Soldier for Life is a Joint Munitions Command series honoring our employees who have served in uniform. This week’s Soldier for Life feature is MSG (Ret.) Gary Pickering.
Q: What did you do in the Army?
“I spent my entire 22-year Army career in aircraft maintenance. My initial Military Occupational Specialty was avionics navigational equipment repairer. After serving six years in that field, I reenlisted for a different MOS school and trained as an aircraft armament systems repairer. I repaired and later supervised the repair of multiple guns, rocket launchers, missile launchers and systems, as well as the sights, pylons and turrets associated with these systems. As a part of this MOS, we also armed the aircraft during training, and when necessary, during conflict situations. Due to the fact that we handled the various ammunition items and operated in very close proximity to armed weapon systems, we were required to know about the capabilities and cautions associated with the ammunition.”
“Over the span of my career, I handled 5.56mm, 7.62mm, 20mm, 30mm and 40mm ammunition. I also handled thousands of 2.75 in. rockets, TOW and Hellfire missiles.”
“I spent six-and-a-half years as an instructor on aircraft armament systems and maintenance procedures, including the AH-1S Cobra and the AH-64 Apache weapon systems.”
“In the latter part of my career, I was assigned to a theater level aviation maintenance battalion and further assigned to the office overseeing the operation of the European Aviation Classification and Repair Depot contract, then my last assignment was at the DMMC for 1st Inf. Div. monitoring the aircraft maintenance and high priority parts requests for the aviation brigade and reporting the significant issues to the 2-star division commander.”
Q: What ties to the work you do now at JMC? How has being a soldier helped in your career and life?
“Like ammunition, aviation is a very dangerous field and requires a constant focus on safety. Helicopters are not very forgiving and when ammunition is added to the mix, personnel must be very vigilant. The knowledge I gained about the various munitions items, the focus on safety, the knowledge about how the Army operates and knowledge about where certain units are stationed and certain training is conducted are all very helpful to me as I accomplish my tasks here at JMC and within the AMC enterprise.”
“Being a Soldier taught me to place mission ahead of my personal desires and to work as a team member with others in the accomplishment of that mission. My military experience helped me understand the need for competence and that my own competence can be constantly improved, thus I am always in search of learning how to do my assigned tasks in a way that enhances the efficiency of the organization in the completion of our mission.”
Q: What does being a Veteran mean to you?
“Being a Veteran means that I am a member of a relatively small group of people, men and women, who at some time in their lives signed a blank check and handed it to the American people, then stepped into the military to defend those fellow Americans against all foes “foreign and domestic” in order to preserve the freedoms we all enjoy.”
“Being a Veteran means that I respect all those who served and the sacrifices they made, that I might have the opportunity to serve and live a free life today.”
Thank you for your service Gary!