31 January 2009

Hey, what did you expect?

From the Soldier side: I very, very good friend of mine, who was one of my bosses in Iraq, is now in Asscrackastan. He moved out of Calif, so he had to join another National Guard unit in that state.... so this is my friend's second deployment, second war.
He e-mailed me and told me how his unit issued his types a M-9 pistol and M16/M4 rifles, but forgot there's some things that go with pistols to make them work better. Let me explain:

A M-9 is a 9 MM semi auto pistol. It therefore needs MAGAZINES to shoot more than one round at a time. Without MAGS, it's basically a single shot.
A M-9, like most other pi sols, should be carried in a HOLSTER. Without a holster, a soldier tends to put the pistol in their belt, pocket or just walk around holding it and pointing at stupid people in supply.
A M-16 or M-4 is a fully auto/ semi auto rifle/ carbine. It requires MAGAZINES, or it is a single shot weapon.

My friends unit did not issue these key items. I'm trying to help him out, but I live in California, where High Cap magazines are illegal (except for cops like me, but then I can't legally give them to anyone not a cop).

This is why one of my key complaints about the US Army in general is the mentally defective people in charge.
Please, don't donate a magazine or holster, but, donate a brain to the leaders and the Supply folks.

26 January 2009

OK..so I thought I could avoid this.....

From the Soldier side: OK, so I was going to avoid taking about politics. I think I can still do that, and make a few points. I've read lots of stuff on some of my favorite blogs about some of the things the new President is doing. I think I should only talk about things I know about. In Bosnia (03-04) and Iraq (04-05) I did "mess kit repair." I traveled around both countries and fixed broken mess kits.

In Gitmo, Cuba, they have some of the broken "mess kits" my teams used to look for. When these mess kits were "found", we "repaired them".

While doing this in Iraq, I have to admit that about 75% of those "mess kits" we dealt with, should not have been brought in for "repairs". There was no reason.

The troops bringing in the "mess kits" often had little or no training on what to bring in. They were left to their on ideas of who was needing to be taken in. I had one LT who said when I asked why he brought someone in: "Well, I didn't want to be the only platoon on patrol not to bring in someone." I don't blame the troops. A lot of those I witnessed doing the "mess kit repair" had no idea what they were doing either--even though they had gone to some dumbass Army school for several weeks.

So many of these "mess kits" that were brought in, were "talked to" by soldiers with no experience and they suggested sending them all to a "higher repair facility".

I have sworn and oath to support and defend the constitution of the United States, etc. The president is my Commander and Chief. I'm glad I have one now who says in the matter of interrogations: "we should follow the Army Field Manual".

Yeah, I hate terrorist. They are cowards, whiny little pieces of shit. But, if we want to get information out of someone, torture will not work. Following the Army FM might not work either when you have those doing the interrogations who often have no fuc---- idea what they are doing. Interrogation is an art, not something you can do with a hammer.
I'm not just blowing smoke, I was there and if they asked, I'd go again...but only if we can do things right.

25 January 2009

Berlin Brigade Soldiers

From the Soldier side:
So, due to demand, I figured out how to scan in some of my old 110 film photos from my Berlin days.
After I arrived in Berlin, I was assigned to C-2-6. (It's funny, but years later I found this unit had been sent to Bosnia after they got moved out of Berlin) In the early months of 1975, there wasn't much going on. We were doing what they called "fighting the cold war"...which I can tell you after a tour in Iraq in 04-05, the cold war wasn't nothing.
Just as I was figuring my way around the Army and living inside the only free city inside a communist country, I thought I knew it all. I was just 18 years old.
At the end of April 1975, we were watching the news on AFN (Armed Forces Network). We saw that Saigon was getting overrun by the North.
Now, keep in mind, most of our NCOs had been to Nam at least once during this time. As they watched the news on TV, some of them got pretty upset...a few got so upset, that they had another beer or 2.
I had no real world fighting experience at this point....I didn't know sh--. I just watched the news.
Then...the next morning we got woke up at 0300 hours (3am) and told to pack all our gear and field uniforms. We were always on some kind of alert in Berlin...but this was my first time. I loaded all 3 uniforms and wore one. I packed all my socks etc, packed my ruck sack and ran out of the barracks and loaded on a Gamma Goat. We loaded our mortars, machine guns, etc and headed to Tempelhof AFB. We were there before 0900 hours. (thus the old add on TV: "US Army, we can do more before 9 than most people do in a whole day!")
The old timers (I mean anyone over 21 years old) were saying that we were headed for "Nam" to take back Saigon. We were going to war, they were telling us.
I was worried.
Then at noon, they brought out C-Rations. Fed us lunch. We took a nap. Then they woke us up, loaded back onto our Gamma Goats....drove back to the barracks...and that was the last we heard about Nam.

19 January 2009

Charlie Cobras-2/6 Infantary, Berlin Brigade

From the Soldier side: So before I continue my story.....tomorrow is going to be a great day in America. Not only are we swearing in the first African American President in our history, but we're getting rid of one of the worst bunch of leaders we have ever had to suffer under. A couple of people who should be tried by the Hague courts for war crimes....(Now that's about the only political words you'll hear from me on this blog-- the editor.)

Back to Germany in March 1975. When I got to Frankfurt, they were allowing some soldiers to pick where they wanted to be stationed. I picked Berlin. Why? Not really sure....just seemed like a good idea at the time. I still am not sure why...but that's where I got to go. The Spec-4 clerk who asked me to pick where I wanted to go, got upset when I told him I wanted to go to Berlin. I asked why it was a problem...he said he had to have "flag orders" made up. I had not idea what "flag orders" were. I turned out that they were orders with the 4 flags of Berlin at the top. The US, UK, USSR & the Frogs. I don't know why the Frogs got 1/4 of Berlin....they lost their war.

So, they made up the Flag Orders...and off I went on the longest train ride of my life... (I haven't been on too many train rides besides sub ways and such...) The "Duty Train" from Frankfurt to West Berlin was supposed to go straight through with no stops. But at every single town we went through in East Germany, the commies stopped the train and checked it out. It took all night to get to Berlin. Just as soon as we fell asleep, the damn train would stop...we'd fall asleep again...then it would go. Later this would be called "Sleep Deprivation"...something we could not do to detainees in Iraq....but the fuc--g Russians could do it to us.

The next morning, we un-assed the train in West Berlin. I had never been to Germany before this...but I was looking forward to drinking lots of German Bier as part of the WWII Army of Occupation! At the train station there was a Spec -5 to pick us up. He was the company clerk. I thought it was nice that he even helped to carry our bags to the truck. I was kind of in shock... a E-2 Private...but I wanted to act like I knew what I was doing and I didn't want to ask any dumbass questions. I was only 18 years old...

For more info on the Berlin Brigade, go to http://www.usarmygermany.com/Units/Berlin%20Brigade/USAREUR_Berlin%20Brigade.htm#BBHistory This was the only unit patch in the US Army with the name of a city at the top. Most citizens couldn't tell you one Army patch from another...but there was no doubt where a soldier was from when they had this patch on their shoulder.

Duty in Berlin was not really that bad. We had to have very highly spit shined boots and very heavy starch in our old OD Green uniforms. Just a regular spit shine was not enough for parades and guard duty... we went so far as to put Glow Coat floor polish on the tips of our jump boots. The starch in our uniforms was so heavy, they felt like card board. We painted all equipment every few months.... if it didn't move it got painted. The rest of the US Army had camo paint jobs on their vehicles, we had shiny OD Green Paint on ours. Everything had to shine. We spent half our training time getting things ready for inspections.


17 January 2009

A long long time ago.... US ARMY MOS 11-Charlie

From the Soldier side: Sorry, no digital images, since all I had in those days was a crappy little 110 film camera. When I was in the Regular Army, I made a small mistake at my enlistment....I failed to get the dude to put in writing what job I was going to get. Guess what job I got...

US Army Infantry, Indirect Fire Crewman: MOS 11C10. I thought I was going to get something that at least matched my IQ, I mean hell, I could actually read and write! After basic training, I was off to Fort Polk, LA. The swamps of the US, or as we called it...the asshole of America. What a hot, muggy, shitty place. I hated it the second I got off the plane.
Of course, being that I was from California, I got messed with by the drill sergeants all the time. I learned to ignore it. I figured that they were jealous because I could both read and write. They couldn't. Am I worried about any of them reading this blog? Nope, cause none of them could read. I'm safe.
My drill sergeants were all Nam Vets....some with more than one tour. They were tough and hard, even though they couldn't read, they did teach me to survive in the field.... stuff I still use today as a cop.

I learned how to set up the old 81mm mortar very quick. I could set up the rounds, screw in the fuse, set the charges and drop it down the tube with my eyes closed. ....and a few times I did.
We also learned all the other weapons the grunts used.

After grunt school, I was sent to Germany for assignment. I got to Frankfurt and they asked me where I wanted to be stationed. I looked at the map of Germany and I saw a little city all by it's self...West Berlin...over 100 K into East Germany. I thought that would be a really cool place to go.

To be cont.

13 January 2009

A Real Hero.... but gone....

From the Citizen Soldier side: There are a few times that the CI-Roller dude gets teared up a bit....this will be one of them....as I tell the rest of the Marysville flood story.
SFC Mike O, drove the Humvee from our armory to the armory in Marysville while I got to sleep.
When we arrived, it turned out that Mike was the highest ranking NCO, and had more knowledge of Army Engineering operations than any of the officers present. So, he was the guy to take charge of the mission. The mission was to repair the levees that had broken during the flood. If it rained again, which it would, and the levees were still broken, then the homes and town would flood again.
Mike got thing organized, and we had at least 15 of the old 5 ton dump trucks (still without heat). I was going to operate a truck and this time I had an assistant driver who could also drive.
We worked our asses off. We had a set up where we'd going to the local rock business and take a load of rocks and dump them on the levee. My truck was supposed to haul 5 tons, but I never took a load less than 7 tons. We did this in 2 shifts, 24 hours a day.
Mike was out on the levee for the first 3 or 4 days guiding each truck to dump it's load right were he wanted it. Even in the dark....the trucks had no back up lights, so Mike would guide them down the levee's with a flash light....running the 1/2 mile to the dump site.
He was like a man on crack! He was every where. The job got done, but without Mike, it might have taken a lot longer.
I will leave out the funny parts, like the old trucks I drove falling apart etc.
What ever happened to Mike? He retired from the Guard....then when 9/11 came, guess what he did? He re-joined the Engineers when he heard that they were going to Iraq. He couldn't let his old unit go to war without him. A lot of old timers retired, or a few hid and whined so they wouldn't get deployed. Not Mike. He went. This says he was ordered to Active Duty...nope, not correct. He volunteered, like I did, to go to Iraq.
Sergeant First Class Michael C. Ottolini, A Co 579th Engineer Battalion (OIF)
It is with deepest sympathy
that The California National Guard announces the death of Sergeant First Class Michael Ottolini, age 45, on 10 November 2004, died as a result of wounds received during an improvised explosive device (IED) attack while serving with his unit in Balad, Iraq. He is survived by his wife, and two children, and his father and mother.
SFC Ottolini joined the California Army National Guard on 17 December 1976 as a combat engineer in the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 579th Engineer Battalion, Santa Rosa. He served with the 579th Engineer Battalion during his entire military career. SFC Ottolini was an exemplary soldier who epitomized professionalism, dedication, and devotion to family. His unit pride was evident to all, and he is remembered for bringing his entire family (immediate and extended) to Battalion social events. He was an extremely personable individual and was well liked by his fellow soldiers. SFC Ottolini was ordered to active duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom on 17 January 2004.
Mike was KIA about a month before I got to Iraq. My entire time there, I took extra time to locate those who set up IEDs. I'm happy to say, I had a few insurgentassholes captured or killed who were involved in such things.
Mike was a hero, I'm glad I got to know and work with him.

07 January 2009

I was lucky, I got to work with them....

From the Soldier side: Someone made the mistake one time of calling me a "war hero". I responded with: "sorry, I'm not, but I was lucky I got to work with some real heroes. "
I don't think that they even knew what a hero was. I am pretty sure I really didn't know myself--- until one time in Bosnia, a former Bosnian Army commander told me what a hero was. He said: "A hero is somebody who does something that has to be done, when nobody else can or will do it."
Yep, that's pretty simple right?
I want to tell you about some heroes I've been lucky enough to have worked with. A few have been in working as a cop, but a lot were while wearing my Army uniform.
I just told the story of the Russian River flood. That was a bit exciting, but less than a week later, I was called up to go to the Marysville area of Calif for another flood. This flood had broken levees and stuff like that. I was called while I was working "swing shift" at the police department. The sergeant calling said they needed me the next day. I told him I was working late and would not get home until midnight. He said come in and I could sleep on the ride up.
When I showed up, Sergeant First Class Michael C. Ottolini met me at the armory. He said he would drive so I could sleep. He out ranked me, but he drove anyway.
Just that little thing, letting me sleep, allowed me to be rested enough for the mess that was going to take place for the next several days. Mike was a hero to me, just for that.
But, there's more to follow.
to be cont.

04 January 2009

You can see a lot with a 155 MM flare!

From the Soldier side: Happy New Year...how about from Dec 31, 2004 in Fallujah, Iraq.
The Battle of Fallujah was pretty much over. We were still attached to the USMC (Thank God, the 1st Mar Div was the best military unit I was ever with!)
The US Military was allowing the citizens who had fled Fallujah to return on that day. What a way to start the new year. But, the power to most of the city was off, and many of the street lights had been blown to hell in the battle. So, it was very dark at night. How do you light up a city so the citizens can move back in?
How about firing 155MM artillery flares for hours? Each round would go way up into the air over the city...burst open and a parachute would let the flare float back to the ground. The flares went on for hours. What a great way to bring in the New Year! Best fireworks show I ever saw in my life!