Monday, April 30, 2012

Veteran Event at Richmond Intl. Raceway



My sons and I went to a veteran event at Richmond Intl. Raceway.  We got to see a great race, meet drivers, and eat lots of food.  The event was courtesy of driver Brad Keselowski.  Report is here.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Planning for a Very Odd Future

Now that my extension through May 2015 is all done except the confirmation paperwork, I can start making more concrete plans about the future.

Or not.

I will be 62 in May of 2015 and hope to spend part of the 2015-2016 academic year in Rwanda with my wife and three or four sons.  I want them to live in a black-majority culture to experience how different that is--especially for their white parents.  And Rwanda has the advantages of being among the poorest and at the same time most bicycle crazy countries on the planet.  The country is healing from the mid-90s genocide through both sides--Hutus and Tutsis--cheering for the national bicycle racing team and their international bike race, The Tour of Rwanda.

If all goes well, we will go there for a semester.  My wife will lecture on math at the University of Kigali, my sons will do there best to attend high school Kigali, the capital, and I will teach English as a Second Language with a definite emphasis on bicycle vocabulary.  Rwanda has great roads that are keep smooth from lack of heavy vehicle traffic.  Thousands of young men build their racing muscles dragging heavy loads behind and on their bicycles.  For these young men to become racers they have to be literate and learn both the bike and the complex tactics of racing.  Hopefully, I can help.

If it turns out I go to Afghanistan before I get out, I will have just that much more experience in a poor culture.

Since I will be some form of retired by then, it is good to know that the cost of living in Rwanda is very low.




Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I GOT THE FULL 2-YEAR EXTENSION!!!!

The battalion Command Sergeant Major called me today and left a message saying, "I have good news, call me back."

He did have good news.  The Pennsylvania Adjutant General signed a two-year extension of my enlistment.  My new discharge date is 30 May 2015, just after my 62nd birthday.  So I now have three years and a month before I will officially be a civilian again.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Days Like These are Why I Want to Stay In!!!!

Friday night I got a text message from our operations officer:
0730 at west field for first CH movement.
That was all the info I had.

I drove to West Field arriving at 0720. When I arrived two Chinooks sat in the middle of a large field.  Along the north edge in front of the tree line were more than 200 soldiers lining up in groups getting ready to fly to hill tops on the ridges on the north side of Fort Indiantown Gap.

As the infantry lined up, Chief Witmer put me on the second aircraft so I could take a picture of the first aircraft landing and the troops running off. The plan did not work out--at least for pictures.  The first aircraft was so fast it was flying away from the landing zone before we arrived.

So I did not get the pictures, but for the first time I had the experience of landing on top of a cliff in a Chinook with the tail wheels on the cliff and the nose wheels off the edge while 30 infantrymen ran out the back of the aircraft.  The landing was very smooth and so was the hover while the infantrymen ran down the ramp and off the aircraft, but I could look out the forward door gunner's window and down the side of the cliff.

It was very cool.

The two Chinooks flew several more sorties ferrying tropps up to Media Ridge.  I recently exchanged my cracked Blackberry for an iPhone so I took movies of some of the landings and takeoffs.  I will post them later this week.  I climbed on the last flight returning from Medina Ridge.  The troop exercise was over by 11 am.  But the days excitement wasn't over.




Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Still Getting Good Stuff While I Am In

My oldest daughter just called to tell me she could get tickets for the Richmond NASCAR race for my three sons and I (next son moves in tomorrow).  It is a night race at the end of April on a 3/4-mile oval and arguably one of the best tracks in NASCAR.  The tickets are for Iraq/Afghanistan war veterans.

If my extension does not go through, I will have just one more year to score this kind of swag for currently serving veterans.  Chalid, our new son, said he would like to go to a race.  I did not know when we could go, but free tickets made the planning much easier!


Monday, April 2, 2012

Lost Paperwork at Higher Headquarters, Starting Again

I got an email this morning from my CSM saying that higher HQ did not have my request paperwork.  he asked for some info I sent him in January so he could start the process over again.  Although my discharge is not for another 13 months, the CSM said in December I had better get started now.  He has 34 years of service and knows what can happen to paperwork.  Good thing he is looking out for young guys like me.  (Even if he is 7 years younger than I am.)


Family Black Sheep Flies a MEDEVAC Blackhawk

Brooklyn-born Amira Talifi, (not her real name) is a helicopter pilot I served with in the Army National Guard. She is one of seven ch...