My name is Martin O'Briskie and I am responsible for a great deal of the creation of this website. I grew up in Copiague, New York which is out on Long Island. Upon reaching the age of 9, my Father passed away and my Mother and I moved to Texas. I finished High School in Albany, Texas and decided that I would join the US Army in August of 1989 to find a skill that beat bagging groceries at the local super mart. I went to see what they had and "boom", next I knew I was off to become a satellite communications systems repairer (MOS 29Y).
I first went to Ft. Jackson, SC for 8 weeks of basic training. From there I was off to glorious Ft. Gordon (known as Ft. Garbage) Georgia located just outside the city of Augusta (sometimes called "Dis-gusta"). I spent nearly a year there learning all there was to know about satellite ground station equipment. In September of 1990, I was off to my first duty assignment at Ft. Detrick, Maryland with the 1110th Signal Battalion. Ft. Detrick is in a pretty nice area and the city of Frederick was not as populated as it is now. There I worked on a dual AN/FSC-78 satcom ground station. Another pic of a HUGE 60ft antenna can be found here. The surrounding city of Frederick (just west of Baltimore) grew on me and it became my home for the next three years.
Thule, Greenland: 1993-1996
After spending four years in the Army, I left our service corps to venture off to the continent of Greenland. There I went to work for ITT Federal Services Corporation at Thule Air Base, Greenland. A place originally designed for Cold War Activities, Thule Air Base was known as BMEWS Site 1 or Ballistic Missile Early Warning Station Site 1. Site 2 is located in Clear, Alaska and Site 3 is located in Fylingsdales, England.
Thule was awesome. Most people will think a person has to be crazy to go to such a place, but I can say that I have been somewhere many people have never been. There are no cities, no shopping malls, no department stores, just the base. Thule is located well above the Arctic Circle some 931 miles south of the North Pole. There is only one inhabitable place to the north of Thule which belongs to the Canadians, a base simply called "Alert".
At Thule, I worked in a contract under ITT (and later Raytheon) to maintain the satellite communications systems they had there. J-Site was about 12 miles from the Main Base down by Baffin Bay. Thule once was home to several thousand residents, but now is reduced to less than one thousand during my stay with a slow decrease in numbers year after year. I was there from May 1993 - April 1996 when I left to come back to the United States. I had met Betsy on one of my vacations home the year before and was ready to come back for good.
Back to Maryland: 1996 - 1999
My next job was working at American Mobile Satellite Corporation (now run by MSV) in Reston, Virginia. I found this job thanks to a good friend from my Army days, Mr. Mike Leiby. He was working at Ft. Detrick again and had a tip on a company that was hiring RF (Radio Frequency) people. I went down for an interview and was hired on April 5th, 1996, just 5 days after quitting my job in the far North. Here my job duties didn't really change much from my military assignments and Air Force contract jobs. AMSC basically provided two services. The first service was known as MMS or Mobile Messaging System in which trucking fleets could keep in contact with their trucks on the road via a satellite link to the vehicle. The trucks would have a small terminal located in their cab that would allow the driver to send and receive short messages back to the dispatch office. The second service was MSS, or Mobile Satellite Service. This was basically a satellite phone with some data capabilities.
I worked in the Network Operations Center. Here we monitored the health of the AMSC-1 spacecraft as well as troubleshooting of ground station equipment.
Time to go back to Texas: January 1999 - June 2002
Maryland (and my 50 minute drive to work) was getting old, so after 3 years, Betsy and I looked for employment back in Texas once again. As it turned out, one of the guys I worked with at AMSC knew someone in San Antonio, Texas that worked at a satellite communications company. They were buddies in the Air Force and kept in touch from time to time. Through them, I tried out for a position at ATSI (American Telesource International) and was hired on January 20, 1999.
ATSI was a bit different from the past companies I had worked for. Their RF setup was a lot simpler and the antenna was not rigged for auto-tracking. A 6.1 meter dish was used to gateway their network from this growing Southern Texas city into Mexico and other parts of Latin America. The RF systems were small enough that my duties quickly became more circuit and signaling related than RF related, This allowed me to advance my knowledge over just RF subsystems to the actual voice and data circuit part of telecom.
Two years later I became the site supervisor for the San Antonio and Costa Rica operations responsible for over 50 T1's of traffic spanning connectivity from Dallas, Mexico City, Monterrey, Costa Rica, Puerto Vallarta, Florida and the Grand Cayman Islands.
Here are some pictures from my time at ATSI. Pic 1, 2 & 3 were antenna maintenance shots with picture 3 being my friend & ex-boss Chad working his last week there. Pictures 4 & 5 show some of our equipment at the first NOC. Pictures 6 and 7 are installation shots of the new NOC. The last two pictures are shots of the whole antenna compound and my usual sitting place when all was well.
On the move again...Dallas Texas June 2002 - September 2011
ATSI fell on hard times and their operations were shutting down. I was called into the HR office with my immediate supervisor and I was told to grab a box. Life at ATSI was over. By 9:15am that morning I was in the car headed for home. I was one of the last technicians to get let go in what was the 5th round of layoffs in a year. ATSI still operates today although the company is only about 10 people.
My next place of employment would be Dallas based AOS, Inc. There must be something with companies who's name starts with the letter 'A' (AMSC, ATSI, AOS) that keeps attracting me. I started there on June 24th, 2002. AOS specializes in small portable communications packages and a systems integrator delivering unique communications capabilities to their customers in quick turnaround times. Skills from past training and working with small satellite phones at American Mobile Satellite helped me to get up to speed quickly as AOS was working hard to supply portable communications in the wake of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center towers. My hope was that my work would hopefully find the people responsible for allowing these idiots the ability to kill so many innocent lives while using "religion" as an excuse to play God.
AOS gone....on to Galaxy 1 Communications October 2011 - Present
AOS had been purchased by SES Americom and focus had changed. We began to see a steady decline in opportunities. After a lot of frustration that seemed to lead to some health issues, it was time to move on. I now work at Galaxy 1 Communications as their Engineering and Support Manager.