MIDDLETOWN, Pa. --
Master Sgt. Tim Blasco, the 193rd Special Operations Support Squadron intelligence superintendent, has served 15 years in the military. He originally served on active duty with the U.S. Army as a motor transport operator (88M) from 2002 to 2005. Shortly after his time in the Army, Blasco joined the 193rd Special Operations Wing as an operations intelligence analysis.
The Newville, Pennsylvania native recently sat down for an interview to share some insight and philosophy
- What brought you into the military?
This is going to sound really funny, but ever since I was a little kid I wanted to because I used to watch the show G.I. Joe. I wonder how many people are in the military today because they watched G.I. Joe. I really liked it.
Probably as I got older, it was a way to pay for college and stuff like that. But I would say the show G.I. Joe made me want to go into the military, as crazy as that sounds. They start you young.
- What has kept you in the military?
The people, I really like the people. I love the people I’ve met while deployed.
The opportunities as well, there is a litany of opportunities out there that you wouldn’t get. I’m a farm kid from Central PA, you know what I mean? The furthest I might ever go is Louisville on an FFA (Future Farmers of America) trip.
I never really realized it until I joined the military that I like other cultures. I like to see how they live and stuff like that. Besides just traveling, which is something that has kept me in the military, it’s also the different personalities of people that I’ve met that have always been interesting to me.
- Can you explain how a failure or a setback either directly set you up for success or provided you with a lesson learned that indirectly set you up for success later?
All my life it’s really been a big thing between me and my dad, that he always wanted me to get a commission, always wanted me to be an officer. I’ve never actually gotten a commission. I’ve had a few opportunities to commission, but they’ve always fallen through for one reason or another. So that’s sorta the dream I continue to chase.
A couple of years ago I was selected as a CSO (Combat Systems Officer), which is basically a navigator, in this wing’s aircraft. And it turns out I had some things in my medical history that barred me from being able to continue on with that training. That was probably the greatest gut punch I’ve had. Here I was, I was on my way, and all the work I had done to go to school was gone. So that was probably the turning point that made me think, I’m not going to make my commission, or if I do, it’s going to be a very limited career field.
At the time I was a tech sergeant and I wanted to get out of the Air Guard completely. I realized there were other opportunities outside of the Guard and I needed to stop defining myself with what I do. It led me down the trail of Eastern methodologies, Taoism, etc., to realize that you define your success. Philosophy is something we create in our head, in order to do. So I was putting commissioned officer in my philosophy as something that was completed or done in order to be successful.
Someone that I stumbled onto a man named Alan Watts. Alan Watts has this speech, I actually have it downloaded on my phone, it’s this hour long speech about how to be successful in life. What is success? Picking yourself up by your own bootstraps? He said that’s basically all nonsense. One of the things he says in that video is that if you knew how to be improved, you would be improved. If it was as easy as just wearing a red shirt, then you would wear nothing but red shirts. It’s not that easy. One of the things that he points out is that there’s nothing to improve, there is no way of getting out of your own way.
- Blasco then goes on a tangent about philosophy, the concepts of self, a new golden age of philosophy, knowledge, Eastern vs Western philosophy, and technology.
- The military can be very stressful at times. When things start to get overwhelming, do you have a routine or a way to help refresh your mind and get refocused?
In 2013, my wife was pregnant with my first child. I had just returned home, I did six months deployed. [Returning] I didn’t have a job. So pregnant wife, mortgage to pay, no job, I decided I was going to go be a cop. I’m the last person that should go be a cop by the way. I would be a terrible cop. I realized that on the second day. So I dropped out that day. I went home and I had a panic attack. I didn’t know what to do. All of these unanswered questions led me to very stressful time in my life.
Eventually it led me to meditation. At the end of the day our whole purpose in this world, in my honest opinion, is the moment. This moment right now. Everything you’ve done in the world culminates to this moment, this second. I began to apply that and I began to take care of myself.
My daily thing, if I had a perfect day, by the way I don’t have any perfect days, I would go to work and at lunch time I would do my daily routine of about 15 minutes of guided meditation, either from a YouTube video or put some music on, and I would do about 15 minutes of yoga.
The two things that I have started trying to work into my day are a half hour of walking meditation and to meditate. At the very least, “catch the breath”, five minutes a day. Even if you forgot all day and you only have five minutes right before bed. Five minutes, focus on you. Focus on that breath, and the releasing powers of it are there. It’s just air, it’s not drugs. Just air, but it’s so beneficial.
- What is your main focus/motivation to move forward and better yourself.
-Blasco questioned “What is better?” and “What is self improvement?” He argued his stance that he does not believe in self-improvement or that there is some way that he can “improve” himself. Conversely, he does not allow himself to think negatively, in that he won’t allow himself some sort of bar, that if not met, results in him being a failure.
- We compromised on the question and he said that his motivation in life is his family.
It’s real simple, God, family, country. But my main focus is in any situation, I believe that there are no mistakes and that in every moment and every situation, I’m put there to put my own touch on it. That meditative side of it is really there to keep me from having a negative point of view in those moments.
- What advice would you give to a young Airman that is just joining the military or looking to progress in their career?
I would tell them to read “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” [by Homer]. It is a story of a man returning home from war, and all the obstacles that he has from the end of the war, to getting home, to the suitors at his door, how hard it is to get home, and his overcoming those things. That is the greatest book for military warriors that I think has ever been put together.
What is the one thing that Odysseus, the main character, is really good at? Tactics. Odysseus, they call him the great tactician. He doesn’t look at anything in the book as something that can’t be overcome. Odysseus at all times looks at everything like, “How can I solve this thing? What is the best tactic for this situation?” He never has the same tactic for a situation, because he never faces the same situation twice.
It would be a really interesting point to show these young men and young women that there’s a tactic for everything. You’re never the situation, you’re how you react to the situation and that’s the main point of the book.
- What advice would you tell them to ignore?
Ignore the advice that doesn’t serve them. Everybody has advice, but if it doesn’t work for you, don’t define yourself with it. Find a better philosophy. Find one that works for you.
- Is there a book that has influenced you that you would recommend? Why?
[In addition to his opinion of “The Odyssey”]
Let me add something to that. Always have a book on you. That’s something that a colonel, the old A2, Colonel Horton from AFSOC (Air Force Special Operations Command), told me. You should always be within arm’s reach of a book.
- Blasco recommends writers such as: Ernest Hemingway, Plato, Confucius, Homer, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and Alan Watts.
- Do you have any obscure/unusual interests or hobbies?
Yeah, all of them. Everything that I do is obscure and unusual. Nobody has ever said any different. I love podcasts, I love talk radio. I can’t listen to music very much. I’m a talk guy. Sports journalism is an interest of mine. Sports, anything where there is a competition, I like to watch.
Floats, those are essential to my world. Floating. [Blasco is referring to float tanks/sensory deprivation tanks, which are often used to enhance meditation]
- In the past five years, is there something that you changed your mind/opinion about? Did it make you implement a change in your lifestyle, if so, how?
Kids. My kids are under five years old. The whole world.
Let me put some words to that.
I never wanted to have kids and then I had them, and I love them. They are like my own little sunshine pill every day. They are just fantastic. I heard a quote the other day, “Once in a while you have to sit down and you have to talk to a four year old, because their simple way of looking at the world is how we should all see the world.”
The last five years, having kids has really defined who I am. I never wanted to be that dad, that person that always talked about his kids and stuff like that, but it’s definitely a portion of my life I would be totally different without.
I would say, as strange as it sounds, if you’re having trouble in your marriage, having trouble with your life, and you have a sustainable way of doing so, have some kids. They sort of help you refocus on what’s important in the world.
- Do you have a “go-to” workout? If so, what is it?
Thirty minutes at the very least, just go to the gym. Put on your workout gear, there’s my go-to workout. Get ready to go to the gym and go stand in the gym. It will come to you. There’s plenty of stuff over there to figure out. Just go workout.
- Do you have a random knowledge bomb to part with?
You are not who you think you are.