Monday, January 31, 2005

Happy Birthday to Me!!!

I get so sick of being up before the sun comes up, even though it is an every day thing. As I have said before we have been working on getting equipment out of here and we had to be up at like 3 am to further facilitate those efforts.

After spending the majority of our day away from our new private home we were finally returning "home" at around 2:30 pm and as usual I was one of the last ones to get back. As I was walking up to our door a Navy Chief Petty Officer came walking out of our bay with the all too familiar form that assigns you to quarters in his hand. Yup he had eleven new guys that were being assigned to our bay. I told him our situation with needing a bay that we could secure for our upcoming missions, and he was very understanding. I went up to housing to plead my case and had very little success. Apparently there have been too many soldiers coming in lately to furnish us with our own bay. I think this is gonna be a trend so we are leaning towards accepting our little storage areas to live in instead of keeping the bay. We didn't even get to enjoy our privacy for two full days. Oh well.

Of course all this just had to happen on my birthday. Yes that's right I'm another year older. I hit the big three ohh. I sure feel older than that though. I don't put much stock in birthdays so it wasn't really a big deal not being home for it, but I would still have liked to have been home just to be home, you know? I managed to pull the right strings to get my guys the rest of the week off though, since we have been working so hard and such long hours. That almost makes everything else worth it. It really lifted spirits when I told them they didn't have to be at work until next Saturday.

Got to play in my company's team football game for my birthday, and that is always a treat to. I am a football fanatic, and I'm pretty good to even if I do say so myself. My performance last night in our 22 to 6 victory should be sufficient evidence to support that. Three catches, two interceptions and five tackles. Yeah this old man even plays both ways! I've been downgraded to a tight end from wide receiver as I have gotten fatter and slower with age, but the hands are still there baby, and I make one mean middle line backer since I am really good at reading alignments and routes.

Any way I am going to go enjoy some well deserved time off (while it lasts) and maybe take a nap.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Promotions and Moving

Today has been a very busy but good day. It started off great promoting a motivated young soldier who has a lot of potential. We are still carrying over the high we got from moving yesterday. We did all of our vehicle maintenance so I was able to give most of the guys the majority of the day off.

PV2 "B" is a self motivated young soldier. Many who come straight out of AIT are. Too many fall by the way side however by meeting other soldiers that have fallen by the way side long ago and became lazy, unmotivated, unproductive soldiers. "B" truly deserved his promotion to Private First Class today. His team chief is a fast trackin' NCO that has a lot of self motivation himself so "B" has a good opportunity to learn from a good example and stay on the right track.

We moved from one open bay to another yesterday, but this one is ours! We each got to move the beds and wall lockers around to make our own private little spaces. We also get to lock the door when we leave for work so we don't have to worry about our stuff while we are gone, and oh yes that is a real concern with all of the turn over of units. Stuff can disappear in an instant. We are all still in basically one big room together but the wall lockers make pretty good partitions and it almost feels like we have our own rooms. Some of our "rooms" turned out so nice in fact that the guys are beginning to ask if we have to move into the little storage compartments, and in fact I would like to stay in the bay as well because it is easier to disseminate information to a group that all lives in the same place.

Last but not least I have to write about one of my favorite guys. PV2 Mangina has been bothering me to write about him ever since he found out I was writing a BLOG, so here you go buddy. He is such a funny guy, he keeps us all laughing and I'm sure he will find his way in here several times before the end of the deployment for legitimate reasons, but at least now he might leave me alone about it for a while.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

"No Secondary Load on the Wash Rack!"

Washing trucks to send them back to the rear is generally a pretty simple operation. You request a wash rack. You wash the trucks. You have customs inspect them for cleanliness and you send them back. Not any more.

It's nothing new for unimportant, weak people to get a little bit of responsibility and turn their little piece of the pie into the most pain in the butt operation imaginable. That's what has happened here. It is nothing new for the Army to ship equipment in the back of trucks to it's final destination. We have been doing it that way for years, and frankly it is the only way for many units to ship it's peripheral equipment. Well apparently the staff sergeant in charge of the wash rack where I am has single handedly changed that for the entire Army. Pretty impressive if you ask me.

There is no secondary load allowed on "his" wash rack...At all. So if you need to ship equipment somewhere in your vehicle you are just plain out of luck. Well I am not the kind of person to tolerate stupidity or to kiss any one's butt. I simply never have and I'm sure not going to start with a staff sergeant who doesn't even out rank me.

Here's the whole story. It all started when we rolled all of our trucks on to the wash rack to begin cleaning them to send them back. The customs inspectors had told us that we had to have all secondary loads on the trucks when they inspected them before they left the wash rack. When I asked them how we were supposed to do that when we had to wash the trucks I was told that we would have to download the load, wash the trucks and reload them. Ok, execute. Everything was going just fine. We had all of our loads downloaded and were in the process of washing the trucks when the staff sergeant of the army walked past me on his cell phone and pointed to our stuff that was stacked neatly out of anyone's way and said " get that s*&t off of "my" wash rack right now." He then proceeded to walk on by ignoring me as if his job was done. Not wise.

Being as bull headed as I am I disregarded the order of this man who doesn't out rank me. He at least owed me the courtesy of explaining his stupid request. He did not. We continued as if he had said nothing to me at all. About fifteen minutes or so later he walked back by and pointed to my stuff and asked me why it was not yet off of "his" wash rack. When I began to try to explain to him what the customs inspectors had instructed us to do he interrupted me and began as if he was a two year old to shake his head and repeat "no secondary load on "my" wash rack". After about, literally 30 seconds of this my patience was gone. Not that I have that much to spare. "Are you gonna shut up and let me talk sarge, or are you gonna continue to act like a child?" Needless to say he wasn't pleased with my reference to his maturity level and even more needlessly to say I didn't care.

Now he decided to bypass me and went straight up to one of my specialists standing close by and ordered him to get the stuff off of "his" wash rack. Now I am seeing pure red. Who does this idiot think he is? I immediately ordered Spc. Smiley to "stand fast" meaning don't even think about executing this idiot's order. The staff sergeant of the Army then spun on me as if he wanted to fight saying "if you don't get this stuff off of my wash rack I am going to have your whole operation removed from "my" wash rack right now." I proceeded to tell him that was fine then he could tell the Brigadier General who ordered the return of this equipment why it didn't get on the plane.

He stepped back and called his boss on his cell phone. I took the opportunity to call mine as well since it appeared I was going to need back up on this. When his boss showed up and mine showed up they managed to come to a legitimate compromise which was all I wanted to do, and our stuff got washed and inspected and we went on our merry way. All this idiot needed to do was talk to me instead of acting like a little brat and we would have never had to get anyone else involved. I hope I never become so unreasonable with anyone about anything.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Mixed Feelings

Joyce and Reid will be returning home soon. They have been at her mom's since shortly after I left. Every time I have been deployed she has gone home to her mom's and while I have very little problem with her going home to mamma so to speak, every time she does there is controversy of some sort. Joyce and her mom always, it never fails, begin to get on each other's nerves and butt heads. I guess that is normal for an adult child returning to the nest. It's hard to accept your mother's incite and rules when you have been living on your own for any given amount of time. As well it is hard to accept the fact that your child is now an adult and just might be equipped to make decisions for themselves. In fact often times that person takes offense to the other's "suggestions".

I have a hard time hearing about the arguments and the bickering, especially when it has to do with how my wife and I have decided to raise our son. Frankly it's our decision and if you disagree with us.... Well um, tough. I don't care. We'll get over it. It's still going to go our way. Get it? On the other hand now Joyce is going to be back home a thousand miles away from both of our families and I am going to worry about her. My company doesn't have the best record for support of it's deployed soldier's families. Joyce has a hard time being alone and I don't blame her. Also, because I have been gone so much and with the high rate of change over in the unit she does not have many friends back there. We have been trying to get Reid involved in a play group with some of the other soldier's kids so that will help and there are a few people back there that we have begun to build couple type relationships with, but when half of one of the couples isn't there often times those relationships are well, broken.

When Joyce was working things weren't as tough. She had friends there and had something to do during the day, but Reid makes that rough to. Might just have to bite the bullet and put him in day care. I'm for it even if it only works out that Joyce working just pays for the day care. At least she gets out of the house and interacts with other adults. We just want to be sure he doesn't get some "bent" provider that damages our most valuable possession. Why does it have to be so hard to care for the people we love the most? I wouldn't change anything about either of them, I'd just like to see them more, be there to kiss Reid's owies and go to sleep with Joyce in my arms every night.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Inflated Self Worth

A couple of days ago as I was walking back to my sleep area from work, the same path I always take and I was stopped by the camp Command Sergeant Major.

"Hey Sarge, You didn't see the sign?"

The sign he was referring to says something along the lines of no parking except for the post Command Sergeant Major. I assumed since I wasn't driving anything and certainly wasn't parking there that it didn't have anything to do with me. I guess I was wrong.

"That sign means this is my area. I didn't run barriers and chains all the way out to the street so soldiers could just walk around them and cut through my area."

Of course my only response was "Roger Sergeant Major.", but what I wanted to say was, "Oh so rather than have us take a few steps through your little private dirt yard we should walk out in the street to observe your space?" Fricken ridiculous. Any way as I walked to work this morning I noticed a few soldiers quite a ways in front of me walking through his little dirt patch again and suddenly they all got off and walked out in the street. As I got closer I saw that this pompous man has the front door to his quarters opened and is sitting in his doorway so he can harass the soldiers who walk through his territory. How pathetic do you have to be to take joy in picking on soldiers who are thousands of miles away from their homes and families fighting a war, just because you have the rank to get away with it?

We still haven't moved out of the open bay we are living in. I have been number nine on the waiting list for two weeks and am beginning to believe they are lying about the waiting list at all, because I have two soldiers already in the permanent quarters who are telling me people have been moving in and out all through out that time span. If people are moving in and out I should be moving up on the list. There is something constructive that CSM could be spending his time on. Fix the quarters problem instead of picking on troops.

I haven't written in a while because I have been really sick. The "Kuwaiti Crud" has really hit me hard this time. Yesterday I went to sick call and they told me I have a cold. Strange considering I have never had a cold that came with a 100 degree fever before, but what do I know? Anyway, they put me on Claratin, some antibiotic, a cough suppressant and an inhaler. Sound crazy to you to? Good I'm not the only one.

Hopefully I can get out of the open bay soon so I can get away from all the other sicklies. We'll see.

Thursday, January 13, 2005


Well it seems the Army is trying to stop my writing! Just kidding of course. They have how ever made it more difficult for me to do so. I have had to enlist my wife to help me get my words on the web. It seems that the camp that I am located on has blocked everything other than ".mil" web addresses. This could be for a number of reasons. Most likely it is because of some knuckleheads who have found a way around the system and have been abusing resources. Oh well it’s just a minor inconvenience I guess.
It is a major morale diminisher for the troops however. They now do not have access to Yahoo mail,, or anything else on the web that is interesting in the least bit to browse, not that I think you need anything more than anyway, but that’s only because my fantasy football season is over.
Hopefully they will come to their senses soon and start letting people back on the web. I was talking to a friend who is out here and I guess this is a regular ploy it will last a little while and then be back to the way it was a few days ago. We’ll see.
I should be getting close to moving into my own room! Just think no one sleeping above me, no listening to Moe snore one bunk over, no smell of fifty guys crowded into one area for an extended period of time. It almost makes me feel bad that I am the first one on our list to get a room… I did say almost. It will be a pain in the butt getting information to them though. I guess that’s just a sacrifice I’ll have to make for some privacy (sniffles).

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Show Off!

That's right tomorrow night I get to show off. As most of my friends and many of you know, I was a vocal performance major in college before I joined the Army. Well tomorrow night is Karaoke night at the camp recreation spot, and I'll be there! A couple of nights ago they had open mic night and my guys kept trying to convince me to go and play my guitar and sing, but all I can play on the guitar so far is "Mary had a little lamb" and "Row, row, row your boat", and I sure wasn't gonna get up there and do that.

Some of my friends think I am too cocky and confident when it comes to singing. What they don't understand is it takes a kind of bravado and confidence to get up in front of people and expose yourself to their criticism. I have just become comfortable in that spotlight and have grown to enjoy it.

Work is about to get really busy for me and my guys so it will be nice to get up there and relax a bit and have some fun with my guys. I tend to be a personable guy and usually get along well with my soldiers, but lately I have been a little grumpy with them due to the amount crap I am having to deal with that they don't see, and all of the stupid crap they have been doing. It will just be a good opportunity to get up there and let the guys see that the "ole sarge" is just another one of the guys, for the most part.

Man that "ole" really hit home just then. I'm about to turn 30 this month and while I know that's not old, I am at least 4 years older than all of my guys and one of the NCOs that works for me is only 20. Kinda puts things in perspective.

Friday, January 07, 2005

What Weekend?

The company I am attached to has Thursday and Friday off because those are the local weekend days, however I am quickly beginning to realize that because these people don't have anyone here to go home to, or worse yet a real home to go home to they work all week. I'm not digging it. I get at least twenty calls a day of Thursday and Friday. I don't even get that many on the normal work days! I LIKE MY DAYS OFF!!! I have been putting in like 16 hour days every since my equipment got here any way. I need and want my time.

Thursday I woke up to Revel's Ballero... That's my ring tone. It was my platoon sergeant, and he started out the way you never want to here a conversation start on a day off, "I got bad news man". It was to. Seems the company I am attached to pulled an okay Doke on us. We had to sign for a 5-ton truck from another platoon so we could use it to pick up some of our equipment. That was Wednesday night, the last day of the week..... So I thought. Well now, Thursday morning it seems that exact truck happens to be over due for it's services and they have to be done right now. Since we signed for the truck it's our responsibility to ensure the services are completed, so I have to wake up two of my guys and tell them they have to go to the motor pool and do the services on the truck. Yes it was over due before we signed for it.

That's not the worst of it. Turns out due to the severe mistreatment of the truck one of the tires is ruined and must be replaced. I don't know if any of you have ever changed the tire on a 5-ton, but it's no fun. It has to be torn apart to get it off. Then the new one isn't much easier to put on. After working on that truck from around 0830 to after 1600 and not finishing it the motor pool decided to call it a day. "We'll pick this back up on Saturday" (the equivalent of Monday). IF IT DIDN'T HAVE TO BE FINISHED ON THURSDAY THEN WHY DID I HAVE TO GET MY GUYS UP ON THEIR DAY OFF!!!!!! I am gonna have problems out here. I don't deal well wih stupidity or getting the short end of the stick, and it seems both portions are going to be in abundance out here.

Just to add insult to injury, I was holding an E-7 or Sergeant First Class position as the Tri-Band team chief. That is one of the reasons I chose to go back to this company after working in the S-3 for over a year. The company commander out here has seen fit to give my position (that he doesn't own) to the guy that he made our platoon sergeant. The reason he did that is because on paper our platoon doesn't really exist so he had to create a slot to justify having the platoon sergeant with us. Nothing against him he is a good guy, but he can't do my job, so now I get to do all the work of the E-7 slot I was supposed to be holding but get none of the credit. Looks like it's really gonna be another great trip to the sand box.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Locked and Loaded!!!

It didn't really dawn on me how immature and inexperienced some of these guys were until today. I had to roll my guys out to pick up a few more of my guys that had just come in with some more of our equipment today. In my vehicle I had two specialists and a private first class. I will call them Mal, GeeDub and Moe to observe their privacy. Mal is driving, GeeDub is engrossed in his Pokemon game boy game and Moe is grinding his teeth in anticipation of the trip. I can tell he is a little overly pumped up and I am curious but don't want to push it just yet so I wait.

I guess I should have known well in advance what to expect. I have four soldiers that have never been deployed and probably never been far from home before. Moe is one of them. Before we left he asked me if I thought we would get the chance to kill anyone. My shocked response was something like "Are you frickin' kidding me? I sure pray to God we don't HAVE to kill anyone!" Then he said something about wanting to get at least nine confirmed kills while he was deployed. Anyway I just kinda brushed that exchange off as a young soldier's bravado. It all came running back to me today though.

As Moe continued to squirm in the back seat he began to make me nervous. When I asked him what was bothering him he asked "I was just wondering, if some one runs into our vehicle, can I shoot them?" "WHAT??? Of course not!" That's just what we need Moe putting three rounds in the chest of some elderly local who was driving like the rest of his or her country men drive over here. Then I noticed he had is magazine in the well of his weapon, and though that made me a little more nervous, that was ok, cause if something did happen at least he would have less reaction time. "Well what if I see some one driving along side of us with a weapon?, Can I shoot them?" Wow. "No man! Tell you what, if he is making aggressive gestures at you while he is loading you can aim your weapon at him, and if he aims at you, then and only then can you shoot him." Right about then Mal noticed that Moe's muzzle was pointing right into his kidney. (Mal) "Hey man! You better point that thing somewhere else or I'm gonna beat you with it." (Moe) "It's on safe." (Mal) "So point it somewhere else."

As we got to where we were going we passed an armored vehicle that the local security force had posted and Moe went into action. He grabbed his Kevlar and started freaking out. "Chill out man. He's one of the good guys." Needless to say the trip was interesting, but six hours later we were back safe and sound. Nobody got hurt, but I got a wake up call. I knew I had some noobs to take care of but I didn't plan on having Gung hoe shoot em up commo guys with me. Good training I guess.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Headaches and aspirin

These guys are starting to get to me. Maybe it is the stress of being in charge of so many guys and maybe it is just that they all keep screwing up. My senior Specialist got promoted today, but before that took place he had to miss PT formation, Yah that looked good. It really wasn't his fault as the difference in frequency of the electricity over here makes US clocks lose about five minutes every half hour. For those of you that don't understand how, you'll just have to take my word for it. I don't want to bore anyone with the science of the matter. Any way he missed most of PT, then we were supposed to meet outside one of the buildings at 0830 to shuttle everyone down to the motor pool for the 0900 formation. Only two of my thirteen soldiers (including myself and yes I was one of the two) were on time, and three of the eleven late ones didn't even bother to shave!

Needless to say we all had a long talk after formation. I think they get me now. I am a very relaxed and easy going leader, but we have been here less than two weeks and I am already wearing thin. Things had better improve quickly or they won't be liking me as much very soon. At least now I have two Sergeants to help me out with these knuckle heads, and soon it will be three and four so things should improve. I hope for their sakes.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Bah Humbug!

Yah happy new year....What ever. So many people kept coming up to me last night and telling me that, I was getting to the point I just wanted to crack them in the jaw. I didn't of course but I sure wanted to. I have always just blocked out the fact that it is Christmas or New Years or Valentines Day or my birthday, (all of which I will be missing this year) and the constant reminders are just irritating. I am normally a festive person and love the holidays. They are a very special time of year for me as I look forward to seeing my Grandparents and much of the rest of my family over that time span and I just don't even want to think about it when I am not there.

Man this hurts! Not the holiday thing, I broke my finger playing football the other day and since I am a "home row" typer it is very painful everytime I hit a key with that finger and out of habit I can't stop! I know that I need to go to the doctor for it but have been avoiding it. Not that I am afraid they will hurt me more but because it is my darn ring finger on my left hand, and I have a horrible feeling they are going to want to cut my wedding ring off because of the swelling. It is pretty ugly, big and black and purple. It's straight though which is the other reason I haven't gone. I might just be able to ride this out since they should not have to re-set the bone. I don't want them to cut my ring as I believe with all of my heart that the circle is a beautiful representation of the bond of marriage as it never ends, and if you cut my ring off it would have two ends and that would break my heart, not to mention the fact that the design of my ring would make a perfect repair impossible, so I would be left with a flawed ring or a replacement and frankly I would almost rather lose my finger. Don't worry, I won't let it get that far.

I went to church yesterday for the first time since my return to the box. There were fourteen members there and the sign in sheet had over fifty names on it. I know it is difficult to attend sometimes out here as there is so much work to do and you don't always get the Sabbath off, but fourteen out of fifty? Kind of sad. I hope to be a big contributor here as I was last time, but I guess only time will tell. I still feel ignorant compared to most as I had been inactive soooooo long.

I hope everyone's New Year was a joyous one and safe at that.