Saturday, March 31, 2007

Some Photos From The Last Few Weeks




Tree getting an IV during CLS class, yours truly manning the M2, and Doc getting ready to communicate via satellite. Oh, Doc's blog has a nice picture of my rear end on it. Thanks Doc.

Still here and just now getting on the net

Well... Let's see... What's been going on? My ribs feel better. I'm not sick. IBA is heavy and gets heavier when you add even more plates and shoulder protection. I now know how to do the head space and timing on an M2 .50 cal machine gun. Taking it apart and putting it back together is another story, but I'll get it soon.

We went to some ranges Tuesday morning and it turns out that I'm not a bad shot with my M9 (Berretta 9 mm pistol), but I'm not that good with the M203 grenade launcher. The good news is that you don't have to hit the bullseye with a grenade. Close will work well. We went to the ranges in our Hummers. I was in the turret all day with the .50 cal.

So... there I was, we had been running from funston to range to range to funston and back to the ranges all day. I had been in the turret standing on this plate for the gunner (this is important). On the way back to funston (and to get fuel) I heard Doc say "hey, something smells like it's burning." I couldn't smell anything because my face and most of my upper body was in the breeze. Earlier that day I had smelled some burning brakes from the hummer in front of me, so I didn't think too much about it. So... like I said, there I was, AT THE FUEL POINT. we had just filled up and moved off the actual fuel point (which had a pool of water and FUEL in it... and then it went something like this...

Doc: Umm Fire.
Me: What?
Doc: FIRE!!
Boss Man: Bail Out!!

So, I exited via the turret and slid down the rear of the hummer. We couldn't find the fire extinguisher, so Braveheart came up from his vehicle and dowsed it with white powder. We then of course found our fire extinguisher. Once we had grabbed all of our gear out of the vehicle, I climbed up top and dropped back down into the turret to clear the M2 .50 cal and completed the circuit again. A large power cable was under the gunner plate. Boss Man then yelled "Get out of there! It's on fire, you started the fire again!" I grumbled something about needing to clear the weapon (as instructed) as I used the same escape rout. More from the same fire extinguisher and then I got back up on the hummer. I stood on the roof this time and cleared the weapon. Meanwhile a swarm of senior NCOs disconnected the offending cable and all was well. Thank God for the NCO corps.

All wasn't well after all though. Upon close inspection I realized that the nob that turns on my Close Combat Optics on my M4 was broken off. Not good. It's supposed to get fixed next week. The other thing that wasn't cool was that I think I turned in one of my own 9mm magazines in at the range. So, now I only have 2 9mm mags. I'll be able to get more, it just sucks that I'm always doing stuff like that.

The rest of the week was CLS training. CLS stands for Combat Life Saver. Basically, a CLS is a guy who is trained a level above normal first aid. The training consisted of when and how to do things like tourniquets and IVs. We learned about fixing "sucking chest wounds" and how, where and when to push a catheter into the chest to mitigate the problems of a tension pneumothorax... look it up.

We all stuck each other with IV's. I took a a bag of fluid for the hell of it. I mean... hey, I already had the thing hooked up to my arm. This is good training. I hope I never have to do it on the battle field, but I probably will. So, I want to get as much practice as I can. Doc said he'd get us some IV's to nail each other with this weekend...good times.

Yesterday morning we did a 6.4 mile road march with IBA. I ruck from time to time on my own so It's not a big deal for me, but the hills here (no, Kansas is not flat like they say) are kicking my butt. Good training though and the weight is slowly coming off. I'm still about 220 lbs, but I was 225 lbs a few weeks ago, and I haven't been starving myself. I'm eating a lot. I just walk a lot... with a lot of heavy stuff on my body.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Well... more of the same...

Well... I'm sitting here at the INTERNET café. I've been busy all week with training. We had training all day today and after that, I finally made it to where I can get on the net. I sort of feel like I am in Atlanta right now. Downtown Atlanta, because there's a weird homeless guy sitting near to me as I type this.

I we have been doing Blue Force Tracker and commo training all week. We set up the mini-comsat station today. It was pretty cool. I was made the commo guy today. Not because I'm an expert at radios and computers, but rather because I'm kind of technically oriented (nerdy). I honestly don't know diddly squat about all of these new radios, but I guess I will before long.

Oh... I was just about to sign off because life just isn't extremely blog worthy lately, but I just thought of something... due to pain. Thursday morning we got up very early, we went to the gym and player basketball for PT. I actually made a shot (a rare site) and was having a good time when I decided to get in front of a Major (for now I'll call him MAJ High Speed) who was running full speed. His elbow hit me in the ribs... the ribs that had been busted about 8 months ago. So, I once again have busted ribs. It hurts to laugh... breath... exist... Oh well.

Oh and we started doing army combatives. Basically, it's Brazilian Jujitsu. I have learned a few chokes and different grappling techniques. It was cool, and I'd like to do a lot more. It's funny that I have done martial arts for years (not lately though) and I never got really hurt. I play basketball or soccer and get clobbered and break ribs.

That's all for now.

Monday, March 19, 2007

What's been happening...

Rambling information follows...

Well, last week we went to the range. I zeroed my iron sites, an easy task. I zeroed my CCO's, not an easy task. I had never used the new optics before. I eventually got a decent shot group in the box, so I went on to qualify. I qualified, but that's about it. I'm no eagle eye sniper. Then later that evening we went to do night fire with our PEQ2's. It's an inferred laser mounted to the top of the M4 Carbine. You can only see it with Night Vision. I wasn't doing so hot with this gizmo when I went up to fire. Mostly, my difficulties were due to lying in the prone position. Body armor pushes down on your helmet. The helmet is weighed down in the front by the night vision goggles. So, you can have you NODs all squared away, seeing perfectly through them, and then when you get in the prone you can't see anything. Well, right about halfway through my qualification attempt, half the power on Fort Riley went down and the range was shut down. We went back out on a different range the following evening. I was having a lot of the same problems, but was beginning to feel like I had over come them. Once I fired, I was sure that I had qualified. It turned out that I had only hit 7 targets out of 40! I was so upset with myself. I had never scored that low firring a weapon of any kind. So, I went back to the warming shed (it was cold and windy because of it being Kansastan) and realigned my laser with the bore site. I went back out and hit 22 out of 40... still not a super star, but once I "re-zeroed" the laser, I was good to go.

The next day (Thursday) we were all just not quite 100% into the training. We were all thinking of seeing our families over the 4 day weekend. Anne came out that evening and it was really good to see her. I missed her so much. Being away from her and Penny for over a year will be a real drag. I know others have had to do it and we will get through it too. It just a sacrifice that has to be made.

Anne and I spent 3 days in KC. We had a good time, we ate too much, slept too much, etc. We watched the St. Patrick's Day Parade and also saw the movie 300. 300 was pretty good. I think they went a little overboard with some of the chest waxing of the Spartans. If you go see it, you'll know what I mean. All in all it was good and I would recommend it. I think that you need to watch the show on the history channel about the battle of Thermopylae in order to really understand what happened. The 300 movie isn't exactly accurate, but it's in the ball park and has some great battle scenes.

Anne called me this morning. Penny has the flu. My poor little girl. I wish I could be there to comfort her. Anne brought me some great pictures of Penelope and I can already see that she has grown in the month that I've been gone. I can't wait to see her over Easter. We get a 4 day weekend for Easter and then that's supposed to be it. I'm hoping that we will get block leave to come home for a week prior to going to Afghanistan, but we were told that it wasn't going to happened. I'll just keep hoping, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

Tractor and I are sitting here at Kansas City International Airport, waiting for Doc and Tree to get back from their trips home. Once they get here we'll all pile into Doc's Jeep and move back out to Fort Riley... hooah.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Training This Week

Well... the language training is still kind of rough. The big highlight of the last week was the obstacle course and driving Hummers through the mud. I have had a pretty wicked cold for the last week. Doc says he's going to get me on antibiotics if I'm not feeling better by Monday. He says it was a virus, but that I could have a secondary bacterial infection (hooray!) Not much else to report... I feel like crap and I'm still at Fort Riley, KS.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Not much new going on here

Doc ran a few of us downtown to the Internet Cafe at the bookstore. So, I'm just posting an update. We had some language training today... that's really it. I wish I had something more interesting to report. I miss my wife and I miss my daughter and that's the main thing. Others have had to make this sacrifice and I will get through it too. Again, nothing of great interest to share.

JP

Monday, March 05, 2007

Training Officially Begins...

Today we got up early and did PT. Then we drew weapons (M4 with PEQ-2 an CCO and an M9) and then sat in a classroom all day. The classroom training was more or less informative... depending on who you talk to. I though it was good stuff. Mostly it was all about cultural awareness.

We had a couple of native Afghanis come to talk to us. They were naturalized Americans and they answered any questions we had. One was a Pushtu and another was an Uzbek. Both have been interpreters, (terps) and both seemed like cool guys. We had a great guest speaker, Lester W. Grau. He gave a cautiously optimistic overview of the situation over there. He said our mission will make a difference for the people of Afghanistan. He's an Afghanistan expert and the author of several books. We received two of them. one was called the Bear Went over the mountain and I can't remember the other one.

knife

I'm not able to look and see what the other one is right now because Doc and I had to run off post (Doc has his POV that's a Personally Owned Vehicle) in order to use the internet at a bookstore in Manhattan. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep getting out here to update.

Till next time,

JP

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

We put on the IBA, the Ruck, the Webbing then and Went Uphill

Not a great photo of yours truly, but it was early, cold and windy. I went out with Doc, Tractor, Tree, and a Major I haven't come up with a name for yet. We didn't go very far, but we didn't need to. It was about 15 degrees and the wind was blowing pretty hard. Also, we climbed up a hill that caused me to have to be on all fours a couple of times. I was smoked. I kept thinking "Holy Crap! This is how it'll be Afghanistan... all the time."



Tree said "You look like a tourist in that picture." He's right, I just need a big camera and a few more pouches. I think once I start stepping out with the M4 and the M9 I won't look like I'm sight seeing.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Going back to Camp Funston

I'm saying goodbye to high speed internet today. So I may have to hit Panera Bread on Saturday (If Doc wants to drive over there, since he has a car here) to use the internet. It's "Game On" starting Monday... that means we will start training as if we are on a FOB in Afghanistan (or Iraq for those going to Iraq).

This is really funny... Airsoft guys crack me up.



Now for a random image of Dom Deluise...


I'm going to miss the internet while down at Funston.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Whole Enchilada

This morning started off with a sputter. We were supposed to be in a theater all day getting various briefing (aka death by powerpoint), but it snowed last night and there were some sort of power problems at the theater. The briefings were canceled. I'd be happy about it, but we will still have to sit through the briefings another day. I would have rather just gotten it over with.

So far, my day has had one highlight... The very delicious enchiladas I had at the DFAC here on Custer Hill. We've been here for long enough for me to be pretty sure that Thursday is Enchilada Day at the Devils' Den DFAC. This is good stuff.

I've been reading a book called The Kite Runner. If you want to learn a little bit about Afghanistan, this is a good book. It's a novel... it's fiction, but it's very informative.

knife

That's all for now. Stay tuned for more excitement live (ok... not really) from Fort Riley, KS.

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