26 November 2009

Does this body armor make my ass look big?

From the Soldier side: As you enjoy your Thanksgiving turkey, ham, potatoes, yams, beans, bread, rolls, gravy, carrots, apple pie, pumpkin pie, beer, milk, coffee, coke, and all that other good stuff, think about how lucky we are today.
It was 35 years ago this month that I joined the Regular Army. I was very young and dumb.
I was so dumb, that when I joined, I didn't get a written guarantee for the job I wanted. Silly me. So, even though I scored very high on all the written test to get into the Army, I was placed into the Infantry.
I spent 2 years being an 11C- Indirect Fire Crewmen (in English- a mortar gunner.) I went through the Army Infantry School at Ft Polk, La. We had to go through all the stuff the basic riflemen went through and learn how to fire mortars.
I can still remember the drill sergeants on the mortar range with the 81mm gun. It was so f--ing loud, then when I actually had to stand next to it, holding a live HE round over the tube, then dropping it down the tube to fire....bending low and hearing that loud SOB go off. I thought:"shit, I have to do this for 2 years?"
I did get used to it. Maybe that's what dulled my feelings. But I learned to respect a lot of things...like throwing hand grenades. I learned to never throw them in thick wooded areas uphill because they will usually bounce off a tree and roll back to you.
To be cont.

24 November 2009

Thanksgiving in other lands....

From the Soldier side: As Thanksgiving will soon be here, it brings back some found memories of some thanksgivings I've had while on deployments. When we were in Bosnia in Nov 03', our team was still at a smaller camp. There were only about 40 soldiers there and I thought it was great. We didn't have all the MWR (Recreation) crap that they had at the big camp (Eagle Base) but we made our own fun. The highest ranking soldier on our camp was a 1st LT.
When our captain at Eagle Base called us and said: "You guys can drive down here for Thanksgiving, and get off your little camp if you want."
We said:"Thanks, but no thanks sir, we prefer it up here."
Now you might ask: "why would you prefer to be at the small camp and not got down to the big base and enjoy Thanksgiving with the rest of your friends?"

Because there were no assholes at our little camp! The cooks were great and they made a great meal. When we were done, we drove into town and had more fun...stuff you just couldn't do at the big base with the 9 sergeant majors, 78 majors, 6 full bird cols, and hundreds of other useless frigging' officers and assholes. Nope. Camp Cody was the place to be. I invited the asshole captain to come and join us, but he was afraid to leave.

A year later...we were in the middle of the Kuwait desert standing in line in a little sand storm waiting to get into the mess hall for our Thanksgiving dinner. We hated Kuwait so bad that some of us were ready to walk to Iraq. The camp there sucked so bad. For every meal you ate a side of sand. You drank sand, you inhaled sand and you shit sand. We were so miserable....I never thought I'd be happy to go to a war zone just to get out of a shitty place like Kuwait.
I hate to tell all them Gulf War vets, but you fought for Kuwait and it ain't' worth shit....and the Thanksgiving there sucked.

So enjoy your dinner this year and please don't drink and drive because I'll be working my cop job and I love to arrest drunk drivers.

22 November 2009

First time....

From the Citizen Soldier side: A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of running another pistol range for my National Guard unit. I say "pleasure" because next to shooting, teaching others to shoot is almost as much fun. This group of shooters were made up of those who missed the range during our "summer camp."

We had M9 and M11 pistols. This pistol course is "fun" to those who shoot a lot. You have 40 rounds and get 30 targets. There are multiple tables and in some, the shooter has to change magazines. It's all timed, and you don't have a lot of time. The last table requires walking towards the targets. Many of the first time shooters only hit 5 targets. Really, for the first time with a pistol they did pretty good. This is a hard course for somebody who's never shot a pistol... The above shooter finally qualified the third time through. He didn't give up, so neither did we.

17 November 2009

Wow...that water is COLD!

From the Soldier side: I know some of you have been sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for the rest of the "bomb" story. If you are one of those people....you really need to get a job or something.
So, remember my Team Leader in Bosnia had sent the team and me out to pick up a "bomb" or a mine. We really were not sure what it was. He was trying to impress somebody. We had some tools, but picking up shit like this was not really our job. The nice folks in Bosnia didn't know that...they were under the impression that if we rolled up in a Humvee, we could do anything.
We drove out of the camp and up to the Bosnia xxx xxx office and met up with some good people. They explained the following:
Some local kids had been playing along the River Drina (that's how they talked, not the Drina River, but the River Drina).
The kids found some kind of bombs. The kids went home and their parents called the police. (I wanted to ask later if they had 911, but I don't think so.)
So, since the bombs were found in the river, that was under the area of the XXXX police. They had an officer sitting near the bombs for the last 24 hours. We followed the Nice Bosnian cop to the river and we got out and took a look.
Now, since I had been an 11C (mortars) in the regular Army and a Combat Engineer for about 12 years in the National Guard, I knew a bit about things that go "boom!"
The cop pointed into the water and I could almost see something. But, somebody would have to get into the Drina to see what the items were.
I wouldn't send my guys to do something like that because none of them would have known what to do.... but if I had asked, any of them would have done it. They were good troops.

I could see that the Drina was moving very, very fast. But I couldn't tell how deep the water was.
I only had my regular combat boots, BDUs and a Gortex jacket. I tied a rope around me, took a hook pole, and waded into the Drina.
DAMN. That was cold. So cold, my **** shriveled up and went inside. I could see that there was what looked like an 82MM mortar round and a smaller device, maybe about 60MM.
I could not tell if the rounds had fired and not gone of ---which would have made them very unsafe to move. I tried to grab them with the hook pole, but the water was moving so fast...it almost took me away.
I was pretty sure if I got closer to the rounds, my problem would not have been blowing up, but getting dragged away by the river.
I'm not the best swimmer and I guessed hypothermia would have killed me in a few minutes.
Screw it... mission canceled.
We told the local cops we were sorry...they thought I had some kind of super uniform that kept me warm...I was freezing my --- off.
We called in a EOD mission (like the dumb ass team leader should have done).
When we got back, the team leader was mad that we hadn't recovered the bombs. I told him we'd be happy to drive his ass back out and he could jump in the Drina and give it a try.

But, I reminded him: "If you die, we're splitting up your gear."
He chilled out and dropped the idea.

13 November 2009

More dumb things in BiH....

From the Soldier side:
I told one of my "Dumb things I did" stories last week.... Looking back, I realize that the really dumb things I've gotten messed up in during my life as a solder, cop and dumbass kid growing up...were things others had gotten me into. I usually have better judgement, and by the time I was into my 30's, I had learned many lessons. Then came National Guard deployments and some really fu---- stupid leaders. (There were some good ones to!)

....but somehow I survived. This story was another example of how my team leader in Bosnia got me into another dumbass situation. He was always trying to impress somebody. He'd claim he could do all kinds of great things, then turn around and have me do whatever he had said he could do. If it worked out, guess who took the credit. If it didn't work out, then it was my fault.

So...getting on with the story. One day he was having coffee with some "other" folks who were in Bosnia to help fix shit. These "other" folks were pretty good people, many of whom I liked a lot and worked with many times when we were there. They were not from the US, but they were friends. My team leader was always trying to impress people...a very type A (for asshole) personality. He was one of those people, who when you first worked with him, you liked alot. But when you really learned what a fake POS he was, you learned to not like him.

He could do anything. If you don't believe me, just ask him. He'll tell you. So, he was having coffee with these "other" guys and they told him about some kind of bombs that some kids had found. My team leader said: "We can take care of them....no problem."

We were not E.O.friggen' D. We were, "Mess Kit Repair" and picking up bombs and stuff was not something we were equipped to do. But, my team leaders said "we" could. He found out where to go.

Then, we loaded up our Humvee and got all our gear and I found some "tools" to do such stuff. I had the team ready to go and the Team Leader tells me: "I'm kind of busy, can you guys go without me?"

Sure, asshole. We'll go, because we're good soldiers.

To be cont.

10 November 2009

Happy Birthday, Happy Vets day...

From the Soldier side: Do me a favor. Go ask the average citizen tomorrow what holiday it is. I'm working (my cop job) so I'll ask a few folks while I'm at it. (I hope to get at least one DUI arrest!)

The problem I have is: I have a few friends who are no longer able to have a beer on Vet's day. Both died in Baghdad, Iraq. Mike died in Nov 2004- just before we got there and Roberto died in Jun 2005 while I was there. I made my goal in life to find every asshole insurgent who had anything to do with IEDs and have them killed or captured. When one or two didn't want to surrender and died in the battle...I was just as happy as if they had been caught.

Cold? You bet your ass.

The USMC is having a birthday today.

When my team and I got to Baghdad in Dec 2004, we were sent out a few days later to Fallujah, Iraq. We were attached to the 1st Marine Division and I worked with a Marine Gunny Sergeant and a Gunner. They got us ammo....something the Army was not able to do. The Gunny also showed me how to get a team out into a war zone and get back alive. He also taught us how to have fun where there was none. I wear the 1st Mar Div patch as my combat patch...totally un-authorized, but so far nobody has had the balls to tell me that.

For trivia, what is the oldest US Military service still in use today?

Since I'm in a trivia mood, I ran the 9mm pistol range again last weekend for my National Guard battalion. We had the M9 and the M11 pistol. Can anybody tell me what the M-10 pistol is?

We also have M-4 carbines. Most know what the M-1 carbine is. Can you tell me what the M-2 and the M-3 carbine are?

...and what about the terrorist attack at Fort Hood last week? I've been waiting to see what all the Army and FBI have for info...but one thought I had since Iraq:

Why doesn't the army do psychological screening for all higher ranks....like anybody above E-6 and above O3. I ran into some regular Army leaders in Iraq that if I had run into them while working my civilian cop job in Calif, I'd have taken them to the county mental health unit for a 72 hour hold. (5150 W&I code).

09 November 2009

And the wall came crashing down....

  • From the "old" Soldier side: 20 years ago the Wall that separated East and West Berlin was torn down. The Cold War was pretty much over.
When I was stationed in West Berlin (C Co/2nd Batt/6th Infantry) as a crewmen for indirect fire, (MOS 11C) I was amazed at the two Germany's. The West was like being in a color movie, the East was like a black and white movie.
The Germans in the West looked happy, the Germans in the East looked sad.
Many nights we sat and drank German Bier and looked at the wall. Some of us thought our children would grow up, join the Army and look at the same wall.
The Berlin Brigade is no more. But from 1945 to the mid 1990's it was there to keep the hordes of Commies from pouring over the wall...or, as we thought in the 1970's...we were just there as a speed bump.

02 November 2009

What doesn't kill us, makes us....

From the Soldier side: For those of you who've never been to Bosnia, it's one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen in my life!!!

I'm not kidding...except for the bad roads and half a million land mines scattered all over the place, it'd be a great place to live.

One summer day in 2003, one of our "Terps" said that she really wanted to go ride a horse. The Team Leader (TL) was the type of guy who would try to make everybody happy...if they were female, so he said: "sure." At that camp, we had to make our own fun.

This was not something we had a written mission plan for...like we were supposed to...but the TL didn't think anything bad could happen. I figured that since he authorized it, that he'd be going. But at the last minute, he cancelled out and told me to go.

It was only about 20 minutes from Camp Cody, so I didn't think much of it. We took 2 Security Force (SecFor) guys, one of the "Team" and 2 "Terps."

I grew up around farms when I was a kid, so when I learned to ride horses, it was with saddles and you usually had some work to do. You just didn't ride for fun. I needed a "smart" horse, because I never really was taught how to ride....I kind of just taught myself. I needed a horse that would help me out. I was not good with stubborn or dumb horses.

The "Terp" who wanted to ride set up the "mission." She had talked to a guy, who knew a guy and knew some folks who knew a family that took care of some race horses.

We made it to the little home and I saw the horses. They were real race horses. The Terps rode for an hour or so, then the Sec For guys road. I sat and was "waited on" by the folks, since I was the "older" guy. They served me Bosnian coffee...it was good.

Then the guy who took care of the horses asked me if I wanted to ride. I looked at the horses and told him that I weighed many more kilos than the horse was used to having on his back. I don't think the guy understood and he insisted that I have a ride.

Did I mention that there was no saddle? I had no idea how to ride without one...but I didn't want to offend our host. I tried getting on.

The race horse didn't like me at all..and proceeded to buck and raise his head....dumping my ass on the ground.

I'm so glad I had all those Judo classes growing up (mostly getting my ass kicked) so I landed without killing myself. I got up and said: "see, I'm too heavy for this horse."

The Bosnian dude insisted that I try again. Now I had it figured out. They couldn't kill us with guns, so they were going to use horses.

But, being that I am a truly certified Dumb Ass...I got on again.

I got thrown off again. This time it hurt like hell. But I didn't break anything...but now my pride was hurt. I still managed to not drop my hidden M9 through all of this...so I went to the front of the horse and whispered into his ear: "Do that again, and I'm going to turn you into glue."

I got on the third time and I had no problems. I rode around until the horse understood that I was a trained killer.

My back and neck hurt for 2 weeks....but I couldn't figure out how I could go talk to the medic and tell him I got thrown off a horse.

Next Dumb Thing I did in Bosnia...coming up....

01 November 2009

Dumb things I did....

From the Soldier side: My deployment to Bosnia in 2003 brings back some fond memories. People think I'm joking when I say it was one of the best jobs I've ever had in my life...it was a great mission!
There were some times when it sucked...usually when we had to be at the big camp, Eagle Base in Tuzula. But when we were out the wire, I loved it.
When we first got there in the Summer of 03', our team was at a very small camp, Camp Cody in the city of Ugljevik, Bosnia. Just before our rotation got there, the camp was shared by the Americans and the Russians. After the Russians left, the camp was very small.... we never told people that there were only about 40 of us there!
We had the best chow hall I've evern eaten in. The Bosnian guy in charge of the mess hall really took good care of us.
Life was good. But, every once in awhile something has to happen where you wonder if there really is a guy named Murphy and he really did write a book of laws. Murphy's Laws.
The dumb things I did in Bosnia were not part of my duty or mission...they were just dumb things....
To be cont....