Thursday, January 24, 2008

New Computer, New Army

Since my last post, I received the CD-Roms in the mail for Phase 1 of 63J10 school. The computerized Army is a Microsoft Army. The disks I received were dated June 2002 and would not run on a Mac. I have a Mac Powerbook, so I bought a cheap computer to run these disks. My son will eventually need a Windows computer for school, so it was not a waste of money. The courses are well organized and I have completed two modules so far. One of the instructors from the 63J school called and asked if I had the materials and wanted to make sure I had time to finish phase 1 by March 8. So after being nowhere last week, everything is going well--and I own a Windows-based computer.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Different Century, Same Army

When I left the army in 1984, the computer at the gunner's right elbow in my M60A1 tank was a metal box with three cams inside. It adjusted the elevation of the main gun to the ballistics of the three rounds in our basic load. So 23 years later, in a new century, it has been interesting to see just how much personal computers and the Web have changed the army. Not much that I can see so far. Last year our training NCO enrolled me in 63J10 school. The school is remote learning (CD Roms) for Phase 1 and on-site for Phase 2. In November I was put on a wait list for Phase 2, no mention of Phase 1. Two weeks ago, I got an email from the Phase 2 school asking me to prove I have completed Phase 1 and reminding me I will be sent back to my unit if I arrive at the Phase 2 class in March without proof of Phase 1 completion. I called and emailed the school and my training NCO saying I have not completed Phase 1 and have no hint that I can get the materials. A week after my training NCO sent this correspondence to training HQ, I received an email (just this week) saying I am now enrolled in Phase one and giving me two links to course materials in case they are available on line. I went to those sites--CD Rom only. So I sent an email to the address that came with the course notification asking to verify the address they have for me, so I would know where the disks are arriving.

Yesterday I got the answer: "Request for Assistance Denied" was the subject line of the email. The email gave me another Web site to log into that is the official place to ask questions. It may be computerized, but Army paperwork remains the same as 1970s, and, I suppose, the 1790s.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Adoption Class

Today my wife and I attended the first of three day-long adoption classes. Annalisa said she wants to adopt a brother (or maybe a sister) for Nigel. I agree that it will be good for him. And she thinks it will be a lot better for Nigel to have a brother than be an only child if I get deployed. There are lots of kids that need homes in PA and in America. The Web sites of kids waiting for homes is www.adoptpakids.org for the whole country: www.adoptuskids.org .

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Forensic DNA Presentation

This morning I listened to a talk by Joan Bienveneuve of the Army Forensics lab. The presentation was part of a seminar held at my day job--Chemical Heritage Foundation. She spoke about identifying the remains of soldiers using DNA. With this process, unknown soldiers have been identified from as far back as the Civil War. Although most IDs are from the Viet Nam and Korean wars.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Class A Inspection Part 2

I got the Class A (dress green) uniform back from the tailor the day before the drill. I bought the last of the ribbons and badges I needed at 0715 for an 8 am inspection. I was getting dressed in the locker room and just before formation asked a young guy from another unit to make sure my collar brass was straight. I helped him with a sling--he had an injured shoulder--then we both went to our inspections. An hour later I saw him in the hallway and he asked where I was stationed "back in the day." I told him I was in armor in Germany between 1976 and 79. It turns out this young soldier had enlisted a few months before after graduating high school in 2007. His Dad did the same and was assigned to a tank unit in Germany from 1984 to 1986 near my old base. He thought it was pretty funny that his Dad is ten years younger than I am.