Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Army Bike Week! Riding to Re-Enistment!

This week will be Army bicycle week.  Last week, I thought I might be riding to the Pentagon tomorrow to ask them to reconsider turning down my re-enlistment.

No need for that trip.  Re-enlistment got approved.  And I need to re-enlist quickly so I can volunteer for a second annual training this summer.

So tomorrow I am going to ride to Fort Indiantown Gap and reenlist. Riding to Fort Indiantown Gap is 40 miles each way. I am going to leave it at nine in the morning and reenlist at noon. That should get me back to Lancaster in time to ride home from school with my son Nigel.

This weekend the 1st Battalion 70th Armor is having a reunion in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, about 70 miles away. On Saturday I will ride to Gettysburg, go to the reunion dinner, then ride home the next morning. With the other writing I will be doing this week I will ride more than 300 miles. I don't often get to ride that much and I don't usually have an army reason to ride so it will be fun to ride to stay in the army longer and then to see the guys I served with 40 years ago. I served with 70th armor in Colorado and in Germany between 1975 and 1979.

I'll try to get some reenlistment pictures tomorrow and reunion pictures on Saturday.


Friday, April 24, 2015

One More Year! In the Army Till I'm 63!

Today at 2pm I got a voice mail from SSG Steinmetz in the Admin section of 28th CAB to call her.  When I called she read me a line from a message from National Guard Bureau in the Pentagon saying that "SGT Gussman's request for extension for one year has been approved."  

With that I am staying one more year.  The journey that began January 31, 1972, with the guy in the picture below getting drunk in a bar in Kenmore Square, Boston. . . 

Saw the same guy straighten up, make sergeant and become an Army tank commander.  In the photo below I am on a field training exercise in Germany in 1977.

The guy in the photo above left the Army and went to college in 1980, then re-enlisted in 2007 and in 2009 deployed to Iraq--with a bicycle.

 And ended that tour with the guys below and "The best job I ever had."

One more year.  Thirteen more weekend drills.  I am hoping to do Annual Training twice this summer. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Jackie Chan Saved Mother's Day for Me

Is Jackie Chan one of your heroes?  He's one of mine.  And I have never seen one of his movies.  But he rescued me in real life--at least in the sense of getting me home on time for Mother's Day instead of three days late.

How did he do that?

When I was flying to Asia regularly I flew Cathay Pacific whenever I could.  This Hong Kong based airline had the best service of the many airlines I flew during the three years I went overseas every month on business.

I was in Singapore in May of 2000 and was flying home through Hong Kong to Los Angeles.  The flights from Singapore to Hong Kong and then to America were Cathay Pacific.  When we boarded in Hong Kong there was a big commotion because Jackie Chan was in first class flying to the premiere of one of his movies in L.A.

The flight was uneventful until two hours past Japan when the plane turned around.

It was heading back to Japan.  It turns out an old woman who was going to LA to see her family died on the plane.  The 747 was headed back to Japan for the standard quarantine.  That meant 417 passengers would be looking for flights.  It could mean a three-day delay and I would miss Mother's Day the year we adopted our son Nigel.

But when we landed, Jackie Chan went out to talk to the Tokyo Airport officials.  Jackie Chan is as big in Japan as everywhere else in Asia.  He started signing personalized photos for all the officials.  When the deceased woman was taken off the plane, they refueled us and let us go!!!

No way that would happen without a real life Superhero.  I never got a chance to thank Jackie Chan for getting me home for Mother's Day.

He will always be a Superhero for me!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Who Fights Our Wars? Pamela Allen Bleuel

On the left in this photo is the subject of a blog post I wrote in 2009 in Iraq.  She is Pamela Allen Bleuel, a tough, funny woman who ran convoy training at Camp Adder.  She is shown here in Afghanistan in 2012.  Follow this link to the 2009 post.  I changed her name at the time, so you will see Sgt. Beaufort.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

No Answer--What Goes Up Must Come Down the Same Way

No answer yet on whether I can re-enlist or not.  I thought that meant no answer at all.  The administrative NCO in my unit thinks the decision is made but it is held up at the state headquarters in Harrisburg.  She reminded me that things which go up the chain of command also come down that same chain of command.

So I will keep waiting.

Friday, April 17, 2015

A Soldier When I'm 64? I am Supposed to Get the Answer Today

Wednesday I talked to the Admin. Sergeant who submitted the paperwork for me to stay in the Army two more years.  She said we are supposed to get an answer today about whether I will will be allowed to extend my enlistment again, or not.

Last week I got an email from our training NCO asking for volunteers with my job skill to go to the Baltic Republics in the next few months.  Whether I can go or not of course depends on whether I can stay in.  I was supposed to go to one of the Baltic republics last fall, but we had a problem to solve with the boy we tried to adopt in Haiti and I had to un-volunteer myself.

For now, I will go back to work doing my homework for Russian class.  If I do get answer, I will post right away!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Field Guide to Flying Death: Going Fu#king Ballistic

Today on the bicycle ride, one of the faster riders I know was describing an even faster rider and how he won a race.  "He was f#cking ballistic," my friend said.

Actually he was not ballistic.  He was the opposite.  The picture below is a two Hellfire missiles under power launched by a Predator drone.  The rocket fuel is burning.

The next picture (below) is of a missile in its ballistic trajectory:  after the main rocket motor has fully burned.  Guidance motors still operate, but the missile is not under power, it is slowing down although it is traveling very fast.  From the time the main motor fully burns, the speed of the rocket is slowing and is determined by momentum, gravity, and wind resistance--by the laws of physics. It is flying in a "ballistic" path.
Ballistic means unpowered.  A bullet is ballistic AFTER it leaves the gun.

A missile is ballistic when it's flying toward its target after all the propellant has burned.  It is coasting.

My friend was describing quite the opposite.  The fast rider was under power and had more power than any other rider in the race.  If he were actually "ballistic" he would be coasting.

In terms of missiles, a ballistic missile is one that is launched then travels to by coasting at speed over 4,000 mph. It is no longer under power. It's course is corrected by guidance systems.

A car can't be described as ballistic since it is in contact with the ground. It's path is determined by that contact.  But if someone took a car trip that was like a missile flight, the car would accelerate to say 500 mph and then coast trip it arrived.  That trip would require very level, very straight roads. Both wind resistance and rolling resistance would limit the distance, but it would be possible. The steering wheel would be the guidance system.

Science words, for reasons I don't understand, can enter Pop culture with meanings opposite their scientific meaning.

The most well-known opposite word is Theory.  In science, a theory is the BEST possible summary description of a body of research.  So the Theory of Universal Gravitation describes the motion of all objects including missiles, both under power and in ballistic flight.  

But in Pop Culture, "My Theory" describes nothing more than an opinion with no necessary connection to fact or reality.  My Theory could cover things like believing fluoride is a communist plot or that Stanley Kubrik faked the moon landing.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Eight Years Ago Today I Started the Re-Enlistment Process

Eight years ago today, on Maundy Thursday in 2007, I started the process of re-enlisting in the Army.  The last time I was in I looked like the guy in the picture above.
Her is the brief post I made on calling the recruiter.http://armynow.blogspot.com/2007/09/first-call-to-my-recruiter.html 

Several months later I became the much older, lower ranking guy in the picture above.
But this adventure began with a phone call.
Yesterday I got an email from Command Sergeant Major Dell Christine, the guy who has been my top sergeant for all of the last eight years, either at battalion or brigade.  He said we will know by April 18 whether or not the National Guard Bureau will approve me staying in the Army for two more years.
Otherwise, I am a civilian at the end of May this year.
It is very odd to think about that.  With so many other things in my life possibly changing in the near future--we may be moving to Virginia for a year because of my wife's job--not being a soldier will be a big change for me.
I will definitely keep you all posted.

Military Pilots Really Have "The Right Stuff"

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