13 August 2014

FREEDOM

From the Soldier's side:  After doing stuff for the CA National Guard and the US Army for over 20 years, I have a theory about trying to give freedom away.

One country can't force another country into freedom. Freedom is a thing that folks have to draw arms to fight for, then once they have it, be fair, honest and not corrupt.

Over the past decades, we've been trying to force down the throats of some folks who didn't ask for it and have no idea what to do with it. If they really want this shit (freedom) then they have to get off their asses and fight for it.

It doesn't appear the folks in Iraq want freedom.

That's all for now.  

22 May 2014

The dog ate my...

Crap.  I haven't posted nothin' in a long time. The dog ate my post,
No really--- I got a new computer with Windows 8. It sucks.  My work days are very long, by the time I get home the life seems to have been sucked out of me.

OK, I'll try to get back to writing.

11 January 2014

What don't kill you makes you stronger....

From the Cop side:  and the Soldier side: In recent months I've been hearing about a lot of OIE/ OEF vets who are Enduring problems with pain or stress from the wars.  The things I learned as a cop helped me in dealing with my own deployments….although the gang I deployed with to Bosnia and Iraq all admit that we were changed by those experiences.  I hope the change made us better and stronger. 
A nice Marine working dog at Camp Gannon, IZ 2005

Some of my cop training taught me that when you are involved in a critical incident, to talk about it afterwards as soon as possible---with the others who were in it with you. Laugh, cry, do your AAR (After Action Review) and whatever, but talk about it…and if needed, hug each other.  (Man hugs are OK)
When a Soldier is wounded and everybody can see the wound, most will show compassion and concern.  A visible wound is something most folks can understand.  A non-visible wound of the mind is something many people seem to have a hard time understanding. 

“well, it’s all in your head, just act right and get over it.” 

When I hear a person who’s never been through something so stressful say something like that, it makes me want to stop and help educate that person.  Some people are born with a mental problem; some gain the problem from a traumatic event or events. 

Either way it is NOT THEIR FAULT!

                                                                                        B17 Flying Fortress!


I just read an article about WWII B-17 Bomber crews flying over Germany.  Everyday they had to fly over anti-aircraft fire (think of purposely walking through bombs exploding all around you while you are trying to deliver your own bombs to a precise point on the ground.)  That took a lot of guts to go out over and over.  But the comments the survivors had were “I just kept thinking I was going to be OK.”

Well, I know our teams who went out in Baghdad 6 or 7 days a week.  They’d drive in a 3 Humvee convoy for about an hour or more across the most dangerous place in the world at that time.  They’d take care of business, then turn around and drive back.  The IEDs at that time were easily cutting through the armor on the M1114 Humvees like a hot knife through butter.  If your vehicle got hit with a certain type of  IED, you were pretty much dead or wounded badly. 

Every time we went out, there was gun fire.  Some of it was just random shit, some of it was directed towards somebody else, and some of it was directed at our teams.  (I was only shot at once by some asshole with an AK who couldn’t aim and mortared a dozen times.)

Stressful?  Hell yes. How did I feel?  I wasn’t going to show my Soldiers any fear.  But I had never done anything scarier in my life (32 years of police work)… but I have to admit, I thought it was cool.  I was proud to go out with those teams.  Most of my teams went out a hell of a lot more than I did. 
We were there a year, so if they went out 6 days a week for 11 months….do the math. 

Maybe it wasn’t as bad as the WWII bomber crews.. . I mean they got shot at every time they flew.  But I think that the attitudes and bravery were about the same.  When I took over as the NCOIC (Non Commissioned Officer in Charge) of the teams, I only had one person request to not go out anymore.  That request was answered by half a dozen other Soldiers volunteering to go out.  Great troops! 

As tough as our jobs seemed, there were others who had jobs a lot tougher.  I have a friend who is a Combat Engineer.  He did Route Clearance in Afghanistan.  This required them to go out on the roads that the other troops were driving on and clear all the bombs the asshole insurgents planted every day.  Just think of the stress of looking for hidden explosives that the person hiding got better and better at hiding.  Then, when you found it, trying to disarm it.  That takes nerves of steel and skills many people will never have. 
Or my young friend who deployed at 19 years of age.  He went through more stuff in his first month than I have in my entire life…. Including having his Humvee blown out from under him and seeing his driver and team leader die.

There are lots of them out there, but only about 2% of Americans have served in recent wars.  Not all of them are stressed out…but just breathing the air in a war zone will change you forever. 
 For the Vets who are having some problems, don’t give up.  (Hell, just driving to and from my job makes me wish I had a .50 cal gunner on my truck to clear the bad drivers out of the way).  Some injuries take time to heal.  This includes physical and non-physical injuries.  When I first got home from Iraq, it took a year to figure out how to go to the VA for medical treatment.  (I stayed in my National Guard unit, so I asked them what I needed to do…and they didn’t know.)  I have since found out faster ways for others to get into the VA—just ask VA.
 
Many Vets are having problems with drugs they were prescribed.  Some problems related to addiction, some because of the side effects, and some because the drugs are simply not doing much good.
One of the many things I did as a cop was drug prescription forgery investigations.  I had half a dozen new cases every week from the small city I worked in.  Almost all of them started out about the same.  A patient was issued a prescription for some really strong stuff to take care of pain—usually from an injury or surgery.
 
What I found out from talking to good doctors and pharmacist was most of the really strong pain drugs SHOULD NOT be taken for a long period of time- a person will get addicted to them.  Some get addicted easier than others.  So, when the real prescription for the drug ran out, the patient would do things to keep getting them. 
As a cop my goal was to determine if they were addicted to the drugs or if they were selling them.  If they were selling them, I’d get a criminal complaint.  If they were addicted, I’d try to lead them down the path of getting help.  Some cops didn’t care and just filed complaints on them all and let God and the courts sort it out.

So, anytime I got hurt, I’d ask the doctor if there was something for the pain that was not addictive.  Or, I’d throw half of what they gave me away.  I did not want to get addicted. 

So, now, I hear so many stories from groups I’m associated with about Vets with problems.  Many were physically injured and often but not always, they suffer PTS (No “D).   A buddy of mine who did the same two deployments I was on, got wounded and sent home from Iraq early.  He had really big balls to do what he did in Iraq.  I made sure he knew how I felt as soon as I saw him when the rest of us got home.  He still has pain from his wound, but doesn’t let that stop him from doing stuff. 

My feeling is many doctors don’t try to heal a patients, but try to “manage the pain” for them.  I think many doctors must think most people are too weak to handle the pain, so the prescribe things that not only handle to pain, but cause major side effects. 

I’m not a doctor, but whenever a doctor decides to prescribe something for me, the first thing I ask: “Is this stuff something I can get addicted to and what are the side effects?”  If I don’t like the answer, I’ll tell the doctor to pull something else out of their magic bag. 

Pain?  Yep, I’ve some sort of pain for many years.  When I feel it, it reminds me that I’m alive and what I was doing when I got the injury that’s causing that pain of the day.  Some were from police work, some were from doing Army stuff….and most were because I wasn’t smart enough to think I could get hurt or at the time the need to do what I was doing was important (like responding to crimes in progress.) 


About 25 years ago a doctor told me I would have to get out of police work because of a back injury.  I didn’t listen because I liked being a cop and was too young to retire.  Some think that’s being tough, nope….it’s being stubborn.  I never gave up, and I never will.   All things will heal, some take more time.    

10 December 2013

Dreaming of a white Christmas.....

From the Soldier side: (Some of the following is true.) I can’t figure it out, but over the last few years, a few Soldiers and former Soldiers I know have moved out of California into places where it snows. The mid-west, upstate New York and Ver-cold-mont are some of the places these Joes have moved.

I hate the cold. I hate my teeth chattering, I hate it when I can’t feel the ends of my fingers or nose…and I hate it when snot freezes. I really don’t like being cold…that’s why I’ve always tried to live in warm places. (and I didn’t mind the heat in Iraq) Most of my childhood years we lived in snow country. It was fun when I was a kid, but having to work in the snow and cold is something I hate. (Did I mention that I hate getting cold?)

So, when I see pics on things like Face Book from some of my old buddies in the snow, I ask them: “and why did you move there?” The first winter I was stationed in West Berlin (Weapons Platoon, C/2/6) we had the coldest winter they’d had in 100 years in Germany. I remember a few times driving my Gamma Goat truck around with a trailer full of 81MM mortar ammo (HE – High Explosive rounds) and sliding across the road in 6 wheel drive. Or the convoys we drove on where there was always at least one truck heater that would break and the crew would be freezing their ass off for hours.

Or the time our brilliant company commander took us out into the forest in Berlin for a training day. We had all this really good cold weather gear that we never used…that we asked if we could bring it. The commander said we wouldn't need the gear, so we left it in the barracks. After we got out in the woods, he thought it’d be a great idea to spend the night out in the cold. We froze our asses off at 10 F.

We ran the truck heaters all night rotating troops in the cab to thaw out. When we ran out of gasoline for our squad stoves, we tried running them on diesel. That failed. We burned C-rations boxes, twigs and anything we could find to keep warm. To this day, I still think that company commander was an idiot.

Then, many years later I joined a National Guard unit that’s “world mission” was to respond to Korea. So guess what we did…. Cold weather training. I was even tasked with giving some of the training. I got very good and cold weather survival, but I still hate getting cold! We’d go up to places like Truckee, California and sleep outside in the snow. Nuts.

I changed National Guard units years later and we went to Minnesota in the winter to train for Bosnia. Many of our California troops had NEVER been in the snow. The California first sergeant we had thought we were supposed to go outside for our morning formation.

One time in Minnesota, we were standing outside in company formation. We were in our spit shined boots, starched field jackets and all. Standing tall. But it was so damn cold outside, that when the First Sergeant started talking, his words froze solid and hit the ground. We picked up everything he said, took it into the barracks and thawed the words out. But, we got them all mixed up, so we had no idea what the hell he said. We think he was drunk, so it didn’t matter.

When I asked the Minnesota First Sergeant where they had formation, they said: “ya know it’s too cold outside, we have our formations inside the barracks.” I helped do some of the vehicle training for our troops. I found a frozen pond that we could spin a Humvee around on and we had a good day.

When we got to Bosnia , it was summer. By the next winter, we had pretty cold weather (for us California troops). Whenever I got to drive one of our NTVs (Non Tactical Vehicles) I ‘d find a big parking lot, make sure it was clear, then grab the parking brake and spin the car around. One day, our dumbass team leader tried this…on the road and sent his NTV into the ditch. He was a dumbass and got fired later. Bosnia was as cold as a well digger ass in Alaska in the winter.

Did I mention that I hate getting cold?

14 November 2013

Let's drop the "D"

Let’s drop the “D”

From the Retired Soldier side: Veterans Day was Monday. It’s every November 11th. I know there are still some folks who get in confused with “Memorial Day”, but they are different. I have to admit, I had a very good weekend.

I became good friends with the county vet services officer. He’s a former Marine and served in Iraq. We go drink coffee and talk about wars and stuff as often as we can. He’s introduced me to some other folks who work for the county and were also in the service. I’m trying to get a coffee/vet club started. We’ll only invite folks who work for the county and are vets…being able to drink coffee is preferred, but not a strict requirement.

Then I got an invite to attend a dinner. The dinner was in honor of Ty Carter. Ty is a Medal of Honor recipient. The dinner invite list was very short. I thought that maybe they made a mistake, but after checking, I was on the list. (Keep in mind that I was just an average Soldier and I never did anything special.)

The dinner was pretty good, but the best part was getting to hear Ty talk. When you look at this dude, he appears to be solid muscle and sharp. You would never suspect that he had suffered some Post Traumatic Stress. But he talked about it. If you go Google Ty, and read about what he did, you’d think it was a script from a movie. Sometimes true stories are better than anything they can make up in the movies.

Ty’s mission is to talk about stress and to help other Soldiers get through their problems. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Some of the guys I know who went through some pretty tough shit and lived have a hard time dealing with it. But for the ones I’ve known, I told them to call me anytime they need to.

Ty has a great idea. Doctors and shrinks came up with the term “PTSD” Post Traumatic Stress Disorder like it’s some kind of flu. What many troops have found is that when they have a “disorder” everybody else thinks its terminal. So, how about dropping the dang “D” and get rid of the “Disorder” word.

Maybe then folks who have little understanding might think “well Joe has a little stress, but after he’s been home for a while, I’m sure he’ll be OK” (and this applies to the female troops of course).

For the Vets reading this, your job is to help the other Vets. If you have PTS, then reach out and talk to somebody who truly cares about you. Do not do anything stupid…because then “they” win. Our job in war was to keep our buddies alive. We swore an oath to that and we never cancelled that oath.

As a civilian police officer, I had to do many security details to protect movie stars, politicians, sports celebrities, and never once did I ask one of them if I could shake their hand. They were ok, but they were not what my book considers a hero. For this dinner the other night, I had to shake Ty’s hand. Some of my Soldier buddies still on active duty told me to never wash that hand.

For the Vets reading this, be proud of what you did, it’s an honor to know you all!

25 October 2013

Hill 375....

From the Soldier side: Some of my long time readers may have noticed some of my past post have been about leadership. Leadership is one of my favorite topics, but not something I ever thought about in my younger days. If you’ve ever been involved in critical incidents, or working around stuff that can hurt people, you know how important good leadership can be. Right up there with good training. You have to have both to be effective….I’d even say that good leadership with good training is more important than “who has the best equipment.”
                                          Late 60's vintage 5 Ton Dump
There’s been many times when I’ve seen cops or Soldiers with the best equipment fail because of poor leadership and/or poor training. These are two important needs, but I’m only going to talk about one in this post. That need is Leadership. Most folks who’ve been around for a while can think about the good & bad leaders they’ve had.

We tend to remember the bad ones more often. Why? Because when we had bad leaders, things usually went from bad to shitty and we don’t forget the shitty times. When we had good leaders, things usually went like they were supposed- without incident- and we forget them. To understand leadership, maybe we should think about what kind of leaders there are in Military and Law Enforcement. Some are micro managers. Some are hands off. Some are too bossy, some are dumb and some are always right. The best ones are able to get their people to do a job with little loss of life and make it look easy.

I know when you read all the best books on leadership, they have a lot more detail and they even give you the number of tips you need to be a good leader. A bad leader can take good troops and waste them or turn them into ineffective troops. A good leader can take a turd and turn them into a diamond. A bad leader will waste time, money and get troops killed. A good leader will save time, money and keep the troops alive by caring for them. Some very basic leadership tips I was taught were: Take care of the troops. Your troops eat before you, they can talk to you they know you will look out for them and thus, they will look out for you. And, you lead by example by knowing more about what you’re doing than your troops do. If you don’t then maybe you got promoted too fast or you’re a 2nd LT.

1990’s at Summer Camp: One of the many examples I use for a really suckey leader is a guy I’ll call “Sergeant Bumble” SB for short. Many years ago I was in a National Guard Engineer company. Now, for most Regular Army guys you’d think that all of the National Guard was a bunch of useless guys who got together one weekend a month to drink beer and play poker. In some cases that’s a good summary of the old days and some of the old troops. However, about the time I had signed up, they were trying to get rid of the bums. It was really hard to get rid of some of them, especially once they got promoted and put in charge.

Well, SB was one of got promoted to a semi senior sergeant position. At that time, he out ranked me by one stripe. Our battalion had just been reorganized from wheeled engineers to mechanized engineers. In simple terms that meant we got rid of our 5 ton dump trucks and got M113 A1 APCs (Armored Personnel Carriers). These were hard aluminum, tracked vehicles that had been made around the time of the Viet Nam war- and the US Army had not purchased any new ones since that war.

I was one of the sergeants who was taught how to operate the M113 so I could train others. We learned as much about these creatures as you could learn without actually removing things like the engine. We learned how to drive them, load troops and equipment, repair and replace damaged tracks, and how to do things like cross water. It was actually fun!

We learned battle tactics and the last thing we were going to do was go to the “Fifty Cal” range and learn to shoot the M-2 HB .50 caliber heavy machine gun from the track. But, to get to the machine gun range, we had to first get there in our “tracks”. Guess who they put in charge to get to the range that day. SB. Now, if you’ve read enough military blogs, or been in the military, everybody thinks that the worst person to navigate is the new Second Lieutenant…all though that is usually true, SB was worse than any officer I had ever seen in over 20years of Army service! This dumbass would get lost going from the latrine to the mess hall if it was only 100 meters away on flat ground with nothing else I the way. He’d get lost trying to pour piss out of a boot with the instructions written on the bottom of the boot.

He was what we commonly called a “retard.” (no offense to the mentally ill). What made him even worse was he was a drunk. To get to the range in our tracks, we had to ride on the unpaved dirt roads. At the training camp these roads were easy to follow. First we had to go to “range control” and check in and let them know we were going to the range. From range control it’s easy to get to any of the ranges. The big gun ranges are on the back side of a big hill. So, as you travel, you go straight past range control, then make right turns. At no point do you ever turn left. This is easy to see on the map. So easy nobody should get lost.

But guess what… SB took off in the lead track. I was in the second track and two more followed behind me. As soon as we left range control SB started down the wrong dirt road. We should have been going west, and he was going south. He only stopped when the road he was on came to a dead end. There was barely enough room for all of us to turn around, but we did and followed SB. A few times I saw him stop and pull out his compass. I guess he didn’t understand that all the metal around him was not going to allow the compass to work. So we headed off in another direction…of course it was wrong.

I finally figured out his method of navigation….just keep wondering round until you found what the heck you were looking for. I guess it would work if the space you were in wasn’t bigger than your fuel tank. So we went in another direction making left turns. Now remember, I said that once we left Range Control, it should have been all right turns. So, we went south, then east, then north, then west, then south again….coming to a very, very tall hill. Now, to tell you the truth, I don’t recall the max angle that the old M113s were supposed to climb or descend, but I’m pretty sure that hill was pretty close to our danger point. (later I looked on a map and that hill was about 375 meters, so we called it Hill 375.)
                                          A bunch of M113s.
Now, if you got to a hill and were pretty sure that it was not the way to go, what would you do? Turn around? Well, that would have been smart….but remember we were dealing with Sergeant Bumble. So he proceeded to have his track driver go up the hill. I wanted to close my eyes because I don’t like to see good Soldiers get hurt. But somehow the retard made it up the hill and told us all to follow him.

I could not get him to stop and listen to reason. He just said: “I’m in charge *&&^^%$%, listen to me and let’s go!” When we all got to the barbed wire fence at the top and had a dime size area to turn around on, I was sure we were all going to roll over sideways and die going down the hill. But God looks out for fools, drunks and idiots and we made it. However, this time I out smarted the idiot and got in front and lead the way to the machine gun range.

Years later I transferred to a different unit. I ran into other Soldiers who worked with SB. They said he somehow got drunk on a deployment and got busted down in rank. The deployment was not to a war zone, so he wasn’t able to get any of his troops killed. He got out before the unit actually deployed to a real war--- Thank God!

 January 2005, Baghdad, Iraq: (In a different unit) After my team and I had returned from our first mission in Iraq, I was told that I’d be going back to Fallujah to show some officers some stuff. I asked who was in charge of the convoy and they said: “Don’t worry about it; you’ll just be a passenger.” The morning we were forming up the convoy, I walked over to one of the sergeants I knew and asked who was leading the convoy. He said: “you are.” Well, for our trip to and from Fallujah, I did not lead it and really had no idea how to get there. I asked who had been there before and knew how to get there.

All the drivers and truck commanders knew how. So we got out the map and I had them show me the route. (We did not have any GPS stuff at that time). I made sure all the drivers knew how to get there and put the one who was most sure in the front. I was not going to get us lost in a war. Once we got close to the camp, I knew the way in and felt good about my decision. We made it there and back without any drama. Just the way things should go.

12 September 2013

Weapons cache????

From the Soldiers side: The first four month of my visit to Iraq, I had a special team...we traveled around and had chats with some not so nice folks.  Besides smelling really bad and often having the I.Q. of a donkey, they did not value human life as most of us do.
At the time we were in Iraq, the weapons laws for citizens there were more liberal than they are in many parts of the United States.  For example, each adult male could have one semi or fully automatic SKS or AK 47--without any special permits.
They could not have RPGs or belt fed machine guns.
The confusion that often came up was when there were more than one adult male in the home...well, hell many of the males had two or three wives and 25 kids.... so as the kids grew up, a guy might have several adult males living in one house.

Then some GI out on patrol would come across a home with more than one rifle and make a detention for a "Weapons Cache."
When they came in with the evidence, I'd sort through it and tell them: "Shit, I know lots of folks back home who have more than that in the garage."


07 September 2013

Nine Eleven: Stop Loss, Re-up, RE-RE-UP, RE-RE-RE-UP

From the Solider side: OK, sorry for lagging.  But since I retired from Police Work and the Cal Army National Guard, I got a job where I’m gone 12 hours a day.  I’m NOT complaining…I love my new job…just very long ass days. 
On my drive to and from work, I've been thinking of a few things to post…problem is, by the time I get a chance to write, I've forgotten the story…. Or, I sit and start to write and figure it’s too boring and nobody would read it.  My criteria usually are: It has to be a true story; it has to be somewhat interesting, and try to throw in some humo...and few spelling errorrrs.  So, if I start writing and I think it sucks, I chuck it.   
When I was in Iraq for what we called OIF 3, I ran into many folks who were in the reserves or national guard.  I also ran into a bunch of folks who were “Stopped Lossed” (not real words according to the dictionary, but  the US Military makes up words every day.)

Stop Loss means that a Soldier or Marine was about to get out because their enlistment was up…but they were kept on active duty because they were needed for war.  There were also a few that had gotten out of the active duty military, and were in what’s called the “Inactive Reserves”…which means they sat on their ass at home and did nothing with the military, but were “subject to recall” because  they didn't read the small print that says when you joined up—you joined for 8 years.  Most did 3 or 4 years active duty, then the next 4 or 5 years doing nothing in the Inactive Reserves.

OK, does this shit make sense so far?  No…don’t worry it confused a lot of folks who thought they were done with the Army or whatever.  “and here I am in Iraq….”
In 2002, my enlistment was just about up.  I had done about 10 or 11 years plus with the regular army and the national guard—plus 4 years Inactive Reserves.  So, I had totally done my commitment. But they gave me orders that said I was on "Stop Loss" because of my MOS.  (Mess Kit Repair)

Guess what I did.  I re-enlisted for another 6 years.  I showed up at the “drill” where we were told we were going to Bosnia…and I said: “I better re-up then.” 
"I" before "E" except in Bosnia...

I signed the papers, did the swearing in thing and got the free coffee cup. 
Then at the next drill I was told that they needed me to re do the paper work because some office pogue had lost the paper work.  Sure, and I asked: “Can I get another free coffee mug?” 
I filled out the forms 4 more times, getting a free clock and a free T-shirt.  This was getting pretty cool getting all the free stuff. 
Then whilst we were at some training for Bosnia, some dumbass told me that I’d have to be on “Stop Loss” to go to Bosnia…but the problem was: they could only do it for a year and it would expire while we were in Bosnia, so I had to re up.  I asked: “How many time do I have to reenlist?  I’m afraid that when all the paper work gets found, I’ll have to stay in for another 40 years of more.” 
So, I said I’d reenlist.  For the 5th  or 6th time in less than a year...I lost track. 
Then, one day we were in Bosnia, and our “Retention NCO” calls me up and says my enlistment is about to expire, so I should reenlist.  I asked: “Will they have to send me home if my enlistment runs out while we’re here?” 
I was just amazed that people could lose paperwork that many times and still get paid. …I signed the papers again.
I made it through the rest of the Bosnia deployment and still got paid. 
In the middle of 2005 when we were in Iraq, I had been attached to a Regular Army unit.  The new “retention NCO” for my national guard unit had to come to our camp for some awards thingy.  She looks at my name tag and tells me: “OH, you’re one of the ones who needs to reenlist.” 
I looked at her and said: “No, I think I’m good.”
She says: “well, if you don’t reenlist, you might not keep getting paid while you’re here.”
                                          "Contact LEFT!"  Shit...I mean "RIGHT...that side..."
                         

I’m sorry, I’m a very peaceful person, but I lost it.  I said many nasty things to that sergeant and swore that if for some reason I stopped getting paid while I was at war in Iraq, I’d hold her personally responsible.  So, she’d better find all the paper work that’d been lost and make sure I was OK…” 
I made no threats of great bodily harm, or anything like that, but I did have a good “look” that’d scare most office pogues.


The US Army did continue to pay and I only had to reenlist one more time to get my 20 years in…and retired from the retard convention. 

You can't make up shit like this, but there were always enough Soldiers doing stupid stuff to make a life time of stories.   

07 July 2013

We need them.....

From the Firearms Instructor side: As most of my regular readers know (both of you) that in my Army and Police careers I was a firearms (weapons) instructor.  I tried to add up how many Cops and Soldiers I’ve run through ranges and advanced courses… I’m not good at math, so help me out.  For the Army/ Cal Guard we qualified at least once a year, for 19 years (the first year I was too dumb to know anything).  … About 70-100 troops per range. 
A handy off duty weapon: M249 SAW

For police work, 32 years (the first year I was cop, I helped on the range base on having been a grunt).  We’d have ranges about 4 times a year, with between 20-40 per range. 
And then there were the Boy Scout ranges I ran on vacations when my boys were in Scouts.  Round that off to about 200 kids and adults. 
So, I know a little about weapons and teaching others to shoot.   What have I learned?

1.)    Firearms very rarely shoot by themselves.  They need a human to load and fire them.  Most “modern” handguns have 2 or more safety systems built into them- they will not fire unless the trigger is pulled.  This takes a human, or in some cases a monkey. (Firing pin blocks, trigger safety, and some have a thumb safety. the 1911 of course has the grip safety)

2.)    Many Cops and Soldiers do not practice with their duty weapon as often as they should.  In some cases this is due to budgets, in MANY cases it is because they don’t like shooting….and often they suck at it.  This can be corrected with good training.

3.)    Many senior Cops and Solders will not listen to a range master when he/she tries to help them shoot better.  Funny, the civilians who’ve paid lots of money do listen. 

4.)    There are a few citizens, public officials and others who are afraid of all guns.  This is to the point of being a mental illness.  We can’t correct this problem.  If you know anything about phobias, like arachnid phobia, hydra phobia, clown phobia, you know that these people can’t help it.  They are very much afraid of these things and we can’t change that.  However, we don’t like folks who are freaked out by spiders write laws to kill all spiders.  We need spiders. 

We also need guns.  Guns are used for lots of GOOD things everyday.  Today, for example, over 2 million guns were NOT used to commit any crimes today.  Because they are owned by honest, law abiding citizens. 
Today, not far from where I live, there are dozens of good citizens knocking little round clay things out of the sky with some very expensive shotguns.  There are others at another range shooting all kinds of rifles, pistols and shotguns at paper targets. 
Before this day is over, there will be some good citizens somewhere who are legally using some type of firearms to defend themselves or others. 


Remember, the cops are only 6 minutes away, when you need them in 20 seconds. 
The anti gunner nuts never mention the good things firearms are used for.  They want to ban all guns…they’ll start with some now, and work on the rest later.  This year it’s semi auto rifles that they like to call “assault rifles.”  However, most citizens I know who legally own these types of guns, use them for target shooting.  Why?  Because they are very accurate.  The M16’s we qualified with in the Army were able to fire a 3 shot group at 25 meters with the holes touching each other.  That’s accurate. 

The problem is you can’t explain anything to an anti gunner.  When they see or hear “gun” they freak out.  Remember, it’s like somebody who’ afraid of spiders or clowns--- you can’t reason with them…it’s a mental illness.  Their eyes glaze over, they start having fits, frothing at the mouth, a big rise in blood pressure….and their brains shut down. 
It’s a form of mental illness.  I hope the NRA will soon recognize this and start a collection to get these poor assholes some help. 

 I also think that if you study the gun laws in the US, you’ll see that the cities and states with the most restrictive gun laws, also have the highest violent crime rates.  Cities and states that have “shall issue” concealed weapons permit laws have lower violent crime rates.  Why?  

16 June 2013

US ARMY: 238 YEARS OF TRADITION ….Happy Birthday US Army..

From the Old Soldier side: When I was in the “regular Army” back in the 70’s, we had changed many of the sayings and motto's for the Army and our Battalion.  It was something I carried on many years later when I joined the California Army National Guard. 
Some of those old sayings we changed: “US Army, we can break more shit before 9, than most people break in a year” or my favorite: “US Army, we can waste more time before 9, than most companies waste in a month.”
Spec 4 CI Roller dude somewhere in Vest Germany
The only US Army patch with the name of a city on it

I was in West Berlin for the July 4th parade in 1976.  We had every Soldier who could walk (and a few who couldn't  march in that parade.  “I love a parade….as long as I don’t have to march in it.” Was our motto for the day. 
"There's DUMB and there's ARMY DUMB"

One of genius Spec 4’s (E-4, now just called a “Specialist” because they did away with Spec 5, 6’s and 7’s) came up with something I never forgot: “The US Army, 200 years of tradition, history and shit unchanged by progress or common sense.” 
I continued using that motto, just updating the years for the rest of my career.

Some of the silly shit the US Army does is just baffling.  Some of the leaders I had to work for were very good, and I’d follow them anywhere…but many others were less than useless.  Why anybody would have put some of these dummies in charge of people was something I could never figure out.  Usually what I heard was: “I’m the senior ranking person here, so I’m in charge.”  In my last years in the Guard, on deployments, fires, earthquakes etc, that sort of system failed many times.  In some cases, the smarter bosses wouldn’t put the dummy in charge even if he did have more stripes.

Never sleep when the rubber chicken is loose...

Well, we can look back at the last 238 years and see what our Army has done…where it’s been, what it’s done.  How much it’s changed history (along with the Marines, Navy and Air Force.)  I still read history books about past wars…and I still wonder if our leaders have read any of them.  If you don’t study history, you are doomed to repeat it.  It seems like we have at least a few times.
There were many stories I’ve read of past wars and thought that the players were the same, just different equipment and different enemies…but the story seems to repeat.  I read a story about soldiers in the civil war being issued food rations for 3 days…then eating them all the first day because they were so hungry.  One training mission we did at Fort Irwin many years ago, we were issued MREs for 3 days to get us through the “battle”.  By the end of the first day, half my guys came up to me and said: “Sarge, we’re starving.” 
I just looked at them and thought that the troops really haven’t changed over the years….just the crap we carried.
Ft Ord about 1990? Getting ammo ready for the M60 range

The US Army uniforms have changed many times since the 1770’s.  Many times in the Army’s history the uniforms and weapons they were using at the beginning of some wars were not what they were using by the end.  This history lesson repeated around 2005.  Our unit was wearing BDUs’ before Iraq (we wore them in Bosnia). Then for Iraq we were issued DCUs.  Part way through our deployment, troops were arriving wearing the ACUs’. 
The ACU’s are the worst piece of shit uniform ever issued in our Army’s history.  Polyester and Velcro that fails when needed the most. 
In my Army / National Guard career, I wore 4 combat uniforms.  In 1974 we were issued 2 sets of Class A’s (dress uniform) with a  Class B (minus the green dress jacket) 2 sets of khakis, 4 sets of OD Green fatigues, and a set of PT shorts and shirt…and  2 pairs of black combat boots and 1 pair of black low quarter shoes.   

For more History of Army uniforms:        



How come the Marine uniforms always look better?

26 May 2013

Just another 3 day weekend.... For Mike and Roberto.

Like 1500 BC with cell phones....


From the Soldier side: I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older and sometimes have a little less patients for people who should try harder. I had to sleep through another boring sermon in church today, given by somebody who still hasn’t a clue what Memorial Day is for.  (I know some of you are wiping liquid off your keyboard after laughing about me going to church.  It won’t make any difference, I’m still going to hell.)

Memorial Day is to honor those in the military who died serving for their country.  It is NOT about those of us who made it home.  OK, get it right or I’ll have to start bitch slapping people.  (sorry, my old Army Sergeant thing kicked in for a minute.)    
So, let’s think about this.  What does a hay truck driver and a US Border Patrol Agent have in common?  They, like thousands of others were in the US Army Reserves or National Guard and died in Iraq.  Both were friends of mine, but I’m sure neither knew the other and they were from two different units. 
Mike Ottolini was in the 579th Combat Engineers. This was one of my old units and I had the honor and pleasure to work under Mike many years ago.  He was one of the nicest guys and best leaders I had ever known.  In his normal life, he drove a hay delivery truck. 
Mike was killed by cowards using an IED in November 2004.  Just a few weeks before I got to Iraq. 
MIKE 


Roberto Arizola was a US Border Patrol Agent and in the US Army Reserves.  He was also a range master for the B.P., so we had started a conversation about shooting one day in Baghdad.  We never got to finish that conversation.  I had to fly out on a mission, whilst Roberto stayed in Baghdad to run his mission. 
In June 2005, just a few weeks before he was due to go home, another coward got Roberto with an IED.   


I guess if I was going to give the sermon in church, I’d say something like: “War is bad, and it’s started by really bad people.  Until we can get rid of all the really bad people, we’ll have to send really good people off to fight them wars.  War sucks, but have a world run by insane assholes would be worse.  When you think about Memorial Day this weekend, lets put a face or a few faces on it.  When we watch the news on TV, we can pretend it doesn’t matter, and it’s happening somewhere else.  But for ever troop killed in war, he or she had a mom, dad, bothers, sister, wife, husband and friends.  Tomorrow I will have 3 beers.  One for Mike, one for Roberto and one for me.  Thank you lord, now carry on, amen”

Yeah, I'm going to hell.