22 November 2011

Counting Backwards....364, 363, 362, 361, 360......

From the Soldier side: When I was a very young Private in the US Army, many,many years ago, I learned how to count backwards. Yeah, I know most people can do this, but we had a good reason that many civilians may not understand.
When I graduated from the US Army Infantry School at Fort Polk, Louisiana in 1975, I was sent to Frankfurt, West Germany. We were actually put in an old German prison. It was dark, cold and strange. After sitting around for a day being told all kinds of stuff in briefings that I can’t recall a word of, we were told to go sit in a room and wait for our names to be called.

Since I always obeyed orders, I waited in the room and waited, and waited, and waited. Some of the other soldiers wondered off in search of bier. I did what I was told and waited, and waited, and waited.  We did a lot of waiting in those days.  When my name was called, I reported to the Army Clerk and gave him my ID card. He looked at me, my ID and orders and said: “so you’re a grunt and you have no assignment yet. Do you know where you’d like to be stationed?”

I looked at him in total disbelief and said: “you mean I have some kind of choice?”

The clerk told me to go look at the big map an on the wall. Wherever I saw an Army post with BLUE pins, that was where they needed grunts. I walked over and looked at the map. There were a lot of blue pins all over the place. I could have thrown a dart with my eyes closed and hit a camp that needed grunts. Then I looked way over to the east side and saw “BERLIN” with a blue pin. 

I went back and told the clerk I wanted to be sent to Berlin. He set it up and I was on the train that night. Now, keep in mind, at this point of my life I was a Private E-2. That meant I had one stripe, but didn’t know nothin’.

When I got to Berlin, the Company Clerk for C-2-6 was at the train station. He asked if I was the new private, and I stood at parade rest and responded with “Yes Specialist.” He told me to relax. When I asked a few questions, he just looked at me and said: “40 days and a wake up.”

I had no idea what he was talking about. When I got to my barracks, I was greeted by some pretty scruffy looking soldiers…their hair was a little too long, the mustaches were a little too bushy, and they looked more like short haired hippies. When I asked one of them where my room was, he pointed then said: “15 days and a wake up.”

I was too confused to ask what the heck he was talking about. I slept for about 1 day, and was woken up the next day by another Specialist four who told me: “get your ass up and get your PT uniform on.”  He was my new squad leader.

I was confused, I didn’t know we’d do PT every day for the rest of our lives. As I got into the platoon formation, I was not greeted with what would be normal conversation, but soldiers said things like: “I’m Joe, 76 days and a wake up.”

What I found out later that day is they were telling me how many days they had left in the US Army. You see it didn’t matter how long you had been in, but how much time you had left…kind of like getting out of prison.

When a soldier got down to 90 days of less, they were called a “Short Timer” and pretty much left alone. They would show up for formations and stuff, but they usually were not given any jobs to do unless they wanted to do them.

Fast forward to 2004, Baghdad, Iraq. The day we got to Iraq, I had made a backwards calendar. At first most of the regular Army and National Guard troops I was with didn’t understand it. But it was a way of helping the time go by. It started with 364 days…and counted backwards. When we all were down to 90 days, I announced in company formation that we were all Short Timers.


15 November 2011


From the Soldier side: I usually don’t discuss politics on my blog. So, I’ll try not to. When I first heard of the “Occupy Wall Street” concept, I thought it sounded pretty good. Why not? All them greedy wall street bankers are the problem to everything that’s wrong with this country…right? (Plus the corrupt and idiot politicians)
OK, enough of that. I was in the Army of Occupation many years ago. It meant something different and it was actually an honor.
The only shoulder patch the US Army issued with a city name on it

The Occupation I’m talking about is the US Army Of Occupation- West Berlin, Germany. Charlie Company 2/6.

I liked to say that each day I could get up and look out the window and see the East German guard towers…but that’s not true, I had to walk across the hall in the barracks and look out the window from one of the other soldier’s rooms to see them. My room face the center quad area where we held our formations.

I got there when I was 18 years old and left when I was 20. I had learned how to accurately fire weapons from the 1911A1 .45 to the 81MM mortar. I could drink up to 6 liters of German bier in a night (not every night) and I had a lot of good friends with me.

Some hated being there, but I realized that I was in a place that I could someday look back and say: “That was cool.”

After being there for 6 months, each soldier was awarded the Army of Occupation Medal. It was the last medal from WWII that was still being awarded to troops. It’s odd and every time I had to stand in Class A inspection in the National Guard years later, I’d always have some younger officer ask me: “What’s that ribbon for…I’ve never seen it before.?”

I’d say proudly: “Sir. That is the US Army WWII Army of Occupation Medal.”

They’d walk along and shake their head, not knowing if I was joking or telling the truth.

Go look it up.

10 November 2011

Should I say: "Happy Birthday Marines?"

How about “Thank you Marines?”

From the Soldier side:  For my friends who know me, they know one of the things about my Iraq deployment that really bothered the sh—out of me was- The US Army “forgot” to get a bunch of us ammo before we rolled from Kuwait to Iraq in late 2004.  Most of us were under the impression that we were going into a fu----g war zone. 

How did it happen?  Well, the California Army National Guard battalion I left the states with, gave a bunch of us to a Regular Army battalion when we got to Kuwait.  So, they both blamed each other for not getting us ammo. 

We got to Baghdad via a C-130 and took a bus over to one of the puzzle palaces, where we called home for about a year.  A few days after we got to Baghdad, my company commander came up to me after dinner and said: “CI Roller, you and your team are going to Fallujah in the morning, so get your gear ready tonight.”

I said: “Yes sir.  Are we going to get the rest of our ammo load?  We only have a few rounds of 5.56 (M16 ammo) and a few rounds of 9 Mil (pistol ammo) each.”

Commander dumbass said: “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of that.”
Come morning, we ate breakfast and the unit we were replacing was going to drive us up to Fallujah.  Just before boarding the M1114 Humvees, the convoy commander did a PCI (Pre Combat Inspection) on all soldiers.  I held up my one M16 magazine and my 5 rounds of M9 ammo.  He looked at me and my team and just shook his head. 

So off to war we went.  I was really in a bad mood…all those years of weapons training and teaching others to shoot and the friggen company clerk who wasn’t going anywhere had more ammo than my whole team. 
We got to Camp Fallujah without incident.  We were going to work with the First Marine Division
Click here to find out about the best of the best

I was introduced to the Gunny we’d work with.  He asked what I did back home and I told him: “I’m a cop.”  He was to.  We sat down and did the cop handshake, drank coffee and ate donuts.  Then he asked me: “Is there anything your team needs?” 
I said: “Yes.  AMMO!  Look at what the fu—s gave us in Kuwait.”
He had his Staff Sergeant take me over to their ammo room and told me to “Help yourself.”
Dang, we had to carry a lot of crap!

I did.  I’m an ammo hog…I feel warm and fuzzy with lots of ammo.  Not that in the whole year I ever go to return fire and the bastards who shot at us….but I felt if I had to, I’d return a shitstorm of lead.


09 November 2011

Safe Driving Tip- Tailgating...

From the Cop side: After working as a cop for 32 years, with a few years working “traffic” I figured I should start posting some tips.  Today’s tip has a video to help get the point across. 
How many of you “tailgate”?  I mean how many of you when you’re driving and in a hurry drive too close to the car in front of you?  This can be the cause of many motor vehicle collisions….(there are not really motor vehicle accidents because almost everyone of them is caused by driver error.) 

Watch this clip to see what I’m talking about…this all could have been prevented: 

And for those who drive on the other side of the road....  Retesting bad drivers

06 November 2011

Weapons Experts....?

                                                                     When you make a mistake with a gun....

From the Soldier side: I’m afraid after my last post about “our version of a real war video game”…some folks think I was joking.  Many of the ideas I had listed were based on real life stuff that happened when we were in Iraq….and I’m sure others have their own true stories. 

My biggest fear of getting killed in Iraq (and Bosnia for that matter) was getting shot by one of our own people…not because they wanted to shoot me, but, because they were not competent with any kind of firearm.  In both Bosnia and Iraq, we had to “clear” our weapons before entering a mess hall, PX and some other buildings.  That was where a lot of “empty firearms” went off.  The sad part was these gross acts of negligence (or mental retardation) didn’t usually happen with some young private, but usually happened with senior NCOs and officers handling the weapons. 

I got to where I would go up to the clearing barrel, clear my weapon, then turn around and watch for those coming up behind me.  In one case in Bosnia, I witnessed a Blackhawk pilot pull his M9 out of his holster a good hundred meters from the clearing barrel and start pulling the slide back while it was pointed in my direction. 

I just yelled: “God Damn it Sir, that’s not the way to clear your weapon!” 
                                         typical uniform of the day in Bosnia, circa 2003-04
He just gave me a funny look and walked on into the mess hall.  I decided the next time somebody did that, I’d pull my M9 back out of the holster and point it at them and start racking the slide and mumble about being a postal worker. 

In another case of weapons skills brilliance, I was getting onto an Army Stryker vehicle at Mosul, Iraq.  The deal on boarding those vehicles was we’d “lock and load” our weapons just before boarding.  I carried an M9 pistol and an M4 carbine.  As I stepped into the vehicle, I saw an Army Major walk up behind me, pull out his M11 (Sig 9mm) pistol, point it at me, and try to load M9 (Beretta) magazines into the pistol.  I looked at him and said: “Sir, them mags aint’ gonna’ fit into that pistol.”

The major looked at me and asked: “Can I borrow your M9 for this ride?” 
I looked at him and said: “Sir you’ve already demonstrated your weapons skills to me, I’ll keep my weapons, but in the event I should get killed before you, you can borrow whatever you like.” 

(you see, I could get away with talking to offices like that because I never wore my rank, unit patch or name tag, and I looked mean.) 

A few days after the Mosul ride, an “unknown major” was boarding a Stryker vehicle to go for a ride, when he locked an loaded his M16, started to step into the vehicle and put his finger on the trigger, letting a burst go inside the Stryker. 

Nobody was hurt, but everybody was staring at every Army Major they saw for weeks…”were you that guy?” 

…and you all remember the story(s) of our really stupid Sergeant Major who  decided he was going to man the “Fifty Cal” machine gun on a few convoys.  He had never trained on that weapon, but what the heck, he was a Command Sergeant Major and he knew everything…right? 

Nope..and to this day I suspect he still doesn’t understand that the M2 HB .50 caliber heavy machine gun does not have a safety….

So, when you go back and read my last post, I wasn't kidding about how to make a war video more real...just add some of the retarded shit some people do and alll the vets will say: "Wow, that's so real."

01 November 2011

New War Video Game...ideas....

From the Soldier side: One of my Army buddies had a great idea on Facebook about how to make war video games more real… some of us added on to his concept and this is some of what we came up with…
All the war videos pretty much have the players running or driving around and shooting up everything in sight. What they seem to forget is all that gear has to be prepped before the mission and there are lots of other things that go on each day in a modern war. So, our video game would have the player dealing with this:

1.) Prior to the mission, your team leader has to spend 4 or 5 hours writing up an OP ORDER .With attachments using every software program Microsoft Office has- Power Point, Excel, Word and solitaire.

2.) Your teams drivers have to do    PMCS   on the vehicles. This typically takes 2 to 4 hours depending on the age, miles and type of vehicle you are assigned.

3.) Your assistant has to check out and PMCS the    SINGARS RADIO  .This includes checking the attachments like the handsets and antennas that are the same ones that have been used since before the Viet Nam war.

4.) You will personally check out the   BLUE FORCE TRACKER  because as the truck commander you seem to be the only one who knows how to use it.

5.) The Lead Vehicle Gunner has to strip, clean and oil her  M249 SAW   to make sure it will fire The rear vehicle gunner will do the same to his M2  FIFTY CAL   (yep, it’s the same gun your great grand pa used in WWII.

6.) After this is all done, the battalion Sergeant Major wants all soldiers to conduct an area police call because he found a scrap of paper outside his nice air conditioned office.

7.) After the police call, everybody has to have a weapons safety class because one of the office REMF officer had another negligent discharge with his M9 9 MIL  this is the third one this month, but so far nobody has been injured, however, several people have been awarded the CAB COMBAT ACTION BADGE  . due to the close calls and crapping their DCUs due to the loud noise.

8.) After all of this, you and your team have a chance to go to the camp PX . to pick up badly needed soap, deodorant, foot powder, Gatorade, chew and other items, but when you get there, the REMFs have already bought everything in stock and you leave with a DVD of the Partridge Family because that’s all they had.

After the PX, you return to the office and attempt to write reports for what your team did that day, however, the software sucks and you can’t get on line to the website where you need to enter the information…so you wait until midnight, and then it works.

Get up the next day at 0500 hours, go to the mess hall and inhale your food, run back to the office and load up your truck and wonder why even though everything was checked and ready to go last night, now the truck won’t start.

When you finally get out the gate, you drive for hours in the 130 degree heat, get shot at but never see the shooter and come back to camp and repeat the above…do this 7 days a week.

CI Roller Dude says: You can't have an adventure without some part of it sucking!