Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Success: When I Can Count to 21 in the Shower!

In September of 2008, I got to be a member of the first class in the Live Fire Shoot House that opened on Fort Indiantown Gap.  For an entire week we trained to fight in a closed building and fired live ammo at targets just a few feet away.

Our instructor was a British Special Forces sergeant who was on the mission to free the hostages in Tehran and in Entebbe.  He told us about the raids and then said after each mission he came home in a blur of adrenaline.  When he finally got home he said he would be sure a mission was a success if he could, ". . .get in the shower and count to 21."

This was clearly an old joke, but I had never heard it before.  Today, I called the training sergeant to volunteer to grade the Fitness Test at next drill, since at my age, I do not have to take it anymore.  He was happy to have me volunteer, but then made a joke about my ability to count past 20.  I told him that, in fact, I could get in the shower and count to 21--a joke he heard so long ago he forgot about it.
Just thought I would share that joke with you.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Change of Responsibility: When Top Sergeants Change Jobs

When a new first sergeant or command sergeants major becomes the top non-commissioned officer in a company, battalion, brigade, division, or of the entire Army, the ceremony is called a change of responsibility.  A sword is passed from the sergeant in charge of the formation to the out-going NCO.  He passes the sword to the unit commander, who passes it to the new top NCO who then passes it back to the sergeant at the front of the formation.

I took pictures of the Change of Responsibility Ceremony this past when when CSM Jeff Huttle became the Command Sergeant's Major of 1-104th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion in Johnstown, Pa.

Here are the photos as the sword is passed by 1SG Peacock to CSM Sean Livolsi to MAJ Jack Wallace to Huttle then back to Peacock.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Old Home Week: Meeting My Roommate from Wiesbaden in Baltimore

Tomorrow I am driving to Baltimore to meet my roommate at Lindsay Air Station, Wiesbaden, West Germany in 1978.  Then he was Sr. Airman Cliff Almes.  He left the military in 1979 and become a brother at a Franciscan Monastery in Darmstadt, Land of Kanaan.

We have not seen each other since 2000, though we have talked every month or two since we were roommates in late 1978.  On that Army and Air Force Base, Air Force had to slum with Army depending on availability of rooms.

I wrote about Cliff, now Bruder Timotheus, three years ago, with pictures.

All of my kids have heard the story about me eating with the novices and taking a big piece of meat, finding out too late it was LIVER!!  No one wastes food in a monastery, so I was the entertainment for Cliff and the other novices at that meal as they watched me cover the liver with vegetables and eat it.


Looking forward to a great reunion.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Marking the 14th Anniversary of 9-11

The 9-11 Memorial today on the campus of Franklin and Marshall College: 2,936 flags in the center of the campus to honor the victims.

Today at 8:45 a.m. I was walking into Russian class, just at the moment 14 years ago when America was attacked by terrorists.  When I left the class I looked north and saw the quad filled with flags:  2,936 flags, one for each victim of the attack.  

As memorials go, I far prefer these to the endless pictures and videos of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center.  The flags honor the victims.  The burning towers glorify in a perverse way the attack and cowards who kill innocent victims.  

Another way of marking the day is to tell the stories of those who stepped up to defend America after the attack.  My favorite story is part of this New York Times article.  It is about my former commander Joel Allmandinger and what he did in the wake of the attack on America.  They are all good stories.  

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Writing About the Army, and Writing on Paper with a Pen

My first real writing job was in the Army.  I started writing on yellow pads with blue felt-tip pens.  But working for an Army newspaper meant I had to graduate from pen and paper to the typewriter.  The first typewriter I used for writing was gray, to match the gray Army furniture in the office.  That furniture blended well with the beige walls in the stone headquarters building of 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Wiesbaden Air Base, West Germany.  

Now I am taking a Creative Writing course at Franklin and Marshall College.  Part of the course is writing in class.  I have white paper and a ballpoint pen and am back to writing with my left hand on paper.  Weird.  I have not written on paper, except to take notes, since the 80s.  Writing is something you do on a computer--as I am doing right now.  

But I like the feeling of writing on paper.  We have to turn in our work in Microsoft Word, so it also means that anything I write on paper will have to be re-typed on a computer.  I began my writing life with multiple drafts.  Now I will be back to multiple drafts.  

Of course, for this blog, I will continue to write what I am thinking as I think it, hit publish and move on.

Who Fights Our Wars? CSM Donald C. Cubbison, 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division

In the fall of 1977, 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division got a new Command Sergeant's Major.  Donald C. Cubbison, veteran of the Vietna...