20 August 2012

How to become a Firearms Instructor

From the Soldier and Cop side:  The other day when I was working at one of my part time jobs (since I retired) at the gun range…I was between classes, so I was on the range getting a few rounds down range.  When I’m working this job, I have a very bright red shirt that say: “Firearms Instructor” on it….so needless to say…I often get asked: “Are you a firearms instructor?”

(I’m not going to say that everybody who shows up at any given location is smart.) 

So, after I shot a few magazines from my “gun of the day” (I wear a different gun each day of the week) a younger dude stopped me to ask a question. 

He asked: “How can I become an instructor?”

A question and answer period followed

Me:” You ever been in the military?”

Kid: “nope, they wouldn’t take me”

Me: “You going to be a cop?”

Kid: “Nope, they won’t take me either”

Me: “How long you been shooting?”

Kid: “a few weeks”

Me: “perfect, no background, no training, no experience, you’ll be perfect to train Afgan Army

Kid: “who are they?”

Me: “oh, they need a lot of training, just go google them and find out.”     
Other than that kid, it was a very good day of teaching.  I had 2 brand new pistol shooters who've never shot before.  At the end of the class, all rounds were going into the bullseye.  I was very happy.

08 August 2012

Useful things I learned in 11Charlie AIT (Infantry mortar school)

I’m watching my 1 year old grand daughter today.  She’s just learning to walk and she often falls down.  I tried to explain to her that the falling is caused by gravity.  She just looked at me funny…so that leads into:

From the Soldier side: Many, many years ago, in a galaxy far, far away…no, that’s from a movie.  Let me start over again.  Many, many years ago, in a place called Fort Ord, California, I graduated from Army Basic training.  We all thought we were bad asses, but up to that point, we really weren’t even trained to do any kind of real job in the Army. 

To be able to “get a job” and work for the US Army, you have to have what they call a Military Occupation Specialty (M.O.S.)  and to obtain that, you have to go through and pass Advanced Individual Training (A.I.T.) or what you might call a “school.”  Once you have an M.O.S. then you may attend other training, like “air borne” school.  However, for those of us who were “straight legs” jumping out of a plane was something for fools.  Why would you jump out of a perfectly good airplane?

When I joined the US Army, I hadn’t actually joined to be a grunt (infantry) but because I trusted some assclown, (I can’t use that kind of language with my granddaughter around) that’s where I ended up.  After Basic Training at Fort Ord, I was shipped to Fort Polk, LA  If you look Fort PUKE  you can see that it is the ass butt of the state of Louisiana.  It was hot and it was humid.  It was so freaky, that we’d go marching out in the woods, it’d start to rain and before we could stop and put on our rain gear, we’d be totally soaked.  Then by the time we got our rain gear on, it’d stop raining. I think God was messing with us to make us better Soldiers. 

Actually, once we got settled in and sorted out, being in 11 Charlie training CLICKY HERE was actually better than being in regular riflemen (11Bravo) training.  We had an older drill sergeant who was too tired to run, so when we went to our training, he’d have us walk.  I felt sorry for the riflemen who had to run to everything. 

Since our training was more specialized- how to set up and “lay in the gun” and fire it, and how to be a forward observer and stuff like that, we trained away from the riflemen most of the time.  The only times we trained with them was when we learned all the other grunt stuff we also had to know.  You see in battle, if needed, we’d pick up our rifles and join the others.  Our main job was to support them with “indirect fire” from behind.  I was trained on the old 81 MM and the 4.2 inch (four duce) mortar. 

Many times we’d be tasked with being the OPFOR (Opposing Force) for the riflemen when they were learning how to assault a hill or building.  We’d be given training hand grenades to throw and lots of blanks. 

Lesson: When throwing hand grenades uphill or up stairs, gravity is your enemy!    

This was not in any Army manual, so how did I learn this?  Well, one day we were out in the woods of Fort Polk (hereafter referred to as Fort Puke) and we had some of the “enemy” up hill from us.  I pulled the pin on my M-something or another Frag Grenade simulator and threw it up the hill.  (these were real grenades with a fuse, but no explosive charge.  When the pin was pulled, and thrown, you had about 7-9 seconds before the fuse popped and made a noise).

Or course…it hit a tree, bounced backwards, then rolled back down the hill to where I was prone.  I looked over at it as it went “POP!” and thought: “Damn darn, I’m glad that wasn’t  a real grenade.” 

A few days later, we were learning how to clear buildings of enemy soldiers.  I was only 18 years old and not terribly bright, so as we were going upstairs, I threw another M-something or another  frag up the stairs.  I threw it really hard…it hit the wall, bounced around, then came back down the stairs towards me.  As it landed at my feet and went “POP!” I made a mental note to try and work with gravity in the future. 

Now, if I can explain this to my granddaughter. 

01 August 2012

After the Deployments.....

Transition back to civilian life.......
From the Soldier to Cop side: There’s been some action being taken in recent days to help assist the troops being discharged back into “society”.  I personally think that this is a great idea for in many cases, soldiers (a general term to include all in the military) often joined up when they were young.  They spent anywhere from 4 to 30 years following orders, giving orders but always dealing with some kind of “order”.  Then, regardless of age or background, upon discharge they are poured back into the real world. 

I know when I was discharged from the “regular army” when I was 20 years old; I had no idea what I was going to do when I returned home.  Lucky for me, my dear old’ dad let me stay with him while I worked and went to college full time. 

Fast forward to 2004-05.  When my National Guard unit returned from deployment to Bosnia, we had about 2 weeks of earned military leave that we had on the books…so after we de-mobilized, we were getting our leave pay for 2 weeks.  This was a great idea to have a few weeks to rest before returning to work.  However, the police department I was working for at the time didn’t think I needed all that rest.  As soon as they found out I was home, they called me to get me to return to work.  I almost had a whole week off—counting the time in Bosnia- I was usually working 6 days a week and usually 12-16 hour days---so I hadn’t had a vacation in a few years.   That deployment was a total of 9 months.

I was tired. 

But, I put on the blue uniform and went back to work.

6 months later we were re-deployed to Iraq (there were about 15 of us Bosnia vets with the unit who “volunteered” to go to Iraq.)  That deployment was a total of 15 moths with the useless training before.  So when I returned home and had 2 weeks of military leave I told the P.D. that I’ was taking a whole month off – and I didn’t answer the phone. 

After being home for a month and resting, I went back into the patrol car.  This time the police department got a little smarter and had me ride with another experienced officer.  She was one of the best cops I ever worked with…so the first day in the car she asked:”well, how long do you want to ride with me?”
I looked at her and said: “As long as they let me.  I like being driven around.” About 3 hours into that shift we got a call of a bank robbery.  For some reason I was the only one not getting all excited---- well, what the heck, there was no gun involved so what was the big deal?  (remember after a year in Iraq, anything is easy.) 

2 weeks later, the town had one of the biggest floods in 20 years…and I was working 12 hour shifts so many days I lost track.  But I was getting OVERTIME pay.  Unlike the Army.   

                                         A good sense of humor did help......
I think I earned my retirement.  Both of them.