In order to get an in depth look into what it is really like to serve the great country of the United States, I interviewed retired Lieutenant Commander Rod Lubasky. Lieutenant Commander Rod Lubasky is a twenty three year military veteran, serving nine years in the United States Army from 1978-1987 and fourteen years in the United States Coast Guard from 1987-2002.
The interesting fact about Lieutenant Commander Lubasky lies not only in his service in two military branches. Commander Lubasky has also served under all three rank structures, enlisted, warrant officer, and commissioned officer. For those that don’t know, enlisted members of the military are eligible to join with just a high school diploma or GED. Warrant officers tend to be enlisted members that go through a warrant officer program. Warrant officers are quite prevalent in the Army. Commissioned officers are those with college degrees, often times called, “the brass” due to their metal ranks on dress uniforms.
Transcripts from the interview with Lieutenant Commander Lubasky are provided below:
Lieutenant Lubasky’s remarks directly follow the question.
• When and why did you decide to join the military? – I decided to join the Army right after high school. Initially, I only joined for the education benefits. I went in with the mindset that I would do my four years, get out, and use my GI bill to pay for college and ultimately law school.
• What job did you initially have in the Army? – I joined as an OH-58 Scout mechanic
• I understand that you retired as a pilot. Can you tell us how that came to be? – After joining, the Army noticed that my ASVAB scores were very high. They asked me if I would like to go through the warrant officer program and go to flight school. I declined multiple times before accepting their offer. I am now very happy that I did.
• What made you finally accept the offer? – When I first received the offers, I was not that in to it. I joined the Army to get money for school and I ultimately wanted to become a lawyer. I knew people in flight school, and at the young age of 19, I didn’t know if I could handle the responsibility of flying an extremely expensive aircraft. After multiple offers that I politely declined, I accepted.
• What did you fly after finishing flight school? – After flight school, I was given the option to fly either attack or scout helicopters because I was the honor man in my class. I chose scout because they are single pilot helicopters and they get a lot more flight hours than the attack guys. The helicopter was basically mine. I could fly whenever and wherever I wanted. All flying in the scout was below the tree line and adrenaline was always flowing.
• How was the transition in to the Coast Guard? – The transition in to the Coast Guard went quite smoothly. While in the Army, I obtained my master’s degree, so I was able to become a commissioned officer in the Coast Guard.
• Why did you decide to make the transition from the Army to the Coast Guard? – At the time the Coast Guard offered me a lot. I was offered a direct commission and became a commissioned officer and made an easy transition into the Coast Guard rescue helicopters. The Coast Guard is a better option if you are planning a family as well. Deployments are not as long, and I got to come home to my wife more.
• What was your job in the Coast Guard? – I was still a helicopter pilot. I flew the OH-65 Dolphine rescue helicopter. One of the Coast Guard’s primary helicopters that is commonly used for search and rescue missions and patrolling. After a few years, I landed a job as an instructor pilot in the Dolphine. After that stint, I was offered the option to get rated in the Falcon. The falcon is a twin turbine engine fixed wing aircraft that is used for surveillance and reconnaissance. I had the blessed opportunity to be both rated in helicopter and airplanes. It made the job a little bit more fun.
• Finally, what do you ultimately feel like you got out of the military? – The military has given me everything I have. It has provided me with awesome benefits such as pension and healthcare but that is not what it is all about. It’s about pride for country. As a young man in the military, I was quickly matured. At the age of 19, I was flying helicopters along the communist border. It has taught me structure, organization, and leadership that a value cannot be placed on. The Coast Guard was a whole new experience. I got to drive to work every day knowing that lives would be in my hands. I was based in Coast Guard Air Station Miami – the busiest Coast Guard Station in the world. We did multiple search and rescue missions and drug busts on a daily basis. The mission of the Coast Guard is fantastic. There is no better feeling than pulling survivors out of the water. It is great to know that there are people out there that received a second shot at life because of you. Finally, the military has provided me with my current job as an airline pilot. All my flight training was paid for and the military provided me with the opportunity to rack up the necessary hours to land this airline job.
• Do you ever miss the military lifestyle? – Being in the military has provided me with awesome life stories and some of the best years of my life. I wouldn’t trade a single year of service for the world. Flying in the military was obviously a lot more fun. Everything was action packed and lives were on the line at all times. Flying in the airline industry is boring. We take off, press some buttons, and sit back and relax. So yes, I miss it.
• Is there any advice or words that you would like to give to young men or women that are considering the military as a profession? – The military is not for everybody. You are required to be mentally and physically tough. As an operator, your life and the lives of your teammates and comrades may be in your hands. The military is a great way to get benefits, but that is not why one should join. If you are going to join the military, make sure you have a genuine love for country and service.