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Showing posts from June, 2011

Camo in the Metro

The Combat Aviation Battalion I drill with, like most line battalions is commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel and has fewer than two dozen commissioned officers (lieutenants, captains and majors).  Because we are an aviation unit, there are also a few dozen warrant officers.  From Sunday night until last night I was in Washington DC at the Biotechnology Industry Conference--a trade show for the the biotech industry.  I had several occasions to ride the Metro, the DC subway system.  Lots of officers ride the Metro from every branch of the US military.  I am sure I never saw an enlisted man of any branch.  I guess in the area of DC and northern Virginia, there are more officers than enlisted men.
I've been to DC many times.  I guess I did not pay attention to the rank of the uniformed subway riders before.

Next time I ride the Metro, I'll see if I can find at least one enlisted soldier.

Bike Update: Mike Zban Wins Brownstown

My friend and former coworker at Godfrey Advertising, Mike Zban, won the Brownstown Road Race yesterday.  Mike and I have been friends and riding buddies since he was hired at Godfrey not long after he graduated from college in the early nineties.  He is a strong member of the Lancaster Masters Racing Club Thru-It-All Body Shop.  Having a friend win a race is almost as good as winning itself.  Also in the race from Thru-It-All was Jan Felice another long-time friend.  Jan got knocked out of the race after for of the six 5-mile laps when another rider crashed in the turn and turned Jan rubber side up.  I was behind Jan when he crashed.  I did not crash but was off the road and could not catch back up to the main field.  I finished, but was was well back of the leaders at the end of the race.

Brownstown is a great traditional road race course and a big favorite for me.  Brownstown was the only USCF race I did in 2009--it was the race I rode in when I was home on leave.

On Sunday, I rac…

My Commander in Bicycling Magazine

The editor of Bicycling magazine wrote an article about a guy named Joel who put him in pain on a training ride.  The rider is LTC Joel Allmandinger, commander of 2-104th GASB.

I have been in the editor's position many times, just hanging on to a guy stronger than me.

Visit to Boeing Chinook Factory in Ridley Park

On Friday a large group from Fort Indiantown Gap toured the Boeing Chinook factory in Ridley Park near philadelphia.

Boeing Photographer Alan Chalfin took my picture while I was taking pictures of our tour group.

Army Ends Saturday, Race on Sunday

I got home just before 5pm on Saturday from two weeks of Annual Training.  At 8am Sunday, I started my first race in more than a month, a criterium held on the west side of Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster--which meant the back side of the course was one block from my house.

The Father's Day race used to be held at Greenfield Industrial Park on the east side of Lancaster, but after 20 years, the Park owners decided it was time for the racers to get  new venue.

Criteriums are my favorite kind of race--not that I am good at them, but they are a lot of fun for an ex motorcycle rider who loves fast corners.  The 0.8-mile course was a one-block-wide, three-block-long rectangle that is downhill on the backstretch and uphill on the front.  The start-finish line is near the top of the hill.  In just 20 miles we made 100 right turns.  From the uphill start-finish line, the first turn is slow, the second is faster, the third is fastest of all and the fourth starts uphill and is …

Review of The Heart and the Fist by Eric Greitens

Here's a link to my review of the book in Books and Culture:
http://www.booksandculture.com/articles/webexclusives/2011/june/gussaman060811.html?paging=off

Or text here:


The Heart and the FistHumanitarian + Navy SEAL: no contradiction.
A week after Navy SEAL Team 6 killed Osama Bin Laden in a walled compound in Afghanistan, three books on Navy SEALs were listed among the Top 20 sellers on Amazon.com. Among them was The Heart and the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL, by Eric Greitens (rhymes with "brightens"). Greitens' book is a memoir, currently a suspect genre. But military memoir is among the most reliable forms of the life-remembered story. Soldiers can tell horrendous tall tales, but the military keeps good records, and—as the 2004 presidential campaign showed—military exaggerations outside the barracks can provoke a rapid response. The Greitens story begins with an ordinary boy obsessed with going to college. We are shown a few bumps …

Land Navigation Training

Below are photos of a Cadet and a Specialist reporting to their company commander after successfully completing a land navigation course in the dense woods on the north end of Fort Indiantown Gap.  They were the first to finish, completing the course in 2 hours.  
While we were waiting for them to finish, I found out that the Warrior Leadership Course no longer includes land navigation and no longer makes the PT Test part of the grade for the course.
The change is recent.  I think it is stupid.  This course is supposed to train enlisted men and junior NCOs to be leaders.  Land Nav combines fitness with calculation and concentration.  The fitness test is an Army standard.  Even if Land Nav is no longer a skill in common use, it surely shows a lot abut the abilities of those who master it.  And the fitness test, leaders should be at the front, not be lagging.
OK  Done bitching like and old guy.




Combat Life Saver Training -- "Victims"

Combat Life Saver training puts a squad of soldiers in a realistic setting with victims both unconscious and screaming for help.  The soldiers have to treat the victims and get them out of harm's way.  Here are some of the "victims" at a CLS training site. 








Soldiers on their first flight

Pictures from my flight two days ago.





Flying with the New Guys

On Saturday I took a routine flight 30 miles northeast of Fort Indiantown Gap to a remote fuel site set up at the Joe Zerbey Airport near Pottsville PA.  They airport had an open house to let local residents see the army fuel trucks and the Blackhawk helicopter we rode up in.  The flight up was better than I expected.  The pilots took an indirect route through valleys at 100 feet of altitude rather than the normal 500+ feet of level flight.  The doors were open and I was sitting in the seat next to the open door so I had a great view. There were five young soldiers on the aircraft who were getting their first flight on a helicopter.  They had a ball.

None of us knew the flight back would be even better.

After an hour at the airport, we took off fast.  First we flew level gaining speed then went up hard.  When we got to 1000 feet we circled.  I had asked to take aerial photos of the fueling set up.  The pilots gave me a level circle to take the pictures, then they turned the Blackhawk …

Air Assault Training in VA

Here's photos of air assault training in VA.  Briefing American and German infantrymen before flights.




Flying to Virginia in the Door Gunner's Seat of a Blackhawk

Today I flew to VA on a Blackhawk in the door gunner's seat.  I never had a chance to do that in Iraq because the real door gunner's had to be on the guns.  It was lot's of fun.  I put my feet on the window ledge to stretch.  One of the flight medics in Iraq put his feet out the window on take-off.  I flew over a big quarry and three-mile island.



Getting Ready for the Range

This morning we had a class to get us ready for the range next week.  SFC Lori Burns took this picture because "You are always taking pictures of other people.  I am taking a picture of you." SGT Marc Hall gave a great class on weapon procedures.  CPL Mike Arms helped me to get into kneeling position for firing next week.

Field Kitchen in the Parking Lot

Today Echo Company started field kitchen operation in the parking lot behind the armory.  Went smoothly.  Lines passed through the filed kitchen quickly for the hot food.  Salad and cold food were off to the side.


End of the World in McDonalds Parking Lot

I missed supper tonight so I went to McDonalds at 830 pm.  They have the best internet anywhere near Fort Indiantown Gap so I come here to upload photos and do other tasks that are a pain in the butt with Army internet.

On the way, I tuned my car radio to WKDN Camden NJ, the local station broadcasting Family Radio, the network of Harold Camping, the guy who said the world was going to end May 21 with a worldwide earthquake.  I have checked WKDN every few days since May 21 to see if the station would shut down or what would happen.  Each time I go there they are playing Church music.  But tonight I checked WKDN and Harold was taking calls again, answering your Bible questions.

I did not want to miss this.  The second caller asked Camping what was going on with his prediction.  His answer was priceless!!!!

He said the word Earthquake could be interpreted FIGURATIVELY.  Really???
Camping said his prediction caused a figurative earthquake and caused people around the world to think abou…

Annual Training Begins Today

Yesterday we had a preliminary day--meetings about the coming two weeks of annual training.

I was on a Machine Gun range today.  I went to take pictures and got to fire 300 rounds with an M240B 7.62mm that is the standard weapon for door guns in Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters.  The range has pop-up targets from 300 to 800 meters.  I shot 100 rounds in one rotation and 200 in the 2nd rotation.  Each time I had a chance to hit the 800-meter targets and did not knock them down, just kicked up some dust.  I knocked down the targets at every other distance.  It's a loto of fun to shoot on a range with pop-up targets.

Next week we will have aerial gunnery.  Don't know if I will have a chance to shoot a door gun from a helicopter, but should get good pictures.

Soldiers on Motorcycles

A dozen soldiers in my unit had a special session of the weekend-long Motorcycle Safety course at the Pennsylvania State Police high-speed driving school near Fort Indiantown Gap.  Of the twelve, 10 were on bikes that could be categorized as Cruisers--long wheelbase Harleys and similar Hog-like bikes.

Watching those bikes on a cone course was like watching dancing elephants in a circus.  They are amazing to look at.  Graceful for their size.  The instructors rode a small 250 Honda for demonstrations and looked very fast by comparison.