Flinn, William, ATCS

Aviation Electronics Technician
 
 Service Photo   Service Details
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Current Service Status
USN Retired
Current/Last Rank
Senior Chief Petty Officer
Current/Last Primary Designator/NEC
AT-8345-F-14 System Aircraft Organizational Maintenance Technician
Current/Last Rating/NEC Group
Aviation Electronics Technician
Primary Unit
1996-1996, AT-8345, NAS Alameda
Previously Held Designator/NEC
AT-0000-Aviation Electronics Technician
AT-6611-Aircraft UHF Communications, ADF and ICS Equipment IMA Technician
AT-6612-Aircraft Tacan/Radio Navigation Equipment IMA Technician
AT-9502-Instructor
638X-Limited Duty Officer - Aviation Avionics
Service Years
1976 - 1996
Official/Unofficial US Navy Certificates
Military Customs Inspector
Order of the Shellback
Order of the Golden Shellback
Persian Excursion
Plank Owner
AT-Aviation Electronics Technician
Four Hash Marks


 Ribbon Bar

Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist Badge

 

 Official Badges 

US Navy Retired 20


 Unofficial Badges 

Order of the Shellback US Navy Honorable Discharge Order of the Golden Shellback


 Military Association Memberships
Department of ColoradoPost 1781, Rocky Mountain PostBranch 49Association of Naval Aviation
  2009, American Legion, Department of Colorado (Member) (Denver, Colorado) [Verified] - Chap. Page
  2009, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW), Post 1781, Rocky Mountain Post (Member) (Fort Collins, Colorado) [Verified] - Chap. Page
  2009, Fleet Reserve Association (FRA), Branch 49 (Member) (Denver, Colorado) [Verified] - Chap. Page
  2009, Association of Naval Aviation - Assoc. Page



 Enlisted/Officer Basic Training
  1976, Recruit Training (San Diego, CA), 163
  1993, LDO/CWO Indoctrination (Pensacola, FL)
 Duty Stations
 Professional Schools and CoursesVS-41 ShamrocksNAS North IslandNAF Misawa
NAF Diego Garcia BIOTVF-124 GunfightersVF-194 Red Lightning - Yellow DevilsVF-51 Screaming Eagles
USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70)NAS Alameda
  1976-1977, AT-0000, Advanced First Term Avionics Course
  1977-1978, AT-6611, VS-41 Shamrocks
  1978-1980, AT-6612, NAS North Island
  1980-1983, AT-6612, NAF Misawa
  1982-1982, AT-6612, NAF Diego Garcia BIOT
  1983-1986, AT-8345, VF-124 Gunfighters
  1986-1988, AT-8345, VF-194 Red Lightning - Yellow Devils
  1988-1990, AT-8345, VF-51 Screaming Eagles
  1990-1993, AT-9502, VF-124 Gunfighters
  1993-1994, 638X, USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70)
  1994-1996, 638X, NAS Alameda
  1996-1996, AT-8345, NAS Alameda
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1987-1988 Operation Earnest Will (Iran)
  1989-1989 Training Exercise - PACEX '89
  1994-1994 Operation Southern Watch (Iraq)
  1994-1994 Training Exercise - UNITAS '94
 Military Association Memberships
Department of ColoradoPost 1781, Rocky Mountain PostBranch 49Association of Naval Aviation
  2009, American Legion, Department of Colorado (Member) (Denver, Colorado) [Verified] - Chap. Page
  2009, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW), Post 1781, Rocky Mountain Post (Member) (Fort Collins, Colorado) [Verified] - Chap. Page
  2009, Fleet Reserve Association (FRA), Branch 49 (Member) (Denver, Colorado) [Verified] - Chap. Page
  2009, Association of Naval Aviation - Assoc. Page

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Reflections on SCPO Flinn's US Navy Service
 
 Reflections On My Service
 
PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE NAVY?
I joined the Navy because I had little to no hope of going to college. My mom was a single parent who did an amazing job raising my sisters and me, but the money for college just wasn't there. My overall grades in high school were only fair, so scholarships were out of the question. I had become interested in the military early in high school, however, so I began looking at all of the services to try to find where I might fit in.

I had an extremely high aptitude for electro-mechanics and electronics and scored very high on the entrance examinations, particularly the mechanical, math, and electronics sections. I completely credit this, by the way, to the fact that I grew up in an era where shop classes were a huge part of junior high and high school. (I took any and every shop class I could get into from 7th grade on.) Because of my high entrance scores, the Navy offered me advanced avionics training and the chance to be involved in one of my passions - aviation. Actually - they wanted me to go into the nuclear power program, but I love aircraft and refused to go into any field except aviation. I loved what I was doing in Naval Aviation, so I stayed for 20 years. Eventually commissioned as an Avionics Maintenance LDO (638x).
WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK. WHAT WAS YOUR REASON FOR LEAVING?
I went through the Navy's Advanced First Term Avionics program and went into avionics systems maintenance on various aircraft. My initial tour of duty was at NAS North Island performing electronic countermeasures and comm/nav systems transmission line testing on S-3A Vikings and various helicopters. From there, my first sea duty tour was at NAF Misawa, Japan, forward deployed in support of P-# Orion aircraft. I was interested in duty with "tailhook" aircraft, so I requested that my next tour of duty was in the F-14 community. After arriving in the F-14 community at NAS Miramar, I decided that maintaining "Tomcats" is where I really wanted to be and served in the Tomcat community for the next 10 years. I made Chief in that community and was also selected as an LDO from the F-14 community. My first LDO tour was onboard the USS Carl Vinson as the AIMD Avionics Division Officer.

I left the Navy due to a neck injury that left me with limited dexterity in my left arm/hand, diminished sensation and chronic pain on the left side of my body, and I could no longer pass the PT test. This happened at year 18. The Navy allowed me to stay active on limited duty and retire at 20 years.
IF YOU PARTICIPATED IN ANY MILITARY OPERATIONS, INCLUDING COMBAT, HUMANITARIAN AND PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT TO YOU AND, IF LIFE-CHANGING, IN WHAT WAY.
Operation Earnest Will while serving with VF-51, deployed aboard USS Carl Vinson in 1988 during the Iran/Irag War was definitely the most meaningful. A lot of long hard hours and 24-hour flight operations, but the people with whom I served in that squadron were top notch. That was my first full deployment aboard an aircraft carrier and made me realize that serving aboard ship and maintaining aircraft was where I wanted to be.
WAS THERE A PARTICULAR INCIDENT DURING YOUR SERVICE WHEN YOU BELIEVED YOU WERE IN A SITUATION YOU MIGHT NOT SURVIVE? PLEASE DESCRIBE WHAT HAPPENED AND WHAT WAS THE OUTCOME.
Had no such incidents where I was in such danger that I thought wouldn't survive. I had a few close calls while working on the flight deck, however. But overall I felt pretty safe in all of my working environments and deployments. I'm sort of an adrenaline junkie, and I loved working on the flight deck during flight ops more than anything. It was like going to an air show every day of my life while at sea. Working on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier is one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet, or so they say. But all of us who worked up there kept our heads on a swivel and looked out for each other, and it was great fun for us. I have definitely carried the skills I learned about being aware of my surroundings into civilian life.
OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Favorite: VF-51, hands down! Great people, great squadron, and I learned a lot about leadership in that unit. High speed, low drag environment.

Second Favorite: My Division Officer tour aboard USS Carl Vinson. In addition to my division officer duties, my General Quarters station was to serve as the One-Foxtrot Repair Locker Officer. I was in charge of a firefighting and damage control team responsible for the forward part of the ship, from the hangar bay up to the O-3 level (the deck right below the flight deck). To do this, I got to go through the Navy's advanced firefighting training program at Treasure Island, CA.

My least favorite (at the time) was the portion of my foreign service at NAF Misawa Japan in which I did my turn in the barrel in the physical security department. I wanted to fix airplanes! But in retrospect, that part of my tour taught me a lot of the skills I use today as an armed concealed carry practitioner. It's a dangerous world today - being able to perform threat intervention until law enforcement and first responders arrive is a critical skill set to have. My time there added to that skill set. Besides, they let me shoot guns.
FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE, INCLUDING COMBAT, DESCRIBE THE PERSONAL MEMORIES WHICH HAVE IMPACTED YOU MOST?
While serving with VF-51, my team and I became known as the "Blues Brothers" because we would all put on the big "Buddy Holly" sunglasses like the guys from the Blues Brothers movies, and were always hanging out together. We ate all of our meals together, and we went on liberty together. Marty, Mike, Gary and I all worked the night shift on that deployment. Marty and I would stand up on the flight deck at night between aircraft launches, look up at the full moon, and say "only "n" more full moons until we get to go home." I will always remember that team experience for what it taught me about being part of a team on a combat deployment, and what it meant to be a team leader in a fast-paced, high-stress environment.
WHAT ACHIEVEMENT(S) ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM YOUR MILITARY CAREER? IF YOU RECEIVED ANY MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS OR QUALIFICATION BADGES FOR SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENT OR VALOR, PLEASE DESCRIBE HOW THESE WERE EARNED.
When I made Sailor of the Year in VF-51. My skipper who presented it to me, then CDR "Rat" Willard would later be my XO when I reported aboard USS Carl Vinson to serve my first tour as a brand new LDO Ensign.

Making Chief - once a Chief, always a Chief - becoming part of the brotherhood. No other service has such a thing.

Making LDO. I was presented my new Ensign bars by my skipper in VF-124 (CDR "Sobs" Sobiek), who was also my XO when I was in VF-51.
OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES YOU RECEIVED, OR ANY OTHER MEMORABILIA, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH ARE THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?
My Sailor of the Year award from VF-51 is most meaningful to me. That was my favorite unit of my entire career, and the award was presented to me by the Naval Officer I admired most in my career.
WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?
Bob "Rat" Willard. He was my skipper in VF-51, and my XO when I reported to the USS Carl Vinson to serve my first commissioned tour as a new LDO Ensign. His leadership qualities rubbed off on everyone he served with.

While visiting in his office one time, and he said to me: "Bill - do you remember when all I had to do was fly the airplanes, and all you had to do was fix 'em". And the thought that came to mind was "Now, look at us, on a huge warship, trying to ride herd on thousands of people."
PLEASE RECOUNT THE NAMES OF FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH, AT WHICH LOCATION, AND WHAT YOU REMEMBER MOST ABOUT THEM. INDICATE THOSE YOU ARE ALREADY IN TOUCH WITH AND THOSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO MAKE CONTACT WITH.
Too many to remember, and regretfully I have forgotten so many names of people I would like to look up.

My Team in VF-194:
*Jim Watson
*Jim Webber

My Team in VF-51:
*Mike "Snoz" Riccio
*Gary "Surfer" King
*Marty Weidenhoeft
*Dave Willis
WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR PRESENT OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTY?
After leaving the Navy, I went into the information technology profession. Aircraft maintenance jobs in the civilian world were scarce in the late 90's, and I had already been doing some part-time and freelance IT and network administration stuff. I obtained various IT certifications and eventually went back to school to get my Master's Degree in Information Systems Security Management.

I am currently serving with the US Department of Agriculture as the Cybersecurity Operations Section Supervisor for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

In my volunteer life, I am currently a CERT Instructor with the Fort Collins Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). The skills I learned through my Navy physical security, firefighting, and damage control training and duties prepared me well for this activity.
WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?
Fleet Reserve Asociation, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars.
IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER?
The thing that has followed me into civilian life from the Navy is my attitude towards getting the mission accomplished. "Remember your priorities: Your mission and your men." is a saying that has stuck with me through the years. Stay focused on the mission, and take care of your team.
BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE NAVY?
Stay focused on the mission and take care of your teammates. Keep those above you from falling on their own swords - because they are human and will make mistakes. Learn to council across to your peers, and learn to council up to your superiors. Those things will serve you well as you move up and take leadership positions of your own. But when you do move up, be smart enough to listen to the counseling given to you from all sides. Be able to quickly evaluate the advice of others and make decisions. Own your decisions.
IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.
William Flinn (The Gonz), ATCS - In what ways has TogetherWeServed.com helped you remember your military service and the friends you served with.
Gave me the ability to recall the timelines of my service, the places I served, and the people with whom I've served.

DS 12/1/17

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