29 April 2010

Small things can be so important....


From the Soldier side: For those who’ve read my Blog for awhile, you know there were a few “exciting” moments on my year tour in Iraq from Dec 2004 to 2005. Yep, good times had by some. Like the time we went into the big mess hall in Baghdad and they were out of tomatoes at the salad bar. Wow that was rough. Or the time I got to the mess hall and they had run out of the Baskin Robins Rocky Road ice cream. Wow, that was rough. You wouldn’t believe how some of the REMFs were complaining. “How can you have a salad without tomatoes?” “What, no Rocky Road! This is an outrage!”

Or the one night I went to take shower after returning from a mission and all the water had been used up. Man I had to go to bed all stinky.

But what really got exciting was the dozen or so times I was on a camp or FOB that got hit with mortars or rockets (we couldn’t tell the difference until some bomb tech went and looked at the blast site—and to be honest, at the time the shit was hitting, we didn’t even stop to think “oh, that sounds like an 82 MM mortar” because the explosions all sounded about the same.)

When the bombs hit, and you were not in a fortified building or bunker, I often thought about the stories I read from past wars where the soldier said they tried to crawl inside their helmet. Yep! I had the same thought a few times. But I was too big and my new Kevelar Helmet was too small for me to get my entire body underneath it.

Other silly thoughts. When my team went to FOB Kalsu and help out for a few weeks. That crappy little FOB was getting hit everyday after lunch. Since we were “visitors” my team and I got to stay in a big tent. When we first moved into the tent, my Corporal looked at the roof and said: “Man, look at all those holes. I wonder what caused those.”

We found out. When the “shit” hit the camp, the fragments flew up in the air, over the blast barriers and landed on the tents…tearing lots of holes in the tents. We were lucky they never hit us at night, but it did rain at night when we were there….and we got wet.

Yep, war sucks. But I loved my helmet and I kept “her”. My dog thinks it smells funny. ...and when I think back to some of the times we got hit with mortars, we'd here two rounds hit "BOOM BOOM!!!" and I actually got to where I thought:"Wow, they mised again," then walk to the bunker and hang out for awhile.

Note: When I told the complaining REMFs the reason there were no tomatoes or Rocky Road ice cream was because a supply convoy had gotten hit with IEDs and some drivers were killed…they calmed down a bit.

F.O.B= Forward Operting Base
R.E.M.F.= Ask a Vet what that means.


24 April 2010

BAG OF...????

From the Soldier side: I know a lot of civilian cops in the US will not get the chance to do or see some of the wonderful things I did on my 2 Army National Guard deployments….which might be a good thing. I’m pretty sure that if I wasn’t already a little crazy before, I surly would have become so after.

If you work in a big city police department, then you might have delt with some crazy shit…even some small departments have an unusual number of “W.S.” (Weird Shit) calls. But, some of the W.S. I saw on my deployments and some of the shit that happened to me…just makes normal everyday cop stuff seem easy.

When I was in Bosnia, for example, I had become a somewhat regular visitor to some of the Police Stations in my A.O. (Area of Operations). Those cops got used to me drinking coffee with them and having little chats. I guess they became very comfortable with me.

Now, keep in mind, at the time I was in Bosnia, I had been a civilian copper in California for about 25 years--- so I thought I’d already seen a lot of shit.

One day, I walked into the police station in a small city (of about 16,000 people) in Bosnia. As I walked in the front door with my “Terp” and partner…the desk officer sees me. He smiles and says: “Dobra dan” (Good day) and tells me he has something for me.

The desk cop steps into a back room and returns with a grocery bag. I’m looking the bag and I think maybe it’s bag of apples or something good to eat. He hands me the grocery bag without saying anything else.

I take the bag and realize it’s pretty heavy. I set it down on the floor and look inside--- expecting to see some apples or something good. But to even my surprise I see a bag full of fragmentary hand grenades.

Now, if we’d been in an armored vehicle, I might have taken them back with us…but we were in a 1989 VW Passat Station Wagon and in civilian clothes. Half the grenades were rusty and some looked like the pins were going to fall out any minute.
                                                                              CI Roller at Camp Cody, Bosnia Aug 2003

I made one of the better decisions of my entire military career and told the nice Bosnian cop: “No, I think we’ll leave these here for EOD to pick up on Monday…how’s that sound to you?”
These guys were so used to death and war and the devices that make killing easy, that it didn't mean much to them.  Could you see somebody bring a bag of grenades into your local police department in the US?  People would freak out.  For these Bosnian cops it was no big deal.

----Yep, shit like that makes police work seem kind of easy. 

20 April 2010

When it might be time to retire...

From the Cop side:  (This is a reprint from a post I did a while back.  Reprinted in LARGE FONT for those who need it.... )

Clues that let you know it might be time to retire from Police Work:

1.) The rookies you’re training are younger than your own children

2.) The rookies call you “Sir” or “mam” after you’ve told them 50 times to stop

3.) You’re now not only arresting the children of the people you arrested at the beginning of your career, but also the grand children (but they’re only going to juvenile hall)

4.) The rookies ask you what it was like to drive a police car with a motor that had more than 400 cubic inches and a carburetor

5.) You don’t even get excited when someone calls out on the radio “I’m in pursuit” and the only thing you fear is the 15 forms you’ll have to fill out if you get involved

6.) You finally learned how to use the new police software to write reports, and the department is going to version 2.5

7.) You still carry a pocket dictionary even though the report writing program has a spell checker---- just in case

8.) You not only still carry a back up gun in violation of department policy, but it’s still registered in your ex-spouses name

9.) You don’t have anyone to drink coffee with on your patrol shift because all the new rookies drink the “power” drinks that you think taste like gun cleaning solvent, and can actually remove the copper fouling from your pistol barrel

10.) You still think smoking, selling, growing and buying pot should be a felony and anyone who needs a prescription (in California) is a waste of oxygen

11.) You’re considering getting a medical marijuana prescription as soon as you retire so nobody will bother you and the last 30 + years will be a blurr

12.) You volunteer to be the school resources officer so you can meet hot single moms (or dads)

13.) You’ve forgotten how many special assignments you’ve had with federal and state grants over the years and wonder why none of them are still around (like DARE etc.)

14.) Buy the time you’ve gotten to #14, you can’t remember what the first line said, and you can’t even remember what you had for breakfast, except for the coffee, and you can’t read this on the computer because you refuse to wear you reading glasses

15.) When you finally get a rookie who thinks he/ or she will drink coffee with you, they want to stop at Star Bucks and spend $7.95 on a foo-foo drink that is not even in the pocket dictionary you still carry around

Man, I’m glad I can retire pretty soon.

16 April 2010

Good care packages....

From the Soldier side: Let me say something about all the really nice citizens out there that send stuff to support the troops in war zones. A few years ago, when I was in Iraq, the police department I was working for had a fund raising dinner thingy. There was some nice citizens there and one approached my old Police Chief and said: “We were sending packages to a soldier in Iraq, but he’s home now. Do you know of any troops who might need stuff?”

My old chief responded with: “Yep, one of my cops is in Iraq right now.”

I was contacted via e-mail and asked if there was anything we/I could use. I responded with: “yes, as a matter of fact, we could use some coffee.”

From that point forward, a very nice family started sending me boxes of Pete’s Coffee on a regular basis. When it was found that we actually had electric power, a grinder soon arrived so I could grind the beans fresh. This was a happy moment in my deployment.

Life was good. Despite the heat, stink, 35 pounds of body armor, convoys, random mortars, EIDs and all.

Then…a package arrived one day…with some “magic” stuff. Chocolate covered Coffee Beans. CCBs. I took these magic beans with me on one mission…since I’d never consumed such items in the past, I had no idea what I was in for.

After waiting 3 hours on the helicopter pad, we were getting hungary. Out came the CCBs and I started popping them down like candy…

A little while later, the Blackhawk lands and takes my team and me off to some other fucked up place in Iraq….and about 20 minutes into the flight, I felt like I was on speed or something. What a buzz!

I had to go into rehab when I got home.


13 April 2010

What is it?

From the Citizen Soldier side: I had the joy of attending more Army National Guard training last weekend. I really do enjoy the training (most of the time). One of the things I still haven't been able to get used to is some of the stuff they call "food" that they serve us.

I mean, after all, we're in the United States of America...and in California. Did you know that if California was a country, it'd be about the 7th largest country in the world? Wow.

But look at the shit they served us for dinner...

Now, I know there's a cop from Texas who already post a photo and ask for the readers to give it a caption.  But, this shit taste as bad as it looks...so go ahead and try. 


12 April 2010

The 92’ LA Riots, Part II,

From the Citizen Soldier side: Sorry for keeping you all in such suspense, but I had to go away for a few days and do some more Army training. I better finish my Riot story, huh.

So, there we were, sitting around doing all this crowd control training, explaining the Rules of Engagement and stuff in preparation to go to L.A. to help with the riots. We knew that they already had Army National Guard MP (Military Police) units responding to the area to help, but what we didn’t know until weeks later…was they had no issued ammo!

The California Army National Guard only stores live ammunition in a few key locations. The location the MP units were told to pick up ammo was not open. It “appeared” that the assholes who worked at the ammo point full time, went home instead of waiting to issue the live ammo to those who needed it.

So, when I talked to my buddies who were there with the MPs, they said that they stopped at a sporting goods store and the commander purchased the ammo with his own money. The MPs were going to arrive with live ammo no matter what.

(You see, many of us who’ve been in the National Guard for a long time, know that sometimes the only way we were going to get the mission done, was to pay for the fuel, food or whatever we needed out of our own pockets.)

Meanwhile, back at our armory, we continued doing the training so everybody would be ready to go…. Our line company was ordered to remain at the armory over night, while the Headquarters company was allowed to go home and come back the next day. When we heard this, some of our troops got a little pissed off--- after all, if we were going to the riot, wasn’t everybody going?

Since California State Law requires that anytime you eat pizza for dinner, you must have beer with it, a few more of our sergeants snuck out and grabbed a few six packs of cold beer to go with then pizza.

After we had dinner, the company Executive Officer (XO) began walking around and checking on the troops. When he got to our platoon room, he found lots of empty pizza boxes and empty beer cans. He became very upset (as most pencil heads do) and began to get mad.

Then he walked to the next platoon room and found that they had picked up a giant keg of beer and most of the Joes were pretty drunk.

The XO then walked in to the company Command Post (CP) to tell the company First Sergeant (AKA “TOP”) and found the Top and other senior NCOs and the Company Commander drinking a bottle of Scotch. At that point the XO just said “fuck it, I forgot this was the National Guard.”

We hung around until Sunday. Then we were told that the Army National Guard had the situation under control and we were no longer needed. There were a lot of unhappy soldiers who really wanted to go shoot a bunch of assholes in LA, but didn’t get the chance. A few of them later got a chance to go to Iraq and make up for the lack of excitement.

Those were the good old days.


04 April 2010

92' LA Riots

From the Citizen Soldier side:  The Rodney King “Festivities” or, the Los Angeles Riots of 1992

In the old days of the California Army National Guard, we used to say there were four season, Floods, Fires, Earthquakes and Riots. Now we have the fifth season- Wars. Today’s story is about one of the riots.
I was a member of the California Army National Guard and a full time police officer in 1992 (Oh, I still am)
In 1992, the Los Angeles Police Department had a known dirt bag attempt to evade arrest. He ran but got caught. And, when caught, he got a good ass whoppin’. The public was “shocked” but such an event. I’m not here to discuss the police work in that case, but the response some of the public had to the fact that the cops were found “Not guilty.” A series of riots followed.

The dirt bag low lifes were setting things on fire, looting, and killing citizens. It was going out of control fast.

The local cops were soon overwhelmed, so the governor called up the Army National Guard- and estimated 4,000 troops were called up. By the time the riots were over, 53 people were dead, with thousands injured…and over One Billion Dollars in property damage. Now, tell me how this did one thing to help anybody but the looters.

At that time, I was in a Combat Engineer company. We got called late Thursday night and were told to come in early Friday and be ready to go for up to two weeks.

I was one of the first squad leaders go come in that Friday morning. As soon as I walked in, the company First Sergeant saw me and said: “Good, you’re here. Start a training plan for riot control missions.”

Since I was a cop, most of the Army folks just assumed I knew everything about crowd control and stuff. Up to that point, I had only had a little bit of training on that topic….but I pulled out the Field Manuals and started reading.

Since we were all told to come in before breakfast, we came in hungry… and the supply sergeant, being a lazy sort, had not taken steps to have food ordered to feed us. He didn’t even have a few cases of MREs stashed.

By lunch time, we still had not been fed, so a few of the other NCOs and myself jumped into my truck and went and picked up pizza for our platoon. When we returned, the supply sergeant began yelling at us…telling us that he was working on getting lunch. I asked: “What about breakfast you useless f—k?”

We continued riot training all through the day…by dinner time, the supply sergeant was “still working on getting the troops lunch.” So, a few of us high speed NCOs snuck out again and got the troops more pizza. (hey, pizza was cheap, close and the quickest food we could obtain.)

Again, when we returned with dinner, the supply sergeant started to bitch at us again…he claimed that we were “making him look bad.” I told him he didn’t need any help with that, as he was doing great on his own.

To be continuted

Side note on awards and medals:  I've always advised any troops assigned to work for me: "Don't expect to get any f--king medals working with me.  We'll do good work, but others will get the awards....that's OK, because the medals ain't why we do this shit."