Jason's BLOG pages

 
 

 


Jason Grose's BLOG

August 1997

 

 

 


What's a blog, you ask? It stands for "weblog" and it's basically an online journal of daily thought. We'll see how long I can keep this up (as though I don't have enough to do!)

If you must have a title, I'll go with: The daily thoughts/rants of a Marine Officer, father, scholar, husband, marathon runner, Flash cartoonist, computer nerd.


Sunday, August 31, 1997

Quote of the Day:
ONE SMITH & WESSON BEATS FOUR ACES." 
- Unknown

I slept in today for a simple reason: I had nothing to get up for. I slept until almost 1100 and then got up. I called Shep to see if he wanted to go to brunch and he did. We could not figure out where to go so we met at the coffee shop and had a cup of coffee. We asked the waitress where we should go and she did not know. We were amazed that there were no breakfast places in this town.

We ended up going to Fredericksburg, about 20 minutes away to get to a Shoneys. We gorged ourselves and then decided to go get haircuts. We went to the base but the line was too long. So we decided to go to the commissary but it was packed also. So we went to Quantico and got haircuts there. It was a good waste of time. Later, I dropped Shep off and went to the store to buy some groceries. When I got home, Mac called and wanted to know if I wanted to come over. I picked up a movie, The Fan with Robert DeNiro and Wesley Snipes. It was a good movie and I knew Mac likes DeNiro. Afterwards, I left and went home to sleep.

Faught’s girlfriend was in town and he was spending a lot of time with her. She has to leave on Monday and he said he did not want her to go. I know the feeling and felt for the guy. But at least she got to come up for a couple of days.

Free Advice for Today:
Carry jumper cables in your car.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Saturday, August 30, 1997

Quote of the Day:
Literature is the immortality of speech." 
- August Wilhelm Von Schlegel

I woke up and decided to go running. There was not much else to do since everyone had gone away for the long weekend. I had a good run and was proud of myself that I got out and did it. Ever since my good run time, running has been less of a chore.

After my run, Mac and I met up and we went to do some errands. We went to Quantico and had lunch. Mac got his map laminated and we visited some of the other stores. We got an earful from the guy at Quantico Boot about the local corrupt businessman, Boulinese. We also visited the research library and it was awesome. It was a huge depository of Marine Corps records and books as well as a regular library. I only had time to scratch the surface.

I also met Sgt Wolf, a cartoon artist that draws all Marine Corps stuff. His comics appear in Marine magazine and some others. We talked for awhile and he had visited my webpage. He talked about starting an animated series and working with kids. He seemed like a really neat guy but the $20 subscription fee seemed a little steep for me. I told him I would send him email.

After lunch, we went back to Mac’s place and watched some TV. I ended up going back to the room. After awhile, I decided to go by the coffee shop where I ran into Shep. We sat and talked until about midnight and then we went to his house where he had his new computer. It is brand new and has all of the latest and greatest stuff. I showed him some stuff on it and then hooked him up to AOL. He decided he did not want it and said he would take it off as soon as he could. I do not blame him. We started having a real heart to heart and it was good to have someone to talk to. He told me his girlfriend just called it quits. I told him he would find another and we talked about relationships in the Marine Corps.

When I went home, I heard on the radio that Lady Di had been killed in a car accident in Paris. I was shocked and called Shep when I got home. I did not have a TV and knew it would be all over the news. I logged onto AOL and read about it. A part of me is shocked and saddened but then I think that people all over the world die everyday in car accidents. She just happened to be famous. So I concluded that I should be sad for the meaningless death of someone, not because she was the Princess of Wales. I went to sleep with the radio on and it was the first thing I heard about in the morning.

Free Advice for Today:
Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Friday, August 29, 1997

Quote of the Day:
We could learn a lot from crayons: some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, some have weird names, and all are different colors but they all have to learn to live in the same box." 
- Unknown

I woke up in a good mood for a couple of reasons today. Mostly, because it was the start of a three-day weekend and Fridays are usually easy.

The first thing that we had was company commander’s time and we had to go on a run. I felt good and I knew our captain was not a fast runner. We had to wait awhile because the student company commander, Lieutenant Barney, was trying to collect muster reports and she is in our section. While we were waiting, I saw an opportunity. I asked the section leader, a weak Lieutenant, if I could go over drill with the section. He deferred, of course, and I went over some of the basics. They all knew what to do but were not doing it. I reminded them the proper procedures and was surprised at how easy and fluid it came rolling out of my mouth. I realized I sounded like a drill instructor explaining it and I knew it was all right. Most of it I learned from Gunny Davis who took the time to teach it right to me.

I taught for about 15 minutes until we were ready. I noticed afterwards that Capt Whiteside had been watching and even though I was not doing it for his benefit, I was pleased that he saw it.

We went on the run and I noticed that we did not have a guide in our formation. The guide runs in front next to the officer so I fell out of formation and told the section leader that I would be guide. Of course, he was clueless and I just appointed myself. I wanted to run in front and it also gave me a little status to teach the section drill. So now I am guide.

The run was about 2 1/2 miles and really easy. I was surprised that the people who sang cadence did it well and knew more cadences than I did. I figured I had my turn in the spotlight and did not ask to be called out. Surprisingly, Souliere knew the most. I would have had him pegged for a slacker but obviously he had called cadence before.

After the run, the captain told us that because of the run times on the PFT, running was not our problem. He said that for now on, we would work on upper-body strength to help the pull-up scores. After we were done, we had free time until line training.

We got to line training as a section and I once again took advantage to teach the section. I told them that if they were wondering why officers have to know drill if they rarely do it, they needed to know it. The reason is because if they check into a unit and they have a platoon sergeant that does not know drill, they would have to teach it. Or if he was doing it wrong, they had to know the right way and correct him. I said if they did not know drill, their enlisted people surely would and they would know you were clueless.

Line training was fun. It is basic hand-to-hand combat and a combination of many martial arts. It is broken into lessons called lines and there are a total of 17 lines. We learned the first which just showed how to defend against an attacker that grabs you by the chest or gets you in a headlock. The weird thing about this training is that it is full contact. It is up to the attacker to take safety precautions against the defense. This means that when there is a kick to the head, you have to put your arm in front of your face and block the kick. The kicker kicks full force. There are joint manipulations and blows to the arms. It is all choreographed but one wrong move results in injury. A female got her two front teeth knocked in and a guy got his eyebrow split.

Acu started feeling sick about half-way through and told a Captain who then asked if he was really sick or just trying to get out of line training. It was all Acu could do not to go off on him for questioning his integrity. He waited until after the session and went to medical afterwards where they said he should be SIQ (sick in quarters). He convinced them not to give him that because he wanted to go back to NY for the weekend.

After chow, we had swim qual. It was even easier than the last time and all we had to do was go from level 3 to level 2. We had to swim 50 meters with cammies, boots, flak jacket, war belt, and helmet. I was the first to do it and had no trouble. Some people sank like rocks. The next thing was to make a raft with two packs and two rifles and then tow another Marine across the pool. Again, this was easy and after finishing that and the working party to clean up, we were done.

I had free time until afternoon classes. Everyone wanted to get it over with because of the weekend. For some reason, the customs and courtesies class was canceled so after Maj Conboy went over fit reps again, we were secured. I had gotten the mail for the company and wanted to chew out the section reps for not getting it. Most of them had already checked in the office and I guess a second bag came and that was why there was so much left. I passed it out, trying to learn the names of the section reps.

We have two Burkes in our company and I gave a package addressed to Burke to Souders, his mail rep. Later, on a break, another mail rep came to me and said that he was looking for a package for his Burke. I pointed over towards anothe mail rep's seat and said she had one and check it out to see if it was for his Burke. I was busy but did not give any thought to it. The mail rep had left it on her desk unattended, a big mistake, and this mail rep took it without telling her. He thought I authorized it and when the mail rep came back, she freaked. She looked everywhere and then came to me in my room. I told her what I knew and chewed her out for leaving it unattended. She ran around with her head cut off trying to track down Burke and/or the mail rep but it was the start of a long weekend and everyone was leaving like rats out of a burning building.

She comes back to my room and I take her aside and tell her that I am supposed to report this to the XO but I did not want everyone to make a big deal out of it. I said I knew that the mail rep had it even though I could not prove it. I said that I would take the hit if it was lost but for her to keep trying. Later, she came back and said she had tracked him down and he did indeed have the mail. I commented to her that it is a lesson learned and she assured me that she would never leave mail unattended again.

After that bit of excitement, I had nothing to do so I ate a couple of burritos and took a nap. Everyone was trying to get out of here and I was tired with no place to go.

When I woke up a little later, I decided to go over to Mac’s. He was not feeling too well but we decided to go to a movie. We saw Copland and it sucked. It had Sly Stallone, Robert DeNiro, and Harvey Keitel. Mac and I made jokes about it and we went back to his house to watch TV. After awhile I went home and went to sleep. This was shaping up to be a rather boring weekend.

Free Advice for Today:
Always compliment flower gardens and new babies.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Thursday, August 28, 1997

Quote of the Day:
Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened." 
- Unknown

I did not sleep well last night because today is the first land nav test. We got a couple of classes yesterday and one first thing this morning. But I did not feel confident about it because of my troubles yesterday.

We had five boxes to find in 2 1/2 hours. I had everything ready and after getting my card with the coordinates on it, I sat down and plotted them and calculated distances and azimuths for the first three.

I had a dilemma because they told us not to plot azimuths from box to box. They told us to find a prominent terrain feature that you could plot an azimuth from but this meant that once you found a box, you had to plot and find a starting point (attack point), and then shoot an azimuth to your next box. This doubled the number of azimuths you had to calculate and shoot which doubled your chance for error. But I followed the rules and come up with these “attack points.”

I felt lucky because my first box was less than 100 meters from a road junction, an easy identifiable attack point. I ran for 10 minutes getting to the junction and found it. I shot the azimuth and found the box right away. I was a little off but it was a good start. My attack point for the next box was a hilltop. I saw the hill and went to the top but in the heavy woods, the actual hilltop was hard to pin down and it was a large area so it was hard to decide where to shoot the next azimuth. Any error meant trouble because it would cascade down to all the other points.

I made my decision and started walking. I knew I would go down the hill and down several fingers. I made my way and hit a large creek. I did not know exactly where I was at but knew my box was somewhere along the creek. I went in the direction I thought it was and saw a group of others gathered around the box. I was glad to find the box but it troubled me that I was several meters off and I was not sure about the terrain. I got the number of the box and reached for my baggie to start my next leg. It was gone!

Panic. I had dropped my baggie. As a small condolence of immense luck, I had decided in the morning not to put my wallet in the baggie. I was getting ready and thought it was unnecessary to bring my entire wallet. I put my ID in the baggie and then thought twice about it. I decided to put the ID in my front blouse pocket. God was responsible for this because I had carried my entire wallet in the baggie yesterday and had no reason to change today. Another strange decision I made in the morning was to only take two of the five pens I had with me in the baggie. What’s more, I had stuck the black one in my pocket, leaving only the red one in the baggie. I had the map out and separate also, another deviation from the day before. The final miracle was that I had my plotting card in my pocket with my black pen, yet another change from the day before. If I lose the card, I fail automatically. I thank God for his intervention but not all was well.

The bag contained a red pen, some alcohol pads, and the most important item, my protractor that helps me plot and measure my azimuths. I felt a rush of panic fill me. I wanted to do so well and was scared I would not be able to do this. This shook me for a moment and I inventoried my loss. I did not know what to do. I could either go on or go back to look for it. I considered both options and decided to give it a shot.

The problem was that I had not taken a direct route and knew I was off. I plotted a direct reverse course and headed off but knew I had not gone that way so my chances of finding the bag was minimal. I found the first box but the bag was no where in sight. I hoped I had left it there. I once again set the compass for the second box and went right there. It was good practice but I was still spasming. I got to the box and tried to recoup. I borrowed a protractor to shoot my next attack point which took me up a steep hill. I went to where I thought the box was and could not find it. I knew I had wasted a lot of time this far and was starting to stress. I stumbled around for a long time and thought I would never find it. I realized that I was miserably lost.

I did not know what to do and found a road. I followed it one way but it did not seem to lead anywhere so I turned around and ran the other way. I found the main road and went to talk to the Warrant Officer. I asked him if he had a protractor and he luckily found one. I was dripping with sweat and was thoroughly pissed. I had to plot another point from here to my third point. I did and hurried off in a direction I thought was right.

I was off and my pace count ran out with no box in sight. I stumbled around wildly and suddenly, I found it but it was only the grace of God because I did nothing right and was not using the terrain. I recorded the point and felt better that I had three points but knew time was running out.

My next attack point was a landing zone (LZ). I found out later that we were not supposed to use LZs because they were so big. I did not hear that little piece of advice and went to look for it. I looked and looked, not finding a thing. I went all the way back to the main road and tried it from there. From the road, the LZ was in a direct line from where I was to my fourth point. Not only that, but I was going to backtrack once I found the fourth point and use the LZ as an attack point for my last box. That was the idea.

The azimuth was hard because it almost followed a road. So you had a tendency to follow the road and not the azimuth, not knowing when to deviate. I thought I could follow the road to my pace count and then search around for the big LZ. I tried it once and could not find it. I found a box and in my panic, thought about shooting my azimuth from there because these boxes had grid coordinates written on them. But the paint had worn off and I could not read the coordinates. I asked another Marine what the coordinates were but he ignored me. When I persisted he said we were not supposed to talk to each other. I knew that but was desperate and just wanted to know what the coordinates were. I thanked him for his fucking help and went back to the road. I tried again and once again, I could not find it, looking on the other side of the path.

I found a little clearing but thought it was too small to be an LZ. I looked everywhere and could not find another. Souliere came by and I asked his opinion about it. He said it was too small to be an LZ so I went looking again with no luck. I came back and decided that I had no other choice but to try. I sat down and hurriedly tried to plot the azimuth. I was soaking wet, spitting mad, and stressed out. The bill of my cover was dripping a steady stream of sweat on my map and when I tried to write, the pen would not work. It was because of my sweat on the map but I did not have a dry spot anywhere. Because of my mood, I falsely ascertained that the pen gave out; a nice little addition to my day’s troubles. I did the best I could, knowing I was probably way off.

I started going using my azimuth and pace count, not even considering the terrain features. I had one more shot at a box and I would be happy with four out of five boxes.

My pace count gave out and there was, of course, no box in sight. I thrashed around the woods and knew I only had 20 minutes left. I searched for ten minutes and then gave up. I fleetingly considered looking for the last box but my map told me that I did not have time even if I went right to it; a behavior I had proven impossible for me this day. I knew I had to get back and my attitude was simply....”Fuck it!”

I went back and while waiting in line I noticed a few things. First, I was the most drenched Marine around. I was dripping with sweat. Second, most of them had gotten all five points. Third, I measured my azimuth again for the fourth point and discovered I had looked on the wrong scale. So, in essence, I was at the wrong point following a completely wrong azimuth. There was no box remotely near where I was looking. That was another little bonus for my attitude. The WO said I got the ones right that I got, but I failed the course. With that, I went back to the barracks.

On the way to my room, I ran into both the XO and my SPC. Of course, they both asked me how I did and I used phrases like “comedy of errors” to let them know. I just wanted to get to my room. I stripped down and sat on my rack. Both Sloan and Souliere had gotten all of the points and I realized I should have shot from box to box. I think I could have gotten all of the points but since I followed the rules, I failed. I found out later that the course was an intro and does not count for score. But I will have to attend remedial on Saturdays which, if it helps, I do not mind.

I layed in my rack and tried to get a little sleep but was so upset, all I could do was sit and stew. Finally, I went to chow and got ready for the afternoon.

After lunch, we had classes,. The first was the second fitness report class and then a History and Traditions class. The second one was taught buy a colonel who was dressed in a confederate uniform and had a musket. He spent too much time on the old history and got too deep into details. The result was that he was rushed in the end, giving only about two sentences on the Vietnam war. His film clip of a movie about a Marine attack was interesting.

After all of that, we had a class on naval correspondence and that was entertaining.

I was named company mail rep and made an announcement about how it was to run. Later, the XO said that I had obviously had this job before and my announcement was right on. I did not inform him that I had never done it before but had received instructions earlier in the day from the training office.

Tonight we were also required to try on our uniforms. It was the first fitting and reps from both the Marine Shop and the Exchange were here. If you had your uniforms already, you had to have them seen by your SPC. I put on my blue/whites and had Capt Whitside look at them. Since I lost weight, I had to get the belt and the neck altered. I had to wait in the line for over an hour just to get them marked for tailoring. It was a big monkey show.

By the end of the day, I felt better about the day but was still depressed. I was looking forward to the three day weekend. I had called Dad on Wednesday and told him I wanted to come but my mood changed by the end of the conversation. Suddenly, I had no desire to drive all of that way. He wanted to drink beer and throw darts. Also, I did not want to drive all that way and then waste the entire weekend. I would have to waste Labor Day driving back and would have a million things to do.

I called Mark that night because I was supposed to get directions from him. I told him I had duty and would not be able to attend. He said that it was probably for the best because Aunt Shirley and Uncle Kenny were coming it from a long vacation on Saturday and the entire weekend would have to be shifted around to accommodate me. I was glad with my decision.

Tonight, I ran into the section leader of Capt X. I took him aside and I asked him how he was holding up. To my surprise, he did not feel they were being unfairly harassed. He said it was better than OCS, where most of them had just escaped. It sounded to me like they had been brainwashed and I probably looked like a spy to him. I was just curious and he said he helps a lot with a lot of extra instruction. I am still glad I have Capt Whiteside.

Free Advice for Today:
Become your children's best teacher and coach.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Wednesday, August 27, 1997

Quote of the Day:
You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person." 
- Unknown

I felt better this morning and ready to face the day. We had an early class on terrain analysis and then moved out to the training area. It was a cool morning and it was good to be outside after all the classes we have been having.

The difference between enlisted training and officer training is incredible. When I was enlisted, we formed up and had close supervision while we were lead to every place we were going. After the class, we were just told to go to a set of grid coordinates. My section leader did not even make an attempt to organize us which does not surprise me. He couldn’t lead his way out of a wet paper bag. So we all just gaggled out to the site at our own pace. It was so strange not to be closely supervised. I could not shake the feeling. It felt good after years of micro-management to finally be treated like an adult. Ironically, most of these guys could use that kind of treatment.

We went to the training area which had an outdoor classroom (an open area with bleachers). We had a short class and then were released to our SPCs. We gathered and he went over what we had learned but in accordance with his style, Capt. Whiteside did not go too in-depth. He is a real hands-off leader which is good in some situations but bad in others. I still feel lucky to have him as an SPC especially considering the alternative.

After the meeting, he gave us some grid coordinates and we were to find them. I found the first one with no problem but still remembered how much trouble I had had in bootcamp and OCS with land nav. The vegetation was so thick that it was hard to keep an azimuth. I was off a little but found the box.

They give you a coordinate and you have to plot it on your map. Then you make a line from where you are at and where you are going. You measure the distance and the azimuth (direction). You then use your compass to walk in the direction you found and use your pace count. A pace count is how many paces you take in 100 meters. So if you know you have to go 300 meters and your pace count is 66, then you know you have to take 66 x 3 = 198 paces. Ideally, if you did it right, you run into a red pole with a box on top with a letter on it. You write the letter down and that is how they know you did it right. It may sound easy but you would be surprised how hard it is to find a red box in thick vegetation. If you deviated at all, you could be very far from the box and even if you are not, you could walk right past the box and never see it.

You are supposed to use two techniques. One is dead reckoning, which is what I described above: using pace count and azimuth. But you are also supposed to use terrain features. The map shows the lay of the land and you are supposed to identify and follow prominent terrain features on the way so you know you are going in the right direction. For me, this is difficult.

I could not find the second point and was very frustrated. I finally found my group and I was not the only one but that did not make it less frustrating. After this, we were told to go over to the classroom for another class.

This was the class I should have had first because I did not know my pace count. We figured out our pace count by walking a known route, counting our paces. It was a 250-meter course over smooth terrain. We then did it over rough terrain. My pace count is approximately 66/100 meters. After the pace count, we calibrated our compasses by shooting azimuths from known spots to known targets. My compass was right on but the bezel ring around the face, which is supposed to click when you turn it, and a little loose. It is used for navigating in the dark.

After another class, we were secured for a couple of hours until after chow. Still frustrated, I went back to the barracks and changed over. I went to the exchange to get some supplies but they were overpriced and they did not have the pens I wanted. I picked up my laundry and went back to the room.

We were supposed to have two classes after chow but the first one was late and the speaker to the second one did not show. Finally, Major Conboy showed up to teach about fitness reports. He is the adjutant. He went over the fitreps well but it was a boring class,. I am glad I have had former experience in it but was surprised how much I DID NOT know. After his class, we were secured since the financial management speaker did not show. We all left thinking we were really getting over because it was only early afternoon. We were glad for the extra study time considering the late nights we had been having.

I changed over and went straight to the bank to get money out. I left at 1745 and it closed at 1830. It was the first chance I had to get there and made it in plenty of time. I took out $50 and picked up a direct deposit form for Sloan. I tried to get my pin number but they would not get it for me. I had called earlier and they said they would send it in the mail.

With money in my pocket, I went to buy some waterproof pens for my map and a whistle. We are supposed to carry a whistle so if we get hurt in the woods, we can signal for help. I also bought some baggies for waterproofing. Finally, I went home and got stuff ready for the next day when we would have our first land nav test.

Free Advice for Today:
Remember that a good example is the best sermon.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Tuesday, August 26, 1997

Quote of the Day:
Ever notice that the people who are late are often much jollier than the people who have to wait for them?" 
- Unknown

Test day! I was tired today because I stressed yesterday and it was the day for the GCT test. It is a 1940s Army test that basically tests you like an SAT. It was easy but there were more problems than you could get done in the time allotted. That was frustrating but when they tell you that it does not count for your TBS score, interest and pressure are less. I think that I did well on the math but the shape rotation part was pretty difficult.

It took three hours and I ate lunch afterwards. After chow, we had classes for the rest of the day. The first one was land navigation, a weak subject for me. I paid attention but I was still a little confused. The class was fast and furious but I tried to stay awake. I knew that I had to do well on it because it was such an important part of TBS.

After that class, we had a leadership discussion group with our SPC. We met at the chowhall and Capt Whiteside had us form a circle and it was very casual. Like all group discussions, it started out slow but picked up steam as it went. It the course of the discussion, I described what a leader was by using Shane as an example. We were talking about what makes a good leader and I said there was a sergeant in Saudi that, if we started taking fire, we would all follow. I pointed out that even though there were higher ranking Marines around, we would have followed Shane. I pointed out that leadership knows no rank and it is the officer’s responsibility to be that person people will follow no matter what is on their collar.

Later, the discussion talked about taking a fall because something happens in your command even if it had nothing to do with you. The example is if a CO is at home eating dinner, and one of his troops was left behind on a hump, then he is responsible and will lose his command. Many thought that was not fair but I pointed out that it comes with the metal on the collars. It is a harsh reality but it is a type of taking care of your people. If you just step aside and let the higher-ups have their way with your people, you are not a good leader. You have to go to bat for them and there are a few occasions where it will cost a career. More often than not, they will recognize what happened and will burn you if you try to pass the buck. You must have the moral courage to say, “The buck stops here with me.”

After the discussion, we went back to the class room and had a second class on land navigation. It was just as boring as the first but I got through it. After that, everyone wanted to go home.

Because I live in the barracks, I do not stress about being secured because I am at home. I feel for those with families because they are like me when I am with my family. But a problem arose when some lieutenants had not done the class evaluation sheets and had let a lot of them slide. So the captains decided to keep everyone in the barracks until it was done. It was past 8:30 by the time they secured and many were pissed. But like I said, I was busy in my room and was not going anywhere anyway. I was not in a leadership position so I did not stress about getting my troops out. I have been trying to be an indian instead of a chief, only offering suggestions which do not seem to be heeded. I want a billet soon.

We got a new roommate. He is a big, dopey looking Naval Academy grad who does not seem to care much about anything. I do not really like his attitude and am glad to have the room alone at night. I laid down some rules right away and will stick to it.

Today was the stressful again because I feel like I am not keeping up with the studying. Again, it is self-inflicted and I need to control it. I called Carrie because I got a free 10 minute call from MCI. I just wanted to hear her voice and it cheered me up before bed.

Free Advice for Today:
Don't waste time responding to your critics.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Monday, August 25, 1997

Quote of the Day:
When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane." 
- Unknown

We had to be out at the pull-up bars at 0510. This was ridiculous because we did not have to start until 0545 and we stood around until then. There was one funny thing that happened while we waited.

It was dark and we were in a field where there were no lights. So a lieutenant decided to drive his car down and turn on the lights of his car so that we could see the pull-up bars. He parked it behind a water bull (a trailer tank that holds water) on a slight incline so that the lights shone around but not right at us. We were all standing there and all of the sudden we heard rolling tires and then a big CRUNCH. He had set the emergency break but it slipped and the car rolled head first into the water bull, which did not budge. We all stood there in shock and we saw that the whole front, lights included, was smashed. Suddenly he yells, “Oh, shit!” and runs over there. It was all I could do not to laugh because it was so unfortunate for him but he had managed to hit the only thing in the field.

We started the pull-ups and I cranked out 17. I was a little miffed because of all the work I had put into pull ups but it was one more than I had ever done. I did 80 sit-ups within ease and then it was time for the run.

I wanted to get under 20. I felt good and was confident but had that ever-present underlying fear that I would not have the guts to push myself when it counted. We took off and it was like a herd of gazelles. Most of these guys had just got through ten weeks of OCS and were still in pretty good shape. I stayed with the pack but felt the strain. As we fell into our respective places, I started to wonder if I had started too quickly because some others were passing me. But then I found my groove and was surprised to see that I was reeling people in and passing them. I made sure to take deep breaths and tried to concentrate on a good stride. I did not feel like I was going really fast but I reached the halfway point in exactly nine minutes.

Now this surprised me because I did not think I was doing that pace. Two things ran through my head. First, I thought that I had burned myself out but I had 11 minutes to make the round trip. Then the thought occurred to me that I usually run faster on the way back and that would mean sub-18 on the run. That thought was fleeting because it was an impossibility.

I could see the finish line in the distance and I looked down to see that my watch read 16 minutes. I still could not believe I could get near 18 minutes and I thought that it was a lot further than what I thought I saw. This happens sometimes because you misjudge the distance because you cannot see in the valleys of the hills and so it looks shorter than it is. I hit a downhill and started speeding up. The thought came to me as plain as day: “This could be the day.” It was ridiculous... impossible... unthinkable. Then I crested the final hill and realized I only had 1/4 mile left and I had a shot. Suddenly, like the road-runner right before the coyote’s hands close on his neck, I burst forward on pure adrenaline. I must have passed four people and I heard the timer call out “17:40.” I put on the final afterburner and dashed across the line just as she said “17:50.” I had done the ridiculous. I had done the impossible. I had done the unthinkable. I had done it!

In October of 1987, Recruit Jason D. Grose threw his 18-year-old body across the PFT finish line with a personal best of 18 minutes flat. It was the final PFT of bootcamp and he thought he was going to explode a lung. Almost ten years later, after years of mediocre runs never coming close to that time, my 28-year-old body crushed that record by ten seconds.

I was so excited that I ran back to help others sprint in. It was an act not to look good but for two reasons. One, I was so excited I could not sit still. Two, after years of crappy runs, I would finally be able to help someone come in a little bit faster just as people like Mac had once come back to help me.

After the run, I made it a point to ask everyone what they had got in the hopes they would ask me. I felt good for the rest of the day. Sloan came in a few seconds faster and he too was excited because, like me, he did not run that fast normally. He attributed it to the long run we had done on Friday.

The first class we had was the welcome from our CO, Maj Gumpert, and then one from the TBS CO, Col Robert E. Lee. He made it a point to tell us that he was from the Bronx and had no relation to the Civil War “loser” as he put it. That got a big laugh. He was a very dynamic speaker and had good things to say. He told us we need to have fun here or it is not worth it.

After chow, we had a class on the interior guard and one on the evaluation system here. Both were pretty boring classes but afterwards, the drill class was canceled and we had the rest of the day off.

I tried to catch up with all of the minutia that gets put to the side and ended up staying up late. I was happy about the PFT but how fleeting that happiness is. I was starting to worry about all of the things I had to get done and all the things I wanted to get done. I was starting to be my own worst enemy.

The money problem came up. I had no cash and I forgot my NFCU pin number so I could not use the cash machine. I had no checks and my Visa was maxed. I had to get some cash and was stressing about it when Sloan offered to loan me $50. I assured him that I would get to the bank and get him his money back but he did not seemed that worried about it. It was good to have cash that I needed and I am eternally thankful for his help.

Free Advice for Today:
Pray not for things, but for wisdom and courage.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Sunday, August 24, 1997

Quote of the Day:
Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance. 
- Unknown

Sunday had the potential to be a boring day. That is until Mac gave me a call to help him out. He had to get a bed from a shopping mall and wondered if I would take him out there because I had a truck. I was glad for the company and I ended up taking him, Kim, Frank, and Hoya, their roommate. We went to Potomac Mills, a very large shopping complex about 20 minutes away.

We went to Ikea and we all looked around. The parking lot was full and we had to get a parking spot a far way away. Frank and I hung around each other and made fun of everything in sight. It was just what I needed. We got the bed and something that Hoya bought and put it in the truck. Afterwards, we walked around the huge mall and once again, Frank and I made fun of everything in sight. We separated from Mac and Kim, meeting up with them at “the balls” at Ikea. We made it a running joke that we would all meet at the balls. “When we see balls, we should all be together.”

After we met, we had to go to a mattress warehouse to get Mac a mattress. This place was another store ripe for our silly jokes. Frank was relentless and we all had a good time.

After we came back and unloaded the stuff, I bid Mac farewell to get some things done. I wanted to wash the truck and get ready for the week. I had the PFT the next morning.

I tried to wash the truck using the hose at the barracks but after almost ruining a borrowed leatherman and barely getting the hose started, I tried vainly to wash it. I got the hood done in 20 minutes and decided to go and take it to a car wash. So I went to a coin-op and washed and vacuumed it the right way. Now it is spic and span and the work took my mind off the stress of the upcoming PFT.

I spent the rest of the evening getting my stuff ready and trying to relax before the PFT. Tomorrow would be a big day.

Free Advice for Today:
Take someone bowling.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Saturday, August 23, 1997

Quote of the Day:
Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you don't have a leg to stand on.. 
- Unknown

When I woke up, I was still tired. Partly because I had nothing to do. I had to think of a way to get my car. All of the guys were at the wedding and I wanted to get some errands done. I called Joe and ask if he wanted to go out to lunch and come to Q-town with me. He had to work out but stopped by and picked me up afterward.

We went to his house and ended up talking about this and that for a couple of hours. It is strange because I do not think Stephanie dislikes me because she always treats me nicely but she spent the entire time upstairs. Come to think of it, she is always up there when we would come over with the OCS gang.

Pretty soon, we went to Q-town and I had a lot to do. I picked up my re-soled boots and paid out $45. I met the actual Boulinese, a famous merchant that deals solely with Marine uniforms. He was a crusty old fellow with ugly, old, pointed bowling shoes, high-water polyester pants, a sweat suit top with a white towel around his neck. He was strange.

After that, I got my $17 laminated commander’s book and turned in my all-weather coat to have a new collar put on it. It will cost $30 but much better than a new one. We went over to the Marine Shop and Joe picked up some trousers and I bought a new cover. After all of that, we went to eat at a pub where I ordered a club sandwich. I was famished and there were a couple of Joe’s buddies from his old company. I was not too impressed with them but they were OK, I guess. Joe and I went home and I thanked him for his help. I enjoyed spending time with him and he has helped me a lot.

On the way back home I discovered I had left my new $17 laminated notebook at the Marine Shop so I had to go all the way back to Q-town. Luckily, I found it and went home.

I stopped by the movie theater and decided to see the movie I was going to see last night. I had a couple of hours so I went back to the barracks and cleaned it up a little. When I came back, I saw Shep at the coffee shop and asked if he wanted to see Event Horizon with me. He asked when it started and I told him in four minutes. So we rushed over and saw it. The movie sucked but it was a distraction.

After the movie, we went back over to the coffee shop and talked until after midnight. One of Shep’s friends, a female lieutenant who had a rather butch look to her, chatted with us. She told us about one of the SPC’s in our company who was a complete terror. He was her SPC in A Co before she got hurt and recycled. She said he made people PT even when they couldn’t. He almost killed a lieutenant who was not supposed to PT for 48 hours because he was taking a medicine that sped up his heart rate. They rushed him to medical when he collapsed during a PT session forced him to participate in.

He also made her participate in land nav after she had received a head injury. She failed, because of her medical state, and he yelled at her for it. He constantly berates his lieutenants and PT’s them more than any other SPC, far above what the company does. Medical hates him because he sends them so much business and he was fired from OCS for being “a danger to the candidates.” His platoon is always demoralized, depressed, unmotivated, and hurt. They end up turning on each other and it is a mess.

After we listened to all of this, Shep and I thanked God Himself that we dodged that bullet. TBS would have been a walking nightmare for 6 months if we had gotten him as an SPC. I just feel sorry for the lieutenants that did get him. It is now our running joke and we are happy on a day to day basis that we are not in his section.

After we left the coffee shop, I went back to the barracks and then stupidly stayed up until after 0400 tapping away on the computer, talking on the chat lines. Oh well, I have nothing to do in the morning.

Free Advice for Today:
Don't buy cheap tools. Craftsman and Sears are among the best.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Friday, August 22, 1997

Quote of the Day:
If you lend someone $20, and never see that person again, it was probably worth it. 
- Unknown

Today was an easy day. All that I really had to do was do my medical in-processing. I spent about 2 1/2 hours at medical going through the normal cattle call, receiving a PPD, Yellow Fever shot, and some other shot. I also had blood drawn for a DNA test. I had not eaten anything but despite my light head, I was in a good mood all day. Our section had a lot of time to talk and I met some great guys like Bakion and I got to know Aku a little better. The time went fast and after it was over, we were free until muster.

We got secured early, about 1400 except for those who had not had their interview. I already had so I was free. I talked with my new roommate and we decided to go for a run.

Sloan had only ran one other time since he had been there. He runs about the same pace that I do so I suggested we go on my six mile course consisting of nine minutes runs and one minute sprints. We ran it fast and we were both hurting hard. We had done pull ups beforehand and after did sit-up drills. I commented that neither one of us would have done 3/4 the effort alone. All we could do when we got inside was sit and sweat. I fell asleep and Sloan got the energy to gather his stuff and go home. I awoke to an empty room.

I took a shower and got dressed thinking I could find someone to do something with. It looked hopeless and then I found Mac. He invited me to go with him and Brady for dinner. We went to a steak house and it was wonderful. I felt like kind of a fifth wheel and I think Mac was doing a favor for me but I did not care because I did not want to be alone. Kim picked up the tab and we decided to go to a movie. I wanted to call Carrie so I dropped them off at Mac’s house and went back to the barracks. I wanted them to have some time alone, too, and the movie did not start for an hour.

I called Carrie and it was wonderful. I love talking to her and it was the reason I was in such a good mood all day. I talked to the kids and Alex told me that the new house was “beautiful.”

When I went back to pick them up, everyone was there. There was Frank, Faught, the other roommate, and a friend from out of town. Banning, a buddy from OCS, was also there and was getting married in the morning. They were all drinking and Mac asked if we could skip the movie. I said that it was fine and commenced to drink a beer. We all sat around while the two clowns, Jurovich and Faught, entertained all of us with their crazy antics.

After awhile, we all piled into Mac’s Bronco and Kim drove us to the Hawk. It is an outdoor classroom converted to a bar right by the barracks. We were the only ones there and had a few beers. After it closed, Mac told me to grab my sleeping bag and I could come over and spend the night. Not wanting to neither sleep in a strange place in a sleeping bag nor wanting to drive, I decided I would walk to my room and somehow pick up my truck from Mac’s house in the morning. I went back to the barracks and played on the computer for awhile before getting to bed.

Free Advice for Today:
Choose your life's mate carefully. From this one decision will come ninety percent of all your happiness or misery.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Thursday, August 21, 1997

Quote of the Day:
Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be recalled by their maker. 
- Unknown

0450. This was the un-Godly time we had to be on deck. We had a urinalysis and it was run with the same ineptitude as everything else up to this point. We sat around forever and I ended up at the end of the line. I was so tired that my body hurt. To top it all off, I could not pee when I woke up because I had to save it for the test. I read Warfighting and got it done just in time. After I relieved myself, we had weigh-in. I felt light and that was good. I had cammies and boots on so they measured me at 6 foot and 185 lbs. They will probably take off 1 inch and, according to Mac, 10 pounds. That would put me at the magic 175 mark but I doubt if that is accurate. I would guess nearer to 178 but I am getting there. By the time I got done, we were secured for about 40 minutes.

I went to my room but it was no use trying to go to sleep. I layed down for a few minutes and then went to where I was supposed to. When I got there, we were put on another break for about 30 minutes and told to meet at Lt Chiow’s room ready to go to the swim qual.

When I got there, no one was there. Luckily, Mac was nearby and he showed me how to attach the shoulder straps to my pack without the frame. After I got that done, a couple of more of my section members had shown up and we decided to go to the tank. We went there and Chiow was no where to be found. It is lucky we left when we did because we almost missed the safety brief which would have meant that we would not get to qual today.

The swim qual was extremely easy. There are four categories but because of the number of lieutenants, we could only do #4 and #3. We go back a week from tomorrow to finish up. The tests were a variety of treading water and swim techniques. We also got to jump off the tower and that was fun. It was fun overall except for those that can not swim. A black guy next to me could not even do the two minutes of treading water. I really felt for him because he was nervous from the beginning. By the end, I was not even tired.

I had to walk back to the barracks soaking wet. I was the only Lt who had taken off my cover to my helmet on Mac’s instructions. Oh well. The walk back was uncomfortable because my boot were squooshy and I had no socks. I was real careful as not to hurt my ankle.

I had no instructions on what to do but the schedule said to eat chow so I did. It was about 1100 and the chow hall was full. I ate alone and then came back to the barracks. I ran into a very tall black lieutenant named Akoasare. He said he was my new squad leader and that there was a meeting in two hours. I was glad because I was very tired and also, my first impression was that this guy had a lot on the ball.

I went back to my room and slept for an hour and a half. It felt so good but I had to get up because we were to meet our SPC. I put on my inspection cammies and brushed my teeth. We met in a meeting room and I met some of the other lieutenants I would be spending the next six months with.

Most of them were just out of the 10-week OCC course. I did not know any of them. I was quiet and reserved until the section leader, the one and only Lt Chiow, showed up. He went over some etiquette points and then went to get the captain. His name is Captain Whiteside and he was prior enlisted. He has two small children and seemed very personable.

When he came in, someone called attention on deck and he said “Carry on.” Immediately, the OCC’s echoed back, “Carry on, aye, aye, sir!” Instantly he pointed out that that was no longer necessary because we were not candidates. He is big on etiquette. He then gave the “You are now Marine officers...” speech and told us he would treat us as such. He also said he would give his all to his job and in return, we would contribute the same. He then had each of us stand up and tell a little about ourselves. I was the last one to do it and realized I was the only MECEP in the group. I got some funny looks when I said I had gone to bootcamp in 1987.

After that, he talked some more to us and then left. We all had to wait around until Chiow got the list of who would be interviewed today. He came back and I was on the list, which is good because the rest go tomorrow. So we were secured unless you had to interview.

When it was my turn, I reported in and the interview went well. He ask me the normal question such as what I want to do, etc. He came across as very personable and I could tell he appreciated having a former enlisted man in his section. We discussed data processing and communications. I told him about my plans, etc. and I think I came across as competent, smart, and professional. He mentioned I knew how to be a Marine and here at the Basic School, all I had to do is do it. He said the weather is going to suck but that’s life. He got a bit long-winded but that was OK because it was more of a chance to get to know about this place and what he was all about.

The last thing he discussed was that he wanted me to consider being the assistant ordnance officer. Lingi had warned me about this and he said I did not want it. But it sounded like the “suggestion” was pretty final. He said it was a demanding position with the opportunity to be very rewarding or very damaging. He said that the primary, a Lt Sloan, was a former enlisted armor. The job means I would have to be the first one to the armory and the last one to leave after every evolution that involved weapons. I have to track the weapons, ammo, and night-vision goggles. Basically, a big pain in the ass. I do not have much of a choice and I have been lucky up to this point so I decided to take it on as a challenge and do a good job to further my professional standing among the company. Another thing Captain Whiteside said is that the last MECEP he had was considered among the platoon as an assistant SPC. He said that if I give of myself, I can also be regarded like that. He said formers either use their knowledge to try to get ahead or share it to help everybody. Obviously, the latter is the preferred attitude.

After I was done , I went to talk to Shepard who had duty. I ended up talking with the gunny and he told me that he had put someone in my room. He said that everyone else had 4 people in a room and that I had and will only have one other. I asked for the name and he said.. Lt. Sloan. I asked why he had put him in there, thinking I had been had because he was the ordnance officer. He says it was just a coincidence and then told me all about the job. He did not sugarcoat it and it does not sound all that fun. But it seems to be my destiny.

I was putting off PT but finally got out there. I ran into two of the international officers, one from Mexico and the other from Thailand. It was the first time they had PT’d since they got here and did not know exactly what to do. So I explained to them to PFT in detail and we ran the three miles. They did not seem to understand that 3 miles in 18 minutes is not easy. I ran them and they were dying at the end. One ran 23 minutes and the other, the 38-year-old Thai Marine, ran 24 minutes. I then took them over to the pull-up bars and I showed them how to do it. They attempted but did not do so well. Next we moved to the sit-ups and again, their performance was poor. I felt good showing them but it was not much of a workout for me. To them, I must have looked like a God but I felt like it was a mild workout.

Mac was waiting for me when I was done because he needed a ride home. I got showered and told him about my day. He had got strapped with the PT officer billet which meant that he had to take his PFT tomorrow because he had to administer it on Monday. I wanted to know where he lived and was itching to get out of the barracks. I drove him home and hung out there for awhile. Some of Fouch’s friends were in town and they were playing video games. After that, I left and went to the coffee shop. No one was there so I came home. I invited Fouch over at 2100 so he could finish his bio. I will piddle around here tonight and get some good sleep.

Free Advice for Today:
Allow your children to face the consequences of their actions.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Wednesday, August 20, 1997

Quote of the Day:
Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it. 
- Unknown

Today, the third day of TBS, started early with muster at 0630. The weather had a little welcome aboard present for us today with showers. We were all crowded under the awning waiting for muster and I was tired.

I thought it was the coffee that kept me awake but I discovered that it was just me. I was tired, I had PT’d, and I had no coffee, yet I still had problems getting to sleep. I tossed and turned and finally fell asleep only to wake up tired. On top of all of this, it was wet. No one said this was going to be easy.

After muster in the rain, we had to go to the theater. Everyone was wet and miserable and we had to listen to some boring briefs. The first one was from The Marine Corps Association which publishes The Gazette and Leatherneck magazines. The representative went over all the things that the association does and then tried to get us to subscribe. He also gave us some information on supplemental insurance for Champus and Tricare.

The next brief was from Navy Mutual Aid which was the important one because they offer the $5000 loan at 1.5% interest. All you have to do is sign up for their life insurance for the time you are repaying the loan. Here are the numbers:

Loan: $5000
Insurance: $4.00/month
Coverage: Me: $100,000
Carrie: $25,000
Each kid: $2,500
Payback (by allotment):
Loan: $170.13
Coverage:
me: $4.00
Family: $1.00

Total per month: $175.13

With this loan, I plan to pay back to credit card companies and end up with only a 1.5% rate. I also plan to take out a $5000 loan from NFCU at only 5% interest and then turn around and pay them back the $5000 I just borrowed at 12.5%.

The next brief we had was the Marine Corps University Foundation brief. This one did not have much to offer other than the former Commandant, General Mundy, was the chair.

After these stunningly boring lectures, we got a break and then went to classroom one to listen to more briefs, getting wet in the process. This time, it was about things we would have no choice in putting money up for. The first one was the augmented dining fund. Basically, we pay an extra 60 cents per meal so we can have better food and more of it.

Next we had the BOQ, or barracks, brief. A captain, who had obviously made a wrong move in his career to be strapped with this job, told us how good we had it in the new Graves barracks. He told us what we could and what we could not do. He mentioned that microwaves were allowed but would have to be inspected. I do not know if mine will pass because of the frayed cord.

Next came the Officers’ Club. We have to pay $23 a month for a club we will probably never visit. It sucks but if you do not join, you have to talk to the CO about it. One of those “highly encouraged” type of things. They made a point to say we get free admission to the pool, which will be closed soon. Pool rights for a winter company. Oh boy.

Finally, we had the PMO brief. We were told about the speed Nazi’s that will pull you over for doing 26 in a 25 zone. We also had to show our proof of insurance and registration so we could get the required temporary pass for our vehicles. It did not matter that you already had a valid DoD sticker. That took forever and at the same time we had to get our pictures taken for the company board. After all that was done, we got to go to chow. I only had about 45 minutes but made it back OK.

After chow, we got a swim brief for tomorrow’s swim qual. We were told how to waterproof the bags. It sounds like a real pain in the ass. After that, we had our first official class on uniforms. Most of the material I already knew and it was easy. The young-looking major who gave it was wearing his dress blues. He practically gave us the test questions at the end.

After that, we got the briefs from all the uniform venders and then had to go look at their static displays. I took a short look and then secured. By the time we were let go, it was almost 1900. I still had a lot to do.

I went to the store to buy trashbags and tape for the waterproofing. I ended up spending $30 because I found a $10 coffee maker and after freezing my butt off in the rain, I realized coffee was a necessity. I also got coffee, filters, and sugar. When I got back to the room, I spent over an hour rolling up the required items, putting them in bags, and putting duct tape over everything. It was probably overkill but I did not want the inside to get wet.

I wanted to get some sleep because of the swim qual but discovered I had to put together my web belt, load-bearing vest, canteens, etc. After I was all set, I went to bed at about 2230. Tomorrow will be a big day.

Free Advice for Today:
Do the right thing, regardless of what others think.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Tuesday, August 19, 1997

Quote of the Day:
Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them. 
- Unknown

Ouch. This morning came early and I was dead tired. I revived in the shower and got ready for the inspection. I had muster at 0645. Inspection went fine but Lt Fowler totally screwed up form for inspection. Like an idiot, Lt Gaughan corrected him publicly. I took Fowler aside and told him how to do it correctly but he did not seem to listen too closely. Oh well, I tried.

I got hit for non-existent wrinkles on the front of my blouse. I searched and searched and did not find them. The captain also claimed that my bars were 1/8 inch too high. But I looked better that 99% of all the others and I knew it.

After inspection, we went to the classrooms and received the first of many briefs that were anything but! We did all of our admin processing, most of which I already had done. The classrooms are these huge, tiered rooms with long tables connected side to side. They hold almost 300 people.

After that, had chow with Mac and Shep. We had to be back there shortly thereafter to receive the medical and dental inprocessing. It was just record book stuff and a brief about staying healthy while training. The Senior Chief, a serious wannabee Marine, was a longwinded, self-important blowhard. Every example he gave was when he was in the Gulf or stationed in Pendleton with 1st Marine Division. He claimed to be able to out-hump half of them and the other half would have to be medevaced out. All this and he had a huge gut sticking out in front of him. He was an irritating bullshitter.

After that, they had a civilian give us a dental brief but he was smart and let those of us who already had records, leave for a half hour. This was good because we were listening to boring briefs all day. When we got back, we got the swim qualification brief. We have to qualify on Thursday and they are so anal about the way you do the survival swim. They failed an Olympic swimmer a few years ago because he did not do it their way. Gotta love the Corps!

After the swim brief, we had armory safety brief where we had a captain and a corporal yell at us about rifle safety. We filled out cards and we will not be issued weapons until September 2. Finally, we had the chaplain’s brief and were secured.

We had muster at 1630 and were secured for the day. I came back to the room and caught up on my journal and then took a nap because I was exhausted. I slept a little over an hour and then went to PT. For the love of God, I did not want to but I knew I had to. I will not PT tomorrow because on Thursday, I have to be in top form for the swim qual. So I did my pullups and ran to the gym where I did stairs and bike. I was soaking wet again and starving. I ate dinner, cleaned the room, and finished this journal. I need to get to sleep because tomorrow is another day of boring briefs.

Free Advice for Today:
Have a professional photo of yourself made. Update it every three years.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Monday, August 18, 1997

Quote of the Day:
THINK BIG THOUGHTS, BUT RELISH SMALL PLEASURES. 
- Unknown

Today was the first day of training at TBS. As such, it was the most unorganized mess I have seen in a long time. One of the reasons is because HQ put report dates on everyone’s orders as the night before training starts. So they did not have an accurate count at all and they could not organize the platoons. So they split us up alphabetically and improvised from there.

After formation, they took our platoon to draw gear from supply. Because some of us had already got our supply draw, they told us to be back at noon. I knew that if they were more organized, they would have made everyone go regardless and it ends up that was the case but, because I knew, I bolted when they released us. I went back to my room and caught up on a little sleep and finished getting my cammies ready for tomorrow’s inspection. I ate and then showed up to the XO’s brief at noon.

Captain Finley is a great character. He welcomed all of us to TBS and went over the basic “don’t get in trouble” and “set the example as an officer” speeches. He explained everyone except those who have excuses will live in town. Those of us who stay here in the BOQ get the newest and latest renovated barracks at TBS. So I lucked out on that.

After his speech, we went over to get gas masks. Because they had caught onto the old Marine Corps tradition of “you are going regardless,” I had to go to this class I had already been to. After that, they made us go back to the same Captain Finley brief because not everyone had been there for the first one. It was almost the same speech. Our CO, Maj Gumpert also spoke at both. He is a helo pilot and was very soft-spoken and did not have a lot to add. It was weird.

Normally, there was 5 platoons with an SPC for each one. Then they went to six. Now, they split each platoon into two sections and each section gets their own SPC which means we have 12 captains for a ratio of 1/20. We are only the second company to do it this way.

Next, we went to the classrooms where we received all of our publications we will need. It is only half of what we will be getting and it was about a foot high. It took forever to inventory and ensure we had what we were supposed to. It went quickly so you had to pay attention. I knew I would be asking Joe the best way to organize it.

After the pub issue, we had a muster and was secured. Mac came right over and we gave each other haircuts. We both did a pretty good job. I then decided to go on a run and it was very cool. I ran six miles in a good time and felt great. It was tough but I finished it. I showered and then had a salad for dinner. After my shower, I called Linggi and he gave me some gouge on how to organize it.

I told Shep I would meet him at the coffee shop and it was 2000 before I got there. He was not there so I started reading. Pretty soon he showed up and we talked for awhile. After awhile, Jurovich showed up and we went outside to the outdoor tables. I have a good time around Frank. He has such a witty sense of humor but I see more underneath it. He jokes but he strikes me as mean or insulting in his humor. He seems like he really has his head on straight. I hope we will have time to spend time together.

As we were sitting there, one of the girls who work at the coffee shop came over and talked to us. Shep and Frank knew her but I didn’t. She was going to pick up a friend at the airport, about 60 miles away. She did not want to go alone and wanted to know if anyone wanted to go with her. I could tell she was talking mostly about Frank but he did not want to go because he shrewdly assessed that they would talk on the way up there but her and her friends would yap all the way back and he would be in the back looking stupid. He declined and she went alone.

I had two cups of coffee and went back to the barracks to finish preparing for the inspection in the morning. I shined my boots and finished looking over my uniform. I was ready and knew it. I went to sleep at about 2300 but was still staring at the clock at 0130. I was getting mad and realized it was because of the coffee. That’s one mistake I will not make again.

Free Advice for Today:
Read biographies of successful men and women.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Sunday, August 17, 1997

Quote of the Day:
RARELY RESIST THE OPPORTUNITY TO KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT. 
- Unknown

I had duty today so there is not much to write about. I was the assistant duty and the turnover was informal. Lt Hutada was the main and we agreed to split it into four hour shifts with him taking the first one. So I turned around and went back to my room and got a little more sleep.

I got up and did some stuff around the room including cleaning the room and working on the written skills workbook. Pretty soon, it was noon and I relieved Hutada. It was the last day to check in so we had a lot of Marines coming in. The checkin process was easy and there was a lot of dead time. The training officer had me create some training folders but mostly, I played on the computer. I found the training schedule for the first three weeks and printed them out. I almost got caught by one of the SPCs but I do not think it was a big deal anyway.

At about 1630, Hutado relived me because he had to go eat chow. For the next four hours, I marked a lot of my uniforms and ironed on EGAs on my cammies. I had overlooked it on some of my cammies but luckily, Lt Brown pointed it out and I got it fixed. I also worked on getting my cammies ready for Tuesday’s inspection.

When I relieved Hutado, I told him that I wanted to call Carrie at 2100. He said he would come back down and relieve me during that period. I was taking a tour of the barracks and ran into one of the OCC Marines who had just graduated last Friday. He saw me with the duty belt and almost tripped over himself trying to get out of my way. The sergeant instructors wore the same belt and for a second, I think he reverted. It was pretty funny.

I called Carrie and had a good talk. I talked to Stephanie but Alex was swimming over at Scott and Kristine’s. I told her about my day and it made the day a little brighter.

Hutado decided to go to sleep but his AC was broken so I told him he could go into my room. He was to return at midnight but at 0030, I went to get him. He did not wake up to his alarm. I was going to sleep in the training room and he was going to sleep in his room from midnight to 0600. But because his room was so hot and I was not about to let him sleep in my room, we agreed that he sleep in the training office and I sleep in my room. So I went to sleep and came back at about 0630. The turnover did not involve me so I just hung out.

As I took a last tour of the barracks, I was walking down the hallway. Because I was on duty, I had my cover on and my duty belt. I saw two Marines walking toward me and I could not see their ranks. The taller one looked young enough to be a lieutenant and had a gold glimmer on his collar, but it did not quite look right. I was trying to see what it was when I looked over and saw the other officer was a captain. That prompted me to salute and I said, “Good morning, sir,” and saluted. At the moment I did I looked at the other Marine and he was a major. I knew I screwed up but kept going. Suddenly, I heard, “Come here!” much like a drill instructor. I turned my head and the captain had his head turned and asked who the greeting was for. I instantly said, “I meant ‘Gentlemen,’ sir.” He kept walking and said, “I’m sure that the major would appreciate an appropriate greeting.” I answered, “Yes, sir.” I know that I had screwed the pooch but it irritated me that the captain was such an ass about it. I found out later that that major was the CO of D company and looks real young.

Free Advice for Today:
Don't waste time trying to appreciate music you dislike. Spend the time with music you love.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Saturday, August 16, 1997

Quote of the Day:
IF YOU WANT A NEW IDEA, READ AN OLD BOOK. 
- Unknown

Today was spent waiting until I could pick up the OCS guys. I got up and spent a lot of time catching up on my journal and then cleaning my room. I decided to PT even though I was a little dehydrated from a few beers I had last night.

I did my pullups and they were really easy, even though I did not want to do them. I wanted to run even less and almost talked myself out of it. But in the end, I knew I had to do it. It was 96 degrees out and I was hurting. About halfway out, a CH46 helicopter went right over me, rather low, and I waved. The gunner waved back and it was motivating. It was loud but the sense of camaraderie is great around here. It made that leg of the run a little easier.

But the end of the run was different. I decided to go only four miles because I was not feeling great. By the end, I had my shirt off and was really dizzy. The finish line seemed to stretch out forever and it was uphill. When I stumbled across it, I thought I was going to faint. I went back to the room and plopped into a chair in front of the AC that was going full blast. I felt really bad and had to lie down. I did so on the floor for about ten minutes, trying to shake the feeling. I was happy that I pushed myself when I really did not want to but I felt horrible. Finally, I got into the shower and started feeling better.

I got ready and went to pick up the guys. I got there at 1425 but there was no one waiting there for other candidates. I had not talked to Mac and did not know if he was going to be there. At about 14445, Kujo came out and Sgts Thompson and Echart soon followed. They got in and we went to pick up some laundry for Eckhart. We stopped at a convenience store to call Joe but no one was home. I made the suggestion that we go over by TBS and grab something to eat while we wait. So we went to a place called Ruby Tuesday and had nachos while they made some phonecalls.

I finally got ahold of Joe and he said come on over, so we did. Joe had overcommitted to a barbecue, a birthday party, and us. Stephanie made him go to the BBQ but he ensured us that his house was our house. I talked to him about it and he insisted that we stay. I was thankful because we had no other place to go.

I got in touch with Utz and he came over with Tonya. We ordered pizza and watched football. They had all just finished SULE II and only had a week left so they were tired but happy. Later on, we got a movie but Kujo picked it out. There was a running joke about a movie Kujo had recommended to Mac and it turned out really bad. Kujo said he did not remember recommending it but they teased him about it. I had said if we get a movie, there was no way Kujo was picking it out.

It was Eckhart, Kujo, and me at the video store. Kujo found Mars Attacks and wanted to get it. Eckhart did not care; he just wanted to get out because he was nervous about getting caught with a lieutenant, something they were no supposed to do. So we got it and true to form, it sucked. By the end, I was the only one awake watching it and I got up and started hitting Kujo with a pillow. He awoke in confusion and I was hitting him telling him it was for picking out such a bad movie. It was funny.

But I had duty the next day so I had to go and get some sleep. I realized this might be the last time for a long time that I see these guys depending on if I can go to their graduation. I said my good-byes and went back to the barracks. It is such a lonely feeling coming back to the barracks alone, to an empty room. I checked my email and went to sleep.

Free Advice for Today:
“Dress a little better than your clients but not as well as your boss.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Friday, August 15, 1997

Quote of the Day:
IF YOU HAVE ONE MARINE WITHOUT A FIELD JACKET AND YOU ARE WEARING ONE; YOU AREN'T MUCH OF A LEADER. 
- Unknown

The morning came early but I wanted to get my ankle taken care of. I got ready and went down to the training room where the dumbest of the group was waiting for me. He had me do a functional test which meant hopping around and doing some running/cutting, etc. I did not trust his opinion but had no choice. He said that it was healed and that I should not wear the brace anymore so it will strengthen. He then asked me if I needed a full-duty chit and I said I did because I had turned in the limited duty chit. He said I would have to go see the LT in charge of PT at 0930.

So I left and got some more sleep. When I awoke, again, I ran over to medical and it felt good. I thought it would just be a matter of getting a chit and getting out. Silly me. I signed in and there was a Marine in front of me. The doc took him in after awhile and I waited for 45 minutes. I was getting frustrated but I did not have any pressing business. I had broken my rule of taking something to read everywhere I go and sat bored.

Finally, he came back and asked if I had my record. I had not thought to get it and went to retrieve it. Meanwhile, there had been another guy come in and I was afraid he would take him while I was getting my record. Sure enough, he called out for him but the guy had signed in and left so I was lucky.

I went through the entire story of my ankle, giving him every detail I could think of. He did a thorough exam on my ankle, which I was glad about, and had me do another functional test. His final determination was that it was about as good as it will ever be. I have a lot of lateral play which makes me susceptible to ankle injuries and had torn tendons. He said it might bother me as tendinitus later on but there was nothing less than surgery that would help and it was not that bad yet.

He told me to wear the brace, which I agreed with, and then he gave me some exercises to perform every day. So I left with my full-duty chit and was ready to train.

I went to chow and to my surprise, all the OC candidates were in there. They had just finished the crucible and were paired up with TBS lieutenants for a good meal in our chowhall. The candidates were quite nasty, muddy, and had face paint on. They had been up for two days, not eaten for a day and a half, and were physically exhausted. But they were free of sergeant instructors so therefore were quite happy.

I searched the crowd but could not find any I knew. While I was in line, Sergeant Thompson came up to me and we talked. He said there was a seat next to him so I told him to save it for me. We ate together and had a good time. They were so tired and hungry. Pretty soon, Sgt Eckhart joined us and they filled me in on everything that was going on.

I had to go to muster at 1300 so I bid them goodbye and told them I would see them tomorrow.

I then decided to get some errands done. I took my Sam Browne belt and went to mainside to get it exchanged and get fitted for service A’s. When I got there, they told me that they do that at the TBS exchange, where I had just been. I decided I should go get a haircut since I was nearby and tomorrow to OCS guys would flood town. I also knew I had duty on Sunday so I would not get another chance before starting training on Monday.

I went to Q-town and picked up my cammies. It was $23 for two pair of cammies that I had tapes sewn on. I was not happy about that. While I was in there, I talked to Rosenberry who was escorting one of the international officers around. I had to laugh because the lady in the store was Filipino and the officer was Colombian. So you had two foreigners trying to talk English with thick accents. Rosie and I laughed.

After I got my laundry, I went over to Yung’s haircuts. I had heard they did a good job and I wanted a high and tight. I waited for ten minutes and then told the lady what I wanted. She asked if I wanted it shaved and I thought it was a strange question since I asked for a high and tight. I said yes and she started. I had heard they used a straight razor and I was looking forward to a close cut. After she was done with the top, she pushed the dispenser that held warmshaving cream. She put it all around my head and then grabbed what appeared to be a regular disposable plastic razor. She started to shave my entire head and shave it close. The sound was like sandpaper and she went quick. But it did not hurt. When she was done, she started a short massage, part of the service. She ended up slapping me around pretty good on the neck and shoulders. It felt good but she was a little rougher than I expected. I paid my $8 and left. When I went to touch my head, it was like plastic. I had never felt such a smooth surface. It is quite the strange sensation.

After this, I went back to my room and picked up a belt that I wanted to return and grabbed my khaki shirts I wanted pressed. The entire hallway was packed with family members. The OCC Marines were coming straight from graduation and were checking into the barracks. It was a mad house and awfully hot. Everyone looked miserable and the Marines were in service A’s. I had to wade through the crowd to get to my door and a rush of cold air came out when I opened it. I know the people around there envied me.

I went to the exchange and went straight to the cleaners to put in my shirts. The lady was on the phone and there was another guy in front of me so I decided to go downstairs and take care of the other stuff because I was unsure when they closed. This was a lucky break.

I went down and they fitted me for alphas. The lady was good at it and I have all the confidence in the world that they will turn out well. I told her I had already been fitted for blues and had all my shirts. She made me try on my shirts to make sure I had the right size. She was one of those motherly types. Thank goodness she did because I needed to exchange my medium charlie shirts for larges. If I would have put those in the cleaners first, I don’t know what I would have done.

So then I exchanged my Sam Browne belt and the shirts. They put me on a payment plan with no interest and I got a few other minor items. I then went up to the cleaners, turned in my shirts, and then picked up a pair of cammies and the blues coat I had cleaned. It was a good use of time.

When I got back to the barracks, there were still hundreds of people milling around, being miserable. I changed over and went to PT. It was easy to do the pullups, with an audience and all. I then went running and was going to do the six mile run but about a half a mile into it, I knew I wasn’t ready and it was too hot. So I decided to time the three mile run. It hurt bad at the end but I managed a 20:13 which isn’t bad considering I hadn’t planned on timing it and it was 100 degrees. Plus, I had not run for almost two weeks. Thank God for the bike and stairmaster.

After I was done...I was done! I went back to the barracks and the crowd had thinned but I was probably quite the sight to the remaining family members: sweaty, shiny head, soaked shirt, etc. I took a shower and got dressed. I could not stop sweating and I kept having to wipe my forehead. I got dressed and made some calls but couldn’t get ahold of anyone. Mac was with Brady so was nowhere to be found. Everyone was moving around and no one had a phone yet. I wanted to go out with Fought and Jurovich and I planned on being the driver. But I could find no one, no one contacted me, and I did not know what to do. I even went to the coffee shop but it was deserted. So I hit Taco Bell and went back to the barracks. I ate and got online where I wasted the entire evening.

I got into a chat room and I posed as an anti-military type to see the reaction. The reaction came like fire. I was attacked and was told how I could never have what it takes to be in the Marine Corps. In fact, I couldn’t be a pimple on a Marine’s ass. I thought it was hilarious. I finally let the cat out of the bag and then had to prove it to a gal whose brother was killed in Vietnam. I apologized and she forgave. I then got into it with a wannabe ranger and messed him up handily. I told him I had more days of leave than he had years in service. Looking back, I messed that up but Digs, an ex-Navy type was loving it. It was a good time.

I then called Carrie and told her to get online so we could chat It did not work because we could not both be online at the same time. So I called her back and we talked for 15 minutes. It was good to talk to the kids and her. It was a good ending to a lonely night.

Free Advice for Today:
“Drive inexpensive cars, but own the best house you can afford.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Thursday, August 14, 1997

Quote of the Day:
LIFE IS NOT A DRESS REHEARSAL. EVERYDAY IS GAME DAY. 
- Unknown

Today was very uneventful. In the morning, we went over to NBC and were issued gas masks. The gunny was real friendly and the sergeant gave the class. The gunny thought he had seen me before but after comparing notes, we could find no common thread.

The masks we got were the new M40 ones with the screw-in canisters, like the ones the Brits had in Saudi. After a short class, we were secured until 1300. I went and exercised again, wearing myself out. I even sat in the sauna and weighed in at 179 lbs, but that was right after dumping a few pounds of sweat.

The trip to DC was canxed so I took a nap and did some errands. I went to the coffee shop again and finished Ender’s Game. I had guessed the ending, where Ender would fight the final battle thinking it was only a simulation. It was a good book.

As I was leaving, Fought and Jurovich came in, wanting to have Irish coffee, which meant he had a flask in his back pocket. From his mood, he seemed to have already dipped into it. It was cigar night and I wanted to get out of there. I told them I might return but I knew I wouldn’t.

Free Advice for Today:
“Keep a tight rein on your temper.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Wednesday, August 13, 1997

Quote of the Day:
ALL FIVE SECOND FUSES WILL BURN DOWN IN 3 SECONDS. 
- Unknown

Today, I had one goal. I wanted to see a movie. I had asked Shep if he wanted to go and he said that would be fine. After morning formation, I went to the gym to workout. When I got there, I noticed that they did body fat testing on Wednesdays so I met with the trainer, Kathy. I was the only one there and we discussed what I wanted. We also talked and she is married to a Marine officer and they have two kids. I told her the situation I was in and she said that was probably better because her time here while her husband went through The Basic School was miserable.

I was worried about my body fat and she explained to me the different methods they had and that the caliper method was accurate. She took measurements on my chest, my gut, and my front thigh. She looked on the chart and it said that I had 16 percent body fat. I was so happy because I know I’ll drop and if that is where I am starting, I will be in no danger of being above the 18 percent maximum the Marine Corps requires. Now I have my weight and my body fat down, I do not have to worry.

Kathy also said that they had a step aerobics class on Wednesdays at 1130 and, on the heels of the low body fat reading, I was motivated to do it. I ended up riding the bike and working up a sweat and then went back to my room. After showering, reading, and taking a short nap, I went to the class. They needed three to do the class and I was the only one to show up. So I ended up running on the treadmill and doing an ab workout. For the second time that day, I was soaking wet.

When I got back, I did my pull up workout and then changed over for afternoon muster. I was in a hurry to get out of there so I could see the movie. I did not know what was playing but I did not really care. The word was passed that all lieutenants were to move out of their rooms in O’Bannon Hall and into Graves before they secured. That meant that Shep was out and I needed to get out of Dodge quickly. But I had to see Capt Finley about showing him my ankle chit. I made a beeline for his office but he was in a meeting. I was in the worst place at the worst time so I went to my room. I changed over and went to the movies.

When I got to the theater, nothing much was playing and no times were good. The closest combination was a 1600 showing of Conspiracy Theory with Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts. Looking around, I found the coffee shop that Shep had been raving about and decided to kill the two hours I had in there. But I pulled another bonehead move and had not brought my book. So I had to go back to the barracks and get my book, exposing myself to being pegged for more working parties. I slipped in and out unnoticed and did not feel the least bit ashamed.

When I got to the coffee shop, I liked it instantly. It is located in a strip mall and consists of two main rooms with two smaller rooms. The place is set up for sitting, talking, and reading. All the furniture is elegant but comfortable couches, chairs, rocking chairs, and benches. There are a variety of assortments and with an equal number of different endtables and coffee tables at each location. The smaller rooms are for more privacy for groups. You buy your coffee and can sit all day and sip, talk, or read. Refills are half-price. There are oil paintings on the wall and funny photos and posters. Somehow, it is both elegant and comfortable without being stuffy or rigid. I think I will be spending a lot of time there.

I ordered a huge mug of coffee and sat down to read my book. I also picked up a copy of Aesops Fables. The shop has a massive amount of books, magazines, and newspapers to choose from. You can even come and play chess if you want to.

I had never read Aesops Fables and found them interesting, funny, and wonderful to read. I stayed their until my movie started and came back right after. I had two big mugs of coffee. I had not had much to eat and it went right to my system. When I came back, I got a smaller cup and drank it. For the rest of the night, I drank water but my stomach did not feel very good.

Pretty soon, Shep walked in and we started talking. He got into a conversation with a retired officer who dropped every big name in the Marine Corps book. I stayed out of it. When I went to he bathroom, I noticed Mac, Fought, and Jarovich were on the outside tables so I went out there to talk to them. Fought and Jarovich were playing chess and they were clowning around. They are funny when they get together. Mac was making flash cards. After awhile, I went back inside and talked to Shep. Pretty soon Jorovich came in and we had a good, no nonsense conversation about how to treat women in the Marine Corps. He had never had any experience and he was afraid he would unintentionally say or do something that would get him into trouble. It was a good conversation. Pretty soon, Mac came in and we started in on bootcamp stories. After that got old, real quick, Mac and I left to give each other haircuts.

We got back and I cut Mac’s hair rather well. He had a little more trouble with mine, trying to chase and erase lines. He finally got it right and I showered and got ready for bed. I decided to call Carrie and suggest that we talked for a half hour on Wednesdays and Sundays rather than a full hour only on Sundays. She was not home so I left a message and went to bed. She woke me by calling and we talked.

It was good to talk to her and the kids and it lifted my spirits. She seems to be busy but is getting things done. I told her all about my day. I enjoyed talking to Alex and I finally got to talk to Steph. Even though it was late, it was worth it and I went back to sleep happy.

Free Advice for Today:
“Never give anyone a fruitcake.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Tuesday, August 12, 1997

Quote of the Day:
CELIBACY IS HEREDITARY. 
- Unknown

Today was quite boring. I woke up for muster and felt like I had slept forever. I was so tired last night but woke up to another “responsibility-free” day. I went to muster and it was as worthless as always. I came back, changed over, and went to the gym.

I tried doing the stair machine first and went the entire fifteen minutes even though I was soaking wet by the time I was done. I also did 18 minutes on the bike and that wore me out. I finished up with the ab routine and came back totally soaked.

I got some email in response to an inadvertent email I had sent to UWNAVY. I meant to send it only to MIDN Elms but pulled a bonehead play. Of course, most of the Marines answered and a few smartass OC’s. But it was good to hear from them.

After a shower, I called up NFCU and made sure my $5000 loan was ready and then I got directions. The Springfield branch was about 40 minutes away but I had nothing else to do and wanted to get out. So I did not mind the drive. I got there and signed for the loan and then deposited it into checking. I chose to have an automatic deduction taken out each payday. The amount will be $84.48 starting on the September 1st payday. The percentage rate is 12.9 and we will pay a total of $1082.20 in interest.

I barely made it back to meet Shep for lunch. He was late and I chided him on it. I told him it was a bad habit for a new officer. He had an excuse, of course. After chow, we made muster and it was short and sweet. On the way back, I ran into Lt Gregory, an old MECEP prep buddy. It was good to see him and we spent some time catching up. He gave me some advice but it always boils down to the same thing: if you have good SPCs, it is great around here. If not, it sucks.

I spent the rest of the day in my room. I read some and then took a nap. I then got up and did some homework on the writing skills booklet and then decided to go walk around. It is lonely around here and even more so when you walk around and no one is even around. I went over to Mac’s but he was not home. I ran into him at the barrack’s entrance; he had just ran the stamina course for fun and was filthy. I followed him back up, hoping we could do something. I watched part of The Godfather series while he showered but he had stuff to do so I excused myself and went back to my room.

I called Shane but he was not home. I finished my writing lesson and am now catching up on my journal. It occurred to me that I am lucky that the first graded test will be on writing skills, a particularly strong suit for me. Even so, I am learning much from the booklet and I can tell that a lot of these guys will be scratching their heads during the tests. I need to jump ahead early and stay there.

I have my lonely moments but I am trying to keep busy. A big part of me is a homebody anyway but without a TV, I have to find ways to entertain myself. I ran into Lt Rosenberg, a prior Navy guy who seems to have some intelligence and a sense of humor. He said that he was tasked with showing around some international officers that will be coming in tomorrow. He is going to take them to see the sights in Washington, DC on Friday and invited me along. I want to see the OCS guys on Saturday and I have duty on Sunday so that will take care of my weekend. I am glad that I was invited and look forward to meeting the international officers. I met an officer from the Royal Thai Marines today. They wear their uniforms and their cammies have bright yellow markings that I would think would really stand out in the woods. He seemed a little older and even looked like he had the beginnings of cataracts in one eye. I spoke with him briefly and he had a hard time understanding some of what I said if I spoke to quickly or in slang. It should be interesting.

Free Advice for Today:
“Never buy a coffee table you can't put your feet on.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Monday, August 11, 1997

Quote of the Day:
KEEP YOUR FEARS TO YOURSELF. BUT SHARE COURAGE. 
- Unknown

I woke up ready to go today. I showed up at physical therapy and did the baps board and then the Doc told me that he would ice my ankle. It was a different Doc and I noticed he kept calling me “Sir.” That still throws me. I told him I usually go to the gym and do some other exercises and he told me that I could come back before 0830, when he would be gone.

I went over to the gym and rode the bike and did the stairs. I felt kind of cheesy because the platoon was doing part of the endurance course today and I conveniently had PT on the same days. I could not run it anyway but that still made me feel like I was sliding.

After working up a sweat, I returned and they put this boot on my foot that filled with cold water, like a balloon. It also created pressure and felt good on my ankle. I read my book while I waited the ten minutes required. Afterwards, I went to my room, showered, and got ready to do some errands. Afternoon muster was at 1300 and it was only 1000 so I had plenty of time.

First, I went to the cleaners to pick up my three sets of cammies which came to $20. Then I dropped off my boots to be re-soled which will cost $45. After that, I went to the post office and sent out SGT Thompson’s package to his wife and my package to Carrie. The post man was kind of an ass but I got it done. After I left Quantico, I stopped by Wal Mart and bought some talcum powder (which we could have used last night), an extension cord for the microwave since there is no outlet close by, a shower caddy, and some door hooks. I told Carrie that this place is nickel-and-diming me to death. It is all the little things that add up but I am glad I am getting them now when I have the time.

After getting back, I called Shep and we met for lunch. It was good to have someone to talk to and that led up to muster. It was the same old thing but my squad leader asked if I would take his watch on Sunday because he had a date on Saturday night. I told him I would trade him for my Aug. 31st watch and he agreed. Two things are bad about this Sunday. First, it is the day before the first day of training and I have all-night duty. Second, everyone and their dog will be trying to check in because training starts the next day. But I don’t mind collecting favors this early in the game.

One of the SPC’s who is in charge of training for now, spoke to us. I did not like his approach because you could tell he was a dick. I am glad he is not mine but training said that they were switching around the lists so I pray I do not end up with him. My first impression of him was that he was a game-player and more than a little disrespectful. I was glad to see that when I got my book back, he had noted that I had done all of the sections correctly. That was very good because not many had done all of the sections they were supposed to. I took no chances and did them all.

After muster, I changed and started reading but was tired. I took a two-hour nap and then woke up to read again. A part of the book motivated me and I went to the gym and did a chest-and-tricep workout. Joe was there and I made it a point to let him know that I thoroughly enjoyed spending the weekend with him. After my workout, I came back to the barracks and decided to fix the sleeves on one of the cammies I had just gotten back.

Like I mentioned earlier, I get anal compulsive about things and it took me many tries before I got it right. I was getting pissed because I could not roll them just right but after many tries, I finally got them. I also put my bars on them. It was a good reminder of whom I have become and what I am doing here. In the process, I dropped the iron twice which burned the polyester rug.

After my uniform was done, I set out to polish my boots. As I did so, Mac stopped by and we talked for awhile. I was thankful for the company and it is unlike Mac to show any obvious signs of affection. His stopping by is as obvious as he gets.

I will finish the evening reading and getting ready for tomorrow. Today, I spent a lot of time in my room but accomplished a lot so I am happy.

Free Advice for Today:
“Never complain about a flight delayed for mechanical repairs. Waiting on the ground is infinitely better than the alternative.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Sunday, August 10, 1997

Quote of the Day:
NEVER TRUST ANYONE WITHOUT A SENSE OF HUMOR. 
- Unknown

After staying over at Joe’s until late, waking up early (and on a Sunday, no less!) was irritating. But I wanted to meet the OCS guys and pick up time was 0800. I got up, groggy and irritable, and got ready. I was on the empty road in no time.

I drove to OCS and the errie feeling was still there. A few years ago, I hated this place with a burning passion and residual feelings still leaked through. I found Mac parked in the lot, asleep. I talked to him awhile and then read my book.

Joe had given me a book called Ender’s Game to read because we would have to read it for TBS. It is about a little boy who goes to a space academy similar to TBS. It is a good science fiction novel.

After they came out, we went to Denny’s for breakfast. Like all Denny’s, the service sucked but it was good to eat a good breakfast. I kept it light but was very hungry.

After breakfast, we went to the exchange. It did not open until 1000 so we waited. I had a good talk with SGT Thompson and they were all doing well. Timmons was struggling and could not negotiate one of the obstacles on the O-course. The others were in doubt if he would make it through the last 12 days until graduation.

Jeremy found a pair of boots for his wife and we did a little shopping. Mac had gone ahead and said that he would meet us at Joe’s whose house we were going to go to. Before I took them there, I took them to TBS but none of them wanted to get out. The situation with SSGT Froehlich had made them paranoid about going places they were not allowed and this was one of them. They were not even supposed to be with us but that is unreasonable. We had seen one of their sergeant instructors at the exchange and they all distanced themselves as not to look like I was with them. I understood instantly and played it cool.

When we got to Joe’s, we picked up where we had left off the night before. Joe was again glad to see everyone and we all sat around and relaxed, watching the TBS video again. At the last minute, Mac and Joe went to the video store and got a Steven Segal movie that, as normal, sucked hard.

As I looked at the others, I could not help but pity them because I knew what they were feeling. In just a few short hours, they would have to return to Hell on earth. I was so thankful I was not them and I could see the stress build. Soon, Mac took them and I told them I would see them next week. I said a little prayer for them.

After they left, Joe and I sat on the tailgate of his pickup and enjoyed the sun and conversation. He is such a good man and I was grateful to have someone to talk to that genuinely wanted to talk to me. We got into all sorts of discussions, most notably, my philosophy on why I am here and why I have no patience for those who take it less seriously. I am here at the cost of my family and that is a high price. I find it insulting that anyone would lessen that sacrifice by half-stepping through this course. I, quite literally, have dedicated my all to this course and will accept no less than a comparable dedication from the others. Joe felt the same intensity and told me some stories about what I might face. I was glad he told me because it made me rehearse how I would handle confrontations here. He is helping a lot in areas like that.

After we talked for awhile, he said they might go out for dinner and asked if I wanted to come along. I was again thankful that he included me and that impressed me once again. I accepted, telling him that I had things to do before and to call me later. We said our goodbyes and I felt good on the drive home. Joe respects me, probably more than I understand the reason for. I do not know if he understands how much the company of him and his wife meant to me.

I got back to the room and read until I felt the need to take a little nap. Finally, the phone pulled me out of my catnap and it was Joe. He wanted to go the a Mexican restaurant and I asked if I could invite Mac. He said “Sure!” and wanted me to call Utz also. I called Utz but he was going out on “D” week, which is a week in the field doing defensive maneuvers, starting Monday. He said he was platoon commander and head of the convoy so he was busy making preparations and orders. I said I understood and he said that when he got back on Friday, he would be ready for good chow and relaxation. I promised I would call and we would go get some food. So my company is set for Friday.

I called Mac and he was game so he came over and we went to the restaurant and waited for Joe and Stephanie. We had a beer and a lot of chips. The conversation lagged a little but we tried to keep it going. We had been together all weekend and had nothing to say.

When the Linggi’s showed up, we ordered and the food was good. Much like the conversation with Mac, the conversation lagged because of our company together all weekend. But we had a good time and I was thankful. After dinner, Mac and I went back to the barracks for haircuts.

I was a bit nervous because I never cut hair. I started and did a really good job on Mac’s head. I was surprised and he was very impressed with my razors. He made it a point to verify that we would be doing this twice a week. I said that would be great and we would become better and faster with more practice. After I was done, he cut mine and did a wonderful job. I was very impressed and he could not believe how hard he could press without it hurting and how close the razors got. After taking a shower, I could not stop looking at the back of my head because the cut looked so good. I told Mac as I was appreciating his handiwork, “This is going to be a good thing.” He agreed and then left.

I then read while I waited to call Carrie. I was anxious and could not wait past 2150. I called and she picked up instantly. It was so good to hear her voice and we had no problems filling up an hour. I was starting to get tired but the sound of her voice made me feel so good. I talked to Alex three times and was grinning ear to ear the entire time. I love talking to that little knucklehead. We verbally wrestled and I think he got a kick out of that.

It was strange to talk to Carrie because she gets all of these entries so is abreast on what is happening. But just having a direct connection made the hour special. I told her how much I miss her and how hard it is to keep this place in order. I get anal compulsive about everything and then fill my time working on little things. Carrie told me how much harder it was without me and how tired she was at the end of each day. We both agreed we really miss one another. Carrie also said the kids ask about me and miss me. That is the most painful part. Stephanie was sick and woke up halfway through the call but did not want to talk.

After the hour was up, we said our goodbyes and the old familiar mixture and happiness and sorrow filled my heart. Knowing that I had to wait another week before talking to her and the happiness of having just talked to her was strange yet familiar. It was the same as in Memphis and Saudi. This place is better, of course, but separation is always depressing.

Free Advice for Today:
“Be an original. If that means being a little eccentric, so be it.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Saturday, August 9, 1997

Quote of the Day:
I DON'T KNOW GUNNY, I HAD A BRAIN FART. 
- Every Marine LCPL at some point

I awoke this morning at about 0930, keeping to my habit of not sleeping in after drinking. I decided I needed to workout so I got dressed and did my pull up workout. I then went to the gym and rode the bike and did the stair machine. I was exhausted but it was a good workout. I also used the opportunity to do some recon on the area, finding the gym. I used the walk over their, as opposed to driving, to exercise my ankle.

I decided it was time to do some laundry. I had a lot to do because I had yet to do any. Most of the cars where gone in the parking lot so I thought there were few people around. Conversely, I had nothing to do but I took advantage of the time to get some errands done. I got in on the washers right away. I had four loads but I combined them into three. When I returned to them, I was early and had to come back. When I did, all but one dryer was being used. I heisted one more and waited there for my clothes to dry. I brought a book and tried to read. After awhile I realized that my room would be a lot cooler even though my AC was not working. I went back and returned to pick up my laundry. I brought it back and folded it.

I also washed my sheets and spent almost an hour making my rack. I know it was compulsive of me but the perfection of the rack became important and it killed time.

I called Mac and he said he was going to pick up the OCS gang and go over to Joe Linggi’s house. He would call me from there and give me directions. I thought, “Great!” and expected Mac to call at about 1530. I did a few more housecleaning chores and sat down to read my book. I waited and waited. I fixed up all my ribbons and such things. Finally at about 1900, I decided to try to get ahold of Joe myself. I called information and got his number by blindly guessing what city he was in. At first I called Washington information and we were both real confused until I realized it.

I called Joe and he said to come over so I got ready and did just that. It was the first time I had seen them so I stopped by and got some flowers. I hoped that the gang was not there because I did not want them to tease me about the flowers. After missing the turn and going way too far, I pissedly turned around and found the right turn. I saw Mac’s rig and knew they were there. I walked in and gave Stephanie the flowers, even though I could not recall her name. My fears were eased when I noticed Mac had had the same idea and his flowers were on the table.

This dinner was just what I needed. Of course Joe was ecstatic to see me and it was good to see Kujo and Kim Brady. The other three had duty platoon and we would see them tomorrow. Joe was hopping around because he had a cast from his knee down. He had fallen down a cliff during night land navigation and broke his leg in two places. They had to carry him out and he was unconscious and in shock by the time they got him back. He will have to be here another couple of months before he can even start training again. He was only 1 1/2 months into the school.

Kujo was doing great. They have three weeks left and he had passed everything. Same old Kujo, same old personality. Kim graduates next Friday and we will all go to the ceremony.

We had lasagna and watched the infamous TBS video. It was really good and showed a lot of stuff we will be doing. Three of Joe’s buddies came over, all prior service. They were almost done with the school and it was amazing to see the difference in confidence that six months will make.

We ended the night by watching The Shining. We all talked and it was a really good time. I did not drink, just didn’t feel like it. I finally left at 0115 and we had to be back at OCS by 0800 to pick up the others. I went home and fell right to sleep, content that I had spent the evening with friends and was going to do the same tomorrow.

Free Advice for Today:
“Never keep free ride waiting.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Friday, August 8, 1997

Quote of the Day:
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A STUMBLING BLOCK AND A STEPPING STONE IS HOW YOU USE THEM. 
- Unknown

Today started earlier than any other day since I have been here. I awoke at 0530 to make my physical therapy appointment. The training room is just down the hall so I did not have very long to go. The doc was 10 minutes late and I was the only one there. All he had me do was work my ankle in circle on the Baps board. It is a round board with a half-sphere on the bottom to make it wobble. I work in clockwise and counterclockwise circles. It only took 10 minutes and he just told me to walk, bike, stair, and swim. I realized the time was pretty lax and I could come in any time between 0600 and 0800. I iced it down, per his orders, afterwards.

The next thing I had to do was to get ready for formation. I considered skipping it, knowing that since they thought I was a physical therapy, I would not be missed. But I thought that was a bad precedent so I got ready and went. I was sorry I did because we had to wait there for forty minutes waiting for the captain. When he finally got there, he just talked about leases and BOQ forms. Afterwards, we were secured.

I met LT Marrell who was going to get a haircut and show me where the PX was. I wanted to get a haircut because our staff was supposed to be at the picnic. We walked and talked but when we got there, it was closed. We went to the chowhall but that was closed, too. He invited me back to his room where he had some food. I went there but then said I had some food and had to get going. He was getting ready to go camping this weekend.

I went to Mac’s room and checked email and then transferred some stuff back to my room.

Before I went to get my haircut, I stopped by the gunny’s office and asked him if they had a stash of phones that maybe I could dip into. He said I would probably have to just buy one but then he said that he knew that there was a phone in the old barbershop and the building where the classrooms were and either he or I could “appropriate” it. I told him I could and he said if I had any trouble, to tell whomever that he had authorized it. Another score.

A funny note; as I walked in to talk to the gunny, I said “Gunny, you got a minute?” He was reading the paper and when he saw me, he turned to the trashcan and spit out what must have been a half gallon of chew spit. He turned to me and said, “Sure, sir, come on in!” I thought that this was a stereotypical gunny move and it amused me.

After that, I went to get a haircut and got a high and tight. The haircuts cost $5.25 and you are obligated to give up the last .75 cents. I went over to the PX section and bought some supplies and noticed they also had a cleaners. All this was in walking distance and I did not even know it was there. It makes things a lot more convenient since mainside is over 10 minutes away.

Now it was time to go to the picnic. It was another “mandatory fun” event. I drove out to Lunga Lake, about 2 miles away, and tried to find the site. I drove around and got lost but eventually found it. I noticed a couple of things about this lake. First, it is a gorgeous lake with trees all around. It has nice camping facilities and a perfect family area. We will definitely be using it if we are ever out this way again. Second, the areas were sectioned off for enlisted, officer, FBI, etc. I thought that was strange.

At the picnic, I hobnobbed with Sheppard, practically the only one I knew. I talked with LT Wilson and his fiancee, Kim. He was the former CPL Wilson I worked with in Yuma. I also talked with LT Rosenberry, a former Navy avionics technician who did pretty much the same thing that I did. He has a tattoo on his back of a heart that says “Mon” which was supposed to say “Mom” but he said he was too drunk at the time to sit still enough. I teased him that he must really like Mondays. He’s a good guy.

None of the staff showed up and the party dwindled fast. I had a couple of greasy burgers and tried to stay interested. Earlier, Rosenberry had asked for volunteers. I did not know for what but was bored enough not to care. It ends up he went in his car about a mile down the road and had to row/paddle canoes and paddle boats from the dock to where we were at. I grabbed a paddle boat, which was perfect for my ankle, and started out. It was a lot more efficient than the ones in Boise and the speed was good. The lake was beautiful and it was relaxing. That is until about 3/4 of the way when it was turning into work. My legs hurt and I was sweating like a pig. I was glad to pull it up on shore.

After I left, I went back to my room but really did not have anything to do. Mac wasn’t around so I decided to wash the truck. I couldn’t find a way to turn the water on so I took a two-hour nap instead. When I got up, I found stuff to keep me busy. I cleaned the room, took my blues and another pair of cammies over to the cleaners. I came back to the room and started reading a Star Trek book. All day, I kept checking my phone but to no avail. They promised to have it hooked up by midnight and it looks like that waited that long. I was kind of hoping that they would be late then I could argue the $30 hook up fee.

I kept checking back with Mac but could find no one. I kept busy trying to iron an EGA on a cover, which I subsequently ruined, and then glued some stars on some ribbons. Finally, I went over to Mac’s room and he was there. I asked him what he was going to do and he said he might or might not go out. He had to pick up Kim and 0800. I watched most of the second Godfather while he got ready and then we went over to Shep’s room. He had plans to go to a party but they told him that someone had died and the party was canceled. We teased him incessantly. We went over to Jarovich’s room where they were playing Nintendo. We all did not know what to do and then Shep said he knew of a cantina we could go to. Mac almost bailed but came in the end.

We were to follow Shep who was in the car of another LT. Right away, they went through a yellow light and we lost them. We waited and searched but decided to go straight to the club. When we got there 30 minutes later, we waited in the parking lot. There were a lot of people and the cover was $5 because they had a band. We waited until the attendants told us we had to go in. So we decided to leave and go elsewhere. Jarovich felt bad but I told him it was their fault for shooting through a yellow light. They said they knew of this Irish pub so we decided to go there.

Jarovich is a great guy but when it comes to directions, he is worse than me. We drove around for almost an hour trying to find this place. Finally, we got there and it was packed. We got some beers and played darts. I was shooting well and ended up winning. Afterwards, we went to a place called Bully’s. The area we were at was a lot like Pioneer Square but safer. We walked to Bully’s and again, it was packed. We found a table and talked while we had a few beers. When the night was over, I had had 3 1/2 beers and was tired.

It was funny but we had no contact with any other person. I figured that Jarovich and Mac would try to hook up but no effort was made at all. It was a good time because we sat around telling stories. Jarovich had said that he was cutting back on alcohol because of a couple of hard-drinking nights where he passed out. He drank Coke all night.

When we finally left, we drove home which seemed to stretch out forever. I was so hungry but everything was closed. I munched on some pretzels when I got home and fell right to sleep. I noticed that my phone was working so I will check my email in the morning.

Free Advice for Today:
“Keep a daily journal.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Thursday, August 7, 1997

Quote of the Day:
DON'T BE AFRAID OF CRITICISM. IF IT'S JUSTIFIED - LEARN FROM IT. 
- Unknown

Today was an interesting day. It started off with muster where I was told to do many things. I was told that I was to get my gear, see student admin, and see the company gunny. I went to the gunny first but he was not in. The reason I was to see him was to get a room in Graves Hall. It was strange not to have any reservations about going to see the gunny. Usually, there would be a tinge of fear but there was none because I am an officer.

Anyway, the training lieutenant said he could give me a key and gave me one for the top deck. I was not too happy about that but it was a room to myself. I went upstairs to look at it and it was a lot nicer than the one’s I was staying in. It actually looked like a hotel but with more storage space. I noticed that the door was open when I went there so I searched around the other open rooms and found a trash can, a broom, cleaning gear, etc. Afterwards, I went downstairs and ran into the gunny.

He took me into his office and waited to talk to me. He asked if I was prior and I said yes, prompting him to close the door. He said the conversation would be “enlisted” which put me at ease. I was amazed at the respect he showed and I thought it was great that he could talk to me on a less formal basis because of my time. I realized just how powerful that fact is.

He told me he was going to hook me up with a room on the ground floor right next to the door so that I had easy access. He said I was the first enlisted he had run into and wanted me to help out with what he saw as the lost lieutenants at first. He hinted that I take an active role with keeping them in line. Again, I was amazed. I also found out that my Student Platoon Commander (SPC) was a Captain Whitehall. The gunny said he is good to go and a mustang, too. I also notice I was in 1st platoon and section A. That means I am at the top of some list so that is good. It also means that I will be in the front of the formations during humps, which is the easiest part. By the way, I hear our CO is an air-winger and therefore our humps will be slower.

After having a pleasant conversation with the gunny, I asked him where he had served. He had been a grunt and then done some special forces work. I asked him if he knew Gunny Buckley and they went to school together!!! My fortune here is incredible. He liked Gunny Buckley and I filled him in on how he is doing. As I left his office, I knew that I had hit a homerun and it felt good.

The next place I went is to the barracks. LT Walker told me I needed to go to supply to get my gear so I did. When I got there, I had a run-in with the supply chief. He was a civilian, ex-military no doubt. I told him I was there to get gear and he started chewing me out for being late. I stood my ground and informed him that I was not late but had other pressing appointments. He started going off on how he would have to walk me through, wasting time. I told him that I was following orders and that I came when I could. He mumbled something about not making it a habit and I stared him down. Anyway, it took forever but I finally got everything I needed for the field. And what we got was the good stuff. A lot of it was still in the packaging.

I met a female who was next to me. I do not recall her name but she is here with her 5-year old son. Her husband is in Arizona and the more we talked, the more we had it common. She was enlisted and 26 years old. I was envious that her son was here and I told her all about Carrie and the kids. She was stressed because the gear issue was taking so long and she had a thousand things to do. It is nice to have someone who has something in common around here. Most of the rest are young, beer-swilling, Naval Academy guys.

After gear issue, I ate lunch alone. I forgot my wallet but luckily, LT Wilson was there and loaned me three bucks. I ate and then moved some stuff into my new room. I had finished my autobiography and with the new printer ribbon, the copy came out good on my printer. I did a good job on the sheet and I think they will be impressed. I was, just reading it!

After muster, I called the phone company and set up my phone. It sickens me about the cost but it will be worth it. After trying to find the address, I finally got it all set up and it will be turned on tomorrow which is good because I will have phone service over the weekend. I also called my car insurance to make sure that I am covered here in Virginia. They had to do another complete plan but it got taken care of.

After all of that came the real chore. I had to move all of my stuff from Mac’s room to my new room. I decided to get everything in the truck and then drive it over since I could unload it close to my room, Loading was another story. It was a long haul to get it to my truck but I finally got it there. I did it all alone but that is the way I wanted it. I loaded and unloaded it and then spent a few hours putting everything away. I had to make sure that I left some room for the brownbaggers that would be storing stuff there but I had plenty of room. Again, I am going to be alone and I had a tinge of depression when I finished. I am also very tired.

I have to leave my computer over at Mac’s until I can get the phone hooked up so I will be coming back and forth for a day. The freezer was frozen solid so I had to unplug it and let it melt. The result is that I cannot bring my refrigerated food over until it is done. I also left my microwave here because it was too heavy for now and I need it where my frozen food is. I will have it all transferred by the weekend.

Now, I need to go back over and finish my grammar lessons that are due tomorrow. I also need to eat something. Again tonight, I sleep in a strange bed.

Free Advice for Today:
“Wage war against littering.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Wednesday, August 6, 1997

Quote of the Day:
IF YOUR ATTACK IS GOING WELL... IT'S AN AMBUSH. 
- Unknown

I wrote the following email to Carrie today:



I had a little extra time this morning so I thought that I would write you an extra email.

Like I told you, I talked to my dad and he liked the pictures you sent. He asked me if you had lost weight because he said you look like you lost a lot of weight. I told him that you had.

Last night I had the craziest dream. It was so vivid but the details are now fading. I dreamed that I was awake and then felt dizzy and went unconscious. When I awoke, it was night and I was in the chair in your parents’ living room by the bay window. You came over to me and started hugging me but I thought it was just a dream. But it seemed so real that I could not believe that it wasn’t. Suddenly, I was back here but I realized I could “transport” back at will. So I did and hugged the kids but was worried that I would be swept back any moment. I was so happy to see you all again and couldn’t believe my fortune.

Then, as disjointed as a dream can be, I was back here but realized that I could materialize anyone I wanted to by just thinking of them using some creature. If I thought of you, the “creature” could turn into you. I made it into Alex and tried to talk to him but, of course, it was not really Alex. I then went around and showed people and turned it into different people’s kids, etc. Toward the end, I was on a beach and hundreds of screaming people came running by with big dinosaurs chasing them and I thought it was funny that they had the same power but were materializing monsters that turned on them, until one started sniffing me out. I ran for the water and it followed, then turned into a sea lion and we swam together.

The next thing I knew I was in an old movie house with a bunch of people and we were going to rehearse a play or something. Fire broke out and it spread quickly. I was going to kick a door open but I could see fire in the crack so I knew not to open it. I tried to run away from the fire but it was real quick. Mac was trying to kick that door open and I was screaming not to. Every exit had fire and it was growing. I then woke up.

Back to the first dream, I really feel like we connected last night. The dream was so real and the context that I had somehow “transported” back made it seem real. I guess this is my mind telling me just how much I miss you and the kids. I am so looking forward to seeing you at Christmas time. It seems so far away from August but every day is a day closer to being together again.

Remember, I love you and enjoy being with you even if only in my dreams. All my love,


I did not want to get up this morning. The alarm was particularly annoying but I got up at 0630. Mac was already gone since he has to muster at 0700 on mainside every morning. I like being alone as I am getting ready. I had my oatmeal and waited for muster.

PT went today but I had an appointment. I showed up in green PT gear but fell out as soon as muster was over. I wrote Carrie an email until my appointment.

I went to medical and waited there from 0900 until 1030 before the guy showed up. By then, there was about 10 people waiting. Luckily, I got in early and he took a look at my ankle almost right away. He said that the muscles that go over my ankle and provide the support had been stretched out and therefore did not provide the support I needed. He said he would put me on a program to strengthen it and to meet him at 0600 on Friday. Great, earlier and earlier mornings. But at least I will get taken care of.

After the appointment, I tried to find Captain Finley but could not locate him. I went to lunch with Shep and finally had some company for chow. He told me about a lieutenant from U.A.E. who, upon checking in, told the OOD that he may take his bags up to his room now. Obviously he had been pampered in his homeland. I would have paid money to hear the rest of that conversation. Shep said that upon graduation, this guy will be promoted to Captain and will head their navy, which consists of only three ships.

After chow, I went back to the barracks and stayed there until muster at 1630. I worked on my bio and set up my printer. I did some more organizing and basically spent the afternoon writing and revising. After muster, I did something I was told not to. I went running. The therapist told me that he would put me on a program of swimming, biking, treadmilling, and stair climbing. But the program does not start until Friday and I skipped PT yesterday. I have to keep my running up and my weight loss due to running is rather favorable. So I ran for 48 minutes. I was rested, fueled, and hydrated but the run still sucked. I am very tired as a result but I did a good job pushing myself.

After the run I showered and watched the rest of Clueless while eating dinner. Afterwards, Mac put in The Godfather, Part 2 and I watched a little of that but decided to get some work done. I needed to iron my cammies and talk to Carrie about expenses. I called her but I had to leave a message and wait for her call. The bio is due tomorrow and I need the information concerning our finances.

I am still feeling rather lonely and depressed. Captain Finley pointed out today that 6 months might stretch out if I have to go to a long MOS school and then possibly overseas right away. I keep telling myself that I had four years with my family and that I must endure the separation. I am still adjusting and doing better, I think, than any other deployment. But it is still difficult and I am not comfortable by myself yet.

I emailed each of the kids today. I wanted to send each of them a little note to let them know that I am thinking of them and miss them very much. I do not know how my absence will affect them but I hope they know that I love them and I did not leave because I wanted to or that I do not love them. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Free Advice for Today:
“Don't live with the brakes on.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Tuesday, August 5, 1997

Quote of the Day:
WHEN IN DOUBT... EMPTY THE MAGAZINE. 
- Unknown

I could not get to sleep last night even though I was very tired. I finally fell asleep and was cold all night. I awoke to my alarm for the first time in a long time and I can’t say I liked it.

I got ready and went to muster; a disorganized mess where they did not even bother to take muster. After passing a few minutes of useless word, we were secured until 1630. I decided to go to medical to have my ankle looked at.

Medical is the same no matter where you go; a lot of waiting. I checked in and sat forever. After explaining the same problem to three separate docs, the real doctor was just told what the last doc thought and they took x-rays. It was cold as Hell but the x-rays showed that there were no fractures. The doc said that I should have had physical therapy (PT) when I hurt it last time and it would not have taken so long to heal. He told me to come in the morning and they would start with PT and I should be good to go for Echo company on the 18th. He gave me a huge bottle of motrin and told me to come back in the morning.

I then went to the commissary and broke the cardinal rule of shopping: I went hungry. But I kept the damage down to $33 so I guess that is good. Afterwards, I came home, scouting out different routes to and from town. I then organized some more stuff in my room, hanging all of my uniforms, and then went to lunch.

I got the hang of the chow hall and got a bag lunch for dinner. I ate chili mac and a lot of potatoes, rice, salad, and beans. It was good and I was so full, all I could do was come back to the barracks and take an hour nap. When I awoke, I answered some email and then went to afternoon muster, which was equally worthless. I turned in some paperwork and then came back to the room to call Dad for his birthday. I finally got a hold of him and we had a good talk. For once, I was as happy to talk to him as he was to talk to me. We had a good talk and I told him what was going on. He said he would call me next.

Continuing on my “discovering new routes” plan, I went to Q town to drop off my cammies. On the way back, I stopped at Wal Mart and bought a bowl, some raisins for my oatmeal, toilet paper, and some paper towels. I then stopped at Blockbuster video to get a card and rented two movies that Carrie had either seen or did not want to see. Beavis and Butthead Do America and Clueless. Both were pretty much a bomb. Oh well, $6.50 down the drain.

When I got back, Mac had some friends in the room and one, LT Fought, stayed to watch the movies. We watched half of Clueless and then switched to Beavis and Butthead even though they had both seen it numerous times. We did not even finish it and gave up, opting for sleep. Tomorrow is PT but I will not be able to participate due to my appointment.

Free Advice for Today:
“Wear out, don't rust out.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Monday, August 4, 1997

Quote of the Day:
IF IT'S STUPID BUT WORKS, IT ISN'T STUPID. 
- Unknown

I decided not to go in until about 0900 because my orders said I did not have to be in until midnight. I decided to let myself sleep in. I slept on the top rack it was rather warm, but I slept fine. I heard Mac get up and leave but fell back asleep right away.

I got up and got ready to check in but discovered the outfit I was going to wear did not match so I ironed another pair of trousers. With briefcase in hand, I set off. I made the wrong turn and ended up walking for 20 minutes in the heat with a jacket on. I was pretty hot, under the collar too, by the time I got there to admin.

The female corporal there was pretty much a bitch. She had eight days left and it showed. She got flustered when two lost admin pogues could not figure out how to check me in. Finally, we got it all worked out and they sent me to “M” company who immediately sent me to “E” company who was forming today. I went there and they said to muster at 1300 and get a form I needed from “M” company. So I went back and got it and went back to the barracks.

(**Post-entry: August 2003** Isn't it ironic that I had the sterotypical disdain for the S1 and then eventually became an Adjutant? Something about reaping and sowing.)

I changed into my cammies and went to the chowhall where I stumbled around trying to figure out what the SOP was there. It cost $3.35 per meal but you can go back and get seconds, even a brownbag for dinner.

After chow, I went back to the barracks and did some more organizing and thought about Carrie and the kids. I was a little depressed. Finally, I filled out the form and went to the muster.

We met in a big classroom and there was only about 45 of us there, mostly Naval Academy grads. I sat next the Shepard and tried not to look too lost. After some admin stuff, the “E” company XO, Captain Finley came in and addressed us.

He was a very locked on officer with a good sense of humor. I liked him immediately. He had a strong voice and was very confident, along with being funny and articulate. He basically told us that we would no longer have to deal with the maintenance company because we now belonged to him. Musters go at 0730 and 1300 and PT every Monday, Wed, Fri. I was told that I would not have to pay 2 rents and was guaranteed a room in the barracks. Basically, there was not a lot to do until the rest of the company showed up and then he talked a lot about how everyone (except me) would have to make arrangements to live out in town. I am so thankful I do not have to deal with that.

After we were let go, I went back to the room and called NFCU, securing the $5000 loan for the condo. It went smoothly and I was surprised. After that, I ran into LT Wilson, a former corporal from Yuma. It was good to see him and think we are going to be friends.

I then went to the commissary but it is closed on Mondays so I took a tour of mainside. I went to OCS and saw where my nightmare unfolded 3 years ago. It was eerie. I then went to the 7-day store and bought some food for the room. After I got back, I ran the same route, but 7 minutes faster than yesterday. It hurt and I am very tired tonight but I am getting things done.

I set up the microwave after almost breaking my back getting it up here. It had sat through a rainstorm yesterday but it worked fine. There is a lot of walking here because things are so spread out around the barracks. But this is good because it makes you work.

I had a talk with Mac and he said he wanted to be an infantry officer. No big surprise but what was surprising is that he said he might get out after his first tour because the Marine Corps isn’t everything he thought it was. I told him it depends on the command and he said that is why he wanted infantry. He said he would like to be a TBS instructor some day.

I explained to him my thoughts about what I wanted to do and, surprisingly again, he understood my point. I have the skills to do the Corps a lot of good in the area of computers so that is what I should shoot for in the limited time I have left. He agreed and I think we came to an understanding.

Tomorrow is my first muster and I do not know what to expect but I plan on getting over to medical for my ankle. I hope that I am not dropped to “F” company because I would have to wait another month and would not know anyone. But if my ankle is bad, I will have no choice.

I tried to call my Dad and wish him a happy birthday but could not get ahold of him. I will keep trying because he probably thinks I am mad about him not coming to Seattle. I am not.

Free Advice for Today:
“Don't take medicine in the dark.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Sunday, August 3, 1997

Quote of the Day:
INCOMING FIRE HAS THE RIGHT OF WAY. 
- Unknown

I awoke today with a mission. I wanted to get checked in and get to my new room so I got up at 0830, showered, and got ready. I went to the PX, got a haircut and bought $50 worth of supplies. When I got back, I was ready to get checked in.

I went to the OOD and identified myself. The captain looked over his list and was immediately confused because I was not on any of them. He seemed to me to be one who got confused often.

As I stood there, he told me he would get me a room but that I had to wait for the JOOD to show me where it was. He seemed persistent even though I tried to tell him I could find it. So I waited for awhile, trying to look interested in the bass-fishing tournament on TV.

He had randomly picked out the room that Mac was in... my third stroke of luck in two days. That made me happy and I could not wait to get out of the pig sty that was Shep’s room. Shep had let me borrow his shirt, coat, and tie for the check in so I was hot.

I waited as long as my patience held out and I was going to be late for going to see the OCS guys. I told him I would come back but on the way back to the barracks, I ran into the JOOD and followed him back. The captain gave me the key and made an entry in the logbook. He had no linen so I told him I would come back for that later.

The JOOD went to the wrong room and I was worried when Mac’s name was not on the door. But all it was was the wrong wing and we eventually found it with the help of a female lieutenant named Pecado.

When we got to the room, the key fit but the door was blocked. We tried the other door but it did not work. We muscled our way in and realized that the lock was busted and therefore they had blocked the door. I thanked the JOOD and commenced to moving my stuff over from Shep’s room, which was no easy task. I was also a little confused on what to do. I had run into Shep and told him to call the hotel and see if they were still there. He did and they weren’t so we agreed to not try to find them. Oh well, I will see them next week.

As I was moving my stuff, LT Pecado approached me and asked if I was a computer geek. I answered yes and she said that her computer was broken. I agreed to help her and after trying a few things, I could not get anywhere so I decided to open it up and check the connection. I opened it and it looked like it had a gray carpet inside. It was filthy. I suggested she clean it and try that. She did as I finished moving my stuff and the computer worked. Geek to the rescue.

After checking back with her and fixing her color printing problem she was having, I asked her if there was a way to park my truck closer to my room. She agreed to show me and gave me a little tour of the area. She also helped me move some of my stuff into my room from my truck. Afterwards, I asked her where I could get a bite to eat and she wanted to go too so she drove me to Subway. While we were there we ran into the OCS crew but I did not want to leave Pecado in the hot sun while I talked. I told them I would see them all next week. When we got back, I said good-bye and sat down to eat.

I watched The Godfather while eating and then Shep and I went for a run. I did well and Shep did not. We ran for over 50 minutes and it hurt. But I got started. I was soaking wet by the time we were done and Shep did not look so hot. Afterwards, I took a long shower. By this time Mac was back and we talked while I unpacked. I made my rack and organized, organized, organized.

I watched the rest of The Godfather while I ate dinner and ironed out my cloths. Carrie called back and we talked for about 40 minutes.

It was so good to hear my family. The kids really made me laugh with their speech and urgency. Alex got Hungry Hungry Hippos and Mr. Mouth. Steph babbled like she was pretending to talk on the phone. Carrie said she still asks where I am.

Carrie is doing fine and I realize that she misses me. We both thought that the other was not missing the other very much. Now that we know we are, I think that is making us miss each other more. It was a thrill to talk to them and I look forward to next Sunday.

Free Advice for Today:
“When asked to pray in public, be quick about it.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Saturday, August 2, 1997

Quote of the Day:
Being ready is not what matters. What matters is winning after you get there. 
- Lieutenant General Victor H. Krulak, USMC, April 1965

Stayed up too late last night and only got 5 hours of sleep. When we got up, I loaded the truck and we went to breakfast before I hit the road. It was hard to say goodbye but it was good to get going. I left at 1045.

The trip was very, very long. I did not make it into Quantico until 1900. I drove through so many states that I lost track. I had a few close calls with my bladder but made it in OK. I called Utz on the road and he told me to call him locally once I got to Q-town. As I pulled up, I saw hundreds of immaculate, skinny men everywhere. My first thought was that this was the norm and I could not believe. I was so tired it took a minute to realize that they were the OCS candidates out on liberty.

I got out of the truck and felt out of place with sweats and a tee-shirt. I was waiting for a phone that looked like it would take awhile. Just then, I saw Chris Sheppard (a friend from UW NROTC) walking with someone and I called out to him. What luck!! I told him what was going on and he offered to put me up in his barracks for the night so I could check in tomorrow. I followed him to the barracks so I could change and call Utz.

The camp was further out than I remembered. It took forever and the barracks we pulled up to were horrible. They look like condemned buildings and are called “the projects.” They are the worst, inside and out, than I have ever even seen enlisted barracks. It did not help that Shep’s room look like a disaster area.

I called Utz and we decided to meet for dinner. I got changed and Shep drove yet another long way. When we got to the place we were going, there was a long wait so we drove to another place across the street. We saw the UW gang crossing the street. Thompson, Mac, Brady, Timmons, and Eckhart. We got out and walked. They were staying at the hotel so we said we would meet them there after we ate.

Dinner was less than great. We ended up at a restaurant that had poor service but it was good to see Utz. As the night wore on it became increasingly clear that Sheppard was a rather coarse, discontented individual. I think he has been shunned because of his personality. He put quite a few awkward moments into the night. I had a chicken salad.

After we ate, we went up to the hotel and talked to the UW Ocs’ers. They were all very tired but seemed genuinely happy to see us. I talked to Mac for awhile and look forward to talking more with him. He was a bit preoccupied because Brady was there.

SSGT Fro got sent home for being out in town while she was supposed to be on duty. Unbelievable. I’ll be interested to see what comes of it. Linggi and Utz are still here. Kujo had duty so I did not see him. Everyone left us in the hotel room and Shep and I watched some TV. We left shortly after they returned and Shep got lost on the way home. Only Shep!

I have to admit that I am a little nervous about being here. Everyone is so thin and it is so unlike what I am used to. The rooms are hideous and I do not know how to act. I have been away from this environment since Memphis and I always took solace that I could go home and during college, I had my stripes to hide behind. Here, I have to start fresh and it is a little nerve-racking.

I am tired and must get some sleep. I am sleeping on the top bunk with a dirty sheet and a blanket. This is such a drastic change.

Free Advice for Today:
“Stand up when an elderly person walks into the room.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Friday, August 1, 1997

Quote of the Day:
You don't hurt 'em if you don't hit 'em. 
- Lieutenant General B. Puller, USMC, Marine, 1962

Pain. This morning hurt. We had had a few tequilas along with all of the beer last night and after about 8 hours of sleep, I awoke in pain. Rob could not make it to work and played hooky. We spent the day recovering. Rob came over and we all had a quiet day telling stories and messing around on the computer.

Rob made waffles but I did not eat again until we ordered pizza for dinner. I helped Rob set up his web page and we had a good time going over internet stuff. I was tired and spent the day in recovery. I did not, could not exercise today. Oh well, I am leaving tomorrow and it is a day well spent to have some time with Rob. I will be gone tomorrow and another phase begins.

Free Advice for Today:
“Read more books.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Email -- jason@grose.us
Web -- http://www.grose.us/