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:
Me with some hotdog buns
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 before heading out to train
Marching out to train
The Wounded and Dying
Reading you loud and clear
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.
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?
The Commander and I. I was his radio operator for the day. Hence the "phone" strapped to my head.