30 July 2008

If you know one, ask them to tell a story....

From the Soldier side: Our WWII Vets are passing on at a very fast rate...so if you know one, have him sit down and tell you some stories.... I can almost guarantee that it will be a good one.
One of my dear old friends who died a few years ago was a Crew Chief on the B-17 Bomber.... OK, wait a minute, I should back up here...does everyone know what years the US was in WWII? (1941-45)
...Ok back on story. Anyway, my friend's job was to make sure all the .50 Cal M2 Browning Machine guns worked. How many of these wonderful weapons were on each B-17???? (Depending on the model) 2 in the front, 2 on the top ball turret, one on each side (waist gunners) 2 in the bottom ball turret, 2 in the rear for a total of 10 guns.... and he had to make sure each gun was cleaned, oiled, barrel set with correct head space and timing.
In 1999, he could still tell me verbatim how to take one apart, put it together and set the head space and timing. (If you don't set the head space and timing right, it will not shoot, or it will blow up!)
So what was in motivation to make sure each and every gun worked perfect? If any gun failed on a mission over Germany, my friend had to take the place of that gunner on the next bombing mission. He told me that he was highly motivated!
I used the same idea in Iraq. We had some Tech folks who were kind of lazy about making sure something we had on our humvees worked each day....a few times I caught them sluffing their duty because they wanted to sleep in.
I found the lazy E-4 and brought him outside in front of the Sergeant Major. I told the lazy ass E-4 about my friend from WWII who worked on the machine guns. I told the Lazy Ass E-4 that if the equipment failed, he was going to man the gun the next time out. He tried to tell me that he was too important...and the Sergeant Major spoke up and said that was a good idea.
Now he was motivated.

So, as history rolls on, the equipment changes, the guns change (except we're still using the same M2 .50 cal machine gun that was used in WWII)...but the old ways to motivate the REMFS are still good.

26 July 2008

Getting shot at.... Part II

From the Soldier side: OK, how long should I drag this out? OK, next week I'll be kind of busy...I have to actually go to a police training class...don't ask me what it's about...
So, let's get back to July 2005, in Iraq. I can look back on so much crap that happened back then and laugh about it.....
By the time we got to Al Asad, as I was saying, the Marines decided to send us to Al Qaim. (go back to the 4th of July story). Al Qaim was an old train depot...so there were lots of trains cars and parts all over. I've always had a thing about trains, so I had fun looking at all the crap. I was trying to figure if I could build my own train engine and drive it back to Baghdad, then to Kuwait...but all the stuff was too broken to use and I wasn't sure if the tracks were ok.
So we sat around Al Qaim for about a week until a convoy was ready to go to Camp Gannon. This was my first cross desert convoy...dusty as heck...what a ride...in a Marine Am Trak. I felt pretty safe in that beast, but soon tired of eating dust. (I had been an M113 commander many years before...sort of the same kind of vehicle.)
So, we got to Camp Gannon... just before we got there, the Marines had been attacked an average of twice a day. (Google Camp Gannon) I group of terrorist had even loaded a fire truck with explosives and tried to drive it into the camp.
This was a hot place.
Breakfast was before the sun came up--- T-Rations, warm milk, no toast, no fresh fruit, nothing cold. Lunch- MREs, Dinner- T-Rations. I lost 10 pounds in 2 weeks... better than any other diet program. No running water, no AC, but plenty of ammo and Internet! To take a shower, we got 3 1.5 liter bottles to fill up a camp shower bag...we only had enough water to do this twice a week..so we smelled like hell all the time.

We were so close to Syria, that I threw rocks over the fence into Syria just so I could tell people: "I was so close to Syria, I could throw a rock and hit it." No shit. (look at the left picture, that's Syria)
During the day it was just too hot to do a damn thing... over 110F. At night it cooled down to 99F.... I had a hard time sleeping, so I moved to the Medic Bunker--they had AC there. (I kept saying I'm getting too old for this shit, but nobody listened.)
Night Missions: The Marines usually did their best work at night. Since my team was all "kids" they wanted me to go with them.... so the first night job we rolled out on a "water mission."
We dropped off cases of bottled water, then went to "chat" with some folks. One of the "chats" required us to go up to a house with a locked gate out front. They sent "Private Snuffy" over the wall to unlock the gate for us.
We got into the yard and as everyone was walking up to the house, I saw a couple of guys sleeping in the shadows....I almost shot them, but saw they were not armed. Woke em' up and moved them out of the way. Private Snuffy got yelled at for not seeing them.
A few days later, some friggen Marine Major wanted to walk into town and "chat" with someone. We went with him. No problems going out...talked to the people we needed to talk to. So we started to walk back to the camp....
Now, forget what you see on TV and the movies. Full Metal Jacketed rifle bullets travel at over 2,000 feet per second. Unless they hit something, you do not hear a whizz, a buzz, or anything else. If you are still alive, like I am, I heard an AK 47 firing a long burst. I've heard it a hundred times...remember the Iraqis fire these things at weddings, funerals, and for any other reason. I had heard them fire so many times...I didn't even think that the guy was shooting at us.

When we got back into the camp, the Marine sniper dude who was our over watch said: "Sorry, that dude shot at you, but I couldn't fire on him because there were woman and kids around him."
I was pissed...not at the Marines, but at the assholeIraqi who had shot at us. I wanted to go look for him. He missed, but he was trying to kill me. That really pissed me off...but I'm still alive.
This was the first and hopefully last time I was shot at... and I'm still pissed off that I couldn't go after the little terrorist who did it.

24 July 2008

My 3rd Anniversary of getting shot at!

From the Soldier side: Well, I didn't tell you all, but a few days ago was my anniversary of getting shot at in Iraq. Funny...I've been a civilian cop for almost 30 years, and nobody has ever had the balls to shoot at me, plus I never gave anyone the chance. (good use of cover, tactics and things like "hey, put the gun down dumbass, or I'm going to kill you." worked)
However, there's always sometimes when you get put into something where you have no friggen control over what's happening. Like, when you get sent out to Bumm f.... Iraq to help the Marines.
My newest team was given orders to "go west". I mean way out in West Iraq. The orders came down that we were going to some place called Camp Korea.
So, I had my lads look up what they had there....what kind of chow, PX, recreation...etc. It didn't look too bad. So, we loaded up our stuff and moved...by Army Choppers to Al Asad (again). We got there and I talked to my counter parts in the Marines...ran into a Marine Capt who was in Bosnia the same time I was....we told war stories for awhile... about the good beer and stuff.
After hanging around Al Asad for a while, they changed their minds....said we were going to Al Qaim Iraq. OK, hows the food? Good KBR food, no other stuff...have to wash clothes by hand. OK whatever.
We got to Al Qaim and hung around.....
To be cont. (don't you want to hear about me getting shot at.....come back later.)

22 July 2008

Now, I can retire...

From the Soldier and cop side: As most of my readers know, I have been a civilian police officer for almost 30 years. During my police Career, I have gone after a lot of bad guys. Some I found right away, some, I had to track down and get arrest warrants for. Some took a long time to catch...but I always caught them, or one of my brothers or sisters did. I never give up...I never quit.
When I was deployed to Bosnia, there was a person I was looking for. We found a few of his underlings, but I was always a little late on actaully catching the boss. I spent several months there and I failed...but I knew someday he'd be caught. Now that he's been arrested, I can retire from the Army National Guard in peace...the arrest of Radovan Karadzic, the former leader of Bosnian Serbs who is accused of war crimes, made my day.
If you don't know who he is, look him up. We can't let history forget this kind of person...or this kind of history will be repeated over and over. Have a good day, I'm going to have a Pivo and enjoy the Bosnian Wedding...

21 July 2008

It's so, so easy to get one....

From the Cop side, to help my Soldier friends and others:
One of my favorite blogg sites is "Words From a Warrior"...sometimes I post on that sight as a guest. There's a recent entry about a person who keeps their cell phone on full volume just in case a friend might need a ride home after having too many drinks. That person is a HERO!
Let me tell you all a few things that just might help keep you from getting a DUI. As a civilian cop, I have a thing about arresting those who drive drunk....my older brother was put in the hospital for weeks when he was in high school because a drunk driver hit the motorcycle he was on the back of--- killing my brother's friend. One of my uncles was killed by a drunk driver. But guess what-- in both cases, my brother's friend and my uncle...they were also driving while drunk! I wonder if they had been sober if they would have been able to avoid the crash that killed them.
As a cop, I've arrested lots of drunk drivers.....sometimes I got them too late...after the crash. My goal was to catch them before the crash so nobody got hurt.
What was so common in most of the drunk driving cases I investigated? In so many cases, the person was just average. They had stopped for dinner, or at a friends house, or whatever. They had just planned on having one or two drinks. They did. Then they had one or two more, and one or two more. I found that most of the time, after two drinks, the average person can't count.
After my unit returned from Iraq. One of the sergeants I was in charge of, who had also been to Bosnia with me... called me one day. He had to tell me that he'd been arrested for a DUI. His story sounded like one I had heard a lot of times. "I stopped to have dinner with friends after work....I thought I only had two drinks...but I guess I lost count."
He was driving a company truck, so he had to tell his civilian boss. He was at risk of loosing his Army security clearance, and getting punitive action from the National Guard (double jeopardy?)
In California there are some mandatory things that are going to happen to someone convicted of DUI. You are going to spend lots of time and money going to court, treatment, a few days in jail, insurance increases, driving restrictions, and other things that now take TEN YEARS to clear your record.
Enough of trying to scare you. So, lets say you got back from Iraq and you want to go party. How did you survive Iraq? With a good plan....and a good back up plan. Plan out your drinking. If you are going to drink ---any amount--- you are not going to drive. Have a designated driver. If you think that's a wusss thing to do, then think about the crash you're going to have if someone like me doesn't catch you first. Let's say you crash into another car with a family and you injure or kill some innocent kid or their parent. How are you going to live with that Hero?
Drink smart, or I'm going to come and kick your ass. The person you kill might be you... if that's what you want to do, don't do it in a way that might hurt others.
Remember, you came home a hero....one little slip, and then you're an asshole. Trust me, having people think you're a hero feels a lot better.

18 July 2008

So you got a big A... knife...

From the Soldier side:

Look carefully at the photo and let me know if you see what is wrong with this picture. For those of you who've used AR/ M16s, you may see what I'm talking about. I'm glad she didn't have to engage the target....

On another note... a favorite topic of mine came up again the other day. What kind of knife should a person carry for work? Now, if you go back many postings, I wrote about what knives I carry at my police job...but what about for military deployments to places like Iraq?

As soon as this topic comes up, I think of a "killer" soldier we had. He joined us during our mob training for Iraq. He was a PFC (E-3) in the XYZ National Guard. When we went out in the field for training at Ft Lewis, he had all kinds of extra gear he had purchased...including a few big ass knives. Some of these things had blades over a foot long. He would say things like: "when I worked with the Special Forces...bla bla bla, this is what they carried."

After so much of this, I asked him one day what his MOS was. He was a cook. He had no "Special Forces" patch or jump wings or anything else...so my next question was when did he work for Special Forces.... uhhh, then he got kind of flustered. (usually an indication of a person not telling the truth.) Finally he came up with: "Well, I served some of them food one time."

When we got to Iraq, PFCwannabespecialforces guy lasted about 1 week. Then he complained that his knee was hurting him. They sent him back to the states to have his knee looked at. The doc told him to loose about 5o pounds and his knee would feel better. Then about 11 months into our tour, they sent him back to Iraq. He wanted to use my M9 pistol when he went out and he asked to borrow other gear I had....Nope, I needed it.... I got kind of tired of this kid after about 15 minutes.

Why do I NOT carry big ass knives in wars? Because I've seen so many troops cut themselves by accident. One Joe stuck his big ass knife in a leather sheath into his boot. He was just walking along and tripped in hole. The knife cut through the sheath and into his ankle. I've seen lots of Joes and a Jane cut themselves pulling the knife out or trying to put it away in a hurry.

The old issue bayonet for the M16 caused more friendly injuries than not.

I have a large knife collection...some long ass knives. The big knives stay at home in my collection, I use a locking folder that I can open with one hand.... it's safer.

Oh, if you can't figure it out...the cop in the picture has the rifle magazine in backwards. Don't laugh too hard...I've seen this many times in Iraq and police work. Maybe the M16 type rifle is just too complicated for some people...or maybe they need more training? I can load it etc with a blindfold on. Maybe some people are in the wrong business?

15 July 2008

Al- Asad, Iraq

From the Soldier side: To continue with my adventures in Iraq... lets see I think our last story had us on a trip to Fallujah again. From there we took a very long convoy to Al Asad air base... We rode with the Navy See Bees again. The bad part of their convoys were they usually had to escort some old POS Iraqi gravel trucks that could only go about 25-30 MPH. So, the convoys were at night, very long and very slow. This took all night, about 7-8 hours. We got to Al Asad and did what we had to do...(my conclusion was it was a total waste of time, but I just follow orders.)
After a few very hot days there, we turned around and convoyed back to Fallujah, almost. Our convoy was supposed to leave at a certain time, but it was delayed over an hour because one of the Iraqi trucks was broke. As we left, another unit ended up ahead of us on the route. We had contact with them via "Blue Force Tracker" (google that). The unit ahead of us stopped when they came across and car on the route. The car was full of explosives and set to go off when an American convoy came along. If we had left on time we may have been blown up. I keep telling people, somebody is watching over me. We turned around and went back to Al Asad and left the next night with no problems. A few nights later, that See Bee unit was hit with an IED while on another convoy. Convoy duty sucked in Iraq...anybody who had to do that for their whole tour had some huge spheres.

10 July 2008

The "Patch"

From the Soldier side: The really cool thing about writing in your very own blogg is...you can write about almost anything you want. I have been accused of "bitching" a few times. As far as I'm concerned, any soldier has a right to bitch. As a leader, I have to hear those who work for me bitch all the time...some do it more than others...so we call them "whiners."

If you've been following my posting, you know that a bunch of my mates are deployed in Kosovo now. Some of these lads have been to Bosnia and Iraq with me...and this is their third deployment... and may not be there last. (most of the rest have been called up to fight fires in CA.) If you're like most average citizens, you may not even know we still have some troops in Kosovo....like when we were in Bosnia in 03-04, a lot of people didn't know we were still there...and didn't give a shit.

I did have as much fun as you can legally have on a deployment, in Bosnia...and I don't mean going to some stupid ass WMR rec center thing at night. I mean I went into the cites and villages to "work." It was the best job I ever had. Bosnia (in the later years) like the current Kosovo mission, is manned by National Guard troops for the US contribution.

So, while I was goofing off in the office, I looked up the web site for the US military in Kosovo (KFOR 10). I was having a really hard time trying to figure out why we were still sending troops there. Then I looked at the top leaders they have there.... they have no "Combat Patch."
However, Kosovo is a hostile/ hazard duty zone...tax free. So, I figured it out. This is a deployment for National Guard officers and Command Sergeant Majors to go to without getting shot at. It's safe, it's easy and it's tax free!

It's kind of sad...when we look at anyone who's trying to instruct us, or train us, we all look at their right sleeve and see if they have a combat patch.... if they don't we don't listen very close.

08 July 2008

Mice killer with a .44

From the Cop side: OK, as I advertise I sometimes have to post news events here. You might think I'd post more about Iraq or something like that...but reading the on-line news from a local paper, I came across this:
Woman tries to kill mice, shoots self

A Potter Valley woman wounded herself and a man July 3 while attempting to kill mice with a .44-caliber Magnum revolver, according to the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.
The woman, 43, had drawn the gun from a holster under her left arm, intending to shoot mice scurrying across the floor of a small travel trailer on Highway 20 in Potter Valley, according to the Sheriff's Office.
The revolver instead slipped from her hand and fired as it struck the floor, according to the Sheriff's Office.
The bullet went through the woman's right kneecap, then hit keys hanging on the belt loop of a 42-year-old man in the trailer, officials said. The bullet glanced off the keys and tore a hole in the man's pants.
The bullet grazed the man's groin before stopping in his coin pocket, where it was recovered for evidence, according to the Sheriff's Office.
The names of the shooting victims were not released.

This was just way too funny. You know I'm a firearms instructor, so when I see something like this, I just have to share it. Notice they live in a trailer, she had a .44 and she tried to shoot mice with it. I'm still laughing.

Oh, as far as getting called up to fight fires in CA....I don't have to go for now.

05 July 2008

4th OF JULY, 2005, Al Qaim, Iraq

From the Soldier Side: I hope everyone had a really good 4Th of July. I was thinking that it was better than the one I had in Iraq. My team and I were at Al Qaim, Iraq with the USMC. They had a BBQ (no beer) and cold soda. It was pretty good. For fun, the Marines had a big ass run. They asked me if I wanted to run with them... I told them I was conserving my energy.
The Marines put all of their toys on display...like the M1 Tank. It was kind of like "Family Day" without the family part.
There was one Marine who did go running. He fell out of the run. Now, this guy was in pretty good shape, but he had been wounded in the leg, so it still hurt. I thought it was hard core for him to even try running. That's how the Marines are...they don't quit.
Al Qaim is an old train depot...it was along the "Orient Express" run. The people were good, KBR chow was good, but no kind of limited services. To wash your clothes you filled an old bucket up with water and soap and did it by hand. One of my younger soldiers was not able to figure out how to do this (his mom always did his laundry at home) so I showed him. Thank God I was a boyscout and had been in the Infantry many years before.
So, this 4Th of July was good...nobody trying to kill me.
As far as fire duty...I have to report in on Sunday to the armory. I hate fighting fires...they're hot and dirty.