Thursday, June 4, 2009


Again, the Boy Scouts prepared me for this! Well, at least part of it anyways...

We rolled out to the site around 0930...we had PT at 5am per usual, then time for breakfast and showers. Once on site, we put up the tent and put our rucks/equipment in the tent. The tent was a large one, but with all of our gear in it, was not big enough for all of us to sleep in (43 people). So after the site was set up, we did troop movement procedures. Basically, that means moving in squads (about 10 people in a squad) in a tactical formation (spread out, covering each other, moving through terrain, etc). Did that for about an hour in the sun (in the 90s and humid, no less).

Then a MRE lunch...don't remember what I had. Then more squad movements for about 3 hours. Then was a hot meal brought out to us. Did the assembly line you see in the movies, where you have a plate and the servers (us...we also served food to each other), basically slopped it on your plate.

After dinner, we went to a "night infiltration" course....basically a course as long as a football field. After waiting for it to be completely dark, we crawled on our bellies (with helmets, body armor, and weapon) through low obstacles while machine guns fired live rounds over our heads. There were also explosions on the sides to give us a "simulated" battlefield experience. The course was not dirt/mud as I had was gravel. Luckily, the body armor protected us from that...we also wore knee and elbow pads so as not to suffer too much from the gravel...but it ended up all over every pocket!

Got back to the site about 11pm. Luckily, my squad was not tasked for night watch/security, so I put my poncho on the ground and laid on it in the duffel bag as my pillow. It was a little after midnight by the time I got to sleep. Because the tent was cramped, I couldn't extend my legs without hitting someone, but I was so tired at that point, it didn't matter. Closed my eyes, sprayed my face with bug spray and fell asleep. Exactly 4 hours later (0400 on the dot)....WHISTLING FIREWORK....BOOM! We had to get up and run to our security positions. The Cadre were out in the woods, trying to walk through our perimeter...we would "shoot" at them (we had blank rounds) and they would tell us what we did wrong. That went on for a hour or 2. MRE breakfast (which I skipped....I had granola bar instead). Took a baby wipe "shower"...there was no running water out there....but we did have 5 port-a-johns (which are quite lovely when it is 90+ degrees and humid and being used by 43 people). Thus began the longest of days....

We went on "patrol" as a platoon. Basically, taking the squad movement procedures from the prior day, we were given different grid coordinates to find and perform a task on (recover an injured person, locate a lost piece of equipment, secure a landing zone for a medevac helicopter). So we walked and walked and walked through woods, ravines, prairie grass, etc for about 3 hours. Had a MRE lunch. Then did more squad movements....taking defended positions...flanking movements, etc until 5pm or so. Then had "hot" meal.

After dinner, we had to clean ourselves up as much as possible (which included shaving again....not pleasant to put bug spray on your face immediately after shaving it!). Then packed up our gear....I had very little to pack as I really never had time to do much unpacking! Next was take down the tent...we would be sleeping outside that evening...we were supposed to be rucking 6 miles back to barracks at 5am. Also, my squad was on security that night. My shift was 2-3am. So around 10pm, I laid against my ruck (had room to stretch my legs, at least!), more bug spray on my face and tried to sleep. It was difficult to sleep, however. It was really humid, people moving around, mosquitos in my ears. Even though I had the bug spray on my ears, they would still come close enough to be heard before the spray would discourage them. Very annoying when trying to sleep! Throughout the entire trip, I only suffered a single mosquito bite (on the back of my hand). Ahhh, just when you think you know what is coming next....

Around 11:30, I awoke to the sight and sound of a distant thunderstorm. A big one. Lots of lightning. We waited. And watched it approach. And then it started to drizzle. Got under my poncho. It started to come down harder and harder. About 12:30, the Cadre, who had been told a big storm was coming, had us pack up and get into the trucks. As we were loading all of our gear into the trucks, it really hit. Buckets of rain, high winds....easy to see in the dark b/c of all of the lightning. As we drove back to the barracks, it looked like a hurricane. Get back to the barracks, unload all of the equipment and finally to my room, soaking wet about 2am. Took a shower....unfortunately a very short one as we had a line of guys waiting to do the same. In bed about to sleep in until 7am. Hot shower and bed felt awesome!

So essentially, that was my experience Monday to Wednesday morning. After breakfast yesterday, we basically cleaned weapons/gear until mid-afternoon. Should have gotten a nap in some point before dinner yesterday, but didn't. Got about 7 hours last night (9:30-4:30), but need more. Breakfast is now here so I've got to go!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Tom! Better than a novel! I'm proud of you and praying for you. With love and support, Aunt Janet