Take advantage of opportunities when they arise

For the past few months we’ve been bringing you the weekly Dispatch from Ali Base, written by Master Sgt. Russell P. Petcoff. MSgt Petcoff used to work in the same office as AFPAA Emerging Technology and I had asked him prior to deploying if he’d be willing to send some blog posts while he’s in Iraq. We’re very grateful for the stories and photos and links that he sends on a weekly basis. MSgt Petcoff really took advantage of an opportunity to try something new in the media world. Below is a commentary he wrote about making the most of your time, regardless of where you are. Just as blogging and social media are new realms for the military, drumming has become a new opportunity for MSgt Petcoff. Yes, drumming. Moral of the story? Take a chance, try something new, and don’t pass up the opportunities that present themselves to you. Again, a big thanks to MSgt Petcoff for sharing with us.

Take advantage of opportunities when they arise
By Master Sgt. Russell P. Petcoff
Public Affairs

“Don’t count the days, make the days count.”

We’ve all heard these words at some point in our deployment to Ali Base. For some Airmen, they take it to heart. For others, it goes through one ear and out the other.

This is not a commentary designed to make the days count. It’s up to you to approach each day as you see fit. What’s important is doing your job every day.

But what about the time you aren’t at work? Are you at least taking advantage of unexpected opportunities? There are countless ways Airmen can contribute to life at Ali Base or improve their lives. It’s up to you to take advantage of the opportunities here to make the deployments memorable and fulfilling.

Some opportunities are unexpected, as I recently found out. Since about mid-February, I’ve been a member of the praise and worship band for the 11 o’clock Protestant service. I started out singing back-up vocals.

One Wednesday evening before practice, I noticed a set of neglected conga drums in the back of the chapel. During a “jam session,” I played them. That opened up an opportunity to play them in the band during service. I’d never had any drumming experience, but an opportunity came open, and I took advantage of it. I ended up providing a needed element to the praise band.

Recently, the band lost four members due to their redeployment. One of the departing members was our drummer. Another opportunity came open. Without any experience playing a drum set, I sat behind the kit at the next practice. Despite an initial skepticism of my ability – and probably some similar reservations by the band leader – I began drumming. Two weeks later, I’m still behind them.  People have come up to me that first Sunday saying they didn’t know I played the drums. “I don’t,” I said. “This is the first time.”

Now, I’m the first to say I’m no Charlie Watts (Rolling Stones), Stewart Copeland (The Police) or David Carr (Third Day), and probably will never be. I’m having fun, though. Playing the drums is a perfect outlet for someone who’s fidgety and likes to make rhythmic noise.

An opportunity became available to me while deployed, and I took advantage of it. Playing the drums has helped make my time at Ali Base enjoyable. It’s also given me what may turn out to be a life-long hobby…hope my wife understands.