From chasing drug runners to the Dewey Decimal system

Lisa McLean
March 06, 2020 - 1:52 pm
Pilot Meg Faller

Meg Faller

As a young naval officer, Meg Faller’s first deployment was on the USS Vincennes flying helicopters. Her job was to track and chase drug boats down in the Gulf of Mexico. And like the old Navy slogan, “It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure”, she got more than her fair share.

She said the drug traffickers would see them and throw the plastic-wrapped bales of cocaine overboard.

“It was fun,” she said. “We recovered $42 million worth of drugs that summer.”

She said the cocaine that was recovered was so pure that it was toxic. The people tasked with disposing of it wore Hazmat suits and spooned the cocaine into the ocean. (It’s not known how this may have affected the sea life.)

Meg Faller
courtesy of Meg Faller

Before she was chasing drug runners for the Navy though, she was the typical college student who wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to do or where she wanted to be. So the former Navy brat came to the realization that the Navy could offer her the solution.

“I liked growing up moving port-to-port,” Faller said. “I liked that lifestyle.”

Her dad was a Navy dentist who had briefly gotten out then rejoined when she was in the fourth grade. She lived in Washington D.C., Great Lakes, and Yokosuka, Japan. 

Her recruiter ran down the list of opportunities and one of them was aviation. Never one to turn down a challenge, Faller took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) and did exceptionally well. She then took the Aviation Qualification Test Flight Aptitude Review (AQTFAR)  and afterward found herself accepted to flight school.

Faller liked the camaraderie she found in the aviation community. Even going through training to combat motion sickness, she found it was a team effort.

The month-long training was spent in the “spin-and-puke chair” which can best be described as a big round metal contraption with a chair in the middle that rotates back and forth. Faller was not alone and had others to commiserate with.

“We were all in this terrible boat together,” she said. “And we all had this problem and we were getting through it together –it was kind of fun.”

Not long before she joined, the Tail Hook incident happened and she noticed how the Navy reacted.  “The pendulum swung in the aftermath,” she said. “I heard horrible stories from women who trained me, but I didn’t experience any of that.”

She felt the Navy went overboard in their effort to show political VIP’s how they were changing the Frat Boy image.

“They trotted out the women,” she said laughing, “I gave so many tours those first years that I lost count.”

Faller said that she left the aviation community and joined the Supply Corps where she was deployed to the Mediterranean on the USS Ponce. “The Supply Corps was amazing,” she said she learned how to support the floating town.

She credits the Navy with instilling a sense of discipline and work ethic. Even the nausea training prepared her for tough situations. She said it helped her when she was on a ship going through hurricanes, and a difficult pregnancy.

“Because of the training, I could talk myself down,” she said. “I could apply that training--I’ve used it my whole life.”

Faller left the Navy to have a family and to raise her twin boys. She found herself going through a divorce a few years later and moved to Maryland to be closer to family that lived in the area. 

She said she needed a job, but wanted something she would love and could work at for the next 20 years. She applied to the Calvert County Public Library and started as a substitute librarian. What she found by working in all the different departments was that she could continue serving the public, like she did with the military.

Meg Faller, pilot turned librarian.
Meg Faller

An avid reader, she practices what she preaches. Last year she read 367 books (it started out as a Good Reads challenge). She said she also loves talking about movies and books with the library’s customers.

“I have a heart of service,” Faller said about her experience. “I just fell in love with it.”

“Every single day is new—and it speaks to my passion; helping people.”

One customer was having trouble applying for a Real ID and came to the library for assistance. Faller was able to help him and he told her she’d done more for him in 15 minutes than he had accomplished in one year.

“That made my heart swell.”

Reach Lisa:

Want to get more connected to the stories and resources Connecting Vets has to offer? Click here to sign up for our weekly newsletter.