Retirement Countdown

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Another One Down

Another training week complete, although it was a short one. We did land navigation and convoy ops on Monday and Tuesday. Today was basically check out paperwork, etc. I can't believe that basically a month has passed, no problem only 7 or so to go, or 13 paydays! woohoo. Just got off the phone with Shayna and she is hanging in there, I told her that soon it will be her turn to do this "fun" stuff. Next we're off to our next training destination, I can't tell you when or where due to OPSEC (operational security) but once I'm there I'll hopefully have a reliable Internet connection so I can keep you informed. Overall the training has been very good and relevant, basically training for the worse case scenarios which we all hope and pray never happens. It all goes back to the training I completed with the Marines in Camp Lejeune in 2007, the Gunny made one simple statement, "We're training you for the worst, I'll tell you now if all that is left is a bunch of docs and nurses with weapons God help you because we're all dead!". That puts it into perspective. I spoke with an Army officer today at lunch and he stated that Farah is a really nice place to be stationed with good sleeping quarters, hospital, and chow, you can't beat that. I thought that I was getting the short end of the stick when I was first told that I was going to a FOB (forward operating base), but it turns out that the six of us going there actually hit the lottery. He stated that it is a very secure place in the middle of nowhere, the good part about that is that you can see any threats coming from miles away unlike Ramadi where we were in the middle of the city. It's a bitter sweet feeling when some of the friends that I've met have left for their destinations this morning, one that will happen again when we all leave for our final destinations. Well that's about it for now, I love and miss you very much Shayna, everyone else take care and I'll try my best to keep this updated. If nothing is posted for a couple of weeks, it just means that I'm in a tent in the desert doing some more training! Take care.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Home, Home On The Range

"Home on the range" must have been written by an Army guy because that's exactly where we spent this entire week! I didn't know that there were so many ways to shoot a weapon. We did many different types of shoots with the M16 and the M9, we also did some damage with a 50 cal (pictured), a 240B machine gun, and a 249 machine gun. I love to shoot so I was obviously in heaven! All of this week was filled with 13+ hour days, many of which was spent in full combat gear, I could tell that I was 40 years old! The Motrin bottle made it's rounds in our barracks, many of the guys are in the same age group. The Drill Sergeants had a blast with us on our last shoot yesterday called a "stress shoot". You started in a Humvee in full combat gear. One of the instructors would bang on the door and asked the driver and passenger to get out, actually it was more yelling at the top of his lungs than asking. You then ran full speed, which is more of a fast walk with the extra weight on, to pick up 2 magazines of ammunition. After that you headed to 5 different scenarios of taking cover and firing. The "stress" came from the Drill Sergeants screaming at you the whole time, plus the heat. I thought I was in pretty good shape but quickly learned I was mistaken after that evolution! Overall the training has been great, but I'm very, very tired right now. I got a room at a local hotel, I'm icing the ankle and getting room service for the last time before we get cots, tents, and sand for a week or two. I really can't wait to get to the final place of deployment so I can relax! haha. That's about it for this week, a lot of hurry up and wait, but overall a lot of fun. Shayna I love and miss you, everyone else take care!

Above is a video of the firing line at the crew served weapons range. I was shooting the video, so I'm not shooting the machine guns!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Turtle Roll

What a week! All of our days have been 14+ hours, we did have one that was 12 hours and it felt short. We did a lot of courses, death by PowerPoint, and also did a lot of shooting, the M9 pistol and the M16 rifle. It's good that they are focusing their training on shooting techniques, you never know when you might have to be a "killer" as the Army calls us here. When we do go shooting we have to go in full "battle rattle" which means full gear, helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, body armor, ear plugs, ballistic glasses, and gloves. Which brings me to the title of this entry, Turtle Roll. We were walking in a patrol formation, two lines with about 5 meters between each person. I was watching the person in front of me and thinking, he better watch where he's going he's going to turn his ankle and then BAM! I went down like a sack of potatoes, turning my ankle while wearing 75 pounds of gear, not good. The person behind me said that the outside of my left ankle hit the ground and my foot turned inward. I looked like a turtle with the gear on, thank God that Sam came back to help me up, I might still be there if he didn't. haha. That happened Wednesday and it's swollen to about the size of a grapefruit with some bruising. I'm just taking Motrin every day and trying to keep it elevated at night. I just don't want to get it looked at and be placed back in training, should be okay. Tomorrow we are going shooting again, this time doing something called flexy-fire, you start in the down position and then bring the pistol up quickly and letting two shot loose, should be fun. After that I have a room at a hotel in town where I am immediately going to drop off my laundry, place my foot in a bucket of ice, watch movies and order room service. It's going to be the last time to spoil myself for a long while to come. Well that's about it for now, take care and Shayna I miss you and love you very much!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ready to Rock

Well day 2 completed, about 16 or so to go! woohoo. Yesterday was a very, very long day. Gear issue, classes and standing in lines took up most of the 16 hour day. Today started with Army physical training (PT) at 0545, followed by weapons issue and yes, more classes. So far the training has been well organized and mission specific, not too bad at all. Sorry about the picture being canted to one side, I couldn't switch it for some reason. I'm wearing the Army protective equipment, about 25 pounds, the M16 rifle, and a Beretta 9mm pistol on my right leg. Not comfortable at all, I can only imagine how it feels for the young Army guys and Marines that are kicking in doors wearing this equipment in the heat, a lot of respect goes out to them from all of us here! The first night I was complaining to Shayna about the living arrangements, but she cooled me down by saying that Afghanistan will be better! She's great. Tomorrow is our PT assessment, 1 mile run, and then a 4 hour class on something, the Drill Instructor said it's going to be death by power point, hopefully I can stay awake! That's about it for now, love and miss you Shayna, and everyone else of course. Take care.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Smokey the Bear

Well we're in South Carolina now. We arrived last night and were welcomed by Army Drill Sergeants! Looks like I'm now going to go through Army boot camp! Shouldn't be that bad, although we are having a barracks inspection in a couple of hours, complete with hospital corners! The game starts.......again. I think that I'll be able to gauge how the next couple of weeks will go by how this barracks inspection is handled by them, oh please let it be good. Today was spent eating breakfast and lunch and that's about it. I've met some really good people here so far, so it looks like I shouldn't be stuck with a Mr. Depression like I was on the last one, that is always a downer. Well that's about it for now, Shayna I love and miss you much, everyone else take care! I've also posted some more pics under the photo gallery link.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Hoorah to Hooahh, the Transition

First and foremost, I have hot water! Now an explanation on the title of this entry. Hoorah for the USMC, who we normally deploy with and Hooahh for the Army, who we're deploying with now. Chris K. a friend of mine from Lemoore asked me before I left if I knew the difference between the two. He said that Hooahh is what Hoorah sounds like when you have something in your mouth! It's been a great week catching up with two old friends from past deployments and work, Dan McClure and Anne Ashton, they definitely made it a tolerable week. I have their blogs listed under links if you'd like to follow what they will be doing in different parts of Afghanistan. Of course since we know each other we aren't deploying to the same place! Figures. I'm loving that I can contact Shayna so easily right now, that is making the time go by much more quickly than I imagined. Next week I'll be with the Army in South Carolina doing some training for a couple of weeks and then off I go to my final destination. Speaking of that, change 2 revision 5 on where I'm going to end up. I don't know if you noticed but I changed the weather and clocks on this page to denote Farah instead of Kandahar! As of now I'll be going to SW Afghanistan instead of the SE, not a bad deal. I was going to be close to Pakistan, now I'll be close to Iran, I guess I don't get to choose my poison! There are only 8 of us out of the 190 currently training that will be going to Farah, so it will be similar to when I was in Ramadi, Iraq. The advantage is that there will not be a lot of "busy work" that usually accompanies a deployment with a lot of personnel, thank goodness, I can't stand busy work! I'll be able to do some more entries while I'm in SC, after that it may be sporadic at best, I'll make it work though. Overall the gear issue and briefs were painless and well organized, which is a plus! Shayna I love and miss you much. Take care everyone, and you should be able to leave comments now even if you are not registered through blogspot. See ya!