Sunday, December 9, 2012

So I'm Going To War Next Week

Well after 15 months in the Army I'm getting ready to go to war. I can honestly say that I have no idea where the time went.

I got out of AIT in March and the first day I was at my unit I left for a training exercise out in the New Mexico desert. When we got back we had a sit-down with our Battalion Sergeant Major and he told us that before we know it we would be in Afghanistan "blasting hajis and pinging motherf-" Well just know he's a man of strong language and ideals. At the time it seemed like a long ways off since we still had 9 months to go, but after 2 more field exercises and countless hours of doing stuff that made me hate the Army, we're finally getting ready to go.

Not a lot has happened recently that is really worth talking about, or would be funny, and unless it's funny I really don't ever think it's worth talking about.

Anyway, I just wrote this so that I could tell people I like them. I never really tell people that I appreciate them. There are a lot of really great people in my life that mad it a whole lot better, I just wish I'd told them more often, not that I plan on dying, because I can totally just tell them later, but that's just something that I've been thinking about lately. People need to talk more, let one another know that they're worth a damn. So if I send you some long passionate message about how much I love you, that's why.

Oh, and Winnie the Pooh is a timeless classic and can describe every emotional latitude that ever existed, so I added that.

All in all I hope that didn't sound sappy, but I really do like people.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Joking Aside

Anyone that knows me, knows that I'm not very good at keeping a serious situation, well, serious. There really isn't anything I can't make a joke out of. One of the Army head shrinks once told me that it is a defense mechanism to prevent me from addressing my problems, he was probably right. So I told him I must be the Berlin Wall of comedy and left.

This is the first time I've ever written anything that wasn't just factual and spoken of lightly, so if it's too somber just let me know, I can always write some complaints about my roommate and the lack of proper restaurants on post. goes.

In the last 14 months I've been in the Army I'd have to say it's done a decent job at teaching me how to survive. I know how to control major bleeding from extremity wounds, react to near ambushes, drive a dozen different vehicles, and plenty of other general tricks of the trade.

The Army has taught me how to survive, at the cost of me forgetting how to live.

Yesterday I came home from my pre-deployment leave. 21 days at home with friends and family completely void of the Army's bullshit. It was the most relaxed I've found myself in over a year. Now I'm back in Fort Bliss. Even as I signed back into the post I was reminded of why everyone hates it here. On top of my leave form someone had left a Post-it note telling me that I was to report for a 24 hour Charge-of-Quarters shift tomorrow. That's how shoddy our unit is. My orders are passed down on Post-it notes.

But that's beside that point. The real reason I thought I'd sit down and take the time to write something of substance is because 30 minutes ago, I was sitting alone in my room, eating Chinese take-out and thinking, "This is the most 'alone' I've ever felt."

Now I'm not one to say that I'm depressed or anything like that. I'm too proud for that and could never admit that I have enough problems to be depressed about them. The poor bastards that fought in the Great Wars, Korea, and Vietnam, those guys had issues. I just feel sorry for myself sometimes I guess.

I really think that this upcoming deployment is the thing that's starting it all up. I'll sit around with the guys and we'll all joke about which of us is going to kill someone first, or who is going to lose a leg, even sometimes guessing which of us is going to die. Then we'll get word that someone from a sister unit on post just lost the fight and the mood becomes quite somber.

I feel like we all walk a fine edge, emotionally at least. A man can't sit around and contemplate the impending possibility of his death all day or he'll go crazy. It can be just as bad for a man to sit around and joke like nothing could ever happen to him and breed a lackadaisical outlook on his mission and get himself or his buddies killed.

Now I'm just rambling. I guess in short I just wanted to say that sometimes the biggest obstacle a man faces is himself and his mind. Yeah, that sounded educated, I'll go with that.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Play Some Catch Up

Alright, I've definitely fallen behind. I haven't written since family day so I'll hit the highlights.

First and foremost of course...Family Day! My dad bused in from Utah and we met up at the PX at about 8 in the morning. We had our manly reunion void of emotion followed by my own little shopping spree. I ended up spending about 300 dollars throughout the course of the day between a company and platoon t shirt, a high speed backpack, a suitcase, a hygiene kit, (fully camouflaged) and food, delicious, delicious, non DFAC food.

At 1300 I had to be back to the company area for graduation practice. We practiced a couple times, and then went on our ways back to meet up with our families. My dad had rented a car and we just sort of wandered around the base eating and shopping. Sounds kind of feminine I know, but a man needs the necessities.

The next day was graduation. As far as I know it went off without a hitch. Afterward we went out to eat at the Waffle House, but nothing looked good so we moved on and ended up at...I can't remember where. Somewhere better though, nicer than Applebee's. Later that night we went and saw The Immortals. We both fell asleep.

After the movie and a visit to the pawn shop where my dad ended up buying a bulletproof vest...(don't know how that worked out, but it was nicer than the one I used in basic that's for sure) we said our goodbyes. An emotional little episode if I've ever had one, but alas I soldiered on...get it?

The next day we shipped. I tried to go to the PX to buy a smaller backpack that I could put my laptop and my other valuables in but it turned into a big episode because one of the females that decided to come was an idiot and was supposed to ship at the same time as we left for the PX, so our senior Drill Sergeant, DS Mendes came to find us. Not good. We all double timed back to the company area because the 1st Sgt "had some questions to ask us." Also not good. Luckily the only question he asked me was if I had permission to go, which I did. He threatened the others with Article 15's but they never came to pass.

Our ship time got bumped up about an hour so we marched over to the collection area...and waited, for close to two hours. Finally our bus arrived, with fantastic news. It had power outlets. this 18 hour bus ride wasn't going to be as bad as I thought.

Long story short, we drove. And at the first stop half the bus took off at a full sprint to the smoke shop half a mile a way. They would never be able to run like that again. 30 minutes later once everyone had gotten their nicotine fix and snacks we got back on the road.

The next stop we took was at a Golden Corral in Muskagee, Oklahoma. This was the first time I'd ever really been out in public in my uniform and it felt good. I spent more time shaking hands and talking with vets...and hoping the cheerleading team that was there would end up looking our way, than I did eating food. It was a good feeling. It made the last 10 weeks feel just about worth it.

Bellies full, we got back on the bus for the last leg of our trip. Next stop San Antonio.

We pulled into Golf Company at about 3 in the morning, amazingly reminiscent of the first time I went through all this reception...

It didn't suck as bad this time though. Probably just because it was shorter. The NCOIC there was a jerk, but that was probably just because he screwed something up so they made him a paperpusher, can't really blame the guy for being bitter I guess. All in all processing just consisted of signing a couple papers saying that we weren't going to kill ourselves, and finally intimidating me into telling them that I had another ticket that I had received just before shipping to basic. So I got proof that I paid it and moved on. Oh, and apparently I forgot my ID card somewhere in Missouri, at least that's what I thought. A couple days ago my dad texted me and told me that he had found it in his wallet. I have it now though and that's all that matters.

The first real physical challenge I had in a while came next. We had to carry all of our bags to our new company AO, Alpha company. Doesn't sound so bad, but it sucked. I probably had about 150 pounds of stuff in my three bags that I couldn't really even wear. Just carry.

We got there though, Huerta (2nd Platoon's PG back in Comanche Co) and I were the first ones there. Comanche leads the way. The stragglers (females) finally showed up and we were sorted into our platoons alphabetically, leaving me in the 4th Platoon "Spartans." We did a bag check and made sure everyone had everything that they needed. This one was much less intense than the shark attack one the first day of basic.

The day we arrived was a Sunday which meant no church, but I wasn't too bothered. If it was basic I would have put up a fight because I just liked having a break, but in the 2 days I had been there I could tell that things were going to be a lot different than at Lost in the Woods.

In the 4 days that I've been in A Co I really can't say that I've accomplished a whole lot. I did however find out that since I have a current state EMT-B certification that I can challenge the NREMT test. If I pass that on Sunday then I can fast track to another company that is further along in their training and skip about 8 weeks. Which would be very, very nice.

I just got back from lunch at the METC, basically the DFAC of all DFACs. We had a special Thanksgiving lunch with turkey, stuffing, pie, and to top it off it was served to us by all the officers and senior enlisted in the Battalion. It was a really relaxed meal, definitely not something I was used to. There's still the tinge of loneliness being that this is the first major holiday I haven't spent with family, but it wasn't all bad. I like being alone.

Soo. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Up in the Air

I'm on my way to BCT. Thus far it happened like this.

Yesterday all the recruits that were either shipping out or just going to MEPS checked into the Radisson and had a briefing at 8. Lights out was at 10. Our wake up call was at 4:30 and I've been awake since.

Typically everyone takes a chartered bus to MEPS in the morning but today they lost the bus. The hotel instead called a few cabs and shuttled us there a handful at a time.

Upon arrival to MEPS we all went through the motions of medical screenings and getting travel arrangements. Mine of course went awry. For some reason my name kept getting locked out of the computer system and I would have to wait for 10 minutes each time to try again.

The MEPS was short staffed and everyone was stressed, the one who most easily showed it of course was Scott. A civilian that was of equally bad demeanor the last time I went through MEPS.

Eventually I got on my way with my "travel squad." There are six of us that are all going to the same base and we all travel together.

The only real problem I encountered was when I showed up to the airport and my reservation was under the name "Manuel T Towse." With the wrong birthday to boot.

After making a call to the travel liaison who made a few more calls, the reservation was changed and I was on my way.

On our flight from Salt Lake City to Denver I sat next to a National Guardsmen, who had been in for 42 years.

Once we got to Denver we took out meal checks and went to the nicest place we could find. We were all allowed 23 dollars and all but one of us went over the limit and had to pay the difference. But 3.42 for a full rack of ribs isn't so bad...

Now I'm sitting at the gate waiting for our flight to St. Louis. Upon arrival, as far as I understand we should be getting on a bus to take ua to the reception center at Fort Leonard Wood. It is at the reception center at which we will all get to spend a couple days filling out paperwork and getting shots. 

I don't know if I'll have any time to add a last post but I want all of you to know that I am going to use the restroom aboard this flight and cross that off my bucket list.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Walking it Alone

Lately I've come to realize that no matter what you do, you're going to be alone. I've found this to be especially true since I've joined the military.

I grew up in Utah so you probably know that there are a few Mormons around. I'm one of them. Mormons you see, send their 19 year old young men out on missions to preach the gospel and whatnot. It's supposed to be viewed as an opportunity but I've come to find it as more of an expectation. I'm not of course trying to cheapen the faith and resolve of those who do serve missions I have the utmost respect for those who do since many of them are my closest friends. I'm just adding some substance to my next point.

When I tell someone, particularly a girl, (since I really don't care about and male's opinion about all) I can see them instantly coming to a conclusion about me. It's pretty interesting. It basically boils down to these 5 courses of action.

1. You should be serving a mission.

2. You can't be that smart if you decided to throw away the opportunity to attend college.

3. You're leaving soon so we probably shouldn't date.

4. You're leaving soon and I want to kind of date you, but not call it a relationship since there's no way you'd ever be able to convince me to sustain any type of loyalty to you.

5. I'm a decent human being and I would love to associate myself with you without looking for your smallest mistakes to call you out on so that I don't seem like a jerk that really just wanted to hook up and dump you right before you leave.

5 of course is my personal favorite. Of course it hasn't happened, and probably won't happen in the next 7 and a half days, but it's always nice to think of it as an option.

As for family, I like my dad. That's about it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Getting Nearer

I now have 16 days, 1 hour, and 18 minutes until I report for duty at the Provo Army Recruitment Center. I've been going to the gym and feel like I've been making progress. So hopefully BCT won't be nearly as miserable as it's going to be for most recruits.

In other news another one of my friends, Clayton Dunnivan has also decided to enlist in the Army. I'm a recruiting machine.

I also recently passed my APFT so I will officially be starting my Army career as an E-3, or in other words Private First Class. So I'm pretty excited for that. At this point I kind of wish I had gotten my Eagle Scout Award so I wouldn't have had to do all this extra recruitment stuff.

Now I've got 16 days. 1 hour, and 8 minutes. Time's a wastin'

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tagging Along

Just recently I think my friend Paul Sanchez decided to join the Army Reserves, I say maybe because it's not really in stone. More of a maybe than a hopefully even. The biggest reason he has decided to take this step in his life is for the money he will receive for education, which in this economy is a large factor for a lot of people that are deciding to enlist. My recruiter Sergeant Anderson gave him the packet to fill out and said bring it back ASAP. Hopefully he goes through with it. I feel like he needs the Army just as much as it needs him.