Saturday, May 3, 2008

Combat Lifesaver Training

In this three-week cycle of pre-deployment training if you asked most soldiers what they were worried about more: Iraq or Combat Lifesaver Training (CLS), CLS wins by a landslide. Today we spent the morning in this very important course. In CLS we learn how to save lives of terribly injured soldiers through rapid treatment on site of the worst wounds. The course is taught for three days in total. The first day, today, was all classroom instruction--which the Army calls "Death by PowerPoint." Nobody was worried about this class, or the next one. It's the third class, near the end of the three weeks. In that class we will all start an IV in another soldier, and (drum roll please) another soldier will start an IV in each of US!! That's what most everyone is worried about. That we will all be pin cushions for someone learning to start an IV.
Worries aside, it is a really good course just for the information they have assembled. I think the hands-on part will be really good.

The Deuce and a Half

Every soldier who has been in the Army since the Korean War has ridden in the back of an M35 2-1/2 ton truck known as the "Deuce and a Half." This three-axle, all-terrain, multi-fuel vehicle seats 20 soldiers in the open air or under a canvas tarp and is the main mode of transportation for troops moving anywhere in training and in war. My first ride in a deuce and a half was in tank training in 1975 at Fort Knox. We were riding to a firing range, sitting sideways on wooden benches, bouncing along in the dark oblivion of green-clad men under a canvas cover. We sat still a lot an drove slowly. The conversation occured in bursts. No one said anything, then we would slow and someone would fart and for five minutes afterward came jokes about the whether something had died inside the guy who had just fouled the air, the state of his undergarments, and what sort of moral failing promotes this activity.
When I rode in Deuce and a Halfs in Colorado then Germany then Pennsylvania over the nine years after that first ride, new groups recycled the same jokes. This morning, in a Deuce and a Half full of guys not born when I had my first ride in one, made the same jokes I remembered from three decades before--almost verbatim!

55th Birthday, Part 2

Today at final formation, one of the senior sergeants whispered to our first sergeant that "yesterday was Gussman's 55th birthday." So he led Echo company in happy birthday. They don't usually sing happy birthday, but since most of the people in the formation are three decades younger than I am, they thought 55 was worth singing about. No cake though.