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Showing posts from October, 2007

Linking Viet Nam and Iraq

Today's Philadelphia Daily News has a 20-page section on Viet Nam. I am quoted in the lead of the first article in the section--partly about the Starbucks story below. Here's the link: PDNews

New Training Schedule

I just received a revised training schedule for FY 2008. We will have two weekend drills in February and summer camp will be a couple of days longer. It looks like the additional training for deployment won't begin until later in the year.

Chemical Weapons Training

Not confirmed yet, but it looks possible that I will be able to complete much of my training on line. Instead of attending an 11-week school at Aberdeen, I will be able to complete an on-line course then complete the final phase in two weeks of resident school. That will get me qualified for the work at the technician level. Then another two-week course will make me eligible for the supervisor level--and the sergeant's list. If all goes well, I will start the on-line training in November.

Dog Tags

This weekend I got dog tags. My youngest daughter saw them on my bureau and said she would like a set. I found them on line in about a minute and ordered a set for each of my kids. And by ordering them this way, I could replace my actual Social Security Number with "SSN." I went through identity theft in the spring and I have no desire to repeat it.

FRS Forward Repair System

Saturday morning our motor sergeant put me in charge of the most incredible toolbox this side of a NASCAR garage. The FRS is a self-contained, 18-foot long repair center moved around the battlefield by a five-axle all-terrain tractor-trailer. Dropped off the trailer and leveled on the ground next to any vehicle including an M-1 tank, the FRS has every conceivable tool necessary to fix anything on tracks or wheels. At one end is a 200-amp diesel generator and a 190 psi compressor system. At the other end is a 10,000-pound capacity crane with a 20-foot reach. In the middle are MIG, Arc and gas welders and cutting systems along with five 7-drawer tool cabinets. Inside are 1/2-inch and 3/4 drive air wrenches and sockets and hundreds of hand tools. It also has a full set of curtains, workbenches on a heating system. It comes with a 40-hour training course!

The irony is, I am the only guy assigned to the Echo company motor pool who is not a mechanic. Almost everyone else would like …

Not Like Viet Nam

During the Viet Nam War soldiers were pariahs in many parts of the country. Tonight, I stopped at Starbucks on Columbia Avenue in Lancaster on the way back from drill. The man in front of me in line was in his 40s. After he ordered two coffees he asked if I was having coffee, then bought mine also. He thanked me for fighting the war on terror. Nothing like that happened to me during Viet Nam.

Safety Meeting, Then Deployment Announcement

After morning formation we had a mandatory one-hour safety briefing for everybody. After the briefing, the battalion commander got up to say that, while he has no paperwork, the most likely timetable for our unit to be deployed is that we will move to deployment training in January of 2009, then "boots on the ground" in March 2009. He also said we may have as many as three two-to-three-week training sessions during 2008.

Morning Formation: Push-ups in Place

At this morning's formation, three soldiers were late including a staff sergeant. After calling us to attention and receiving the morning report, the first sergeant told the three tardy soldiers to "Drop and start knocking 'em out." (push-ups) He let them do about 15 push-ups before saying "Recover" and letting them return to their places in the formation.

Re-enlisting October 20

I will be re-enlisting on Saturday, October 20. To go to school, I have to be committed to more than one year. To get a security clearance to apply to school, I have to be committed to more than one year, so it's time to re-up. As things stand now, I should be going to school in April of 2008.

Hugo, Bill and me

Long-time friend Joe Chang is the editor of ICIS Chemical Business, a global chemical news magazine. He put me in this week's "Movers and Shakers" column with Hugo Chavez and Bill Clinton. Practical jokes go to a whole new level when you edit a magazine. (Click on the image if you want to see it more clearly.)

Catch 22 on School

It turns out I cannot go to school unless I get a security clearance and I can't get a security clearance without re-enlisting. I enlisted for one year on a new program called "Try One." But the current regs don't allow processing of a security clearance for a "Try One." So I plan to re-enlist as soon as the regs allow. Maybe in two weeks, maybe sooner.

PT Test Plus 2 Days

I am still sore!! Yesterday I did the daily ride and had trouble hanging on. I gave up in Washington Boro at 20 miles. I ached all over and did a very slow roll for the ten miles home. This morning it still hurts to go down stairs. Recovering at 54 is clearly different than recovery at 24.

Rumors--Today's Army vs. 30 Years Ago

I wondered how different the rumor mill would be in the Army of 2007 vs. 1977. What effect would e-mail, the internet, and cell phones have on the spread of rumors? On Sunday we had a brigade mandatory class in dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (always referred to by PTSD). When the class was announced at formation, the rumors of our deployment increased, both in number and in absolute certainty. Of course, not all of the absolutely certain information agreed, but every bit of information was absolutely right. Nothing has changed.

I Passed the PT Test!!

On Sunday after morning formation, I took the annual Physical Training test with six other members of my unit. We will serve as graders at next month's drill for the rest of the company. The order of the events is push-ups, sit-ups, then the 2-mile run. The minimum for me to pass (at age 54)is 20 push-ups, 28 sit-ups (each in two minutes) and then 19:30 for the 2-mile run, which would earn 60 points for each event. The maximum possible score on the test is 300.
I did 31 push-ups in a minute, then quit. I could only have done a few more and thought I was pushing my luck given my recent injuries. I did 55 sit-ups and finished the last one at the last second. I could not have done one more. I was last (by 10 seconds) of the seven graders on the run with a time of 15:38. The scores were 72, 88, and 92 points respectively for a total score of 252 out of a possible 300.