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Showing posts from July, 2011

Who Fights Our Wars: Staff Sergeant Jeremy Houck

At the good-bye dinner in late January 2009, the night before 2-104th board the planes to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, my family and I sat with Sgt. Jeremy Houck and his parents.  Jeremy sat with next to his Mom on one side and my daughter Lisa on the other.  Lisa was a senior in high school.  When we all had our food, Lisa had green beans, mashed potatoes (no gravy) and salad.  Jeremy loked at her plate and said, "Where's your dinner?"  Lisa told him she was a vegetarian and did not eat meat.  Jeremy said, "I am a carnivore.  I don't eat vegetables."  For much of the rest of dinner they made jokes about each other's eating habits.  During the deployment, Lisa sent me brownies, but included a protein brownie for Jeremy in one batch and a can of Spam in another.  Jeremy at the brownie and the Spam.
From training for the deployment in PA, through training in Oklahoma and Kuwait, to the deployment itself, Jeremy was out in front of all kinds of training.  He led PT…

Who Fights Our Wars: Captain Bryson Meczywor

During the July drill weekend, Captain Bryson Meczywor passed command of Echo Company 2-104th to his long-time executive officer, First Lieutenant Brian Marquardt.  Meczywor assumed command of Echo in November of 2008 just as we were getting ready to deploy to Iraq.  He had just three months to get to know his soldiers in Echo in Pennsylvania before many new soldiers were added to our ranks at Fort Sill OK.  Meczywor interviewed every soldier under his command.

The commander who preceded Meczywor was older (not old like me, but almost 40!) had family and work problems and was not very involved with the unit.  Meczywor worked full time as a recruiter, was just 25 years old, had prior enlisted service in the artillery, and was all Army.  I don't think he scored less than 300 on the PT Test during the entire deployment.  He dove into everything Echo from his first day in command.

Echo Company maintains motor vehicles for the 2-104th Aviation Battalion, fuels the aircraft, cooks the f…

Bear-ly Made Ride Down Gold Mine Road

After drill on Sunday, I rode up and down Gold Mine Road north of Fort Indiantown Gap.  The 5-mile climb has many challenges, but until today, they all had to do with the road itself.  Gold Mine Road is a left turn of Route 443 north of Lebanon.  As soon as you get on the road it drops steeply for about 30 feet, then starts the long climb up.

The first mile is mostly up, but has a couple of short descents and is mostly out in the sun.  Mile two is the beginning of the woods that line the road all the way to the top.  Mile two gets steeper until it is 17% just before the crest at two miles.  Then the road drops steeply down for a half mile.  Very steep.  The second time I rode down this stretch I hit 57mph.  Today I hit 54.  At the bottom of that drop, the road goes up for just under 2.5 miles to the Lebanon County line.

I rode up, turned around and flew back down.  In three minutes I was making the difficult climb up the steep half mile in the middle of the hill.  At the top I went s…

Back from Vacation

For the last week, I was in Jackson, Wyoming, with my in-laws on a family vacation.  Every year my father-in-law, Hall Crannell, arranges travel and lodging for 15 or more family members.  The Crannell family is a very frugal bunch--as evidenced by my wife's blog Miser-Mom.  We ate meals together every day, taking turns cooking dinner.  Hall cooked most of the breakfast meals, and lunch was leftovers and cold sandwiches.  I cooked hamburgers and hot dogs for my turn.  Other nights were salmon and stroganoff (a little weird I know--it was a request), pasta, and other fare for fifteen folks.

Now I am back to playing Army.  More tomorrow.

Counting Down

I realized today that I was paying more attention to the coverage of the space shuttle's last flight than I might have otherwise.  What I was listening to is the shuttle program expiration date.  I kept hoping that NASA would change its mind and extend the aging shuttle program another few years.

Obviously, I was thinking the same about the "Gussman in the Army" program that has an expiration date of 22 months from now.  I had so much fun at summer camp that I realized the next summer camp is my last one--unless I get a waiver to serve over age 60.  I will age out in May 2013.  If summer camp in 2013 is actually in the summer, I will be out before it begins.

You might be thinking that I got in on waivers and I have many people who would support me staying in, but that was in 2007and early 2008 when enlistments were down, the economy was up and the Army needed more people.  Now the reverse is true and it is not likely to change in time for me.  The brigade command sergea…

Flying Army

Today I got up and put on my uniform at 5am.  I did not have a drill weekend, I flew on vacation to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  This family vacation is an annual event paid for by my very generous father-in-law Hall Crannell.  He flies the whole family to a vacation spot for a week.  He has three daughters with families, so with the kids, he buys 15 - 17 tickets depending on the year and rents the vacation place.  This year is Jackson Hole.  I have missed a few for work reasons.  The best one I missed was in 2006:  a cruise to Alaska from Vancouver!!!!  

Anyway, I flew in uniform which may or may not be the right thing to do, but I haven't asked and no one told me I shouldn't do it.  The practical advantages are obvious.  We flew from Philadelphia.  My wife, my sons and I were whisked past the waiting line for the security checks to the scanners.

On the first flight, I was seated next to a master sergeant going to annual training.  He said when he was going to wear the uniform on …

Getting the TOC off the Ground

This group of shots shows the TOC (Tactical Operations Center) Troops getting the tent ready to raise the roof.

Raising the Roof of Operations

At the beginning of Annual Training the Operations Section (S-3) set up a full Tactical Operations Center (TOC) in a tent near the ranges at Fort Indiantown Gap.  Because the equipment inside the TOC includes classified material, I could not take pictures of the TOC in operation.  But in the next post I will show you pictures of the setting up the TOC tent.