Friday, September 28, 2012

Waiting for Their Soldier to Deploy

Today this group of fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters are watching their soldier pack their aircraft to deploy to Afghanistan. This first phase will be a trip to their training base in Texas. Later they will make the big trip across the ocean.

I will be posting family group pictures on facebook tonight and tomorrow. The pictures I took are one very strong indicator that this occasion is serious. When I take the camera to the unit Christmas party or other occasions, I get many people who don't want their picture taken or explain that they don't take good pictures.
On this occasion, the usual vanity and shyness is out the window. People either want their picture taken or they don't. Several soldiers said "No, don't want the picture." Most gathered their family around and no one in the group objected.

The families who come to this kind of event do their best to be brave. The mix of smiles and tears changes rapidly from family to family.

The brigade commander and the battalion command sergeant major just arrived for the final departure.

More later

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Improbable Evening in Boston

Tonight was a vivid moment of an entirely different kind.  I am at the annual Ig Nobel Award ceremony in Sanders Theater on the campus of Harvard University in Boston.

One of the awardees talking about his prize.
Sanders Theater outside
. . .and inside

1200 people watch the ceremony every year.  I have watched on line before but never live at Harvard.  Lots of fun.

If you want to know more, here's the link.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Vivid Moments Coming Home

This morning I went out before sun up in Philadelphia riding my bike through the city and over the Ben Franklin Bridge to Camden and back.  Part of the riding was down the recently repaved Market Street.  This six-lane east-west boulevard is glass smooth where it used to be cracked and crumbling.  I flew down the middle of the street--no traffic, fast enough to make green light after green light.

As I rode up the BFB toward Camden, the sun sent shafts of light over the eastern horizon into what would soon be an robin's egg blue sky.  Just the occasional cloud bent the orange light.  When I turned back toward Philadelphia, the orange glow lit blue coated 50+ story towers that form the center of the Philadelphia sky line.


Moments like these will be remind me of Iraq for the rest of my life.  Certainly not because Iraq looks anything like this, but the contrast is so vivid.  When I served in Germany in the 1970s, Germany became like a second home.  From the North Sea to the Alps, Germany lacks nothing in natural beauty and the settled beauty of civilization.  Iraq is a dry, dusty, drab and dreadful.



Travel really does make home more beautiful--and the uglier the place I travel, the more beautiful home becomes.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Symposium in NYC on Service and Sacrifice Today, hosted by Pat Tillman Foundation

Today I had the chance to make a trip to NYC on 9-11 to hear a symposium on Service and Sacrifice.  I wanted to go partly because the moderator was Jim Dao, one of my bike-racer buddies and the National Military Correspondent for the New York Times.  I also wanted to hear Marie Tillman, widow of Pat Tillman who is helping veterans in many ways through the Pat Tillman Foundation.  Also on the panel was a New York firefighter Tim Brown who was at the World Trade Center on 9-11 2001 and two pilots, a Marine fixed-wing pilot and an Army Blackhawk pilot.

Marie Tillman talked about being a widow and how she has been helping military widows through the foundation because of the experience she went through.

Glad I got a chance to attend and hear people who are trying to do good speak on the anniversary of 9-11-2001.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Short Drill Weekend--Passed PT Test

Only one full day of drill this weekend.  I was (mostly) on Sunday so I could attend the farewell ceremony for the Medical Detachment later this month.  The first event of the weekend was the PT Test--what could be better than that?  I scored a 316 because I was over the maximum on both pushups and situps.  My official score is 300, but it is great to score "Superscale."  If I use my raw scores and apply them to the 27-31 year age group (the highest standards are for this group, both 17-21 and 22-26 are slightly easier) I would have scored 259.

When I was in my teens and 20s my first time around in the Army, I smoked.  I think my highest score was around 265.  I never got 270 and usually scored just over 200.  Always passed but not by much.

I know eventually getting old will catch up with me and I will walk slowly and yell at Liberals on CNN, but for now I am feeling good!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Not Going to Afghanistan!

This morning I found out I am not going to Afganistan in a very Army way.  I was driving back from a meeting in NYC.  I stopped for coffee and checked my email on my iPhone.  In the list of message were two emails canceling my reservation for two training courses I need to go on the deployment.

I knew it meant I was not going.  But I called a friend who is a full-time training NCO.  He said Yes, in fact he got a call to reassign the training school since I would not be needing it.

Paperwork is reality in the Army.  I read that message three hours ago.  No one has officially told me I am not going, but I am very sure I will be in Lancaster when the last plane is wheels up.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Second Deadline isYesterday

The original deadline for my waiver was yesterday, September 4.  So I expected to know one way or another by COB (Close of Business).  I didn't.

I just keep waiting because people way above my pay grade created the deadline, so they can also amend or renegotiate the deadline.

Waiting for War is Hell.