Thursday, April 9, 2009

Silence is not an Option

At the end of every training session we have an After Action Review--as with everything else this is only referred to as an AAR. Usually we collectively are asked to give three examples of what was Outstanding, three things that should be Sustained, and three that should be Improved. Just as with civilian life, these sessions are supposed to be open to all comments.

But I got shouted down for my "Improve" comment.

After we finished six hours of rappel tower training we had an AAR. It was somewhat difficult to hear the leader because speakers on the tower had been blaring and continued to blare metal music. My Improve was shut the music off. If I had said change the music to country, hip-hop, or something else I would have divided the crowd. But suggesting that the sound be shut off was like suggesting we all dress in orange or blue or that we all become Vegans. Silence is simply not an option in this world. Even the people who don't like metal music wanted some kind of music. Our chow hall has big screen TVs on both walls, one on ESPN, one on Fox News during every meal. My roommates like Gangsta Rap and Horror movies. Other rooms are primarily Country or Metal with a preference for comedies or war movies, but there is no silent room.

This weekend when my wife is here we will not be watching TV, leaving the radio on all the time, or eating in restaurants that have big-screen TVs on the wall. While most everyone flies home, I will be staying in Lawton and enjoying four days of quiet.

When the rest of my unit returns to America, they will be looking for some form of entertainment they have been missing. I will want to be back in my very quiet home and back at my job in a very quiet museum with people who can do their work without 24/7 music. AAAHHHHH!

Once in a while people ask me if there is anything I miss, anything people could send me. If you figure out a way to put quiet in a postal package, please send it.

Rappel Tower

Today we spent most of the day at Fort Sill's Treadwell Rappel Tower. For most soldiers it was not their first time to slide down a rappel rope, some even had air assault experience rappeling from a helicopter. I was one of about ten rookies who had never rappelled before. It was fun, but because the tower is set up for basic trainees, they use a figure-8 loop on the harness that makes the ride down very slow. I did get to swing out and drop about ten feet at the end, but nothing too fast.

In addition to the rappel ropes, the tower had four rope obstacles. Each of these was harder for me than the tower. We first climbed up a three-rope bridge, which wasn't too bad. Then we went down a single rope head first and face down (see photo) which hurt my chest a lot. Then we went back up a two-rope bridge, which is harder than three. Then up to the top of the tower and down a 40-foot cargo net. Several soldiers went again, some again and again, when everyone had a chance to go once. Between the harness (I thought it could make me a soprano) and an aching shoulder from the cargo net, I only went once.



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