TEEX UXO Technician I program, Class #46. They are currently applying for UXO Tech I positions in the United States.