Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Summarizing AIT

So, what else to say about BCT? It was pretty much what you'd expect from watching the movies . . . long days, short nights, lots of screaming DS's, etc. I will say that I met some really remarkable folks there. I liked most everyone and while they were mostly a good bit younger than my decrepit old ass, I fit in just fine. I have plenty more stories but writing them out like this seems boring, so I'll just refer back to them when it seems appropriate.

AIT (Advanced Individual Training) was a completely different beast. At first it seemed like it was going to be an extension of BCT, with DS's screaming at us but the first time they "smoked" us (I believe it was morning of my 2nd day at Ft. Sam Houston) I realized it was a different world. As I recall, the DS got pissed because somebody in my company had gone to the mini-mall without permission so he was going to: "smoke the dog shit out of us!" I figured it was gonna be a looong day (cuz it was 100+ degrees there in APRIL!) So he put us in the front-leaning-rest and proceeded to make us do thirty whole push-ups. (30? Really? Hell, in BCT we did that as a stretching exercise before casual PT!) My battles from Ft. Jackson and I looked at each other with WTF all over our faces. That's it?? Sadly, there were some folks there from other BCT's who were huffin' and puffin'. Ain't that just sad?

We started the medical training with CPR certification, followed by 6 full weeks of EMT-B courses and certification. That meant we were up at 0400 every day for PT, followed by chow, followed by nine hours of classroom work (and it was serious work . . . those teachers flew through material!) broken up by a 10 min. break every hour, during which you got to climb down three flights of stairs to stand on an open concrete pad in full uniform. (with temps upwards of 110.) We covered 3-4 chapters in BOB (Big Orange Book) every day, with two exams each week. You needed a score of 80 or higher on each exam or you had to go back for a 90 minute "re-teach" class after everyone else was dismissed for evening chow. If you failed an exam, you got two re-teach classes and had to take it again the very next morning (at 0530). Fail any exam twice and you "double-tapped" i.e. got recycled back to the platoon that was two weeks behind us in their training cycle. Fail ANYTHING there and congratulations: you are now an 88-Mike (truck driver). We were restricted to the Company area until after we passed our first PT test (4 weeks in) and maintained that minimum 80% average. After that, we had evenings free (back in for 2100 bed check!) and weekends off (still with a 2300 bed check!). Weekends I would spend down at the Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio. Beautiful place! I spent many hours chilling quietly in the USO: reading, napping, and eating the awesome (FREE!) home cooked food the volunteers made for us. I watched lots of movies and spent a good number of evenings at Mad Dog's Tavern (Dude: $1.00 beers!!) Oh, and I learned that I am a big fan of Hooters restaurant (not cuz of THOSE, you pervs! Well . . . okay, those too.) because of their buffalo wings. a 50 pc. platter, pitcher of beer and a game on the wide screen was one hell of a much needed break! :-0

The best part of AIT was that I got my cell phone back! I was able to call The Wife and The Boy every night. That made a huge difference in my attitude. BCT was 10 weeks long and it seemed to last for six years . . . AIT was 16 weeks and it flew by, mainly because I could talk to my family every day. I really enjoyed the Medic training, and it turns out I wasn't half bad at it. I actually completed the program as an Honors Graduate (94.6% avg. with first time "go" on every practical exam.) I'm very proud of that. The 68W program is one of the hardest in the Army. Let me put it in perspective for you:

We started with 504 people in my company.
We picked up approx. 110 people who "double-tapped" from companies ahead of us.
We graduated 380 Soldier Medics.
We had 6 Honor Graduates.

Yea, I'm all 'dat!!!! :-)


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Second Medic Call

Sorry for the delay in posting, folks. My mom passed away last week so it was a bit crazy hereabouts. She was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer while I was away in BCT. They gave her only a month or two to live but the old broad pushed it out to almost a year. Luckily, she was doing alright, able to move about and live her life until the last few days. She faded quickly, over the course of a day or two and went without any suffering, for which I am grateful.

So, on to happier things . . .

Where did I leave off my rambling tale? Ah yes, my second Medic call! This one wasn't nearly as dramatic as the first, it was just funny that I wound up covered in blood again before I'd had a single moment of training. It happened while we were "toeing the line" - our first formation of the day at 0430- inside the bay. Illness was running wild through the platoon: we'd lost two guys to Mono and a half dozen or more had strep, while the rest of us were dealing with the flu in one form or another (I was sick every single day of BCT!) We'd all become accustomed to the hacking, wheezing, sneezing and groaning all around us so we barely noticed that one kid, I'll call him Alaska, was moaning and wobbling as he stood at attention . . . we all were! It wasn't until I heard my Jamaican buddy yell: "Catch him, catch him!" that I realized anything was wrong. Alaska passed out cold while standing in formation. Went out like a light and face planted into the concrete floor. (Nobody moved fast enough to catch him!) DS Comic was on duty, back in his office and he came running out when he heard all the commotion. So, what are his first words when he sees Alaska down and out?

"Coppinger, get your ass over here!"

Great, another DS who thinks I know what the hell I'm doing.

Alaska had landed chin first, breaking his two bottom front teeth in half and driving the entire bottom row of his choppers up through his bottom lip. His eyes were rolled back up in his head and he was laying on his back, gurgling and spitting blood everywhere as he gasped for air. (The guys next to him had rolled him over on his back and were staring at him with that charming WTF?? look folks get when they're panicked.) Again, not knowing what to do I let a little common sense prevail. I held c-spine and rolled him onto his side so he'd stop choking on all the blood (and holy shit! there was a LOT of blood!) I stopped his buddies from trying to pull his impaled lip off of his teeth and got a clean white sock (nope, we had no medical kit in the bay!) pressed up against it to slow the bleeding. DS Comic called 9-1-1 on his cell, then made everyone else leave the bay except for me, him, my Jamaican battle, and Alaska of course. I kept talking to Alaska and he slowly regained consciousness, though he was still out of it. The EMT's showed up, slipped on a c-collar, put real bandages up against the wound and carted him off a few minutes later. After they were gone, Jamaica and I started cleaned up the blood while DS Comic handled phone calls and paperwork. He came back into the bay as we were finishing up . . .

"Hey, Drill Sergeant . . . " I said, "you know I'm not a Medic, right?"

He stopped and looked at me with a smile. "Really? You looked like one to me. That was good work, soldier." Then he ordered us to clean ourselves up and get our asses downstairs for a PT session.

Now, that doesn't seem like much I guess, but here's the thing: DS's NEVER call anyone soldier. You're a "private" at best . . . more often: a privvit, shitbag, wannabe, high speed, or hero. None of which are said with anything other than mockery and disdain. You don't rate being called a soldier until after you've graduated BCT. DS Comic was the first one to grant me that title and it meant a lot . . . ya' know: for about five minutes, until they had us low crawling in the icy rain down at "the beach" and I was once more a nameless "privvit!"

Such is the life of a soldier, I guess.


Monday, October 12, 2009

My first Medic Call

So what shall I tell you next about my BCT experience?

Shall I tell you about how I got blisters on the back of my heels that got so bad you could actually see the tendons? Shall I tell you about the day we did Victory Tower and DS Comic dubbed me an Oompa-Loompa for the day? OOOHH . . . I know: the day I got my first call as a Medic! (aka: the day from hell!!) Yup, I actually got called in to be a Medic before I even got trained as one. It's a long story actually but I'll try and keep it manageable . . .

It started at about mid-afternoon. DS Bipolar came storming out of her office, screaming (as usual!) "Where d'hell my clipboard at? Who d'hell stole my damn clipboard!" Yup, this crazy woman started from the assumption that her clipboard couldn't have been misplaced. It was obvious that one of us had stolen the cheap piece of pressed cardboard in order to sell it on the black market and ensure the future financial stability of our families. When no one came forward to admit to the theft, she decided that a prolonged smoke session was in order. We spent the next two hours pushing. Finally, soaked and exhausted, she let us stop. "Y'all got till tomorrow morning! If I don't get my clipboard back by then, we'll do this all damn day!" We figured that was inevitable, so we were sorta resigned to another day of misery, ya' know? We had no idea the night was going to get FAR worse than we could imagine. DS Bipolar pointed out that she was on duty all night and that she wouldn't put up with "non of our bullcrap!" while she was in charge. In particular, she pointed out that we were REQUIRED to sleep under our blankets at night (most of us slept on top so we didn't have to remake the bed each day) and that she'd be coming through to check and she'd better not find anybody on top of their covers. Well, you can just imagine what happened, can't ya? One of my battles was laying on the bed, writing a letter (after lights out, using a flashlight) and fell asleep . . .ON TOP of the blankets! Well, DS Bipolar came into the bay at about 2300 and lost her friggin' mind. She flipped on the lights, screaming for all of us to: "Get d'hell up!" (that's pronounced; DEE-HELL, BTW.) She put us in the front-leaning-rest and screamed at us for five minutes while we pushed. No big thing so far, right? This is typical BCT treatment and one of my battles had earned us the smoke session, so no biggie. That was about to change though.

Into the bay came DS Smiley (he was actually a pleasant, cheerful guy!), the senior DS for the entire Company. He was chuckling at us as he wandered around the room, then he came to a sudden halt directly across from where I was pushing, a look of shock on his face. "Hey, DS Bipolar, is there someone still laying in that bunk?" Everybody looked and yup . . . there was someone still curled up under their blankets, hiding. DS Bipolar went through the ceiling, cursing and spitting as she closed on the bunk. (It was one of the few times I ever heard her use language harder than damn, hell, or bullcrap.)

We were busy pushing so it was hard to see anything so when she pulled back the blankets and asked the Private: "What d'hell are you doing under the covers with dat sock on your hand?", well . . . we all bust out laughing. Hey, we're guys, as far as we were concerned there was only one possible reason to have a sock on your hand in bed! Even DS Smiley was laughing but that died quickly when he got closer to the bunk. The Private wasn't spanking the monkey: he'd actually tied a sock around his wrist to try and hide the fact that he'd been attempting to slash his wrists when DS Bipolar came in (he'd broken open one a disposable razor and was sawing at his wrist with one of the tiny blades.) Well, the DS's went into action, holding him down, taking away the blade and using DS Bipolar's cell phone to call the MP's and 911 to get the base's EMT's out there. This took about 45 minutes, during which we were kept pushing by DS Bipolar. Once the MP's had taken PFC Crazy out of the bay (DS Smiley went with them) she turned on us and started screaming about how we'd embarrassed her in front of her superior. She was pissed because none of us had known what Crazy was doing and she started smoking us worse that we'd EVER been smoked! This went on for about another 1/2 hour when all of a sudden, there was this unbelievably loud CRACK! sound from behind me. Private Natti's (not his name, but he was from Cincinnati) hand had slipped on the puddle of sweat he was pushing in and his head had smacked into the concrete floor.

"What d'hell was that? Dat you Natti? Get yo' ass up here! Don't gimme none of that; 'I hurt myself' bullcrap neither! Get up front here and push until I tell you to stop!" Natti staggered and weaved his way up in front of her and just sort of stood there, looking confused. "What d'hell? Are you coo-coo for cocoa puffs or somethin'? I said PUSH, you!" Natti nodded and got into position. He got out three push ups before he went into convulsions. He bit off a huge chunk of his tongue and was spraying blood everywhere. DS Bipolar had no clue how to handle it (did I mention she was incompetent?) She started yelling: "We need a medic! Who's a medic? Coppinger, get yo' ass up here!"

Really? Me? I'm going to TRAIN to be a medic, lady . . . I ain't one yet! What was the alternative though? The kid was convulsing and bleeding like crazy. I ran forward with another recruit who had some physical therapy training and we did what we could. I told DS Bipolar (who stood there staring at us!) to call 911 again and we took our best guess at what to do for the kid. I stabilized his neck and we rolled him to one side so he wouldn't choke on his own blood. Beyond that, we let him convulse, just trying to keep him from hitting anything that would injure him. I kept close to his head, talking to him and telling him that we were there and help was on the way . . . I had no idea what else to do for him. (Now that I've gotten a bit more training . . . I actually did what most EMT's would do. Funny how much of it is just common sense!) By the time the EMT's showed up, I had blood all over my clothes and was sitting in a three foot wide puddle of it. Natti was beginning to come around; I'd gotten him to tell me where he was and what his name was, but he was still pretty confused. The EMT's loaded him up on a stretcher and took him out. When I looked up, DS Smiley was standing in the door, looking at the scene with a classic "WTF?" expression on his face.

In a normal world, I'd get a "good job" or something of the sort for helping out but this being the Army, DS Bipolar decided that screaming at me for the bloody mess on her floor was the proper course of action. I stood there wondering -for neither the first nor the last time- what the fuck I'd been thinking when I joined the Army??? At that moment, DS Bipolar noticed the two soldiers behind me who had reached their limit and were crying. Well, THAT was just what she wanted to see! She went off on another screaming tirade: "What d'hell you gonna do when you buddy get blown to hell in war? You gonna stand there and cry?" She dropped us all again and we resumed pushing as she told us all we were worthless, useless, cowards. One of the crying kids gave up and just curled into a fetal position on the floor, sobbing. She went after him like a shark smelling blood but that's when DS Smiley (who was NOT smiling!) charged into the room.

"Enough! that's enough of this shit, DS! Put these soldiers back in their beds. NOW! I want this place cleaned up and you down in my office immediately!"

DS Bipolar was furious, but he was her superior. She stormed out of the room and told me to finish cleaning up the blood. Once she was out, DS Smiley told me to stop and called out two other soldiers to get mops and clean it up. "Go clean yourself off, soldier. You did enough here tonight." He smiled and nodded at me and for one moment I had the answer as to: WTF I'd joined the Army for. We never caught any more crap over the clipboard (which she found in her office the next day) sleeping on top of the blankets (DS Bipolar was never allowed into our bay when she had night duty ever again) or about Natti's going down (he returned two days later with a "clean" bill of health. The Dr. said it was "muscle spasms". Bullshit!) The only result of the night was that we had to have two of us sit suicide watch by PFC Crazy's bed all night for the next two weeks until they sent him off to the mental hospital. In fact, the only time that night was ever mentioned again (by cadre) was the night before we graduated BCT, by DS Smiley. He was the duty DS that night and he sat in the bay talking with us for a good two hours. He had a LOT to say about that night, DS Bipolar's behavior, and his general opinion of her as a DS and a person . . . none of which were flattering.

So there you have it, folks: my very first call as a medic! My second would come about two weeks later, still untrained, & still in BCT . . . but that's another story.


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

My Ethical Dilemma Story

Recycled: To put or pass through a cycle again, as for further treatment.

It's a simple word. In fact, most folks think of recycling as a positive thing. We recycle to make the world a better place, right?

Yeeeeeaaaaa . . . not so much with the Army.

Getting "recycled" is the ultimate nightmare for any BCT soldier. It means you've screwed up so badly that you're bounced from your training company and sent back to start BCT all over again with an entirely new company of knuckle-draggers. Just think of the joy of completing nine out of your ten weeks of BCT and being told you have to go back and start all over again! (No shit: this happened to a battle of mine because he got into a fight with another trainee.) The most common way to get recycled is to fail at BRM (Basic Rifle Marksmanship) at about 4-5 weeks in. This is where I almost bought it . . .

Here's the thing: we all have a "dominant" eye that we get most of our visual information from. In most folks, this is the same side as your dominant hand (i.e. right hand/right eye). I, of course, am one of those aberrant freaks who is right handed and left eye dominant. They told us how to check for this the first day of BRM training and as soon as I noticed I went to DS Bipolar (not yet knowing she was as incompetent as she was crazy!) and asked her what to do. Her answer? "That Bull-crap don't matter! If you right handed, just shoot right hand and you'll adjust!" Well, this being my first time firing any type of real weapons (aside from a shotgun once) and she being my highly trained, professional, Drill Sergeant . . . I did what she said. I spent the next two weeks zeroing my weapon, learning to cluster my shots, apply the fundamentals of marksmanship (steady aim, good site picture, control breathing & trigger squeeze) all with my right hand. I was doing really well too . . . while we were using stationary targets. The real problem came on the first day of qualifications, when they began throwing random pop-up targets at us. I couldn't hit a damn thing! One of the other Sgt's. - we'll call him DS Muscles came up behind me, asking what my problem was. "I don't know, Drill Sgt. by the time I find the target, then line up the shot the targets are going down." He had me fire another clip while he watched . . . "Why the hell are you jerking that weapon to the left before you fire?" I explained that it was to re-center the site post on the target after I closed my left eye and that's when it hit him.

"Are you left eye dominant?"
"Yes, Drill Sgt."
"Then what the fuck are you doing shooting right handed? Switch that weapon to your left!"
"But Drill Sgt. Bipolar said . . ."
"That crazy bitch? Never listen to a thing she tells you! She spent the last 13 years as a fucking recruiter!"

So, I went back to position and tried shooting left handed. It was uncomfortable as hell, and I didn't get anywhere close to qualifying, but it was a definite improvement. (I think I went from hitting 3/40 to about 16/40) Better, but not good enough. I had only the next day to qualify. If I didn't hit at least 23/40 before they ran out of ammo on day two, my ass was recycling. Well, you can imagine that I was flipping out. Spend another five weeks at BCT (at least!)? Be away from my family for another month and a half? Lose my scheduled AIT spot and my chance of becoming a Combat Medic? Oh yea . . . "flipping out" is an understatement on the level of crazy I was approaching.

Luckily, I had some great battle buddies in the Army. I had two friends who worked with me in the bay through most of that night (no rounds to fire obviously, but they lay on either side o me, coaching on my fundamentals as I dry fired.) They both noticed that my body armor & helmet were WAAYYY too big on me and that was just making things harder. One of them actually swapped his armor with me for the next day because he'd already qualified. Even after all that, I still knew I wasn't ready to qualify the next morning. Another battle of mine was the talk of the company because he'd hit 39/40 on his first round of qualifications. I went to him and asked for any help he could give me, because up until that day he hadn't been shooting all that well. I asked what he'd done to improve so quickly. He took me into the latrine and made sure we were alone before telling me his secret:

"Dude, just pull the plating out of your armor! Leave it in the bottom of your locker for the day. Nobody can tell it's out unless they punch your chest and it makes shooting like 1000% easier!"

And there it was . . . my ethical dilemma.

You are required to qualify with those plates IN, because that's what you'll be wearing when you deploy. I knew he was right though, if I pulled them out I'd qualify easily. It wouldn't be that big a deal because I'd continue training left handed and I'd get good enough to qualify in a week or so anyway. Thing was though, I had to qualify TODAY! If I didn't, I'd be screwing up my entire life, hell my entire FAMILY'S life because of some random time frame the DS's had decided on. The logic was simple: pull the plates, pass the test, then gain the shooting ability in another few days. Simple, right?

Yeeeeaaa . . . again with the not so much.

I knew it was cheating, no matter how much logic I applied to the problem. Yes, I had a lot to lose and justifications out the ass, but I still knew it was wrong. In real life, I'm the kind of guy who would never consider such a thing. I don't lie, I don't steal, and I don't cheat. Ever. The fear of recycling though -and what it would mean to my family- was weighing real heavy on me. When everyone else went to bed, I sat up the entire night with my IBA (Interceptor Body Armor) sitting in my lap, trying to decide what to do. I'd be lying if I didn't tell you I pulled the armor out, then put it back in at least half a dozen times. As goofy as it sounds, this was -without doubt- the worst night of my BCT experience. (and there were some others that were insanely bad, as you'll soon hear!)

In the end, it was The Boy who saved me from having to hate myself. Yup, from nearly 1,000 miles away, without saying a word, or even knowing anything about what I was going through, my son saved my ass. It was only minutes before we had to wake up for the day that it hit me. The Boy would ask me how I did on my marksmanship test at some point. He'd ask, and I'd be faced with either telling him I'd cheated, or flat out lying to him. That settled it right there. I would NOT do either of those things . . . I could look him in the eye and tell him I'd failed, but I could never lie to him or let him know I was a cheat. I got up for the day and put that IBA on with all the plates firmly in place. If I was getting recycled, fine, but it would be AFTER I gave it my best -honest- shot (literally!)

I'd like to say I went out and destroyed that range but this ain't a Hollywood movie. I sucked. I shot horribly . . . all day. Finally, DS Muscles knelt beside me, talking me through each shot, guiding me on my fundamentals and giving advice on where to target at what distance. After about 4,000+ rounds and a good two hours of that man's time . . . I hit 25/40. Enough to qualify as a Marksman (barely!)

It was one of the proudest moments of my life.


Thursday, October 01, 2009

BCT: The Joy Begins

So, I left off with my wonderful intro to Reception Battalion at Ft. Jackson, S.C. (Relaxin' Jackson as the uninformed call it. I had a chance to compare my training with folks from other BCT sites later on and trust me: it's the same crap wherever you go. Ain't no "relaxin" involved!) My usual luck held true and I was placed into a Reception platoon run by a female DS from the deep south who will forevermore be known to you all as: DS Bipolar. This DS was the nightmare DS of reception. All the other platoons empathized with our plight under her crazy tutelage ("Dude, I'm glad I ain't in your platoon!") DS Bipolar treated us pretty much as you'd expect a DS to, right from the moment we arrived. The other DS's were a bit easier during Reception (they saved the crazy for when we got to our training company.) not DS Bipolar. All that kept us sane was the belief that it was only for a week or so. Once we got to BCT proper, we'd be assigned new platoons & new DS's. There was one DS there that everybody loved, he was cool as hell and unbelievably funny. We'll call him DS Comic. I won't bore you with too many details about Reception: it was long, miserable, and we all would have sold our souls to get out of there and down range to BCT (yup, even now I'd make that deal!) The entire time we were there, they kept telling us that 25% wouldn't ship, we'd be held over in Reception for another month because we were too heavy or didn't do well enough on our initial PT test. Well, I was borderline on both categories so you can imagine I was quite nervous. When the morning FINALLY came to ship, they started calling off names of which trainee was going to which DS. If your name wasn't called, you stayed back. Well, after 1/2 hour of names, here were few of us left standing there and I was certain I'd been held over. When the DS calling roll stopped and looked up I almost burst into tears; hell we all almost did. We cheered like madmen when he said "The rest of you belong to DS Comic!"

Yes! Yesyesyes! We got the best DS there, luck was on my side for once . . . or so I thought. DS Comic was there and he walked up smiling "Think you got lucky, huh? You'll learn different." One of the guys called out "C'mon, DS Comic, you can't be that bad!" That made the DS laugh out loud. "Me? Hell, I'm a pain in the ass but I'm not what you have to worry about. I'm the ASSISTANT Drill. The boss is who you have to worry about!"

And that's when she walked out. Yup, you guessed it: DS Bipolar. My lucky old ass had the crazy woman for my entire run of BCT. I can't even begin to tell you how miserable she made us. Not even because she was a DS (there were plenty of those around) but cuz she had her own personal brand of crazy that she worked hard to share about with everybody! Hell, even the other DS's called her "That crazy bitch" . . . and NOT in a nice way. Just the night before, I'd watched her smoke a buddy of mine until he literally wasn't capable of lifting his arms up at all. We had to undress him for bed. I resolved right there to stay out of her way and never give her any reason to get pissed at me. That resolution lasted until the very next morning when I became the very first soldier in the platoon to receive her "personal" attention.

Sigh. :-(

They woke us up at 0330 for PT and marched us to a field that was surrounded by a running track. The four platoons in the company each lined up on one side of the field, facing the center where the DS's were. It was all good (exhausting, yes, but good.) until they told us to fall out onto the track and run for a mile. Problem was, I didn't know anybody in my platoon yet, so when we got back from the run I accidentally formed up next to the guy I THOUGHT I'd been standing beside earlier. Well, stupid me didn't notice that I'd lined up with the entirely wrong platoon. I was there for about two minutes before I started to notice things didn't look the same . . . buildings on the wrong side, parking lot on my right instead of my left, etc. it finally hit me and I started to move quietly out of rank, trying to sneak back to my platoon without anyone noticing. I made two whole steps before I heard DS Bipolar scream in that charming tone of hers: "Coppinger! Where d'hell is Coppinger at?"


"Here, Drill Sergeant!" There was no hiding now.

"Oh, Hell no! You did not mess up my formation! Get yo' fat, stupid, white ass over here! I oughta kick you square in the back of you stupid ass head!"

Actually, it was one of the nicest things I ever heard her say. She proceeded to have me low crawl around the perimeter of the field for the rest of the PT session. This was much fun, particularly because it was a cold, misty, morning and the mud just added that extra bit of OOMPH to the suck. So much for staying off her radar, huh? :-)

I did a better job of it after that, but it didn't really matter. DS Bipolar was a firm believer in mass punishment, even after it was supposed to end when we hit White Phase. Hell, she was still doing it the very day we left . . .

Well, that was my next step in the BCT journey. Next, I'll tell you all about how I almost got recycled because of DS Bipolar's incompetence and my own screwed up anatomy!


Monday, September 28, 2009

Back In Business!

Hey, how's everybody doing?

Sorry for the long delay in posting. I got back home Aug. 1st and took a month off to chill with the family. Got back to work about 3 weeks ago & it's been a little nuts so no time to drop by. Hope y'all are still hovering about out there & having fun!

I had a kick ass (and BIZARRE!) time during my IET into the US Army. It was a great experience and I'm really glad I did it, but I'd be lying if I didn't say there were days where I was sayin': "What the FUCK where you thinking?" BCT was tough on this old body at first - particularly the knees. It is one of God's grand jokes that as we get older, the primary joints for moving us about to stay healthy become progressively less capable of moving! That God - he's one funny SOB! The worst part was being sick as a dog almost the entire time. I had one hell of a nasty URI (Upper Respiratory Infection. I have to type it out, cuz The Wife keeps yelling at me to stop using acronyms for every third word I speak! What can I say babe, it's the price of being in the Army and Medical fields!) that hung on until the week before I graduated. It was so bad that I couldn't lay down for more than an hour at a time before I'd wake up hacking and coughing. Let me tell ya: when all you get is 4-5 hours of sleep (on good days!) waking up like that does NOT make you a happy camper! Anyway, I'm back now & doing my monthly drills with my NJARNG unit. I figure the best way to get back into the swing here is to bore you all with my endless stories of my Army adventures! If they get too tedious, please let me know and I'll lay off a bit . . .

So many stories to tell that I don't know where to begin! Hmmm . . . probably at the beginning, yes? :-)

Well, here's the initial tale of my entry into Big Green. As you can imagine I didn't get a lot of sleep the night before I left home. The Wife and The Boy were a little upset, and we were up pretty late. I got about 2 hours of sleep. I left with the recruiter and went to MEPS, where I spent a few hours processing, then went to a motel for the night, where I spent hours on the phone with the family. I had to be up at 0300 to catch the bus back to MEPS, so I got no sleep at all that night. The next day was a repeat of my medical in-processing, getting orders cut and catching the plane to Atlanta, then a plane to Columbia, SC and lastly a bus out to Ft. Jackson. We got into base at a little after 2300 hours and figured we'd get bunks and catch a few hours sleep before we started processing through Reception. Hah! Welcome to the Army dumb-ass!! We started the moment we got off the bus; there were drill sergeants waiting for us! We spent the night filling out paperwork, getting uniforms (they made us change into PT's - shorts & t-shirts) and standing in lines until 0330. They then told us we were getting bunks, so they formed us up outside (it was 17 degrees!) in only the PT's and proceeded to let us stand there until 0530, at which time they told us there were no bunks available and it was time to start the day anyway. We hit chow (an adventure in itself) then spent the entire day and night being poked, prodded, stabbed with needles, and screamed at by DS's and civilians alike. We kept at it until 0230 the following morning. That meant that I had gone without sleep for something like 80 hours (if my math is correct, which it prolly ain't!) Let me tell ya folks, unless you been through it you can't even imagine what kind of pain comes with that level of tired! We had people breaking down, passing out, screaming, crying . . . hell, we even had one girl have a complete mental collapse. They had to carry her out and they took her to mental health at the hospital. she was STILL there when I graduated BCT! They gave us two full hours of sleep that night and it was the most welcome rest I ever had. I sat on the edge of the bunk and don't even remember lying down. I certainly remember the screaming DS who came into the bay, kicking bunks and screaming at 0430 though!

That boys and girls was my intro into the US Army, circa January 28th, 2009. Yup, it truly sucked but I stand by my original statement that I had a great time. You'll see why eventually, I think . . .

Stay tuned for more of my rambling idiocies!!!!


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Still alive!

hey y'all . . . if there's anyone still out there!
writing this on my cell so bear with.
I'm out here in San Antonio doing myAIT at ft sam houston. learning to be a medic . . . correct that: i AM a medic now. I am a nationally registered emt-b at this point. now i'm working on the Whiskey (combat medic) side of the house. wild shit! we do stuff an emt would never dream of. many stories to tell when i get home . . . 6 weeks and counting!

hope all's well with everyone out there. gotta run.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Our First Letters from Jim

Hello All ~ sorry its been a while ~
First, when I mentioned "passed tape" in the last blog, I wanted to clarify what that meant.
There are 2 ways the military gages what weight is acceptable to be at; one is by what the scale says and one is what the measuring tape says. Jim has never passed weight by what the scale says as per military standards however when they do the various body measurements via a measuring tape, his measurements meet the acceptable standards of body scale. In other words, at his last weigh in, he was still too heavy but when they did the body measurements, he met those without any problems. Although I am sure at this point, he has lost some additional weight.
Anyway, I am happy to say Jim's been in touch via letters; pages and pages of letter. When he left he thought he'd only be able to write about one page a week but thankfully that hasn't been the case :-)
He seems to be keeping up physically with the program but its been tough watching others in his company not handle the experience as well; he writes that a few men and women have broken under the pressure and one young man has gone as far as trying to remove himself from the program entirely. In all Jim mostly writes on how much he misses The Boy and I and that that wasn't part of the journey he was planning on.
The Boy and I write to Jim every night about our day and mail the whole package out on Mondays. The first packet I included wedding anniversary cards to him; we've been married 19 years this past month. My next packet included Valentine Day cards to him; we actually had our first real date on Valentine's Day 1988.
I've been reading the base's website and it appears that Jim's company will be graduating April 3rd and on April 4th he should be shipping to Texas. I've already made arrangements to be there for Family Day on the 2nd, stay for graduation on the 3rd, and then coming home on the 4th. The Boy will miss some school but its important to Jim that we be there for him.
I'll update soon; until then, enjoy the days as they get longer and warmer :-)
The Wife

Thursday, January 22, 2009

He's In The Army (Guard) Now

Hello ladies and gentlemen, it's The Wife taking charge of Jim's blog until he returns later in the summer. It seems so far away and yet I know in a matter of time, he'll be back and The Boy and I can't wait; we miss him tons already!

Anyway, just letting you all know that he passed tape and is in South Carolina now. He was great calling in yesterday as the day went along updating me where he was and what he was doing. The best part of his day was being able to have a hamburger and not worry about his weight now that he was officially in. He just sounded happy and excited as his new journey was beginning :-)

Well, I'll be happy to share any info I get from Jim as I get it so until then, stay warm and be well :>

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Well folks, I'm off to BCT . . . assuming my fat ass makes weight/tape. I HAVE lost weight since I joined the NG but not enough to make my desired weight. I'll still need to be taped for my body fat %. It SHOULD be lower now but I'm still worried they're going to tell me: Nope. Too fat, come back in a few months." That'll be embarrasing as hell, to have to explain that to all the folks who've been supporting me and wishing me good luck & good-bye.

The good news is that The Wife has agreed to log on here from time to time and let you know how I'm doing. She'll pull from my letters, etc. and keep you all up to date on my adventures in Armyland! :-) When I get back, I'll give you all an immesely boring diatribe on my journeys and if/how it changes me. Keep a good thought for me and hope I make my taping and that my old body doesn't get hurt (too much!) during this adventure. Sadly, the joints aren't quite as flexible as they were when I was twenty, so I do worry a bit about that . . .

So, this is me: out for a while!