31 December 2008

That's over my head!

From the Citizen Soldier side: OK, Thank God for Google. Since I couldn't remember which year I was sent to the Russian River flood, I had to look it up in Google. It was the end of Dec 1996 through early Jan 1997. Wow, I was only a few years off....so going back to that cold ass time about 12 years ago.
I was driving one of the old 5 ton dump trucks. We were sleeping in the Guerneville Fire Station on New Years Eve 1996. We woke up to the sound of rain...lots of rain. We looked outside and things looked "normal" for that time of year. Then a fire fighter told us to look behind the station. The water was deep... 45-47 feet over flood stage!!! That was way over my head and I'm not a good swimmer.
The Fire Chief asked if I could pull their portable building up to higher ground. I had a truck with a winch on the front. I asked if they knew how much the portable building weighed...they had no idea. Oh well, I'd give it a try. The worst thing that could happen is I'd break my winch. I did break my winch. The winch had a shear pin that was supposed to break before the winch did...but some dumbass stuck a hardened bolt in where the shear pin was supposed to go...so the winch, which ran of the Power Take Off (PTO) had about 9 million horse power from a big ass diesel engine...
So, I had about a mile of steel cable all wrapped around my front bumper. Oh well, it's a government truck. I decided that we'd stop our efforts at pulling up the Mobil building, since I didn't want to break anything else.

Our next mission was to go to the Red Cross station in Guerneville and take some refugees to Santa Rosa, CA. I drove around to the building, but the parking lot was full of cars. There was no way I could drive my 28,000 pound Beast into the parking lot and drive out again. I could see this, but the crazy lady working for the Red Cross was freaking out. As I parked on the street in front, she was screaming for me to drive up to the front door so people wouldn't get wet getting into my truck. ( I think they were thinking I was driving a bus, they were going to be in for a surprise.)

I tried telling the crazy, screaming, mad, lunatic Red Cross lady that there was no way I could get my truck through the full parking lot and up to the front door. She just kept screaming-- which lead me to question her authority. She got really mad, and I told her to take a pill or go smoke something and relax. She got even madder and screamed more. She was just a volunteer, I was a paid professional--right?

The parking lot was surrounded by a cement planter box that was about 18 inches high. No problem for the Beast to drive over in all wheel drive...smashing the cement to crumbs. I got right up to the front door and shut her down. "There lady, are you fucking happy now?"
Then, they started bringing out some folks that made me question why we were there at all. Now, before I describe these folks, think about this: If you saw the news, read the paper, listened to the radio, every "normal" person along the Russian River knew that it was going to flood...bad. So, what types of people were not aware that it was going to flood? Guess.
Drunks. Drug addicts. Bums. Homeless. Drunk, drug addicted, bum, homeless people... and the likes of which most people reading something on the Internet have never seen. I was afraid they were going to get my dump truck dirty.
We had the dump bed configured to haul humans... the bench seats were down, the canvas top was on...there was no heat in the back, but we also had no heat in the front. It was a cold, wet, bitch of a day.
But we did our job and loaded the people into the back. And all but one of them were complaining. A few asked if it was OK if they smoked a joint or drank in the back. I told them the truck was leaking fuel, so they shouldn't smoke. They did anyway.

We started back to Santa Rosa. The side roads were now full of local ass hole's cars...they moved them out of the flood zone and totally blocked the only route we knew of to get out. I had a big truck and I considered just smashing through all the parked cars.... but I didn't. We turned around and dropped the "people" back off at the Red Cross shelter.
I guess they didn't like us there, so a few hours later, we were sent further west to Monte Rio or some such place. Now the food was getting worse...but we had cots to sleep on. For a cook we had a guy I called "Biker Bob." He was a burn out, but he wanted to help. He cooked 3 meals a day for us. The first morning he was smoking his Marlboro and making some kind of egg thing. He said: "Wow, I lost my smoke...oh well."
One of the guys was eating his "egg thing" and found Biker Bobs smoke. And that's how it was...
At mid night some drunk woke up and called the fire station. He said:" Hey, there's water all around my house. Can you send a helicopter and come rescue me?" I was able to talk to the guy on the phone. I told him: "Can you swim? Try swimming out and let me know how that works out. You dumb ass."

We almost lost my truck trying to rescue a fire truck...it'll make your butt pucker when you're driving on a road, flooded with fast moving water, and your 28,000 pound truck starts moving sideways!!! That was fun. Some folks from FEMA showed up. They didn't do much but ask really stupid questions. I told them I had an idea. About that time the US Navy was getting rid of a bunch of subs, so I suggested that they give them to the folks along the Russian River to live in. When the water comes up, close the hatches. They didn't seem to have a sense of humor.
We hung around until the flood waters went down. We didn't loose any troops on that flood. I went home after about a week...then got called for another one up north. But that's another story.

Happy New Year!!!

29 December 2008

The Old M-51, 5 Ton Dump Truck....the BEAST


From the Citizen Soldier side: OK, so I got some folks who are a little mad at me for dragging out my stories. Just think if it as a "soap opera" or something.
I can't really go on about the Russian River flood without talking about one of the best "weapons" we had in the Combat Engineers. It was the M-51 5 ton dump truck. It was the "Beast". Just to check the oil was a challenge sometimes. You had to be good and climbing on things and be able to balance and lift the hood at the same time.
When my current Guard unit was at Ft ---- training for Iraq, they knew I could drive anything, so they asked me if I could drive one of the newer 5 tons. Hell, it had an automatic transmission. I climbed in the cab, looked things over and in about 10 minutes I was driving it on my own. The new army trucks have automatic transmissions....kind of takes away all the skill and talent it used to take.
Anyway, the old "Beast" was a bitch to operate. You didn't just "drive" one, you had to "operate" it. They would go anywhere if you knew what you were doing...but there were a few times I got in over my head into shit I never did again after.
Russian River Flood of 199---whatever year it was. We drover our little convoy of "Beast" from our armory to our HQ where we met up with all the other companies of the battalion. At that time I had a few years of experience driving the "Beast" to summer camps, on convoys and weekend drills. Was I and expert? Hell no, but I was a little above average I guess.
We divided up drivers and co-drivers and drove a convoy going west, along the Russian River. We spent the night at some fire station in Forrestville. The next morning, they had some semi professional folks bring in a nice breakfast....then lunch, then dinner. The food was well prepared.
The next day, my co-driver and I along with some of the other trucks headed to the town of Gurneville. There we set up camp in the fire station. We were taken out and did a "recon" of the routes we might have to use to evacuate folks when the main roads flooded-- and flood they would. We learned where the side streets were that were higher in elevation.
We went back to the G.F.D. and had chow...it was not as good as the first fire station. We learned that the further west we went, the worse the food was going to be.
For our Combat Engineers to function all we needed was fuel for our vehicles, and good chow. We were pretty simple. We could sleep in the trucks if we had to- even though they had no heaters, we had sleeping bags. We just wanted to help the citizens, so we didn't care much about our comfort.....just feed us please.
to be cont.

28 December 2008

Russian River Flood of 199???

From the Citizen Soldier side: At the police dept I work for, some officers really make a big deal about getting some holidays off. Some, who have little kids like Christmas off. Some who like to "party" like New Years eve off.
For me, I think back on some of the missions I had on some holidays. Many holidays I worked as a cop...a few I was over seas in the Army...and one or two I was called up in my old National Guard unit.
Did I mention that I used to be in a Combat Engineer unit? We were like a construction company with machine guns. We had big dump trucks, bull dozers, loaders, chain saws and we could blow shit up if we had to.
Now, a problem I'm having as I get older and closer to retirement is: All the years seem to run together. For something that I might say: "a few years ago..." might have actually been 10 years or so. I didn't write the shit down at the time, so I have to go by memory. But, let me tell you of the Russian River Flood I went to in....uhhhh....I think it was 1998 or maybe 99...or somewhere around that time.
The Russian River run through parts of Sonoma County, CA. It's a great place in the summer, not so great in the winter. There were and are several areas along the R. River where it floods.
Back in the 1980's they had a really big flood and the National Guard was famous for rescuing people with helicopters. For the flood I went to, were were told: "there will be no helicopters, just you guys in your dump trucks to rescue."
Let me tell you about the dump trucks. I first drove one of these beast in the 1989 earthquake. They were old 1968 ish vintage...made for Viet Nam. They had no heaters or A/C. They had 5 speed manual transmissions with high/ low all wheel drive etc. You had to know how to shift these things. The dump beds were operated by a couple of other levers and sometimes someone who didn't know what they were doing would grab one of those levers by mistake and start dumping a load of troops out of the back.
If you road in the back, there were wooden bench seats that were removed for dumping/ hauling jobs. It was like riding on a brick...very hard.
The trucks could go through about 3 feet of water if you did it right.
For this mission, we were given a "Warno" a few days before New Years Eve that our services would be needed. The County and the State was sure that the Russian River was going to flood-- without doubt!
We packed our duffel bags and loaded up like the Beverly Hillbillies and headed from our local companies to our Head Quarters... 579th Combat Engineers.
to be cont.

23 December 2008

A "Safe" Snowman in Kosovo...


From the Soldier side: Kosovo, AKA KFOR. One of the lads from my home national guard unit e-mailed me this photo from Kosovo. His face and that of the soldier with him were blocked out for OPSEC reasons.
If you look close at the guy on the left, you'll see that he far exceeds the Army's standards for weight control. He is also very cool. Just to be safe, when not wearing the standard ACU uniform, soldiers in most hostile zones now may wear their PT uniforms. The PT uniform must include the reflective belt that you see around the guy on the left. For some strange reason, Sergeant Majors in Bosnia, Iraq and Kosovo seem to think that this reflective belt will act as a force field and protect soldiers from getting hit by vehicles. How come we don't wear one of the reflective belts when we're wearing our normal work uniform?
Let me know if you have an answer, as far as I could ever figure out, Sergeant Majors were useless and just came up with useless stupid crap to make the soldier's life more difficult.
(And don't forget our dumbass Sergeant Major in Iraq who had 2 or 3 negligent discharges with the M2 .50 caliber machine gun...and he got a CAB!)

22 December 2008

Bosnia Christmas, Dec 2004

( Due to a request, I'm replaying one of my stories from last Christmas...about my Christmas in Bosnia. I've added a little to the story to make it a little more clear. )


From the Soldier side: OK, I've been going on about Iraq too much... Well, I mean My Bosnia deployment was really much better...even though we all got arrested and all.
What? Say it ain't so...the CI-Roller Dude is a cop in civilian life, how could he get "arrested" in Bosnia and just before Christmas?
Well, our jobs required us to go outside the camps.... usually everyday. I'm not sure if some people stuck on the camp resented that or what...but rumors from things the last rotations did spread and got mixed with things some of our teams might have actually done...I don't know for sure. I know I did my job and stayed out of trouble.
So, just before Christmas, all the outer teams were called back to the main camp. We had to turn in our weapons, ammo and badges...and we were told we were restricted to the camp.
CID (Criminal Investigation Division) interviewed us all...those of us whom the command felt were good soldiers were interviewed first...then cleared and told to go back to work.
I felt sorry for the CID agent who had to "interrogate" me. I sat in front of his desk, read everything he had sitting out-- I can read upside down, a skill I learned from being called into the Chief's office many times. So I read all his notes and what he planned to question me about. I also saw he had a picture of a motor Cycle on his desk. OK, I had my plan formed. Counter attack before he could get anything on me. (I really did nothing wrong, but with CID, they try to twist things around and he was a dumb fu-- anyway.)
So, I questioned him about his motor cycle...how long have you been riding. Have you had any training...pretty soon, he forgot what he was supposed to question me about... we spent 20 minutes talking about riding motor cycles.
I felt bad for him, so when he was done, I asked if there was anything I could help him with...he said: "no, I'm sure you did nothing wrong, so I'm clearing you to go back to work."

However, we sat at the main camp through Christmas...and all our mail and packages from home were sitting at the outer camps we were assigned to...so we didn't get to open our Christmas packages until well after Christmas. Screwed again by the Army and the lack of decent leadership.
Who was finally charged after all the investigations? Most of the officers and some senior NCOs. A former team leader of mine was later investigated for something else, relieved of his command and it was given to me... of course without a promotion.

(Updated: My buddies in Kosovo right now say they are having some of the exact same leadership problems now....same problems, just a different face or two. )

So, I hope you didn't mind the updated re-run.

Have a great Christmas...I don't say "happy holidays" because this time of year it's all about Christmas...and if you're some anti Christmas person, guess what I got to say about that...
CI Roller Dude..

17 December 2008

What helped prepare me for War...

From the Cop side: Yeah, I know I don't write many cop stories...because there's nothing quite like war to come up with some good things to talk about. However, after some thinking (which I do for a few minutes everyday) I concluded that one thing that really helped me on my deployment to both Bosnia and Iraq was working as a cop for now almost 30 years.
Most people have seen shows on TV like Cops, and others where they follow real cops around with a video camera...they have to cut out the bad words and stuff...but what they don't really show is some of the "average" daily dumb stuff we deal with....everyday.

It's this "average" stuff the helped equip me for my deployments...there's so many things that are the same in police work and the military. You have good leaders...you have bad leaders, you have heroes... you have cowards, you have victims and you have bad guys. And every once in awhile you have some really "special" people who you just have to laugh at....in both places that's what makes it all worth while. I say sometimes you have to "make your own fun!"
About a few months ago (I lost track, maybe 3 or 4?)
Where I work now we have lots of small law enforcement agencies who work close to each other. The streets close to one of our "beats" is covered by the Sheriffs Department for crime and the Highway Patrol for traffic...but if it's a crash close, any of us will respond to help the injured.
So, there I was, driving around minding my own business, when I hear the Deputy getting dispatched to a crash just a block or two away. I see him take off and I follow-- automatic mutual aid.
The deputy drives upon a very nice SUV that has been reduce to smashed metal...he gets out out of his car and has several people tell him that the rest of the crash is 3 or 4 blocks east of his location. The deputy stops me as I pull up and he ask me to go check east of his location. I drive on down the road and come upon the other half.
What had happened is: Driver #1 (the most at fault) is driving HUA (Head Up Ass) going west bound too fast. He plows into Driver #2 from behind, knocks her out and Vehicle #2 drives on 3 more blocks with the driver knocked out until she crashes into the center island. So the back of Veh #2 is destroyed and now the front is also wiped out...there went a $40,000 SUV.

AS I park my car to block/protect vehicle #1 because I have to get the elderly driver out, I call in my exact location...because I' heard on the radio scanner that they are sending medical units to a city that was 5 miles away!!! (Why? because a "witless witness" gave them the totally wrong location.)
I got out of my car, and go up to the old guy sitting in the driver's seat---I'm thinking he's hurt really bad because he hasn't gotten out of his car--- but nope, he's talking on his damn cell phone.
There was about 7 or 8 citizens standing on the side walks in the area yelling at me asking: "what's this location?"
I asked them why and they said: "I'm on the phone with 911 and I they're asking where we are."

OK, now does everyone understand that when you call 911, one or three types of humans are going to come. Those three types are: 1) the cops, 2) the fire dept and 3) the meat wagon.
I was in a blue uniform, driving a black and white car with a big ass star on the side and big lettering that said "POLICE" along with a blue and red light bar on top. I was friggen 911.

So I yelled out: "EVERYONE WHO'S ON 911, TELL THEM THE COPS ARE HERE AND HANG UP---YOU'RE ALL GIVING THE WRONG LOCATION AND SENDING RESOURCES TO THE WRONG PLACES" (I left out calling them bad names.)
So, I go back to trying to check the driver, while I'm standing out in the middle of traffic---and I say: "Sir, can you hang up your phone and listen to me NOW! Can you get out of your car? I'm about to get run over trying to help you, can you hang up NOW!"

It took me a little while to explain to the dispatcher that I was at the true location and to cancel units going to all the other locations.

Today's hot tip: IF you are going to call in an emergency on your cell phone, please stop and make sure you have the correct location. If you're the HUA driver who caused the crash, listen to the cops who's trying to help you so he/ she doesn't get run over.

12 December 2008

Why I'm going to hell...part II

From the Soldier side: OK, I'll continue with my story of why "I'm going to hell."
I was telling you about the "turd" sergeant we had. For years before we went to Iraq, he reminded me of a little snake. He went to Bosnia with us and got caught doing something he wasn't' supposed to be doing...so when he came to me to see if I could help him...he started to cry like a little baby.
He had no balls...and no brains. He was always trying to put himself in the best place or job so he would always come out on top...regardless of what everyone else needed. He didn't put his soldiers first, he put himself first. So, he didn't go out on mission while in Iraq...he sent out his junior folks.
Now, I'll tell you the place they were in was bad...but at that time, most of the other places we had teams in were bad. It was a friggen war...you were supposed to get shot at and shit like that.
So, Turdsergeant's typical day (as told to me by his #2) was: He'd get up around 10 or 11 am, walk over and shower...come back and get dressed and go to lunch. Then he'd go to his hooch/ office and goof off watching DVDs and reading books. That was why he was too busy to go out.
Then one day... while he was walking to the shower... a totally random mortar round landed near where he was walking. A junk of metal tore into his stomach... he fell to the ground and was hurting. The medivac'ed him out and he lived.
Why am I going to hell?
The next day the Capt Chaplain came to my office. He had never every come over to our office since it was hot and too far for him to walk ( he was regular army and part of the reg army unit we were attached to).
So, the Sky Pilot dude comes into my office and says: "Is everything OK?"
I look at him and said:" Yes sir, would you like some Starbucks coffee?"
He takes a cup, then looks at me again and repeats his question: "Is everything OK?"
I look at him and said: "Yes sir, outside of it being 120 degrees outside, it's pretty good...how are you doing sir?"
Then he looks at me and the other sergeant (who's in Kosovo now) and said: "Wasn't sergeant Turd a friend of yours...from your unit back home and all?"

I look at the Sky Pilot and said:"Sir, is that what this visit is about? Thanks, sir, but the truth is nobody likes him."
The Sky Pilot almost dropped his coffee as his mouth dropped to the floor. He stood up straight and said something like: "you guys are cold."
I said: "Yes sir, I'm know I'm going to hell for that....but I'm going there anyway."

The chaplain walked out without his coffee and never talked to any of us again after that.
Oh well, what can I say?
(the photo above is from my 3rd visit to Fallujah... it was scary, but I went out when I needed to and I never sent my junior people out on something I would not do myself.)

08 December 2008

Why I'm going to h.....


From the Soldier side: The photo on the left is a special group of folks...this is most, but not all of the group I went to Bosnia with, then we deployed to Iraq less than 6 months after we were home. This photo is missing a few who were wounded, and one or two others. This photo was taken on our very last day in Iraq....a great day in Nov 2005.
There's one guy missing who was wounded who, well...how can I explain...but he's a type of person that if you knew him, you'd soon learn to not trust him...and even to hate him. It would take hours to tell of all the self serving things he did in both Bosnia and Iraq. He was an NCO...but he didn't take care of his troops. He took care of himself. Since I don't want to take hours, I'll just tell a few stories of things he did to earn our dis-respect.
He would put himself first for any equipment or items that were issued...he'd even try to get in front of the entire company by saying he had something to do and was in a hurry. But, the worst of all... when his team was sent out "west" and was supposed to go outside the camp...he went out on 2 missions.
It was scary outside the wire...soldiers and Marines were getting shot everyday....it was bad. So the third trip he was supposed to go on...he made it to the gate. Then he pulled over and opened the hood on his Humvee...pretending that something was wrong with the engine. The rest went on without him and his team---as soon as the convoy was out of sight, he closed the hood, started his vehicle and drove back to his hooch.
Well, the Army really needed his team to go out on missions....so what did he do? He sent his junior NCO and E-4's out on their own without him. He said he had a lot of "admin stuff" to do and couldn't be bothered by actually going out on missions.
He had a good team who knew what had to be done and did it without him, while he'd sleep in late everyday and not do a damn thing....
To be cont.....

03 December 2008

Some die of natural causes...

From the Soldier side: A friend sent me a link for a blog http://yllescasfamily.blogspot.com/ CPT Rob Yllescas

Warning...before you go to this site, it may cause a tear to come out. I never will understand how a soldier can make it through battles, wars and stuff, then come home and die at an early age due to some medical problem that the doc's can't do a bloody thing about.

When we were in Bosnia, we had a young soldier who deployed with us...I'll call him "Chris" to make him more real. He was tall and thin...good natured...always willing to help with whatever we needed done. He was good with computers, so we sucked his brain when we had to set up "net works" with our computers. When we were getting ready to leave Bosnia, he volunteered to extend.

Chris didn't drink, I never heard him use a bad word, and he treated everyone with respect. You couldn't help liking the "kid" as we called him.
He was given a few weeks leave before going back to Bosnia. His one fault? He liked to drive his Mustang very fast.
One night, he was driving home...too fast... he left the road and 90, and there's nothing more to say. We miss Chris...he would have done well with us in Iraq...I'm sure of it, but he never had that chance.

Troops...there are enough "natural" things that will kill you. When you get home from a deployment, be safe...live to be an old man (or woman) and be able to sit around when you're 90 and tell stories.

I have a few ideas for my next story...should it be 1.) "Why I'm going to go to hell" or 2.) "More really stupid people I've met as a cop"

01 December 2008

Don't expect nothin' & you'll be happy with what you get!


From the Soldier side: For those of you who watch 60 Minutes on Sunday nights...last night you saw the story about the Female Army Private who was awarded the Silver Star. I was not so much surprised as some where that a female got such an award...she did a good job...what I was surprised with is someone of such low rank got that award.
See, when I was in Iraq, if you were below E-7, the odds of you getting anything like a Bronze Star or higher (unless you were wounded) were about zero. Our "Camp Mayor" (the E-7 in charge of the rooms and buildings) never once left the camp, but was given a Bronze Star... several Fobbits were given Bronze Stars. We had Sergeant Majors who'd go on convoys hoping they'd be close, but not too close to something so they could get their C.A.B. (Combat Action Badge)
We actually had a few heroes with us...who I think should have gotten a Silver Star. How about the time one of our teams was out in Baghdad one day...just minding there own business...when they heard gun fire up ahead. An IP (Iraqi Police) patrol was getting shot up pretty bad.
The Staff Sergeant in charge of the SecFor (Security Force) saw one IP had been shot in the neck. The Staff Sergeant jumped out with aid bag, ran to the IP, patched him up, picked him up, and carried him back to the Humvee.
The IP was treated at the camp, by US Army Medics...saving his life. (we have really good medics)
Oh, did I mention that the Staff Sergeant was a female (and very hot I might add). Do you know what award she got?
Nothing. If she'd been an E-7 or an Officer, she'd gotten something good. She's a friggen Hero in my book.
That's just the way it was (or is?)

25 November 2008

Baghdad Carpet Ride...in an Up Armored Humvee




From the Soldier side: I've been pretty busy working overtime, so I've not been able to do as much "bloggin" as I'd like. Now, to get back to our adventure in Baghdad.
So, the E-4 (Let's call him Chris, to make him more real) wanted to be able to stop and chat with people in a automotive garage area in Baghdad. He drew a sketch of what it looked like, then we checked on Google Earth (this was actually better than mapping software we had at the time), so I had a pretty good idea of what to plan.
I went outside the office and did the "Old School" way of planning in the dirt. To me this was better than paper. We could get the scale pretty close. We used empty milk cartons and junk for buildings. Someone had little toy trucks, so we used those for our humvees.
I had 4 humvees, one more than the teams usually took, for extra support & fire power. I like lots of fire power....the more the better. If you think your going to a gun fight, bring lots of friends with lots of guns and ammo!
Now, for those who've been reading my post for awhile, have noticed I took lots of pictures in Iraq (and Bosnia) but in Iraq I never had my camera in my hand when I needed my rifle in my hands. So, there's lots of good photos I never got to take. At the time, I figured having my weapon ready was a hell of a lot more important than a cool photo---so I'll have to describe the area we went to since I never took a picture.
I got permission to send the team + out (that means the team plus extra people.) I had the office E-4 prepare the mission roster so the commander wouldn't notice me on it...since I was still on light duty...but you know I had to go.
Once the security team leader saw that I was going, she was good with it. She was actually a regular Army MP with years of experience as an MP, so she was all about survival. I don't blame her for not wanting to stop in the place we were going....it looked like hell… even on Google Earth.
So we went. I let Chris lead the way, since he knew where we were going. We drove like we stole the trucks and took all the extra ammo we could find (I had over 900 rounds in my foot locker in my room, so I spread it around & we borrowed more, as much as we could get). Having lots of ammo gave you a warm and fuzzy feeling.
Chris drove up to the street we were going to stop on, then my truck took the lead. I had the driver go to the end, and then we did a "Harring Bone" with 4 trucks. We blocked the street with the front and rear truck so no vehicles could come in. I told the team we were staying on the ground for 20 minutes...no more. At 21 minutes, we'd be roaring away. I learned this tactic in Fallujah...we figured it took the insurgentassholes over 20 minutes to wake up, get their guns and come to where we were...so by the time they got there, we wanted to be gone.
We left a driver and gunner in each truck, I told the gunners to stay low, very low because the snipers would shoot them first. The driver was "loose" in the cab-- moving around and looking out the windows with his or her M-4 ready to shoot. This was a no bullshit mission...
As I got out of my truck, I was overcome by the smell. It smelled like gasoline, camel shit, coolant, oil, and pee. Down the middle of the street was a gutter. As the mechanics worked on cars and the fluids leaked out, they ran into this gutter. If you dropped a match in the gutter, the whole area would have burned for weeks....which would have been an improvement. ( all of Baghdad smelled like shit all the time, to this day my sense of smell has been destroyed.)
The Hajjis even had a auto parts store on the street...it wasn't like you'd see in the States, because all the parts were used. They were selling used parts that most people would have and should have thrown away. They were selling used brakes, used shocks and other parts that were really only a little better than nothing at all. And nothing at all was what a lot of these people had...so I guess this was an improvement.
As one team walked down one side of the street, the other team took the other side. The team Chris lead was doing well (remember we just did mess kit repair) but the other team leader seemed worried. After 5 minutes, the other team leader asked if it was time to go...I think he was a little afraid. I walked with his team to help them out. I couldn't let on that this scared the shit out of me to. What normal person with half a brain would get out of a perfectly good armored vehicle and walk in the middle of Baghdad in the summer of 2005? Insane!
We finished, I blew my 20 minute and we "popped smoke" and left.
As we pulled out on the highway, we drove like hell...then had to make a turn across traffic...all of the cars stopped...except one.
The lead gunner used his hand signals, blew his whistle to get the dumbass to stop, but the dumbass continued towards us...the gunner fired a signal round warning shot---hitting the dumbshit's front bumper. Now, try this at home, you're in a 12, 000 pound armored SUV going at 60 miles an hour, make a full stop, a hard left turn, then be aware of everything going on around you, then having a car coming at you at 25-30 mph, bringing up your M-4 and firing one round and hitting the bumper….now that’s good shooting. I think that gunner should have gotten a special shooting award.
The dumbshit who was driving with his head totally ups his hajji ass stopped after that, so I guess he wasn’t a suicide bomber after all, just a normal dipshit.
We made it back to camp, and a few extra cold soft drinks, wishing that they were beer and some of us knew we’d have one more stupid story to tell when we got home…we made it, and that’s all that counted. Any day you made it back without anyone getting hurt was a good day. It was a good day.

19 November 2008

My Motto (or one of them)....




From the Soldier side: OK, so I got some pings for not ending my Baghdad story. Before I get to that, let me mention a book that I think ALL LEADERS should read....I'm talking about team or squad leaders up to generals...and most important...the President should read this book. Leave No Man Behind. This book investigates raids and rescues from the end of WWII up to Iraq.

What I got out of it was: Be prepared, have a plan, have a back up plan, let those who'll do the mission plan the mission. Washington and people not connected to this mission need to support it, but not micro manage it. Micro managing from Washington will get the wrong people killed. Also--the leaders in the mission have to have the balls to get the mission done.

My motto in Iraq was: "We'll leave no man behind---unless we don't like you." Really, I'm not kidding!

That made my troops become team players and listen. I wouldn't want to micro manage or plan one of my team's missions if I was not going on it...


Mission: Baghdad Carpet Ride. So, I talked to the E-4 about his problem of getting the security team sergeant to let them stop and "chat" with Iraqis in Baghdad. I drafted up a plan and showed it to him. I let him look it over, make changes and ask questions since he'd never done this kind of mission before. (He wanted to stop in an area where there were lots of automotive garages and "chat"with locals.)

The street he wanted to stop on was about 2 blocks long and had auto garages on both sides. The E-4 drew a sketch of what it looked like... Now normally his team went out in three M1114 Humvees, two armed with an M249 SAW and the rear truck with a M-2 .50 cal machine gun...with everyone inside armed with either an M-4 carbine or M-203 grenade chucker ( a great weapon.) I normally carried 35 Lbs of body armor, a helmet, goggles, M-4 carbine, 9 30 round mags, a M9 9mm pistol-with 7 mags, a first aid kit, water, a frag, dog tags, a cell phone, radio, a Swiss army knife and a Emerson folder. That was a lot of crap.

For this mission, I suggested we take 2 teams, and 4 Humvees, all with machine guns and a few extra "SecFor" (Security Force) folks. He started to think we would come up with a plan that everyone would be happy with (we still had to get our "boss" to sign off on it also.) Hell, this was our damn job, but some days we had to fight our own people just to go do our duty...they never fully understood what we were doing. (mess kit repair)

So, then I asked the E-4 what he thought was our biggest threat on this mission...then make a plan to counteract it. Think what the "hajji assholeinsurgent" was going to do, then beat them. But, this was all random death--or was it? Could we plan a mission into hell, get there and come back safe?


To be cont.

16 November 2008

Ready 2 Roll....mess kit repair...


From the Soldier side: So, I guess I'll get back to my adventures in Baghdad. Now, keep in mind, at the time I was in Iraq, I'd been a civilian cop for over 25 years.
Let-me-tell-you-something! There was nothing in my police experience and training that would have prepared me for this...but, I still think I was 10 times better prepared than the average soldier. I could shoot very well, drive well, talk to people and I had a good sense when something was going to be bad. (To survive in police work on the streets, you have to have that 6th sense.)
As you might recall, I was supposed to be in the management office for a few weeks on light duty. I liked it there so much, that I didn't want to go back out....so the senior sergeant asked if I wanted to trade jobs because he had not had a chance to go outside the wire. (for those of you who were in Bosnia with me, the senior sergeant was "Sgt A" who had been in charge of our vehicles and did nothing in Bosnia.)
So, since I liked having air conditioning and being able to go to a decent mess hall 3 times a day...i was eager to trade jobs.
However, I can't just sit on my ass and do nothing. So I figured out what my teams needed to:
1.) Be safer (1 KIA, 3 WIA so far)
2.) Be more productive (very little useful product so far)
3.) Have fun (nobody wanted to go out anymore- it was not fun)
In that order.
One of the team leaders ( he was only and E-4 until I got him promoted) told me of the main problem he was having when they went out. The E-4 was in charge of the "mess kit repair" team, but there was an E-6 (Staff Sergeant) in charge of the security team they traveled with. The E-4 felt that they needed to stop at some areas in Baghdad to talk to people (about mess kit repair), but the Staff Sergeant didn't think it was safe....so they didn't stop.
I sat down with the E-4 and helped him come up with a tactical plan to be able to stop. This was going to be interesting.
Cont....

12 November 2008

The other Heros....

From the Soldier side: One thing I've always tried to do was to put myself in the other person's shoes...to think of what they are thinking. This method has always helped me in Police work and in the Army.
One thing I've forgotten about this is...there are others who try to do this with "us" also. By "us" I mean "us" war vets. There are lots of non-vets out there who care alot about "us" and sometimes I think we may have not realized that.
These are the other hero's. The moms and dads, wifes, husbands who support their sons and daughters...the friends and other family who sends the care packages etc.
And when we come home..the ones who do nice things like set up web sites, or other little things to help vets. These people weren't in the wars, they were not shot at, they didn't have to see friends die. But they care. They are concerned and they are good friends to have around.
This is something I didn't understand until the last few days when I started to stop feeling sorry for myself (yeah, sometimes I do that) and saw that there are lots of non-vets out there who really care about us.
They are putting that hand out...time to take it and shake it.

On anther note: I was watching CBS news last night (sorry, I like Katie Couric) and they had a story about some female soldiers who were in Iraq. These soldiers had been in some bad stuff and had to even crank off a few rounds at bad guys....but according to the story, females aren't supposed to be in combat roles.
Oh crap...what should I tell the female soldiers who were on most of the convoys I was on in Baghdad? "Sorry, ladies, you're supposed to stay at the camp and work in the kitchen."
BS. They were good soldiers...and in many cases, I'd rather roll with them than a lot of Chicken males I know.
So, when you're out there shaking the hands of vets, and you see a female soldier...shake her hand too...they've earned it and they are my sisters.

If there's anything I can do to help any vet...I'll do what I can... and I know there are lots of others who will do the same. First thing "we" have to do...is open our hearts and minds and see what's around us.

And for a "not a hero"--- "When I take action, I'm not going to fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It's going to be decisive." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C. Sept. 19, 2001

10 November 2008

Happy Veteran's Day 08




Happy Veteran's Day 2008. For my friends deployed now, thanks for going. For those who've done their time and gotten out, thanks for your service.
I'm working on Nov 11th (my cop job) but I'll do a survey to see how many people actually know what holiday it is....and why we have it. (the nice part about working as a cop on holidays is I get over time....never got that in Bosnia or Iraq, or any of the other places I was on holidays with the Army.)
Are you a Vet? Are you a good citizen who's served mankind in other ways? Regardless, if you run across a vet and are not sure what to do or say...try sticking out your hand and shaking their hand. check: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VcvmoGjGNc and see what I mean. Just a hand shake does a lot.

06 November 2008

Write a book???





From the Soldier side: So, the other day somebody said something that I thought was funny....they said I "should write a book."

I told them if anyone read, I'd have to kill them. They didn't get it. Mess Kit Repair (MKR) is highly classified business. We have to have a special TS/MKR clearance to do this work...and there's a high washout rate at the MOS school. The class I started with was spread out over 2 years...we started with about 27 soldiers. At the end of the final phase, there were only 3 of us from the original group.

Then, there's the work we do...highly classified. We have to take damaged Mess Kits, and fix them as good as new so they can be returned to the front line and put back into service.

On an real story....I was reading on Military.Com today about another new armored wheeled vehicle the Pentagon is putting out to bid. My question is: "are they going to have some office puke in Washington pick out this machine?...some retired general who's getting a kick-back?"

Or, are they going to have private Snuffy and sgt Rock actually test drive it. A vehicle for Iraq needs to be easy to drive and work on...actually it should require little maintenance...should be fast (able to do at least 90MPH--see my last blog posting) be able to stop any friggen IED the insurgentturds can make and be able to actually haul 6 or more troops in the same space with easy access and easy exit. (A MP-3 player would be cool too.)

They have the MRAP in Iraq now...I've never driven one, but I'm instructor certified to train army drivers on everything from the old Jeep, Gamma Goat to the M-113, and M1114.

....and what about our new Commander in Chief? Let me tell you something...I've had the chance to shake hands with a few Presidents in my life...but he's the first one we've had who I'd actually want to shake his hand. If Gen Colin Powell supports him, so do I. If the other guy and that nut from Alaska got into the white house, I was planning to move out of the country.

Coming up soon....walk into Baghdad....

04 November 2008

Hand me a box of ammo & Drive it like you stole it!!!




From the Soldier side: So, it's election day 2008. I voted a few weeks ago. Since I'm not always at home when it's time to vote, I've been doing the mail thing for years.
I've been a bit busy the last few weeks....got a new cop to train.
He's been doing pretty well, but today he said one thing that I had to correct him on. As we were talking about the war in Iraq, he said something like: "I don't think women should be fighting in wars."
You know I quickly corrected his young ass. Some of the best folks I rode with on convoys etc in Iraq were FEMALES!!! "If you look at the M1114 in the left photo, it's a chick driving. Before I left, she'd been on so many convoys that she could tell you where every bump in the road was....her first week she was in the second vehicle in the convoy when the first one got vaporized... she took a few days off and got back into it. In a few months, her vehicle had been hit two more times...and she still kept going out... she had big balls.
She'd not been there too long when I had to go out with their group...(I had a mess kit that needed fixin' across town.) She was driving the first hummer in the convoy and I was the "TC" (truck commander).
We'd never worked together before. As we were rolling along a straight away, I told her she needed to driver faster. She didn't hear me. I undid my seatbelt, reached around the radio and grabbed the hand throttle and pulled it out all the way...as I yelled under her helmet:"drive it like you stole it!"
She went faster after that. She got my point. Don't flounder along, haul ass. Move, brake for turns, then gun it baby! You're not paying for the gas.... go, go, go!
She caught on quick....and IED has a hard time hitting a vehicle moving really fast.
Things were getting better after the Bad LT left. Command sent over a WO-3 to take over. He was a great Warrant Officer...I had talked to him a few times before and respected him alot. He was the OIC (Officer In Charge) and I was now the NCOIC (Non Commissioned Officer In Charge)... we ran a great crew.... of Mess Kit Repair....
OK, I'm going back to watch TV and see who my next commander in chief is going to be...
More stories of the last of the good old days in Baghdad to follow....

31 October 2008

This was really scarr..........ahhhhhhh!!!!

From the Soldier side: One night in Iraq....Baghadad to be exact.... There I was on Camp (XXXXX) when I had to walk in the pitch black from my room to the "office." The camps did not have any lights on outside the buildings for obvious reasons (well, if you can't figure it out, no lights outside so the insurgents couldn't zero in on us with a sniper shot or something.)

So, it was really, really, really dark outside. I tried to not use my flash light because I didn't want anyone outside the camp to be able to see me... So I was walking along...it was only about 1,000+ meters to the office...no big deal.
I had my M9 9mm pistol in a hip holster, my Emerson CQ7 folding knife, and two 15 round mags for my pistol. I also had a Surefire flash light, but I was trying to not use it.

There was nobody else in the area...the guard tower was over 2,000 meters away...on the wall facing outside the camp into Baghdad. Did I mention that it was really, really, really dark outside? Well, it was dark.

As I got closer to the office, I could suddenly sense something near me....looking at me. At first I thought it was one of the Lads screwing around with me...then I realized that the breathing was not human. It was also a lot lower to the ground that any human.....holly shit...what was it?

I reached for my M9 9mm pistol in the hip holster while I pulled a magazine with my other hand...I wish I had a third hand for the flashlight....but I didn't. I slammed a mag into the pistol pretty fast, pulled the slide back and racked a round into the chamber...flipped the safety to "fire" and then pulled out my flashlight to see what it was.
It had eyes that glowed in the dark...it had a growl that sounded like a werewolfvampirebearmonsterthing.

It was a big dog, part dingo, part wolf, part jackel, part rat. I don't know what the hell kind of dog it was...but it scared the shit out of me. It stopped, looked at me and my pistol, and ran away so I didn't have to kill it.

Even though we were not supposed to carry loaded guns on that camp, after that, at night, I carried a locked and loaded pistol with me all the time. Screw the rules where there's critters like that.

Have a happy Holloweeen...and if you're one of those who are offened by this great holiday, guess what.....

29 October 2008

The BADDDD LT...cont...


From the Soldier side: Sorry I've been so busy...training a new cop at work and all. Good part of that is that he's pretty bright. In the past, I've had a few who were dumber than a box of rocks.
Well, to get back to that story of the crappy LT we had in Baghdad...As I was stuck in the office on light duty, I had to look at her everyday. I think I was able to give her that "look" that I might kill someone if they messed with me....I'm not really sure if that's what got her to stop buggin' me or what.
...but she still wanted to go "outside the wire" on a mission or two. Great...all we needed was for a brand new officer to go out and try to take over the mission. So, I had talked to the company commander, and our "mission control" person. They agreed with me, that if she was going to go out, she was not going to be in charge...of anything. She would just be a passenger.
So, I set up a date. I'd have her ride in the back seat of the last humvee in the convoy...with no chance to talk on the radio or to be able to do anything else to screw things up.
I explained it to her one morning...."Mam, I convinced the CO to let you go in a mission. You know that you're very important and they can't afford to loose you, or have you captured...or anything like that...."
She was eating my BS up. She was so excited to be able to go. But I was still worried that she'd hurt someone. The normal procedure for going on a convoy was:
1.) you had to be put on the convoy manifest
2.) it had to be approved etc
3.) before any convoy, you had to go through the training on our procedures for things like getting killed and all.
4.) make sure you were qualified on your weapon etc.
As the convoys drove out the gate, they would "lock and load" their weapons. In this case, I told the LT to just put a magazine in her M-16 and not put a round in the chamber. (everyone else had a round in the chamber.) I didn't trust her to not have a negligent discharge in the humvee. (I'm a good judge of people in this respect....comes from running police and army weapons ranges for so many years...I can see it in their eyes)
So, the dumbass LT got to go on a little convoy ride...just to the "Green Zone" in Baghdad...about the safest place you could go at that time. She came back and acted like she was a big ass combat vet. Then I told her: "Mam, some of these guys have done this over 150 times since they've been here. You've done it once, just to the "Green Zone" so calm down."
Then she asked where I'd been. After I told her, she learned to shut up.
She got sent home a week after that. Turns out she was "with child". That was the best day in Iraq...we had a party the day she flew out of Baghdad airport.
I'll tell you about "her" replacement in my next posting.... (if I don't see comments, I don't know if anyone is reading this crap.)

23 October 2008

We fought for your rights, please use them....






From the Citizen side: If you haven't' registered to vote yet, it's too late. If you did register, please don't forget to vote. (I already did) This time, the person we vote into the White house may be one of the most important votes we make in our life times. Think it over carefully.... do the research and make sure you have the "true facts" as an attorney friend of mine used to say.
I still have people thanking me for defending their freedom.... well, use it, damn it. Go vote.

I'll tell more about the "bad LT" soon.... and some fun trips into Baghdad.


(Think about the Price of Gas, The Mortgage Crisis, the War in Iraq, the job crisis, etc, etc....and ask how did we get here?" )






21 October 2008

"NO BETTER FRIEND...CONT"



From the Soldier side: Sorry I haven't been able to post a lot these days....I've been kind of busy at work. The good thing about working overtime as a cop? I get paid overtime. In Iraq it didn't matter how many hours a week you worked...you still got paid the same. However, there were some people who worked less that 40 hours a week....but that's another story....let me get back to the "Bad LT" story.

Somebody said that so far the way I've described this LT, she didn't seem that bad. Well, I guess I've been kind to her. She was a P.O.S. When the senior sergeant would come into the office, she'd start yelling at him in front of the troops. She read one of the (mess kit repair) reports from one of the teams about some guy named "Abu Achmed"...and wanted me to look him up.

Now, if you don't know the culture, let me explain: Abu means "father of..." So if a dad's first son was named Joe, the dad would be "Abu Joe." So, Abu was nothing...she thought it was the guy's first name and Achmed was his last name. I tried to explain this to the LT, but she didn't want to hear what I was saying....she just yelled at me and asked if I was lazy or stupid.

I was neither, but I was about to add something else to what I was....

Then, one day the dumbass LT wanted to go out with one of the teams. They heard this and threatened to go on strike or something....they were afraid she'd get them all killed. I had to go to the Company Commander and make sure that didn't happen. I was a hero for the teams after that. But she came up with other stuff. After she was in Iraq for about another week, she started to come into the office later each day. By noon, she asked me one day: "how do you guys put up with this heat?" I just looked at her and said: "Mam, you 're not even wearing your body armor....think about the teams going out (to do mess kit repair) each day. They have to were the body armor and carry all that other crap. That's why when they get back, they need to rest for a few minutes."

She just looked at me and said: "Oh...now I think I am getting it. You know sergeant, at first I thought you were a slacker or something, but now I see you're the only one who knows what he's doing around here."

I almost fell out of my chair....but then I explained that the "kids" going out on the teams each day are really doing a good job. The problem is, they've had no guidance or anyone to watch out for them. " I told her I was going to change that.

A few days later, she asked me how she could go out on a mission.....

Cont.

PS...the "Hajji armor Humvee above was one of the ones the USMC was still using out west. I had read in the news while I was there that the US Military had replaced all the half assed armored vehicles with new factory built M-1114's. B.S..... There were still a bunch of these things when I was there in late 2005. Great job Rumsfeld!

13 October 2008

NO BETTER FRIEND, NO WORSE ENEMY


From the Soldier side: So...to continue with my story of the bad LT... this story made me think of the motto our National Guard battalion Sergeant Major came up with for the Iraq deployment... something about..."fit to fight."
I started asking: "Who's Fit to Lead?"
This new LT we had in Baghdad when I returned was really becoming a pain. The first day I reported to work in the office (I was on 3 weeks light duty for a little boo-boo I had) she showed up before the teams were getting ready to roll out and she had no idea what or where they were going. The senior NCO in the office tried to help her out, but she began yelling at him-- in front of all the troops. This is something that is just not done...you never belittle someone in front of everyone else...and you never do it to your senior NCOs! I was quickly learning what kind of idiot she was. She wanted to call off the missions for the day because she had not gotten herself up to speed as to what we were actually doing....
She had just arrived in Iraq...the rest of us had been there for 7 months...some of us had been to lots of bad places and done lots of things...and here she was brand new.
My only fear was that she would get someone killed. That's something you don't want to do...do something to get one of my people killed. I'll never forgive you if you do.
After the teams rolled out my first day back... I was alone with her in the office. There was the Palace lake near by...a few cess pools....several canals and creeks...a person could fall into anyone of these places and never be found.
The LT started yelling at me...I looked at her and very calmly said: "Mam, you really have no idea what you're doing do you? If you want help, I'll help you...I can be your best friend...or...."
She didn't know how to respond. She did stop talking... then she asked me what I had done during the deployment so far.... I told her.
Cont.
PS-- I heard a bit on the news yesterday..about the ALASKA National Guard returning from Iraq and they were not set up to help their troops after the deployment. The news made it sound like that was the only friggen state that's had that problem. When our CA guard unit returned in Nov 2005, I asked how we go about getting enrolled into the VA for medical treatment, etc.... Nobody knew. I asked lots of people and it took over a year after I returned before I found out how. Our full time leaders in that unit were no longer worried about us when we got home... They were Not Fit to Lead. So, all I can say to the troops from ALASKA...don't think you're the only orphans.

06 October 2008

I went to OIF & all I got was....


From the Soldier side: I've learned one thing about being in the Calif Army National Guard....just when you think everything is working OK, the higher ups decide to re-organize things. I've been in a few units where this has happened.
The big problem? You have to figure out new leaders, and soldiers below you. Sometimes you can figure them out in a few hours...or a few months. The problem is you only see them for a few days each month. The bigger problem is you have to prove yourself all over again... I'm so happy I can retire in a few years.
So, this last weekend, after things were re-organized, I still ended up in the slot I held before...but now I actually have a brand new 2nd LT for a platoon leader. I'm not used to having a new LT.... we've been so short of officers since the wars started---seems nobody with any brains wants to join the National Guard I guess.
So, I have to train another officer who's actually younger than my own kids. Great.
So, I started by telling him the story of the brand new 2nd LT who came to Iraq to work with us:
We had already been on deployment for 7 months...we'd had one KIA and several WIA. My team and I had just flown back from the Syrian border--where we had no running water or decent food for weeks. We needed to re-fit, shower, clean weapons and equipment and collect our mail.
I explained to her that when we returned from a job (mess kit repair) we usually had the next day back off so we could prep for the next job. She said: "I want you in the office in the morning at 0600 hrs. We're not having any days off anymore...there's a war on and we need to work harder....we'll work from 0600 to 2300 everyday."
Oh my God! At this point in the "war" most units gave their people one day off a week. That day off might vary, as it did with our teams, but you could not go a whole year in that shithole without days off...the human body just needed time to recover. There were times I was there (like the battle of Fallujah) where we worked 7 days a week...but at this point in time, there was nothing that dramatic going on....just a very young, stupid, over eager new 2nd LT who wanted to get a Silver Star or some crap.
I bit my tongue...and didn't say much. She had formed some reason to think my team and I were dirt-bags. I never said anything to correct this concept she came up with...I would just have to prove myself one more time. This LT was going to really piss me off.....
To be cont.

28 September 2008

This idea might save a few milion $$


From the Soldier side: As many of you know, several months ago I was on the list of soldiers in my unit to go to Kosovo. Yes, we still have some American Soldiers there. Why, I don' t know. I didn't have to go because there were lots of youngsters who had never been deployed anywhere yet....and thought this would be a good mission to "learn" how to do our job...(mess kit repair.)
However, they seem to have me on the "alternate" list for the next mission...this would be the Calif. Army National Guard 40th ID (Infantry Division) who'd be going. If I went, I'd be repairing mess kits....like I did in Bosnia and sort of like I did in Iraq--but without the tan clothes and body armor.
So, I've been "pinging" some of my mates who're in Kosovo right now...trying to get the good intel on what's going on so we can better prepare.
Each soldier is sending me an e-mail from different locations and offices---most don't know I've asked everyone what's up.... and they all say pretty much the same thing.
"It's like a European Vacation --but you get paid tax free." (in other words, it's a waste of time)
"Nobody in command seems to have any idea what's going on outside the camp."
"It seems like one command group is fighting with the other---and neither knows what's going on ."
Should I tell them that this is normal? A WWII Nazi General said: "The US Army does so well in war because the deal with Chaos everyday."
The main problem the US Military has now on deployments is the leaders are trained not for war, but for how to do stuff in a non-war environment. In both Bosnia and Iraq, we had to stop missions ( I mean real live things that needed to be done) so we could come in and fill out things like evaluation reports....or sit a listen to a class on affirmative action ( we had almost every race, religion as well as male and females on most missions -- I think we were very diverse and gave everyone and equal chance to die in Iraq!)
One night in Iraq, I was woken up at midnight...to come see the 1st Sergeant. All the NCOs were brought in. It seemed the asshole Sergeant Major didn't like the way some of the NCO Evaluation Reports (NCOERs) were filled out. He had taken a nap during the hot afternoon. Then woke up at 8 PM and began looking at the forms. He was so upset, that he had called all the 1st Sergeants and began his little fit. So, my fellow NCOs and me sat up for 3 hours checking the forms over (my stuff was squared away)...then got up at 5 am to go out on mission in Baghdad....while the REMF Sergeant Major slept in .
I can't wait to retire and get a prescription for medical marijuana and make the last 30 years a blurrrrrrr......

21 September 2008

When told to go...then GO!

From the Citizen Soldier side: As most of my readers know, I've been involved in a few things in my life. Or motto we came up with when I was in the Calif Army National Guard Engineers was: "The four seasons of the Cal Guard- Floods, Fires, Earth Quakes & Riots."
Several years ago I was called up to go to the "Russian River" area in California...they said that there was a 100% chance that it was going to flood.
So, we loaded up our 1968 vintage 5 Ton Dump Trucks (which weigh about 28,000 pounds empty) and headed out to the river area fire stations.
We were pre-positioned ahead of the flood. They knew that the main roads from the western areas (closer to the cost) were going to be under a lot of water. Our job was to support the local law, assist the fire departments and evacuate people who made it to the fire stations.
All of the residents were told that they had to leave the low grounds...that no rescue was going to go into the rapid moving water and save people...there were not going to be any helicopter rescues....in other words, if you were in the flood zone, move your ass to higher ground before the flood.

Still, a lot of people didn't take the warning...why? Because of a few reasons. Reason 1: they were stoned / drunk and didn't know what was going on.
Reason 2: they were too friggen stupid. Or, 3: a combination of those 2.
The day the river flooded, my 5 ton truck, my assistant driver and me were at one of the fire stations way out west. The fire chief told us that there was a fire truck stuck and wanted to know if we could go help pull it out since we had a winch. I was happy to help.
The truck was stuck in a yard of a house...the water was moving fast...breaking out windows in the house and washing away everything in the yard. As we drove into the yard, my 28,000 pound truck started to drift sideways. I almost shit my pants. The water was that deep and that strong to move my truck like it was a Volkswagen.
I kept the throttle steady...I had it in all wheel drive...and we made it to the stuck fire truck. My assistant, a brave little E-4 jumped into the water and hooked our line to the truck and we were able to pull it to higher ground.
Later that day, we were sent to the red cross station. Some crazy volunteer lady was yelling at me to drive my truck right up to the building so the refugees wouldn't get wet walking out to the street. The building was surrounded by a parking lot full of cars...try to think how big my truck was...there was no way I could drive it into that parking lot full of cars....
So, I put her in all wheel drive, low range and drove over the flower planter they had between the sidewalk and the parking lot and backed her right up to the damn door. Destroying the flower planter in the process---but making my own exit path.
Who did we have to load up? A bunch of drunk, stoned semi-homeless, hippie, dreggs of the county. Most of them were still drunk/stoned and started to complain that there was no heat in the back of the truck---and they wanted to ride up front.
I pointed out, that my truck was returned from Viet Nam and it had no heat in the cab either.
Later that night, a drunk guy woke up in his house....he called the fire department and said: "can you come rescue me, there's water all around my house."
People kept calling for a helicopter to come and get them. After we told them we had no air support, but we could send a 5 ton, they said" Never mind, I wanted the helicopter to rescue me."

Go check out youtube and see the Coast Guard rescues from Hurricane Ike....think about how each time they pull up some dumbass...they are risking their own lives....oh it looks exciting and dramatic....but if it was me that they were pulling up, I'd not want my face on the news because I was a dumbass.

When told to leave because a flood, fire etc is coming....get the hell out. People who stay behind are stupid and put those who get stuck rescuing dumbasses in danger. If I had sunk my 5 ton saving a bunch of semihomelessdrunkbumbs, I would have been very upset.

(if you were one of them dumbasses, I'm so sorry if I offended you.)

17 September 2008

When Disssasster Strikes.... Who has to stay around?




From the Cop side: Hurricane Ike created a giant mess in Texas. This is one time I wish my National Guard unit would call me so I could go help. I have experience. I have training. I've been to 2 floods, a fire, an earthquake, a riot, and a war (and Bosnia, but that just had landmines and bad drivers)...but when it's your home...it's different. I've been lucky...my home has always been safe.
When I returned from Iraq in 2005, I took 30 days off before I went back to work at the Police Department. Now, I wish I had taken more time off...or picked a different time to have gone back.
My first day back in patrol we had a bank robbery. Our town had not had a bank robbery for at least 15 years! Why did he wait until the day I came back from Iraq? Was it Taliban?

TWO weeks later, the entire down town flooded. We lost our fire station and the police station....and all but one or two businesses in the down town were destroyed.
For the next 11 days, I worked 12 hours a day walking a foot beat in the down town.... because I wanted to...and because most of the other cops working (who were half my age) wanted to be in a patrol car because their feet hurt from walking the first day. I felt that a bad day in California was still better than a good day in Iraq. Yeah, even though it was a mess, I was happy to be there to help.

Some people expect the government to come and help.... 2 days before the flood, I was given fliers to hand out in one area of town we were sure was going to flood. The fliers explained where to pick up free sand and sand bags. Some of the people I handed the fliers to asked if the city public works was going to deliver the free sand and sand bags. I pointed out on the flyer that each citizen was responsible for getting their own.

Guess how many citizens went and got their free sand and free sand bags?

ZERO, NONE, NADA, ZIP. Not one single person in that area did one thing to prepare for the flood. Those I talked to in person...I told: "It is going to flood here, you need to sand bag your home."

If you ask me...they were a bunch of useless, whiny, ...... well you get my point. Then...they wanted to sue the town for not doing anything to prevent the flood.

(Every time the town tries to clear the creeks, some tree hugging hippies come out and complain that they are killing some endangered weed or something.)

God, I can't wait to retire.

16 September 2008

Once it was a good idea...then it went to h....



From the Soldier side: If you were interested in firearms in the 1980's...then you might recall the US Military effort to find a replacement for the 1911 A1 .45 ACP. All of the services got together (in spirit anyway) and said they wanted a 9mm semi auto pistol to replace the .45. They came up with a list of requirements for safety, durability, ease of use, etc and put the word out to all the gun makers to "Make it this way!"
Colt, Smith & Wesson and a few other companies could not come up with anything worth a hoot...it took 2 foreign countries to build pistols that would meet what the US military needed.
This was a good idea...except for a minor point... why 9mm? Since the military is forced to use FMJ (that means full metal jacket) loaded to a useless velocity...where as if they'd stuck with a BA.45 (Big Ass .45) they'd at least have a big chuck of lead flying at the target...oh well...N.A.T.O. thought the 9mm was better....so we got stuck with it.
OK, so the US Army did the testing...and I have to say...no other handgun or weapon was ever tested as hard as in this test. They dropped them in mud...they dropped them in sand...they froze the guns, they heated them up, they did everything they could and which pistol won?
The Beretta Model 92F...now called the M9. It IS A GOOD GUN. I know, I carried one as a cop by choice for several years and I carried one in Bosnia and Iraq. The only reason I don't still use one for police work is I can now carry a .45 auto! If I was limited to only a 9mm, I'd carry the Beretta.
So...now my National Guard Unit is getting re-organized. (all so a LTC would have a job) and they re-organized weapons. We now have the Sig M-11 9mm pistol. This is not the first time I've seen these. They are a somewhat more compact version of a 9mm pistol (4 inch barrel compared to the M9's 5 inch barrel)...but as some units found out too late when going to Iraq...the M9 and the M11 use different magazines....totally different! One will not work in the other...no way. I saw a few officers take M9 magazines, fully load them, then when they were heading outside the "wire" in Iraq...tried to shove them into their M11 pistol. Oh shit!
The M11's are supposed to be for "special" people. But if I have to deploy again, please give me an M9---unless I can take a .45... and very few officers should be given firearms in the first place.

11 September 2008

7 Years ago today...Sep 11, 2001

From the Soldier side: 7 years ago today I was doing my morning work out when I got a phone call telling me to turn on the news. That was the point where the second plane was crashing into the second tower in New York City.
I knew at that point that it was not an accident. In a few seconds, after thinking it over, I knew that the National Guard would be sending me some place to do something. After all, they'd need mess kit repair soldiers right away to help fix things.
Within a few months, my enlistment was about to expire...I could have just let it do so and gotten out. But, being a big dumbass, I signed up for 6 more years.
Soon, people from my guard unit were deploying to Afghanistan and Gitmo (lots of broken mess kits to fix). Meanwhile, I was still getting trained and figured I'd miss out on all the fun.

Nope.... Got called up in Jan 03 to start processing with another mess kit repair unit to prepare for Iraq. By Feb 03, we'd been re-tasked--- for Bosnia. Came back from there and 3 months later they asked us to go on vacation to Iraq.

That's how 911 changed my families life... how did it change yours?

If you don't have a flag up today, please put one up. Yeah our country has made a few mistakes, but it's still the best country in the world. If you ask a terrorist, they want to kill us all, but they'd love to live here.

03 September 2008

A Gov Agency more screwed up than a .....



From the Soldier side: I was talking to one of the students in the "mess kit repair" class that I'm helping with at Camp----. He's in the Army National Guard and was born in another country. He told me a story of how he'd applied for US Citizen Ship a few years ago. He was in the process, when he got deployed to Iraq with the National Guard.

He got a letter whilst in Iraq from the Department of Homeland Stupidity...telling him that since he was "out of the country" they were suspending the citizenship process. I asked if the the government assholes understood that he was in Iraq fighting for this great country---something a lot of people who're already US citizens haven't done...and they were screwing with him.

He is now a US Citizen fixen' to go on another deployment for his country. Now, in my mind that man is a hero....oh, there's a few in this class who've deployed to Iraq at least once...one guy has been there twice and is going to Afghanistan next....and not one of them are complaining about it. They just want to learn how to do their jobs well. I am so lucky to be surrounded by heroes.

01 September 2008

Republik of What????



From the Soldier side: Today whilst in class, one of the soldiers I deployed to Iraq asked me how I dealt with the stress from Iraq. I told him "HUMOR." Then I told him that the 12 or 15 times I got mortared and the time I got shot at didn't really bother me. What bothered me was the dumb leaders we had...some were determined to get soldiers killed for no reason.

Then I just read an e-mail from a very good friend of mine who' s deployed in Kosovo right now. His complaint?--"Dumbass leaders who won't listen."

Now, this dude has done a tour in Iraq doing (mess kit repair) so he's no rookie...but most of the high ranking officers he's stuck working for have not done shit...and won't listen. People, this is why we loose wars. The officers need to listen to the smart NCOs.

This is part of the reason we still have a few US troops in Kosovo...we're being lead by idiots. Remember, "There's Stupid and there's Army Stupid."

The photo above is one of our guys in Bosnia. I had to explain to a dumbassofficer one day that our team worked in the Republic of Serbska. She had no idea what I was talking about...and she was supposed to be in charge of us. Most of the Bosnians in this area were Orthodox Christians...and they have Christmas in January...not December. I had to explain that also. See...I went out into my AO almost everyday...so I knew my area very well.

30 August 2008

It's so easy to get busted....


From the Cop/Soldier side: I'm still away helping to train some troops who'll be going to a bad place soon. But, "mess kit repair" is a really important job.

During a break, I was talking to a young trooper....she's been deployed and perhaps is still unwinding from it. She knew I was a civilian cop, so she asked me how she could take care of a problem....seems she had gone into town with some other soldiers while off duty. So, what do most soldiers do when they're off duty and drinking is allowed? They drink. But, too often they don't have a decent battle plan.

If they were going on a convoy in Iraq, they'd have designated who was on the guns, who was truck commander and they would have DESIGNATED WHO WAS DRIVING!!!

Why not make up the same convoy plan when going out to have fun? Figure out who's driving and buy the soldier all the coke they can drink...feed them.... whatever...so the rest can have a safe way back. This is not a new idea. But, let me tell you how easy it is for us cops to find and arrest a drunk driver....or spot someone staggering down the sidewalk. It's our job...please don't do this to yourself. Don't blame the cops...don't blame the bartender....don't blame anyone but the person pouring the drinks down your throat. I've been there....but I always took the bus back to the barracks....

Any arrest can screw up your life...so don't be stupid, show how smart you are by making a good battle plan...then drink all you want.

In memory of C.C. who deployed with us to Bosnia...but didn't make it home one night... a good soldier and a great kid.... who left the road at 90--- and there's nothing more to say.

29 August 2008

Really...How Stupid can you be and still remember to breath?


From the Soldier side: We were talking over chow the other day about some of the places some of us visited in Iraq. I still have enough frequent flyer miles left over, that I could fly anywhere I want (in Iraq) for free.
On one of my missions, we had flown to Fallujah, Iraq. I think this was about my 3rd or 4th trip there. This was during the sand storm season. My team and I got there without incident...did our mission and were fixen' to fly back to Baghdad.
One problem...no flights were going anywhere because of a sand storm. So, we were stuck in Fallujah for awhile. I still called back to Baghdad each day and gave a "SITREP" - situation report on my team and myself.
Each day I'd walk over and check with flight ops...and each day I was told:"Nothing is flying with this sand storm." Then I'd walk back to where my team was resting and told them to take off until dinner. This went on for awhile. Each day I'd call Baghdad and tell them the same thing: "We're stuck here until the sandstorm goes away."
One day I called and a Warrant Officer answered. This lady had already impressed me as not being very bright....so I told her we were stuck due to the sandstorm. She showed her smarts by saying: "why don't you see if you can get on a stand-by flight."
I was shocked at how stupid someone could be...and I tried not to laugh when I said: "Chief, the stand-by flights fly in the same air as the regular flights...it's the same air and it's full of sand!"
This was a WO-2, and I knew privates who were ten times smarter.
What is wrong with our "New Army?" I can tell you, it's full of too many idiots in leadership roles...I mean idiots who'll get troops killed.

28 August 2008

Our view of history....


From the Bored Soldier side: I'm down here at Camp //// helping to train some future mess kit repair soldiers. The other day we were driving around to go do something, when we looked over at this WWII Japanese tank they have on display.
The first thing we said was: "man that thing is pretty small."
Then our minds started running away... One guy said it looked like a couple of GI's could have walked up to it and tipped it over.
Then I thought out loud how when the Japanese tankers were in their A.I.T. (Advanced Individual Training) back in 1940....I could see other soldiers taking these tanks and picking them up and putting them on the lawn in front of their PX...or while Private Yomoto was driving it around, they would pick it up and drop it in the lake or something. Or...get one of the really fat guys to sit on the hatch so they couldn't get out.
This tank is about the size of a Toyota car.
Moving ahead to 2008... don't forget that there's a big election coming up in Nov. We need a president and congress that will fix the 2 wars going on now... and do something to improve help for Vets. (the VA hospital system is so backed up, I was getting bills for my visits...when I called I always got a different answer...until they understood I was an Iraq vet and was not supposed to get billed.)
Anyway, one way to help get the word out is to have an organization that speaks up for OIF and OEF vets... like http://www.iava.org/ If you are vet of Iraq or Afghanistan, then join this group...if you are not a vet, but a supporter, please join this group. I've followed and given orders for many years....but when the vets come home, they are often forgotten. It's happened many times in history. Don't let it happen again. Thanks.

27 August 2008

There's Dumb and there's ARMY DUMB

From the Soldier side: I'm away from home where I'm supposed to be helping do some training to help train some soldiers to do "Mess Kit Repair."
These are troops who'll be deploying to bad places soon. I'll get back and have some stories on things that are dumb, then there's Army Dumb.
(This is supposed to be an improvement over and Army of One...or as we used to say, an Army of Some-- then some may recall "Be all you can Be")
When will the Army learn, it's not the slogan, it's what you do that counts. The Army gives a bonus for some jobs....and they still have a hard time getting enough people. The Marines have never given a bonus, and they seem to have plenty of folks wanting to join.
I'm trying to figure that out.

21 August 2008

A REAL LEADER!!!




From the Soldier Side: Someone pointed out that they thought my blog was too negative. I'm sorry about that, so, let me post something more positive. As most of my readers know one of my favorite topics has to do with leadership. Do you know what a good leader is? I think I do. A good leader for a business is usually about profit--right? If you are running a business, the business needs to make a profit. So, it should be good to see if someone is a good leader...right? Maybe not. Sometimes, a person Bullshits their way into a leadership job. But I don't want to talk about those people. That's too negative.
I want to talk about a good Military leader. He was in Iraq with our unit. He and his merry band of brothers and sister were what we called OIF 2.5 (two point five). That means they came in the middle of OIF 2 and left in the middle of OIF 3 (I was in OIF 3). This must have been the Army's way of having some units with an overlap.
Anyway, this dude was a Master Sergeant (E-8.) He was high enough in the NCO food chain to have stayed on the camp with all the other E-8's. But, he was a TEAM LEADER for one of our teams. He could have gone out (they went out 6-7 days a week) and rode inside the Up armored Humvee...but he didn't. He rode out in the gun turret.
The first time I saw him standing in the gun turret, I thought he was just joking around...but I found out he went out into Baghdad and back and stood in the gun turret the entire time....every day.
One day I asked the Master Sergeant: "Why do you ride in the gun turret? Shouldn't you have someone junior do that...like a PFC?"
He looked at me and said: " I wouldn't have one of my people do something I wouldn't do.... besides I'm better on the gun than any of them."
That guy (the one of the far left of the left photo) was one of my heroes. He lead out front...he lead by example... he lead by showing others how to do the job...he had really big balls.