Rough Book

random musings of just another computer nerd

Tag: yakima

Over Here – Day 75

This is going to be a bit of a long one, with a bunch of pictures too! I’ll start off with where I left off last time. We got to Yakima on the 21st, which was a Friday. It was good seeing everyone in my section after a week and of course, they were giving me crap about having an easy time back in the barracks. The maintenance section didn’t have much going on other than Weapons Guard, it seemed, and the shifts were six hours long too. The rest of the week was pretty slow. I didn’t have much to do than updating some Excel spreadsheets, and driving around Humvees. We weren’t allowed any alcohol at all, except for three nights where the commander let us have some at the Oasis Club that’s on base. The last two days were a little hectic, with us having to pack all our stuff up, clean vehicles and equipment and turn them in. Yakima reminded me of home, because the weather was cool and dry and the area was essentially a desert. Never have I been happier to see desolation. I had been getting sick of trees.

While we were at Yakima, we were informed of a new “Leave policy”. Apparently we wouldn’t be getting any leave at all to go home, before we left for Iraq. Needless to say, we were pretty bummed out. However, things in the Army change by the minute, and so the next day we were informed that we would be getting a four-day pass, where we were authorized to go home. I booked my ticket that same night.

Once we got back to the barracks, we unloaded all our equipment. That same night, we were driven over to the airport. There, Sergeant Eagleman, PFC Silva and I first checked out the USO, but decided against staying there. We actually decided to get a hotel since it would end up being pretty cheap with the cost being split amongst the three of us. We left all our stuff at the hotel room, grabbed something to eat, and then headed out to Downtown Seattle. The first club we headed out to was closing down, so we headed to another bar across the street. We had a couple of beers, met some pretty ladies and then took the “Party Bus” back to the airport. From the airport, there was a free shuttle to the Hotel. We took an hour-long nap, and then headed to the airport to take our flight to Phoenix. I’d say about 50-60 people from our company were on that flight. The pilot even welcomed us on the plane through the intercom since they could tell we were from the Army by our distinctive haircuts.

I reached Phoenix on the morning of the 31st, and my sister was there to pick me up. It felt absolutely great to be back home. The weather was just gorgeous and it was just nice being in good old Arizona again. My dog Honey was elated to see me again, and she was going crazy with happiness. First we ran some errands, and then headed home. There, we got ready to go to Josh’s place in Tempe, so that we could all go to Mill Avenue for Halloween. I didn’t have a new costume, so I wore my Star Trek costume from last year. We met up at Josh’s had a couple of beers, and then headed over to Mill. Mill was crazy as usual, and there were some pretty neat costumes this year. One I saw, was a pretty good imitation of Johnny Depp‘s character in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Captain Jack Sparrow. We headed to The Tavern, where more beer and shots of Tequila were had. The night was pretty crazy, and I ended up crashing at Josh’s place. The rest of my trip in Phoenix was pretty hectic – my sister and I had to take stuff at the house our parents just bought, and then I had to run around and meet all my friends. The days went by pretty quick, and before I knew it, I had to go back to Ft. Louis. The entire trip was bittersweet, because I knew that going to Phoenix meant I would have to leave. However, it was completely worth it. I got to hang out with my family and friends and got to see Arizona one last time before I head out to Iraq. I had a really great time, and I was very happy while I was there. I want to thank everyone for showing me a great time, and showing me that I am loved and missed.

The trip back home was alright, and I spent most of the time watching the in-flight movie, and listening to music. I got back to base to be greated by really unpleasant wet, and cold weather. It was a complete letdown from the gorgeous weather in Phoenix. In fact, yesterday was the only day it didn’t rain. It rained for every single day since I got back until the day before yesterday. I’ve been bundling myself up in all sorts of cold-weather gear to get through this absolutely disgusting weather.

The training we’ve been going through for the past few days has to do with Detainee Ops. This means anything having to do with handling Detainees, such as your interaction with them in a Detainee Camp, searching detainees, Riot Control, and things of that nature. The Army has put a lot of time and money into this program to train soldiers so that another Abu Gharaib doesn’t happen. The training is pretty good, and I probably wouldn’t mind it as much if it wasn’t for this beastly cold.

The other major information that I have right now is our date of departure. I found out about this barely a few hours ago. I’m leaving on the 19th to Kuwait. We should be there for a while, and after that we’ll go to Iraq. We should be there for about a year, and then head back about the date we left, next year. Mark your calendars! I’m actually pretty excited because the sooner I get there, the sooner I can get back. I’m pretty sick of Ft. Louis (the terrible weather doesn’t make it any easier) and I just want to go downrange and get my job done. I’m not sure when we will get internet access, or access to phones and such, so I’m not sure when I will be able to contact you all again. Rest assured, I will contact you as soon as I can.

Oh yes, and I have to say this. I’ve got Mysql, PHP and Apache installed on my laptop, and I took a complete dump of my website and set it up on the laptop. So I can continue to develop even if I don’t have internet access. Woohoo! Oh yeah, and if you’re wondering about the ungodly time of the journal entry, it’s because I’m on guard duty.

This is all I have for right now. The next time I write, it will probably be from Iraq. Take care, and as always, here are some pictures. I will be adding some more to this entry since I haven’t downloaded them all from my camera yet, but this is what I have for now:

Yakima Motorpool
Motorpool in Yakima. The hill in the background is called Squaw Tit. No joke.

HQ Platoon
Headquarters leads the way HOOAH!

1/180th FA Roughnecks!

Me with 240B
That’s me, holding a 240B.

The next few shots are my, ahem, “artistic” shots.

Pipedream Clear
Pipedream: Clear

Pipedream Cloudy
Pipedream: Cloudy

Pipedream BW
Pipedream: B&W

Pipedream Sepia
Pipedream: Sepia

Rochelle and I
Rochelle and I in downtown Seattle

Halloween Group 1
L-R:Me, Nasser, Shareen, Yasmin, Keerthi

Rachna and I
Rachna and I

Sakeena, Johanna and I
L-R: Me, Sakeena, Johanna

My sister and I
My sister and I

Hemina and I
Hemina and I

Halloween Group 2
L-R: Josh, Loretto, Me, Daniella

Daniella and I
Daniella and I

Loretto and I
Loretto and I

Halloween Group 3
Top L-R: Laura, Michael, Carlos
Bottom L-R: Lance, Keerthi, Me, Jenny, Andreas

Over Here – Day 54

Firstly, there are lot of pictures in this post, so be patient while the page loads, and secondly, sorry about not having written in a while. We’ve been pretty busy over the last three or four weeks, and whatever free time I got was spent in talking to friends, hanging out with my buddies here, or just relaxing. So I really didn’t have the time to update my journal. We’ve only had two major things going on since I last wrote, and one of them is still going on. The first training event we underwent was “Force Protection”. Here they taught us different things like searching vehicles, personnel, and reacting to incoming mortar fire, and small-arms fire. On the final day of our excercise, I was in the CCP (Casualty Collection Point), listening in to the Radio and relaying the information to the First Sergeant. It was a pretty good experience, and it isn’t my normal job, so it was pretty cool doing something different for a while. You get to listen in on the entire battle and know what’s going on.

The exercise was pretty realistic. We had civilians dressed up as Iraqis, and even some Middle Easterners too. While I was operating the radio at the CCP, we would have casualties come in. Sometimes it got pretty hectic, with the floor packed with wounded or dying (simulated, of course) soldiers. We would then have to radio in for a MEDEVAC (Medical Evacuation). Once the chopper landed, they would have to pick up the casualties and carry them to the chopper. At one point in the excercise, they killed off our entire leadership (Commander and First Sergeant), and then blew up the Operations Center. The point was to see how we’d react in adverse circumstances. Of course, nothing like that is remotely going to happen in Iraq, so you can quit your worrying!

After Force Protection, we got a day off because the Commander was extremely pleased with our performance. That night we didn’t have curfew, so my buddies and I hit up a karaoke bar. That was a whole lot of fun. We didn’t get back until 2 am! The next morning, even though we were off, the HQ platoon had guard duty (luck of the draw). I had duty from 9 am to 1 pm, so it wasn’t so bad. Later that evening we had a barbeque where we had lots of beer and cooked Bratwurst. A welcome change from the chow-hall food. The next training event was more of the same, although this time the line-platoons got to fire weapons. HQ didn’t do much other than co-ordinating the attack and things like that. The first day, I was at the CCP, but the second day I got to run around with the Commander as his Radio Operator, which was also pretty cool.

Right now, most of the unit is at Yakima, which is a base about four hours from here. I was originally supposed to go, but then I was told that I have an ULLS-G class, and wouldn’t be going to Yakima for another week. I wasn’t too disappointed because I’d rather be here! But what sucked was that my stuff was already packed, and it looked like I wouldn’t be having my clothes for a while. However, I ended up getting them that night. We pretty much had the weekend off because there are only eight of us here from the whole unit. I was able to sleep in, which is always good. Classes started on Monday, and they have been pretty easy. We also get off somewhat early since we can leave after we finish our practical excercises. It has been a good week so far, and I think I’m going to be a little disappointed when it’s over. Oh well. However, time has been going by pretty fast. We should be leaving for Iraq sometime between the middle and end of November. Once we leave the US, our year starts. So hopefully, I should be back no later than December of next year.

Well, that’s about it for now, but here are a few more pictures:

Hotdog Buns
Me with some hotdog buns

Sacrificial Lamb
This is a prank we played on a guy in our bay. We made a “sacrificial lamb” out of a towel, complete with blood drops (red cough-syrup) and hung it in front of his bunk. Although it’s not clear, the rocks at the bottom of the picture are arranged in a pentagram

Rucking Up
Rucking Up before heading out to train

Marching Out
Marching out to train

The Wounded and Dying

Doc Eagleman

Reading you loud and clear

Foggy Morning
A foggy morning at the range. I had to turn the flash off for this picture since the fog was so dense. You could see the droplets if the flash was turned on, which gave the picture a splotchy appearance. This one turned out surprisingly well. Very surreal.

TOC in the woods
On the way to our Operations Center in the woods

We found this little fella by some trees. Anybody know what kind of snake it is?

Commander and I
The Commander and I. I was his radio operator for the day. Hence the “phone” strapped to my head.

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