Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Doing My Job

I'm currently trying to find a way to take leave and go south, to where the hurricanes have hit, to help. So far, my attempts have failed, and I'll be told why tomorrow.

I still have an inkling of a few reasons as to why I scrawled my John Hancock on one of the meanest contracts on the planet.

Maybe its MY head that's filled with illusions. Could it be that preparing to fight in a different country is more important than aiding our own people?

The news companies are crawling over this like sadistic, demonic scavengers over the remains of a corpse, greedily feasting in some feeding frenzy for ratings, thus sponsorship, and ultimately, more money.

Its sickly funny, I was telling a friend over MSN that we'll probably hear about the rise of gas prices because of this, and it will be big news to those of us who aren't directly affected. Without exaggeration, immediately after I finished typing that and hit SEND, my roommate comes to my side of the room and tells me that they're talking about the rise of gas prices on CNN.

Once again, you have managed to put a fucking DOLLAR SIGN on anything you can, sparing nothing, showing ZERO compassion, not even for HUMAN LIFE. Is this America? Is THIS the state of mind of the general populace that I've sworn to defend? Martial Law down there because people are LOOTING. A police officer shot in the head, trying to stop looters. Is this the United States?

I used to say "America! Fuck yeah!!!"

Now I'm asking, "America! What the FUCK?!"

I'm going to talk to my platoon sergeant tomorrow and listen to what he has to say about why I can't sacrifice my Christmas leave to do MY JOB. If it isnt a damn good reason, then I'll march over to the troop commanders office and wait until he'll see me. After that, I'll wander all over post until I find the man in charge of this brigade. Don't treat me too harshly, I'm using the chain of command. Sorry if that was too sardonic.

AWOL. It isnt hard to go AWOL. I've seen several guys return from AWOL. Article 15, and 45 days extra duty, along with everyone who failed drug tests. If I come back after three weeks of providing aid to be punished under UCMJ, receiving the same punishment as deserters and druggees, I won't feel the least bit of shame. Not for me. Maybe for my superiors and the leaders of this country. Punish me for doing the right thing. The name 'Jesus' enters my thought process for some reason. Hmm.

This isnt a big issue to most people it seems. Its just on TV, its millions of miles away, its not right in front of me, its not my problem. Like Iraq.

Forgive me for giving a fuck.

Ye Olde Promotion

On Monday, the 29th of this fine month, your favorite Gomer was promoted to E2, which is ALSO a Private. PVT, or PV1, was what I entered as. PV2 is my new rank. This means that now I wear a single chevron on both collars, and I make more money.

Hooray!

When one is promoted (atleast on the lower levels), they stand in front of formation, and one of their superiors pins the rank insignia onto their collars. In our case, it was our platoon sergeant. As each of us were pinned, as tradition follows (those of you who have been there before may feel particularly nostalgic), he would then hit the rank insignias on our chests with his fists. When you're first pinned, they don't put whatever the hell those brass clip things are on the back of the "needles" of the insignia, so you've just got a thin piece of metal jabbing into you. Not as bad as some would think though. Not bad at all, really.

I was informed that I'm a smartass by the aforementioned platoon sergeant of mine. I'd never been pinned before, so I wasn't sure what the hell it was going to feel like. I figured hell, we'd been stabbing each other with IVs just a little while ago, so fuck it, lets do it. When he stepped over to me, I stuck my chest out defiantly, daring him to pound the nails in. He laughed, called me a polesmoker (his preferred term of endearment for his men. Yes, it seriously is a term of endearment for him), and moved on. God I'm a nerd. I rock.

In other news, my roommate and I lost our cushy NCO room, which had its own bathroom, and now we too or stuffed into a normal, small, and pitiful room. Unfortunately, when this room was vacant, people found that it may be a wise and honorable choice to replace their busted furniture with the unused and high quality furnishings of this one. So needless to say, we arrived to a room with little furnishings, and those that were left are beaten to hell. My roommate's wall locker has one door that hangs on by one hinge. We have to replace that today after work.

Speaking of which, its about time for me to foxtrot my way downstairs for formation, so that I can spend all day enjoying a Call For Fire class (calling in artillery or mortat strikes). Yesterday was all-day hand-to-hand combat training, so now I suppose we're taking it easy. Its a pity really, because that means I'll probably only be body slammed ONCE this week. Can't have your cake and eat it too, I guess.

Happy Trails, until next time something interesting worth posting happens.

Love,
an Evil, Heartless Soldier

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Self Pity

Who knows, maybe every enlisted person feels like this now and then. I figure, fuck it, might as well share this too. Beats the hell out of giving you all a sugar coated, sunshine and farts depiction of the army.

I'm trying to remember why the hell I did this. There must be a lot of foreshadowing of all this brewing up in my latest posts, but tonight, you get the full view of the beast, in all its glory. The gloves are off, folks. Now watch as I get my ass handed to me.

I've mentioned how all of my friends back home are doing college now, or something else relatively productive. I could have been there too. I thought that the army would change me, make me something better, and from becoming that better person, I would be able to support everyone that's fighting under this country's banner. I didn't want to be a misguided, uninformed angsty youth, adopting opinions handed to me in a bullshit casserole served up by some punk band who gets figuratively fucked in the ass by their managers backstage. Maybe that's why they're doing commercials.

I'd be lying if I said that I felt like I belonged in the army. If I were to say that this was my niche, my nose would be growing at an alarming rate.

Its almost unbearable when my friends or family say they are proud of me, or when someone thanks me for my service. I'm not G.I. Joe, Audie Murphy, John Wayne or Steve McQueen. I am not, nor will I ever be a picturesque soldier. If you want an accurate comparison from film to reality, go ahead and compare me to Corporal Upham from Saving Private Ryan. Just take away the rank, and give him an infantry MOS. Add NO skill. Add nothing. Even my blogging is substandard. I'm not cbftw. You've stumbled across a blog written by someone who has decided to chronicle his military career, most likely in the hopes that it won't go unnoticed. My subconscious must have known all along.

I suppose its in our nature to suffer. If the world was peaceful, people wouldn't know how to handle it. They would get pissy over one subject or another, people would choose sides and rally under different leaders, as followers always will do, both sides will get all butt-hurt about the other, and then shit hits the fan. Maybe that's why Plato said that only the dead have seen the end of war.

I always knew I wasn't going to make a difference. I didn't know that I would feel this out of place. I go together with the army the same way baby food and cottage cheese go on pizza.

In high school, now and then I'd think that it was going to be a long four years, and god, I couldn't wait. We can't wait to get through our current conflict so that we can dive head first into a more intense one. Hell, this may only be a prelude to deployment. And after that, CIVILIAN LIFE AS A RESPONSIBLE ADULT! I wonder how many blogs share those stories. I should do my homework.

Let me post a comment that a very good friend of mine left me, near the beginning of this blog, after I had signed my name.

Anonymous said...

"Rian your a fucking moron for joining the army ok A FUCKING MORON!!!! just want to make sure we have that out in the open first and foremost...(parts removed as some weren't relative to the subject) [back to your] great fucking illusions about the army. You wont find anything worth remembering, coveting, loving, missing. All your gonna find in the army is ohh guess what here let me put it in " " and capitalized so it has more umph... "MISERY". ohh yeah thats right the ONLY fucking person that you know that HAS ANY FUCKING IDEA about what military life is like has just bestowed upon you the truth. You will hate every day, their will be nothing that will bring that moment of happiness that i told you about. But again you do have more of my respect than people that will do anything they can to avoid the draft.."

Those words echoed very painfully in my mind as I began to write this.

Then I read the rest of the comments below that I had never seen before (http://eleven-bravo.blogspot.com/2005/01/spirit-vacuum-demoralizer.html#comments a very ironic name for that particular post). I must have been in basic when they were written. But right now, they're a little too much for me, so I'm just going to post this, go outside and smoke a cigarette or ten, and wait for this day to disappear.

I'll be fine.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Alt + Tab

The M4 is truly a holy relic bestowed upon us by the gods, to prove that we are infinitely loved. I don't believe that horsecrap about some company in Connecticut called Colt that manufactures them, there is just no way. I have seen the light. I pulled my rifle out of the arms room like Link from the Legend of Zelda pulled the Master Sword from that stone slab. Same dramatic music and everything.

Today, we took our Weapons of Ultimate Greatness and Superior Awesomehood to the range to zero them and qualify with them. My platoon was fortunate enough to have the priveledge to be the last to begin firing, so we were able to enjoy all the fun that one can have when one must sit around in full combat gear for hours and hours, pretending to be practicing our trigger squeeze while in the prone. Fuck it, I won't lie. We slept. When we could.

After one of the longest days I've had in a long time, it finally came my chance to put this beastly piece of metal to work.

Its exactly the same as the M16. Just a bit more compact. I also want to add that I hate the optical sights that we use as opposed to iron sights. Took me forever to get it zeroed, and I still doubt that its properly done. I qualified, shooting only one better than I did in basic. No huge surprise. I don't really mind being a meriocre-at-best soldier, because I'm confident in my ability to do my job. Pity it isn't with all the grace and glam and HOOAH that our ideals would want it to be.

A humorous example would be on one occasion, when we were out in the woods, working on our battle drills. We were attempting to advance under enemy fire (don't want to describe the tactic beyond that, sorry, but its probably not a good idea) and our platoon sergeant and platoon leader had paintball guns, blazing in glory. I saw yellow paint splatter across a tree, and suddenly I was a little more motivated than usual. I was running, nay, scrambling like a chihuahua on a slippery linoleum floor, trying to keep low at the same time, and I ended up baseball sliding to cover behind a tree, like one would when sliding head first to home plate. That clumsy effort at being a soldier resulted in my hand being cut open, though not bad enough to warrant a Purple Heart. Oh, wait, there's more. Here's where we add insult to insignificant injury. We later found out, they weren't even aiming at us.

Oh my god, I am such a geek.

For some reason, I find a lot of humor in how awkward and unlikely of a soldier I am, so I'm going to make it a point to share every awkward and embarassing story with you wonderful readers.

Oh, and I'm considering retitling my blog, "The Next Jessica Lynch" (is he serious??? =] We'll see), but if anyone has any suggestions for a better name, I'm all ears.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Small Hours

Another week of training ahead of us. My platoon will finally be issued our M4s tomorrow. Soon, we'll be on the ranges, practicing with those lovely little weapons. I'm at a loss for a funny comment about how I adore M16s and M4s, my apologies. I'll need to sleep soon, I've more than lost my edge.

I was just looking at all of my equipment (the gear we wear, the stuff that we keep in our rooms), and normally when I wear it, we're wandering about a government owned plot of land, doing whatever kind of training exercise we're assigned for that day.

I'm looking at all of this, the body armor, the load carrying equipment (a belt with suspenders designed to attach all kinds of crap to it), my kevlar helmet, etc, and I was just thinking that THAT is the gear that I'll be wearing every day for atleast a year in Iraq.

I remember all the sand that managed to get EVERYWHERE, in parts of my gear that I didn't even know existed. Can't imagine what the desert will be like in that department. I find myself thinking about little things like that. Wondering about the smells, the glare of the sun, the feeling of the dirt and sand. I got a pretty good taste of humid heat, but I'm guessing that in Iraq, it would be more of a dry heat. I was in the sauna at the gym on post last week, and for a moment, I imagined wearing all my gear in there. Is that Iraq? That thought forces a chuckle out of me.

It doesn't matter how idealogical I can be while I'm here, in my homeland. I wonder if after I get there, will I become selfish? Will I pity myself for being there? Will I become jaded or ungrateful, or grow sour towards our mission?

I've been talking to my friends from back home, and everyone is moving on with life. Most of my friends are getting ready for the college season. Another of my really good friends has recently turned his life around. He's cleaned up a lot, and he's doing honest work, and doing pretty well from what I hear. But almost no one is still living back home.

Part of me wishes I was doing college too. Its too bad that "soldiers are people who are too stupid to hold real jobs or go to school" though (refer to the Say It Aint So post) =P. Correction, I'm just too stupid to do college FIRST. That's all right, because I have no problem with using the G.I. Bill to help pay for college when I finally get around to it.

Things here aren't bad at all though. For now, there really isn't much to my personal life. I work, then I exist until the next day. Washington just isn't all that I thought it would be, or else I'm looking in the wrong places. Hmm.

Anyway, at one point, I had a subject or theme for this brainless little mindfart, I mean post. Iraq is this dark cloud looming in the horizon (feel free to pelt me with rocks for using another cliche), but its also one that I don't know much about. I try to educate myself on the country and the current state now and then, but its a little difficult, what with our completely honest and unbiased media. You know, the ones that don't care about ratings and want to honestly inform us of what's going on, and not twist anything, or leave anything out.

....I sound like everyone else. It takes a lot of courage to point an annoyed finger at the media. Not. Now that I think about it, its a common scapegoat. Sure, it isnt without fault, but how many personal experiences have I had with the media to sour me to them? None. All I can do is adopt nearly everyone else's opinion on it.

People shape people. Its rare that we have thoughts that are truly our own. We're all preprogrammed by those we come in contact with. Hell, maybe I wouldn't care about other people if I wasn't taught to. A funny thought, really. Either way, I'm glad that I WAS taught to give more than a shit about the people that are sharing this confused and ravaged planet of ours. Life can be lonely enough as it is. I suppose all life really is, is a word to summarize not only our existences, but our interactions with each other.

Congratulations! You've read another useless post. Maybe some day this blog will be half interesting.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Combat LifeSaver

With any luck, I'll be CLS certified after tomorrow. And also with any luck, I'll be getting my promotion to E2 soon, being that I've been due for it since the 2nd of this month. Seems these things take time, which is fine with me. I'm not terribly hungry for rank, but I'm sure it will feel pretty cool to be pinned.

In other news, today's (first half of it, I'm currently on lunch break) consisted of hands-on IV training. You stick your buddy and your buddy sticks you. My partner, who I shall refer to as "Neo" (consult the Matrix films) was the first victim of the two of us.

There I am, rubber gloves and tools nearby, tying the 'constrictive band' (medics call it a tourniquet, though it ISNT one) around Neo's arm, popping up his veins so I can ram an 18 gauge needle into it and fill it full of some clear solution, the nature of which I know nothing about. Hey, it sounded fun. Needles, blood, mystery fluids racing their way to your heart to circulate through your entire body, those are the elements that make for a good time. Hell, isn't that the way Courtney Love parties?

Anyway, I sanitize the area of his arm that I plan on impaling, then I pull his skin taught, and I insert the needle, see the 'flash' of blood inside the well of the catheter, and then comes the tricky part. I'm standing there, trying to keep the needle completely still while pushing the catheter the rest of the way in. Well APPARENTLY when attempting that, I pressed the needle THROUGH the vein, thus impaling it, like I prophesized. Whoops.

At that point, I had to remove the needle and his friend, and slap some gauze on the wound that I inflicted on my comrade. Let's try again!

The second time went off without a hitch.

Next comes his turn to stick me. This dude is nervous as hell. I was before I stuck him, too. And then I saw his facial expression, and I made the conscious decision to once again become nervous. It was when I noticed the needle in his hand shaking....a LOT, that I surrendered my fate to the heavens and prepared for the worst.

He stabs me, no different from any IV I've ever had, and all seems great. God had rained gifts of forgiveness and love onto my being, healing me physically, emotionally and spiritually, but then we hit a snag.

As he was removing the needle, the catheter came with it. Now we have a quick squirt of dark veinous blood followed by a pooling of that blood on my forearm, followed by the prudent application of gauze and the mandatory, "Oh shit, sorry dude."

"Ah HELL no..." I reply, doing my best to guilt trip him. I felt like the biggest dick in the world for screwing his arm up, I might as well mess with him a bit, right? Second time, as always, went off without a hitch.

Oh, and a quick sidenote, just to dispell an urban legend.

You will NOT die from an air bubble entering your bloodstream. It takes a pretty decent amount of air to stop the heart. Now, if you're mainlining fresh air into your body through anything but the lungs, you probably won't be doing so well. But don't worry about a little bubble.

*The More You Know....*

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Say It Aint So

If this is how the majority of our country feels about us, let me know. I will gladly walk to the arms room, procure an M9 and a magazine, load a single round, and take a look at whatever next world awaits us.

http://ruthlessreviews.com/rants/fuckthetroops.html

Feel free to skim through that. I've got a few brief retorts.

Apparently, this HIGHLY INFORMED (and by "highly informed", I mean "person with a decent vocaublary who was able to skate through a high school English class) a-little-too-left-wing individual neglected to do his homework.

The Army is NOT composed of people who are incapable of getting jobs to sustain themselves, or those that are too stupid for college. My team leader has a degree in psychology. He's still Infantry. I could have done pretty much anything in college as well. I'm still Infantry.

My platoon sergeant is a very intelligent man. My platoon leader went to West Point, and has a degree in some form of engineering. But hey, we're just morons. We're just bottom of the barrel, and poor. Wrong. I come from a middle class family, which has come to be upper-middle class, now that I think about it. Hooray for progress.

And the Army doesn't accept just anyone. If you aren't disqualified BEFORE Basic, chances are, you could be weeded out during training. Good job for doing your homework. I'm on a roll today, pointing my angry middle finger at TWO Overly left wing idiots. I'm not left OR right wing.

(Sidenote- My platoon sergeant just called me, and I didn't recognize the phone number. So being the typical smartass that I am, I pick up the phone and say, "Speak." Whoops. His retort, "Boy, I will fuck you up." To which I rephrase my previous statement, "....Good evening Sergeant, how may help you?" God, I rock.)

Meanwhile, back at the farm....

I don't claim left or right wing affiliation for myself. Doesn't make a lot of sense to me. People should think as individuals, not as flavors. This is all Coke vs Pepsi. Tastes Great or Less Filling. I'm starting to see a trend here. The people who are pissing me off, are ignorant pieces of steaming hot fecal matter who are trying to sway the minds of others, trying to lead some bullshit movement or wave of thought that you KNOW they wouldn't have the balls to back up. Everyone wants to be a hero, or atleast to have the glory of it, and none of the work. Fuck heroism. I'm a hero to my little brothers. That's more than enough for me. I don't want to inspire fans and worshippers and followers by writing my mundane crap on the internet. All I want is to share what I'm doing, and maybe even get some input from people, good or bad. Shit, tell me I'm wrong about this or that. Correct me. I'd hate to, you know, LEARN something.

But hey, "hero", you've shown us the light. You've shown us what horrible and stupid creatures the defenders of your country, rights, and (sickeningly) word. You caught me. I shall fear your name and keep a watchful and wary eye for your shadow as I practice my archaic satanistic rituals to bless me with innocents to slaughter in sacrifice for my dark lord. I'm so afraid of you setting your sights on my personal evil, that I might not even buy stocks in Wal-Mart or AOL Time Warner-Hershey-McBurger King-Krispy Starbucks. I guess this means I have to lay low before I go kill some more women and children FOR OIL.

FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE NATION AND OUR LEADER'S WALLETS! CHAAAAARGE!!!!

Asshole.

The March and Michael Moore

Our 6 mile, hour and a half pace roadmarch went well. My roommate and I took a wrong turn and ended up having to turn back and go around, but we still made the time frame. The EIB (expert infantry badge) standard is 12 miles in 6 hours. Yeah, I'll let you know how that one goes.

One thing that I was thinking about while marching, is that conspiracy theory nuts bother me. Its like we're obsessed with the idea of being lied to. We aren't supposed to trust the people leading us? Its one thing if significant and credible evidence is presented to suggest wrongdoing, but some people have been taking it a bit far the past few years.

For a moment, lets assume that shady things ARE going on in our governments around the world. Ever stop to consider why? Look at the big picture? Yeah, its ugly. Before you start judging and pointing fingers and shining flashlights in closet doors looking for your witches, ask yourself, "Can I do a better job?"

Yeah, I know, I know. That sounds pretty cold, and horrible. But I've been looking at the other side of the coin, and the world can be a very ugly place. Do you honestly want to know about some of the things that may be going on "behind the scenes"? Shit, I thought the news delivered enough spirit-crushing news. I'm not preaching complacency or anything, just suggesting that people look at the bigger picture. Hell, tell me what you find. I'm always eager to hear another point of view or an intelligent argument.

I was also thinking about Michael Moore. Don't get me wrong, he strikes me as a very intelligent man, and I think he's an excellent filmmaker. I really liked Fahrenheit 9/11. But I didn't like how one-sided it is. Sure, he's presenting HIS point of view, but I can't help but get the impression that he's got his own agenda. I'm sure countless people have already said the same things.

Sure, pal, you're pretty clever by pointing out a little hypocrisy in the senators, who aren't sending their sons to war. I don't see you over there, though. Oh you don't agree with it? Well that's funny, because I never said I DID. But I DO agree with helping out guys like me who were already in uniform.

I support my troops with more than a fucking sticker on my car. I joined them. And its been hard as hell so far, and it will get worse. But hey, I'm sure making that movie was very dangerous, physically and mentally demanding, and proved true patriotism. Go ahead and try to sway the nation against its leader. Shit, WHY the hell would you want a people that STAND TOGETHER? Ohmygosh how stupid! I think everyone should just disagree and whine and throw out their own uneducated opinions without taking any actual action, for the mere sake of self importance.

That's right Mike. You're self important.

Thanks for the kind words and support you offer to the troops and to the families. I honestly appreciate that. But are you talking to us honestly, or are you patronizing us? You go on and on about how much the Bush family makes from the Saudis. How much money did you make from your movie? I recall having to PAY to see it.

"Common Sense" was handed out (correct me if I'm wrong). Your opinion came with a dollar sign.

I could be mistaken, and if so, I'd gladly offer a rebuttal. However, this is the way I see it so far, and I'm calling it as I see it. maybe I'm being one sided too. I'm not making money off of this blog though.

This is a question to anyone, not meant to be sardonic. Can you think of a better way to deal with Iraq? Should we pull out and let their police be decimated? Or should we continue to step up and offer a bit of help to a country that needs it?

"But that's not Bush's agenda! And we shouldn't force democracy on--"

Hold your thought. Bush's agenda does not equal my agenda. I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't KNOW our president. I've never met him. I've never sat down and had a few beers with him, played golf, chased girls and had intellectual conversations with him. But hey, if you have, and have exposed all his oh so dirty little secrets, you've found his horns and tail, taken away his trident to show the masses, then by all means, enlighten me.

But come the fuck on. I'm sick of empty opinions. I'm not saying sit and be idle, but can't we do a better job of informing ourselves (like with CNN!!! No? Ahem.....) instead of borrowing someone else's opinions?

Baaaaa, moooooo, baaaa baaaa.

What the hell was that noise? Oh, that's uneducated gibberish and unjustified opinion. I suggest that anyone who is even remotely interested, please check out a comedian who went by the name of Bill Hicks. He was hilarious, but also carried several messages that I think people should consider.

Don't take what I've been saying as the gospel truth or anything. Think for yourself. Its very possible that I'm the one that could be wrong. Anyone that wants to prove me wrong is more than likely. But if you're going to accuse me of (preparing to) fight for oil, then I really hope you have significant supporting information.

God(s? for those who cater to a different belief) bless.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Just a Small oddity

There isnt anything too significant about this post, but this is a good example of some of the quirky fun we have in the army.

We were having Final Formation (closing of the day), waiting for the First Sergeant to call us to attention. Instead, he walks out with several boxes, and begins throwing random beauty and hygeine products at each platoon. A bottle of dishwashing liquid didn't quite make it to the hands of a member of my team, and the sidewalk in front of us became awash with purple fluid, which sudded up slightly as water from the sprinkler fell into the pool of soap. Dental floss, body wash, banaca, shaving cream, etc etc etc rained from the sky, and then we held formation like nothing ever happened.

Pretty odd, but it breaks the monotony. That's the important thing, I guess.

More Learning

After a very fun filled drug test, my platoon has begun our Combat Life Saving courses. Apparently, its more advanced than our basic First Aid classes, and is worth a very small amount of promotion points. If only that was appealing to me.

Despite the slump I've been in, I'm actually really enjoying learning this. We're learning how to directly help people out, whether its choking or battle wounds, or anything else of that nature. I look forward to seeing how well trained we are altogether by the time we deploy. I feel really good knowing that what I'm learning is practical, and can help people that I care about.

Sure, hand-to-hand combat, combatives, whatever you want to call it, is fun, but come on. I'm a pretty lightweight dude, so I usually don't fare too well in that endeavor. In that department, I'll just keep going to the gym, and keep working on combatives, but so far, its a pretty pitiful sight. Imagine the skinny nerdy guy from Road Trip flailing about trying to wrestle down Stiffler.

Atleast I'm better with rifles and mortars (which reminds me. I titled this eleven-bravo, before I enlisted. Once I arrived at basic training, I was informed that my platoon would be the eleven-charlie platoon. Mortars. We still get ALL the 11B training, plus our own, but it seems we don't get the credit. Since I've been at Ft Lewis, I haven't even touched a mortar system. Its been all 11B training. I'm considering going back to Benning if I can, and getting certified as an 11B as well).

So now that we know that this blog is a misnomer, we can carry on and drag our feet in the dirt. Being slotted for 11C was just my like, but it turned out to be a pretty cool MOS. But I digress.

Maybe I'm just full or particular zeal today, but I'm glad to be here. I have no illusions about being some incredible soldier (far from it), but I know that I'm still doing my part. Learning Combat Life Saving is just as important as urban combat training if you ask me. Maybe I should have been a medic. Nah.

Next week, training will continue to ramp up. Rifle marksmanship with our new M4s, night movement with NODs (night vision), and we'll be getting our Stryker vehicles this winter. Maybe this means we won't be doing Land Navigation every other day. Knock on wood.

One thing that I'm confused about, is that my unit will be moving to Germany, but we the members of it won't. Instead, we'll become 2nd Infantry Division. So I wonder if we'll remain a Stryker brigade or not. I'm sure I'll find out when they hand me my new unit patch.

We'll keep you posted.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Same 4 Walls

This post is more about my own thoughts than t is about the army.

Sure, overall, I am happy with my enlistment in this army. But I don't think that there's anyone who doesn't at one point or another regret signing up, even if only slightly.

Yes, for the time being, I'm doing something with my life. I'm not a slave or anything, but enlisting is one hell of a sacrifice. I could be at home. I could be working a normal job. I could still have my car, I could still see my friends and my family. I could quit my job if I didn't enjoy it anymore. I was free. Now, I'm obligated. I'm not ungrateful or grudging, but sometimes these things catch up with you.

Today, I seriously couldn't have cared less about what we were doing. Crossing linear danger areas (roads) in a tactical manner. Hand to hand training. And that was only the 2nd half of the day. Three other privates and I spent the morning moving an office from one room to the one across the hall. I'm hundred miles away from home, and I just learned that a friend of mine back home, who I could always hang out with because he was always around, easy to get ahold of, is now packing up to go to college. Its a perfect example of what I was planning on writing about.

When my four years are up, what will I come home to? My little brothers will be almost completely grown up. My sister will be married. Maybe even have a kid of her own. My parents will probably still be the same for the most part, but what about my friends? Life isn't going to drop everything and hold just for me to go embark on some crusade.

I'll be starting all over. I left everything behind. Now that I'm committed, I have no control over anything at all. One of my battle buddies (army lingo for 'good friend who is also in the army) has a fiancee back home, on the other side of the country. I can't imagine leaving that behind. I'm sure its safe for us to assume that they're doomed.

We dropped everything to "answer the call". Everything a person does in life has some form of consequence. How will we feel once we deploy?

Friday, August 12, 2005

Marlboro Lights

As always, not a lot is going on here, in the alleged state of liberals.

Outside one of the gates of our base, on weekends, people will sometimes stand on the sidewalks of the overpass above the freeway with signs thanking us for our service, things like that. I'm glad they aren't protestors.

A couple good friends of mine came down to visit, and we were bored together in Tacoma. Once again, Hooters was the usual haunt. But our max leave is over on Monday, and that's when our training not only resumes, but picks up as well. I'll keep you wonderful readers posted on all that, of course, especially if any of it is actually INTERESTING! I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Last week, we did a lot of PT, and a lot of nothing, and it was wonderful. On our off time, we played while rivers flowed with chocolate milk, and then we'd ride our cotton candy clouds over rainbows, and all of us had gum-drop smiles. The only moderately difficult thing we did was a four hour roadmarch, and even that was extremely easy.

Roadmarches consist of a platoon or more soldiers walking in two files on either side of a road, or some pitiful lack of growth that one can dare to call a road. The soldiers marching have rucksacks on their backs. Rucks are the mac daddy of all outdoorsy backpacks. They are also usually mandated with a packing list of items that one will rarely ever use. The purpose of this excess of items is to make the rucks annoyingly heavy, so that we become big, bad, tough, unstoppable soldiers of mass ass-kickery.

When rucking, one first starts to notice (aside from a sagging posture) what we call "hot spots" on the feet. These conveniently allow us to know where our blisters will be, though by now, its too late to do anything about it, like apply moleskin. The only time I ever bought moleskin was when I was in basic, and I didnt have a knife or scissors to cut it, so the pads were obsolete. Could've passed as nicoteine patches though. Probably could have made some money selling them...

Seems that it doesn't matter what the temperature outside is, when rucking, you will sweat. A lot. Drinking lots of water beforehand, and bringing lots of water is a must. We sweat so much, and we're out there for so long usually, that by the end of the march, the sweat has evaporated off of our faces, leaving visible salt residue on our faces.

A problem that I personally encounter, which I still have not been able to remedy, is that one arm always loses circulation, and goes completely numb, to the point where its dead. I then have to reach across my chest and grab the strap that is causing this horrible debilitation, and hold it away from my shoulder and arm to let the blood flow, all the while flailing my other arm about like a wet noodle, trying to get some feeling back. I'm such a nerd.

The good thing about roadmarches is that one gets better at them. Gets stronger. We're told that we do these so much to build us up (what? we're a freaking mechanized unit!), but these marches leave us reasonably destroyed. I must have been an interesting sight to behold as I gimped to the chow hall.

But this is what the infantry does. We train until we're deployed. Then we do our job. I'll let you know how that is, once I find out for myself.

Me = cherry.