17 April 2009
Getting Home...Part IV
From the Soldier side: So after we got to Fort Screwus, WA...the brilliant leaders had to start some kind of official investigation into the drinking that took place on the civilian charter flight across the ocean. Heck, there was nobody on the plane but us and the flight crew....We had to take a day out of our out processing and go over to a area they had set up to interview us.
I walked over to the intereview room along with everyone else. I sat in the waiting area and listened to my MP3 player. What else could these idiots do? This was THE National Guard Unit I had been in for years...the unit that I went to Kuwait with in 2004, then got handed off to a regular Army unit like the red headed step child. The guys and gals who brought booze on the plane were none of my people...they all new better. They listened to the rules and followed them. ( a few asked me at Shannon if they could buy booze and bring it on the plane and I reminded them that the Sergeant Major said only "one drink.") The people who didn't listen were the ones who stayed with this unit all through the deployment...the unit that had more Article 15's than any other during that time. A unit lead by retards.
I was called in to be "interviewed" by a female major. I had worked with her in Bosnia. She sat me down and started asking me questions about the drinking and told me to fill out a Form 2823 a "Voluntary Sworn Statement". I, with all due respect reminded her of the following:
!.) "Mam, you failed to advise me of my rights--if I'm under investigation, or could be a witness to a legal action."
2.) "Mam, you can't require me to fill out a form 2823, because it says right on the form that a person make the statement of their freewill, without threat of punishment or inducement...or some such wording. I have nothing I wish to make a statement about."
The major looked at me, gave a wink and dismissed me. This investigation was going nowhere fast. I don't think anybody really wanted to do much with a few soldiers who got drunk on the plane.
Meanwhile back at the out processing crap. We'd get up early, go over to the gym and get in lines for 8 to 10 hours a day. There were never enough people to out process us and it really screwed things up when our great leaders would get us to the wrong place on the wrong day.
One day we had to all sit in a giant room and listen to psych type doctors talk to us about stress and PMSTSD. We were told we'd be there at least 2 weeks...to out process that should take about 3 days. We heard that the "Regular Army" wanted to make sure us National Guard soldiers were "adjusted" before we went home. What we couldn't understand is...the regular army folks we were with went home the night they got back into country. Were they not in the same place we were? Didn't we all work side by side...I had some Regular Army people in charge of me and I had some Regular Army soldiers that I was in charge of...we were told that we were "One Fight, One Army." But, in real life, we got the shitty barracks, the shitty food, and slow out processing when we got home.
My bitching was nothing. We had several of our guys wounded in Iraq. Some were sent to "med hold" at Fort Screwus. We got to see some of them. Since there was no room for them in the fort hospital, they put them in old WWI barracks. There was no mess hall nearby...if they were lucky, they could catch the bus that went around the fort every hour, if they missed it, they had to walk miles to eat. Some were on crutches from leg wounds.
When I saw this, I was really pissed off. I'm sure alot of you saw the conditions the troops had top put up with at Walter Reid Hospital...this was just as bad. They were left to fend for themselves each day--- no guidance, just show up for medical appointments. It sucked.
We finally were told that we were going to fly home. Good...but...they had to just keep screwing things up. We were told we had to be at the Air Force flight line 4 hours before our flight left....(sounds like a story you've heard before?) By the time everyone stuck their 2 cents into the "how to fly out" plan, we were heading to the airport 7 hours before the flight...just in case the Air Force guys had a golf game or something I guess.
We finally flew to the State of San Francisco...landing at 3 am. Bussed to the National Guard armory where we arrived at 4am...and told to be back at 8am for a ceremony. I asked if anyone would mind if I skipped it...and got some sleep. Nope..."you are ordered to come back for the mandatory fun....we'll have food....the folks who didn't deploy because they're broken went through a lot of trouble to set this up...."
I can't wait to retire. Shortly after our return, they started to re-organize our Guard unit...eventually the entire battalion moved to the other side of the state...they couldn't understand why I don't want to drive 1o hours to go to drills. I like my new unit.