Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Next Drill--More Air Assault Training, Fire Surpression

At April's Drill if the weather is decent, I should be flying to western Pennsylvania to cover air assault training for an infantry unit on Saturday and watching Blackhawk crews practice fire surpression.  There should be great pictures if the mission goes off according to plan.  There will be both Chinook and Blackhawk helicopters on the air assault training mission.  I am hoping to ride on the ramp at the back of the Chinook and shoot pictures of the Blackhawks flying in formation.  We will be flying west in the morning and east in the evening, so I will have to ask for some kind of turn to the north or south during the trip or my pictures wil all be silhouettes.

On Sunday, I want to be on the ground near where the 500-gallon bucket picks up water and get a shot of that and then catch the water dropping from the bucket.  It should be dramatic if I can get close enough.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Latest 2-104th Newsletter

For March, I put together just five pages.

Lunch with my Commander in Iraq

Last Thursday I had lunch with Col. Scott Perry and SPC Andrea Magee at the cafeteria in the state capitol in Harrisburg.  Perry was my battalion commander in Iraq, Magee was his assistant.  Perry is the state representative for the 92nd District in Pennsylvania.  Our state, like many others, is in the middle of a messy budget process, so Perry had to leave one of the marathon sessions for lunch.  Andrea and I both thought lunch would be fast because of all Perry had to do, but we talked for most of an hour and got a look at the legislature you don't see from the gallery.

The Pennsylvania State Capitol building is by many one of the most beautiful buildings of its kind in the world.  He told us where in France the marble that lines the walls, the artists who painted the murals, when different parts were restored--he is an encyclopedia of Capitol facts.

At lunch we talked about Andrea's path to a commission and her life as a full-time soldier with a full-time soldier husband in the same brigade.  In addition to the budget, Scott's wife is 7 months pregnant with their second child, construction of their new home is delayed by the weather, and he is in a master's program at the Command and General Staff College.

 We all talked about how much easier life was in Iraq--at least as far as setting priorities.  We all had a commander and nothing to balance in life--work, eat, sleep, work out and do the whole thing again.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Reading for Lent

I have a new co-worker, Preston Stone, who learned Coptic just so he could read the Scripture and other books in that Egyptian language.  He's a serious reader.  He is reading all of the Divine Comedy for Lent--three Cantos per day for 33 days, then seven to catch up when he gets behind.

Just before Lent I talked to my kids about what they were giving up for Lent.  Lauren is giving up sweets for 40 days.  Lisa is eating Vegan for Lent.  Preston convinced me that rather than give up something, I could do something.  So on the train back and forth to Philadelphia, before I start working I read the Gospel of John in French and Greek.  I got a parallel Gospel of John in Paris with Greek on the left page and French on the right.  Since my vocabulary is spotty in both languages, sometimes I can figure out the Greek from the French or vice versa.

My plan was a half a chapter a day with 21 chapters, so I started a day behind and three days late.  At my present rate, I won't get past chapter 12 by Easter.

My step-daughter, Iolanthe, asked me if I would consider giving up sarcasm for Lent.  I told her it would be easier for me to actually give up Food as the Lord did than to give up sarcasm.  Either one would be beyond me!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Published in REader's Digest

A friend at Church sent me a copy of Reader's Digest that included my comment on the current phrase "Too Easy."

Reminded About Why I Enlisted

In the last week I was reminded about a good and a not-so-good reason I re-enlisted.  First the good reason.
When I saw the first footage of Tomahawk cruise missiles launching from US ships, I was thinking, 'I am so glad to be serving in the best military in the world.'  Earlier in the day reports from Benghazi told of Libyan soldiers firing machine guns at civilians and laughing and joking while they did it.  This was an army that was sure they were going to win.

Then every anti-aircraft missile battery in the Libya was hit or on the target computer of 100+ Tomahawks.  French Mirage fighters were tearing Libyan tanks to pieces outside Benghazi.  The lopsided battle of rebels against armor flipped.  It was now a more lopsided battle of Libyan ground troops without air support against fighter jets.

I know that depending on your politics there are 100 things wrong with us attacking Libya.  But I love to watch CNN when poop happens anywhere in the world.

OK, that's the good one.

Last night I went to a Church group meeting and remembered exactly why I joined the Army.  The one hour meeting was to decide if we as a group should join with a local group that helps single mothers and help one single mom for one year--a commitment of an hour or two per month.  The group discussed why and why not for a whole hour and reached no decision.  In fact, we have a vague plan to further discuss it at the next meeting in two weeks.

I had forgotten, but remembered last night that this kind of thing was one of the reasons I re-enlisted four years ago.  I had volunteered for a few different local ministries, but I wanted to do something, not talk and talk and talk about it.  I also, to my own shame, would volunteer and then something else would come up--like working late or a bike ride--and I would beg off whatever charity thing I was supposed to do.  I knew if I enlisted, service would not be optional or subject to my whims.  I also knew that when I was assigned a task, it would not include a long process of deciding whether it fit with my feelings.

At the next meeting I expect my wife and another woman in the group to take the lead and we will help one of the single moms from this group.  After all, the most clear command in the Bible, for those who take it literally, is to help widows and orphans.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Boss Goes Extra Mile on Army Guard Service

My employer has always been great about my service in the National Guard--although very surprised that I signed up.

Last month I talked with my new boss about my vacation plans and said I was planning a couple of weeks away with my kids plus unpaid leave for summer camp.  She didn't know sumer camp was unpaid leave.
She said she would talk to our leadership team about changing that.  Today she told me they agreed and beginning in June I will be on paid leave for summer camp.


Serving on active duty in the states is a very big pay cut for me, so paid leave is quite a big deal.

We had a ceremony several months ago when the Army gave CHF a thank you certificate for supporting the Guard and Reserves.  I'll have to see if there is a new category they fall into now.
From the left:  SFC Albert Newman (retired) ESGR Representative;  Tom Tritton, CHF President and CEO; Denise Creedon, Vice President (my boss), and me.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lining up for Fuel

At Last Drill, Echo Company set up a night FARP (Forward Arming and Refueling Point).  Lucky for me, they set it up in mid-afternoon so I could shoot pictures.  Just before dark, this pair of Apache Longbow helicopters flew in for fuel.  They had to wait a few minutes while the fuelers transferred fuel from one tanker truck to another, so I did not get pictures of the fueling operation.  I did get Blackhawks and Chinooks getting fuel which I will post tomorrow.  

I like watching the Apaches circle and swoop down to the fueling area.  

Monday, March 14, 2011

Screws Out for Summer!!!

All three of my daughters were on Spring Break last week.  Lauren scheduled the surgery to remove the plate and six screws from her finger--she had a compound open fracture at the beginning of the Soccer season last fall.  
Surgery was Friday, the 4th.  She started moving the finger on Saturday and was back on the elliptical on Sunday.  Therapy started Monday and she returned to school on Friday the 11th mostly recvoered.
She asked the doctor for a picture during surgery.
Here it is:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Catching Up--Fuelers in the Snow

These pictures are from January.  A convoy of Echo Company fuelers were heading out to set up a fuel point for aircraft.  Their 8-wheel-drive HEMMT fuel trucks are great in the snow.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

More Combat Life Saver Training Photos

More photos from Combat Life Saver training.  The "casualties" refilled the blood bags before each team started the training.  They said it definitely washed out--they hoped.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Combat Life Saver Training

At the February drill weekend, 46 soldiers in our battalion took part in Combat Life Saver training.  One day was class training, the second day was hands on training in the Medical Battalion Training Site.  They trained in smoke, noise, low light, rubble and with fake blood squirting out of the casualties.  Here is the first batch of photos.  More soon.

Military Pilots Really Have "The Right Stuff"

Tammie Jo Shults, F-18 Fighter Pilot Today I listened to the audio of pilot Tammie Jo Shults calmly speakin...