Voices of Oswego Veterans


Michal Patriak

Photographer: Victoria Brumley

Featuring: Justin Frisbie

Military installations are great places to find new friends, forge confidence, and experience life.

Read Audio Transcript

About Justin Frisbie

Justin Frisbie is a student at Oswego State and a former Navy seaman. He grew up in Phoenix, New York and wrestled for four years in high school. He joined the military after graduation and went to Basic Training in Great Lakes, Illinois. Although he trained as an air rescue swimmer, Justin switched roles to be a gunner’s mate and was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. As part of his duties he was responsible for servicing, maintaining, and using an arsenal of heavy weapons. After serving from 2008 to 2012, Justin’s next activities were taking classes at Cayuga Community College and working as a diver during the summer. He is currently studying wellness management as he pursues a doctorate of physical therapy.


Listen to Audio

Cameron: Welcome to the Voices of Oswego Veterans podcast, episode “Experiences”, and thank you for listening with us today. I am Timothy Groman

Timothy: and I am Cameron Aldrich. In this episode we will be talking about some interesting experiences in the military. Specifically, we will talk with veteran Justin Frisbie about preparing for deployment, making friends, and flourishing in the military environment.

Cameron: Justin Frisbie is a student at Oswego State and a former Navy seaman who served from 2008 to 2012. He went through Basic Training in Great Lakes, Illinois before being sent to Norfolk, Virginia as a gunner’s mate, which is basically a weapons expert. He was transferred to HQ armorer for his last year, so he got to maintain a 1200-gun armory with several people under him.

Cameron: The following excerpts are from our interview with Justin.

Timothy: So you didn’t actually ever get deployed, you just...?

Justin: No actually, yeah it sucked, we were all looking forward to it, okay. Our training cycles, they’re called workup cycles, and we trained a lot. There was one year we trained about seven months out of the year getting ready for a deployment that never ended up coming. We trained, basically we would go out for three or four weeks, you know. We would have anywhere from like eight hour days all the way up to, like, we had some sixteen hour days. Just brutal, you know, just all day going, shooting, working out, like whatever, you know just all day long whatever we were learning. So, we did our workup cycle, all this training and we finally get a break like, “Hey, we have a break now because we’re going to start slowing down and getting, er, getting ready for this deployment,” which was supposed to be to Bahrain, which is in the very southern tip of Iraq.

Justin: So we were excited about it, you know, ’cause, “Hey this is what we’ve been training for, this all, like, all year long,” you know. And, not only that, but it’s really good money going over there, so we’re like, “Hey, going over for six to nine months, we’re gonna come back with like, 40,000 dollars tax free.” So we’re pumped about it, you know, and we packed all our stuff up into the big, old, steel conex boxes, packed everything up. We actually got our desert camos, you know, got all our uniforms ready to go, and then like, what was it, not even probably a week or two before we were supposed to deploy they were like, “Oh yeah, by the way, we don’t have a mission there anymore. They’re just gonna have the, uh, the Iraqi army patrol the dams and stuff like that.” So we’re like, “Eh, that sucks.” We had to unpack everything, you know. I still never, I still have my desert camos, I’ve never even worn ’em before. So we ended up not getting our deployment which, you know, sucks, but what you gonna do.

Cameron: What did you enjoy most about the military?

Justin: Oh let me see, a lot of stuff really. I mean, I got to do, lot of stuff people, you know, could never even imagine doing and never get to do before. Like I said, I lived in Virginia Beach which was super nice. I was about 30 second walk from the beach, so that was a big, you know, that was a good perk. And then the military itself, we actually did a lot of training all over the country. So, I mean, granted, I never got a deployment. I didn’t get to go overseas, you know, but I was all over the country for training. Obviously I got, you know, in a lot better shape, so that was, that was pretty cool. I met a lot of cool guys, you know, some of my best friends I’ve met in the military.

Justin: And again just the experiences, you know, some of the stuff I did, it’s, you know, it was mind blowing. Just like, stuff you’d never even get to do anywhere else, you know. Some of the equipment you’re in charge of like a million dollar equipment and stuff. Like, some of the training we did like driving boats at, like, 40 knots in the middle of the night under NVGs and stuff, you had no idea where you’re going, you know. And yeah, just some of the experiences were awesome, you know, getting to be a gunner on a boat and stuff like that. So, yep, and plus, one thing I noticed, it helped me mature really quickly too, you know what I mean? So, I think that helped.

Cameron: Some of those friendships, do you still talk to them today, or you guys still contact…?

Justin: Yeah, I do. One thing I learned in the military, like, a lot of guys come and go really quickly. You see like a lot of your best friends, you know, you make really good friends with somebody, next thing you know they transfer to another command, or, like, they’re needed over here or something like that, you know. So a lot of the guys [are] like, “Hey, man, you’re my best friend,” you know, and next thing you know they’re gone. And you just like, you, I mean, you lose touch with how busy you are, you know what I mean? You just, “Alright, well, he’s gone,” you know. So you don’t really like, I mean it sounds kind of, like, cold but you’re like, “Ah, I don’t really miss him,” you know, just ’cause you’ve got so much going on. So I like, I made a lot of really, like, good friends, and I, like, kinda lost a lot of really good friends too. But at the same time, yeah there are a few guys, you know, that I still stay in touch with. You know, obviously nobody’s here in New York, but just like, you know, kind of, you know, couple friends around the states and I’m still really good friends with. We still stay in touch to this day, which is, which is nice, you know.

Cameron: What was your least favorite part about the military?

Justin: I mean, like I said, one of my best, er, favorite parts was [sic] the experiences. Right alongside with that, I mean, some of the experiences as fun as they were, sometimes it sucked, you know. Having to work 16 hour days, you’re wearing all your equipment, so it’s like 60 to like sometimes if you’re fully loaded up with ammo, you’re wearing, like, 90 pounds of gear. And then you have your rifle slung on you, and you have a pistol on your side, and you’ve got your helmet swimming on you. And then it’s like a hundred degrees. You’re up in the middle of Fort Knox, Kentucky. You’ve got your shooting glasses on and gloves. You know, all your camos, you’ve got your boots and long socks. So, that was kinda, that was rough, you know. After 16 hours straight, and you’re just drenched in sweat and you smell awful when you get a quick shower, eat a meal really quick, and just enough time to pass out and, you know, maybe get like seven hours of sleep, wake up, and do it again, you know. So doing that for a couple months straight, it was like, uhh, you know, you don’t even feel like a person anymore.

Cameron: Thank you very much.

Justin: Yep, sounds good, thank you guys.

Cameron: Thank you for your service and…

Justin: Yeah, not a problem, I appreciate it. It was an honor to serve, so…

Cameron: Thank you very much.

Justin: Thanks again guys..

Timothy: And thank you for listening to this episode of the Voices of Oswego Veterans podcast. We hope you now have a better understanding of the joys and frustrations our veterans experience during their time of military service.