Jason's BLOG pages

 
 

 


Jason Grose's BLOG

September 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.


Tuesday, September 30, 1997

Quote of the Day:
The god of war hates those who hesitate." 
- Euripides, Heraclidae circa 425 B.C.

I got some good sleep last night. I awoke knowing that I needed to get up and practice my sword drill because the evaluation was today. I was going to wake up at 0600 because Lefringhouse said he would be on the drill deck at 0600. Muster was at 0745 so I knew I had time. Still, I slept in until 0615 and got ready in a hurry.

When I got to the drill deck, no one was there so I practiced alone. The nervous energy of knowing the evaluation was today ensured my concentration. I went over the whole thing a couple of times and practiced the movements. I felt pretty confident that I knew what I was doing and made it back to the room.

After muster, we went back to the parade deck and had a formation. We waited for colors and then afterwards, broke into sections. The sergeant that was our evaluator looked really young and seemed more nervous than we were. I could tell he was new to the evaluation game. He had us all form a large circle and face outboard. He then called the commands and if you messed up, he would take your sheet and mark off points. I aced it.

We then did eyes right individually. He had a mark and we had to march and call the commands. Again, I aced it. Then we had the inspection formation. Each one of us had to take a turn as the platoon commander and then the company commander. I think I nailed the company commander but forgot to return my sword as the platoon commander. I recovered but I know I got docked points. I also screwed up a sword salute but overall I think I did well.

After the evals were done, I felt good and we went back to the room. We were supposed to PT but ran out of time by the time everyone was done. We got secured until after chow so we had a couple of hours.

Captain Whiteside called me to his office and I had to organize a class at the research center to familiarize our section on what is offered. I was lucky because I had a pamphlet for awhile back and had the number. I called but the person who makes the appointments was out so I will call tomorrow.

We went to chow and afterwards, I wrote in the journal. It will take awhile to catch up but I will keep plugging away. I could not help it...after chow with over an hour before class, I took a nap. Everyone in the room was crashed so it was not hard to follow suit. It was a wonderful nap.

We had a class on nutrition and the captain was his normal chicken-hawk self but it was still a boring class. Afterwards, we had company commanders time and Captain Whiteside decided to make up the PT we missed earlier. His favorite PT is boots and Uts, finding land nav boxes so that is what we did.

We broke down into teams and I was a little apprehensive because Acu and me paired up last time, finding only one out of two boxes and it ends up it was the wrong box. But I had done well last week so I wanted to make up for it. I got two boxes for myself and ran to the jump off point.

The problem was that there was my box 100 meters off the road but there was no exact indicator where along the road to start. I paced off from a bridge twice and decided on a point. Before I stepped off, a captain in a truck stopped and inquired if I was OK. I said I was, a little confused, and he asked what company I was with. After telling him I was in echo, he asked what I was doing and I told him I was land navigating for PT. He asked if I had water and I told him no. He said very well and went on.

I paced off and found a box but it was yellow. I was looking for a red one. So I looked around and found another yellow one so I figured one of them had to be the one. I went back to the road and started over and found the first box again. I knew it was probably wrong but what could I do?

I then went to the river to follow it to a dam where I would step off to find my second box. I followed the river but it was hard because the forest came right to the river and then dropped off. So it was hard to get around in some places and I almost fell in a couple of times. I finally got to the dam and another captain stopped me and asked me the same questions the other captain had asked. I really did not care and went on my way.

When I got to where I thought the box was, I found one but it was too close to the river. I searched around but found no other boxes so I headed home. I was the first one back from my section and waited a half-hour until they got there. I gave my boxes and we all went into Captian Whiteside’s office. Both my points were wrong and I was pissed. Overall, we all did average but it made me mad that I had put in so much effort this time and last and still had a big goose egg to show for it.

After all this was done, I went back to the room and we all waited to get secured. I ate chow and handed out mail. After awhile. we got secured and I was roped into doing night land nav. At first it was mandatory so I signed up and then it became optional. I said what the hell and our section leaders were more than happy to saddle me with getting the names and scores for our section so they did not have to go.

The night land nav course, which I just finished, was a royal and un-adulterated BITCH!!! It is one of the single most difficult things I have ever done and I hated every moment of it. We got our cards and had two hours to get two boxes. We went out to the start and waited for the darkness. When it finally came, we stepped out in thirty second intervals.

My starting box was #3 and I had to go 480 meters across dense vegetation. Let me take a moment to explain “dense.” Most of it was thick briar bushes and it was literally solid. The pace count was 1 1/2 times normal because there was no such thing as having any kind of stride. You had to stop every step and beat down the bushes with your free hand. The other hand has the compass and you are trying to keep an azimuth. It took me 10 minutes to take 15 steps. It was miserable and it was so dark that you did not know what was literally right in front of you. So you had to concentrate on blind foot placement, keeping a good direction, and trying to keep the bushes and branches from scraping your eye at any moment.

There was a couple of times that I was completely tied up in briar vines. I could not move and every time I tried, it got tighter and the stickers dug into my body. I was getting angry and cussing up a storm. I was so mad and it seemed to stretch on forever. The second leg was harder than the first. I took three steps and was entangled in briar. I reversed and started over only to get the same results. It was ridiculous. I got about 50 meters into it and had gotten so beat up that I ad to find my way back and start over because my azimuth was so off. Finally, I trudged through and got done but only got an 85% because I missed the first point by 50 meters and the second by 100 meters. At the end, I really did not care what I got and felt like throwing the damn card at the grader and calling it good. When she said I had gotten an 85%, I said “Good enough” and went home. I really do not care about my performance because it was such an ordeal.

Now I am spending the rest of the night getting ready for tomorrow. I hope it will be a little better than today because the only good thing about today is that it is over.

Free Advice for Today:
Make duplicates of all important keys.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Monday, September 29, 1997

Quote of the Day:
The god of war hates those who hesitate." 
- Euripides, Heraclidae circa 425 B.C.

Today I woke up to a knock at my door. I was still getting over being sick and I had a good nine hours of sleep. I had not slept well the last few nights so it was good to finally get some deep rest. Acu and Leon were at my door and I groggily stumbled to the door to let them in.

They had gone to their dental appointments and mine was on Friday so today was a freak off-day. They wanted to practice sword and I told them to give me about 15 minutes and I would be out there. I got up and got ready like a zombie, getting into cammies and shaving.

When I went out to the courtyard, they were not there so I assumed they were on the parade deck. I took the 10 minute walk there and they were not there. Needless to say I was a little miffed, still being half asleep and all. I came back and they were in the courtyard. They had gone inside to stop someone from playing the National Anthem and the Marines’ Hymn over and over. Every time that it played, they would have to render a salute and stand at attention.

We practiced the sword movements but Acu did not want the help. He was argumentative and did not have any snap and pop. I was not about to force myself on him and just let him go. I figured he would get the grade that such an attitude deserved. Leon seemed more receptive to my help.

After awhile, a friend of theirs shouted out the window and they got him to come out for a reunion. They had gone to OCC together and he was a 12-year prior enlisted. After introductions, they continued to babble until I got tired of listening to it. We were there to drill, not reminisce. I started my own practice and after awhile, just left. I told them I would be in my room. They never came by.

I started doing things around the room. I should have studied land navigation because we have a written test on Thursday but I got everything else done by procrastinating it. I did stuff until 1100 and then went to chow but the line was too long so I decided to come back.

I finished a letter to Micki and put some stuff in an envelope for Carrie. I polished all of my boots and read some of the book I need to get done. At about 1230, I went back to chow where the line was gone. I ate and then went to the PX to get my alphas. I met Shep there and we talked for a little bit. I inspected his alphas and noticed a corroded button and they replaced it. I found one on mine too so I had it replaced. I told Shep I would probably go to the coffee shop later.

I came back and changed over to sweats. I just wanted to get stuff done and did not plan to leave the room. I made some coffee to fight off the urge to take a nap. I ironed my cammies, did some work on my journal, read some more, and did some general housekeeping. I tried to call Mom but she was not there. Basically, I did everything I could to stay busy so I would not get depressed. I was on the verge all day.

At about 1900, I decided to go get some coffee to get out of the room. Leon had not showed up to work out so I just gave up waiting after I ate the dinner I had brought home from lunch. I had no money except the mountain of change that I took to get some coffee.

I got to the coffee shop and Shep was there. I had brought We Were Soldiers Once, and Young but was more interested in human conversation than reading. I talked to Shep for awhile but he left to go workout and never came back. I read for awhile and then left. I was going to go over to Joe’s but did not want to show up unannounced. Instead, I went over to Mac’s who I knew did not care when I showed up. He was practicing his sword manual and watching TV. I stayed over there talking with him and Faught while watching a show about tanks.

After about an hour, I went back to the barracks and called Mom. We had a good talk and I assured her that other than a little loneliness, I was doing fine. My voice was still scratchy but at least I could talk. I was in a better mood after I talked to her and, hey, it was on her dime!

Now I must get ready for the big day tomorrow: sword drill evaluation. I think I am ready and am not that worried about it. A good night’s sleep should provide the final touch. Hopefully I will wake up in a better mood than I have been. I hate it when I am moody but do not seem to be in control of my attitude. It comes and goes rather randomly.

Free Advice for Today:
Make duplicates of all important keys.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Sunday, September 28, 1997

Quote of the Day:
Don’t let your life slip through your fingers by living in the past or for the future. By living your life one day at a time, you live ALL the days of your life." 
- Unknown

Today was another day of sickness. I slept until about 1000 and still did not feel all that rested. Thank goodness I had a few errands or I would have never got out of bed.

I heard the duty come in and perform the rifle count at about 0900. Then at about 1000, I heard a knock at the door. I stumbled out of bed dressed in a T-shirt, shorts and black socks, one of which was pulled out about ten inches in front of my toes. I was a mess and could not even open my eyes. When I opened the door, there was Lt Barney, the duty. She kind of laughed at my sad appearance and asked if I was asleep. I grumbled and she said she needed a working party to clean up the road because some general was coming through. At that moment I coughed rather disgustingly and she asked if I was all right. A ragged voice answered that I was sick. She said she could try to get someone else and I told her to try and if she couldn’t, to come back and I would do it. Luckily, I did not hear from her again. I went back to sleep until 1045.

I got up and got dressed. There were no good movies to see so I decided to get something to eat and then get a haircut. I did not have any money to spare so I went to the chowhall.

It was a drizzly day and overcast. It was the perfect day for the mood I was in. I went to the exchange to get a haircut but it was busy. I took a number and went to pick up my calling cards. I got them and when I returned, they had already called my number. I was 29 and 30 was on the board. I grabbed another number and saw Leon there so we chatted.

After getting done, he invited me to go with him to see a football game at Yorio’s house. I agreed and was thankful for the company. I thought we were going right over there and he offered to drive so I left the truck in the exchange parking lot. It ends up we went back to TBS before we went over there so I should have just drove my truck.

We stopped by the store and Leon bought some beer and Cokes. I was not feeling great but since I did not drink the night before, I looked forward to watching a little football and drinking a couple of beers. We ran into Yorio at the store and talked for awhile. We were going to get some pizza but Anthony’s pizza was closed. I felt funny that Leon was paying for all of this but I had absolutely no money. I had to dip into all of my change just to get enough money for a haircut.

Leon and Yorio were big Giants fans and Leon was looking forward to seeing the game. But they were not televising it so we had to watch the Redskins game. It was kind of boring and the combination of the beer and chips and dip had an effect on my eyelids. I fell asleep on the couch and was not feeling any better when I awoke.

Leon wanted to go to a movie so he and Yorio decided to go. I wanted to see it but did not feel like borrowing money or depending on Leon to pay my way. He asked Sloan to take me to the exchange to pick up my truck. Sloan lives with Sneller and we piled into Sloan’s truck. I was smashed between Sloan and Sneller not feeling like doing anything but sleeping. What was worse is that it was raining and the effect was just plain depressing.

They dropped me off at my truck and I went home and took a nap. When I awoke, I tried to keep busy by doing things around the room. I shined my boots and polished my field boots. I called Carrie and was so happy to talk to her. It was the one thing I was looking forward to the entire day. Talking to the kids also raised my spirits and I spent the rest of the night trying not to be depressed about missing them. I got things ready and read some of the book that is due. I knew could sleep in tomorrow.

Free Advice for Today:
Don't leave hair in the shower drain.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

No BLOG entries for September 24, 1997 - September 27, 1997.


Tuesday, September 23, 1997

Quote of the Day:
My wild oats have turned to shredded wheat." 
- Unknown

Today was a bit harder than I anticipated. It started by going to the drill field to work with SgtMaj Kirby on sword manual. It was really cold and I was just praying for the sun to peek over the trees to warm me up. I am still a bit shaky on the sword manual but a lot better than most. I will get in down, no problem.

After that, we had classes and they were all boring. After awhile, we had discussion group about Battle Leadership which I finished reading right before the discussion. I was trying not to fall asleep but I awoke with a sore throat this morning so that made me tired. I think I am coming down with something.

After chow, of which I ate a lot, Leon and I went to the PX to get some TP. It is so much fun hanging around him and I was glad for the company. After chow, we had over five hours of straight class. It was horrible and I spent most of the time standing. It was so tiring and was the longest stretch of classes we had received to date. Everyone was hurting.

The class went long and we had almost no time to get ready for the night land nav course. We rushed back to our rooms to change over and then got back to the classroom. The whole thing was stupidly simple. We got to do the calculations and the first setting in the classroom. We had two hours to get two points so the entire exercise was a lot simpler than I expected.

I went out to my first box and we all waited for the signal to start, once it got dark. All we have to do is use a compass to follow a straight path through the woods in the dark. The distance was rather short and I ended up doing it twice for the practice. I still missed my point by one box but got a 99%.

After we got back, I once again waited until one of my roomates left so I could get ready. It is like living with Chris and my civility is rapidly deteriorating. He knows I cannot stand him and I do not care. After he left, the other two hung out for a few minutes and we talked. After they left, I cleaned my rifle and had a can of soup for dinner. Mac came by and we talked for a bit. I let him have some canned fruit and an oatmeal cookie. I did not mind feeding him because I know he is too busy to get food sometimes. He is also a good friend.

I have been feeling bad lately because I have not kept up with this journal but I will try to get on top of it.

Free Advice for Today:
Be gentle with the earth.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

No BLOG entries for September 17, 1997 - September 22, 1997.


Tuesday, September 16, 1997

Quote of the Day:
YOU HAVE TO THINK LIKE AN ELECTRON." 
- Unknown

(I was behind in my journal and just jotted notes to remind me what to write, which I never got back to doing).

qual day
tired
hump
moody
broke out
butts
pistol
sgt mitchell
bars
pizza

Free Advice for Today:
Learn CPR.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Monday, September 15, 1997

Quote of the Day:
W.T.F.O." 
- Unknown

(I was behind in my journal and just jotted notes to remind me what to write, which I never got back to doing).

prequal, 230
pistol jammed

Free Advice for Today:
Slow dance.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Sunday, September 14, 1997

Quote of the Day:
IF YOU CAN FOG A MIRROR, YOU CAN WORK HERE." 
- Unknown

(I was behind in my journal and just jotted notes to remind me what to write, which I never got back to doing).

movie
coffee shop
stuff ready
carrie called
chris called, did not ask for anything
late night

Free Advice for Today:
Don't take good health for granted.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Saturday, September 13, 1997

Quote of the Day:
YOU CAN'T PUSH A MAN UP A ROPE UNLESS HE IS WILLING TO TRY." 
- Unknown

(I was behind in my journal and just jotted notes to remind me what to write, which I never got back to doing).

leon, acu errands
baltimore
drink
watch game
bar
came home late
laundry

Free Advice for Today:
Forget the Joneses.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Friday, September 12, 1997

Quote of the Day:
I KNOW YOU BELIEVE YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU THINK I SAID, BUT I AM NOT SURE YOU REALIZE WHAT YOU HEARD IS NOT WHAT I MEANT." 
- Unknown

(I was behind in my journal and just jotted notes to remind me what to write, which I never got back to doing).

fired 230
pistol sharpshooter
good day but hard hump home
leon, pearce, damons
coffee shop until 0200

Free Advice for Today:
Never encourage anyone to become a lawyer.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Thursday, September 11, 1997

Quote of the Day:
SEMPER STUPID." 
- Unknown

(I was behind in my journal and just jotted notes to remind me what to write, which I never got back to doing).

tired
did not feel good
pistol, worse
better than yesterday

Free Advice for Today:
Don't smoke.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Wednesday, September 10, 1997

Quote of the Day:
A DEPLOYMENT THAT BEGINS WELL ENDS BADLY. A DEPLOYMENT THAT BEGINS BADLY; ENDS BADLY." 
- Unknown

Today might rate as my worst day at TBS. It started with a hell of a hump out and I was not feeling good all day. The only thing worse than the day’s events was my mood. I was dog-tired and was in no mood to even talk to anyone.

We did classes and more classes until I thought I would explode. The days melt together here and it did not seem any different than the day before. It was more classes, more snapping in, and more misery.

At the end of the day, I had all that I could take. The only light at the end of the tunnel was that I got to call Carrie. I was getting more upset by the day because my room seemed to become the company meeting area and I had no privacy. I told everyone than I wanted to talk to my wife and kids and that I would need some quiet. This was a big problem last week and I made sure they understood in no uncertain terms that I would have a quiet room.

Right as I walked in, miserable from the day’s events, the phone rang. It was Carrie and I wanted to wait until later to talk because I needed to recover and the room was full. It was me, Acu, Leon, and Sloan. Carrie said that it was the only time she could talk because she had to get Alex to soccer practice. So since everyone was gawking at me, I stretched the phone all the way to the closet by the front door and was pissed that I had to go to this length on my phone in my room. I tried to carry on a conversation but was getting madder and madder. Then the final straw hit: a knock at the door.

I kicked the door open and saw the shocked face of the squad leader, Lt Arratia. I was so mad I could not see. He walked in to pass the all important news that the knot on our WP bag that covered our sleeping bag would be on the right side. I stormed into the room and mumbled something about not being able to talk and that I would try to call later. About halfway through he sentence, we got disconnected and in a rage, I threw the phone at the printer and Sloan, shocked, said “Hey!” I looked at all of the shocked faces in the room and yelled how sick I was of this shit. I went over to my rack and started tying my WP bag. They all know not to say a single word to me and you could have heard a pin drop. It is a small room so the tension was thick.

Pretty soon, Acu said to Leon, “Let’s go.” The others left too without a word. I layed back in my rack and thought about what had just happened. My nerves were already shot but I also felt bad that they had seen that part of me. The thought occurred to me that I was alienating myself from the only people around here that even give a crap about me. I wanted to talk to Carrie so much and I called. To my surprise there was no answer. I really needed to talk and could not believe she was not home. I called again and there was no answer. I very nearly threw my chair out the window. I felt like a raging bull and it took every ounce of restraint to calm myself down. I tried the beeper and even called Sharon but she just told me what I already knew, she was at Alex’s practice. I was in such a state of depression that all I could do was mope around and try to keep myself busy. Then it turned to rage and I was ready to yell at Carrie when I got a hold of her.

After a few minutes, I decided to call and leave a message to call me. I needed to get some sleep but I could not stay up and wait. As a second surprise, Carrie picked up when I called. She said she must have been out in the car and Paul had called to say that the practice was canceled. I lit into her and she let me rage. I told what had happened and how mad I was that she was not there when I called back. She let me go and after I got that out of my system, we had a calm talk and I felt better.

After we talked, I went to bed and made a mental note that I would have to apologize to all of the people that were in the room when I exploded.

Free Advice for Today:
When deplaning, thank the captain for a safe and comfortable flight.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Tuesday, September 9, 1997

Quote of the Day:
Love is like a roller coaster: when it's good you don't want to get off, and when it isn't... you can't wait to throw up." 
- Unknown

For some odd reason, I woke up feeling good and in a decent mood. I ate chow and the hump felt fine. I actually felt alive and was ready for the day....so I thought.

The second day was much like the first. We had class after class after class.... again until we were numb. The funny thing is that we are all bored, tired, and uninterested but they think that by simply providing us with these dry classes when we are in this state, we absorb and master the information instantly. If you screw something up, they say, “You had the class!” Yes, I did, but I was half asleep and all my attention was taken up trying not to faint.

After an eternity of rifle classes, we had the first of many pistol classes. I have never fired the pistol before and wasn't too excited to start. I knew I would do well with the rifle but the pistol is a different story. We shoot the Berretta 9 millimeter.

Chow consisted of a box lunch. It was pretty good. We had turkey subs, chips, Oreos, and an apple. We drank a small carton of fruit juice. It was ok but not near the quality of what we were paying. We got automatically charged $3.30 for every lunch while we are at the range.

While we ate, the gunny gave us an unofficial class about shooting. He has quite a record. He holds national records for the rifle and pistol and a world-record for the shot gun. He is one of only three Marines ever to qualify a perfect score three times in a row. He told us what was bullshit and what was not as far as what they were teaching us.

The hump back gave us another chance to call cadence. I belted out my few and everyone kind of pitched in. It makes it go faster and everyone is always in a good mood on the way home. We never call cadence on the way out there.

Today was a special day because we had to go to a lecture after the range. We went from filthy to showered and dressed in coat and tie in about a half hour. It was strange to see the change in everybody. These are people you had just seen at their worst and now we were all dressed up.

While we were getting ready, Acu and I decided to play a little joke on Sloan. He was in the shower and I was going to get a surprise picture of him. We had it planned out and when we turned the knob to go into the bathroom, it was locked. I told Sloan to unlock it because I had to go to the bathroom. He did and I snuck in and got into position. I nodded at Acu and he reached out and grabbed the shower curtain, whipping it open. I snapped the picture as Sloan cowered. We laughed and ran out of the bathroom. Sloan thought it was funny and said he would get us back.

We loaded the busses and Acu and I looked for Leon but could not find him until we got there. I had snapped a few pictures and ran out of film. I tried to get the people that I knew and was mad that I did not have any more pictures.

We got there and got to our seats, talking about how tired we already were and how more tired we would be in the morning. This speech just happened to fall on the week we were at the range so was not usually part of the hellish range weeks. We got the bonus plan.

Acu went up to get something to eat and I told him to grab me something. I talked to Leon and we discussed how different everyone looked. We said that the females were the most different. Leon, the stand-up comic, made me laugh aloud when he discussed his own reactions to the females. He has a way of making anything funny. Pretty soon Acu showed up and motioned me to follow him. I guess you could not take food or drink into the auditorium so I had to stand out in the entrance to drink the Coke he had gotten me. After about half, it looked like it was about to start so I hid it behind a plant and went back. After ten minutes of nothing happening, I went back to finish it.

By this time there were only a few people around at the entrance. I decided to sneak the Coke in and was trying to figure out how to lodge it into my armpit while looking natural. As I was attempting this, I saw in my peripheral vision that there was someone over my left shoulder. I whipped my head around to see an older man in Charlies looking into the auditorium. I thought he must have been at least a major and he said, “What is going on here?” I was stunned, knowing that I was caught. It ends up he was a captain and was on duty. He had not seen what I was doing and was asking about the hundreds of lieutenants in the auditorium.. I told him, relieved that I was not caught.

After he left, I nixed the idea of putting the Coke in my armpit and decided that since I had lost weight, I could get it into my pocket. As I was trying to get it just so, I once again sensed a person over my left shoulder. I looked up again to see that it was the TBS Commanding Officer, Colonel Lee. All I could spit out was, “Howya doin’ Sir?” He seemed a bit amused and I do not know if he knew. He just greeted me and went on. At that point, I just gulped the rest of the Coke and went in to take my seat. This story tickled Acu and Leon to no end. Leon especially enjoyed the professional greeting I gave the CO.

The retired general that spoke won two Navy Crosses within a week in Vietnam. A Navy Cross is just below the Medal of Honor and the differences between earning either of them is very small. His speech was mediocre and we all had the range on our minds. It was motivating to hear some of the stories of when he was a junior officer because some thing never change. He spoke of Korea and said that we would probably see action there.

After he was done, we all loaded the buses but there were no drivers. We waited for about 20 minutes while they tried to locate the drivers that were supposed to be there. I am sure that they all got a good, hard core ass-chewing. Most people slept on the way back but I stayed up and talked to Leon about the Corps in general.

When we got back, Acu had to find a candy machine and get something to eat. I just wanted to get back to the room. I cleaned my rifle and loaded my pack. We were taking them for the first time tomorrow but I did not put anything in it. It was just to get used to having it on our back. I got in bed and was asleep instantly.

Free Advice for Today:
Be tough minded but tenderhearted.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Monday, September 8, 1997

Quote of the Day:
This land is your land. This land is my land. So stay on your land." 
- Unknown

The morning came early at 0430. We had mandatory morning chow so I got up, threw on my cammies, and shaved. By the time I got to the chow line, it was very long. So now I had to wait in a long line when I was disgustingly tired. I was not in the jolliest of moods.

After horsing down my food, I had to hurry back to the room, grab my LBV (Load Bearing Vest) and my rifle to get out to formation. Of course there was the normal confusion with tired people trying to find their way in the dark. The SPC’s were bitching and everyone was talking at once. It was almost comical if I was not so tired.

After an eternity, we stepped off and the hump began. We went about 2 1/2 miles to the outdoor classroom. This hump was the first of many and I was so worried about my ankles. It was dark and we were on a dirt road with rocks.

When we finally made it, I was soaking wet with sweat. It felt good to stop and even better to sit in the bleachers. This “good feeling” lasted but a few minutes because it got real cold with a wet shirt. We had classes all day and what once felt good started to hurt. The bleachers had no back support and your butt really starts to hurt. Then there is the boring classes and your overall fatigue. All these factors added up into a miserable existence. People were falling asleep and would be awoken by the SPC’s. It was like a weird torture session.

After what seemed like forever, we got to zero our rifles. This means that they wanted to make sure that the actual rifle is capable of shooting straight. We would get 36 yards away and shoot three shots. If all three were close to each other, no matter where they were on the target, the rifle was good. We adjusted the rifle to bring this group to the center of the target. that was the idea but of course, the reality is different. My rifle was ok but I could not adjust it to the center. I did the best I could and the instructors, not very interested in individual help, herded us along.

Then we went back to the bleachers for more hideous classes. they are all about marksmanship and very dry. They are taught by enlisted instructors whose only different treatment of you from a recruit is adding “sir” to every derogatory comment. I found them very condescending.

After ten hells, we had lunch. The food but pig-butt nasty. There was some kind of watery stew and slice of stale bread. I felt like I was in prison or something. The misery just kept adding up. After chow, and I use that term loosely, we had, what else....more classes. I was numb by now. Finally, we were about done.

After snapping in (getting into the firing positions and pretending to shoot) we humped back home. It was the first time I was in a good mood all day and did not mind it at all. We got back about 1900 and did the normal “wait until we are secured.” They have to get all of the administration stuff done and the rifle counts before they let us go. This only bothers me because I have to put up with my roommates until they can go home. At least we got mail and I handed it all out.

I was so hungry by now that I wanted to go out and eat a lot. Acu and I just wanted to hit McDonalds but Leon talked us into eating at the Golden Coral because they had an all-you-can-eat. He said it would cost the same amount as McD’s so we agreed when he said he would drive.

On the way out, we got stopped at a road block that randomly checks cars. We thought this was funny because all we wanted to do was grab something to eat and get some sleep. We had already been held over waiting to get secured and now something out of the blue. We got out, joking, while some enlisted MP’s poured over Leon’s car. They even had a dog that sniffed for drugs. Now, in the ten years that I have been in, I had never seen this and of all places to do it, TBS? I found it utterly amazing and Leon was not to happy having a mutt rummage through his car.

After it was done, we went to the Golden Coral and was hit with our next surprise. It was not the same price as going to McDonalds. In fact, it was double. The food was not very good and they were about to close so the selection in the buffet was minimal. But I was so hungry that I devoured a few pieces of fried chicken and ate mashed potatoes until I thought I would puke. By the time we got back to the barracks, I was more than ready to get some sleep. It was 2200 and I felt like it was the middle of the night.

Free Advice for Today:
Have regular medical and dental checkups.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Sunday, September 7, 1997

Quote of the Day:
A handy telephone tip: Keep a small chalkboard near the phone. That way, when a salesman calls, you can hold the receiver up to it and run your fingernails across it until he hangs up." 
- Unknown

This morning, I had duty once again. Like always, I dragged my poor butt out of the rack on time and secure in the knowledge that I could catch up very soon. I was up at 0730 and got ready by throwing on my cammies and shaving. I reported to the training office just long enough to tell the duty that he had first shift and I would be back at noon. I stumbled back to my rack and fell unconscious until 1100.

I got up and went to the chowhall because my body was screaming for food. After I ate and got back, it was time to go on duty. I had the noon to 1600 shift and took advantage of the time to shine my boots and read.

After I was relieved after a uneventful shift, I did some laundry and small errands around the room. I called Carrie at 1945, 15 minutes early after telling the duty I needed a little extra time. He did not care and I talked to Carrie until 15 minutes after. It is the highlight of my week and it is a combination of joy and depression afterwards. Getting to talk to the kids is a treat and I miss them more each time I talk to them. But at least I can call and they can hear my voice twice per week.

After I returned to the duty, he told me that he would spend the night in the training office because we could sleep after 1100 and changing over in the middle of the night would be ridiculous. So I went to my bed and slept. Tomorrow would be the start of the range weeks and I was already tired.

Free Advice for Today:
Keep your desk and work area neat.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Saturday, September 6, 1997

Quote of the Day:
It's always darkest before dawn. So if you're going to steal the neighbor's newspaper, that's the time to do it." 
- Unknown

I awoke today feeling good. I got the rest I needed and was glad I did not have to be out land naving. After spending most of the morning catching up on my journal, I decided to see a movie. I called the theater and decided to see Excess Baggage with Alicia Silverstone. It was at 1335 and I had to get some other stuff done. I had two hours so I got ready and left.

I went to Quantico to get my map laminated and got a haircut. I decided to get the shave again but once again, they did not fade the hairline up when they did the high and tight. I do not think I will be going there anymore. I got done, got my map, and went back to the barracks. I had a little time before the movie started so I started calling everyone I knew to see if I could get someone to go with me. I could not get ahold of anyone and found out that land nav was going late and that is where everyone was.

I went out to the formation and stood away because I was not part of it. Capt X, Mac’s SPC was in charge of the session and when he saw the state of everyone, he was pissed. Some people had changed over to PT gear, some in civies, and some had not shaved in the morning. Also, he said people were just flipping their cards at him when they had to turn them in. So, of course, he had to give his obligatory ass-chewing to the formation and I was happy that all I had to do was watch. I was leaning on the building with my arms crossed and after he was done, he walked off and went by me. I said good morning and he went by. Then he stopped and told me to come over to him. He asked me my name and I told him. I though for sure he was going to try to chew me out for not being in his formation and I was not scared. I did not have to be there and was just waiting for Mac.

He tells me that I did not greet him correctly because I did not come to attention. It was all I could do not to laugh. I was in civies and off-duty. I just nodded my head and let him go on about the correct way to do it. He then asked me if I knew this. I said I did, not wanting to get into with this guy who was obviously still had a puffed tail about the formation. He then asked me why I had not done it correctly if I knew. I simply said, “My mistake, Sir,” and bit my tongue so I would not smile. He walked away and I let the smile out.

It was obvious that no one would be ready in time to go with me so I went alone. When I got to the theater, the sign said that it started at 1320, which made me mad because I had busted my tail to get there and it was 1332. I stormed off and went to McDonald’s for lunch. I took it over to Mac’s place so I could watch TV. I ate and flipped, enjoying the joy of doing nothing. They do not have any furniture so it was uncomfortable but I did not mind. They did not have a vacuum cleaner either and the owners before them obviously had a long-haired dog. So when you sit, you act like a lint roller.

After awhile, the rest of the roommates showed up and we all decided to go to Quantico. I wanted the company so I went with Faught. Heuer wanted to go to the mall to get furniture but Faught did not want to. So we took two cars and I went with Faught. We would meet at Q-town and then go our separate ways.

Riding with Faught was interesting. He has an 87 sportscar (can’t recall the type) and he drives fast. He had a Johnny Cash tape and we alternately talked and listened. He is a good guy but a bit strange. He went to school in Oregon.

We wandered around Q-town, getting their errands done and then went to the same bar where I go almost every weekend to get the club sandwich. I had already eaten so I just had a couple of beers. The rest ate and at the end, Mac asked if I would pay because I still owed him $50 for the fiasco with Gunny Buckley who ate a ton of hot wings and oysters, giving us the tab and calling it our wetdown. So I shelled out $15 for the meal.

After that, Faught and I went back to the apartment and I continued to watch TV. Faught took a nap and after awhile, Mac and Heuer showed up. I stayed for awhile and then told them I wanted to go back to my room but I would probably come over later with a movie.

When I got to my room, Acu was there with another lieutenant I did not know. We got to talking and they invited me out with them. Acu was going to drive so I said great! Acu said he had never made the offer because with me being married, he did not think I would want to go out. I guess they go skirt chasing but I assured them that I would be fine and liked being out with the guys even though I do not participate in the game.

We got into Acu’s car, the second sportscar I had been in that day. Acu drives crazier than Faught and I was afraid that he might be trying to impress me because it was the first time I had ridden with him. I stayed quiet in the back seat while he drove at high speed and weaved in and out of traffic. All the while, Noel talked over the bass of the dance music Acu liked and we tried to communicate. They had been friends for a long time and were both from New York so the driving did not seem to matter.

Suddenly, we saw flashing lights behind us and Acu was being puled over. I thought for sure he would get a ticket. How could he not? The cop asked for the usual stuff and then asked if he was in the military. He said he was and showed him his ID. The cop then asked him to step out and had a talk with him. I was talking to Noel and he did not seem that worried. He even said he probably would not get a ticket. I was a bundle of nerves and knew Acu would be pissed all night. A few minutes later, Acu came back and we took off. The cop had given him a warning. I was flabbergasted. Acu had said he thought the speed limit was 65 and after a lecture, the cop let him off. It was amazing.

After about 40 minutes, we finally got to the area and spent another 1/2 hour finding a parking spot. We went to a bar and by this time, we were all buddies. We went in but we could not find the guys that we were supposed to meet. So we walked down to another bar but it was also dead. We went back to the first bar and found the crowd. It ends up that half our platoon was there and it was shaping up to be a good night. It was a good chance to get to know these guys away from the base. We drank, told stories, and laughed. It was one of the best times I have had here.

Pretty soon, Acu wanted to go to Georgetown to another bar. We were all supposed to meet there. I think Acu wanted to get back to the college crowd. It took us forever to get there and we had to go down the heart of DC. It was strange to see all of the famous monuments at night. It was beautiful and strange looking at the most famous structures in the world while listening to dance hip-hop.

When we got there, it was packed. It was elbow to elbow and we had to push our way in. We got to a spot where it was not as crowded and after awhile, everyone else showed up. Even Sloan was there and we d a good time. This place was more of a meat market but I talked mostly to Noel. He looks exactly like George Castanza and is really funny. I had a good time talking with him and we cracked each other up. It reminded me of my relationship with Rob. Noel had had a few Long Island Ice Teas so was feeling good. Acu complimented me on my ability to hold my alcohol. I had had a few beers and was feeling good but did not get wild. I was simply having a good time.

Like it always happens, I suddenly got tired. I was lucky because it hit Acu about the same time and we left. I was so tired and knew I had to get up early. I also knew I was going to be on a 4-on 4-off schedule and could catch up on my sleep. We slept on the way home and except for gobbling down a couple of 7-eleven donuts that we stopped for, went right home. I got undressed and last glanced at the clock at 0305. Four and a half hours later, I was due on deck. What a day!!

Free Advice for Today:
Keep secrets.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Friday, September 5, 1997

Quote of the Day:
THOSE WHO COMPLAIN THE LOUDEST ABOUT HOW BAD THINGS ARE USUALLY DO THE LEAST TO FIX THEM ." 
- Unknown

Today was a busy day. I have a bad habit of thinking of Fridays as easy because they are so close to the weekend. There was a crazy start though because we did not have muster until 1045. It felt weird.

A couple of us mustered early to get in some PT. I thought we were going to run but after only five of us showed up, we did a pull-up workout instead. I can tell that all of my strength training the last six months has paid off. I was much stronger than those that showed and it felt good to be at the front of the pack.

After the pull-ups, I asked if anyone wanted to go for a short run since the pull-ups only took about 40 minutes. Bakion and Chiow agreed to go and I told them I only wanted to go for three miles at a slow pace. Chiow is a little more beefy than me so I thought they would go slow. I was wrong. We took off like bats out of Hell and I had to keep up. There was no way I was going to let them pull away from me but it was apparent this was not going to be the light run I was expecting. We came it at 19:07 and I was spent. I chided them but they did not seem to think that the run was out of the ordinary. At least I was challenged and I lived up to it.

The first thing on the schedule was the written skills test. I was really confident and was not worried except for a little butterfly I always get when I am being evaluated. I got done with the 50-question test and knew I had done well. Afterwards, we got to go to chow and had classes in the afternoon.

The classes were over both the pistol and the rifle. The gunny zoomed over the material so thank goodness I knew it. The pistol was new to me and I had to really pay attention on how to assemble and disassemble it. This is the part when the gunny was losing his temper because so many people kept messing with their pistols and making noise. Even after he told everyone to stop, you could still hear little noises which turned into big noises when multiplied by a dozen people and amplified by the classroom. It was downright embarrassing and unbelievable. The gunny would stop and still, there would be that one idiot who decided to mess with the pistol. I am surprised we did not all get thrashed for this.

This brings up a good point. First, the same start would have happened with the noise with enlisted. It is human nature to tinker with something new. But after the gunny said to knock it off, that would have been it. Maybe, just maybe, there might have been one or two more clicks but not to the degree of what I saw. But the officers kept going and I get the feeling that the “you are the best of the best” treatment has gone to some of the heads around here. They do not treat us like enlisted here but sometimes that is the only way. It makes me sick to think that these guys act the way they do and they are going to be the enforcers and leaders. I thank God I have the perspective from the other side. I take it seriously and try to be the symbol that an officer is supposed to uphold.

After having some weapons handling safety classes, we went out into the training area and practiced. They came around and had us show how we could safely handle both the rifle and pistol. It was easy but there was a lot to remember. When we were in the class, a range instructor, donned in a DI cover, showed us the techniques. It was good to see a DI cover again.

After we were done with the practice, we had to turn in our pistols. Our ordnance rep had stupidly left the crate in front of the XOs office and he had taken it to teach a lesson. We waited around and they sent out search parties all over but I knew exactly where it was. I played along but told them that he would give it back in about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes exactly, they “found” it and we turned in the pistols. Some things never change.

We loaded up the pistols and I helped take them over to the armory. There was a company that had just come out of the field and were cleaning all the big weapons. The lieutenant with us came out and said that the lance corporal had told him that we would have to wait until the company was done before we could turn the pistols in. He said that the LCPL had hinted that a case of beer and pizza could get him to accept it in the back so we wouldn’t have to wait. This appalled me and I said I would give him nothing more than a page 11 entry in his record book. We took it in the back and he accepted the pistols. We did not buy him a thing. I do not and will never work that way.

After waiting forever for the final muster, we got word that we could go over to the Hawk and eat some food while we waited. We went over there and I saw Joe. His old company had just gotten their MOS assignments and they were celebrating. We were not really supposed to eat their pizza but Joe told me to help myself. I did and we talked for awhile until they called muster.

After muster, the word was passed that all the weekend duties had to meet with the XO. I waited and waited for an hour while the XO had the student company staff’s ass for all the shenanigans they had pulled. I was getting pissed but what could I do? Mac was waiting for one of the staff members that was getting chewed out so we waited together. We planned on going back over to the Hawk and getting some beer and chow.

Finally, the XO showed up and when I entered with the other two duties, it went like this:

XO: Who is the Saturday duty?
LT: Here, Sir.
XO: Who is the Sunday duty?
LT: Here, Sir.
XO (To me): Who are you?
Me: Sunday assistant, Sir.
XO: Don’t need to be here
Me: Aye, aye, Sir.

I said it with a slight smile on my face and this is why I like the XO. In the blink of an eye, after catching my eye, he understood that I had waited all that time. He grinned as I left, our eyes still fixed, and said, “Thanks, Stud.” I answered with an OOH-RAH and left.

Afterwards, Mac and I went back to the Hawk and met up with Joe. This time, we could drink and I had a bottle and a small cup. I talked to Joe and a couple of other officers and then left. I wanted to go to that party. Joe was busy talking to a pilot and Mac and Faught were going to the other side. Mac half-jokingly mentioned they might need a ride home but I did not want to commit.

I went back to the room and changed over. I went to the party and I knew most of the people there. It was a good time and it was strange when Capt Grissom showed up with a date. We stood around and talked in a casual setting. His section was trying to discover the mysterious nickname he said existed. They tried to work on his girlfriend but she would not budge. In fact, she called him over and they left. It was all in good fun. The funny thing about it is that you get to see the person behind the rank. He shared how he had a hard time in the field evolutions when he went through TBS.

I was going to leave soon after that because I was not drinking and wanted to get back for some rest. But we started talking to a couple of lieutenants who were almost done and they were very entertaining. They were telling us how hard the night land nav is and the funny stories about it. I stayed late and had a great time. I had decided not to go to land nav in the morning for a variety of reasons. I have duty on Sunday so I will, in essence, already lose half of my weekend. Second, I have a popped blister on my heel and I did not want to make it worse before all the humping next week. But the over-riding reason was simply because I did not want to and wanted to sleep in. I think I deserved it so that is exactly what I did.

Free Advice for Today:
Stay out of nightclubs.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Thursday, September 4, 1997

Quote of the Day:
IF YOU AIN'T THE LEAD DOG, THE SCENERY NEVER CHANGES." 
- Unknown

The extra sleep felt good and I was ready to do the test. My self-confidence level was high and I was glad to start the written test portion of this school. We had the test the first thing in the morning and were given an hour to answer 20 questions. I was done in 35 minutes and felt confident of my performance. Afterwards, you have to go in the hall and wait for the rest to finish. The stress had lifted and everyone was joking around. It was a good feeling.

Afterwards, we filed back in and they went over the test. I knew I had aced it but found it incredible that there were so many questions. It was an open-book, open-note test and every single answer was written in the book. Although it was pretty cut and dry, I disagreed with the major who would answer the questions afterward condescendingly and make the student do push ups. I found it demeaning. He is truly and ass.

After all of this, we were issued our rifles. My roommate is the ordnance rep and he has been running around with his head cut off for a week. He is a former enlisted armor and is why they picked him for the job. He is one of the most easy-going people I have ever met and when I saw him start to stress, I knew they must be laying it on pretty thick. I felt sorry for him.

We reported to the armory and drew our weapons. Mine was clean but there were some that were nasty. It was a simple process and after filling out some paperwork, we were free to go. Here is where I see a big difference between enlisted and officer ranks. If we were enlisted, we would be given tons of classes right there and lectured on safety and how to secure the rifles. We would have formed up in a platoon and marched to the barracks and shown how to lock it up in the rooms. We would then have to fall out everyday and do a serialized rifle count.

Instead, they just gave us the rifle and said, “Good to go, Sir” and let us go. I was amazed they just let us go and we all just shuffled back to the barracks, locked up our rifles, after figuring it out, and that was it. Amazing. For me, it was not a big deal but some of these lieutenants have never shot one. We had them in OCS but only shot blanks.

After this, we had company commander’s time. This is time in the schedule where the SPC’s can do anything they want. Some PT their section, some perform classes, etc. For us, it is raw free time. Capt Whiteside is so hands-off that we get this time to take care of anything we need to. In a way it is good because I see the others rushing around but you could argue that we are being let loose too much. I don’t mind because I use the time wisely.

After lunch, we had swim qualification. Everyone said that going from 2nd to 1st is the toughest because they are so anal about it. Sloan and I went over to the tank and tried. You have to be in cammies and then take a shower before you go out. The weather today was strangely cool with no humidity. It made me think of Seattle because that is what it reminded me of. But they do not heat the pool so after getting wet, everyone was visibly shaking. It was miserable.

The qualification simply consisted of demonstrating all four of the survival strokes: breast, side, back, and doggie-paddle. They give you two shots and then that’s it. They have special ways to do each one and if you do not do it exactly the way they show you, you do not qualify. After the first try of the breast stroke, 75% of the people failed, including Sloan and I. We did not do any better the second time. So we were dismissed and I was not too upset about it. The whole thing was ridiculous and I was glad to have it over. We only have to be qualified up to 2nd class. I would have rather missed the first one instead of some people who missed the fourth one. That would be a lot of wasted time. We went back to the barracks and did not feel bad at all.

That was the last thing on the schedule other than formation. Not much else happened except Acu had to move into our room. They are still shuffling people around and the Gunny’s control of room assignments was given to a lieutenant so the empty slots of my room were short lived. Acu won’t have an apartment for a week so he will be living here until then. After that, I will be the only permanent resident and there will be three brown-baggers.

I had told everyone that I studied with at the coffee shop to show up tonight because we had a written skills test the next day. I told them I knew this material and I would help them study. I showed up and no one else did. I was having a good time because I had done well on the test today and tomorrow was Friday. I ended up talking to a couple of guys who were almost out of here and they were giving me some good advice. After awhile, a female lieutenant, Walters, showed up and we quizzed each other. She had made it to 1st class swimming and wanted to be a pilot. All the pilots must make 1st so she was happy. She had the written skills test like everyone else but also had to take the flight test tomorrow. It made me glad I did not want to be a pilot.

At about midnight, I went back to the barracks, once again happy that I had done well that day, was ready for the next day, and looking forward to the 0945 on deck time. It seemed almost impossible.

When I got home, I called Carrie and had a good talk. I had been so looking forward to talking to her but was disappointed that the kids were asleep. Now that school began, they go to bed a lot earlier.

Carrie told me the situation about Alex getting lost at school because the teacher was not there to meet him. It upset me but not as much as the story about when she took him to school. They made them wait outside with no adult supervision and with all the older kids running around in total chaos. I just could not stop thinking about the scene of little Alex standing there in confusion as the older kids run wild everywhere. I was glad that Carrie will be escorting him for now on but was outraged at the situation that the school was letting happen.

After I hung up, Acu asked me how everything was. I told him about the situation and how helpless I felt. If I was there, I would be kicking in the principles door and we would be having a little heart-to-heart. Acu suggested I call but I thought that over the phone would not be very effective and less so when she discovers I am in Virginia.

I went to sleep uncomfortably and then it hit me. I knew I could depend on Lyle and that he could stand it for me in this situation. I had heard stories about how he dealt with schools over the years and knowing Lyle, I knew he would launch headstrong into the situation without backing down. I felt so strongly about this that I called him up and talked to him. He understood and brought out the exact points I was upset about. He said he would talk to Carrie and they would take care of it. It felt good to know he was on the case and I knew I could stop worrying about it.

Having Lyle to turn to made me feel secure. I respect him so much that it felt natural to call him for help. Just talking to him made me feel better and I now know the feeling of turning to a father for assistance and knowing he will have the right answer and is dependable enough to make you consider the situation taken care of. I feel lucky to have found a father figure so late in life.

Free Advice for Today:
Don't use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Wednesday, September 3, 1997

Quote of the Day:
Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom." 
- Thomas Jefferson

Today we got to sleep in because muster time was not until 0745. It felt good to catch up on some sleep but the whole day, I was nervous about the land nav course today.

Our first class was a core values class taught by Major X. He was in dress blue “A” and had an impressive set of medals. The bad thing was that it was the most boring lecture thusfar. Major X might be a good CO but a public speaker he is not. He is slow and monotone which is not a good combination with an early morning class.

Afterwards we broke into our discussion groups and talked about core values. After the discussion, we had lunch and then it was on to land nav.

I was nervous because of the last one but I felt confident that I would do better. They gave us six points and we only had to do five. I plotted my points and worked out a plan. My first point was near a road so I ran two miles to get to my starting point. I missed the first box and found a yellow one. The ones we were looking for were red. So I gave up on it and went to my second one. It too was far away and I decided to run on the hard road until I got to a river. I figured I would follow the river until I got to the closest point to the box and go from there.

Following the river was a bad plan. It is hard to walk in a heavily wooded area on the banks of a river. About a minute into it, I stepped onto what I thought was solid ground only to sink up to my knee in mud. Not a good start. I was looking for a second wide area of the stream to shoot from. I got to the first one and saw a building nearby. After much fretting, I discovered this was actually the second wide area and I had missed the first somehow. So I set off and found the box from there.

I got lost a couple more times but had found three boxes with an hour left. The first one I knew was wrong and the other two I did not have were too far away. So I decided to go back to the first one and find the right box, bringing my total up to four: a passing grade. So that is exactly what I did and found it. I had enough time to walk back and turned in my card in time. I was exhausted and dehydrated but happy with my performance. It had taken five hours.

I came back to the room and took a well-deserved shower. We had muster a little later and were secured. I talked to others and it seems a lot of people had trouble and did considerably worse that I did. I still want to go out and practice on Saturday but at least I showed I could do it.

After changing over, I went to the coffee shop to study for the fit rep test tomorrow. I met Shep there and a couple other lieutenants. We studied the manual and I discovered I knew the material better than anyone and pretty much taught the others. It was a good feeling.

I was in such a good mood because the land nav was over and the hump of the week was over. I was prepared for the test the next day and that also lifted my spirits. On the way home, I decided to treat myself with a stop at Taco Bell because I had not eaten. I brought it back to the barracks, grabbed two beers, and headed upstairs to the common bigscreen TV. I watched a couple of episodes of Mad About You because that was what a couple of other guys were watching. It was a good show and I went to bed happy, full, and a little buzzed. On deck time was not until 0815 so I was going to catch up on my sleep.

Free Advice for Today:
Be grateful that God doesn't answer all your prayers.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Tuesday, September 2, 1997

Quote of the Day:
PEOPLE WHO DON'T DRINK - WHEN THEY GET UP IN THE MORNING, THAT'S THE BEST THEY FEEL ALL DAY." 
- Unknown

Today was a long day of boring classes. We started with a couple more land nav classes and then had an entertaining class on equal opportunity, sexual harassment, and fraternization. The instructors talked boldly and the overall theme was to be the professionals we are. This is something that they stress over and over and over.....

After lunch, we had a short class on classified material and then got together in our discussion groups to discuss equal opportunity, sexual harassment, and fraternization. It was a pretty free-flowing discussion and many topics were discussed. At first, our SPC was not there so we combined with the other section with their SPC, Capt Budihas, leading. After awhile, Capt Whiteside showed up but we all stayed together.

We discussed different scenarios about racism and leadership dilemmas. Some of the arguments got heated and I had my say. One of the situations talked about a unit whose platoon was split along racial lines but was performing well. I said that I would keep in that way if it was working but after further thought and discussion, I changed my mind. I realized that two things had clouded my judgment. First, since I do not entertain any racial biases, it is hard for me to conceive and therefore prevent the biases in others. Second, I tend to focus on mission accomplishments so much that I get an “ends justify the means” attitude. I must work on these weaknesses if I expect to be a good leader.

After the groups, we went back to the classroom and had a writing skills review. The classroom did not have any AC and it was stifling hot. We had a monotone civilian lady go over it and she looked like a grade school nightmare. Everyone was suffering but the good news is that I already knew everything she went over. But I will still study for it. The test is Friday.

After the class, we had muster and were secured. We have another land nav evolution tomorrow and after my poor showing last week, I am a little nervous about it. I wanted to relax mentally and physically for tomorrow. I spent the rest of the evening prepping stuff and getting things ready, like most nights.

Free Advice for Today:
Carefully examine your written work when you are finished.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Monday, September 1, 1997

Quote of the Day:
LIFE IS LIKE A MAZE WHERE WE ALL TRY TO AVOID THE EXIT." 
- Unknown

I spent most of the day studying and getting things ready for the week. I spent all day in the room until Faught came over in the afternoon and wanted to know if I wanted to go eat chow. I had not eaten so I got ready and we went. He had been on the land nav course all day and if I would have known we could go out there, I would have gone. But I got a lot done and caught up on my studies.

When we got back, Fought used the phone to call a buddy and then I helped him fill out a report on my computer. Mac came over and I cut his hair. Faught had us laughing so hard that it was hard to cut Mac’s hair.

Later in the evening, I went over to Mac’s place to watch some TV. I stayed for a couple of hours and then came back to finish up some things. It had been a long, boring weekend but I got a lot accomplished. Even though it was a long weekend and was going to be a short week, I still did not want to go back to training. But the company would be nice. I have to push myself to get out and experience the area while I still can.

Free Advice for Today:
Never say anything to a news reporter that you don't want to see on the front page of your local paper. Comments made "off the record" seldom are.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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