Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Waiting Game...

Well, we're back here at Fort Dix after enjoying a 4-day pass. We were pleased to discover that, after our training was completed, there was time for us to burn and our leadership worked with 1st Army to let us escape. I went to Atlantic City. I've never been there and it was cheaper than spending time in New York City. So, I made reservations and stayed at the Trump Marina Hotel/Casino...which I found was the old people's choice for winter gambling. I've never seen so many elderly citizens on motorized carts in one place in my life! I can say that I didn't lose money at the casino. I was given 2 casino coupons and used them one night...I made around $80 bucks off that and had to get out of there because I was getting lightheaded from all the dang cigarette smoke.
My stay was nice and relaxing though....perfect thing before being sent somewhere for a year. Lots of relaxation, Starbucks, sleep, and a couple movies. The weather was interesting....snow, fog, lots of rain at one point that turned all the snow into slush and then washed it away.
Now we're playing the waiting game...and the packing ensued. We'll be here for the Super Bowl...we heard that several restaurants are providing food at the gym for a little 'party' if you will during the game. I'll go...nothing else to do. We've been burning time by packing, doing PT at the gym, running to the PX or to Dunkin Donuts, and of course, blogging.
Kuwait will be on the horizon very soon. Ahhhh....sand blowing around that has the consistency of powder. Critters. LOTS of moving and lifting of our gear from place to place. Laying around waiting for a flight to Baghdad Int'l. Transient tents....the things a mobilizing soldier looks forward to.
I don't look forward to being a freakin' fobbit. For those who don't know...a fobbit is a person who remains on the forward operating base (FOB) and never ventures outside the wire. Many fobbits enjoy set schedules, coffee, AC, stuff like that while other soldiers are out doing their jobs and getting dirty. I'll probably remain on base because I'll get stuck working in the MOC (media operations center)....but hey, you never know. I hope to be able to go out to cover something. We'll see what the future brings....very soon this cold weather will be history.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Public Affairs Killers...

After just about four months of training at College Station and here at Fort Dix, we're finally finished with our pre-mobilization training and are gearing up for a flight to the Middle East.
Yesterday was our last training event and we went out with lots of bangs...shooting to be exact. We had to participate in a base firing exercise which is basically a scenario where our camp or base is getting attacked and we have to defend. Now, if that scenario was real, that means the crap REALLY hit the fan. If public affairs Soldiers had to race to defend after the MPs and the QRF had their shot...let's say we would do well.
Our set up consisted of two towers and two fighting positions flanked by hummers. Each team held a tower and a fighting position and out in the open were a series of targets we had to kill. Orange targets represented civilians and the green were the enemy. Our instructor/controllers told us that units sometimes shot the orange targets and one unit shot over 100 civilian targets!

So, we shot off 1000 rounds of blank ammo (dry run) and then we switched to live ammo and the exercise kicked off with incoming mortar rounds. BOOM! We start shouting, "I'm up!" and rise up from our cover to begin picking them off. Above us, the people shooting from the towers have great views and better sights on their M4s and they're killing 'em. Yellow and purple smoke swirl around, providing concealment and we begin to forget about the cold weather since we're running around, shouting and shooting.

After the last of the ammo was used to knock down the remaining targets we were told by our instructor/controllers that zero (0) civilain targets were hit during the exercise and that it was a first. So, we were stoked. Now back to that scenario....if we had to defend our position during an attack we'd do well. We may be Public Affairs, but we have some shooters in our unit. Each time I popped up to kill one, it fell because someone else already shot it and I had to shift and line another one up in my sights.
Overall, it was fun. We are now beginning to pack and organize for our flight...whenever that is. We'll be leaving the cold of New Jersey for the hot sands of the Middle East. Talk about traversing the extremes.
Starting tomorrow, our 4-day pass is in effect and I'm heading to Atlantic City with two others (no, I don't gamble). It's a nice time to unwind, relax, grab some--no, LOTS of Starbucks, pick up some more books for our trip, watch the movies that have my attention (Underworld 3, etc.), and eat REAL food. It's our last shot of freedom before a year high tempo public affairs operations. I'm looking forward to it and so are the rest of the Soldiers in my unit.

I'll end this one with shout outs to my team: SSG Burrell--he's kicked butt with transportation and team organization, editing stories, and I'm really fortunate to have an assistant team leader like him. SGT Taylor--awesome job managing supply issues and team organization. He's a field monster who we rely on to kill when/if we have the need. SGT Heise--she's a workaholic and a very good broadcaster. Her stellar attitude brings all of us up and having her around will definitely be a plus. SPC Fardette--another one of my awesome broadcasters. He's done what's needed without fail and is a great asset to the team. SPC Anderson--the last of my broadcasters who has lots of potential. She's been able to manage training, a new marraige, and pre-deployment issues very well and continues to surprise me with her shooting. SPC Alperin--he's constantly learning about the Army and his stories are improving considerably. I'm sure he'll add Arabic to his arsenal of languages after a few months in Iraq. That's my team, I'm sticking with them.
Until next time...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ahhh...Army Life

Have I talked about how much I love where I live?? I believe I've mentioned it a few times. This week has really made me love Houston all over again. This week, here at Fort Dix, the temperature has not risen above 35 degrees. We shot 9mm and M4s the past two days and both days I felt like my fingers and toes were going to fall off. Now, mind you, I'm not complaining...I'll jump around in between firings and cuss a lot when it's 20 degrees out (or lower!) and yes, you have to remain as still as you can to hit your target. Difficult for skinny butt me with no fat to insulate my body. I'm merely writing about how the weather was....compared to Houston.
So, yeah, I don't see how/why people up north can enjoy winter. A few of us surmised that, when it's that cold or worse, people don't even go outside. I know I wouldn't! Another thing...comparison remember? Texas doesn't have a state income tax...Jersey does. Texas has better houses with better rates, Jersey doesn't. Texas has better weather, Jersey doesn't. :)
Anyway, we've been dealing with this 'coldest weather this state has seen in 2 years' thing and soon, we'll be dealing with the desert heat of Kuwait and Iraq. Welcome to the Army young peoples. The Army shoots me up full of vaccines to viruses and horrible diseases that infect the masses. It houses me, feeds me, educates me, makes me run around and do stuff, gives me Soldiers to teach, train, and mentor, and sends me off to faraway destinations to the benefit of my country. So, since 1995, whether it's cold or hot, dusty or not, I go and 'do' while many of my friends and my family remain at home at peace. I'll miss them while I'm gone and will be jumping on here once in awhile to express opinions, vent, or just tell a story. Until next time....

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Freezing Cold, Hard Irony's almost 10pm and I was winding down from a hectic day in the Public Affairs office by watching American Idol. I like watching people do crazy/stupid things to get on the show, those who have no chance at all, and those who really blow you away with their talent.

We've been working a 24hr operation (day and night shifts) called an MRE (not one you eat). A media readiness exercise. It's a welcome break from the normal mobilization stuff we normally deal with as a deploying unit(you should've seen the command staff dancing up a storm to 1SG's Spanish music in the office!).

We get to finally do our jobs. For me, it's a lot of my normal stuff like: helping my Soldiers with their writing, working on a layout for a newsletter, processing photos, helping the command with a press brief....I was also tasked to go interview the commander of Fort Dix for the base newspaper. It also gives me some indication my Soldiers' strengths and weaknesses for future training.

So far, we as a unit have done really well according to our raters. That's always good to hear. Tomorrow we get to see all the final products and get back into deployment mode.

The main topic of discussion around here lately is the weather. It's brutal. The news just reported that it will be the coldest weather that this area has had in two years. Great. I was thinking, "Of all places, we're here at just the right time." How ironic. Then Spc. Fardette and I looked at each other and we blurted out, "The Eagles might go to the Superbowl, the Phillies won the World Series, and it's all happened or happening while we are here!" Makes you wonder....

So, yeah, it's gonna be pretty cold Friday. The low temp. in the morning is supposed to be 7 degrees and the high is 25 degrees. Layer up! Hmmmm...I wonder what else is in store for us....

Friday, January 9, 2009


Stage 2: We're back at Fort Dix, and man, oh man is it cold. After our first day of settling in and unpacking, our second day was spent getting poked and prodded again (anthrax and smallpox shots for me), running around to this station to make sure you're getting the appropriate level of pay, another to determine whether you can still hear/see or not, and many others. That morning, on my way to chow (breakfast for you civilians), I almost busted my butt on a patch of ice! Freakin' cold weather.
Didn't I write about how much I love Texas?? Oooh, I even met two people with my last name. One was an MP (military police), she was a specialist from Massachusetts (where I'm from originally) but not related. Another was a lieutenant colonel and most definitely not related.
I'm glad I made those videos for my daughter because my wife told me she's been walking around the house asking/looking for me. I miss them. One of my soldiers asked me the other day, "Besides your family, what are you missing the most?" "My job," I blurted out. He just looked at me..."I love my job...teaching is fun," I said. And I do...I miss being in the classroom talking about a great story.
I'll come back home to it though....for now, it's public affairs. We'll be moving into 24hr ops soon. That should be a good blogger....until then, thanks for all the support and comments everyone. Have a good day, HOOAH!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Last Post From Home...

Well as the title says, this is my last post from home. We were able to spend about a week and a half home before returning to the unit for deployment. We got to spend Christmas and the beginning of the New Year with families and friends. This was Loren's 2nd Christmas. She loved pretty good at opening packages. She'll play with her Littlest Petshop and her little kitchen for awhile, then move on to her books and her new shopping cart. She thinks she's at HEB. :)

My wife and I were able to see Valkyrie. Good movie. Today I've been doing a lot of little things around the house since this is my last weekend home. Holiday stuff is in the attic, new batteries in all the CM/smoke detectors, laundry....bills. Ugh.
From here I head back to College Station then to Jersey....freakin cold there from what I've seen. It's 80 degrees here in Pearland right now! Tied a record...
I've been making little videos for Loren today. She'll watch them when I'm gone and later we'll switch them in the mail so we can see each other during the course of the deployment. This one is sooo different from the last since I have a little girl. All the more to make sure I get back safe and in one piece...
It's crazy running around making sure that all your loose ends are tied up. Finances, home stuff, work, cars, health care, taxes, bills...all this is dropped into my wife's lap when I leave. I gave Loren a little military kiddie book that talks about a daddy deploying. It's neat...even has a little dog tag. Yeah...I'm rambling...I'll include my pics, get off this thing, and start packing now. Until next time...

...just got back from Hermann Park...a quick excursion. We took Loren to ride the train and see the ducks. She's crazy about both.