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!

video

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! :-)

video

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!):