"Not the victory but the action. Not the goal but the game.
In the deed the glory."

Friday, March 30, 2007

More Deployment Souvenirs - Part 2

You can find Part 1 of this post here. Here are some more pictures from our recent Spur Ride.

Me getting ready to head out on the ruck march. Team America is in the background.

Everyone's favorite soldier Beans looking sharp.

Burnham and CPT Wangler hooking up the radios at the commo station. CPTs Wangler and Varejcka pinned on E3 and E2 rank for the spur ride as they were just joes on the team. That got a lot of laughs throughout the day. Beans and I contemplated smoking them a few times but decided that the payback at the end of the day wasn't worth it. They had to put them together, load them from the ANCD, and then get them set up properly to communicate in a certain amount of time.

My gear for the day. I estimate that between the IBA and the ruck everything weighed about 75 pounds. We had a specific packing list that included 6 liters of water which definitely added quite a bit of weight. This was in addition to my assigned weapon which weighs another 11 pounds. I was at somewhat of a disadvantage as us staff pukes don't wear the IBA nearly much as the line guys.

I have one more set of pictures to upload, so check back in this weekend to see the rest and also find out how Team America finished.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

More Deployment Souvenirs - Part 1

The Stetson isn't the only accoutrement that can be earned while attached to a Cavalry unit. Another rite of passage is called a Spur Ride. The details behind a Spur Ride vary by unit, it isn't an official Army sanctioned event so it is up to the unit to come up with something. The driving force behind the Spur Ride is unit morale, team building, and a tie back to Cav history. The 167 Cav held a spur ride on the 18th of March, and I was lucky enough to participate.

Our team consisted of the 2 finest mail clerks in all of Iraq, Beans and Burnometer. Initially the Flecker was going to round out our team, but he got cold feet and backed out. In order to make up for the loss of a Specialist, we added 2 Captains to Team America. CPT Varejcka is our S4 (logistics) officer and CPT Wangler is in charge of the base defense projects like the new fence we are putting up and the new guard towers.

For TF Saber's spur ride, MAJ Teegerstrom wanted it to be training for what we do over here, so it was tailored for Iraq. There were 10 stations that we had to navigate as a team. They were: a timed ruck march, tire change on a Humvee, map reading, medical tasks, grenade throwing, radio operation, blue force tracker (the gps enabled computer system that we use to keep track of all of our guys), Cav history, and the senior spur holder station. We spent about a month prepping for each station so we could dominate each station like good staff Troopers should.

Here is the first batch of pictures from our day. Team America lining up to move out.

Map reading station.

3 man litter carry at the Senior Spur Holder station.

MAJ T giving a pep talk.

Team America changing the tire. I used my cat like quickness to hop into the trunk.

Weapons station. We had an M16, M9 pistol, M2 machine gun (.50 cal) and M240B machine gun completely dissembled in one big pile that we had to assemble in less then 6 minutes.
Putting the finishing touches on the 2 machine guns.

More pictures to follow in Part 2.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Haji Don't Surf

I don't where they came from, but we have a set of old school shades floating around the office. We took a few pictures the other day with the shades. Here is me and my desk.

Me and Irene.

I think there is a striking resemblance to Lt. Col Kilgore from Apocalypse Now. What do you think?

Also, some good news from here. After 12 months here at Anaconda, we discovered there is an MWR lab right next door to our building. The battlespace owner, 2-82 FA, which is a 1st Cav Division unit, shares office space with us and our guys go out on joint patrols with them. The previous group never bothered to offer to let us use their MWR lab, but the new guys are much more gracious, so it will be a little easier for me to do blog updates. So look forward to some increased activity here.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Pre-marathon Update - Weeks 2 - 5

I'm sure you've been waiting on pins and needles for my updates on my progress towards the Chicago Marathon. So, without further ado here is the last few weeks of what I've been up to.

Week 2 (planned/actual):

Monday - Off
Tuesday - 4 / 4 @ 8:19
Wednesday - 6 / 6 @ 9:!2
Thursday - 4 / 2.5 @ 9:22
Friday - Off / 2 @ 8:41
Saturday - 6 / 6 @ 8:53
Sunday - 12 / 12 @ 9:29

Total - 32 / 32.5 @ 9:08

Week 3 (planned/actual):

Monday - Off
Tuesday - 4 / 4 @ 8:37
Wednesday - 5 / 5.25 @ 8:57
Thursday - 4 / 0
Friday - Off / 3.1 @ 7:36
Saturday - 5 / 6 @ 8:39
Sunday - 9 / 6.25 @ 8:24

Total - 27 / 24.6 @ 8:31

Week 4 (planned/actual):

Monday - Off
Tuesday - 4 / 4 @ 8:07
Wednesday - 7 / 0
Thursday - 4 / 0
Friday - Off / 4 @ 36:36
Saturday - 7 / 7.25 @ 9:20
Sunday - 10 / 10 @ 9:27

Total - 32 / 25.2 @ 9:10

Week 5 (planned/actual):

Monday - Off
Tuesday - 4 / 4 @ 9:18
Wednesday - 7 / 7 @ 8:34
Thursday - 4 / 4 @ 8:15
Friday - Off
Saturday - 7 / 7 @ 8:38
Sunday - 12 / 0

Total - 34 / 22 @ 8:40

Now you can sleep at night! Week 3 we had a practice road march for the 167 Spur Ride (more to come on that) so I cut some miles from my long run on Sunday. Week 4 I had a dozen article 15 hearings in 3 days. After standing for 4-5 hours a day I didn’t' feel much like running so I missed a few. Last week we had the actual Spur Ride on Sunday and I was pretty tired after so I missed another day. Other than that, things are going okay. The weather has been nice which makes it easy to be outside. My current plan is to continue to run as it gets hot out and hopefully get acclimated to the heat so I don't get chased back inside again. We'll see how that goes.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


As promised, here are some pictures of my newest time killer. After buying the Picco Z, and flying that around for a while, I realized I needed something with a little more power. I did some research and found just the bird, the Blade CP. It is a 6 channel collective pitch helicopter, which means that it will fly forward, backwards, side to side, and up and down. It will also fly upside down, although I'm light years away from doing that.

Here is a pic with the old helicopter.

The controller. Lots of buttons and switches.

The canopy with a few additions.

The only negative so far is that I don't have a great place to fly. I use the Tomahawk range in back of our building, which is good unless it is windy. So I can only fly a few days a week. I'm done with ground school and have moved on to learning how to hover. It is quite difficult but I'm learning. Someone compared it to balancing a marble and a sheet of glass, which I think is accurate. The controls are very sensitive and you are constantly adjusting to what the helicopter wants to do. Good times!

I've only crashed once (at least once hard) so far, and I bent a piece that I had to replace. Other than that, things are going pretty good. Hopefully soon I'll be moving past the hover stage and doing some real flying shortly.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

March Madness!!!!

AFN is doing us right again, and they have 2, sometimes 3 channels devoted to March Madness. Hammer and I are currently holding down the fort in the office watching a classic battle between Maryland and Davidson. It is going to be a long weekend for us, as the games run pretty much all night. In fact, we have basketball on until 0630 tomorrow morning. We are looking forward to it though, it will be a nice distraction from the mundane. Sleep is a crutch anyway!

Once again, I'm buying into the hype and have picked KU to win it all. We watched the KU vs Texas Big 12 title game and I came away really impressed with the Jayhawks. They can pretty much play any type of basketball and have a ton of depth which is important in tourney time. I think they are the best time in the nation, but we'll find out in about 2 weeks. Rock chalk!

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Date with Desitny - 007

I like to think that our section comes up with some good ideas from time to time. Our latest master plan is that we are working our way through the James Bond movies. LTC Apprich has the Ultimate Bond Collection, and was kind enough to give us the hookup. I thought I would review each movie as we watch them Monday nights. Tonight is week 3, we've already got 2 in the books. The collection doesn't go in chronological order, so I'll review them as we watch them.

Week 1 - Goldfinger (1964). I didn't start watching Bond until the early 80s, so I haven't seen many of the early ones. This is a Connery Bond, and was a definitely a good way to get our weekly movie night started. It was funny how much the Austin Power series borrowed from Bond, this one in particular. The villain (Goldfinger) has a diabolical scheme to pollute the world's gold supply at Fort Knox, thereby increasing the value of the gold that he holds. He has a pretty cool henchman (Odd Job) who throws a hat. Ouch.

This was a really solid film that we all enjoyed. Even though over 40 years old, there are some decent action scenes and Connery is on his game throughout. There are some classic cars, from the Aston Martin DB5 to what I think is a 64 1/2 Mustang convertible. Bond has some sweet tricks, the villain has some good lines, and the movie keeps a pretty good pace throughout. I give this one 4 stars out of 5.

Week 2 - Diamonds are Forever (1971). This one is another Connery, I believe his last. Unfortunately this movie really stunk. If it hadn't of been a Bond, I think we would have turned it off halfway through. The villain is dumb, and he has 2 henchmen that are incredibly annoying, Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd. Believe it or not, they are actually a gay couple, which I was surprised to find in a 70s movie. This one again centers around a smuggling ring, although diamonds this time. Not much to like in this one. Connery mails in his performance, dialogue is forgettable, and the majority of the film takes place in Las Vegas. The fun part of Bond is that he travels all over the world and Vegas in the early 70s isn't all that glamorous, although the villains hotel is pretty cool. Stay away from this one, far away. 1 star out of 5.

Tonight is the Man with the Golden Gun, our first Roger Moore. I'll follow up later this week with my review. We should be able to get through all 20 Bonds before we head out of lovely LSA Anaconda at our pace of one per week.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Man Has Got Me Down

Well, the blogging has been pretty hit or miss lately. It has been a combination of the MWR lab being closed for painting, being busy with work stuff (always a drag on my myriad number of hobbies), and lack of motivation. March is going to be the toughest month of the deployment. Everyday there is a new milestone for something that should or shouldn't have happened due to the extension. For instance, we should currently have our "left seat" training complete with our replacements. That is where we do the work and they ride along and take notes. Our "right seat" training should have started by now, which is where our replacements do the work and we watch over their shoulders. For us admin pukes, it is pretty simple because our replacements were to be active duty and probably don't need a Nat'l Guard unit telling them how to do their jobs. It was more of an update for anything special they need to know about being in theater. Friday, March 9th, was our original TOA (transfer of authority) date and we would have been outta dodge shortly after that. Each day that goes by we talk about how different things would be if we were going home and not spending another 4 months here. SFC Kerchal went so far as to say we may actually have all died in a mortar attack, and are currently in purgatory. Every time our new TOA date comes around we'll find out we are getting extended and never get to leave. I've been having nightmares ever since.

Once we get through March things will get better. We should have an idea of our new TOA date by the end of the month, and essentially April 1st will be sort of like December 1st. Time to start thinking/planning/working on getting out of here. Right now we are in limbo which isn't much fun. One of the Brigade staff officers used to always say that this deployment isn't a sprint, it is a marathon. He now says that is isn't a marathon, it is a death march. We have depicted this on our big white board with stick figures representing each month. Right now our stick figure guy is crawling along the ground. In April he will start to get up off the ground. May and June he will be heading towards the light. July he will be back on his feet. August he will be celebrating with his friends and family. So, we'll make it through some how.

I was planning on doing a post on my new helicopter today but I forgot my flash drive with the pictures. After consulting with the Dan the Man, I've named her Irene. I am still figuring out how to fly her, and things are going pretty slow right now. I found a flight instructor on the 'net (really!) and he is giving me some tips. Once I get the hang of it I'll do a more detailed post of me and my bird. I am done with Radd's ground school and am moving on to hovering right now. I had a little bit of a hard landing the other day and bent an important piece, but my Crew Chief (SFC Kerchal) and I did some maintenance and she is back up in the air. Good times.