Friday, December 4, 2009

3 am and no customer service

So here I sit at the Oklahoma City Airport waiting for the United Airlines rep to show for work so I can try and change to a earlier flight, no such luck. The kiosk's don't start to operate until 4:30.

Why am I in the OKC airport? well I graduated from my Army boot camp school on Wednesday and after a litany of comedic errors I am now just leaving on Friday morning, EARLY! and no one is around to change my flight and lesson my agony of no sleep for the last 24 hrs. Again I have to say that 208 older men and women that are prior service made it through the "class" and are now officially American Soldiers. Let me tell you the next time I have a mid-life crisis I think I'll just go and buy the red sports car and just dye my hair.
I am 44 with 17 years of Naval service and I thought "hey! why not do the extra 3 years in the reserves and get some retirement out of the deal." I will tell you all some thing, I am not 20 anymore and those 4 in the morning 3 mile runs blow donkey dick when your at the back of formation sucking wind trying to keep up with the young bucks and a drill Sargent is gnawing at your ass to catch up. I did not have a good time and I wouldn't do it again. I did learn a few things, but mostly it is a young mans game I am playing in and I should stick to remodeling my house. The first two pics are a before and nearly after shots. I shed 20 + pounds and moved allot of fat around my abdomen.

A shot of me just waiting around, we did allot of that. Not really being sad, just bored.

This was actually one of the more fun days, we were waiting to patrol a "town" looking for a downed pilot. (this is all training not real life, the Army does employ Iraqi expats to role play for us) and gather intel. What happened and really surprised the Drill Sargent's and instructors was the planning we put into our operation and totally turned what had been a miserable experience for the previous 3 platoons, and a mission accomplish for us. Here is the scenario:
Picture a small town with buildings etc. We were suppose to patrol and gather intel to look for a downed pilot, ala Behind Enemy Lines the movie scenario. Previously the other platoons just wandered en mase down the road pissed the locals off and got into a fire fight, most got killed in a cross fire and that was the end of the scenario for them.
Not 4th platoon, we split up send one squad around to the right the other around the left and a small and heavily armed fire team up the middle to do the meet and great the locals. The instructors said we did a classic Shaka Zulu maneuver with sucking the bad guys into the middle and enveloping them from the sides and behind, a set water buffalo horns as minds eye picture. We got the pilot and only "lost" a few men. Mission accomplished! That was one of the fun days, after that we did a 5 mile march back to the barracks with 50 lbs on our backs. Fun!
The below pictures are of everyone marching back to the barracks, really what a sight! 208 men and women stretched over 2 kilometers "rucking" down the road. Pretty awesome sight.
Some of the gear we had to wear all the time. About 50 lbs worth. Inside the "flak vest" or IBA are two SAPI plates, ceramic plates that protect your chest and back. Very inflexible pieces of gear, and they create a person to sit differently, lay prone differently, shoot your weapon differently, and use the latrine differently. Those bad boys will stop a 7.62 round from tearing your body up if you were ever shot, but a major pain to wear until someone does take a crack at shooting you. Glad we have them, but suck to wear daily. Add your canteens, ammo, helmet (ACH), M16-A2 and you can have a real weight loss party hauling that shit around! Who needs Jazzercise? What I found most helpfull in the attitude area was doing pushups with all that gear on! I was able to do more pushups by the end of the course, but it didn't help with my attitude!
That is what helped with the weight loss, that and really crappy food. I am not kidding, I have eaten in many 3rd world countries and the food was better than they gave us sometimes. My favorite? oh well that has to be the "we ran out of food for you guys and here is baked beans and hamburger meat mixed in for texture shit dinner"
bon appetite!!!
What you do when you drink alot of water and stand around all day? Hang out at Big Bobs porta potties and? wait to use a stinky toilet!

Waiting to be searched for brass and ammo. Every time you go to the range the Army wants to make sure you don't bring ammo and spent brass casings back to the barracks, so you have to be searched!

Liberty Village waiting to be cleared of insurgents. We got our buts kicked on that exercise.

The big guns! fun to shoot! but really suck to clean, and I mean suck! This bad boy will throw more lead down range than any nail gun you can buy at Home Depot!

Don't get me wrong there were and are some very motivated people willing to serve their country at a moments notice and are very good Soldiers. Out of the 208 men and women in my class about 1 % were held back for various reasons. Mostly medical. Everyone else finished what needed to be done and moved onto more training or back to our civilian jobs until needed. The oldest was 53 and the youngest was 20. SO you can see there was quite a cross section of expirence. Most guys had already been to Iraq or Afghanistan at least once in thier lives and want to do more by serving more. All of us are prior service (Army, Navy, Air Force) and wanted to go active duty Army, the other half of us are Reserves and National Guard. This course is a mini boot camp the Army has for all returning prior service personel that want to be in the Army, Army Reserves or Guard. A boot camp with cell phones is what I call it. We had a bit more free time than the young kids in regular boot camp and got to use our phones more, but not by much.
I remember standing there watching these young guys march by and thinking they are so young, anyone could be my kid. The world by the balls and nothing that they didn't know or anyone could tell them! Come on you remember how it was! not an once of fatality, we are going to live forever! Back to me standing there; my knees hurt, my back hurts, I have a headache, and the food sucks here! Hey anyone have Icy/Hot that I can use? Motrin? how about an aspirin that has been in your pocket for a couple of days? no? A tear forms in my eye, I wanna go home and cuss at the kitchen ceiling instead of getting up a 4 am! I want my mommy!
Sucks to be old!!
Im proud to serve and will continue to do so if called. I am also proud to be an American Soldier and have the oppourtunity to continue to do my best and defend our country.
Thanks to everyone that has supported me the past 6 weeks and I am glad to be home!