This month we celebrate the service of our female Veterans with stories from our co-workers who also served in the military. Deuce knew that she wanted to be a United States Marine from an early age. Listen as she shares her journey and the story behind her nickname. #sheisaveteran
William Krieger: The views and opinions of the guests of the “Me You Us” podcast do not represent the views and opinions of Consumers Energy.
Bill: Hello, everyone, and welcome to Me You Us, a wellbeing podcast. It’s another wellbeing Wednesday here at Consumers Energy, and I’m your host, Bill Krieger. Today, my guest is Angela Deuce Wight Garfield. She’s an electric field lab field leader here at Consumers Energy. Angela, if you’d introduce yourself, we’ll get the conversation started.
Angela Deuce Wight Garfield: Like you said, I’m Angela. Most people here call me Deuce. I was born and raised in Kentucky; moved here back in 2014 with my husband. We’ve been married since 2013, and got twins that are five years old. We’re expecting another one December 23rd of this year.
Bill: Twins, are you expecting twins again?
Deuce: No, thank God.
Bill: I got to think that keeps you a little bit busy.
Deuce: We were really nervous that it was going to be twins again, but only one, and they do. They keep us on our toes. Them starting kindergarten this year frees us up to spend more time with the baby.
Bill: That’ll be nice. I remember my kids. They’re all out of the house now, but I remember when they were that age, and I remember when they hit four or five years old, you had to bring so much stuff everywhere you went. Welcome back to that after December 23rd.
Deuce: [laughs] I’m stressing about it because the kids now can buckle themselves in their booster seats. Now have to start all over with the car seat again. [laughs]
Bill: That’s right. It’s like riding a bike. It’ll come right back to you, trust me on that one.
I have to ask, I’ve only ever known you as Deuce, and here’s the problem. When I’ve tried to look you up in the system, I’m like I don’t know what her first name really is. I think a lot of people out there might be surprised to know that your first name is actually Angela.
Where did Deuce come from? Now, before you answer that question, I always thought it had to do with your time in the military, like driving a deuce and a half or something wild like that. What’s the story?
Deuce: No. Coming into the electric field lab, there was already an Angela, so I was the second one. Just to be able to distinguish on who they’re talking about, I got the nickname Deuce, which I liked. I kept it. I always had nicknames in the Marine Corps, too, so it was fine with me.
Then she left and went to be a field leader in Battle Creek. Then I followed, so I just kept the Deuce because people still get us confused.
Bill: [laughs] Well, it all makes sense to me now. Let’s talk a little bit though about what you do. You’re an electric field lab field leader, and many of our listeners may not know what that means. What do you do for a living?
Deuce: Basically, I’m the supervisor of the electric field lab in the Battle Creek area. We cover southwest portion of Michigan. The EFL, what they do is we work within substations and online devices.
One of the main things we do is testing and maintenance and NERC testing on relays for the protection of the system. We do a lot of any equipment with troubleshooting commissioning substations and commissioning equipment.
Bill: I think that back to my electric field leader days, we worked a lot with you on boosters. Did you guys do this…
Deuce: Like auto boosters?
Bill: Like auto boosters.
Deuce: We don’t do the auto boosters because those are mechanical, but the regulators that replace the auto boosters, those are what we would troubleshoot, install, and commission.
Bill: You can tell I’ve been out of it for a little while over here in People and Culture because I had my names mixed up a little bit there. Let’s talk about how you got to Consumers Energy and how you got to what you’re doing today. Did you just hire in as a field leader?
Deuce: No. I started in 2014 as an intern. I was going to school for industrial electricity. The supervisor of EFL, I actually knew him, and he said there they’re going to be opening soon for interns because Angela, the other Angela, was going to be hired in full time. I applied, got it.
Which was really crazy because I swear [laughs] a couple of weeks before I was on my way to Kentucky to visit, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do with the electric background. I remember seeing substations in Indianapolis on each side and I was like, “I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I’ll never work in one of those because those look scary.”
Deuce: A month later, here I am at Consumers working in them. From there, intern, and then I got hired full time. Then probably two years ago, I took the field leader position when Ron retired.
Bill: All right. I see that you’ve been following this other Angela around, then. [laughs]
Deuce: Yes. Yep. Our paths are pretty aligned.
Bill: I see that. Again, never say never.
Deuce: Yes. Yep.
Bill: Prior to going to college and coming to Consumers Energy, you served in the military.
Bill: Tell us a little bit about that.
Deuce: 2008, I joined the Marine Corps. From there, went to a year in school for avionics. It was a five?year duty cycle, rather than four, just because the long schooling that we had. Went to Cherry Point. A lot of trainings. Then two deployments to Afghanistan before [indecipherable 6:27] .
Bill: Why the Marine Corps?
Deuce: Why not the Marine Corps?
Deuce: I got to go hard. I remember, in sixth grade, I was always an aggressive kid, getting into fights and stuff. The teacher for introductions always asks what you want to do when you grow up. I was thinking, what would be the most bad thing to do? Being in the Marines popped in my head. Ever since the sixth grade, that’s what I wanted to do.
Bill: That’s pretty amazing. Not a lot of people can say, “Hey, I’m doing what I said I was going to do in sixth grade.” It’s interesting because I used to be a recruiter. I recruited for the Navy because I was in the Navy for 10 years.
I remember the people who joined the Marine Corps, they were going to join the Marine Corps. It wasn’t like they had a first, or second, and a third choice. None of that. It’s the Marine Corps or nothing.
Deuce: Yes. That’s how I was. Definitely. My brother was in the Marine Corps. He tried to talk me out of it because he was a grunt. He was infantry. He went to Iraq. He definitely didn’t want me to do it.
My boss at the time ?? I worked at a convenience store through high school and stuff ?? “Just go to the Air Force.” I’m like, “Can’t do it.”
Deuce: I can’t. I got to do the Marine Corps, or like you said, I’m not going to do anything. I compromised and went into the air wing. Worked on helicopters.
Bill: If I’m not mistaken, Marine Corps boot camp is Marine Corps boot camp. There’s really no compromise there.
Bill: Where did you go to basic training? What was that like for you?
Deuce: Parris Island. At that time, all females went to Parris Island. I think now, they’ve split it between California and there. It was an experience. Something [laughs] very out of anyone’s element, pretty much. It was hard. Taking it one day at a time, pretty much.
Bill: I talk to people over and over again. Even for me, having gone to Navy basic training, which any marine will tell you, it’s probably not really like basic training. You’re never really prepared for what you get when you get there.
Bill: I think it’s by design, right?
Deuce: Yeah. That’s what they want. There’s nothing that I did that was right. There at the end, talking to them, the drill instructors after, I did fine. I did great, but they can’t let you know that when you’re going through it.
Bill: Anyone that wants a taste of that, check out “An Officer and a Gentleman” from way back when. You’ll see how that relationship changes with drill sergeants, even though that’s just a movie. I was watching a documentary. Also, my stepfather and my brother were both Marines. I’m familiar with some of the Marine Corps mindset.
In fact, I say this quite frequent when I talk to veterans, that I grew up making hospital corners on my bed because that’s how you did it in the Marine Corps. That’s how we did it at home.
There is a portion of basic training, I think, called The Crucible, where it’s the culmination of all of your training. I’ve watched that and got exhausted just watching it. What was it like going through that part of your training?
Deuce: It was hard, but at the end I think it was probably one of the most rewarding parts of it right after you get your Eagle, Globe, and Anchor. No. It was I believe three days of like you said, all the training, and you got to pick which drill instructor you wanted as be on their team.
Usually people say the senior drill instructors that are most lenient and stuff. I liked mine, so that is why I picked her. She made sure that she was not lenient at all on us during that time. [laughs] It was pretty challenging, but at the end it made me feel good. There was a girl that was not trying her best at all in the [indecipherable 11:12] .
We were getting in trouble because of her a lot and stuff. Then at the end, the person, the drill instructor that gives you your EGA is the one that you went through it with. There wasn’t enough room in the line for her to give me mine, so I had to go into the back.
She actually came and got me from the back and put me where that girl was and put her in the back so that she could give me my EGA, which I thought was cool.
Bill: That’s special. Anyone who hasn’t witnessed this, you can go off the History Channel and see what this is all about. You have to dig deep to get through that. Did you learn a lot about yourself as a result of that?
Deuce: All through boot camp, you learn a lot about yourself and what you can do. Each week there’s a different thing that you do like gas chamber, or swim qual, Crucible, whatever. Every time you’re nervous, or I was at least that I wouldn’t be able to do it, that I would fail, and I never did. You know what I mean?
It literally is a lot of the time taking day by day, step by step, and getting through it, and shows that because you’re scared or fearful, [laughs] if you work hard and stuff, you can get through it.
Bill: Do you think that lesson that you learned there impacts how you approach things today?
Deuce: Yes, for sure. Even now if I’m not confident in something at work or especially as a technician and stuff, because all that stuff was so new, I knew to be better at it, to understand it, to be good, that I had to put in the effort and the work.
That was working overtime. That was before my seniors got there, getting prints out and studying and putting in the extra time and effort to get where I wanted to be.
Bill: All right. You talked about getting your Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, and again, that’s pretty important. If you talk to people who served maybe a couple of years during World War II, the one thing that they’ve held onto is that particular item the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor.
Can you talk a little bit about what that is and then how did it feel to receive that at the end of all of that?
Deuce: The Eagle, Globe, and Anchor that’s the final step of your boot camp from leaving a recruit to becoming a Marine. You do it right after the Crucible, and it’s this little emblem that you get. It’s black, and it’s the Marine Corps emblem with the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor on it.
Your drill instructor hands it to you during the ceremony. It’s a full ceremony that they do. It’s not like you get to go washed up so you’re there with…
Deuce: …the sand all over and the sweat from the three days and all that. It’s a big step that’s when you know that you’ve finally made it, and all that hard work and misery that you went through for three months was for that one moment.
Bill: Do they talk about that throughout basic training, the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, or this is the end and here we go?
Deuce: They don’t let you dream much.
Bill: That’s a place where a dream is got to die, I think. [laughs]
Deuce: Pretty much.
Bill: You finish basic training and you’re moving on. Were you in avionics?
Deuce: Yes. I went to school in Pensacola, Florida, Navy Base. It was amazing. I got to see the Blue Angels fly every day for free. That’s where I started my school.
I picked the platform, CH?53 Echo. It’s a huge helicopter, the biggest one in the Marine Corps. It’s a lot for transporting troops or heavy lift, anything that goes down ?? other aircrafts, we lift them out and stuff. I went from school to Pensacola to New River, North Carolina, and then to stationed at Cherry Point.
Bill: The CH53, is that the Chinook? Is that the double dual rotor helicopter?
Deuce: No. It’s made by Sikorsky, and it looks like a normal helicopter, just really, really big.
Bill: When you mentioned large helicopter, [laughs] it reminded me when I was going through officer candidate school, they took us up in a Chinook. I remember looking up and oil was pouring out of a fitting. I looked at the crew chief and I’m like, “The oil is coming out of there.”
He looked me dead in the eye and he said, “Don’t worry about it unless it stops coming out.”
Deuce: Yes, exactly.
Bill: That’s true across aviation, apparently.
Deuce: That is true. On helicopters I’m not sure about airplanes, but yes, helicopters, you want to see the leaks and had fluid everywhere and all that.
Bill: Folks, if you take a ride in a military helicopter, keep that in mind. Don’t worry unless you stop seeing it. Now, you did mention that you did two tours in Afghanistan. What was that like for you? What did you do? How were your deployments, if you don’t mind talking about it?
Deuce: No, that’s fine. My first deployment was in 2010. I had done the deployment solely avionics on the aircraft. We were stationed at camp Bastion and Leatherneck, so they’re American and the British they’re together.
That one was very busy, very chaotic. [laughs] In 2010 you have to work they say, 12 hours a day, but it was more like 16 to 18, and then starting over the next day. Long days.
It was hard doing avionics from my perspective, and I think it was a lot for everybody just because you’re over there in Afghanistan or wherever you’re at, even here in the states. You don’t always get to see the rewards for what you’re doing when you’re working on the aircraft.
With that, for the second deployment, I volunteered to be air crew. I had to do training and stuff for that. My second deployment, I was air crew. Same place, Bastion and Leatherneck, but then actually got to go all over Afghanistan flying, doing different missions and stuff. Very different second time than the first time around.
Bill: As part of aircrew, do you get wings with the AC in the center?
Deuce: Yeah. That’s a normal wing once you’ve done combat tours. I’ve done the combat tour, it’s a different set of wings. Then you get three stars, depending on how many hours you flew in combat. Depends on what color of your stars are, gold or silver.
Bill: Do you have a shadow box with all center or you just keep in a drawer somewhere?
Deuce: It’s in a drawer somewhere.
Deuce: I would love to make a shadow box one day. I think it’d be really cool, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.
Bill: Nobody’s going to be upset with you. You have twins and another one on the way, so it may be a few years before that happens, for sure. Maybe when the twins get old enough, they can do it for you.
Deuce: Great Christmas present.
Bill: There you go. We’ll play this for them when they get to be about 15 or 16, and we’ll get that done. You’re in the Marine Corps, you get done with your time, and you’ve done your two tours, then you get out. What happen after that?
Deuce: Got out in 2013, and I knew I wanted to do something in the electrical field, wasn’t sure what. Because my background with avionics, I knew that that would be a good field to go in. We moved to Michigan. We moved here south of Battle Creek.
This is where my husband was from, so we chose his hometown rather than mine. I started college. Just went to the community college. Eventually got my Bachelor’s at Siena Heights. Like I told you earlier, talked to Ron. He told me about the opportunity with electric field lab.
Bill: Here you are.
Deuce: I got it. [laughs]
Bill: What was it like those first few months of being out of the Marine Corps and into the civilian life? Was that an easy or hard transition for you?
Deuce: That was a really hard transition. [laughs] That was really hard. I think it’s gotten easier as the years go by. It’s still hard because I have a standard for myself. It’s hard for me not to expect those standards from everyone.
Not having that structure like that and things that everyone has to abide by, [laughs] it’s hard. It’s hard, especially in a work environment.
Bill: I can only imagine for someone who’s been a Marine since the sixth grade [laughs] that that would be difficult. My experience is a little bit unique because I worked here, deployed for a year, and then came back.
I never lost my military mindset. I remember coming back. I was a field leader. At one point, someone leaned over and said, “Hey, does he know he’s not in the army anymore?”
Bill: I think that’s been said quite a few times. I don’t take it as a bad thing. I know that then I need to course?correct.
Deuce: Yes. That’s the approach that I have to take a lot. I had to do it more when I first got out, rather than now. I’m adjusting and all that.
When I hear people complaining or anything like that, I always think that you should not do that, but I have to think they didn’t join the Marine Corps. They choose this path every day as a normal job. They need to be treated as such, not any other way. I have to put that in perspective a lot to myself.
Bill: I think sometimes I have to step back and say their struggle is real. Although, if I compare it maybe to the struggles I’ve had, I’m like, “Are you kidding me?”
Bill: Really, their struggle is real. I have to respect that.
Deuce: Yes. Yep. It is an adjustment, but it’s doable.
Bill: Sometimes it takes a couple of years.
Bill: Sometimes it takes a couple years. My stepfather served in Korea. That never left him. That part was always with him. It was very interesting sometimes dealing with that.
If you look back over your time in the Marine Corps, your time in the military, coming here to Consumers Energy, what do you think you took away from your time in the military that helps you today?
Deuce: That helps me today? We can get down to the basics of a lot of time management skills. Even though working hard or putting in the extra, not even time, but the extra effort to not only get things done, but to better myself, knowledge, and things of that nature. Technical skills, even though I’m still not in the field.
I think it helps my leadership skills. I’m definitely not the type to be dictator or anything like that. I think of the best leaders that I had, and one was Danny Page. I worked with him briefly in Afghanistan the second time.
As a gunny, they don’t have to go out and work on the aircraft if they don’t want to. They don’t have to do that stuff. He was always out there for the hard jobs. I remember one time, him and the guys that I was on the aircraft with, it was middle of winter, it was cold. They wanted to see, on their way back, who could go the longest with their shirts off.
Just being a part of the group. Being out there with us, not just telling us what to do. I think that was very impactful to me. That’s the way that I try to be with my technicians.
Bill: Lots of great lessons. Someone who doesn’t have to, but still does, that’s quite a way to motivate people.
Bill: Absolutely. I do have to ask, though, because there’s not a lot of women in the Marine Corps. How do you feel you were accepted in what some people might call a man’s world? How was that for you?
Deuce: It was actually pretty easy for me. [laughs] I’m not sure why. I just always approached everything as I was not different. I had that in my own mindset. I think that that helped a lot. There was never any time that they were doing something that I wasn’t with them.
If we were getting in trouble, having to scrub belly ?? so that had fluid and dirt and all that, that you were talking about, falling in our faces ?? I was doing it, too. I never struggled with that part. I did see other people that did. Personally, that was never a struggle.
Bill: Your experience was a Marine’s Marine?
Bill: That’s good to know. Thank you for sharing all of this with us. We’re getting close to the end of the podcast. Before we go, I’m just wondering if there’s anything you would like the audience to take away from our conversation today.
Deuce: I have two things. Veterans and the military members come from all walks of life, all different types, females included. Just make sure to honor and respect all of them.
Then the other thing is what I learned from the Marine Corps that I use today is even when you don’t think you can do something, just hard work and step by step, and you’ll get there.
Bill: All right. Thanks for sharing that. Thanks for coming on the podcast, taking time out of your busy day. I know, Deuce, everyone will love to hear this, and our audience will definitely take some [indecipherable 27:15] .
Thank you to the audience for listening in today. The Me You Us podcast is proudly sponsored by Consumers Energy, leaving Michigan better than we found it. Remember, you can find the Me You Us podcast on all major podcasting platforms. Be sure to go out, find us, and subscribe.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. If you are a veteran or you know a veteran who is in crisis, you can call 988 and press one for the Veterans Crisis Line.
Bill: Remember to tune in every Wednesday, as we talk about the things that impact your personal wellbeing.