31 May 2010

My Flag

From the Soldier side: On the flight line in Mosoul Iraq, Jan 2005.

My team and I were waiting for our “taxi ride” back to Baghdad, Iraq. (Do I really need to put “Iraq” after the city of Baghdad?) Our taxi for this trip was 2 Army Blackhawk helicopters. We were leaving that place after a mission was over…and we were very happy to get the heck out of there.

As I always did when we were flying somewhere, I’d go to flight ops and tell them who we were and they’d look on a list and see if our travel agent had done his or her job and made the proper reservation…. “yep, you’re on the list. Your flight should be landing in about 20 minutes, so stay close, we’ll yell when the birds are inbound.” The flight ops sergeant told me.
I left flight ops and walked over to where my team and our terp were waiting. Going back to Baghdad would mean we’d get a day or two off, and have mail waiting for us…so my guys were eager to go.

After waiting 15 minutes… we saw 2 Black Hawks inbound. My assistant team leader pointed to them and we started to pick up our packs and bags. (I always kept some of my sensitive gear with me, just in case…so I’d never loose it.) As the birds were getting closer, I had to remind my guys to wait for them to land as they were really eager to get on and go.
These 2 birds looked different as they got closer. They were Medivac Choppers. The ones the Army Medics (Docs) flew on. They were not landing on the normal side of the flight line, but landed next to the base hospital. As they touched down…. I saw 4 soldiers rush over with 2 gurneys.

One of my guys started to bitch about how he thought those were our rides….then…

They off loaded 2 body bags and laid them on the gurneys.

I don’t know who those kids were, but that was their last ride on an Army Helicopter. I felt really sad at that moment. I still don’t know who those guys were, but today, Memorial Day, is about them. Most of you reading this will not actually know anybody ever killed in a war. Good. Please keep it that way.

What’s up with this flag?
CI Roller's Flag,  and old DCUs

In November 2003, we were at Camp Cody, Bosnia. They Army decided to close our happy little camp of about 40 troops. We got relocated to Camp McGovern. As we were driving out of the camp…on our last day there…I looked over and saw the American flag was still up. I walked over, took her down and kept her.

She went to Camp McGovern, then Eagle Base, Bosnia.

When I deployed to Iraq in 2004, she went everywhere I went. I always found room in my pack for that flag. I still have her.  The protesers can go and burn a flag if they want...but if they touch this one, I am pretty sure it's the last flag they'd ever burn. 

"It's not about the War, it's about the Warrior."
--Carry on!

26 May 2010

What's that day for? A day off work....

From the Soldier side: Memorial Day will be here soon. I’ve found that for most of my civilian friends and family this is another holiday they get off from work. Maybe a chance to head to the beach, have a bar-b-q and drink a few extra beers on the 3 day weekend. Yep, that’s what it used to always mean to me. Several years ago, I am not sure I even knew what the hell it was for.

In 2004 and 2005 that changed a little for me. Oh, it’s still a day to have a Bar-b-q and all that other stuff, but I remember two really good guys who died in Iraq and now I look at Memorial Day a little different.

I try not to get sad and depressed, and I try to think about the things I liked about these two guys…but I do think about them. And I think that they are two of the best soldiers I ever knew. I both cases, they did not have to go to Iraq . One came out of retirement to go (Mike) and the other switched his MOS (Army job) to go.

Both left families behind…and I wish I could tell them how much I thought of their husbands and dads.

In the 1990’s I was in an Army National Guard combat engineer company in my home town. On one of the State Active Duty missions to a flood, I worked with a Sergeant First Class Named Mike Ottline. He was a really good guy who took care of his troops.

When I was getting ready to deploy to Iraq in November 2004, when I read Mike had been killed.

In early 2005, as some of our teams in Baghdad were re-assigned, I met a young sergeant named Roberto. As we had a few conversations, it turned out that he and I had a few interest in common. I liked him a lot.

I late May 2005, my team and I were sent out on a mission outside of Baghdad. I remember trying to call back to base for a few days and not being able to get through. Then I got an e-mail from somebody back home asking if I knew who had been killed and wounded. (this is not the best way to find your friends have been killed or wounded).

I was finally able to get through on the phone and found out Roberto had been killed and the “gunner” on the Humvee (another friend of mine) was badly wounded.  Roberto's team leader was pulled off the misson that day, so when they asked Roberto to take the team out anyway, he did.  "Put me in Coach."

This information sucked. I can ‘t even describe how I felt. It sucked.
They Honored Roberto by putting his name on the Range

Army Sgt. Roberto Arizola, Jr.

31, of Laredo , Texas .

Arizola died in Baghdad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV. He was assigned to the 297th Military Intelligence Battalion, 513th Military Intelligence Brigade, Fort Gordon , Georgia . Died on June 8, 2005.


Army Staff Sgt. Michael C. Ottolini

45, of Sebastopol , California .

Ottolini died in Balad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his up-armored HMMWV. He was assigned to the Army National Guard's 579th Engineer Battalion, Petaluma , California . Died on November 10, 2004.

So this Memorial Day, when you’re enjoying that cold beer, glass of wine or non-alcoholic beverage, please toast Mike and Roberto…and any other SIH (Soldiers In Heaven) you know.

20 May 2010

What color is your ….

From the Soldier side: Many, many years ago, my old Army National Guard unit went to sunny Fort Irwin, California for our 2 week Annul Training (AKA “Summer Camp”)
For those of you who’ve never had the joy of going to Fort Irwin, let me tell you right now- you simply must book your next holiday there. The accommodations for Summer Camps are awesome. Plenty of beach, lots of sun, and lots of open air to run around in. Do watch out for the rattle snakes and the highly developed coyotes who have evolved to the point that they know how to open a MRE package and eat the contents.

The first time I went there for Summer Camp, I was in a Combat Engineer battalion. It was just weeks after Desert Storm was over and we were there to clean up some of the mess left over from training the troops who went to fight.

We ended up doing some construction projects along with the recovery of training sites. We worked very long days, but it was good times.

As you can imagine, being that it was desert, we had extremes in weather. Two days before we got there, they had a few inches of snow! It melted in a few minutes. While we were there, it got to over 116 degrees F. (But as we often said in Iraq years later: “It was a dry heat!”)

The day we left, it rained hard for 20 minutes. 10 minutes after it stopped raining, the ground had sucked up all the moisture and you couldn’t even tell it had rained.

A few other things from that Summer Camp stick in my mind, but the one thing that still brings a laugh was our Battalion Command Sergeant Major. He was such a useless chap. He didn’t know shit about what Combat Engineers were supposed to do, but he sure liked to stick his brown nose into stuff.

During that summer camp, we had tents set up in one area, and had to drive our old 1960’s vintage 5 ton dump trucks many miles to the work sites. The Sergeant Major got lost a few times, so he decided to stay near the tent camp.

One day as the trucks would drive into the camp area, the Sergeant Major was standing along the side of the road near the entrance. He would flag down the trucks and make them stop. He’d climb up on to the running boards and ask the driver and co-driver: “What color is your urine?”

Most of the soldiers were young and they had no idea what the correct answer was supposed to be. They would usually answer:”I don’t know Sergeant Major, I haven’t been looking.”

I heard that the dumbass was asking this, so I boarded the next truck going past the dumbass. I was ready.

He flagged down our truck and climbed up on the running board and asked: “Sergeant. What color is your urine?”

I responded with – in my outside Army Sergeant type voice: Sergeant Major, my urine is GREEN. ARMY GREEN.”

He didn’t know what to say, but he got off our running board and looked away. He was an ass, but I got him to laugh.  My job was done.  My goal each day was to get at least one ass to laugh. 

One of our other sergeants took it a step further. When the dipshit flagged down his truck a few minutes later, that sergeant shut off the engine, opened the door, stood on the running board, whipped it out and started to pee in the sand in front of the Sergeant Major.

Needless to say, the Sergeant Major went and found something else to do the rest of the Summer Camp….and never asked another soldier what color their pee was.

For your info.....

Urine Color Urine Color Meaning Possible Underlying Disease or Condition

.Clear urine Excess liquid consumption Any liver disease, like hepatitis or liver cirrhosis, diabetes insipidus or diabetes mellitus.

Bright yellow or neon yellow Vitamin supplements Excessive consumption of vitamin capsules, leading to a potential risk of hypervitaminosis
Green Side effect of certain medications like amitriptylene, indomethacin Over consumption of certain foods like asparagus and food dyes, or wearing the Army uniform for too many years.

17 May 2010


From the Cop side: One of the topics that most police officers will become very knowledgeable on is the topic of mental illness. Most cops deal with the mentally ill on a regular basis…..if they don’t know this, they just aren’t paying attention. I suspect most of the citizens who call the police all the time for no real reason, are mentally ill.

After doing this for over 30 years, I won’t ever say: “I’ve seen it all” because I haven’t…but I’ve seen a lot of shit.
From the 80's...CI in his old Roller, one of the worst patrol cars ever made!

In California we have a code we use for calls of this nature. It is from the Welfare & Institutions section 5150. This section of law give us coppers the authority to get a mentally ill person into an institution for a “72 hour evaluation.”
The Fords were a big improvement in the early 90's

It’s funny, but some cops actually think that the docs and the nut shop are really always going to hold somebody for 72 hours. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. …most of the time nothing gets done to put the lug nuts back on their wheels. The system is broken and they expect the cops to be able to fix it all.

I’ve had good cop friends who’ve had to deal with crazies many, many times…as the cop watches the person get worse each day. I can think of a case from not too long ago where the 5150 came at the coppers with a knife. Other methods failed…and the .40 cal worked. No cop ever wants to have to take a life, but it’s better than letting the crazy take yours—and they will if you let them.

However, these folks, in most cases cannot help it. If somebody had a broken arm or was bleeding, all good folks would wanna’ help them. But when it comes to mental illness, everybody wants to run away and let the cops deal with it. Most of the time Most of these people are harmless, but often annoying. Some wouldn’t harm a fly, and others would cut your heart out and eat if they could. How can you tell the difference?

We can’t. All cops should use these basic rules of engagement.

1.) Treat all people with dignity and respect…but have a plan to kill them if needed.

2.) We bring a gun to a knife fight.

3.) If the bad guy has a pistol, bring a rifle or shotgun and bring lots of other cops.

4.) If a bad guy wants to fight with his hands, we use tools- batons, pepper spray, Vulcan neck grip, etc

Now, don’t get me wrong…sometimes these folks can be very entertaining. I don’t know what it is, but I lost track over the years of how many crazy folks told me something like: “The CIA is watching me. I know they are listening to my thoughts right now…”

I heard this so often that I started to do a few things to help these crazy folks. First I told them: “Did you know it’s against US law for the CIA to gather intell in the US? It’s really the FBI who’s watching you.”

That would get their heads spinning.

The more recent method of helping these folks is when I locate a few who think the CIA is watching them….then I tell the crazy that the other crazy is working for the CIA, so they better watch out.

Or the one nut who one quiet Saturday morning decided to walk into somebody's house out of the blue and see if they had any mail for him.  He just walked in the front door, stopped, looked around and walked to where a pile of mail was. 
The folks living there of course called 911 and my partner and I arrived.  The nut was very quiet and polite.  He didn't run or do anything else wrong, but look through all the mail. 
My partner tried asking the nut why he came to that house and why he thought they would have his mail. 
The nut responded with: "I heard voices telling me to walk into this house."
Without blinking, I looked at him and said: "Can you hear my voice telling you to never do that again?" 

He did hear my voice and left without further incident. 

Oh, I know….I’m going to hell…but I’ll at least have a front row seat.

It was not all fun and games…there were those we had to fight to get some into the rubber room and hope the nurse could get the “shot” into the loony’s arm before they broke the grip we had.

15 May 2010

Does this make my ....look fat?

From the Soldier side: While in Fallujah, Iraq in Dec 2004.  I was carring an M16 A2 with 9 30 round magazines, a M9 9mm pistol with 7 15 round magazines, 35 pounds of the new IBA body armor shit, the new helmet with ballistic goggles,  first aid kit, a Gerber multi tool, standing next to a USMC Amtrak vehicle, looking for snipers... and I was wondering:
"Does this make my ass look fat?" 

08 May 2010

Couldn't think of any funny stories....

From the Cop side: After reading one of my favorite blogs, (The Boggie Man is my best Friend) I got to thinking about some R.F.S. (Really Funny Shit) that I’ve seen or heard in police work during the last 31 years. The problem is, after I started to try to think of the RFS, I had to really shake out some cobwebs from my B.H.G. (Brain Housing Group). But, after thinking it over, I couldn’t really come up with anything funny. I mean, how could a good public serveant laugh at the misery some citizens ended up in? How could somebody dedicated to protecting and serving, write about stupid stuff some dumbass did? That just wouldn’t be right would it? Some might even think it would be in poor taste.

CI in his Roller from a few years ago

Drunks and other impaired people are almost always good for a laugh….except for the knuckle heads who want to fight…but overall, most are good entertainment.

2 AM, Friday, BCT (Bar Closing Time). I worked in a very small town for several years. One of the more proactive things I would do was to go to the bars just before closing time. I would walk through and make sure no knuckle heads were going to get into a fight and remind the good citizens that they should not drive impaired.

The good citizens thought I was really a nice cop for doing this, and many of the regulars would greet me when I walked into the bar. I really did this because when a drunk crashed, the reports took hours of my time. This little PR thing was really easier than filling out all the forms now required in California for a DUI arrest. The defense attorneys have done more to waste the tax payer’s money than any other group in the history of mankind.

In the past, the cops who worked in this town were pretty young and most would never walk into a bar alone. I just walked in like I owned the place and when some drunk who was not a regular started to give me crap, one of the good citizens would take care of the problem for me. I never had to fight with anybody there.

One night I rolled up to the front of the bar as a T.F.U.D. (Typically or Totally Fucked Up Drunk) staggered out of the showdown and walked up to my patrol car. He reached for the back door handled and tried to open the door. I thought this was kind of odd, but I am always looking for a good laugh and I asked the TFUD what he needed.

He said: “Taaaaxeee take me hoommeee…………” then he puked all over the sidewalk and fell down.

I hosed him off before giving him a free ride.

To Jail.

One of my favorite lines goes like this:

I roll up to the bar as the TFUDs are staggering out. You’ll see a few looking around, but you have to understand that their vision is really impaired and they can’t really see well. They bump into walls, parked cars and fall down. When they can finally focus and recognize that a copper is there, the conversation goes like this:

TFUD: “Occifers, please. Can you guys call me a cabbbb?” (note, I was usually by myself, they they’re seeing double)

Me: “Sure. You are a cab.” (Sober people are laughing their ass off, the TFUD just stared.)

One night I rolled up and the TFUD was staggering down the street. When I rolled up behind him to keep his dumb ass from getting run over, he turned around, looked at me patrol car, then fell down. As he got back up, (I was the only cop there at this point) he made a fist and yelled: “I can kick both of your asses…just hold still….” I only needed to call for back up because I was laughing so dang hard, I couldn’t get my handcuffs out.

Some nights I failed at my mission of preventing people from driving drunk…actually this usually was from folks drinking in nearby cities and passing through our town…but I’m not blaming those cops…I know they tried to.

But, every few weeks, some driver who’d exceeded the .08 BAC level mix of blood and alcohol would attempt to drive. The higher the mix of alcohol to blood, the bigger mess they usually made when they crashed….taking out light poles, parked cars, mail boxes, buildings, other moving vehicles and anything else you can think of…..like they were on a mission to see how much carnage they could make….almost never injuring themselves.

Please don't drink and drive.


05 May 2010

Why the face blacked out?

From the Soldier side: Many of my readers (all 2 or 3 of them) have asked and even complained about me blacking out the eyes of folks in my pictures.  Well, here's a pic with my eyes not blacked out...

CI Roller Dude with totally unauthorized 1st Mar Div combat patch on right sleeve!

04 May 2010

"With That Said"...arrgggggggggg!!!!

From the Soldier side: There are some things in any organization that those who pay attention start to wonder out loud: “Why do we have that? It’s a waste of money.”

                                                    The US Army actually put the CI Roller Dude to work in Iraq

The larger an organization, the greater chance this item is not an item but a human. In the United States Army, there are many such persons. They may be in a position of authority, leadership or some private who just can’t seem to get anything done. With privates, a good NCO figures that there is always hope. That hope may come from the thought that: “We’ll get him/ her to understand how to do this and become a good soldiers” or “We think he/she is just too retarded, so we need to kick them out of the Army.”

In either case, I figure that there is some hope. Some chance. Some glimmer of something to make things all better…since we can no longer do “Wall to Wall Counseling.”

But, as a soldier stays in the Army, they are expected to move up in rank. As they move up, they take on more supervisor and leadership duties--- in most cases. There are some soldiers, who have obtained a certain rank where they seem to be totally useless….and not only useless, but actually make others waste time, and do many things to make the job or mission actually harder to do.

Take the case of an Army Sergeant Majors…one in who keeps coming to mind…and after this last weekend National Guard training, I heard even more sad stories of him when he was in Iraq . He was one person, who if we had not taken him along, the entire deployment would have been much safer and less stressful… maybe even “fun.” I have to say I was amazed to hear all the stupid stories of stupid things he did….(you see, a bunch of us who were “organic” to that battalion, were attached to a “real” army battalion just before we landed in Iraq—so I didn’t get to witness the stupid stuff this stupid ass did in Iraq.) He was the dumbass who decided that on a few convoys, he would man the .50 caliber Machine Gun--- even though he was not really trained on it.

(Note: In the US Army, a Sergeant Major can be put into a unit where he is not qualified to do the main jobs of that unit…because he is supposed to be some sort of super boss. However, in our case, his lack of even the basic understanding of what we were supposed to do in Iraq, really made things difficult. He was too low of an IQ to even qualify for our MOS—and that is no shit.)

And he had multiple NEGLIGENT DISCHARGES because he is so pampas, arrogant, stupid and un-trainable-- he wouldn’t ask anybody how the weapon worked…

Oh and how loved the new Army Beret. When were going through all the useless silly training at Fort XXX, he wouldn’t let us put on our issued Desert Combat Uniform (DCUs) until we had “passed” all of our training. He decided to allow us to wear the DCUs like it was a friggen honor or something…like passing some school and getting an award. WTF was he thinking…we were going to have to wear that friggen uniform everyday for the year we were in Iraq.

But to top off all the stupid things I’d ever heard of…when we finally had the “honor” of getting to put on the DCUs, we still had to wear the stupid black army beret—which I hate and think was some Public Relations idea to make everybody in the Army feel elite or something--- like the special units who were the only ones allowed to wear a beret before. (like the Rangers, Special Forces and Airborne).

When we returned to the States after Iraq , he continued to muddle through being our battalion sergeant major. About a year after we’d been back, we went back to good old FT XXX for our two weeks of annual training (AT). We would go to training all day long and come back to our barracks with stuff to study and work on for the next day---while the Sergeant Major sat on his ass all day and had nothing to do.

Then, one night he decided that all the Non Commissioned Officers (NCO- aka “Sergeants”) needed to be trained by his royal dumbass on how to properly fill out a NCO ER (Non Commissioned Officer Evaluation Report)…which was a topic that would normally take a person with half a brain about an hour to do…

Nope. It took over 3 hours. The one thing…actually the only thing I remember after this torture was the Sergeant Major said over 20 times the phrase: “With That Said….”

He would try to explain something while using a Power Point slide showing the form for NCOERs. He went over each box…even explaining how to fill in the NAME, DATE and shit like that like we were children. Then, after explaining what he thought we’d know, he’d say: “With That Said…. Let me go over that again…”

At that point I understood why soldiers who are not in a combat zone are not given loaded weapons. Then…after this friggen retard went on for over 3 friggen hours, the Battalion Commander got up and said: “With That Said…”

We never knew what “THAT” was because all of our brains had gone numb. If the Zombies had invaded at that point, we all would have just sat there and let them eat our brains.

                                                            Room/ bulding clearing training aka MOUT

Now, With That Said, let me tell you about…….