Thursday, September 30, 2004

Here Is My Day

Found notice on my door that the hot water would be turned off for the next three days. Wonder if I can get a discount. Also found out that the travel advance I put in for to pay for the hotel here still hasn't dispersed. It was supposed to go out on the 15th but they keep saying maybe tomorrow. Now they say that since it is the end of the year for the government (Oct 1-Sep 30) the funds are frozen. They're sorry and they hope it doesn't put an undue hardship on me. The person that was supposed to give me my orders so I could get out of here and stop paying for the hotel room, the same person that told me to call her this morning is gone for the rest of the week. I should check back Monday. About five minutes from my room I got caught in a torrential downpour of biblical proportion. Also, since they told us we would be in Iraq quickly and wearing Desert Uniforms I only brought one pair of shorts and 2 t-shirts. Guess what I've been wearing for the past 30 days. Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

In other news, after processing all that for about half an hour I realized it was actually pretty funny. What other job pays you to sit around in a hotel room doing nothing? I think they have the recruitment strategy all wrong. They need to put a Nintendo in the hotel rooms and film us doing nothing but playing Nintendo. They're selling the Army to the wrong audience. Honestly, I know this will all work out. I know it's a piece of a puzzle that God is putting together. One things for sure, it's never dull.

I think I'll start a little something to try to make this blog a little more interactive. If you have any questions about anything post them throughout the week as a comment and on Fridays I'll do "Mail Call". If there are questions I can answer about the military, how things are going with me and my family, or anything at all, I'll try to answer them. Also, it makes me feel better when people post comments. Please realize I can't say anything about operations or troop movements, strengths or weaknesses. That doesn't mean you can't ask, I just can't answer them. So anyway, there you have it, a day in the life of an IRR soldier.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Orders Day

Today is the day I was told I'd get my orders. Utah and I met in front of the Battalion building at 1300 (1:00 p.m.) and went to the person that told us to be here to get our orders. She was, however, conveniently at an "appointment" and wasn't expected back at all for the rest of the day. We were encouraged to check back tomorrow. Instead of putting on my uniform and walking across the post only to find out she isn't there tomorrow I asked if we could call. They said fine and gave us the phone number. So, we'll wait and see if tomorrow turns anything up.

In unrelated news, Kentucky owns a condo on the beach in Alabama. Ivan hit it last week and he is still waiting for news from the management company as to the condition of his condo. Their website has a place you can put in some information and look at a picture of your unit to see the damage. He put the info in but no picture. He called them and they said they would get someone to take a picture for him.

The guy I told you about that got sent from Ft. Sill to Mississippi by mistake is now here. I saw him today and talked with him for awhile. He isn't scheduled to start class until Oct 27. So for the next month he just sits around and pays for his hotel bill. Speaking of paying for your own hotel bill. I still haven't seen the money for the hotel I'm paying for that the Army told me a week and a half ago would only take 48 hours. When I called Friday to follow up they said they processed it and it would go into my account any time now. When asked what "any time now" meant they couldn't say. What if, when I get my orders I don't show up, and then I just tell them I'll be there any time now. Do you think they'd accept that.

Well, If your anywhere near San Angelo Texas give me a call, I've got plenty of time for visitors. I'd even sublet half of my hotel suite for a good price.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

San Angelo Sheep Run

Today was the second annual San Angelo Sheep Run. Picture the running of the bulls but with sheep. I guess it's a Texas thing. Kentucky's wife is here and they invited me to go with them. Since my schedule is pretty wide open for the next year and a half I said yes. There was a short parade of about 6 horses and 5 or 6 antique cars followed by the 200 or so sheep for the sheep run. All said and done it took about 5 minutes. That included the three minute intermission between the parade and the Sheep Run. Now the sheep run was mighty impressive but the thing that impressed me the most was the amount of sheep poop left behind after a sheep run. It took place on a road about the width of four lanes and went for probably a mile and a half. There was a solid trail from start to finish non stop. There were probably 10-15 pooplets per square foot. I don't know how many square feet there are in a mile and a half of four lane road but enough that I would think the sheep would be empty about half way through. I'd be wrong though.

After the all exciting sheep run there was a blues band contest in an amphitheater along the river. Some of the bands were good and some were not so good, but you really can't go too terribly wrong with live music. The day was topped off with a canoe race on the Concho river. Although most of the events were corny it was a really fun day. It was a fair type atmosphere with funnel cakes and hotdogs and even Lamb Fajitas. I had one of these and it tasted like smoked beef but very lean. It was a nice break from sitting in my room and watching T.V.

Kentucky got an interesting phone call today. One of the guys that was at Ft. Sill with us called. This guy was supposed to come to Goodfellow at the same time we were(two weeks ago) but got held up at Ft. Sill for some reason. Anyway, he called today to say he had finally made it. The Army had sent him to Mississippi to train on some other job that wasn't his. He had no idea what it was and they had no idea why he was there but they said since his orders said it it must be right. Two weeks later they realized he wasn't supposed to be there and sent him here. How comforting. I did read an article in the Army Times that said of the first round of people that were called up only 2/3 of them actually showed up. They said they are listing them as AWOL and the next step would be deserters. If they really go trough with this the deserters will be getting first hand experience in making big rocks into little rocks.

Well, I'm going to clean the sheep poop off my shoes and tend to my sunburn because I'm not smart enough to wear sunscreen. In my defense I didn't know we were staying longer than the sheep run.

It was really hard not to ram all of the baaaa d sheep jokes ewe might expect into this blog. It took shear will power for me not too try to pull the wool over your eyes. Alas, I knew I'd just be spinning my wheels.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Still Here

Well, I don't have any orders yet. They said check back Monday to see if anything is new. I'm not holding my breath. I'm now operating under the assumption that I'll be here at least another week. It's not all bad though. Since I'm not in class any more I don't have anything I have to do. And since I don't really belong to anyone there is nothing they need me to do. Right now I just live in the hotel and do whatever I want. I don't have to show up to any formations or do any duties at all. I'm not the kind of person that can sit around and do nothing though. There is a movie theatre about a 2 minute walk from my room, a library and a gym about 5 minutes from here. You can also rent movies for $1.99. I suppose a week of sleeping in and getting paid for it won't be too bad.

I came across this list while reading some stuff on the internet and it made me laugh. Thought I'd share it with you.

"Aim towards the enemy." - Instruction printed on US Army rocket launcher

"When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not our friend." - US Army training notice

"Cluster bombing from B-52s is very, very accurate. From 30,000 feet, every single bomb always hits the ground." - US Air Force ammunition memo.

"If the enemy is in range, so are you." - Infantry Journal

"A slipping gear could let your M203 grenade launcher fire when you least expect it. That would make you quite unpopular in what's left of your unit." - Army preventive maintenance publication

"Try to look unimportant; they may be low on ammo." - Infantry Journal

"Tracers work both ways." - US Army Ordnance Corps memo.

"Five-second fuses only last three seconds." - Infantry Journal

"Bravery is being the only one who knows you're afraid." - Col. David H. Hackworth

"If your attack is going too well, you're probably walking into an ambush." - Infantry Journal

"No combat-ready unit has ever passed inspection." - Joe Gay

"Any ship can be a minesweeper - once." - Anonymous

"Never tell the Platoon Sergeant you have nothing to do." - Unknown Army recruit

"Don't draw fire; it irritates the people around you." - Your buddies

"If you see a bomb disposal technician running, try to keep up with him."

- US Army ordnance manual

"It is generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you just bombed" - US Air Force flight training manual

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Hey, Are Those my Teeth?

Well, it's been a fairly uneventful few weeks here at Goodfellow. I'll finish class tomorrow but still don't have my orders for the next leg of this journey. The guy I told you about who was going down south isn't anymore. We'll call him Utah. We were supposed to get our orders yesterday but they weren't in yet. They did tell him that he's now attaching to a unit in Hawaii. Sounds pretty rough huh? Hopefully I'll know where I'm going next by Friday. I think I'll go one more place after this and then go to Iraq. I just don't know where that one place is.

One thing that is going well is dental. I know most people don't have good stories about dental in the military but I do. I fact, while I was going through Fort Sill they weren't even fixing cavities. They were just pulling the teeth. I had a small cavity that they didn't care about. When I got here to Goodfellow I made an appointment to have it filled while I was in the states at an Air Force Base. I figured better now than an Army dentist in a tent somewhere in Iraq. That's not the good part though. First, I have to give a little history.

About 14 years ago or so I had 5 of my front teeth knocked out in a little tussle I had with somebody's foot a mirror and a brick wall. Long story short I see the teeth on the ground and figure they're no good anymore. Besides the were all broken up, so I threw them in the trash, went home and told my parents I needed to go to the dentist. Mom freaks out and I think it was my Dad that called the dentist. He says to bring the teeth and come in right away. Well, I don't have the teeth, they're in the trash can on the other side of town. Well, it was more like " I don hab da teef, vere in da traf can on da udder side ub town. He says get the teeth, put them in a cup of milk, and hurry. So we did. He re-implants the broken teeth into my mouth and gives me 5 root canals all without anesthetic. Now, once your teeth come out, your body figures they should stay out. Something about foreign bodies. I had to go back regularly for the next year or so and the dentist would drill holes up the back of my teeth and put medicine in there so my body wouldn't reject the teeth. Well, all of this worked however my front teeth were still all broken and jagged. My dentist put a temporary plastic coating on my teeth to even them out and said it would last a year or so. 14 years later I still have the plastic, but it's worn down and discolored and starting to crack. I was looking into having them capped before I was recalled but couldn't afford it. Long story short here is where the good part comes in.

I asked the dentist here if he would cap my teeth for me. He says "sure how long are you here." I say "two weeks" and he says "not long enough." However, he says, you really need a month or so to bleach your teeth so they're nice and white. Then you cap them to match a nice white color. So he made some imprints of my teeth and I pick up the trays and whitening kit Friday. The Army is paying for me to get my teeth whitened. He said if I'm at my next station long enough maybe I could talk them into doing the caps. I figure this way when they ask me to make the movie about my life I'll already have that "drive the girls wild" white smile all thanks to the Army. It's the least they could do.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

When Star Wars Ruled the World

I know it's been a few days since I posted last, so here's what's been happening. I've done my first week of classes to re train on my job in the Army. We will be finished with the class by end of next week and I'll get orders to the next part of this journey. My job, in case you don't know, is called 98c Signals intelligence analyst. Rent Enemy of the State with Will Smith and Gene Hackman. That movie shows, in a Hollywood way, the civilian equivalent of my job. It really is pretty cool if you are actually doing the job and not just looking at oil drip out of the bottom of a Humvee. Which, believe it or not, is something you have to do in the military. Not only do you have to watch it, you have to document it.

The last week has been classes. Friday night Kentucky ad I went to a high school football game to break up the monotony. It was fun to be out away from the post. Today I am watching a special on TV called "When Star Wars Ruled the World". I'm going to watch the movie Pearl Harbor later today. That is the height of the excitement here at Goodfellow.

One interesting turn of events happened this week. One of the guys going through this refresher course with me got his next set of orders. So far we get orders to one place, do whatever it is we need to do there and get orders to the next place. That has been a little frustrating. You know the end destination is Iraq but you have no idea how many stops there are between here and there. I would rather just get there, do the mission and come back. Anyway, This guy got orders to go to a reserve unit down south who is mobilizing to go to Iraq. This is good and bad from my point of view. Good because you go to Iraq with a chain of command that hopefully will take care of you instead of going over as an individual and getting stuck where ever with whoever doing whatever. Bad because it extended his orders six months. I don't think I'll get extended right away like he did for two Reasons. First, He got his initial orders a few months before I did when they were just recalling a few soldiers here and there. His orders were for 12 months where as mine were for 18 months. I think the whole point of this is to spend a one year rotation in Iraq so they built in 6 months to train and deploy. He also had a problem with his security clearance because after he got out of the Army the first time he married a Canadian. Apparently that's a security risk that needed further exploration. The reasons I don't think my orders will be extended are as follows. First, I think the Army realized the re training portion was taking longer so they started issuing them for 18 months from the start. Second, I have no problems with my security clearance.

I'm glad they looked into the Canadian issue. You sure don't want all those Canadians rushing across our border and using up all of our non socialized expensive health care, or taking all the fish out of our lakes in Minnesota, or rushing in to teach us how to play hockey....Well, I guess that's all they would do. So good thing were watching.

Aside from leaving my family this hasn't been too bad so far. I spoke with a person who had just gotten back from Iraq and she said some pretty interesting things. She said that the enemy can't aim worth anything and, unless it's front line fighting stuff, the only time people are hurt or killed is when the enemy is lucky and we do something stupid at the same time. The thing that sounds the most dangerous to me is when you have to convoy. You hear about IED (Improvised Explosive Devices) going off during convoys. She said she did at least two convoys per day and only ran into one IED. She said it did little more than throw some rocks and dirt into the air. I realize it probably depends on where you are but I'm going to accept what she says and not worry too much. What choice do I have anyway.

Well, the Star Wars show is talking about Boba Fett Pez dispensers so I'd better pay attention.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Not all Bad

I know my previous post was a little negative. I didn't mean to come off that way, I was just venting a little. All in all I'm still pretty positive in attitude about the recall. I think the negativity came from the fact that I don't really know anybody all that well here, and don't have anyone I can gripe to. The Army is by far the largest branch of military personnel wise, they just haven't figured out what to do with us yet. I know in the end the will take care of it.

We started class today and I am glad to revisit some of the stuff I used to do. Honestly my job in the Army is pretty cool when you are actually doing it. Besides, I get to carry a weapon. People argue less with you when you have a weapon. Actually now that I think of it the person that sees the fewest arguments is probably a cook in the field. Not only does he have a weapon, he controls what goes into your mouth. Think twice before ticking him off. Another good thing about being in the Army State Side is that right now I'm on a two hour lunch break.

Well, I told you I got a webcam. My wife bought one too but we haven't been home at the same time to try them. Hopefully this evening we'll have a chance to try them out.

Monday, September 13, 2004

You Too Can Join the Army for $99.95, but Wait There's More

I feel I've kept a pretty positive attitude about being recalled, an I think I still will. Having said that there are two things that I find ridiculous and thought you might too.

First, one of the guys going through this with me is married to one of the instructors here at Goodfellow. Odd coincidence but true. He has been out of the Army for a number of years living here in San Angelo. He's friends with all of the people here in the Army. The odd thing is, he had to get special written permission to associate with his wife. Part of the condition for him to be able to associate with his wife is that he can't have lunch with her. Welcome back to the Army.

Second. If you are recalled to the Army apparently you get to pay for it. I said earlier that I had to give them a credit card when I checked in. When we reported to our unit today we asked who was paying. They told us we weren't supposed to be in the Inn but we were supposed to be in the barracks. This is the same unit that said we weren't allowed in the barracks but had to get a room in the Inn. So at this point I'm only out the money it cost for this weekend. Next I go to the housing office to get a room in the barracks and they tell me no. They say since I am only here for two weeks on TCS orders (temporary change of station) and not PCS orders (permanent change of station) that my previous unit needs to pay for me to stay in the Inn. Well, my previous unit was Ft. Living Room. As in I don't have a previous unit. I don't actually belong to anyone so nobody is willing to pay. My question is if I don't belong to anyone what happens if I don't show up tomorrow? There's a Master Sergeant that's trying to straighten this all out so hopefully she will come up with an answer. As it stands right now if I want a room to sleep in I have to pay for it.

Inhale, Exhale. Out with the bad, in with the good. I hope when I get to Iraq I don't have to buy my own M-16. "Would you like bullets with that?"

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Bought a Webcam

I bought a Webcam at WalMart today. It only cost 28 bucks and it came with a microphone. It installed very easily on my end. I tried to get my sister to log on to Windows Messenger to see if it worked but we kept running into different problems. I then called one of my Friends and it worked right off the bat on his computer. He could see a pretty choppy picture of me and we could both hear the other person talk. It was pretty cool. I then tried it with my parents and had similar problems that I had with my sister. We kept at it for probably and hour and it finally worked. So the plan is to have my wife buy one tomorrow and see if we can see each other over the internet.

The communication options during this war are incredible. Even the first Gulf war didn't have this many technology options. I spent today with the friend I went and saw the movie with and we were discussing the differences in how communication is really making this war different. America can literally find out what is happening minutes after it happens. We figured Vietnam was the first war that offered information back to the American public within 12-24 hours of when it happened. We came up with the assumption that this might be one of the reasons that war was so unpopular. Up until then the average American thought of war in a more romantic view. It was a bunch of guys defending our way of life in a far away place. They didn't necessarily see the effects of war, just the outcome. I don't think America was ready for those kinds of images. Please realize that I have next to no idea what I'm talking about. I was barely alive in that period of time and am merely postulating.

It's neat to talk with My friend, we'll call him Kentucky for lack of a better name. He's 55 and was in the service at the end of the Vietnam war. He has children that are almost my age and yet here we are, two men from two different generations in the exact same position. My daughter just started kindergarten, his children are graduating from college. He's worked for the same company for 28 years, I've been alive for 30. But here we are as equals in the face of war. It's just interesting to see how this experience has impacted our lives so similarly but in totally different ways. In regular life we probably would have never even had a conversation longer than Hello had we met. Funny how life changes, but cool.

We report to the company we are attached to for training tomorrow. I assume it'll be pretty low keyed. This is where I did my initial training after Basic the first time around and it was pretty laid back then. The next few weeks should be a classroom atmosphere while wearing a uniform. The blogs for the next couple of weeks probably won't contain much about what I am doing in the Army for reasons of OpSec (Operational Security) I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you. So I'll find other stuff to talk about.

In honor of the Minnesota/Dallas game today I have a little quiz. How do you keep the Dallas Cowboys out of your front yard?

Install a goal post.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

How to Post a Comment

Some people have said they are having difficulty posting comments. I would love to hear all of your comments so I will give you a little step by step to post a comment.

First, go to the end of the post you would like to comment on.

Second, Click on the word comment. It will have a number next to it showing how many comment have been posted. Not the little picture of the envelope. That is used to e-mail that particular post to someone if you wish to do so.

Third, scroll to the end of the comments and click the words"Post a Comment". This should bring up a little window where you can type stuff. Here you type stuff.

Fourth, when you are satisfied with your comment you click the "Publish Your Comment" button.

That should do it. I would say if you are having trouble, post a comment and I'll help more but....

I just did a spel chek after that last secshion and yule bee happy two know that, up untel this point this is the furst post I've dun that spell cheker didn't find any mistaks.

Went to See a Movie and Other Unrelated Thoughts

One of my friends and I (one of my two friends) went to see a movie this evening. The marquee said Bourne Supremacy but the movie was actually iRobot. It was an O.K. movie but it made me a little sad. Not the movie so much as the fact that I really get lost in movies. The problem with getting lost in a movie is that at the end reality sort of surprises you. Usually at the end of a movie I get up and walk out with my wife. This time I stood up to realize 80% of the room was wearing uniforms and I was in the Army again. It just made me miss my wife. I'm sure that won't be the last time.

A little dose of sadness coupled with I'm ready for bed tends to trigger a little introspection. It's funny how your life can completely change in an instant. The things that were important to me a few months ago don't mean anything. Things that concerned me before are now trivial. Am I doing well at my job, will I ever be able to afford a nice guitar amp, I need to fix some stuff around the house, all of my grass is dead, I don't remember having hair there? None of this matters anymore. The things that matter are my relationship with God and my family. That's pretty much it. Keep those two things in perspective and the rest is gravy.

Anyway, There is a Russian Mig fighter here on base. I had seen it the last time I was here but this time was even cooler. They had built some stairs with a little platform next to the plane. Now you can climb up and look into the cockpit. It was pretty cool. There are quite a few old planes around for people to look at.

Friday, September 10, 2004

On the Road Again

We received orders today to move on to our next stations. For me and two others with my same job that is Goodfellow Air Force Base. I was here once before for training after basic training and this is supposed to be a refresher on that.

As if being recalled into the Army wasn't surprise enough, imagine my surprise when I reported here this evening and was asked for my credit card when checking into my room. Not only do I have to come back into the Army, apparently I have to pay my own way. Unfortunately there is no one to talk to about this until Monday.

As we were checking out of Ft. Sill the group that is taking over the training came in. If anyone is reading this in anticipation of inprocessing through FT. Sill forget everything I've said. The whole process is changing and I have no idea how it is changing. I did find out from observing the second group coming in after us that if you are gay, a lesbian, have teeth that are about to all rot out of your head, are crazy, or are a conscientious objector you may have a chance to go home. It seems that a few of them were claiming to fall into those categories. Some people were claiming to fall into more than one of those categories. I guess it doesn't pay to brush your teeth anymore. They're so backed up with dental appointments that they aren't even setting them anymore. They're just pulling the teeth.

We did some pretty cool training today before we left. We rolled around in a sand pit working on some maneuvers used to move under enemy fire. We also learned some Urban Assault movements and how to clear a room in an urban environment. I thought it was pretty cool especially since I had never had that type of training before. When I went through Basic we weren't really focused on Urban Warfare. The Army actually pays you to get to storm into rooms kicking doors down while pretending to shoot menacing looking pictures of enemies. They have a little city set up with different buildings you can clear. It seems the Basic Training soldiers spend a good portion of time working on this. We only did it for a few hours. On the buildings they had signs like "Joe's diner", or "Rusty's thrift store". Then under each one was a sign in Russian. One of the guys I am training with is a Russian linguist and he said they translated pretty well. You could tell by how they were painted and installed that the English and Russian signs were made and installed at the same time. The funny part is that under the Russian signs were very new looking signs written in Arabic. Nobody was available to translate those.

This weekend we are free to do whatever. I think we will probably take a look around the Base and possibly venture into town to see what's around. Goodfellow is a tiny base. If you stood on a building in the middle of the Base you can see the entire perimeter. When I was here the first time we would run around the perimeter for P.T. I don't plan on doing that this time. So far I haven't had to run or do anything. I'm not to sure how long that will last.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

A Day at the Range

Today we were supposed to do a half day of training and go to the range tomorrow. We were surprised to get a call just after we got back from lunch saying there were available lanes at the range and if we hurried we could qualify. Since this was the only thing standing between us and getting out of here we said yes. This range had about 50 firing position and we "piggy backed" with a basic training unit. We got about 16 holes (firing positions) and qualified pretty quickly. When you qualify you fire a few different ways. First you fire three round at a time to try to get a shot group about the size of a quarter. You aim for center mass but it doesn't matter where on the target you are hitting as long as it is consistent. Once you get a tight shot group you zero your rifle to bring that shot group to the center of the little silhouette on the target. For some fortunate reason my rifle was zeroed from the first shot I fired. Out of the first six I fired I landed five within the size of a dime center mass (right in the silhouettes chest) this is unusual because you usually have to make multiple adjustments before you are zeroed. Next you fire a total of 40 rounds at 10 different sized silhouettes on the paper target. These are supposed to simulate targets at different distances from 50 meters to 300 meters. I hit 38 out of the 40 rounds to qualify in the expert category. That is the best I have ever done. If little unarmed paper men ever try to attack me I know I'll get about 38 out of 40 of them. Maybe I'll save the bayonet for the two that get through. But, in my experience, the best way to take care of tiny paper enemy soldiers is to fold them into those little triangular footballs and flick them back to where they came from.

After firing there's a lot of waiting while everyone else finishes qualifying. Then back to turn in our weapons. We found out that we're going to do some Urban assault training in the morning after breakfast. I've never done any of this but it sounds sort of fun. We will go to one of those little fake cities and clear rooms and cool swat team sounding stuff like that. The good news is that after lunch we will be on our way to beautiful Goodfellow Air Force Base for our refresher course on our jobs. There are two other guys that have the same job as I do and we will travel together. This works out perfectly because my reservation at the Hotel runs out tomorrow morning.

I know we are in for 545 days but I have a theory on what we will do for that time. We found out today that the initial training before deployment has a possible window of 120 days. It should only take about 45 days. I think the rationale of the 545 days is to get you inprocessed, do one rotation in Iraq and then outprocess. My theory is the faster I can get to Iraq and do my rotation the faster I can get back and maybe not do the total 545 days. This may be wishful thinking but I'm going to try to get there as fast as possible. As if I have much control over how fast I get there.

It is sort of fun that the Army will pay me to shoot stuff up. Now, if only they would let me blow stuff up.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

A Little Serious Training

In reading this post please remember that these events don't happen to everyone, nor do they happen very often at all. You do, however, have to train for the worst.

Today was focused mostly on refresher training on a few different tasks. The most important and the one that has always scared me the most was NBC training. That's Nuclear Biological and Chemical. That's the stuff you see in the movies when they gas people or expose them to nerve agents or different chemicals. We went over the care and maintenance of the gas mask. How to decontaminate your skin and your equipment if you were ever in a chemically contaminated environment. We went over the different signs and symptoms of exposure to nerve gas and chemical agents. The part that always makes me cringe is when we go over the self administration of the antidote injections. There is a series of injections you give yourself if you're exposed to nerve gas. Picture holding a big magic marker in your hand and jabbing it into your thigh. There's a spring loaded needle that pops out and administers the medicine. These are done in sets of two as many as three times. So here is what would happen if you were attacked with a chemical agent.

First, close your eyes, hold your breath, and find your gas mask which should be in it's case around your waist. Look at the pictures of the guys in Iraq and the green square case on their hip is their gas mask. Then you put your mask on.

Next yell Gas Gas Gas as you wave your arms. This sight alone, in a real situation, would pump your adrenaline through the roof. This lets everyone else know what's going on, as if the convulsing rendition of the kickin' chicken brought on by the nerve agent isn't enough.

Then you decontaminate your hands and face and put the rest of your chemical suit on.

Now, I believe that even though loss of bowl and bladder control is a sign of nerve agent, I would have passed that stage right when I saw someone wearing their gas mask yelling GAS GAS GAS.

At this point if you believe you've been exposed because you have signs and symptoms you administer the injections. I am not sure if I'd be able to remember the order the shots are supposed to go in, and that I am supposed to hold them for ten seconds each. I am going to find everything that even remotely looks like a needle and stick it in my thigh.

I think I would rather be wounded by a bullet. You can look down and say" hey, that's a bullet in my leg. I know it's a bullet because I heard the shot and I see the hole." With chemicals you have no idea. Was somebody just trying on their mask to adjust the straps and someone saw it? They thought there was agent in the air and yelled GAS GAS GAS? Now my adrenaline is pumping and maybe I imagine the symptoms. You know how your skin doesn't itch until someone talks about their skin itching. Now I'm so scared I just give myself the injections.
Now you know the way to tell if there is no more agent in the air if you can't get a hold of anyone with the test equipment?............You find the lowest ranking person and tell them to take their mask off. Not really, but how do you know when it's safe? And even when they give the all clear I think I'm going to wait a few minutes and see what happens to everyone else.

With bullets you just know.

Now that my wife is worried I'm going to get chemically attacked I should mention that it has not happened in Iraq and if it was going to I think it would have already. I just posted this because every time I have training on this it sort of gives me the creeps.

We also talked about sucking chest wounds in first aid but I'll save that for another time. I will give you a little insight though. Duct tape and your ID card.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Drew Weapons Today

Today we did draw weapons and cleaned them. It has probably been six years since I have held an M16. It was sort of fun to go through the parts of the weapon and take it apart to clean it. We had a little refresher course on how the weapon works and I was thankful for that. Something happened with the ranges we were supposed to go to to qualify on the 8th and 9th. Now we are pushed back to Friday the 10th. This isn't so bad except we only have reservations in the hotel until the 10th. What this means is that if we qualify on Friday and don't get our orders out of here for Friday we will have to move into the trailers for the weekend. In fact they had us draw linens for our bunks in the trailers today. In the grand scheme of where we are going to end up, the trailers aren't so bad.

I mentioned that there was another group that came in over the weekend. They were expecting around 100 people and less than 50 showed up. We are a week ahead of them inprocessing so we are separated from them. We did have one brief with them today when we met with a Major from JAG. She, the Major, went over some legal stuff and preliminary Rules of Engagement (ROE). During this brief the other group was very vocal about how unfair they thought the recall was and how upset they were with it. At one point one of them asked what would happen to them if they just left. The Major said they would be considered AWOL, then after 30 days they would be considered deserters. Apparently this is how they are handling the people that don't show up to begin with.

For those of you that aren't familiar with the recall that is going on it goes something like this. About the middle of July 5600 people who are in the status of IRR (individual ready reserve) were authorized to be recalled into the Army. The callups are going to be phased between August and December to be able to process that many extra soldiers back into the Army. There are a few ways people could be in the IRR. First, when you enlist you must enlist for 8 years. However many years you do active you must fulfill the balance either in the reserves or in the IRR. Second, If you don't do 20 active years but still want to receive a prorated retirement you can transfer to the IRR and do certain things each year to earn retirement points. These things can include correspondence courses, Reserve drills, and various other military type things. If you asked any IRR Soldier if they ever thought they would be recalled I think 99.9% of them would have said never in a million years. Guess we wouldn't be good gamblers.

Monday, September 06, 2004

My Room at Ft. Sill

This is my room at Ft. Sill. I figured out how to put digital pictures on the posts now so I will occasionally post them when they are interesting. We had dinner with some of the new IRR soldiers that have come in over the weekend. They are not at all happy that we are in the hotels while they are in the trailers. We ate with a few officers and we played dumb concerning the living arrangements. Apparently from now on the IRR soldiers stay in trailers with 65 people to a room. I'm glad we were the first ones through. Our reservations are good until Sep 10th. Hopefully we will be out of here by then.

I found out today that we will be drawing weapons tomorrow morning to qualify. It seems as though they are really pushing to get us through this. That is fine with me because I don't want to live in the trailers.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Perfect clarity when half asleep

I was in bed almost asleep but not quite. You know that point where everything is clear and your mind is free. I think if you could harness that point of semi conscience brain activity you could probably harness endless creativity. Oh wait I think they tried that in the sixties. Anyway, I guess I must have been thinking about my family as I was going to sleep and I came to a point where I was thinking about our church and how much support they have shown us during my transition back into the Army.

I know at this point some people will click over to some other site just like you do when you flip through the channels and come across the religious station. You know the one with the ladies with big hair and makeup and everything is overdramatized. I do the same thing. In fact that's what I was thinking about at that point of ultra clarity. Here in my room there is a TV that has that channel. I can't really watch it for more than a minute and then I can't look at it anymore. I believe in God and am pretty much sold out on the whole concept so why couldn't I watch it. I think it's because it all looks so fake. That's the reason people don't get into "religion" and that's the reason I turn the channel or click away from a blog that starts to sound a little preachy. However that is just religion, not God.

This isn't really a revelation or anything, but God is not religion. Religion is people. Religion is finite people trying to explain an infinite God with their own finite language. That's why the support our church has extended to us has had such an impact on me. It wasn't fake or for any gain on their part. It was what Jesus said to do in the bible. It wasn't religion that offered to mow our lawn or make our car payments while I am in Iraq. It wasn't religion that said don't worry if your income is too low to pay your bills, we'll take care of it for you. It was the love of Jesus that the bible talks about being put into action. It wasn't the stuffy "we go to church because that is what we do", it was people who have a heart to live like Jesus.

You may dismiss this entry as wacky religious talk and that's o.k. The whole point I am trying to make is that God is personal and wants to be personal with us. He doesn't want some big fake production that people are uncomfortable watching. He wants to meet peoples needs right where they are. Right in their drug addictions, right in their divorce, right when their life is taking a totally different path that they have no control over. He did that for my family and it has made a profound impression on me that will never go away.

I promise to not use this blog like this for every entry. I just had that epiphany and felt maybe someone would like to hear it.

I have also had a few thoughts at the half asleep point as to how information flowing on the internet is alarming similar to the modern sewage and water reclamation processes. However that one didn't have as profound an impact as this one and I can't remember the conclusion I came to. I do remember the vivid flow diagram that came to mind though.

Please feel free to comment positively or negatively on this one. I would be interested to see what you thought.

Day two of Three Day Weekend

Today is Sunday. There probably are chapel services today somewhere but no way to get to them. FT. Sill isn't a big post as far as how many people are here, but it is big geographically. You can't get anywhere on foot. Today will consist of reading and posting this blog.

I have been reading a book called "A Table in the Presence" by a navy Chaplin named Carey H. Cash. He was attached to the First Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment and was among the first soldiers to cross the border into Iraq. I'm not going to go into detail about the book, but would encourage you to read it and comment on what you thought. It will give you a look at what was going on at the beginning of the war and what some of the soldiers were experiencing.

Some people have voiced some problems with being able to post a comment. Apparently I had it set so you had to have an ID and Password to blogspot to be able to post. I have changed that and now everyone is able to post a comment. All you have to do is click on the word comments at the end of whatever post you want to comment on and there you go. I would say use only your first name or initials but no last names. You don't have to put a name at all if you don't want to, but I would like to figure out how says what. I would suggest use your three initials or make something up that would be fun to figure out who it is.

I missed my family more than usual today. I don't know if it was because it was Sunday and we would all be going to church and then spending the day together or what. Probably it is because I have down time right now and am not mentally busy. There are people going through here from all different family makeups. Many are like me with a spouse and small children. Some have only been out of the military for less than a year and don't have a family. There are even people with grandchildren going through this. Imagine your grandparents being recalled into the military. One SSG (Staff sergeant E-6) with us has sons my age. He said his sons had a little bit of a hard time knowing their dad was going to Iraq instead of them. It seemed backwards to them. I guess Death, Taxes, and the Army don't really discriminate. The ones I feel the worst for are the mothers with infants at home. That is one part of your life you look forward to forever and once you get it it is taken away. I would almost volunteer to go if it meant a mother could stay home with their child.

Well, this is only a season in life and will soon be over. At lunch today we were all talking about being recalled and the impact it is having on our lives. The discussion turned to the fact that the majority of the people don't really want to be here but realize it's a duty and are going to try to make the best of it. I think it will be interesting to see what happens with the people that didn't show up.

Well, I've got a whole lot of nothing to do today so I better hurry up and not do it. I will enjoy it because I'm sure it's going to get pretty busy one I get off that plane in Kuwait on the way to Iraq.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Day one of Three Day Weekend

This blog has been pretty cool for me so far. It is a way for me to sort of journal what I'm going through so I can remember later. And it is also a way for my family and friends to experience it at the same time. I figured my parents and my wife would visit it to see what was going on but, unless they look at it 50 times a day, more people must be looking according to the counter. That's sort of neat to see. I'll try to post something everyday that I can just so there is something for the people back home to sort of hold on to.

Today was very uneventful. Balanced Checkbook, finished laundry, went to PX .We found out today that all of the soldiers coming in this weekend are not staying in the hotel like we are. They aren't too happy about that. Apparently we will start moving out of the hotels into trailers that have 65 beds per trailer. I haven't seen them but I have heard that there is only one toilet and one shower. Although it sounds rough I bet the guys that went to Iraq first would have liked to have those trailers.

A reporter from the Army stopped three of us on our way to chow and asked if he could interview us about being recalled. It was something he had set up with our Drill SGT before he asked us. We did it and then went off to chow only to find out that the chow hall was closed. That is the third meal in a row that I have missed because of something foolish like that. Today at lunch me and another guy got left behind because the guy in charge of calling to say when we were meeting called the wrong building. He had the right room numbers but the wrong building. Last night for dinner nobody called at all. That was three meals in a row. Today the three of us that were interviewed went off post when the van came back and ate at a Chinese buffet.

That is about all of the useless information I have to share for today.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Three Day Weekend

I forgot how much time the government gets to take off. There are holidays for everything imaginable and you get 30 days of leave (vacation) per year. This weekend is one of those holidays. The actual holiday is on Monday so we aren't doing anything then. But since this is the Government we have a "Training Holidy" today. We only worked until lunch today. We went through whatever was left for medical shots and finance. If I were organizing this I would have put finance first. Pay me first then stick me with needles has been a philosophy I have tried to live by my entire life. There are about 20 of us this weekend and one van. In addition to that there are supposed to be 100 more coming in this weekend. That will be a full van for rides around post.

I will try to post the things I think might be of interest but am open to any questions. At the bottom of these posts is a place you can leave comments for each one. If there are certain issues you would like to hear about or comments you would like to leave please feel free. Just remember that it is entirely possible my Grandma might read some of these so keep that in mind for appropriateness sake.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

First Few Days

I have been here for three days now. We have kept pretty busy. We arrived on Tuesday August 31st in the evening and got a basic brief from our Drill SGT. I was expecting it to be something like a watered down basic training atmosphere but it wasn't. We have been treated very professionally so far. We are staying in a hotel on post. Each of us has our own room with a TV, fridge, and microwave. The rooms also have free internet access if you brought your own computer. I don't think these will be the accommodations from now on though.

We are one of the first groups to go through the process here. I know there are more IRR soldiers that have been activated this past year but we are some of the first to go through with the big wave of 5600 that have been recalled. I say this because we found out today that the people who are going to be in charge of this unprocessed are not here yet. We are being taken care of by Drill SGTs that are coming out of the Basic Training world and transitioning into regular jobs in the Army. The Drill SGTs are great. I don't have any idea how the next people are going to handle the process though. It has been pretty laid back for us so far. Right now there are three Drill SGTs and the rumor is that 13 people are coming in to form a small element responsible for this transition. Anyone in the Army knows that thirteen pairs of eyes versus three equals stupid details to waste time. We'll see what happens.

So far we have mostly done paperwork to get back into the Army. They allowed us to go to CIF and draw all new uniforms if we wanted to. I only drew enough for two uniforms and three sets of P.T.s. They told us to draw as little as possible because we would only be here for 10 days. Then we are supposed to get 2-3 weeks of refresher on our jobs and then go to a OCONUS CRC where we will draw all of our Desert uniforms and ship our green BDU's back home. The most exciting thing I got was a laundry bag. I know this doesn't sound exciting but every time I have drawn one I have had to turn it back in when I outprocessed. This is one thing that you use the heck out of and you always have to give it back. We are not outprocessing here so I get to keep this one. Next week we will be spending a day or two firing the rifle, and then classes on common soldier skills that we once knew but have probably forgotten.

Today was my first day in uniform and I got a military style haircut. That sort of finalized it and made this whole thing feel real. The first two days we spent in civilian clothes and still felt a little bit like the real world. Once those uniforms went on it was back to military business. It was funny to observe all of us as civilians. Everyone talked like civilians and joked around about whatever. There was no hierarchy or "chain of command". Once those uniforms were on though it was different. Nobody got real hardcore or anything but there was that definite "I may have been joking with you yesterday, but today I outrank you so here is how it is going to be" type attitude. You can also tell who the really negative ones are pretty early on. Nobody seems overly upset about being called back, but there are those that are just negative no matter what situation you find yourself in. Like in anything in life you just stay away from them and focus on the positive.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


Welcome to my blog. This welcome is for you as well as me as this is my first attempt at blogging. I am an IRR (Individual Ready Reserve) soldier recalled in support of operation Iraqi Freedom. Once I got my orders I started scouring the internet for useful information about the process I would be going through. There is surprisingly little useful info I could find. I will try to post what I can to help the other soldiers following me and to keep my family and friends updated on what is happening in my life.