Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday 31 May 2010 BOG Kuwait

So, it feels like its been a week since I've written.. but there has been a lot going on.
Last time I wrote, I was preparing to leave SC. When it was time, we loaded up on the busses and headed to the airport. Leaving, we were all pretty excited to just get there.. to get started.. to do something more worthwhile than what we were feeling, with the whitespace of the previous couple days. As we rolled into the air field, I could see a few bikers, pulling off the road, flashers on, etc.. but, it wasn't until we pulled around to the back of the airfield, that it hit me. And it hit me hard. In the underhang, was the Navy League, USO and many many veterans of war, there to see us off. As we walked off our buses and into the hangar they were all clapping for us. IT hit me. The emotional feeling I had was indescribable. I was torn between pride and sadness. The reality that I was going off to do my part in this war, that I was going into a war zone and helping. The reality that I was leaving my family behind for a year, 12 long months, to do this. It all hit me at once and I had tears of joy and pride and tears of sadness overwhelm me. I have been fairly good at compartmentalizing, and had done so up to that point, but this, this was different. This was like nothing I had ever experienced before. Even the homecoming on the ship deployment was not like this for me. The only time I ever had someone waiting for me on the pier pulling in from deployment was Lara.. on my first deployment. But this feeling, this was far more than watching wives and children say their goodbyes.. or greet with smiling faces. This was veterans, who had already done their part, and were here to support us.. to support me. To give us a sending off, filling our hearts with joy, hugging us, shaking our hands and one even told me (and I will never forget how this one simple line made the tears stream down my face) "No matter what you hear over there, we support you. We are praying for you and are all waiting for you to come home safely. Remember that!"
Now, I know the propaganda, and people hear that people are protesting the war, but you never really think about how that will affect you, when you are the one over there.. will you listen to it, will you believe it, will you no better than that... this man, he wanted me to know - no matter what.. we are all supported, despite politics.
After they fed us and provided us with "Stress Dolls", pizza, snacks, books, cards and whatever else you could think of, it was time to board the plane. I called my parents and the kids and had a very emotional conversation with my dad, just trying to explain the emotional roller coaster I was experiencing at that moment. I talked to each of the kids and my mom, letting them know how much I love them and will miss them!! IT was the first emotional call to the kids for me, since I had left. Again, I had been good at compartmentalizing, so I could get my job done, without distraction, but it was time to be emotional with them, let them know how very much I loved them and unfortunately, followed with that was my tears, which then led to theirs. But after a few short seconds, I sucked back the tears finished my goodbyes and was ready to board the plane.
We were getting ready to board, they (Navy League) all lined up, with their flags and all and made a concession line for us. Each and everyone of them shaking our hand, hugging us and thanking us. Some with the quiet prayer to stay safe and come home healthy. I have never in my life experienced something quite like this. The emotional high (and lows) put me in a different realm. As I loaded the plane I knew, this was it. It was real, I was heading to Kuwait!
Our plane ride was a good 8 hours. Fortunately, my battle buddy saved me a window seat - because they boarded us by rank (of some screwed up sort) and last name.. which, as you know... meant me.. almost and completely LAST on the plane.. Now, the plane wasn't full, but the window seats were all taken. Had it not been for Michelle, I would have been one miserable person!! So - I did manage to squeeze in some sleep. They showed 3 movies.. of which I saw the first 30 minutes of the first movie, and the 30 minutes of the last movie.. so I guess I got a good amount of sleep! We landed in Germany at about 1030 local time for them and were there for about an hour or so. This was awesome for me - the first time I had ever been to Germany, so I picked up my parents the shotglass and bell that I always collect for them, from everywhere I go. The plane was refueled and it was time to get back to it. We spent the next 6 hours traveling to Kuwait. I did manage to sleep a little, but after awhile, no matter how comfy you think your seat is - it becomes uncomfortable! 15 hours on a plane is a long time..
Finally, we touched down in Kuwait. We were here.. We sent a 40 man working party to unload and reload on to trucks the over 500 seabags we had with us, while the rest of us loaded into buses. After about 45 minutes, we were on the road headed to Camp Virginia.
Surreal moments. AS I peaked out the curtain I saw vehicles with Kuwaiti citizens driving down the road. At one point our entire convoy of buses and security was stopped, trying to stop traffic, or something, I am not sure, but briefly, there was fear in me. Fear that we were sitting ducks, fear that OMGosh, something could happen.. I am in Kuwait, and anything is possible now. BUT, finally we started moving again and I just watched the scenery pass by. It was about 630 at night Kuwait time when we arrived, so the sun was just goin down. I remember thinking to myself "Take it all in." I was still on my emotional roller coaster thinking "Wow, I can't believe I am here. I am in Kuwait!" Again, words don't due the emotions justice. There is no explaining how I truly felt watching the dessert pass by, realizing where I was. I think I fell asleep - because I was barely coherent when we did finally reach the camp. Dirt. Dirt EVERYWHERE. Wow. I don't think I have seen so much dirt, as I have now! When we rolled in we had a quick meeting then formed a working party to help unload the bags. AFter the unloading was complete, we then had to find our bags (out of 500 plus) and tote them to our tent. I am in a 70 man tent, give or take, but theres not that many females in this group, so its not too bad. Finally, by 1230 or so, we were done with that! Myself, Michelle and Trisha walked to the USO and made our free calls for the night (me to let my mom/dad & kids know I was okay) BTW my phone was not working til I got to Kuwait! Thank you mom for getting that setup after having to call collect from Germany to let you know where I was and I was okay!
I don't think that we laid down on our cots until about 230 this morning. I really don't think I slept much, either. I was tired, but couldn't get my brain to shut off.. before I knew it, 7am was here and we were up to shower so we could go to the BX get a converter (my phone and laptop died), and get STARBUCKS. Yes.. they have a starbucks.. mmmhmmmm.. :)
That was nice to wake up to! And the temp wasn't too bad.. probably about 100 at that time.. but got up to about 115 today.. its a dry heat like Vegas, so that makes me glad I lived there for a few years! LOL
This morning we had the trainer for Egress. We again were flipped in HMMV style vehicles to ensure we could egress from them, upside down, if necessary. It was scary at first, I am not going to lie. I am short and being upside down, undoing your buckle, means falling head first if you don't do it right.. but, in the end it was successful and i was happy with it. It turned out to be more fun than I thought it would be..
following that we were brought back over here, where Trisha and I were able to go secure our WiFi cards before our final meeting of the night.
The meeting didn't take long and afterwards I was able to get on Video Cam with the family! It was awesome. Its cheaper than using my phone PLUS we get to see eachother! We chatted for a while. I talked to my mom and told her about the places on base, (food court). Now, its about 2345 and I need to get some sleep! Its been a long HOT dusty day and tomorrow promises to be the same! :) I love you all.
More tomorrow.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday, 28 May 2010

So, tomorrow is the day. Last night, I spent at the Country Inn - with a few other girls. We had a girls day out then a mini slumber party in the room.. where we ordered lots of food and had a great time. Today, we ran some last minute errands and ended up back at the base about 630 or so. I came back and finished up my packing and now and writing this.
I have been compartmentalizing my trip to Afghanistan, and as it now becomes a reality, and we make our wait to Kuwait - its starting to hit me.. I am glad I have stayed busy, it has definitely helped.
I know I will be fine, but seeing the ''reality" of the war will be a different experience for me. I've always had the luxury of watching it from afar.. now, I will be up close and personal with it and to be honest it scares the hell out of me. Not that I am fearing for my life, per se, but fearing what I will see and how it will change me. The unknown. The impact of what I am about to journey in to, will become much more of a reality that I could have ever imagined (or so I am told). I am, however, anxious to get started. I have had an uneasy, unsettled feeling for quite a while, and am looking forward to getting settled.. to work.. to get a routine, etc.
Alright, not alot for tonight to write. I am not sure how long I will be offline, but I am assuming the night we check in to Kuwait, I will have some time or opportunity to post and let everyone know I have made it safe and sound. Til then...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

So today was the last day of training. The convoy exercise was a blast.. literally.. LOL we happened upon 2 IEDs.. 1 we avoided.. the other hit the last HMMV (#5) because they didn't do their searches properly.. . We (HMMV #1) did ours properly.. (the CAPT and I did them..) and thats how we discovered the one in front of us.. :) no blast on us!! Then we encountered some injured IRAQIs and we had to secure the perimeter.. but 2 of our guys (yes, Michelle was one of them.. and our medic the other) got to close to them.. and the set off a PIED.. and they were injured (simulated).. so the CAPT and I had to drag the HM2 to our HMMV.. while the gunners covered us.. it was FUN!! Definitely a great learning experience!! Then we were off to the Land Navigation.. Our team found all 5 checkpoints in 23 minutes.. making it the fastest time of all the teams!! AND we had all of them correctly!! After that fun, we headed back to the classroom to clean our weapons.. we had to clean clean the weapons we are turning in tomorrow (not taking with us) the others will stay with us at all times.. yes folks.. even on the plane.. in the main cabin.. crazy huh? But, it is a military flight.. so I guess its more acceptable!
Tomorrow is admin stuff.. turning in weapons, doing surveys.. and then liberty! woohoo..
Thats it for tonight folks.. short and sweet.. will write more before heading to Kuwait. I hope those of you that are reading this are not bored out of your minds! I only see 3 followers.. so maybe none of you are reading this.. Either way- I hope this bridges the gaps between myself and family.. and helps you all to see and hear.. what I will be seeing and hearing (that I can talk about) especially once in Afghanistan!
More tomorrow..

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

So, the time is was the last of our preps for our final exercises tomorrow. Tomorrow, we head out on a convoy.. thru the wood, with blanks in our magazines and Iraq Infidels to defeat. Yes, its a mock scenario, don't worry - but we will be finding IEDs, we will be shot at, and we will have to clear buildings, houses, and complete a specific mission. This will give us all a taste of what it is like to go out on a mission, in a convoy, and how to be alert and on the lookout. We had IED training today, Convoy training, Clearing training, ECP training and Land Nav training. Tomorrow, after the convoy exercise, we will then be dropped in the woods with only our maps, compass and coordinates and have to find 4-5 different checkpoints. Also another good training on how to use the minimal tools and make our way to "homebase" if necessary, should we find ourselves alone. IT was great training today, took some pics and videos, and hope you all get to see. YES - I kicked in a door and swept a make shift room.. :) It was fun and tomorrow - it promises to be funner. After the Land Navigation exercise tomorrow - our training will be officially over. Following that we will spend the afternoon cleaning our weapons in preps to turn in the ones we aren't taking in country with us. Then, we have misc administrative stuff, and the same Thursday morning. We will be released Thurs afternoon for liberty until Saturday morning. We will come back, load our seabags and gear and get on the plane Saturday evening. I have to say, I will NOT miss wearing the IBA every single day for 6-8 hrs a day.. I will not miss sharing a room with 27 girls.. I will miss some of the people, especially my battle buddy (Michelle) - but we still continue on together until Kuwait and then she heads to Iraq - while I head to Afghanistan. But, she will always be my battle buddy!! :)
As for tonight, I have showered and am now winding down after watching my first bit of TV in a couple weeks (American Idol). I am going to call it a night. I will write more tomorrow.. :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday, 24 May 2010

So today was Death by Power Point! Eeerrghh...
Sometimes I think that is more tiring than being in the field...We learned a lot of good info - IED detection, Convoy basics, Clearing Room tactics, etc. It was all interesting and good info. We even watched a few sad videos taken from the Al Sahad web sites - IEDs they planted.. it was quite sad. After the briefs we had our travel brief tonight at 1630. It was change to 1730 - and then lasted until 1900.. So truly, today we started at 0600 and finally got done at 1900..
After that Michelle and I took a road trip to find some food... we went 18 miles to a BBQ place - that ended up being closed.. so then drove another 15 minutes to another BBQ joint - which was OUTSTANDING.. by the way.. mmm hmm..I came back, had to help with berthing cleaners tonight and am now laying here in my rack - thinking about getting to sleep early tonight..
woohoo!! :)
As far as travel - we leave Saturday evening, the 29th and will be in Kuwait by 1130am local time the 30th.. JUST in time to ensure May becomes TAX FREE!! :) woohoo!
Once we get to Kuwait, we will be staying in 70 man berthing tents on cots.. there is a 4 day indoc to theater and then most will be heading out to their posts.. for me, according to my boss I will stay an additional 5 days to train with the Kuwait CAC.. will know more about that later - hopefully..
Anyhow, I will keep you all posted as I know more. We will have internet - so I will keep in touch via FB as often as I get to (at a minimum every night... BUT I do NOT think I will be allowed to take pics of the training/indoc there, so you will just have to visualize my writings. :)
Alright, time to try and get some good sleep with the Eye Mask my dad sent to me... yea.. no more bright lights at 4am.. when I don't have to get up til 530.. or 6.. I am excited!!
More to follow!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday 23 May 2010

So today has been a very emotional day for me. Katrina was in the MS Teen San Diego Pageant which was tonight. My mom was very good about getting me on speaker phone to hear everything live as they announced it. I got to hear her being announced as she walked the runway in casual wear and then again for Formal Wear and the 1 question of the night (What makes you so unique?). She did a phenomenal job and I could not be more proud of her. She did not make it - but instead of being upset, mad or angry - she is very upbeat, happy and glad for the fun experience. That makes me even more proud!! How beautiful she looked, tonight! I can't wait to see all the pics that were taken. Her two best friends showed up for support (supposed to be a surprise to her! :)) I am so happy she was able to have this experience and she came out of it with a positive attitude!! Just being in the pageant alone, was a great honor and attributable to her positive outlook and again, I could not be more proud!!
I think I paced most of the day - more nervous than she.. as I am sure my mom and dad was as well. They were so great about this and took her to each practice, helped her get ready, took her to get her hair done and hemmed the 9 inches of her dress - so she wouldn't trip on it! :) Thank you so much mom & dad and I know that Katrina is very grateful too. This was a great experience and exciting to us all! Now, she can move forward and concentrate on school and the Junior Varsity Cheerleading team that she made! :)
As for me, Saturday we spent at the simulator - shoot no shoot scenarios - putting us in an environment to try only shoot the bad guys and not the innocent civilians.. It was a great trainer! We all enjoyed it. We also had night time shooting in another simulator - I did pretty well in both!! I was very pleased with the results and enjoyed it! We were let out early Saturday ( about 2pm) and so most of us ended up getting rooms at the Hilton hotel. We went out that evening and ate some real food.. and then I got to go back and sleep in a king size bed.. in a room all to myself - privacy.. I missed it. I miss it. Sharing a room with 27 girls is crazy! I did miss my privacy and the comfort of a real bed.. a nice fluffy bed.. a king size bed. I could sleep side ways if I wanted to.. :)
I got up about 730 this morning.. forced myself back to sleep for atleast another hour and then was up for the day. Michelle had a friend that works at the zoo take us on a private tour ( a few of us) where we got to go behind the scenes and pet the koalas.. see the lions and tigers.. etc.. it was awesome!
After that we went and had some mexican food for dinner.. and then headed back to base. I got back, washed all my stuff and just paced most the evening anticipating Katrina's pageant.
Overall it was a great night off and off the base as well. Good times, with good people. We did hear that we will be leaving a few days later than anticipated, but none of us really care - so long as we get there before 1 June.. (Tax free for the entire month - even if you're only BOG (Boots on ground) for 1 day of that month!!) woohoo..
From the looks of it, we will be there in time to reap those benefits. Due to operational security, I can't yet post the information, but those of you that need to know - will know what I can divulge.
Tomorrow promises to be a decent day. NO IBA tomorrow. No 42 pound body armor to wear tomorrow.. I dread that most each day - so I am excited. We basically have death by power point tomorrow - and then our travel brief.. should be an easy day. The training time is coming to a close and our training should be complete by Wednesday. Fingers crossed we get liberty again before we head to theater. We'll see. Well - that is it for now. I am definitely emotionally drained today. Had several teared moments feeling pretty sad that I couldn't be there with Katrina during the pageant to help her.. I am so glad my parents were. It is hard to feel the loss of those moments.. you know.. the ones you can never get back - but atleast those are moments my parents can share with Trina - connecting the bonds between them even more!
Better get to sleep.. more to follow...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday 21 May 2010

So - Its Friday.. woohoo.. 1 more day of work, then 1 day off. Tomorrow promises to be an early day.. so I will keep my fingers crossed.. We spent all day at the range doing 3 different shoots. It was long, hot - but the shoots themselves were fun. I posted some pics and videos on FB.. so check them out! Worth it!
We were released today at about 1600 - Michelle and I went and got a rental car so we have wheels this weekend.. then we drove to Columbia and had some awesome South Carolina Wings and Ribs!!
We got back about 2030.. it was a good night. Not much to write tonight. Shot alot today. Thats about it. Tired.. will write more tomorrow..

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Man, this week has flown by!!
Tomorrow is Friday.. but still 2 more working days.. errgh!
Today was Range Qual day for M4s and M16s. You needed a 23 to qual today - I only got a 22, but I am already qualed on an M16, so its all good.. I've already got the ribbon. I was more disappointed than I thought I would be, but, Its okay. I was a little erked becuase I was short about 10 rounds in my last shoot - so I only had 30 rounds vice 40 - I know I could have made the 23 within that other 10 rounds; but, I wasn't soo erked, that I wanted to do it again.. lol
Its tiring, its hot, you get sweaty and definitely fatigued. I did do better shooting in the kneeling position today - but either way - its still uncomfortable to shoot with the IBA on (full armor).
SO - atleast the pressures off, tho and all qual procedures are complete. I qualed on the 9m the other day and that is what I needed.
We finished about 1300 today bussed back to training camp and spent the last hour of class cleaning our weapons. I have learned how to "shotgun" my weapon in seconds and clean it fairly quickly. I have grown very comfortable with both weapons. Which is good - becuase I have always had some fear with the weapons (What if I forget how to put the safety on, how will I remember ((Red is Dead)) got it now!!, will I remember how to put the magazine in, or load the magazine, or cock it back, double or single shoot...) All these were always nagging minor fears and I have conquered those fears and am fairly proficient with them. Some of these may be silly questions or fears for others - but they always loomed over my head before becuase we only shot about once every 6-12 months. We have been shooting daily, so now I am very familiar and comfortable handling them both.
Anyhow, we got out of class by about 1530 today - I went to the minimart and then headed back to the barracks for a nap. I had the 0200-0300 watch last night and was very sore, tired and simply exhausted - I NEEDED a nap! So I took a nap til about 7, and then showered and called the family! They all received my letters today.. I was very happy for that. Yesterday, I received a letter from Travis.. it was sooo cute! He even signed it, "Love, Travis. Your son" It was awesome! :)
Tonight, I purchased the kids' tickets to MS for the summer.. I am sure they will all be glad to go on vacation! This will allow my parents to go to Oregan and finish moving their stuff down to San Diego! ALSO - good news, my dad got a job. The first Monday they were in town he started scouting job sites, went and talked to a few people and got a call back last week. He went to the "indoc" as we like to call it in military, and starts on Monday! :) I know that is a big stress reliever for him, and am very happy for them!
So - tomorrow is crew served weapons shoot. Today we trained a little on them (thus the pics and videos of me with them..) and we shoot them tomorrow as well as "stress fire" where we will be in a convoy and attack/IED situation and learn how to fire under stress. I was told its a pretty fun day - so we will see!
As of this day next week, I should be in Kuwait. Can't believe its only a week away.. but I am anxious to get done here and get started. I have been given constant support and motivating comments by alot of my friends and family and I appreciate it!!
I have posted some pics on FB of my FT Jackson experience so far. I post daily - keep in mind, it is me.. raw.. no make up, no blow dryer, no hair straightener.. lol Just Me!
I have found out the BX has a beauty/nail salon - so this weekend my plan is to get one last mani/pedi and waxing. :) Just to feel like a girl again, before heading out to the dessert.. unless anyone knows of any beauty salons in Afghanistan, this may be my visit to one for a year! lol
I have a lot going thru my mind today. My friend Chris is now out of the Navy (officially 1 June) and heading out for a road trip across the US and thru Alaska. I am excited for him, and envious at the same time! My kids are doing well and Travis is coming along. It is so nice to see. I am sure he will not like every decision my parents make for him, but he is learning to go with the flow and its making this so much more peaceful for everyone. Some things I let go - becuase I didn't want the battle - there's 2 of them, so there is no its good for him and he needs it, and its nice to see him getting along with my parents and to hear how close he and my mom are getting. They need her now - whether they want to admit it or not. She is the closest thing to "mom" they will have for a year.. I hope they relish it, and treasure that time, and understand she is going thru her own pain, knowing her only daughter is in the war zone. All in all, they are adjusting fine. My friends have all been great! They don't realize it, but even the simple FB posts, tell me they are thinking of me, or supporting me and it makes me feel very blessed to have them!
I talked to Dan the other night - him and Emi will be getting married soon and their baby boy should arrive in August. I know he is excited. Its bitter sweet - but I am happy for him and quite honestly, this entire trip and trip yet to come has given me a new perspective about my life. Some things just weren't meant to be.. some were. Maybe we were just meant to be friends.. becuase it seems like that is working well for us. I am happy for him and realize now that I am just too busy to clutter my life with any more grief, or complications than necessary. I am healthy, have a happy, healthy family and am about to embark on a life changing journey. Maybe while I am there I will discover a little more about myself, and become closer to GOD as I take this journey.
I think about where my life has taken me in the last 20 years - even the last 17 (since I enlisted in the Navy) and can't believe how far I've come and how close I am to retiring after 20 years at a very young 38... :) I am proud, and feel a great honor to be where I am today. I have worked my butt off, my entire career to be the best that I can.. to do the best that I can.. and thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way.
Alright, I think I have rambled enough. Time to get some sleep for the long day ahead. More to follow.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wednesday 19 May 2010

Hump day!! woohoo.. So, I was dreading today - prequal day for the M16/4, even though I am not a mando qual for it (since I won't be taking the M4), I was dreading the heat and the gear and the miserable hot conditions we were told to expect. Today was actually not that bad. Not that we didnt get hot, but, it was not near as bad becuase we were kept busy and out of our full battle rattle, until absolutely necessary. So - we got to the range about 7am and finished up there about 2. We went back to the classrooms and cleaned our weapons in preps for tomorrow - the actual qual day.
With the M16/4 its a slew of pop up targets, only up for 3-8 seconds ( depending on distance ) and you have to hit 23 out of 40 to qual. Most of us started with 8s or better - I got a 12 then 13 on my first two rounds then the second time we were up I got a 22 and 11. The 11 was becuase I lost my sighting. I started to get tired and frustrated - and just lost it. But the 22, that was good. I had good sights and was trackin well, even tho the numbers don't seem like it :)
Overall, I was happy with today - especially since it was our first time in this kind of scenario.
So tomorrow is qual day, following that we start on crew served weapons and do some trainingon 50 cals, etc. (those I am familiar with... got to shoot those on the ship! :))
Looks like then we will do some more convoy training, some land navigation training and then from there I have no idea. I am just happy to know that I have less than a week left of this training. woohoo. I think that the last actual training day is Tuesday becuase we have some people flying out Wed and then most the rest of us on Thurs, heading to Kuwait.
We were done early enough today that Michelle and I were able to go out with a few of the other guys to the uniform shop (get her some boots..) and then we went to eat dinner.. a real dinner... nothing from this galley or whatever the army calls it.. that food is getting old!
We were back by about 730 and here I am. I volunteered for Head Cleaner tonight (4 ladies clean the berthing a night) and I also have a watch tonight from 2-3... yuck! Not looking forward to that!!! Anyhow, that is it for now.. I am tired.. bruise and have a sore body! My right shoulder is starting to get bruised from my M4.. trying to find the sweet spot to tuck it in is extremely difficult in our battle gear!! man o man... hate that crap. I wish I could say my body is getting used to it.. and it is okay if I am not just standing in it.. waiting.. then it weighs heavy on my shoulders, but sitting, or actually shooting then getting the gear off is not so bad. Today went much better than I expected and I am actually looking forward to tomorrow.. not only to get qual day done, but its one day closer to Sunday. :)
Okay.. very tired. Going to get some sleep before my watch! More to follow!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tuesday May 18, 2010

So today was full of range .. we showed up the range and fortunately it was overcast which cooled it off.. kinda chilly and made it more pleasant to shoot it. Our first course was the M16/M4 shoot - kneeling, prone with and without support.. it was a mess! Becuase it rain last night, the sand was very sticky and we were rolling around, lying in it - in our full Battle Rattle as they call it. I had sand in places it didn't belong by end of day! We shot at targets 50, 175 and 300 meters. I did okay in the prone position.. I shot really good at the 300 meters - but sucked at the others in the kneeling position.. errgh.. fortunately, I will not be taking this weapon with me, so I am not too worried about it. Following that - those of us that are 9MM required qualifiers had to move to a different range to shoot in a stress/running situation. We started at about 50M shot at the three targets, then ran over to a different position and shot prone (lying down) then up and running to a makeshift window, shot out the window, then behind a barrier and then finally up close and personal at about 3-5 yards. It was a great course and I qualified. You were given 18 shots total and I made 14 on target total. It takes 12 to pass. It wasn't my best, but it was good enough so I am not too disappointed.
Tomorrow we have M16/4 Pre Qual, so that oughta be interested. We were told to expect it to be hot and muggy - no overcast and that the range had no cover - we would be in the sun in full battle rattle all day.. o-joy.. that makes me look forward to getting up at 5 am.. uh huh..
Anyhow, got back today at about 4 but had to stay in the class and clean our weapons.. there was so much sand in them too it was rediculous. It was about 615 before I left the class and called my mom before headin in to shower. I got in and realized.. DAMN Ishoulda brought 2 towels with me!! erggh.. I forgot I put my towel in the laundry bag today and desperately needed to shower to get the damn sand out of my bra... it was soo gross.. so I did..but had to dry off with a hand towel.. lol Atleast I had that tho..
SO on top of all that.. I have no gloves to shoot with.. seems the Navy doesn't keep extra smalls lying around and neither do the other stores I went to this weekend.. I guess I should bought a kids pair at walmart.. but its 95 degrees out here.. don't think they are stocked up on gloves just yet.. so my hands and under my finger nails got all griddy today from the sand.. which isn't too terribly bad.. but just an icky feeling when I still have other things to do and no way to wash them til we get back to the barracks.. because out there.. its Porta potties.. lol no sinks
Anyhow, I have the drill sargeants trying to track me down some becuase altho I shot without them so far.. they are saying that I can't qual on the M4 on the field without them.. yea.. crazy.. my socks they issued - extra extra small.. but.. they fit great! (I always bought little kids socks anyways.. they fit me ) I also have the smallest size boots.. LOL - size 4 - I know.. people make fun of me all the time.. but.. owell.. I can still kick their ass!! :)
You know what they say.. dynamite comes in small packages.. ooorah!
In other news today.. there was a suicide attack on a convoy in Kobul. Yeah.. Just something to process as I know I will be in a convoy on my ride down from Baghram to Kobul once I am in theater... to be honest it is my only fear being over there.. The dreaded convoy.. but.. I dont want to think about it just yet. I still have about a week before I head to Kuwait..
Its 1034 PM here and I have to be up at 5.. so I am signing off for the night. More to follow...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday 17 May 2010

So, as always, the weekend went by fast.. especially since I only got 1 day off.. :)
Sunday I woke up at 0700 (even after standing watch until 0400) ergh..
Anyhow, went and got new boots at The Patriot store and some sheets from Walmart.. can't stand NOT having a fitted sheet. lol Then had some lunch at a mexican cafe and headed back to base. Talked on web cam with the family for a few.. ended up talking to all of them on speaker phone for almost 2 hours.. :) It was soo nice and very pleasant conversation.. Packed up 2 of the 4 Seabags of items I won't need while here.. then watched a movie on my laptop before going to bed.
This morning we got to sleep in til 6. It was nice! Then we headed to the classroom to muster and then we were all sent to the auditorium for yet another screening.. OMGosh! Had my 2nd Anthrax shot, and then we all had to fill out ISOPREPS (you military that have deployed know what they are..) they are just individual statements that one can derive 4 questions out of.. they are for identification purposes. Information that only you or your family would know that helps to confirm your identity should it ever be required. After that we all had to do a Cognitive /Mental health test - basically a baseline test (simple memory/addition, etc) for pre-deployment. It will help assess any (hopefully) mental issues one may have post deployment.
After that we all met back up in the classrom to grab all our gear and get on the bus to the simulator. Today we did the 9M simulator for night time shooting. I Hate the Simulator. It sucks! You don't shoot your own weapon and the equipment is never fully functionable... and quite honestly just makes you feel like shit in your shooting capabilities.. I would rather be shooting my 9M on the range/in the field - rather than some computer connected gun that is NOT ZEROED. Anyhow, after that we were supposed to do some M16/M4 shooting, but the simulator for that was down.. ha! no surprise there.. so we were bussed back to the classroom and released early. Today was a rainy day which was okay once the sun went down.. but - during the heat of the day, it made for some really humid weather! Yuck!
After class I came back and watched a movie (The Island) and talked to the kids..
We had a barracks meeting tonight with all the girls.. again.. they dont seem to understand that you cant leave your smallpox bandages in the shower. or that you can't flush tampons down the toilet, or, you can scream from one end of the berthing to the other at 0500 while the other company (mine) was still sleeping and still had an hour left to sleep.. People don't understand Preparation. Prepare your shit at night so you are not so damn loud in the morning!!@ My gosh, its not rocket science. I want every bit of sleep I can get! I have now made myself a little cave.. I hung my extra sheet and blanket on both sides of my rack from the top bunk and have created a little haven ( kinda like on the ship - where we had curtains) - it helps keep the light out and I bought a battery operated little fan that I put in my rack - it helps drown out noise.. yea! It helped... until we had girls this am at about 5 having a very loud conversation across the berthing.. Just cause they had to be up - doesnt mean we did! But - they ensure we do!
Anyhow, now its after 10 - everyone is sleeping.. internet is fast.. but I am tired.. I am going to sleep.. tomorrow we have to be at chow by 0530. Sleep well all.. more tomorrow.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Saturday, 15 May 2010

So, today has me screwed up.. keep thinking its Friday (not used to working on the weekends anymore! ha!) We started our day at about 4am, altho the girl next to me started hers at about 255am.. so.. thats what time I was woke.. open berthing definitely sucks when it comes to sleep.. ergh. But, we got on the busses, full gear to head to the range at 6am. We had 80 people to shoot the 9MM and 96 to shoot the M4/M16s. It was a long hot day of shooting and wearing full gear.. while feeling the sweat roll down your back.. or in your eyes.. But, in all, today was not near as bad as yesterday. I qualed on my 9MM and Zeroed/Grouped on my M4 with great results!
We were released at about 1600 for liberty and do not have to do anything else until tomorrow night at 2200 when everyone has to be back from liberty.
Unfortunately for me.. I have the 1am -4am watch tonight, BUT I do get to sleep in tomoro!! :) woohoo.
I called and talked to the kids tonight and my parents for a while.. it was good.. but i was so tired when I got back, instead of going out, I took a nap! :) My body is not used to this heat and physically carrying around another 42 pounds all day!! It is definitely wearing me out.
So - Katrina has been at Cheer practices all week in preps for try outs.. She tried out Friday and found out this morning she made the cut for Junior Varsity Cheer and Elite Competition Team! Congrats to my baby.. she has been trying out fora few years now - and it just goes to show that persevearance will prevail! :) CONGRATS BABY. I love you! Next weekend is her pageant - so she has alot goin on, but this is all good, becuase it will keep her busy (as well as my parents) while I am away.
Pics and videosare posted of todays events on FB. Enjoy! Im going to relax a while before my watch. More tomorrow!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday 14 May 2012

So.. I find myself on the countdown here... Can't help it - but I am tired already and the really hard work has just begun. As many of you can see by my facbook posts, today was a busy, long, hot day. We spent the day in full gear (an additional 40 pounds strapped to my body) in the heat - doing numerous things in prep for our gun shoots/quals and convoy training. We started off the day at 0600 muster with full gear and loaded a bus to take us to the other side of the base. From there we started out at what is called Shadow Boxing.. this is where we try to "zero" our weapon. We try to ensure out target line is center of where it needs to be. For me, my target line was good on the shadow boxing.. although a little low to the right. This just means that my shots are good, by my line of sight needs to be adjusted on the weapon (M4) to ensure I actually hit the target. From there we went to the simulator and simulated shooting another weapon connected to the equipment - I bombed miserably in there and could not ZERO my weapon. Hopefully, tomorrow on the range, with my own weapon, that will not be the case. From the simulator we moved on the convoy training where each of us got to take turns driving, being the passenger or in the gunnery seat. It was pretty cool to drive! After that we were bussed to a different area and got in what is known as the HEAT trainer. This is where they put you in a HUM-V and tip you upside down and teach you how to egress. I uploaded a couple cool videos on that - so if you are interested, you can see what we did. We completed that and were bussed back to our classroom and released at about 1815. It was a long, hot day carrying all that armor and weapons. I am TIRED! With all CAPS!! lol
I will have to say I have a newfound respect for all members of convoys - that is a difficult job and scary as well. We are slowly becoming integrated to Army ways.. including their "oooah" vice OOORAH - there term "Too easy" (thats their way of saying "get it??" We are swimming in our own sweat and finding ourselves saying Ooooah - just becuase its easier to agree with the Drill Sargeant.. lol
I am a bit irritated tho, we are not getting the same answers from anyone about some little things.. IE - which way we are supposed to lace our boots, where the dog tag goes in the boot, how to roll the pants on CAT 5 Hot days...etc etc.. there are alot of little things, but too many to remember now. All in all- the Army training here is not near as strict as you would expect. Its hard, don't get me wrong, but they are not yelling in our faces or dictating every move. The details of how we get from point A to point B (whether its wakeups, work, or things we are supposed to do - so long as we get to point B, they don't care really how we do it. So long as we can do it. Which - I guess is not too bad. The average age of our entire class of about 200 people is 35. and atleast half if not more, are officers - but of course you still get some that NUKE things out - but.. whatever.. there is always one, right?
I am exhausted tonight. We have range tomorrow and afterwards.. finally, liberty! Saturday evening and all day Sunday is our days off.. we are ALL looking forward to some down time... becuase as of now - our down time doesnt usually start til about 1900 and by then we all just want to shower and go to bed! I called my mom and talked to her and the kids, showered and now getting ready to settle in for the night. Tomorrow is going to be a long day!! More to follow.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Today was a full, busy day for us. The good thing was, it was good use of time and training. We spent the first half of the day learning Battlefield First Aid, how to help a shipmate and not get yourself hurt in the process, etc. It was good training. We actually had hands on training with our medical kits on applying tournequets, bandages and basic first aid - to include assisted breathing thru a tube we put in a patients nostril. We also learned how to puncture a patients chest, placing a cathetar - to relieve pressure and air for a collapsed lung. We actually got to perform this on their dummies (no... not the real life dummies... the plastic ones...) :)
Then we learned how to don our CBR gear and mask all within an 8 minute deadline. This, all outside in the heat and humidity today. It was a good, but hot day. We were released at about 515 (1715) and instead of going to chow, we went to the PX and bought some necessities and ate at Burger King there. Tomorrow, we have convoy training, where they will flip us (in all our gear - yes.. the 40 plus pounds of kevlar, steel plates, etc) and teach us how to escape expeditiously, and maintain a battle stance defensively if needed. We also go to the range to get our weapons zeroed (basically aligned properly for us). Tomorrow will be another long hot day, but we were told that Saturday will probably be the longest of all... as a matter of fact, I think the words they used were: "The longest Saturday of your life" at the range qualifying on our weapons.. woo hoo.. I am excited for the training, but dread the heat! :(
Tired tonight. Posted a couple pics on FB. Will write more tomorrow!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

So, today.. was a very frustrating day.. and it really started last night in the barracks here..
We have two companies (Alpha & Charlie) 27 women.. and only about 8 of us are in Charlie.. Anyhow, the drill sargeants are telling their company one thing and our company another (as far as regulations for the "weapons watch.") We are supposed to have a watch starting at 2100 until wake-ups (0500) to ensure no weapons are stolen. Anyhow, then getting the watchbill completed (which the 1st classes are doing a good job of doing) was frustrating because you have people more worried about someone getting "hooked up" or screwed out of weekend liberty - that they just decided to do the watch based on the racks. It starts in the corner and works itself around clockwise by rack.. which makes it quite fair and a good rotation (especially when it comes time to wake up your relief). Thanks Michelle for volunteering!! :) Anyhow, you still had people bitching about they have this or that or whatever... Hello... we are in training. You are supposed to consider yourself deployed at NMPS and more over... here! Anyhow, the watch isnt that bad (only 1 hour on a work night) and 3 hours during the weekend days.. AND you dont have to rove, just do a weapons count, once during the watch and you can be in PT gear - or even on your rack on your puter like I am right now (and I am on the first watch 2100-2200). Anyhow, there are some still bitching.. it is rediculous. We got that straightened out - but we still have a disparity of what is being told to us by our own Drill Sargeants.. as well as base policy. Last night I was on the phone with Katrina and didn't want to wake the rest of the girls (it was 2300) so I went next door to the lounge (which is supposed to be open 24 hours according to the welcome packet and our Drill Sargeants. At about 2315 an Army Sgt came in wanting to lock it.. asking "Don't you have a curfew?" LMAO.. just to be on base by 2200.. this is not boot camp for me! Anyhow, he locked the bldg up. It was minor.. but frustrating. Then today, we start our day in the classroom at 0600. Breakfast in the class. We did one lesson on Cultural Awareness.. which was actually quite informative and very good.. I did learn alot from it. But of course you have people (especially in a classroom with 94 people)that want to NUKE things out and OMG beat a dead horse.. so that can get frustrating. Anyhow, after that class we were all bussed to the other side of the base for a long day of death by power point. Well, here is the problem, the information put out was valuable. Every NKO (Navy Knowledge Online) course we are required to complete before coming, we have individual briefs for, to ensure we understand. This is good. BUT we were in the Marine Corps Reserve Center Auditorium (both companies - about 200 people) in steel chairs, all weapons and NO Air. NOW, if you want people to be engaged in the briefs and listen intently, you need to have a different setting. Every bit of the information was invaluable to us. Things such as Law of War, Recovery, Prisoner of War, How to evade, escape, etc.. All of this information - GREAT information - BUT - the crowd was soo HOT and miserable, that it was hard to concentrate let alone stay awake. I feel alot of people missed out on some good information that could potentially save their life, becuase the teaching environment sucked! It is what it is - but I will tell you we learned some things that I will remember forever, because it was that powerful. The first thing the LtCol told us, was that should we ever be captured to remember ONE THING ALWAYS - They will always come for us. They will find us. No matter how long it takes, they will find us. I do have to say this made me tear up a bit. The reality that of the 200 people in this room with me, surely not all will come home. I hope they do, but statistics and reality prove that some will not make it back. It was a little eye opening and very emotional to hear the words "We will come and get you. We are looking for you. Do not lose the faith in your country." Yes, I know, maybe a little cheasy to say out loud, but these are my thoughts and it hit home. It was a good reminder that whether you are an E1 or an O9 - you are important to the military and they will come for you. There was alot of other survival information put out, do's and don'ts and things of that nature that you probably watch on Survivorman.. useful. Very useful. but, again, the setting was not conducive to learning and its a little disheartening that some missed out on that information they needed. Anyhow, we suffered through those briefs until 1230 - where again we were given the bag lunch outside. At this point, a marine finally turned the a/c on for us. OMGosh! What a difference. Following the 15 minutes we had to eat, started out next brief. This guy - another LtCol/JAG officer gave us a brief on Laws of War. What we can and can't do, some engagement information and lewding. No lewding allowed. No pics to be taken in Sadaam's throne. No placing prisoners in awkward positions and taking pics, etc. He was amusing and could have been a stand up comedian for us. It was good. It kept us all engaged! After that brief was yet another by the Chaplain. It was a little solemn, but reminded everyone to keep their faith and call upon GOD every time, whenever they needed him and he will always be there. He reminded us that he is always on our side, and will never leave nor forsake you. This, again, was a moment for me. An inspiring, religious moment that gave me some comfort in what is to come.

FINALLY - death by power point was over...we thought. We were bussed back to our class, in a bus with no AC and by this time we were all tired, hot and getting grumpy. Plus the fact it was already 1530. We get back to the class and have one more brief on communications. It was okay, but they had us learn on equipment that is outdated, that we will never use in the field. If we need to learn how to operate a handheld communication device - just in case - it ought to be one that is in the field - so we actually know how to use it. That was frustrating.

Finally, end of day rolls around.. and we are released. It was about 1700 today.

Chow was at 1800 but some of us, including my battle buddy, were just too exhausted to really eat. We did go over there, clear our weapons, get our food, but I dont think either of us ate much.. her especially. She looked a little pale. I think the heat and humidity is starting to wear on some of us. It didn't help knowing that we have to show up at 0550 tomorrow for some more Army PT.. with our weapons on us..Just what we want to hear at the end of the day! Eergh!

Anyhow, we came back from chow, I sat on the phone with the kids and my mom for about an hour total and came in here to get ready for my first watch.. which really meant, just ensure I was in my PT gear. :)

So - today was a rather long day. What makes it longer - is that no matter where we go, we now need an extra 10 minutes because we have to clear all weapons before entering a bldg or bus, and in my company is 96 people - most of us with 2 weapons each.. its good practice.. I can clear my 9MM in about 3 seconds and my M4 in about 20 seconds.. I am definitely getting more comfortable with it - and am sure will be more so by end of next week and all the shooting we will be doing Fri, Sat and all of next week.

So - on a different note - I am glad this open bay barracks is only for 3 weeks. I don't know what I would do - if I had to live with 27 girls of all ranks (E3-O3) for 6 months... It is like junior high all over again. People whispering here.. bitching there.. and its hard not to step in sometimes, but most - I am learning to just walk away! The other things - there are clearly several girls that are NOT within standards. How they got here is beyond me, but quite honestly it is sad for whomever they will be with - I am not in the best of shape and will need to work on my running again (P90x was my program! LOL) but - I only hope they are not a hinderence to their shipmates when they get where they are going.

Okay, I think I have vented enough. Sorry for the mispellings.. time to turnover my watch..

More to follow...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tuesday May 11, 2010

Today was weapons issue. I am posting pics with this one.. woohoo..
We started off the morning at about 0430 (half the girls are in a different company and have to get up earlier than us...) (I got to sleep til 5. :) We headed to the grinder for out Physical Assessment today - which just consisted of a few Army streches and warm ups... then a 1 mile run. Mine was slow this morning... 10:02. Yeah.. I know I know.. but, I passed so its all good. Following that my 1st battle buddy (I have 2: Kahja ( I met her in San Diego at NMPS & Michelle - we met here and are in the same company, platoon, & squad.. so we do everything together basically) - well Kahja fell out after the run due to shin splints and I had to go with her to medical. Then I caught up with the platoon to march to breakfast. We went straight from PT to the chow hall.. (YUCK!!) I hope to never do that again.. Anyhow, after breakfast we had 1/2 hour to shower and be in he classroom. We went directly to weapons issue and I received an M4 and 9MM. Most people got the M16 and 9MM.. I was lucky. The M4 is a little shorter butt and makes it easier for me to shoot. Last time I tried to shoot the M16 - they had to switch me becuase my arms just weren't long enough!! LOL
Anyhow, so now I have an M4 and 9MM to keep with me 24/7. Today we learned how to take the M16's/M4s apart completely to clean them.. it was pretty neat and it seemed pretty easy. Michelle and I both are going to practice tonight.. just becuase. Okay.. and well.. its like putting legos together.. lol - we enjoyed it! :)
After that we spent most of the day in the classroom (even had out bag lunch sent to us.. becuase they wanted us to remain in the classroom for hours of safety training - they call that type of lunch "Bag Nasty" LOL - ARMY term.. not It wasnt bad tho.. a form of a sub sandwhich with cheetos and M&Ms. :)
I did spend most of the morning after breakfast with a headache. I can only assume I was probably a little dehydrated. I was drinking plenty of water.. but it is
humid and hot here, so I assume I wasn't drinking enough. We were all issued cool ACU camel backs yesterday - and I emptied mine today, but it wasn't enough. So.. lesson learned for me. I need more water and definitely more electrolytes.
Anyhow, we were actually done with training early (about 1600 or so) and will start out weapons watch tonight at 2100. Basically that means we will have to be on "watch" for an hour and count all M16/M4/9MM hanging on the ends of the racks throughout the night for weapons accountability. BUT the cool thing is- the ARMY doesn't care about uniforms.. we can be in PT gear for this watch. So when it is my time, I can bet I will do my (1 round required to count) and then be able to be online - the only requirement for the watch is - 1 round per watch to count weapons and stay awake. :) NOT LIKE A SHIPBOARD WATCH!! But I am not complaining!! :) I am very happy that we can be in PT gear - it will make life easier since we mostly sleep in out PT gear anyhow (its cold in our open berthing at night).
So - I got out of training, called and talked to my "mommy" for a while and will call and talk to the kids after their "homework" time. I talk to them atleast twice a day. They seem to be doing okay and it gets easier each day. I had to ensure Tylor that I am doing okay over here.. as he assures me "I am doing okay down here" Its very cute! I give reminders to Travis to stop resisting - and life will be much easier. He sometimes believes (okay.. almost always) that he doesn't need their supervision.. but I explain that is EXACTLY why he needs them. I know he is angry over alot of things, but remind him to let it go. Be a good boy and life will be simple and fun. As far as Katrina - she is trying to be the strong one for the boys. Trying to console the boys and putting her sadness aside for them. I have to remind her that she can grieve too.. Its okay. Not to hold it in, but to remember that it gets easier in time and the busier she stays! Speaking of busy, she is in cheerleading workshops this week - and will be trying out for JV or Varsity Cheer on Friday. Good luck to my baby!! :) She has a lot going on getting ready for the pageant and possibly cheer - but it will keep her busy and social and will help her pass the time with me away! :)
As for me, I am laying on my rack typing this up. The barracks is pretty empty right now, the other company is still in training so its pretty quiet. We have chow from 1830-1900 tonight, so I think everyone is just waiting around for that. The funny thing is, this will be the first for us all.. since we have to have both of our weapons on us - even at chow. Should be intersting. As far as after - Hopefully I will be able to watch American Idol.. in the lounge next door and then hit my rack for a good nights sleep. Even without a lot of busy work today, its tiring. But atleast I am not near as tired today as yesterday. For tomorrow.. we mainly have death by power point over on the other side of base at the Reserve Center.. that oughta be fun. So, I will sign off for now, add some pics to this and write again later. More to follow.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday 10 May 2010

Today was the first day of training with the Army Drill Sargeants. It was not as bad as I expected – and we were told they had instructor “hats”on vice “Drill Sargeant” hats on.. which is good considering we have about 3 CAPTs, 5 LCDRS and about 35 LTs. Unbelieveable how many LTs we have here.. most of our female berthing is LTs. Very few junior enlisted and 3 chiefs. Anyhow, we started at 0600 this morning on the grinder. We were talked to by the Army OIC of the base and then sent to our “C” Company Classroom. (I’m Charlie Company, Platoon 3).. Anyhow, we listened to about 6 Drill Sargeants give us their gouge on the training and actually, they all seemed pretty down to earth. From there we left on buses to go to the main base for gear issue. As the hours wore on, so did the heat, and the lines (as there are about 200 of us going through the training). We got all our Kevlar gear, our winter uniforms and a bunch of other misc items such as an Alice Pak.. OMG.. we had to stuff our Kevlar helmets and vests in the pak and carry it.. I would have rather had on the gear.. atleast the weight is distributed evenly.. lol about 40 pounds of steel in the jackets, padding and bullet proof materials. It will be hot as hell in them, tho.. especially in 130 degree temps of summer Afghanistan! Anyhow, we spent most of the day getting issued the gear before heading back to the training camp. So it was a long day of lines, sun and inventorying everything we got, stuffing some in to sea bags and other stuff in our Alice Packs. Woohoo… After we got back we mustered on the grinder for a little preview of tomorrows PT schedule and the fitness test tomorrow. It’s a bunch of different warm ups and then a mile run. Not too big of a deal. We finished about 5pm tonight and had to wait until 6 for the galley to open for us. Needless to say most of us are tired and hungry. Chow here is not soo bad.. compared to Navy ship cooking, its good. We are not lacking for anything, that’s for sure! Now, I am laying in my rack, listening to some girls talk on their phones to their friends, family, and others just chilling out or already sleeping. I have a feeling the long days in the sun will be extremely tiring from this point on. Tomorrow is weapons issue. I still don’t know what weapon I will be issued, but I am betting is a 9mm. We will see. Either way we will be shooting the 9mm and M16. From tomorrow on, the Drill Sargeants informed us our weapons will be our battle buddys… 24/7. Everywhere we go, our weapon will be with us. Train like we fight. We were already warned that Saturday is our first gun shoot and will be the longest Saturday of our lives in full gear shooting for quals in 95 degree temps. Can’t tell you how excited I am for that. We also have some Convoy training – where we will be rolled – and taught how to exit and defend ourselves as necessary – as well as the dessert time where we will be dropped off and have to find our way back through the woods via our map and compass only. I am – seriously – looking forward to those.. I guess this training is the training we were supposed to get in Kuwait – but.. they are doing it here now, which should shorten the time I spend in Kuwait. We shall see. : ) Anyhow, that is enough for tonight. I am tired and need to get some other stuff done before I sleep. My body hurts, and its only just began…  where we will be as the dessert time where we will be dropped off and have to find our way back through the woods via our map and compass only. I am – seriously – looking forward to those.. I guess this training is the training we were supposed to get in Kuwait – but.. they are doing it here now, which should shorten the time I spend in Kuwait. We shall see. : ) Anyhow, that is enough for tonight. I am tired and need to get some other stuff done before I sleep. My body hurts, and its only just began…
More tomorrow...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ft Jackson, SC Day 1 & 2

Day 1

So I said my goodbyes yesterday to my family at about 0700. Technically, this is day 6 for me, because I have spent 5 days with NMPS in San Diego – but I was one of the lucky few that lived locally, and got to go home every night. NMPS Monday and Tuesday were the worst- a lot of briefs and long days – after that, it was easy, early days, so early that I was able to spend the morning with Chris Thursday – then the afternoon Friday with my parents. It was nice. Today, however, was D Day. The kids didn’t know that I was leaving Saturday until about 10 pm Friday night. That made for a very somber night. This morning, Chris showed up at about 6 am. This morning was the hardest morning. My mom finally broke down, my kids all broke down and I saw my dad cry for the first time in years. It was heart wrenching to feel this way. It hurt to hold them, and not know if this were going to be the last time I hold them, or see them. Not that I am completely worried about not coming home, but it would be na├»ve of me to believe that it couldn’t happen to me. As much as I promise my family I will come home alive and sane, I surely hope that it is a promise I can keep. I have heard some horror stories and quite honestly it has me a little scared… but, not overly scared. Enough to be cautious and realistic about the war zone I am about to enter. I have seen convoy videos, I have heard of snipers, and definitely seen the traps that were set to ambush the military. I have been in for 17 years and this will be the first time I have seen a war zone. I do feel like this is my duty. It is my turn. I am ready, a bit nervous as anyone would be.. but.. ready for the challenge. Chris drove me to 32nd street where we said our goodbyes and then about 30 minutes later we were bused to the airfield where we sat until about 1230. We loaded up the C9 (about 2 hrs later than planned) and took off at 1 headed for Ft Jackson. Shortly into the flight, the airman announced we would be stopping in Ft Worth due to mechanical problems. We were able to find out that it was auto pilot that was not working.. but within about an hour or so, I guess they were able to fix it and we were headed towards Columbia SC, again. We arrived about 9 local time. The weather was GREAT. Not a lot of humidity, just enough of a breeze.. perfect temp. Once unloaded from the plane we all (57 of us) loaded up into two busses and headed towards the army camp where we are trained for roughly 3 weeks. Once arriving (about 45 minutes later) here we were given out accommodations, sheets, a meal and told to go drink at the little club a few doors down – because for most of us, it would be our last opportunity until we arrive home from our IA. So after unpacking most of my stuff, I did just that. Went and sat with some of the enlisted folks and had a couple glasses of wine and came back here to my bunk at about 1 am. Now, its time for bed… and I get to sleep in.. nothing to do until 1500..

Day 2

Woke up this morning about 830… which was about 530 (according to my internal clock)… but.. it didn’t help that I am in berthing with about 60 women.. open bay.. so every time someone comes in, gets stuff out of their lockers or uses the head (Navy term for bathroom) – it makes lots of noise. Anyhow, I was fortunate enough to not have to wake up at 5 am local time.. because I am sure my internal clock would have been screaming at me.. “Hey.. its only 2 am .. what the hell are you doin??” lol Anyhow, got up, took a shower and waited around (cleaning out my locker/rack) for lunch. Lunch was actually pretty good.. I can’t complain. What I had would equate to a sub sandwich at subway. After lunch most of us just kinda tooled around, exploring the minimart and waiting for the brief at 1500. The brief took about 2 hours. It was simply telling us what the big picture schedule was going to be like and then we were all released. A few of us took the bus out to the big AAFES (exchange) to get a few misc items and then came back. I have talked to the kids several times today, but it’s definitely hard. Katrina is taking it pretty hard, as I figured she would. I only wish she knew and understood that in time, it will get easier and she will get in a routine. It doesn’t mean she won’t miss me.. but we will all get in our routines and life will flow. I am pretty lucky – we have wifi in our berthing, so I can get online and talk to the kids via FB/email/texting etc. So – I do. I try to talk to them as much as possible to comfort them. Poor Tylor is having a rough time too and everytime I call – is very concerned with how I am doing and holding up over here. It is very sweet! Travis is having a hard time, as well.. but trying to be a tough guy..but its apparent when I talk to him, and the tone of his voice, that this is hard on him too. In some small way, I truly hope he, most of all, learns to appreciate me when I am there… as he realizes what life is like when I am not. He did tell me today it was hard because they wanted to crawl in bed with me last night, but I wasn’t there. Its heartbreaking to hear the pain in their voice, but I know in time it will lessen as they resume normal life. Katrina had her first training session for the pageant yesterday. Apparently it went quite well and was a good way to keep the whole family occupied for a few hours in downtown San Diego. I hope they stay quite busy – to help them pass the time.
As for me, I am doing okay. I am trying to separate the emotional side.. the hurt from missing them, and my parents – in order to do what I need to do with a positive attitude. I miss them. It was nice having my mom at home for a couple weeks and I find myself homesick for her- which is crazy since its been almost 20 years since I have lived with her!  But its good. I know she is hurting, scared and trying to stay busy. And no amount of words can comfort her or give her the confidence that her baby girl will be alright in the war zone I am about to enter – but I guess if it were me.. and my daughter, I would feel the same. I am anxious to get started.. to get there, get settled and start the journey. This will be an amazing experience I am sure, and one that I will remember and be proud of for the rest of my life. I will say that this experience, even just this far, has made me realize that when I do get to my 20 years (in 3 years) I will retire. I will retire my family from the constant pain of losing their mom. I will complete my journey with the Navy, and move on to my next career – in law. I am happy and excited about this decision and know in my heart that it is the right thing to do. Anyhow, now I am just rambling. Its 2130 and almost time for lights out (2200) so I will sign off for now. More tomorrow…