Monday, October 27, 2008

Annotations of a Soldier #4

October 3rd 2008

"...Today was good. Morning PT continues to be good, chow has been great as usual, and we got a Special Forces brief thing which was good. They had three SF guys come in and talk about how long everything is currently, what exactly you'll be doing during everything, and all that jazz. The best part was really just getting to see how SF guys act, talk, and hear about their families.

So, some big hopes here. Saturday we go out to the range to officially qualify with our weapons. The first sergeant said that if the company achieves an 85% qualification percentage(that is, 85% or more people qualify) we'll get a main post pass on Sunday! On Monday he said we were getting around 81% or higher, so we should be good to go. Oh and tonight we ended up getting smoked again, haha. A guy from our platoon got cake at chow tonight after we got back, and you can only have cake if you get a 300 on your PT test, which he didn't have. So each squad had to lift a ranger log(big log, weights a lot) and carry it to Brigade HQ, about half mile away. THen we had to go back to Company then back to Brigade, then back to Company. Fun stuff. Called some cadences, had to stop traffic so we could cross the road, good stuff.

Alright! Monday morning now. Got 5 hours of sleep then we went out on a 6 mile ruck. Fun stuff. 2nd Platoon rucked the company again with no fallouts, making our DS's very happy, so tonight at dinner we all get cake, haha. Funny how that changed around. SO tomorrow we're going on our first field excersise. Three days two nights. SHould be pretty fun...On firegaurd right now. Er, laundry guard. I always forget to write in my prayer requests so you can pray for me and pass it along to the family. Send some requests my way as well. My main requests are for the Lord to continue to help me trust that He'll get me through anything. Any pain, trials, difficult moments, I know I can rely on his strength. Also that He would continue to make me a humble servant and exemplary of the faith, and to help my time in the word grow in length and depth. If you could pray for me in those areas it would be much appriciated! "

October 11th-12th 2008

"...Lets see. The field excercise(called a Bivuoac, I think) was pretty okay. Basically we went to range that had thick forest around it and we trained all day doing buddy team move and shooting, then we went into the woods and made a kind of gypsy village with sticks, ropes, our rain ponchos and wet weather jackets. Then it rained hard (like right as we finished our night firing training, and got to the camp, it started pouring.) So we all crawled into our makeshift tents and went to bed. Ours actually did really well. Don't think anyone got wet at all. Next morning we got up, waited a lot as other platoons trained, then we got to train, then it rained bad, then there was a lightening storm, and they had us pack up and leave (a severe disappointment to 2nd Platoon) So we went back to the barracks, slept there, and headed out to another range bright and early for grenade launcher and anti-task rocket training. That night our senior Drill Sergeant got back from leave, and as a welcome back gift he trashed the bay, which was a downer having to clean it all, and some folks were slacking bad.

Today was pretty laid back. SImple run PT, then went to the range and got some trigger time and a class on basic team tactics. Pretty uneventful. Wondering if tomorrow I might go to sick call because my inner right thigh has been hurting the past week or so. THink I may have pulled a tendon or something...."

October 13th-16th 2008

"...Okay, so, some good news, and some bad news. (FYI, it's Tuesday evening right now) The bad news, we got smoked today, haha! Nothing too bad. But enough to make you breath hard and want to schedule an untimely second encounter with the spaghetti you had for dinner(thankfully I only wanted to and did not actually have a second encounter with it) Was because a kid in our platoon was a smart mouth to a DS at chow this morning. Lame stuff. ANyways! The good news! I think a new paragraph is needed for this:

It's like 99% positive I'll be coming home right after graduation! The DS said that anyone who's going to airborne school can sign up for the hometown recruiting thing and get sent home right away! ANd the Army will pay for the ticket plus I think there's a pay bonus just for signing up for it!

Next day now. Had a four mile company run this morning, then we started on patrolling tactics which was pretty fun. Our squad did really well, best of the platoon. I had to rear security which is hard because you have to watch such a big area to your rear and side without walking backwards and still looking forward to recieve any commands from the team leader. We came back early though..."

October 18th 2008

"...Thursday was a long day, we did light and meduim machine gun training( the medium one, the M24OB, is really hard to aim when firing. Like, impossible. I don't get it) And some more team tactics practice. THen Friday we did this big event called the Battle March and Shout. THis consists of several events that are timed and/or scored. First you do a first aid scenario with your squad, then you have to do a tactical movement utilizing the buddy carry to your extraction point, then the whole platoon gets together and has to carry one guy on a litter for a mile and a half (and everyone is in full combat hit for this, body armor, pads, helmet, weapon, boots) then you drop the litter and just run another mile and a half (at this point I'm seeing spots and thinking i'm going to drop as a heat casualty. THankfully I don't) Then once everyone makes it you sprint a bout 200 or 300 meters to a range and have to shoot at a target with 40 rounds and get them all in the same area. Wowza, talk about a rough day, haha. Really tough. We came in 3rd, which is pretty shameful. WE had a lot of people falling back during th elitter run then giving up on the run and just wlaking it all(I was the 3rd/4th guy to hit the finish mark) Mainly it was the Medical stuff that hurt us. Ah well, we didn't get smoked for getting 3rd, so I guess I'm okay with it since it wasn't directly my fault..."

Friday, October 3, 2008

Annotations of a Soldier #3

September 21st 2008

"...We are officially out of Red Phase and in White Phase now. The Drill Sergeants are relaxing their grip the slightest bit, we can pick what entrees we want at chow, get chocolate milk, should have a pass coming up soon. The phase one testing was easy, and I've had some great MR Es. Really, I guess not much has happened since the last letter. Though we do have a "mission" smokey thing going on. Our platoon leader fell asleep with his weapon disassembled, and a Drill Sergeant came in and stole the firing pin. He came back later and told us that in the sandbox(the huge pit of sand inside our 1/4 mile track) he had buried an envelope with instructions in it and we need to find it. He also said that the fastest anyone has ever found it was in two days.

Talked with Tobin a lot about our lives, girls, dreams, was a good time. I was made team leader by our squad leader on Saturday, which is a position I wanted to end up with. Not much responsibility, still an NCO and getting to make sure your team is squared away. So lets go over some of my buddies here. Best bud here is Tobin. He's 24, possibly has a kid on the way, from New Jersey(awesome accent, haha) and just a good guy. We also have Peplow who I think I introduced in a previous letter. There's Rues, our Squad Leader, who's pretty similar to me when it comes to thought processes and the life. Mueller is another, and he's a cool cat, again, very similar interests and views on things. And of course there's Walters who I've spoken of before. Otherwise there are just acquaintances. We're rucking tomorrow, 4 miles. Looking forward to it.

Oh, we got to cheer on a company marching in from the last big field training exercise (lasts a whole week as they went up to Honour Hill to get pinned with the Infantry crossed rifles, and it was really cool. Can't wait to be there, only another 10 weeks! Getting so tired here with Squad Fireguard and getting up at 0430 every morning (the other Platoons usually sleep until 0500 or 0600.) "

September 22nd 2008

"...Today was the 4 mile ruck march with was actually like 6 and way too easy, and fun. Then we went to this range to do our scope adjustments today and a platoon of rifles firing is LOUD. The first round of firing I didn't have my ear plugs in (they hadn't told us to yet so I had been waiting then they started us and I didn't have a chance to put them in) and wow. I have permanently lost hearing I'm sure. It's 12 hours later and my ears are still ringing and muffled. But shooting is fun. Hard, but fun. It's all we're doing for the next two weeks I think. Though on Saturday I guess they're doing a make-up ruck march for the folks that fell out and they asked if I"D WANT to go along to help motivate. So that will be fun. Love the ruckin..."

September 25th-27th 2008

"...I'm doing alright I guess. There are a few good souls here, mainly Tobin and Rues. We've all kinda grouped together well, made a good support group. Peplow was a part of it too but he's since left. And we're kept fairly busy here.

All day all I think about is home, hanging onto it as tightly as possible. I don't want people to expect me to have changed. To be different, I wont be.

...Had to go to the range and shoot for a few hours... Fireguard right now on Saturday morning(0200, bleh). Yesterday we went to the range again, shot decently, then came back. All our sheets had been removed and tied into a giant ball(like a rubber band ball) Was really impressive. Think we're doing the same thing today; bleh. Yeah, shooting is kinda fun while doing it, but it's not exciting to remember or anything. I know God's helping me with it, cause there are some shots I don't know how I got..."

September 29th-30th 2008

"...Alright, so this is hilarious. Mueller, this guy in our platoon who's pretty cool made a four sided die and played D&D today, haha! It was hilarious. Sorry, just had to mention that..."

September 29th-30th(I think)
"...There hasn't been much training going on other than basic marksmanship. We've gotten some small classes on room clearing(SWAT kind of stuff but better, pretty fun) and an initial class on radio communications. I've decided that I want to try to get assigned being a communications Sergeant in SF. Decided that I find that job a lot more interesting than the others, and is more practical then weapons or engineering sergeant. Especially if I do end up getting into Astronomy and use radio telescopes. I'll already have a bit of an understanding of that. Coming up shortly we'll be doing some overnight training exercises and things will get more interesting. Marksmanship just isn't that interesting to talk about.

Today(Wednesday now) we actually did something other than marksmanship! We got to go back to the electronic simulation range and do a kind of identifying hostile targets thing. Basically a movie played on the screen and whenever a possible hostile was around your group had to perform ?????? technique and all and eliminate them. Kinda fun, but we went dead last, had to clean the room, and had about 5 minutes to eat our MR Es. So anyways, we get back and move out to the sand pit to have a pugil stich?? tournament(like american gladiators or something, amtgard almost with some wrestling thrown in) and I made it to our platoon's middle-weight finals! I didn't get to fight in the finals because we were running out of time and he picked the other two guys to fight and said the winner of that bout would be our representative*shrug* Lame, but oh well. At least I am undefeated, haha. So after that we took a break then came back out for the company tournament, which was great. Our lightweight got beat the first fight, our middle-weight got beat in the final fight, and our heavy-weight won the last fight. Good times. Then later on we got kinda smoked(it was smoke, but maybe like, just the smoke from the match smoke.) It wasn't really for any reason and other platoons were getting it as well, so scheduled smoke says me. Just had to run up and down a long set of stairs, then pick up a big ruck and do it for a while, then ruck for awhile and that was it. Nothing too bad..."