Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Graduating the Armor course

My apologies to anyone who still reads my blog. I haven't had a whole lot of time to post about life in general or any of the cool/lame/fun/miserable things that we've been up to.

As I type these words, I'm currently back at my civilian job - a somewhat surreal experience, since I've been gone for so long and yet I feel as though I never left.

As far as the Armor BOLC course is concerned, it was an amazing experience that I wouldn't care to repeat anytime in the next few months :-)



Over the last 2 months of the course, we spent 50% of our time freezing our butts off in the mud, rain, and snow. There is nothing like waking up on the back deck of a tank in subfreezing temps at 3:00 in the morning and fumbling to get your boots on as quickly as possible before you fingers get too numb to tie your laces. I actually prayed for subfreezing temps however, as this eliminated our "mud problem" - Kentucky clay defies physics and disproportionately large clumps of it will stick to any surface: the bottom of your boots, the track that just broke on your tank, the floor of the humvee that you are riding in, etc...

That said, we had a LOT of fun - it was very stressful, we didn't get much sleep, but we basically "played Army" with real tanks, humvees, machine guns, paint ball guns, etc...


I won't bore you with the details - IE the names and focuses of each phase of the course. I'm glad to be home for a while before I head back to Fort Knox for another month of training. We've enjoyed spending Christmas and New Years with our family and have enjoyed being able to spend time with each other (me, Becca, and Eli that is).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Light stick fun

The other morning, I came home from PT at around 6:15 AM, and found that my little boy was awake and playing with two chemical glows ticks in bed. He was twirling them around like an emo kid at a rave, so I had to show him how real men twirl a light stick. So... we got some string (parachute riser cord - what's more manly than that?), and tied the lightsticks to it - the rest is history:


Friday, November 14, 2008

Eli's Master Plan

Recently, my sweet wife posted this about Eli:  The Plan

Not to take away from Eli's "Evil Genius" status, but he is emulating his dear old dad.  There were a few nights when I spent hours drawing sketches for my OpOrders - either the concept of the entire operation, or the sketches for the various phases of the operation.

Eli was definitely more interested in my doodles than his mother was.  Most of my sketches were drawn with sharpies on cardboard of the same approximate size as the white board (used for inclement weather in the field, since cardboard has a tendency to disintegrate in the rain) that Eli used with the dry erase markers I gave him last night.  Eli had asked about the white boards previously, and his memory is pretty sharp at 5 years old.

We recorded him briefing his "OpOrder" last night.  I thought Becca caught on to what he was doing, but I wanted you all to know that Eli is on the fast track to become a much better officer than his dad will ever be.

Compare this:

To these that Eli watched me spend time a lot of time on:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

HMMWV rollover

Not sure if I spelled Hum-vee right or not - don't care.

This little gem teaches us how to get out of our top heavy/prone to tipping vehicles:


This took place a while ago...

wow - I'm way behind in blogging - why doesn't the Army schedule time for this?







I loved this - it was so funny watching the guys inside the vehicle get pummeled with the rubber ammo cans and junk left loose in the cab.  Getting out of an upside down humvee while wearing body armor/helmet was harder than I though...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Commanding tanks in the field!

I just got back from a week of Armor STX (Simulated Training eXercises).  It was INCREDIBLE!  I and the other LT's in the class filled various roles in three separate tank platoons.  We did everything from planning and commanding platoon missions, to driving the actual tanks.

Let me tell you, I thought it was fun taking my old 1995 Pathfinder off road, but it's NOTHING compared to driving a 67 ton tank, with a 1500 horse power jet turbine engine, across "undulating terrain" at up to 45 miles per hour.

Also, there are few things as exhilarating as pulling up into a support by fire position and suppressing an enemy defensive battle position, and on command watching your bravo section assault across the objective, spewing dirt trails behind them as they destroy the entire enemy platoon.

As far as spending time in the field is concerned, being on a tank has its advantage.  The exhaust from the port at the rear of the tank reaches a temperature of around 800 degrees Fahrenheit. At a distance of about 12 feet, a group of shivering Armor/Cavalry LT's can get warmed up real quick on a chilly October morning.  Also, the back deck of the tank (where the power pack is housed) retains heat for hours and hours - it's a GREAT place to lay out your sleeping bag on a cold evening.

This experience here is incredible - we are somewhere between exhaustion and elation at any given moment.

Here are a few memorable moments from the STX:
  • Observing an LT throw rocks at a skunk as it wandered among our lines of tanks, because he didn't want it to sleep under his tank.
  • Hearing CPT Stierwalt drop artillery sims in our TAA in the wee hours of the morning
  • Every time an LT drive (myself included) hit the brakes a little too hard, and hearing everyone over the intercom curse as they slammed into the gunner's sight/TC's .50 mount/front of the loader's hatch.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Finding the time to blog...

It's been quite a while since I posted to my beloved outlet to the world, and honestly I had grand intentions of documenting exactly how much fun I was having at Armor BOLC III and how awesome tanks are...

The reality of the matter is this - the Army has kept me so busy that I am spending every "free" moment I have with my family, napping, or just trying to regain my sanity. Honestly, the Army has always found a way to occupy my time, but in the past my time was spent waiting for the next thing to happen. Now, they have me working, studying, rucking, writing, etc... from before 6 AM every morning until at least 5 PM every night - and now when I am "off work" I am writing seven page Op Orders, creating map overlays, phase sketches, etc... until the wee hours of the morning.

I'm sure I'll be a better officer after this experience, but am NOT having "lots of fun" - at least not right now... This is probably in the top 3 for the most difficult experiences of my life.

Just so you all know - here is what's going on with me for the next little bit:

I finish Armor BOLC III on December 17th - the course culminates with a 10 day field exercise in the middle of winter in Kentucky... wow. After that, Becca, Eli and I will fly back to Utah to spend Christmas, and then I'll come BACK to Fort Knox for Scout Leaders Course, which will be comprised 27 days (2 weeks or so in the field), once again in the middle of winter.

After I finish these two schools, I get a short break before I leave with my unit to train up for our deployment to Iraq.

I am really excited to be fulfilling a dream, and very excited to be serving my country. At the same time, I am sad that I am sacrificing precious time away from my family that I love so much, and I am obviously feeling a little worn down from my current training.

Please keep our little family in your hearts and prayers - we love and miss you all and I can't wait until we're all back together again with our friends and family in Utah!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Firing tanks!

I didn't get the greatest shots - but a few of my classmates got some great footage that I will put up pretty soon. Meanwhile, this will have to do...

This is me looking back at my crew partner from the gunner's seat. I've got my right hand on the breach of the 120 mm main gun.

I'm peeking out of the loaders hatch in front while my crew partner chills above the TC hatch before we start our evaluated runs. We are a pretty deadly combination.

This is a video I took of two other 2LT's beginning their first engagement.



Monday, September 8, 2008

First picture of a tank...

It's been a long time coming - I haven't had a ton of time to take pictures... Anyways, here's the tank I've been working on the past week and a half. I am taking a page out of Eli's book and calling it "Tanky" ;-)


The two guys in the pic are members of my tank crew, 2LT Brett from Philidelphia, PA, and 2LT Deleon, from Florida by way of Hawaii.


All of our experience with this tank has been pretty much academic - we have learned how to do preventative maintenance, function checks, crew drills, etc... But we haven't ever driven in out of it's stall. Each member of our crew of 4 has started it up - it takes 11 gallons of fuel just to start up the tank's jet engine. Seriously - the sound of the tank starting up makes you feel like you're in the batmobile.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Fort Knox and Armor School

I started Day 0 of Armor BOLC III on Monday of last week. You probably won't be hearing very much from me during the class - I have this labor day weekend off and then I don't have another day off until the beginning of October; we'll be working 7 days a week.

I plan to take a bunch of pictures of what I'll be doing - hopefully Becca will be able to post them on her blog.

So far, I've learned that if you aren't careful, an Abrams tank will kill, maim, or dismember a careless crew member. I'm really excited to learn everything, although I'll admit that I wish we weren't on such a compressed time scale and we had a few more weekends off thrown in.

BOLC III is a LOT more fast paced than BOLC II. We did all the inprocessing that took a full week at Fort Benning in only a few hours. We've also qualified with the M9 pistol and started the fundamentals of Tank Gunnery. It's going to be an action packed 3.5 months!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

I got tagged

High School Tag

Becca tagged me, so here it goes:

1. Did you date someone from your school?
A few - I even tried dating a DHS alum in college - bad idea :-0

2. What kind of car did you drive?
My mom's minivan when she'd let me borrow it.

3. What was the most embarrassing moment of high school?
I think high school was one great big embarrasing moment now that I look back on it.

4. Were you a party animal?
Not unless you count running cross country and playing computer games past midnight!

5. Were you considered a flirt?
I think so, but that is subject to opinion.

6. Were you in band, orchestra, or choir?
No.

7. Were you a nerd?
That's subject to opinion.

8. Were you on any varsity teams?
Yes - X-Country and Track.

9. Did you get suspended/ expelled?
I once got kicked off the bus for a week for holding up a sign in the rear window that said, "Help! Our bus driver is a drunk Mexican!". That was in Jr. High though, so it may not count.

10. Can you still sing the fight song?
Both my parents were Davis High Darts and they taught me the fight song from an early age - still remember it.

11. Who were your favorite teachers?
Mrs. Barker - my sophomore English teacher; she was SO NICE, and taught me a lot about cultural literacy and great literature. We read "The Princess Bride" in her class.
Mr. Dau - my AP U.S. History teacher; he taught me a LOT about leadership.
Coach Burhley - my running coach/history teacher; I can't explain this guy to you - you just have to know him.

12. Where did you sit during lunch?
With the cross country dudes in the lunchroom with the rest of the nerds.

13. What was your school's full name?
Davis High School.

14. School mascot?
The Dart or Dart Man - not really sure.

15. Did you go to Homecoming and who with?
Yes - I went once with a girl who was wearing a blue sequin dress and the next day my family found blue sequins all over the car... I had a hard time convincing them that nothing "funny" had happened.

16. If you could go back and do it again, would you?
Maybe - I think it would be fun to go laugh and point my finger at everyone that thought they were "too cool" for me, and spend more time being friends with the people that I thought weren't "as cool" as me.

17. What do you remember most about graduation?
I remember being amazed that I actually was leaving the public education system and that I would no longer be around all these people anymore.

18. Where did you go senior skip day?
I think I had to go to class on senior skip day because I'd already skipped a lot of school...

19. Were you in a club?
No.

20. Have you gained some weight since then?
Yeah, finally! I needed to gain some weight. I am 6'1" and I graduated at 155 lbs. Now I'm a 186 lbs steely eyed killer - I wish I could say it was all muscle though.

21. Who was your prom date?
I wasn't going to go to the prom - under protest I let my mom and sister talk me into asking a girl in my ward... We had a lot of fun and I'm glad we went together.

22. Are you planning on going to your 10 year reunion?
Ha ha - I was in the middle of training at Fort Benning when I got a phone call asking if I was going to be able to attend a reunion dinner that evening! I still probably wouldn't have gone if I had the time and had been in the area.

23. Looking back, what advice would you give yourself?
Don't take yourself too seriously! Don't ever think that you are above or beneath anyone else. Do your homework! Probably the most important advice would be, "Here is the phone number of this SUPER hot girl in West Jordan, her name is Becca and she's just your type so give her a call as soon as you can..." ;-)

I don't really believe in passing the tag along, so I'll probably have horrible bad luck

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Graduation

It's the wee hours of the morning on the day I graduate from BOLC II. In a few hours, we'll be waking up at 3:30 AM to clean this place up and get all our stuff out of the barracks. The graduation ceremony begins at 9:30 AM, hopefully ending within an hour of that time - at which point LT Genin and myself will get in our vehicles and forge north and west toward Brentwood, Tennessee!

Here is the video that will be shown at our graduation:


Here is another video that LT Thompson also made showing the "real BOLC II", in which we are always sleeping in our gear, waiting for the next training event:


Hope you enjoyed them!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

More Army vids for you

This mission was incredible. Our platoon's mission was to retrieve a High Value Target from a hostile town. My squad was tasked with providing support by fire - translation; we setup a LOT of machine guns and put so much simulated lead through the windows and alley's of the hostile avenues of approach that they can't move to attack our snatch and grab team. We had several M249's and two 240B's. The 240B is our bigger weapon with lots of range and punch. I was the 240 gunner for the far left side - you can see me lighting up the enemy in the 2nd and 3rd videos.

The first video shows the PL with the assaulting element in the village after they have entered the building where the HVT is believed to be located.


This second video shows the sergeant approaching the position where my machine gun is set up. If you pay attention, you can hear the machine guns "talking". In order to keep a steady rate of fire without burning out a barrel or running out of ammo, the machine gunners will fire a burst and then let another gun "talk", and another, etc... before firing again. Even using this method our barrels were blistering hot.


This third video shows me scanning my sector and putting simulated lead (laser transmissions) in various windows and alleyways. You'll notice that I'm am brushing the dirt under me with one hand. That is because I have fired over 400 rounds of blank 7.62 ammo at that point and that brass is HOT! I tried to get most of it out from under my elbows, but I just had to suck it up and keep firing. :-)

Please excuse the language of the NCO taking the video about the time that the Artillery sims are going off...


We got major props on this mission - the cadre observers stated that this is best run mission that they have seen in the last 6 classes! :-)

As much fun as this was, I'm glad to be done and headed on to the next phase now - Armor OBC at Fort Knox, Kentucky. BOLC II has been an "appetizer" compared to what I can see of BOLC III/Armor OBC from the schedule they have posted online. There's going to be a LOT of gunnery.

It has been an interesting experience hanging out with LT's who are on average 4-7 years younger than me. I have a LOT more patience now that I'm a little bit older and hopefully a little wiser than I used to be. I am VERY impressed with my "peers", I think that many of them are extremely mature for their age - much more mature when I was in my early twenties. That said, I am not surprised to see a good share of "that guy" types that find an excuse to get "buzzed" every night, including the night before we do a battalion run or a PT test.

Most importantly, I'll be picking up Becca and Eli this Friday at the Louisville Airport. I can't tell you how excited I am to be with them again! I graduate this Thursday and then I will drive with my buddy LT Genin up to spend the night with the Farr family in Brentwood, TN. From there, it's a short 3.5 hour drive to Ft. Knox, to check in with housing, and then a 30 minute drive to pick up my babies at the airport!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Cease Fire, Cease Fire, Cease Fire!

Some diplomacy is in order here...

Becca's post here about me sending her flowers, has gotten me into a teensy bit of hot water. I added my own comments to her post, but I think it bears repeating.
I just want to elaborate on a few things...

In the Army, we do something called PMCS on our vehicles - PMCS stands for
"Prentative Maintenance Checks and Services". The idea is that you take
care of the vehicle BEFORE it breaks down. I haven't ever sent Becca
flowers as a way to get out of trouble - I imagine that I would find them
shredded and dispersed all over the front yard, and a big sign pounded into the
lawn that says, "Nice Try Jack#@$!"

I need to do a LOT of preventative maintenance, because I screw up A
LOT! Just ask Becca.

Other guys want advice from me about sending flowers about as much as I
want a punch in the face from them - which is a likely combination.

A few random video clips

Here is a little video snippet I took to show you what the inside of Sleep Tent #1 at FOB Voyager is like - enjoy!



And HERE, is part of a trench clearing mission - can't see much? No clue what's happening? Good - now you know what it was like to be a part of that mission! :-)



1st Squad (the "best" squad) was tasked with providing support by fire to the assaulting elements - in laymans terms, this means that it was our job to keep firing over the top of the trench so the enemy wouldn't want to raise their heads and fire back. This also serves to distract them or keep them pinned down so it's easier for the assaulting elements of our attack to kill them as they sweep through the trench.

You can hear a whistling artillery sim that failed to detonate, and our squad leader calling for an ACE report (Ammo, Casualties, Equipment) Most of the Squad reported Amber (I have ammo, but not very much) or Black (I no longer have enough ammo to complete the mission or I am completely out) for Ammo, and "up" or "green" for Casualties and Equipment (meaning that we were uninjured and still had all of our mission essential equipment intact.

The yellow smoke popping up from the trees is from a smoke grenade that the assaulting elements used to mark their limit of advance - as they advanced to our left, the tossed smoke grenades at the bunkers they were preparing to attack, that way we could shift our fire to the left of the smoke in order to avoid "friendly fire"/fratricide.

Look carefully when I pan to the right - can you see two people lying in the prone? If not, then I guess our spiffy new camo really does work!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

End of week 6 at BOLC II - goodbye FOB Voyager!

Well, it has been: fun, boring, tedious, exhausting, restful, exciting, awesome, and stupid.

It is hard to generalize a week long experience with 15 hour days. It's the Army - hurry up, then wait. You don't have to love it or hate it - you just accept it.

I'll be honest with you - I LOVE to complain while I'm doing this stuff - eating cobwebs and I nagivate through the forest in pitch black, laying in the prone for 20 minutes while the PL tries to figure out where the hell the op for is, sitting in the back of a humvee as we bounce down the back raods of Ft. Benning, trying not to touch the forests of mildew as I shower in the tent at the FOB... it's all part of the experience, and when I'm sitting back in my cubicle at work I will miss it.

Here are a few pictures of this last week - enjoy!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It's 3 AM - I just finished a CQ shift... it's the end of week 5 (out of 7) at BOLC II, and our last day before we go to FOB Voyager for another week. It's been a while since I updated the blog, so let me give you a recap:

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Squad Live Fire

This was very interesting. I've run "battle drill 1 alpha" many times (squad attack), but NEVER with live ammo. Here's the run down: My squad (10 people) moves in a squad column formation across a woodland clearing toward an objective where we expect to find the enemy (computer controlled popup targets). We encounter targets at a simulated listening post/observation post and take them out, then continue on to the main objective where we again fire live rounds at popup targets.

I had a lot of fun, but I have to admit that it was a little unsettling to have people walking behind me with loaded M4 rifles. In any case, it got my adrenaline pumping.

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CCTT

This was AMAZING - we ran another convoy operation, but this time it was in a giant simulator. We had two squads in four trailers with simulated humvees and weapons. You sat in the vehicles and used REAL WEAPONS that had been modified with compressed gas lines to power them with recoil and lasers to register hits on the screens that surrounded the vehicle.

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MOUT/Urban Ops

Most of this past week has been devoted to learning how to clear enemies from buildings in a coordinated effort. We started by learning how to clear a single room with only one entrance as a fire team. We culminated by learning how to clear part of a town as a platoon during the night using night vision optics. It was pretty awesome!

We used MILES gear for the earlier missions (think laser tag), and then simunitions for the later exercises (think paint bullets fired from real weapons). I was the squad leader this week, so I had the opportunity to direct my squad through the missions, while taking orders from the platoon leader and platoon sergeant over a radio - it got a little crazy at times, but I loved it!

Here are some pics from that day (I finally have a camera!):

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The FOB and a dedication to Becca and Eli

This week I am at the FOB

What is a FOB? It's basically like a prison, surrounded by guard towers and concertina wire, only you're trying to keep people OUT instead of keeping people IN.

Wiki definition

Of course, my FOB isn't a "real" FOB - it just simulates the suckiness of one. Here's a mental picture - 160 guys sleeping in a giant tent on bunk beds.

Anyways, I'll stop complaining since I don't have it bad seeing as how I can still strap on my M4 and wander down to the dining facility to get on the internet.

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Dedication to Becca

I ended up spending this past weekend at the barracks because I got screwed into pulling 6 hours of CQ duty - long story. Anyways, I finally saw The Dark Knight and I caught up on my sleep.

While eating lunch at the PX food court, I heard this cool song by Alicia Keys - I have been listening to it a lot (since I'm an obsessive compulsive freak) and I want to dedicate it to my one and only Becca - love you baby!



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Edited to add a dedication to Eli

Eli and I are developing quite the long distance phone call relationship. We tell each other stories before bedtime as well as jokes. I'm glad that he's mine!

Here's our song that we've sung to each other ever since he was about 3. It's so cute when he sings this one with you!

http://youtube.com/watch?v=QCe2GwscXgo

Monday, July 28, 2008

Was it worth it? (all videos are up)

Many of you might wonder why a person would be motivated to sell their soul to Uncle Sam. Some want to pay for college, some have ideals about serving their country... others (like me) know that they would NEVER be able to afford the opportunity to fire machine guns, grenade launcher, and GRENADE MACHINE GUNS without Uncle Sugar footing the bill.

Luckily, a buddy of mine in the platoon happened to have his camera with him. I'm extremely enthusiastic because I LOVE this stuff!

The best part is that my platoon was in charge of disposing of all the leftover ammo. That entailed firing a box of thirty-six 40 mm grenades as quickly as possible (my buddy 2LT Genin loaded while I fired), firing of 100 rounds of .50 browning machine gun rounds in two 25 round bursts, and linking together about 200 rounds of ammo for the SAW.

I'd fired most of these weapons before (except for the M2 and the Mk 19), but I love firing them so much that I forgot that it was about 100 degrees outside and that I was wearing 20 lbs of body armor over my ACU's plus a kevlar helmet. I couldn't stop smiling the whole time!

I have video of ME this time, so check it out...

Here is my "intro" to U.S. weapons


The M2 .50 cal machine gun


The M249 Squad Automatic Weapon
(I don't appear until halfway through the video)


The m240B General Purpose Machine Gun through the TC hatch of a Humvee


The M203 grenade launcher


The Mk 19 Grenade Machine Gun

Friday, July 25, 2008

And the plot thickens...

...today while competing in a combatives bout, one 2LT Nolan had his nose broken by another LT who is his friend.

The IRONY here is that 2LT Nolan just barely had surgery to correct a deviated septum just before coming to BOLC II and didn't want to participate in the combatives portion of the course because of that reason. Secondary to that, he was afraid that a broken nose would result in his being "recycled" - doomed to be held back and start BOLC II again with the next class of LT's.

Luckily, Nolan will not be recycled and looks as handsome as ever!

I on the other hand, did NOT get my nose broken... However, while attempting to put the cross collar choke hold on 2LT Bracher from the dominant "guard" position, I had an NCO trainer tell me "not to execute a choke from a non dominant position". Confused, I released my opponent who then slipped out of my guard and took a dominant position on me. I spent the next 45 seconds keeping him from putting a bent arm bar on me.

I got up, shook hands with my buddy Bracher, and we walked off the field brushing the dirt off our faces, smiling at the fact that we were finally done choking and beating each other for the rest of the cycle.

If you want an idea of what Army combatives at BOLC II looks like, check this out:

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

And another thing...

For the past 3 days, the air conditioning in the barracks has made a sound reminiscent of a freight train at all hours of the day and night. This is NOT conducive to sleeping - is BOLC II a reality show and there are hidden cameras to measure our reactions to sleep loss?

While running the SMR range today (short range marksmanship), we had a storm move in. Apparently the Army can't conduct training outside once lightning strikes are visible - so we called it a day, packed it all in, and then sat in a bus for half an hour before the range could be "cleared". Apparently, in Georgia on a school bus, when you leave the AC running the condensation builds up rapidly and has nowhere to go. That is, until it overflows and spills onto 2LT Brough, who just happens to be sitting right under it. Also, apparently when the prior conditions are in place, when the charismatic NCO bus drive hops on the bus and punches the gas, the rest of the built up water will come pouring out onto where I was previously sitting (I had enough sense to move) and ironically it will come out of the other AC unit onto the only Lieutenant to make light of my predicament (Karma might actually exist).

Too make it all better, a few of us went to the Olive Garden in Columbus, where we enjoyed a delicious meal and acted like we were in junior high - commenting on the "20 pieces of flair" that the server was wearing on her collar.

Hope the rest of you are also enjoying your summer!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

This week in the news...

Cody Shepard turned 30 this past weekend - I attended his surprise birthday party at the Tarbet residence at Fort Rucker. This party took a few interesting turns - I went from being somewhat bored listening to a gaggle of pilot students and an instructor talk about the nitty gritty details of rotary wing aviation, and then within an hour we were on the post golf course to test out Cody's new golf clubs.

It was so late that the course wasn't open - but the lights for the driving range were on. The ball machine was empty, so we had to collect balls off the range on foot. If you're thinking "this isn't very adventurous and/or interesting", you might be right - that is until the skunk ran out into our little formation of people gathering golf balls. The next logical step (for some of us anyways) at that point was to begin lobbing golf balls at the skunk. Cody was able to hit it and get it to raise its tail. No one got sprayed, so it turned out well in my opinion.

Earlier in the day, Josh and I went to a place to go swimming (that is definitely within 150 driving miles of Fort Benning, GA - seeing as how I didn't have a weekend pass) with some of his friends. Josh and I applied liberal amounts of sunscreen everywhere - except the parts of our backs that we couldn't reach on our own. We were both a little reluctant to ask each other "Hey, would you mind rubbing a little sunscreen on my back?" thus we both got "homophobic" sunburns.

I went to sick call this morning for mine, being that it is very painful and our class started combatives training this morning (like wrestling, only you get your opponent to submit by getting them in a position where you can cause extreme pain, break a bone, or choke them into unconsciousness - fun huh?), and it seemed like a sunburn might be EXTREMELY painful for such an activity.

Well - for my efforts to go to sick call, I got the following:
  • a bottle of tylenol for my sunburn
  • an ass-chewing from the captain who is in charge of my platoon (for being dumb and getting a sunburn).
I STILL haven't seen batman, but I hear it's good...

By the way, I'm trying to convince Becca to fly out to Atlanta so we hang out in the middle of my training - so if you talk to her, tell her what an awesome idea it is to fly out and visit your husband while he's missing his family at Fort Benning.

Thanks for reading
Stew

Friday, July 18, 2008

Night Fire

Maybe I'm easily impressed, but night fire is the most fun I've had so far here! It was just like a video game! I could see the green laser beam through my night vision and the bloom on the target... wow!

The best thing is that it's the first time I've been to an Army rifle range and it wasn't blasted hot.

That's all - just thought you'd like to know :-)

Here's a cool little video on youtube that shows what night fire looks like through a nigh vision monocular - you can skip ahead to 3 minutes 55 seconds to see the night fire portion of the video.

For reference, this is from A company of BOLC II, they were an earlier iteration this year - I'm in C company...

BOLC II, week 2 so far...

Okay, here's the highlights:

  • We finally stopped filling out forms, getting EO briefings, etc...
  • We were issued a bunch of gear - some of it pretty cool (night vision, laser sights, etc)
  • We range qualified with M4 rifles
  • Tonight we are doing night fire with the M4 using the aforementioned "cool" gear


I was issued an M4 with an M203 grenade launcher attached to it. If you're like me, then you are thinking, "Cool! Grenade launchers are AWESOME!" and you'd be right - they ARE awesome. The problem is that EVERYONE in my squad will be shooting grenades out of the M203 I'll be carrying - but I'll be the one carrying an extra 3 lbs on the end of my rifle and cleaning after trips to the range.

I shot a 29 out of 40 at the rifle range - which is the best I've ever done at an official qualifying range. The requirements were that we shoot at 20 pop up targets (from 50 to 300 meters away) from the prone position while resting the rifle on sand bags, then shoot at 10 targets from the prone without the sand bags, then 10 from a kneeling position. All of this is done wearing a kevlar helmet, Interceptor Body Armor (20 lbs), a load bearing vest with canteens and extra magazines, and the hot Georgia sun beating down on you since you started marching to the range.

I won't toot my horn too much though - it took me 4 attempts to qualify (23 or better), which is a first for me. Ironically, I shot a higher percentage of targets from the kneeling position than the prone positions - I think I felt more comfortable shooting from the knee because of all my bunny slaying excursions :-)

-----

Enough Army stuff...

I don't want to sound all sentimental and non-hooah, but I'm kind of sad that I'm missing out on shooting the tube this summer, playing rock band at Danny and Emi's, shooting stuff with my bros in law, and hanging out with all my family.

Most of all, I have REALLY missed Becca and Eli! Every time I talked to Eli, he asks me how I'm doing, if I miss him, when I'm coming home... every word he says is a tiny knife twisting in my heart. I LOVE THAT KID! He's toughing it out pretty well though, and I expect that he'll LOVE seeing all the tanks at Fort Knox, when he and Becca come out to stay with me during Armor OBC/BOLC III in Kentucky. Hopefully he'll be pretty excited to see me as well.

I keep thinking about Becca too - I always say that she's my best friend, but this training has proven it to be so true! I spend a lot of my free time on the phone with her - I need someone that I can talk to. It would be nice if she were around so I could hold her... but oh well - there's a time and place for everything.

It's my mom's birthday this weekend - This Saturday she's turning 35 again - if you're reading this mom, Happy Birthday!

I'm looking forward to spending another weekend at Fort Rucker. Shanell Dawson has gone to Utah for the rest of the month, so Josh's house is a haven for wifeless/childless husbands.

Friday, July 11, 2008

And so ends the first week of BOLC II...

Not with a bang or a whimper, but rather a smile and a sigh of relief.

I have just been released for my first weekend here at Fort Benning. I was PLANNING on heading down to Fort Rucker, but some freak schedule change has me pulling *CQ duty tomorrow morning from 4 AM to 6 AM. I still plan on heading down anyway, just a day later.

This week has been full of mostly administrative tasks, including filling out paperwork, getting shots, getting equipment issued, and learning about how hot it actually gets in Georgia. Training is going by a LOT quicker than at my other trainings as a cadet (where "weekend" was a meaningless term since Saturday and Sunday were no different than any other day of the week, and the term "being released" meant that we had finished several weeks of training and were going home, not "hey guys - it's 5:00, you're released for the day" and you can hang out it your room, go to a movie, go shopping, etc...

I still miss having my "babies" with me - Becca can attest to the fact that I've probably spent an excess of 6 hours on the phone with her and Eli this week. It will be nice to have them with me again when I head up to Fort Knox.

Well, if any of you wanted to send me an email or call, I'm usually off every day by 3:00 pm Utah time, and have every weekend off. (Can you tell I miss my family and friends already?)

*CQ : Charge of Quarters. A company-level position of responsibility for units who house troops in their areas. Given to a mid-level or junior NCO who is responsible for the company's barracks and area during off:duty hours when the company commander and First Sergeant are not present. Lasts from COB (usually 1700 hours) to First Formation (usually 0600 hours) the next day during the work week. On weekends, the duty hours are adjusted accordingly.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Way down yonder on the Chattahoochee...

I am at the end of my 3rd day at Fort Benning (incidentally, the Chattahoochee River of Alan Jackson fame really does run through the base).

BOLC II is a LOT better than any other course I've done with the Army, with the possible exception of CTLT at Fort Hood:
  • I'm getting my first training in the "real Army", not cadet land.
  • I get off every day at 5:00 PM
  • I am getting paid as a 2nd Lieutenant, instead of the cadet rate of $25 per day
  • I have people calling ME Sir for a change
  • ACUs are much more comfortable than BDUs
  • I have my xbox 360 and a TV in my room
  • I have my laptop and an internet connection (so I can blog among other things)
  • I have a car and the freedom to drive off post if I desire
There still are a few negatives:
  • I miss my cute wife and son
  • Georgia is amazingly hot and humid in the summer
  • I had another "Army birthday" - the day after we checked in (thanks to the people who emailed/texted/replied to Becca's blog post with happy birthday wishes to me - it meant a lot to me!)
Lucky for me the positives far outweigh the negatives and it's only 46 days until I head up to Fort Knox and I'll get to have "my babies" with me again.

I don't really have any pictures to upload because I didn't bring a camera with me... I'm hoping to borrow one soon so I can post some cool pictures to give you an idea of what it's like here.

So far we haven't really done too much - we've signed a lot of forms, sat through a bunch of briefings, and took a PT test this morning (got my run back down under 14 minutes thankfully).

Anyhoo - I'll keep you all updated as we start to do the "cool stuff" - next week we'll start combatives (beating each other up).

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Day 3 driving to BOLC II

Last night, I arrived in Ozark, Alabama, at 6:30 PM - meeting the Dawsons at the local Sonic Drive In.

The drive from Monroe to Fort Rucker was the shortest, but probably the most "painful". I found out the hard way that Alabama public toilets (including those found at Wendy's in Selma) aren't ever supposed to be cleaned.

Approaching Uniontown, Alabama on State road 80, I waited for 1/2 hour at the worst semi truck wreck I've EVER seen. I was lucky, some people had waited over 3 hours for the wreckage to be cleared.

Also, as you enter Montgomery, exit 168 off of I-65 is closed - so in order to get back on the Troy Highway, I had to take a 20 minute detour past 2 more closed exits and then take the "scenic" route through residential Montgomery.

I also had the pleasure of having 3 Indian (think Apu from the Simpsons, not Geronimo) gas station cashiers refuse accept payment with a credit card for a few bottles of water, unless I purchased at least $5 worth of merchandise.

I was glad to finally meet up with Josh and Chanelle Dawson, and later with the Tarbets and Shepards. It's funny to be around all these guys now that they have kids toddling around. We enjoyed some fireworks on post and talked as we walked back home (last night it was the Dawsons' home as they were kind enough to put me up for the night).

I'm still looking around for the Andreasons...

Anyways, I am quickly remembering what it's like to be in the South - there are bugs everywhere, and the humidity is palpable. Last night's 4th of July festivities were marked by a color guard dressed in Civil War period Confederate uniforms.

Also, most of the drive had the same scenery - vast expanses of tall trees, with a narrow swath through them for the roads. It doesn't feel like "home", but it doesn't feel as foreign as the first time either.

Hope you had a great 4th of July!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Day 2 of driving to BOLC II

I'm no expert, but I DID sleep at a Holiday Inn last night... (that's two posts in which I've used that joke, and it's still not funny).

Now I'm typing from the comfort of my hotel room in Monroe, Louisiana. I drove all day long... boy I'm starting to get tired of driving. Here's the highlights:

  • Started the day in Tucumcari, New Mexico, traveled through most of the northern half of Texas, and ended up in Louisiana.
  • Ate lunch at the most disgusting Dairy Queen ever at Childress, Texas - I seriously flicked 3 dead flies from my chair/table before I sat down. Oh yeah, and it looks like they're in the process of re-tiling... for the last 5 years.
  • Hit a freak thunderstorm in Texas - while I was admiring the huge raindrops (apparently some things really ARE bigger in Texas), I failed to notice the large volume of water accumulating on the freeway. This is a bad thing when you have your cruise control set at 78 MPH. I hydroplaned for about 10 "fun filled" seconds, until I was able to slow down and regain control. Ironically, I was more concerned that I not scratch/dent/wreck our new car, than I was that I not die in a violent auto accident.
  • Passed through Dallas, but failed to sight the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders or determine who shot J.R.
  • Called 911 as I left Shreveport, LA to report a brush fire in the median of the freeway (fireworks/discarded cigarette?).
  • Continued to get Kick A$$ gas mileage with the Yaris; 40-43 MPG!
I am slightly bummed - I had hoped to arrive at Fort Rucker tomorrow in time to enjoy most of the 4th of July festivities - but now it's looking like I still have 8 hours on the road ahead of me. If I leave at 9:00 AM, I'll arrive at 6 PM (allowing for entering a new time zone).

Hopefully I'll still get some pig hunting in on the 5th with the boys at Rucker and get a chance to relax/rest before I report at Fort Benning on the 6th.

Today's drive

Tomorrow's drive

PS - Becca just told me that she didn't get the Holiday Inn joke, so if anyone else doesn't know what I'm talking about... here you go

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Day 1 of driving to BOLC II...

I am currently typing from the comfort of a Holiday Inn Express, in Tucumcari, New Mexico. (I may not be an expert, but tomorrow I can say "I did sleep at a Holiday Inn last night...").

For future reference, if any of you happen to be passing through Tucumcari at 11:15 PM and think that the Travel Lodge might be a good place to spend the night, think again... After witnessing a man with a Pontiac Grand Prix filled with about 15 computers packed into the back seat argue with another man driving a GMC Envoy about who got to park closest to the rattiest apartments I've ever seen, and then having to contact the night manager 3 times because the key card wouldn't open the door, and then trying to determine the origin of the funny smell pervading the room, I was ready to cough up an extra $45 dollars to spend the night somewhere where I wouldn't have lay out my sleeping bag on top of the bed and wouldn't be starring in a "snuff film" a la "Vacancy"

Anyways... I drove almost 800 miles today - the Yaris did well. I bought 10 gallons of gas in Monticello, Utah at $4.48 / gallon (what a kick in the crotch). I later paid $3.88 / gallon in some little town in New Mexico, and did the math... the Yaris got 43 miles to the gallon!?!? Wow!

My good buddy Cody Shepard called me and kept me awake/alert for a little bit - thanks Cody. I tried to talk to a few other people, but for the most part spotty cell phone coverage made it difficult if not impossible to talk for too long.

I'm almost done listening to The Hero and the Crown, by Robin McKinley, and tomorrow plan to start The Blue Sword by the same author.

Good night! Or morning...

PS - tomorrow morning I'll be passing through 'Amarillo by mornin'

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Here we go again. Same old stuff again...

As of about 10 AM this morning, I'll be on the road until about 9 PM. I'm armed with a snazzy GPS, an MP3 player full of audio books, most of my music on CD's, and I might stop for some concentrated caffeine on the way... I'll repeat this debacle tomorrow, and then drive about half that time on Friday, hopefully arriving in the vicinity of Fort Rucker in time to celebrate the 4th with some friends, then go feral pig hunting on the 5th.

The fun and games end on Sunday when I will drive up to Fort Benning to report for BOLC II.

Please feel free to give me a call while I'm driving - REALLY, it will keep me awake!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Goodbye civilian job! (for a while anyways...)

As of 1:00 PM, on Friday, June 27th, I am on a "leave of absence" from work, and I won't be going back until after the 17th of December.

A few of my coworkers pitched in and got me this lovely cake:

Don't worry, it wasn't a moldy week old cake, it was an Army cake with camouflage frosting! Thanks Paul, Eric and Jeff - you guys rock!

We spent the whole weekend moving - Becca did a pretty good job of describing the exodus on her blog post. Seriously, we got rid of SO MUCH CRAP! We still filled up a 10" x 15" storage unit.

We finished packing yesterday (yes, we had to move stuff on Sunday - it had to be done as we needed to be out by Sunday night), missing a family reunion that we'd had on the calendar for 1/2 a year. Today, we spent our day at the Utah National Guard headquarters in Draper, and the 96th Readiness command at Fort Douglas, getting necessary paperwork for me and the family before I take off for Georgia. I also got the last of my uniforms purchased and everything is packed up so I can stow it in the car and drive over 2000 miles east... what a concept. Tomorrow we'll find some time in the midst of the paperwork/errands to go see a movie together.

On a side note, I'm really pissed that my boss cut my leave of absence short by 3 days because we were "understaffed", and then she took time off for vacation on Friday. That's three days that I didn't get to move my stuff, prepare for my training, or spend with my family before I leave them, so that I could train to defend our country. I hope she doesn't have a Caribbean cruise lined up when I'm getting ready to deploy - some people...

Monday, June 16, 2008

I'm going to Hell for loving this, but...

...I love seeing people get hurt sometimes. Enjoy.




Allow me to put this kid's thoughts into words:
Watch me pull this cool trick in a stoic fashion - I won't even crack a smile. I hate "the man" and my parents!

Wow, I see trouble ahead, better dismount.

Oh man - that really hurt! It's okay - just need to walk it off. Walking it off... Okay... walking it off isn't helping. Let me grab my shoe and see if that returns any of my dignity... Crap - I wish I could draw enough breath to tell my buddy to turn off that stupid camera.

Honestly, can you imagine getting hit in the junk so hard that it knocks your shoe/headphones off?

Camping with the boys

Well, the Brough clan headed down to our favorite part of the world again for one last hurrah before we part ways for the summer. For a while, it didn't look like it was going to happen due to work schedule conflicts and military training...

Eli was INCREDIBLEY excited to go fishing - I think these pictures say it all. He helped his grandpa catch a fish, which got off the hook right before they got it in to shore. My dad was pretty quick however and he reached into the water and "slapped" the fish out onto the bank. Eli thought this was AMAZING and spent the next 5 minutes slapping the fish while my dad tried to clean it.


Here is Eli telling about Grandpa's fish - there is also a minor reference to a certain pine hen incident:


Eli spent a LONG time dipping his lure in the water while he stood on a big rock - here is his explanation of what he is doing:


Apart from the fish slapping, the other main interesting event of the night was a result of the fact that we only brought 4 jakes lures for 5 spinning rods. Carl lost the first one, and then my little brother Jed got his snagged. In the process of handing me his fishing pole so I could try to un-snag the lure, the top half of the pole came off and slid down the line into the water. It's one thing to lose a $1.00 lure, but quite another to lose the top half of an Ugly Stick, so we goaded Jed into stripping down to his boxers and swimming out to get his lure and pole.

Eli thought it was pretty amazing and funny that Jed went into the water - he laughed uncontrollably when Jed stated that he couldn't breathe and was experiencing heart failure (my son shows tendencies similar to his grandmother who ALSO laughs at the pain and discomfort of others). Jed retrieved the top half of the spinning rod, but gave up the search for the lure - however after my dad and I offered him money (a total of $15), he went in for another trip which was unsuccessful.


Here is some EXCELLENT footage of Jed suffering - enjoy (I know my sister Leesa will!):


We spent quite a bit of time on the 4 wheelers during the trip - Jed and I got "lost" on the way to Pine Creek resevoir and ran into some "light resistance" (pictured below)

Don't worry, it was nothing the AR-15, Remington 870, or Jed's Ruger 10/22 couldn't handle. We survived against all odds. As I like to say, the only good rock chuck/rabbit/coyote, etc... is a
dead... whatever. Also, we may or may not have hit a pine hen with our four wheeler... while it was up in a tree - I don't like to talk about it.

Eli stayed up until 11:00 PM the first night, waiting for his peach cobbler. He wolfed down a few bites before he finally asked to go to bed. He slept through a LOT of noise until about 8:30 the next morning when we had to wake him for breakfast.


The next day was a lot of fun - my dad took Eli to Pine Creek where Eli and his famed Spider Man pole caught 8 fish. In the mean time, the brothers (that includes our brother in law Carl) went for another ride on the ATV's - through Dark Valley and up the Cartwheel Trail toward prospector lake. The trail was reminiscent of "death row" on the Bair Gutsman only it was about a 1/2 mile long and vibrated our fillings out of our molars.
We tried to find a trail that looped around back toward our camp site at Cook Lake, but we ended up having to back track. Todd was able to dispatch a ravenous muskrat that was trying to bar us from crossing a stream - thankfully we survived and Todd racked up another kill.
Eli became so dirty at times that his grandpa had to remove his shirt and shake the dirt/dust from it throughout the day.
Due to time/vacation constraints, we were only able to spend two days down on the Boulder. We had a lot of fun and the grimy/dirty smile on Eli's face made the trip worth it to me.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Still "good to go"

I got another one of those letters from the hospital- the kind that say I still am in remission. It's weird to think about it - Becca and I have convinced ourselves that this whole "cancer thing" was just a fluke and we're back on track. We make jokes about it. Honestly though, every time one of those papers comes in the mail, I reflect on how lucky I am for every day I get to spend above ground with the people I love.

Have a great weekend - Eli and I are going fishing!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My orders finally came through!

I've been waiting to post this for a little while since it wasn't 100% that it was going to happen this summer... but I finally got orders for my officer training! I've been waiting for two years to get to this point, so it feels really good arrived here.

Soon I'll start BOLC II at lovely Fort Benning, Georgia, on July 6th and will spend 7 weeks in training that all U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenants must pass before getting training in their branch specific job. BOLC II is a fairly new training that the Army has come up with to help better prepare new Lieutenants for combat operations in the Middle East, regardless of whether they are in a combat oriented branch/position. The only downside to this training is that I won't see Becca and Eli for 7 weeks.

Becca will be quitting her job as an apartment manager; she and Eli will be moving in with her parents. Becca is ecstatic that she won't have to be dealing with the shenanigans that come with her job, and I am pretty happy that she won't be home alone dealing with strangers while I am in another state. Eli is going to be the happiest of all since he'll have a huge back yard to play in and he'll get to hang out with Grandpa and work in the garden.


After BOLC II, I'll be headed to BOLC III/Armor OBC at Fort Knox, Kentucky and thankfully I 'll get to bring Becca and Eli with me! The last time I was at Fort Knox was to attend LTC; where our instructors dressed like this:Drill Sergeant Flowers will be happy to know that I am a big fan of flutter kicks now.

I'll go through 12 weeks of Armor OBC, and then break for Christmas - after which I head back to Fort Knox for 2-3 weeks of Scout Leader Course training - this will give me designation as a cavalry officer instead of an armor officer.
If you can't tell, I'm pretty excited about the whole thing. It also makes a really good excuse to miss my 10 year high school reunion (yeesh I'm old!).

Friday, May 30, 2008

Xbox 360

Well, I'm very disappointed in myself - I hopped on the band wagon and bought an xbox 360

I had been saving money for a new pistol, but then the urges overcame me and I blew my fun money on a video game console that will no doubt be a sponge for absorbing time that might have been spent on more noble pursuits.

By the way, I've had it for less than a week and I've already beaten Halo 3 and COD 4.

On the bright side, at least I was smart enough to wait until I had finished my last semester before committing the stupidity of the year.

It's so much fun :-)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Drill Weekend

I finished my first drill weekend as an el-tee (sorry if you're tired of hearing about this, but I worked really hard to get hear so SUCK IT UP!), and I have to share my amusing anecdotes:

Customs and Courtesies
I have a friend (who shall remain anonymous), let's call him B. Mower... no that's too obvious, let's call him Ben M. Anyways - Ben decided it would be hilarious to dramatically salute me in grand style, but then he turned and walked right past the battalion commander, and wished him good morning WITHOUT rendering a salute. Oops - the BC let PFC Mower know he wasn't impressed.

Where's PFC Brough!?
At the end of the first day of drill, our company 1st Sergeant was making a lot of noise looking for a "PFC Brough". I made my way over to him, and the look on his face told me that he wasn't sure if he was supposed to punish me for impersonating an officer, or stand at attention as he addressed me. If you're wondering why a 2nd Lieutenant is listed as a Private 1st Class on the unit roster, then you've never experienced how slowly paperwork travels in the National Guard. In any case, this poor NCO wondered aloud if I planned on being promoted to Colonel before next month's drill.

The Rappel Tower
I've been on MANY rappel towers, but I've never been able to rappel off the simulated helicopter skid - until today. I was pretty pumped to go rappelling again today, but I have to admit - I was disappointed. It wasn't BORING by any means - but I seem to remember the rappel tower being much more exciting - and the helicopter skid was less fun than the rappelling wall. Oh well...

Do unto others...
One lesson I have learned in the Army is that it pays to be respectful of others - regardless of whether they are your subordinates, peers, or superiors. I learned this lesson first hand when I returned to ROTC this spring. I suddenly found that my subordinates from two years ago had become my peers. I was EXTREMELY happy that just about every one of them had a kind word for me and was happy to see me again.

There were a few individuals at drill this month that appeared to be noticeably nervous in my presence now that I outrank them. Their unease is probably due to the fact that they treat all of their subordinates poorly, and wondered if I might return the favor. Of course, I'm not a vindictive person, but I'm not going to tell them that *insert evil laughter here*.

The moral of the story is that while it may be fun to be an jerk, sometimes that guy that you put through hell could become the guy that you have to salute.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Major is back

I spoke with Major Roberts yesterday, fresh back from deployment to Iraq.

For all you vintage USU Army ROTC guys (circa 2004 - 2005), you'll remember Major (then Captain) Roberts. He was my first ROTC instructor and he never missed a chance to brainwash his cadets into thinking that the Engineers are the best branch of the Army. (Fact - The first Medal of Honor recipient in the GWOT, was given to an Army Engineer)

I remember very clearly sitting in a chair in front of Major Robert's desk while he looked me over to decide if I was worth sending to Leaders Training Course at Fort Knox, Kentucky back in the summer of 2004.

My favorite memory of Major Roberts goes back to the military history trip in the summer of 2005. Mrs. Roberts yelled (as she tried not to laugh) at the Major as he inched a 15 passenger van closer and closer to an over zealous and cranky employee of the Maryland Department of Transportation on the highway running past Camp Frettard.

Incidentally, we were on our way to a dining establishment called "Beef Shakes". Major Roberts instructed me to approach the takeout window and ask for a "beefshake", as advertised on their billboard. They gave me the stink eye and tried to justify their lousy diner name - maybe you had to be there... it was hilarious.

Others of you might remember a certain "coming out" ceremony as well - involving a sleeping bag at several dining in ceremonies...

I better limit my stories to the information I've already given, being that the Major has MUCH more incriminating information about me.

The Turkey Hunt

I am still trying to get a hold of some pictures of our "alleged" turkey hunt, but here is the skinny:

Within hours of being made a Lieutenant, I was half asleep in the back of my father in laws truck, heading south to Wayne County for the turkey hunt. John (my father in law) and Mike (brother in law) were lucky enough to draw out for the Boulder Plateau, and I came along as a guide/cook since I have spent a lot of time in the area and was foolish enough to guarantee John a turkey if he drew out there.

Before marrying Becca, my hunting experience was extremely limited, being that my father is a die hard fisherman more than a hunter. John has taken me hunting several times over the years, so it was kind of nice to be helping him find the game for a change.

There was still snow on the ground, so we had to ditch the truck. John and Mike got on their ATV and left me at camp to cook dinner (how did that happen?!). The next day, we went out with one of John's friends (Ron) and his daughter Jenny. John got a poor shot at a tom and missed - but Mike and Jenny were able to get their turkeys before we left for home.

Luckily, John is benevolent and he forgave me for not delivering on my promise to get him a turkey. I also forgot to bring the ingredients for the dutch oven dinner and dessert - but I think I'm forgiven for that too since I didn't burn either of them.

John did exact some small form of revenge by giving a turkey leg/claw to Eli as a "back scratcher".

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Shotgun

It's been kind of crazy for the last few weeks - I haven't had time to post all of the substantial events that have occurred recently

I think that both Becca and I have mentioned this, but Becca and my parents were kind enough to pitch in and get me a new firearm for my "anti-zombie" arsenal of freedom. It's a Remington 870 Express with an extending magazine tube and an 18" cylinder bore barrel. For those of you who AREN'T rabid gun fanatics, it suffices to say that it is black and evil looking.

Here is Eli, modeling the shotgun in true manly/Brough style:

My mother in law will be pleased to note the trigger lock is in place and the gun is not loaded for the picture ;-)

Within 48 hours, the 870 had already drawn blood down on the Boulder Mountain. It did its part to reduce the jack rabbit population, which is part of another story...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Big Day

Well, I finally am a 2nd Lieutenant and a college graduate.

It's been a long time coming and our family is very happy. Becca has done a pretty good job describing the event here.

I cleaned up a few of the photos for your viewing pleasure (or displeasure if that's the case).







































Monday, April 28, 2008

The bachelor party

My brother in law Danny is getting married May 9th, and we helped him celebrate the final days of his bachelorhood in grand style.

Look how truly BA we are!

Seriously, we had a lot of fun - I'm glad I ended up with brothers in law that love to have fun.

You can read about it all here: Linky

Back in the saddle again

Well... my two week leave of absence from work has ended and I couldn't be happier. Well, I could ALWAYS be HAPPIER (think independently wealthy, with a cabin in the boulder mountains, ATV's, snowmobiles, guns and ammo to shoot critters, etc...), but within the realm of immediate plausibility I think I'm doing pretty well:
  • In the first place, my employer was kind enough to grant me the leave of absence I needed so badly in order finish my bachelors degree at Utah State University this semester (thanks ADP!).
  • Second, I ACTUALLY DID IT!!! I had to complete a Science of Sound class, which turned out to be more of a physics/math class than the "history of music" class I hoped it was (be warned!) - I haven't taken a math class in years and I had to hire a tutor to help me get started. Still, I was able to finish the entire class in about 1.5 weeks, which is amazing to me.
  • I also finished my Senior thesis, which is another story...
I commission in the Army as a 2nd Lieutenant on the 2nd of May, and then I will officially graduate on May 3rd. I am so happy that I don't know what to do! If you listen very closely, you can hear my parents breathing a sigh of relief that their oldest son has finally graduated. You can also hear my mother wringing her hands at the thought of her son in a combat zone.

I am very happy to be done - life seems to have so much savor now. My dad says that life just gets harder, but I have to echo my sister's sentiments - next year I won't be working 4/10's so I can get up at 5 AM every Thursday to drive to Logan and "play Army" all day, while I write my senior thesis and finish a physics class.

I commission at 10:00 AM, May 2nd, at Utah State University - my long suffering wife and my patient mother will be pinning the gold bars on me, Sgt First Class Lawrell Cook (the man who was perservering enough to make sure I got into LTC at Ft. Knox at the last minute back in 2005!) will give me my first salute, and Lt. Colonel (Retired) S. Rand Curtis (who is everything I want to be as an officer) will adminster the officer's oath to me.

I'm almost sad to be leaving the USU ROTC - even though most of the men and women I've met there have moved on. They are all over the world now - in various bases in across the United States as well as Germany, Korea, Alaska, Iraq, Afghanistan, and probably other places I don't know about. We all went through the same initiation:
  • Looking for that blasted missing land nav stake at Temple Fork
  • Suffering near cardiac arrest as we crossed a freezing river/lake under a zodiac boat
  • Turning around at the 1 mile mark by Aggie Village during the APFT
  • Having Jacob Harris kick you off "his" computer in the cadet lounge
  • Playing Halo and talking trash in the cadet lounge
  • Trying to hoist a ruck sack up the side of a cliff for the Jim Bridger Challenge
  • Having LTC Curtis greet you with "Hello Handsome!" and then seconds later comment that your ears, hands, face, or nose is the "freakiest body appendage in our organization"
  • Listening to Clint Edwards and/or myself muse on the benefits of a Red Dawn or Zombie Uprising scenario
  • Being brainwashed into thinking that no real man would play Ultimate Frisbee or wear ankle socks
The list could go on and on. I can only look forward to what the future holds. Keep your fingers crossed.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Breaking Todd into the derby

My little brother Todd (who is now taller than me), accompanied us tonight on what has become a family tradition (thanks to my brother in law Mike) - THE ROLLER DERBY!


I told Becca that before the night was out I would get a picture of Todd with his arm around a derby girl. Little did we know that it would be the QUEEN of all derby girls: Dirty Pirate Hooker! (I can only wonder what my mother will think when she reads this - you might want to call me Mom.)


As it turns out, Dirty Pirate Hooker (or Jenny as she is known when she's not on the flat track) is the aunt of a girl in Becca's primary class - who'd a thunk it?!


Eli doesn't look very happy in this pic, because he was cheering for the OTHER team. He'd rather have a picture with our other favorite derby girl, Honey DeLunatic! We got to meet Honey after the bout - she gave Becca some helpful advice on becoming a derby girl - I just wish I'd been handier with the camera so we could have gotten another pic of Todd with his arm around a derby girl! I guess we'll just have to wait until the next bout...

Eli is a fan... :-)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Are we there yet?

I'm taking a break from my school work right now to preserve my sanity:

My semester ends the 28th of April, and I am feverishly working to complete an entire online class in a period of two weeks (it's a long story).

Anyways... yesterday I was able to ride on a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter yesterday for the first time in about 2.5 years. I was slightly disappointed with the ride, as the pilot had the crew chief close the side doors and he didn't really do any cool maneuvers to make our stomach's jump. I guess I shouldn't complain because any ride in a helicopter is a treat.

As you can see from the pictures, there is still plenty of snow up Temple Fork Canyon.

This is me totally bragging, but yesterday I was able to physically subdue both of my brothers at the same time. Even though I'm about 20 lbs overweight, the extra weight still gives me some leverage - enough to put my brother Todd in the rear naked choke hold (I own you man!). Needless to say, Todd will probably be kicking my butt very shortly after reading this... (Todd, just remember when you have ME in the choke hold, that when I start tapping your arm, that means I give up/am about to pass out and you can let go.)

The funny thing about our little grappling match is that my little sister Leesa was worried that Todd was choking (that's why it's called a choke hold Leesa) whereas my mother was mostly concerned that we didn't break her bannister - you can tell she's been the mother of three boys for quite some time now.

What I'm really trying to say is that I'm SO HAPPY that my brother Todd has come home from his mission! I've missed that kid so much; our family feels complete again.

And happy birthdays this week Leesa and Laurie!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Here we go again...

...same old stuff again.

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My little brother Todd is nearing the end of his two year mission service in Peru! My parents, and my two youngest sibling are in country with him right now - touring some of the amazing wonders of the country and meeting many of the people Todd associated with while he was down there.

Todd is amazing - he's overcome many challenges that life has thrown at him and has become an outstanding individual that anyone would admire and emulate. I'm excited to see him when he gets home this Thursday - I only wish I could have gotten the time off work to go down and pick him up.

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President Monson can wiggle his ears - who would have thunk it?

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DON'T QUESTION AUTHORITY!!!

I talked to certain county's Sheriff's office about the legality of a certain activity regarding hunting - I like to stay within the bounds of the law most of the time... ;-)

Anyways, the overzealous officer/dispatcher (the man on the phone wouldn't give me his name/title) told me emphatically that the bounds of the law were much stricter than I thought (in regards to this activity).

When I asked him if he knew where I could look up the laws that he was quoting, he told me that I didn't need to - his word on the matter was sufficient. I insisted, that in spite of him appearing to be an honest individual, I'd rather lookup the law myself rather than just take his word. He finally confessed that he didn't know where I would be able to look it up (I suggested the library, the internet, the county sherrif's office as places - if he could just give me the name of the ordinance/law/section of code I should look for or point me in the right direction).

This is confusing to me - I have a few friends in law enforcement that are NOT pompous jack asses... Had I asked them such a question (they aren't representatives of the county I was calling) and they didn't know the answer to my question, they would have told me as much and probably offered to get me to someone who did know the answer - anything to help an individual who is trying to comply with the law.

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Filliing out my ROTC accessions packet... what branch do I want? 2 years ago, I was all set to become a helicopter pilot - now I'm not sure what I am going to do.

My top three choices are: Aviation, Engineers, and Armor

We'll see what I get :-)

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Scouts!

I have been an assistant scoutmaster for the last 3 weeks. I work with 12-14 year old boys, and let me tell you - I have had to pull a few tricks from my Army background to help me out. My old Drill Sergeants would be proud to see me doing my part to keep these kids in line. It's quite the task since there are all extremely bright boys for their age and every single one of them has a cell phone that they are constantly talking/texting/gaming on.

Anyways, I'm pretty excited to have an excuse to go camping/fishing at least once a month now.

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Politics

Have you ever had the feeling that the transormation of America into a socialist state is an eventual inevitability?

I'm not talking about "the apalling behavior of kids these days", but rather the appalling behavior of the craven masses who willingly sacrifice freedoms so that the government will take care of them and protect us from ourselves.

John McCain is a Repulican In Name Only, not much better than Hillary Cinton or Barack Obama - the people who are intent on taking away the last our personal freedoms for our own good, and lowering America to a prosperity level that will be less enviable to the rest of the world.

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Becca's new haircut

Becca, her mom, and her sister all drove down to St. George this weekend - sole purpose of the trip was to get haircuts from Becca's aunt Teresa - the only person they truely trust their golden locks to.

Apparently it was worth the trip - Becca's hair is much shorter now - but the results are stunning. Thanks Teresa!