Jason's BLOG pages



Jason Grose's BLOG

October 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.

Friday, October 31, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

Fire Support Coordination Measures
Fire Support Planning and Processing
Combat Orders II (Patrol Orders)
SPC Time
Patrol Order Issue

Free Advice for Today:
Make the best of bad situations.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Thursday, October 30, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

Study and Prep Time
Close Combat Line IV
Close Combat Evaluation
Noon Meal
SPC Time

Free Advice for Today:
Use your wit to amuse, not abuse.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Wednesday, October 29, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

Engineers Skills FEX
Movement to Training Area
Noon Meal
SPC Time
Conduct of Patrol I

Free Advice for Today:
Always accept an outstretched hand.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Tuesday, October 28, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

There was a slight breeze that snuck under the tent during the night. Right before I fell asleep, I heard the wind blowing hard and I found it amazing that I could not feel any of it. It was blowing hard but the hooch protected us against its effects. But by the morning, a little of it had got through all of the layers as I pushed the side of the tent. It was not bad but I felt a touch of the bitter cold.

The first thing that I remember is Sloan shifting around and I realized that his flashlight was on. I thought he was just getting water or something and then it occurred to me it might be time to get up. I looked at my watch and I could not believe my eyes as they told me it was 0450. It was cold and I knew it was time to get my slow-moving morning routine into action.

The morning was very cold and very dark but at least it was not raining. We had just had over 8 hours of sleep but early is always tough especially when it is cold and dark. We all got up and ripped down camp, packing all of our stuff. I put on a few warming layers and was happy that I was relatively warm. After the morning meeting, we had chow and it sucked. I had potatoes and scrambled eggs but the best part was the large canteen cup full of hot cocoa. I sipped on it and it was wonderful.

After we finished packing, we met the captain at the terrain model to start the day of attacks. This time, we had to wear the flak jacket and helmet which was not too bad at first but got worse as the day wore on. Initially, the flak jacket helped hold the heat in and that was nice. But it got warmer during the day and the sweat started flowing.

We thought we were going to hump out to the first assembly area and the captain gave me a grid coordinate. I plotted it and chose to follow the road. He left it up to me and I said we should take it because it was faster and we could get more attacks done. He agreed even though I was afraid that he thought I was choosing the easy way out. I was, but I had good reasoning so he bought it. He went one step further and got a truck for us and told us that we had a simulated airlift from a chopper. We were all glad to see we were not humping out to the first point but found it surprising that we were benefiting from such treatment. Again, it is weird to be treated well, or better than what I expected.

We got dropped off at the point and I chose a place to build the new terrain model, getting two lieutenants to work on it. I then deployed a defensive perimeter and had a meeting with the captain. He assigned me as the first squad leader and A as the second squad leader for the next attack. I knew that it was now showtime and I prayed that I would not mess it up. My weakness was now going to be analyzed and it was going to be tough to gloss over so I prayed for help and took it head on.

My part of it seemed pretty simple. I would take my forces and at a certain point, break off from the other squad and attack an objective, consolidating afterwards and calling back for more word after we had secured the area. The other squad would break off and continue on to another objective and after a more complicated attack, consolidate and coordinate with me so I could come over to help after my attack. Throughout the whole brief, I mostly concentrated on my end and was making mental plans while the other attack was being explained. I found my direction and azimuth and even figured out how I was going to call in for supporting fire and how I was going to use the one smoke grenade I was given. It all looked good and I seemed to have gotten the easy end of this deal.

As I was finishing up my plan and briefing my fireteam leaders, the captain got the other squad together and sent them on their way. I was ready to go and the captain told me that the others were already gone. Then, right before we stepped off, the captain tells me that they were past the break off point and we were to continue on. Now all the coordination between us was shot but at least we did not have to worry about when to break off. We stepped off and I was a little nervous that things had changed and that I was depending on the 2nd squad point man to know where the break off point was so that I would know how far we had gone. Now my point man had to gauge the entire distance off of pace count. Ashenbrenner was my point and I prayed he knew what he was doing because I am so bad at judging distances.

I had pretty good control of my squad and everything was going well. This was not much different that a SULE exercise from OCS and I was glad. I halted the squad and went to the front to see what Ashenbrenner had to say. I realized that I had forgotten to call the squad into the wedge formation after we crossed the line of departure but everyone automatically did it without commands, which I was thankful for.

We were at the base of a hill and Ash tells me that the objective should be at the top. I put everyone online and we went forward. Sure enough, we received fire as we advanced up the hill and I was thrilled that they were right where Ashenbrenner said they would be. I started yelling commands and telling everyone to rush forward. I called for individual rushes and was yelling to stay in their lanes and rush through the objective. Once we did, we repelled the counter attack and then consolidated into a 180 perimeter defense. I ran around making sure the SAWs were placed as they should be and was happy to see that everything had run textbook perfect. But then things changed.

A few of my people noted that we just killed the other squad. I did not think about it and did not know if the captain used them as simulated attackers or wanted to see if we would attack our own people. As I came up to him to tell him we had attacked 1st squad, he drops a bomb on me. He says that that was not 1st squad and they were held up and I would have to carry on their mission to the other objective. I had not listened to their part of the brief and I had no idea what to do, except to say “Aye, aye, sir.” What was worse, he gave me the attacking squad as my squad so it was all new people.

My head was whizzing as I pulled over my fireteam leaders and explained to them what was happening. I was trying to get an azimuth and a direction to the point, information I should have already had handy, when we started getting mortars attacking us. The captain had canisters that whistled and exploded to simulate this. I was already confused and now we were taking fire. I momentarily froze but then started screaming to displace 100 meters beyond the objective. We all ran and the mortars kept coming. We had to move again and I was trying to read a map, plot points of where we were and where we had to go, connect the line, measure the azimuth, and measure the distance, all while running away from mortars and trying to keep track of where the rest of the squad was going. They knew less than I did and were even more confused. It was not a fun few minutes.

I finically found rough estimates of where we were going and gave the info to my point man, hoping it was even ballpark. The captain and the corporal kept reminding me that I could call in mortars when I got to the objective so I knew I would have to figure that out on the run. The captain told me there might or might not be enemy at the objective and that we might or might not beat the other squad over their. So I did not know if I was going to the right place, I did not know if there would be friendly or enemy forces there, and I did not have any idea what was next.

We found what might have been the objective but again, the whole thing was confusing. We did not come in contact with anyone and decided to stop and try to reach the captain. We got no response so I set up a defense while I reconned the area. I sent out my fireteam leaders. To the east we ran into a main road. This would put us way off where I thought we were so I waited for the other report. The corporal had found a large draw to the west that we could defend. This would also put us a lot nearer to where I thought we should be so we mounted and went over there. I told each fireteam what I wanted and was trying to figure out the grid coordinates of where I was so I could call in predetermined targets for artillery. I was still unsure where I was at but I went off where I should have been and altered the numbers accordingly. Right as I got the number, I heard incoming mortars. The captain had called the corporal and told him to simulate incoming mortars.

I hit the deck and started yelling at my squad. I tried to displace them to the right to get away from the mortars but still cover the valley. Instead of going right, they went left so I decided to place them to the left but still cover the draw. As I was just getting them in place, we heard shots being fired at our backs. Shit!

I tried to get my team turned around and online. I pushed the attack and told them to attack the aggressors. We made a full frontal attack and once again, went through the right steps. We clashed and then assaulted the enemy through them and then consolidated. By then, my head was spinning and I went around to help the wounded. Half my team was dead and the other half was scattered. When it was all over, I was more than ready to give up the reigns of command. I definitively experienced the fog of war and the confusion level was high. The only break I got was that the last attacking force was not aggressive enough and gave us a chance to get turned around for the attack. If they would have taken the offensive when they had our backs, they would have instantly decimated us.

This taught me a lot and it was a harrowing experience. I think that because I was prior, the captain decided to throw these curveballs at me. It was more difficult than any other situation in the lst two days but I think I performed as well as can be expected.

Free Advice for Today:
Remember that all news is biased.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Monday, October 27, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

The morning, like most mornings, came early. I had spent so much time prepping last night that I did not get the sleep I wanted. But when I got up and around, I was mentally ready for this exercise. I was initially pissed to be awaken at 0430 by Souliere coming in. I did not realize they had to be there early to get weapons and thought that he was just putting things off to the last minute and came in early to do what he should have done the night before. But to come in while I was sleeping, I felt, was an invasion of my space. Later I realized they had to be in early and I was glad I did not get up and chew his ass. I put it off because I knew I would be done with sleep and was not ready to get up.

I got up and around, dressing in my warmest clothes. When the others showed, I asked them if it was raining and cold and they said it was surprisingly mild. The radio said it would be in the 60’s so I stripped off all the warming layers and this ended up being an extremely good idea.

It was the first day that I was in charge on a training day and I was intent on it going well. I got out on the road and formed everyone up. My pack seemed bigger than everyone else’s and I do not know why. I guess I overpacked but we were not going far and would not have to lug everything around for long so I took no chances.

The first thing to go wrong was that I was informed by my assistant section leader, Lt A, that Lt B was at medical. I was pissed because it was the weakest excuse in the book to go to medical the morning of a two-day stint in the field. I wanted all of the info and got what I could. I reported 19 lieutenants, 12 M16A2 rifles, 4 SAWs, and 3 M203 grenade launchers on deck.

After formation, Captain Whitehouse broke through the crowd and irritably called A and me over. He was mad because I had failed to come to him in the morning and give an initial report and get him the info about B. I instantly knew I had messed up and broken the basic rule of keeping the top informed. He said that he was telling the XO that everything was good to go and the XO hits HIM with the news about B. Not a good way to start the day.

We got on the road and marched out to the sight. It was only about two miles from the base and the hump was simple. We got there and was given some time to set up our hooches and get settled in. We got a lot more that we got any other time I have ever got to the field. As we were setting up, I get the word that Lt A had forgotten his medicine he needs to take every morning. I had to go to Whiteside and tell him. Amazingly, he took it in stride and eventually got the Gunny to drive him back to get it.

At the same time this happened, I got initial word that B was yet to report to medical. As I was “Oh, shit”ing, I was summoned by the XO. He asked me where B was and I took the bait, knowing the trap. I said at medical and his answer was “Bullshit.” I quickly recovered the only way I knew how. I hit him with all the information I knew, saying it in a forceful, confident matter to show him I had as much control over the situation that was possible at the time. I told him that he was probably waiting until sickcall opened in a half hour from then. I then said that I was working on getting recon, Gunny, on his situation.

I then called over A and demanded in no mysterious way that I wanted to talk to him, the squad leader, and B’s roommates. I got them together and got all the info they had and went to the captain. I told him what I knew and like a good leader, used the fact that Gunny was going back with A to see where that situation was going and if we could have A get info on B. It worked and the captain seemed pacified. I think I passed this test but it was less than fun.

After all of this, we went to a sandtable that I had a couple of the lieutenants build for the captain. He gave us a full 5-paragraph order and I scribbled away like mad. The laminated sheet I got for it helped so much and I got it all down. I have always hated this part of being a Marine and ironically it is the basic part that we should be the best at. I do not do well at taking a bunch of oral information and applying it to real-world situations. I am further weak at taking that information and making quick decisions in response to changing situations on unknown territory. I do not see the big picture in my head and have trouble tactically executing the situation. This exercise scared me to death and I tried to stay away from being picked. I was glad when I was not picked for this and wanted to put my turn in the hot seat as far off as possible.

The rest of the day was spent getting these orders and executing the attack. It was not too cold and my warming layers were not needed. I had nothing on but my long underwear bottoms and my cammies on. We did not have to wear flak jackets or helmets today so that helped our endurance.

Command was rotated so it took the pressure off me. I was not really having much fun in the field but at the same time, I was not miserable. I was happy in the sense that I was not physically suffering like I expected. The captain was treating us good and we could be at ease around him knowing that he was not going to play games with us. There was a lot of sitting around, while the next person got an order so we got a chance to rest and talk a bit.

I had a conversation with Lt T. He is one of the resident clowns in our section and I talked to him about growing up. His parents were divorced and his father was a naval officer who broke contact when T went to college, trying to get out of helping pay. I talked to him about how he felt about his family and I tried to get to know him. It was an interesting time.

As I was explaining something more light, I saw the CO, Major G going over. We were not given any instructions about what we were supposed to be doing so I thought it was OK to talk. I looked over, saw the Major walking over, and went back to finishing my story. As the Major got to us, I knew what was happening so I decided to attack first. Before he had a chance to speak, I asked him if the plastic ammo drums for the SAW were disposable. This threw him off and I explained that we found one and did not know what to do with it. He stumbled through his response and I tried my best to look interested. After that petered out, I had taken most of his fire away and he asked me what the enemy situation was. We told him and he asked if it was a good idea talking if the enemy was in the area. We tried to tell him that we did not know the exercise was still going and were not given instructions. He came back with the standard answer that this exercise is continuous and that we need to treat it as such. We said, “Aye, aye, sir,” and got down in the prone. The whole thing came of a lot weaker than if we would had just cowered when he came over. When he left, T and I looked at each other and busted up laughing, knowing that we had achieved even the smallest of victories.

As darkness set in, we had split up and our group was with the corporal that was out with us. We were taking turns being the attacker and the defenders and were now on the move. The schedule called for a night movement exercise which ended up being just a walk in the woods at night. I had a conversation with him and he was from Seattle. He was getting out in a year and wanted to go the UW. I talked to him about the Mecep program and he seemed interested. We made our way back to the camp and were ready for some good chow.

When we got back, we were set free to finish setting up our hooches. We got so much unsupervised time with no harassment that I was amazed. I subconsciously expected it and it was surprising yet refreshing when it never came.

They had hot chow for us and it was good. It was spaghetti and meatballs, salad, bread, and succotash. I ate it all with an appetite that surprised me. It was good and it got better when I found out that we had nothing else to do for the night. We were looking at over 8 hours of sleep and once again, I was surprised at such treatment.

I had the last meeting of the night with the staff and all I wanted was for the meeting to end. Lt H, the student CO, was rambling on and I was getting ready to go to my hooch when the XO stepped up. I was not ready for this so anything he said just served to piss me off. He took the Socratic method of passing word and even though it was not directed at me, it pissed me off. He asked what needed to be done and expected answers. He knew them but wanted us to say them, a practice I find demeaning. He seemed pissed like we had done something wrong and then lectured while everyone wearily shook from the cold. He wanted ammo counts and a bunch of other stuff. I went back to the hooches which were already filled with warm lieutenants and passed the word to A who took a long hesitation when I said we had to get ammo counts and redistribute it before we hit the rack. I knew this was bull so I allowed him to get the count in the morning. It was one of the few orders I have openly disobeyed in my career.

We had to have a firewatch and I heard them all gathered around to pick numbers. I heard someone ask about me and why I was not in the draw. Sloan instantly corrected him and said that I was the section leader and would not be standing watch. I could hear all of this and none of them knew I was nearby. As much as I did not want to stand watch, I knew what I had to do. I knew it was not fair that I was exempt and that it would eat away at any respect the section had for me. So I called out for Sloan and told him to put my name in the hat. God bless him, he shot back and said that that is not the way it works and I would not be in the hat. I think I startled some people who did not know I was nearby. I showed them I was willing to draw a watch and Sloan responded exactly as he should. So the result was that I got respect for volunteering and got exempt from the watch. If that would not have happened, I still would not have got watch but the respect would be lost. Sloan knew how to handle this and I was impressed with his understanding of the situation.

I crawled into the tent where Sloan was already set up. It took me about a half hour to get ready and it was tight quarters. I finally got settled and got into my modular sleeping bag. After about 5 minutes, I had to take off my long underwear top and sleep in my T-shirt. The sleeping bag was that warm. One day over, one to go.

Free Advice for Today:
Admit your mistakes.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Sunday, October 26, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

Prep for field

Free Advice for Today:
Don't waste time learning the 'tricks of the trade.' Instead, learn the trade.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Saturday, October 25, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

DC working party
PX $30
Lunch at TGI Fridays
Sports Authority: $50

Free Advice for Today:
Show respect for military personnel.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Friday, October 24, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

Sandtable exercizes
Bino search
SL meeting
Taco Bell

Free Advice for Today:
Go home for the holidays.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Thursday, October 23, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

Today should have been an easy day and in a lot of ways, it was. But in others, it was rather stressful.

We had the first aid practical application today and even though it was known to be cake, I still slept uneasy as I do before any examination. We basically had the morning to ourselves and I got 6.5 hours of sleep. Because it is so cold in the room, getting out of the warm sleeping bag really bites. I got up after procrastinating for awhile and got ready.

I read email from Carrie and was saddened to get the news that Lyle and Sharon had gotten rear ended and it totaled the little truck. Lyle was scraped a little but it was Sharon who got the worst of it because Lyle did not have time to warn her. She hurt her neck and had to wait a long time in the emergency room. Thank God they were OK other than that.

It was kind of ironic that I was about to take the CPR test and I read all of that. It really brought out the importance of what I was learning. I was worried all day about them and wanted to call them.

I also found it ironic that Carrie and I had just last night discussed what we were going to do with the Nissan when we moved. It is not even worth a thousand dollars so we kicked around the idea of giving it to Lyle and Sharon but did not know if they would want to pay for insurance and tabs for an extra car. Now they need an extra car.

After I read the bad news, I told the guys in the room. I am always moody in the morning (their nickname for me is Grumpy) and this was a little worse. A little while later, I was trying to explain something and they kept interrupting and making jokes. I was getting real mad and they kept on. Finally, I went off on them and said, “I’m just going to say this once: All of you FUCK OFF! I am not in the mood!” That brought complete silence and a little while later they started talking about something else. I think they knew I was upset about the news. It came out a little harsher than I expected but I was real mad at the moment.

We had to go over to the gym to have the test. It was a joke because there were only two scenarios and they were given to us to study as we waited. So you would have to be retarded to mess it up. I blew through it in no time and we were secured until after lunch.

I went over to HQ because I had so much time and had a talk with Captain Hemmerly, the DP/COMM officer that does what I want to do. I asked him if he had time to talk to me and he did. He started by printing out the course outline for the 6-month school. I was excited as he told me all about the MOS and what it involved. Now I want to do it more than ever. He said it was a good MOS and you get involved in every aspect of communication in the Marine Corps from radio to data systems to land lines to computer LANS. There were so many good things he told me about it that I was scared that I would not get it by the time I left his office. The slots are there and the split for the company is five in the top third, six in the middle third, and 5 in the bottom third. That means that no matter where I fall, there are slots so the chances are good just about anywhere.

After I left his office, I went to S-1 and straightened out my allotment. It was in the system even though I had not signed it. They claim I must have because they would be in trouble if they ran it without my signature. I know I did not sign it but I did not push the issue because that is what I wanted to happen. So it should start in November. The other one will not hit until December.

When I got back to the barracks, I wanted to grab the checkbook and pay the loan to MFCU and then go to chow. But when I got there, they had bumped up a class that was scheduled after lunch. I had let Acu go to the Nation’s Bank so he was not around. I went to the class, which was a terrain model class given by Sloan and overseen by the captain. It was boring but I need to rehearse operational orders.

After the class, I went to the bank and was tired. The allotment did not go through so I was overdue on the payment. It is due on the fourth of each month so they charged me about $7.00 in late charges. Plus, I owe again on Nov. 4th because the allotment will not hit until December. I messed up the check and had to void #3987. Then I screwed it up again and had to void #3988. Finally, I got #3989 right for $152. I was not feeling too well and was not thinking straight.

After all of this and chow, we had PT. I was not in a good mood because I knew we were running the endurance course in tennis shoes. The E-course is over trails and with the leaves down, it is a wonderland of possible ankle busters. With the rocks, the roots, and the holes, all covered in leaves, I was nervous as hell.

We got to about mile two and I was struggling to stay up because they were going so fast. I was having to be careful and caused me to not only go slower, but expend more energy trying to place my feet just right. there was a dip in the path and I saw a bunch of large rocks in the middle. My left toe caught a rock edge effectively stopping my foot. I threw my right foot, wrapped and all, out and when it landed, it rolled. So now, both my feet were stationary and I had just accelerated down the hill so my upper body kept going. I knew I was going down and I turned to my side to try to take the pressure off the rolled ankle. I put my right arm out but saw the large rocks I was rapidly falling to and by reaction, pulled my arm back to save a wrist injury. I lowered my shoulder to try to roll but my elbow hit the rocks first and I rolled on my tricep. At this point, I had the roll going and my feet followed in the air. I tumbled like that down hill on the large rocks and somehow twisted the other ankle in the process. I came to a stop and sat up. Everyone had stopped and Arpao and Sloan helped me up. I knew I was done with the run and Sloan walked me back to the road. Amazingly, I did not break anything or even bleed. My ankles were hurting but would not swell until I stopped walking on them. I had a minor scrape on a knee and elbow. I was amazed how hard I fell and what I fell on without getting seriously hurt. I was mad that we were running so fast in such a dangerous area without the proper equipment. I went back to the barracks and got some ice.

I studied for the test tomorrow and fell asleep. When I woke up, my elbow hurt and my ankles were tender. I got up and field dayed the room, feeling like a slacker for not finishing the run. I swept but had to lay down again shortly after all of them got back. Arpao checked on me to see if I was ok. Even Captain Whiteside came by. He was in the slower group (where I should have been) and wanted to know if I was hurt. I assured him I was a little banged up but would be ok.

After we got secured, I fell asleep for a couple of hours and was amazingly tired. When I got up, I took a long hot shower. I get so cold that my “treat” at the end of the day is a long hot shower to warm me up. I also get more sleep in the morning because I do not have to shower.

My leg still itches furiously. All I want to do is scratch it but must let it heal. The bad thing about it is that I cannot let it air out because I cannot sit around in shorts. It’s too cold. I am not supposed to wear anything more than once so wearing long underwear means I have to wear it once and then put it into the dirty clothes. I will have to do a lot more washing.

When I got up and showered, did not have much to do and found it weird that I was pretty much caught up. Before my nap, Acu was here and was talking to Leon on the phone. I told him to tell Leon to give me a call or come by. He had not and after showering, went up to his room. It seems that the other sections who had gone out to the field today had lost a pair of binoculars. They were all waiting around until they could find them. I went to Leon’s room and he was watching TV. I playfully bitched him out for not calling me and he said he had but got an out-of-service message. He named off the # and he had it wrong. It was funny the way it came out and he just sheepishly smiled.

Finally he got secured and we decided to hang out at his house and study for the test tomorrow. We drove separate cars and played Speed Racer all the way there. I had to go pretty fast just to keep up with him. We got to his place and they wanted to eat. We ended up going to Chilis with Acu. We had a good dinner and I was hungry. I spent $7.00 on a burger and fries but was still hungry. We had a good time sitting in the restaurant and talking. I really like the company of Leon and Acu. And they can put up with my moody blues.

We went back to the apartment and studied. Part of the reason I wanted to go there was because they have heat and I was tired of shivering all night until I went to bed. I hope the heat comes on soon.

I got home about 2330 and got to bed after midnight. I called Lyle and Sharon when I got home. It was good to talk to both of them even though the circumstances were not great. At least they will be ok and I was cheered up just talking to them. I guess Alex was scared to go near Sharon when she was strapped on the back board and Steph had worried eyes while asking if she was OK. I got a kick out of their reactions.

Lyle amazed me again with his outlook on the entire situation. Nothing can touch that man because he has God in his heart. He was not bitter, vengeful, or even depressed. He has such trust and he impressed me so much as I hung up the phone. I was glad I called and think that it made me feel better than the intention I had when I called: to make sure they were OK.

Tomorrow is another test and I know I will not sleep too well. I was too tired to write Carrie but I will catch up tomorrow. Other than the test, tomorrow should be pretty easy.

Free Advice for Today:
Don't get too big for your britches.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Wednesday, October 22, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

Today was the coldest I have been since I got here. I woke up and it was not as cold as yesterday morning and I was surprised. I had only gotten about 5 1/2 hours of sleep but I was more worried about getting out of the warm sleeping bag than I was about the lack of sleep.

We had to muster at 0605 and muster at the motor pool at 0610. It was cold out so I bundled up the best I could. I did not shower, opting for a little more warm rack time and I knew I would be outside running around all day. When you know that you are going out in the field, you do not feel the motivation to shower. You figure you are going to get dirty anyway and not being showered just seems normal when you are going out in the field.

I am the fireteam leader with Sloan as the squad leader. I am responsible for Acu, Barney, and Aliniz. Barney is good to go and I do not have to worry about her. Acu gets attitudes as does Alaniz but I do not take any crap from them. Acu was slow this morning and I had to rush him out of the room to be on time. He had pissed me off this morning because he mumbled something, as he is prone to do, and after I told him to speak up because I could not understand him, he got an attitude and over-enunciated everything. Carrie knows how this pisses me off and I turned to Souliere and said “I tell him the speak clearly because I cannot understand him and he treats me like an asshole.” Souliere said he was out of this conversation and I told Acu to drop the attitude and if he had anything to say, the speak clearly so I would not have to ask him to repeat himself. He also asked Souliere, the section leader, a question as Souliere was walking in. I was standing right there and it had to do with bringing some piece of equipment. I interrupted and asked him why he was jumping over my head, in front of me. I was his fireteam leader and the question was supposed to be directed to me, not Souliere. He said that I would have gaffed him off or told him to go look it up. I told him that was untrue because as a fireteam leader, it was my job to answer him and it was insulting to go over my head right in front of me, even. Then he tried to say that it was not squad member to section leader but more personal. I corrected him by saying it WAS business and it should have gone through me. I told him if he had any more questions, to come to me as his leader. So that is how our morning started.

We went outside and it was bone-chilling cold. We met at the motor pool and I find out that Barney had forgotten her Gortex jacket. This meant no one could wear one and that sucked. I was so mad because I was cold to begin with. Then someone else had forgotten their gloves so we all had to take off our gloves. I was losing heat by the moment. So out of my fireteam, Barney had forgotten her jacket, Acu had attitude, and Aliniz also had attitude, was being slow, and was disobeying the order to take off the gloves. Acu left his jacket on saying he would take it off on the bus. When we got on the bus, he did not have any room and I told him that is why I told him to do it outside. He does not listen and then is often proven wrong. It was not a good morning, all and all.

It took about 20 minutes to get out to where we were going. I slept on the way and it felt good. We dismounted the buses and it was rally, really cold because we were in an open area and the wind was blowing. The sun was not even up.

The first thing we did was sit in the cold bleachers and get a brief. I put on my gloves because I did not care anymore and we got the word that we could put on the jackets. I did but was still shivering cold.

Capt S was walking around messing with people. He was toying with a lieutenant who had a heavy beard. Even though he had shaved this morning, it was dark around his face because that is just the way his body is. Capt S, with a large wad of chew in his cheek, snapped his fingers at him and did the standard harassment package. The poor lieutenant assured him that he had shaved this morning and of course, Capt S did not believe him and made fun of him. I do not think any lieutenant in the company has the respect given to a large pile of donkey shit for this idiot.

After the brief, our section went to the call for fire station where we were met by a major. He was as cold as us and walked us through what we had to do. We had to call in artillery on targets and then adjust the fires to hone in on the designated targets. I realized that I had forgotten my compass and had to borrow. I also did not have any binos because I had to give mine out for another station. So I was short gear and freezing cold. It was hard to stay interested since only one of us were up at a time. This meant that for the rest of the time, we stood around and tried not to freeze solid.

I had a good conversation with Linderdakis. She is our section motivator for a couple of reasons. She is a lawyer going for JAG officer so this grunt stuff is not what she is here for. She is about 5’2” and is from Long Island. She sounds exactly like Edith Bunker and everyone imitates her voice but good-naturedly. The reason why she is motivating is because she is a short, lawyer-type female with a funny voice. She is the very essence of the anti-Marine and has everything against her being here. But despite all of that, she never gives up, never complains, and never falls behind. It is amazing because she is small and unassuming yet keeps up with all of us in everything. So she creates this mentality within our group that “If Linderdakis can do it...” It makes it hard to give up on anything.

The conversation I had with her involved her standing duty at mainside. You have to go take a tour of the brig and she was telling me what it was like. She had been a civilian lawyer so had seen her share of convicts and penitentiaries. She said that the conditions were a lot better here that what she had seen. It was an interesting conversation because she told me how the system worked and what she saw. It passed the time and I almost forgot how cold I was for awhile...Almost.

After the call for fire, we had a CAS (close-air support) demo with two F-18 Hornets. A volunteer got to call in a mission, talking directly to the pilots over a radio and calling them onto the target. It was fun to see and very motivating. Everyone got a kick out of it especially afterwards when the planes did a low pass over the bleachers. I ate my MRE with shivering hands while all of this was going on and I cannot remember a more miserable lunch in such miserable conditions since Saudi.

After this, it was SPC time and Captain Whiteside took us out to the woods to talk to us about attacks and consolidations after the attack. He told a lot of stories and had us discuss what we would do after attacking the area we were standing in. We did that for awhile and then he told some more stories. All of his stories were interesting but it was funny because he would start to make a point and then go off on a story and forget what the was originally talking about. Then that would lead into another story and after awhile, it had nothing to do with what he started to talk about. It was nice to listen to stories rather than tactics and strategy. Needless to say, I was still so cold I could not think straight. I could not feel my toes at all and we still had four hours to go.

After awhile, we went to the staging area by the buses to wait and we sat near a water bull. We discovered that it had been in the direct sunlight and even though it was still pretty chilly, the bull was nice and warm. I put my hands on it and literally moaned. For the first time today, I felt warmth. I kept my hands on it and leaned against it to come in as much body contact as I could with it. Lefringhouse and I probably looked like a couple of flys hanging on it but I did not care. Barney started teaching a class on first aid (she was an EMT) and I stayed leaned up against the water bull for warmth. I think that me and Bakion will win the Ice Cube award because we were the most miserable from the cold.

About an hour and a half early, we loaded the bus and I thanked God. We were waiting for another section because their SPC was not as benevolent as ours and had them doing who-knows-what. But we were waiting in the back of the warm bus in close quarters so all was well. They finally showed up and we went back to base as I fell into another deep sleep.

We secured when we got back and I went to the Hawk because they had free wings on Wednesdays. We got there five minutes early and as irony would have it, waited in the cold until the wings got there. It was only me and Souliere and then a few others showed up a few minutes later. The wings came and everyone was from Echo company. It was funny. I must have eaten 5 pounds of wings. Afterward, I went back to the barracks and was cold again.

I took a long, long, long hot shower and I had been thinking about that moment all day. It was good but my leg really itched. I had not scratched it all day but it had not itched. I guess I was too cold to think about it. But now it itches like crazy but I am trying not to give into temptation.

I was just going to settle into a night in the room and Leon stopped by. He wanted to know if I wanted to go the Scholar Ship and then to the Olive Garden for dinner. I told him that Acu had already taken my order for a laminated SMEAC from scholar ship and I had already eaten. He said that he would stop by and we would go for coffee later. I told him I would love it and he left.

I did some errands around the room and prepped for tomorrow. I called Carrie at 1920 because I could not wait another moment and that was the centerpiece of the night. I talked to her and the kids and felt good afterwards. She told me all about what was going on and it felt good to talk to her. I told her our allotment had not gone through yet so I would have to write a check for the first payment of our loan. I also played her my recording of the radio stardom starring me. I thought I sounded moody and depressed and she said I sounded happy. Go figure.

After we spoke, I waited for Leon but did not want to wait too long. I wrote him a note and went to the coffee shop. I studied for an hour and he never showed so I came back. The note was gone so we must have passed each other. I got all my warming layers on and wrote this journal.

Tomorrow will be an easy day and hopefully I’ll get some good sleep. Other that being miserably cold today and missing out on a good conversation with Leon (one of the few people who can cheer me up around here) I am in a surprisingly good mood. I feel somewhat caught up but I know that will not last long.

Free Advice for Today:
Follow your own star.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Tuesday, October 21, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

This morning I was awoken at 0400 by Lt Craig’s organizer. It had an alarm on it and it went off twice. Of course, I was confused and could not figure out what was going on since I check both my watch alarm and my clock alarm. I did not figure out what it was at first and this has been the latest in a series of restless early morning sleeping hours. Along with the cold and the faceless stress I have been having, sleep has not been all it should be lately.

After I got up, I felt amazingly awake and had my morning routine with coffee. I studied a bit and before I knew it, had to leave to my first class which was terrain analysis. It was given in the big classroom with the large sandtable in it. We all sat in the bleachers, me with my Gortex jacket because I was still cold. The class was pretty straightforward and easy but boring. It was a good thing that it did not last very long. Afterwards, we had an hour of SPC time so I went to my room and studied for the combat orders test. The others slept but I felt fine and listened to Enya while I studied.

We had to go to the Hanson Room (the chowhall) for our discussion. We had a short test with our SPC which I got almost all right. The only thing that I missed was an answer that I knew from my enlisted days and that they had changed here. After the test, we had a discussion group until lunch and I stayed there to eat. I had had too much coffee and my stomach needed food.

After chow, we had another class but it was a fun one. It was called Semper Fit 2000 and it was about the new program encompassing many areas of health for Marines. It sought to control PT, diet, suicide awareness, drug and alcohol control, HIV/STD control, etc. The captain was real fun and he passed out T-shirts to those that asked questions. I got a shirt but feel justified because it was a viable question, not just a lame one just to get a shirt.

After we were done, we had uniform fitting. I went back to the barracks but I told Sloan that I needed to go to medical because I had poison ivy and my leg and my arm. I did not want to put on my uniform for fitting and get it infected and this was the perfect time to slip away to sickcall.

I got to sickcall and then waited for over two hours even though they were not busy. I complained but it did no good. They finally told me that I had poison oak and gave me some lotion. So I wasted the entire afternoon waiting for sickcall and when I got back, everything was over and the final meetings of the day were going on. Sloan talked to Captain Whiteside and he said I could wait until my poison oak healed before he would inspect my alphas.

Souliere told me that no one in the chain knew where my allotment form for my NMAA loan was. They said it would probably be easier to reapply. But as far as NMAA knows, the allotment went through so the money is on the way. Now I got to figure out how to get the allotment started. Together with waiting so long at sickcall and the news about the allotment, I was in a sour mood. When I got back to the room, Leon was there waiting.

Acu had to do the remedial night land nav test tonight and Leon had some errands. If it was not for Leon, I would have sat in my room all night like every other night but he dragged me out and I appreciate him for things like this.

We went to the mall and talked while we walked around. Then we went to Circuit City. He was looking for a TV. We then went to the Exchange and he bought a 27 inch TV for $300. It was so big that we had to take it out of the box just to get it into his car. I looked at the TVs and wanted one so bad. There was a 13 inch TV with built-in VCR but it cost $289. I would love to get one but then I would have to buy cable and then I would lose more time each night when I should be studying. But the weekends would be a lot better and I could watch it when I was doing stuff like prepping for the next day and polishing boots, etc.

After that, we went to McDonalds because it was kid’s night and I wanted to get a couple of cheap Happy Meals. Leon thought this was one of the most hilarious things he has seen but I was caught in a dilemma. Leon wanted Wendy’s and wanted me to take my meal into the Wendy’s. He did not want us eating in his car and I did not want to eat any Happy Meals in McDonalds for fear of looking silly. So I went inside, after the drive through told us that the special was only good inside, and noticed that they were out of boxes so I signaled Leon to come in because I could inconspicuously eat the meals inside without the box. He was nervous about leaving his new TV because in New York, you do not leave a brand new TV in your car. He was so nervous.

We got the food and Leon ate with me in the restaurant. We had a good time and I tried not to be too conspicuous with my Happy Meals. I got the kids some new toys and I was glad to be able to get them something.

After this, we went to the coffee shop to study but there were too many people and we had to join some of Leon’s friends outside. I was so cold that I went over to the little drug store by the coffee shop and looked around. I bought some laminating paper and a candle for the room. I saw the candles and it reminded me of Carrie during Christmas so I dropped couple of bucks and figured it would set a mood at night in my room while I wrote my journal. It is vanilla.

Leon came looking for me and we left. He took me back to the barracks and said goodbye. I was thankful that he had taken me out but it was time to get to work. I prepped for the next day and did some things like put the registration in the truck. I had gotten it in the mail from Carrie and put the new tags on. Good for another year. Leon thought it was funny how we worked it with the tabs. I was just settling down to finish up and go to bed when Acu came in. He had passed night land nav but had to wait until 2300 until they secured everyone. I lost my solitude for another night. He ordered a pizza and studied. I had a little talk with him about the room being my room after hours. I told him that he has his room at the apartment and he can go to and go to his room, shutting the door to the world. I told him that this is the closest there is for me and that he should respect that. He understood but I think he has been rubbing people the wrong way lately and he has got a complex about it because he wanted to know what he had done now to piss me off at him. I told him that I was not pissed but wanted to let him know what I was feeling so I would not bottle it up and let it bother me.

Something really weird just happened. I was sitting here writing this journal and the radio had a trivia question. It asked what VHF stood for. Acu and I looked at each other and laughed because we had learned that a few weeks ago after it was drilled into our heads that it meant Very High Frequency. Then they said that if you knew it to call and gave the number. I was right by the phone so I grabbed it and dialed. Acu laughed but the line rang and all of the sudden, the DJ picked up and we started talking. I told him what it was and then told him that I was at The Basic School and we just learned all of that. He laughed and then asked if I was a bowler. I said yes and he asked if I was a striker, a sparer, or a gutter. I told him somewhere in between depending on the amount of “spirits” I have had. He laughed and then went off line to ask my address. I have to go pick up a T-shirt and some bowling passes.

Acu asked if I had a tape to tape it and I remembered that the end of some of the tapes I had were blank so I ran out to the truck and grabbed one. I did not want to miss it and the one I grabbed had no blank space so I just recorded it at the end and cut off a song. I got the whole thing. I sounded weird on the radio but I think everyone thinks that.

Acu called Leon and told him to listen in. I called Leon and we joked and I told him that I would get on again while I was at TBS and get in the phrase “punch the clown” which is our inside joke. It means masturbating and we say things like” Hey Leon. That clown did nothing to ya!!” It will be a difficult mission.

Well, that cost a little sleep but it was worth it. I got two free T-shirts today and a good laugh to end the day. I wish all days ended like this.

Free Advice for Today:
Root for the home team.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Monday, October 20, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

I woke up early to try to get some studying done. It was really cold last night and I had socks, long underwear top and bottoms, sweatpants, and sweatshirt on. Then I slept in my sleeping bag. I was warm but it took all of that to do it and I did not want to get out of the rack.

I had some coffee and got some work done. Today was a day full of classes, learning about the operations order, tactical planning, offensive fundamentals, combat engineering, combat physical readiness, and introduction to mines. It was class after class after class until about 1600.

At mail call, I got Carrie’s package and could not open it fast enough. There was a framed picture of Alex, a drawing, some newsletters, a comic, and the truck remote. Of course, the most special thing was the picture and I marveled at how old and how handsome my son is becoming. I had a grin from ear to ear and could not take my eyes off it. I showed everyone that I could find and was so proud.

After everyone secured, I ate dinner. Suddenly, like I expected, an emotional wave hit me triggered by the picture and I started to fall apart. In mid chew, my eyes watered and I struggled against the emotion but a few tears got through. It passed and I got ready to go to the coffee shop to meet Acu and Leon who said that they were going there for awhile.

When I got there, they were not there so I studied alone. Lt Craig showed up and he was also looking for Acu. He left and forget his electronic organizer so I picked it up for him and will return it to him tomorrow.

I came back to the room, ironed my cammies, polished my boots, and started some laundry I could not get to. I have a test tomorrow and I was trying to study for it. When I was coming back from the laundry room, I ran into Utz and I brought him back to my room to talk and he had to use the phone to call Tonya. They had gotten married but it is a weird situation because they got the chaplain to legally marry them for benefits but the “actual” wedding is not until January where they will have a full-blown ceremony. They decided not to consummate the marriage until then so he is living in the barracks. He is voluntarily being away from her until January and I can not even fathom that kind of discipline. Having his wife here but not living with her seems crazy to me. But that is the way they want it.

He stayed and I caught him up on how I have been doing. He is now in IOC (Infantry Officer’s Course) and it is a lot of work. He has little free time so I was thankful that he spent an hour with me to gab. I told him how I was doing fine here but suffering without my family. I told him that I know that my emotional state is affecting my performance but that I was doing better than most. It is nice to know that my diluted best is better than a lot of other’s very best around here.

I wanted to get more done tonight but it was time well spent to talk to Utz. I have to finish a few things and then wake up early but I feel better to have talked to a friend. I made him promise me that we would get together on the weekend even if only for dinner.

I go to bed tonight with mixed emotional feeling. I cherish the new picture of Alex but the tug at my heart hurts so bad. I had another emotional “spell” on the way back from the coffee shop, thinking about the kids. I think about December 19th everyday and how much I want to be with Carrie and the kids. I do not want to waste one moment and look forward to being with the kids every moment of the day and being alone with Carrie after they go to bed. And then I get to wake up and do it all again for two weeks!! I have looked forward to such bliss many times in my life: graduation from high school, college, the Gulf homecoming, deployment homecoming, etc. But the feeling never gets any easier to wait for. You could say that I have been through this before so it should be easier, but it never is. I feel just like I did a decade ago when I was miserable alone in the barracks in Millington and looking forward to Christmas. Now I have kids to miss, too. And miss them, I do.

Free Advice for Today:
When a garment label warns 'Dry Clean Only,' believe it.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Sunday, October 19, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

I am getting a lot of sleep lately. I do not think it can be considered “catching up” but rather could be more accurately described as escaping. I went to bed around 0130 and woke up at 0800. I decided to roll back over and other than a few brief encounters with consciousness, I did not wake up again until 1100. I had nothing pressing but was still a little disappointed that almost half the day was over. I got up to get ready for the only thing that I definitely had planned for the day.

I took a shower and got ready. That gave me something to do and always makes me feel like I am ready to do what I have to do. I was not going to see a movie today because I had watched one yesterday but I called the theater anyway. Devil’s Advocate with Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino was playing and it looked interesting on the previews. There was a matinee at 1400 so I decided to go and see it.

I did a few things around the room but set out to get a haircut. It was a gloomy day and raining lightly, off and on. I drove to the exchange and was happy to be around people. I got right into the barber and got a good haircut. I went to the exchange to buy some stuff like detergent, starch, candy for the movie, stamps, a spray bottle for the concentrated starch, and some Q-Tips. I had made a list and was glad to getting all of these little things in one shot. It also gave me a reason to write a check rather than blowing my cash. All in all, it felt good to get out, see people, and get all the stuff I needed. I wanted to get some film but I forgot and did not want to write another check nor spend the cash. So with nothing else to do or get, I headed back to the room.

I was in a sorry mood. I had spent most of the day alone in my room yesterday and most of the night alone watching TV. Then I spent the morning sleeping so this was the end of all of my human contact in two days. I miss my family so much and do not even feel alive without them. I know they might not realize how much a part of me they are and think that my attitude and perceived neglect when I am home means they mean less to me than they really do. I do not feel whole alone and the days are just distances in time between us. I feel like I just aimlessly wander through each day just to get to the next and the cycle continues. There is just one important day for me here and it is December 19. I do not even think past that.

When I got home, there was a message from Grandma and Mac. Grandma said that she would call back later and Mac wanted me to call him which I did. He was not home then. I did some reading and then headed out for the movie. I tried to call Shep to see if he wanted to go but he was not home either.

The movie was a long one: 2 1/2 hours. It was quite a disturbing flick but in my situation, every emotion films try to play on is easily manipulated. I fall for everything because I am always emotionally heightened. I enjoyed the movie but a few of the scenes really bothered me that normally would not. Most of the time it was about kids or the way the main character treated his beautiful wife. I do not know who the actress was that played the wife but if they wanted her to come across as stunningly beautiful, they succeeded. It is funny that now I see movies like this and I do not wish I was married with the beautiful main character but rather get upset at the relational problems between her and the male character. I appreciate the beauty of the woman and being away from my beautiful wife is part of that, but I find myself rooting for the happiness between the couples. This happened in Excess Baggage with Alicia Silverstone and in Peacemaker with Nicole Kidman. All these movies had beautiful main characters who were impressive but I also connected emotionally with the relationships involved. I guess it is a sign of maturity and loneliness.

After the movie, I went back to the room and cleaned up a little. The heat has not come on and I am freezing my butt off. I got out all of my long underwear from the closet and am now able to put away all of my shorts. I got all of the materials ready for tomorrow, an utter class-a-thon. I also tried to do some laundry but all of the washers were taken. I will wait until tomorrow to do that. I was just sitting down to get some reading done when Carrie called.

It was so good to hear from her. I could hear myself talking and I sounded like I was not very interested in the conversation. I had anticipated talking to her so much and thought about all day and now that it was here, I sounded like I could care less. I guess it was just a little depression seeping into my attitude. I was so happy to talk to her and the kids.

I got to talk to Alex for a long time. He is not much of a phone-talker yet so the time I got with him tonight was special. He keeps telling me about the stars in his room and how he is going to show them to me when I come home. I tell him that I will tickle him and wrestle with him when I get home. He mentioned Chuck E. Cheeses and remembered that we played air hockey there. I told him that I would take him there and we could play on the games together when I come home Christmas.

He said that he played a soccer game yesterday and that Uncle Chris had taken him to McDonalds. He is also very excited about Halloween where he will be Buzz Lightyear. Steph will be Minnie Mouse. She got on the phone and talked her gibberish to me. I guess she really likes talking to me and she was on the computer playing Elmo. I can’t wait to see them.

Carrie said that the university account finally gave out so she could not log onto email. I told her I would get help for her but to try to figure it out or call Brian or Paul. We talked for awhile longer and then had to say goodbye. I hate saying goodbye but knew it was time to go.

After we got off the phone, I went back to reading and then Acu showed up. I asked him about the setup for Carrie and explained the entire thing. As I was explaining, I noticed that there was a setup option on the AOL startup screen. I pushed it and it had a network option to set it from TCP/IP to AOLnet. I thought that might be the trick but did not know if all of the setup I had done in Windows95 had anything to do with it.

Acu, very knowledgeable in the area, started giving me detailed explanations. I was getting a little irritated because I did not want the history lesson, just the answer. Because I had dealt with these things before, I let him go and tried to have patience and learn about what he was saying. Normally, it was something that I would be interested to hear but all I wanted was to get it fixed so I could get email from Carrie. He was going to have me check this and that and went into a myriad of things to do.

In the middle of his explanation, the phone rang. I thought for sure it was Grandma and was in no mood to talk because I was frustrated. I took a deep breath and picked up the receiver. It was Carrie and she was trying to fix the problem and had called for advice. I thought this was extremely lucky because it was what we were doing and now I had her on the phone. I had her just change the network option on the AOL setup screen. In the middle of explaining this, Acu jumped in and told me to have her do that and then try it. This was my plan anyway and he had just caught up to it. Regardless of his plethora of changes, I was going to have her change that one thing and try it.

She did it and I told her we would have to hang up and for her to try it and call me back. A few minutes later she called and it had worked. I was so relieved that this was taken care of and was happy that now I could get email again from her. I told her she had a lot of reading to do because I had sent a lot this weekend.

After we hung up, Acu and I had a talk about ISP providers and I explained my situation to him. He, too, was looking for access so I told him to let me know what he finds. He was looking into Sprynet and will call them tomorrow. He got on the web to look around but I told him to keep it short because Carrie might be trying to get on to read all of the mail I had sent.

After Acu left, I went back to reading and will try to get to bed early so I can get up early and get a jump on the day. It is still really cold in here and I will have to see how I can get some heat in this place.

Free Advice for Today:
Never grab at a falling knife.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Saturday, October 18, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

I went to sleep last night and it felt good to sleep, knowing that I had no pressing business to wake up for. But at 0600, I heard a knock and figured it was just the duty checking rifles like they do every weekend. Usually, they let themselves in and check. This time a second knock came and then nothing. I started to doze off again and I heard the duty keys and realized that it was Acu who did not have a key. He had remedial land navigation today. I was mad because there was no reason for him to come an hour early to get ready in my room. He turned on his desk light and even though I could tell he was trying to stay quiet, any movement was loud in a silent room. I silently steamed and then he left the room, leaving the light on. I got up and turned them off and he came back a 10 minutes later.

I bitched at him for being inconsiderate and he said he was only gone for two minutes. I called bullshit and said he was being rude. He polished his boots and did a few other things. I got pissed, got up and slammed the toilet seat up and took a piss. I slammed it down and got back into the rack without comment. He knew I was pissed.

After he left, I went back to sleep and ended up sleeping until 1100. I felt kind of sluggish but did not have anything to do. I spent the next few hours answering email and writing journal entries. I ordered a pizza and then took a shower. Sloan came by and I asked if I could come over tonight and watch some videos. He said sure and I was glad. I did some reading and more email until about 1800 and then went over.

He was there but was going to leave soon. I watched some football and after he left, I flipped through the channels, watching some of a John Denver concert that they were probably playing because he died last week.

The apartment was furnished well and I was surprised. Most of the other places I have been to around here did not even have furniture because no one can afford it, The apartment was fully furnished because West had shipped all of his stuff out here,. It was good to lay on a couch, a futon actually, and watch TV. I watched the first video that Carrie had sent me which had Drew Carey, Friends, Seinfeld, ER, and SNL on it. I had a good time watching them even though I had seen the Seinfeld and Friends episodes. The SNL had Sly Stallone and was surprisingly entertaining.

After I finished those, I popped in a movie that was there. It was called The Siege of Firebase Gloria and it starred R. Lee Ermy. It was a good show and we had seen clips of it during some TBS classes and I was glad to get to finally see it. I was waiting for a particular scene but it must have been from another movie. It was when Ermy was chewing out a fresh lieutenant.

Towards the end of the movie, West and Swenson came home. They watched the rest of it with me and then I made my exit. That was probably for the best because I would have just sat there until I was too tired to move and fallen asleep. At least this way, I can get some sleep and not sleep the day away tomorrow.

I had a good time doing the things that I like. Preparation, writing, and watching shows. I might be a boring, simple person but those are the things that I like to do. Going out is not fun anymore and drinking is not even alluring. I did not drink all weekend and I do not miss it at all.

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

Friday, October 17, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

I was thinking that 7 1/2 hours of sleep would be great. I went to sleep and the very next moment, my alarm was going off. I could not believe how hard I slept and I could really not believe that my alarm was going off. I thought I would jump out of the rack and be ready to go but I was rather tired. I heard a knock on the door and it was Acu getting in early and I could not help but be a little irritated. He does not have a key to the room so I have to let him in.

I got ready and then learned that the on-deck time was 0600 but muster was not until 0645. So I had a lot of time and decided to go with Acu to breakfast for some energy for the hump.

My feet hurt already because I will not leave them alone. What hurts on them are the pads because I keep picking at the blisters that I got from the first hump. They bleed when I peel the skin and then are tender for a couple of days. I had done it earlier in the week and then tried to leave them alone. But last night, I inspected them and ended up picking a little more, causing them to be sore in the morning. I know, I am utterly stupid sometimes.

We got back, threw on our packs, and went out for the hump. We were in the back which is usually the worst place to be but it worked out. We hump for 50 minutes and then stop for a ten minute break. It took five hours so we had four rest stops. After each stop, the front platoon rotates to the back and everyone else moves up. So we started in the back at first but we were strong. Over the long haul, as we weakened, we kept edging to the front so that was better than ending up at the tail at the end when we were tired.

The hump went fine but it was very boring. Lt Lefringhouse was in front of me but did not have much to say. So for the majority of the time, we marched along in silence. It was a cool day and misted most of the time. It rained a little but not much. The cool day made it so we did not have to worry about overheating. This hump is considered the toughest one and every bit helped. On the first few legs, everything went fine. There was a guy who twisted his ankle a half hour into it and I empathized with him. He made it but was in pain the whole time.

Towards the end, my back was hurting and feet felt beat up. About the last 15 minutes of each leg was the worse. I could not even adjust because my back would cramp. But I suffered through. The second to last leg was over a real rocky road which hurt the feet. I had to e real careful because the rocks were perfect for twisting ankles. The rocks I did step on really hurt my feet and the road seemed to stretch forever.

The last leg was the worst. We were on a muddy road and it was extremely hilly. We were going up and down which was filled with water and mud. It was a really bad way to end a 15 mile hump. The last 15 minutes of the last leg was particularly bad. My back was spasming and my feet felt like hamburger. When we got in, all I wanted to do was get my pack off but of course, we had to form up and pass word. When they let us go, I hurried to the outdoor spickets to beat the other 238 Marines so I could get my boots washed off since they were full of mud. I did not want to track it into the room. I made sure my roommates did the same. I got inside and dropped the pack, experiencing a brief moment of pain and then sweet relief.

I got into the shower and it felt good to get clean. My shoulders were rubbed raw and the water kind of hurt it. The same thing happened with my feet but being clean was more important. We had only a little time because we had a review session we had to be at. I was told 1245 so I busted balls to get there and was the second person there. The class did not start until 1300.

The review was boring and everyone was hurting. I laughed at Leon because he still had his scum-cammies on and was afraid that one of the SPCs would have his ass. He got away with it.

The review was a simulated Jeopardy game and it was a little better that a normal class but I did not know the info very well so I did my best to look transparent and take a lot of notes.

After the class, we had to go to the gym to get our flu shots. It was raining by then and we had to walk in the cold rain with new cammies right out of the cleaners. After the shot, we had to go back to the classroom, in the rain again, to get a brief from the XO. Standard Operating Procedure for TBS.

Finally, we limped back to the barracks to wait for word from the SPCs. Of course, we got to sit around and I took a short nap until we were called out to the hall for a meeting. Captain Whiteside passed some standard word and wished us a good weekend.

Lt Barney invited everyone to her house for a party and gave out directions. I went to my room and Leon came by to wait for Acu who had to talk to Capt Whiteside. He was stressing because he did not know why the Captain wanted to see him. He was in there awhile and Leon and I talked. He told me that Maria, his ex-girlfriend, was not coming to the ball. He is having a hard time dealing with his separation from her and hopes for the best. He is going to NY this weekend so it will suck not having him around all weekend.

After Acu came back his usual post-meeting session, pissed off and not saying anything, they left and I was left alone. I called Barney to see when the BBQ started and she told me 1830 so I had a little time. I made a journal entry but could not get onto AOL. Finally, I gave up and went over.

Barney lives with two other female lieutenants in the same complex as the Linggis. It was raining hard and very cold. I was relieved that there were already people there when I arrived.

I got there and did not feel like drinking. I was driving, too, so I abstained. I talked to a few people but was not in a real social mood. Everyone was drinking to get drunk so I grabbed some free burgers and went downstairs and watched The Rock. It was good to relax. After it was over, I went around and found less and less things in common with the drunk crowd that was there. They were getting pretty wasted and I hung out just to watch the silliness and see if I could provide a ride home. I talked with Rosenberg, who was also not drinking. I had about as much drunk-watching as I could take and Rosie was leaving so I decided to bolt. It was thinning out anyway so it was a good time to make an exit. Rosie wanted me to come to some bar with him but it was too late and too far away. I just wanted to go home and get some good sleep.

I felt kind of like a wet blanket tonight and did not socialize very much. Most of them dressed like they were back in college and the thought that they were the newest Marine Corps officers kept creeping into my head. I tried not to think of it...my expectations are too high and it depresses me to see them make total fools of themselves. They had no dignity. I know it probably shone through because everyone kept referring to me as “Lt Grose” while everyone else was on a first name basis. I thought about that later and I am OK with it. It has its advantages because when I get a billet, I would rather be “Lt Grose” than a drinking buddy. I think they take me more seriously because they sense I mean business all of the time. That is just fine with me because other than a couple of close friends like Acu and Leon, the only people I want to know the real Ja are in Seattle and in my heart, always.

Free Advice for Today:
Don't expect others to listen to your advice and ignore your example.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Thursday, October 16, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

Today started early and I was miserable. I had slept roughly for only about three hours when I had to get up. I knew that the on-deck time was 0645 but I also knew that we had SPC time all morning. All we had to do was be dressed and then the morning would be ours.

I got up at the last minute feeling so tired that my body hurt. All I wanted was a bit more sleep but I got up and got my cammies on. When Souliere came in, Acu and I were both out but I could tell he did not want to call us on not being up. He politely mentioned that on deck time was in four minutes, in which time I threw on my cammies and layed back down. I heard Barney knock and ask if I was here and they said I was. There was a steady stream of people coming in but I just layed there.

After awhile they called a meeting and I stumbled upstairs. They passed word that just because we had time in the morning, we were not supposed to go off and consider it free time. We were supposed to do something constructive. I had spent half the night doing everything so I considered a little extra sleep while the others were doing what I had stayed up to do, justified. I told Souliere and he did not have a problem with it and being the section leader, his ok was all I needed. I went back to the room and crashed until after 0900. I finally got up and felt a lot better.

I spent the rest of the morning getting everything ready for my presentation. I handed in my fit rep test and was glad to have done with it. I organized the gear, tweaked the outline, and practiced a little bit. I was glad that I was not being rushed and the fact that I had a TMI due kept me away from all of the working parties. I also finished an assignment that was due. The coffee kept me awake and my spirits were high. Acu, on the other hand, was exhausted and stressed. His fit rep was horrible and he thought his presentation was going to be a disaster. He was drinking Jolt cola like it was going out of style and was an all around mess. I was a little nervous but kept myself in check.

I went to eat lunch and relaxed. I knew I needed energy for tomorrow’s hump. I got done and Acu was still stressing over everything. I told him to eat but he would not listen to me.

When it came time for the presentation, I took all of my gear and the posters out into the LZ. I set it up and noticed I had put the most work in it. The others were impressed and probably a little intimidated. I set everything up and made a few notecards, feeling totally relaxed. I knew I was tired but the adrenaline was keeping me on an even keel.

I had to listen to two other classes on different subjects before mine. I had not really timed it but felt good about it. There were a few awkward moments but it went over rather smoothly. I used everything I had learned as an NCO and LT Alaniz paid me the compliment of saying that it sounded just like a sergeant giving a class. I felt like a sergeant for 20 minutes.

Capt S did not have much to say except that it went fine. He said he took off a few points here and there but his critique ended there, which was fine with me. I do not like him very much to begin with.

After the class, it was such a relief to be done. The rest of the classes dragged on and I was bored silly. Sloan gave a class on hootchs, Alaniz about field sanitation, and Demik on cover and concealment. Acu’s class was about the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW). I tried to give him encouragement by nodding to him and giving him the thumbs up but he looked nervous. It did not help that Capt McDaniel called him over before he even started and ask for the outline. Acu had put it in his office and I think Acu got chewed on it, which killed what little confidence he had. He stumbled through it and I could tell that he was really, really tired. He came across as dry and un-interested. But he made it through it and he was as happy as me to have it done with.

When we finished, we went back to the room and took care of things like mail and field day. The release of stress combined with the lack of sleep made me extremely tired and I vowed to eat, pack my pack, and go to bed early in preparation for the hump. After a good field day, which was needed because the place was an utter pit, I planned to go to chow. I do not usually go to dinner but I wanted the energy for the morning. But before we finished, Capt Whiteside made a surprise visit. We were field daying so once again, I looked good by having my room doing what they were supposed to be doing without pressure from above. Good thing he did not come in 15 minutes before when I was laying down and the place was a mess.

He came in and talked to all of us about fit reps. He had got the tests back and it was obvious most of our section rushed through. A fit rep is important because it usually means the difference between promotion and no promotion for the Marine. He had gotten ones with syrup stains and written in scribble. He had some without complete sentences and some that did not even make sense. When he was starting, I thought he had mine in mind but I was not sure. After he read some examples, it became clear that mine was a stellar example. He tried to drive home the point that it was one of the worst negligent things an officer can do because it screws over the Marine. He was worried that everyone thought what they turned in was “good enough.” I was disgusted with what I heard.

After he left, Acu told me that one of the ones that the Captain read was his and it made no sense. He had done it in the middle of the night and left out words. I got mad and told him it was totally unsat. He said he was tired and ran out of time. I said that he would be much busier and much more tired in the Fleet so it was no excuse. I stayed on his butt by saying that if he were to write one like that in the fleet, he would be killing any chance of promotion for the Marine. I said that he would have to explain to that young sergeant with two kids who was barely making it that he was not getting promoted because his officer could not write a complete sentence.

He asked me if he should go to the captain and try to explain and request to write it again. I told him absolutely not because it would just be an attempt to make excuses and there were none. I told him that it would be better to write it again and turn it in again whether he got credit or not. He left and got a blank one and was writing it out when I left for chow.

I went to chow and had a good time talking to Lt Boucher, a prior who I met when I first got here. We talked about a lot of things and he has the same belief system as I do. It is good to talk to my own kind sometimes and someone my age.

After chow, I came back to an empty room. I had seen Acu and Leon come in and they sat at our table at chow. Boucher and I were having a conversation so I did not get to talk to them too much. When I was coming home, I saw them getting into Acu’s car to go home. I said good night and went back to the room.

I packed my pack and set everything out for the hump tomorrow. I polished my boots and cleaned my rifle before starting this journal. I will now get some well-deserved rest before the big hump tomorrow. My spirits are still up and my conversations with God fill gaps in my day. I miss home but December 19th is coming soon.

Free Advice for Today:
Go the distance. When you accept a task, finish it.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Wednesday, October 15, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

The first thing we had on the schedule today was Initial Fireteam and Squad tactics. I had to be up early because I had been chosen to carry the SAW and was supposed to check it out of the armory. They told me to be ready, cammied up, and ready to step off at 0530, which I was. I woke up early enough to get ready, get the pain on, and get some coffee. I went to where I was supposed to be and as I figured would happen, no one else was there.

Then I was told that we did not have to be at the armory until 0600 and I was a little bit more than mad. Then, when we go over there, there were a zillion people there and we stood around until 0630. By the time I got my weapon and back to the room, we had to go to muster and I had been up many hours and did not get a lot accomplished.

It was drizzling and cold but we had a lot of gear on so it was too bad. We went out to the field and did some formations with me carrying the heavy SAW. At first, it was easy and boring but then Captain Peterson decided to launch us in an attack into the thorny, wet woods. We rushed and got soaked. From then on out, it was an exercise of running through wet, thorny woods until we were exhausted. It really started to suck.

After we were done, we had line training. It was raining so we went to the gym and did it inside on the mats. It was not as bad as I first expected and I had Lt Bakion as a partner. It was defense against knife attack and we threw each other around pretty good.

After that was done, we were released to our SPCs so we went back to the barracks to get anything we needed to get done. We had until 1330 before the next evolution. I worked on my fit rep test and my presentation.

In the afternoon, we had the individual weapon field exercise after lunch. It was basically going out and firing all the weapons we had learned about. When we got out there, we sat in the bleachers and got a class on all of the flares and signaling grenades in the Marine Corps supply system. The captain would explain what they are and what they are used for and then would give it to a sergeant who would throw in or trigger it, throwing it out into the field in front of us.

When he came to the CS gas grenade, he reared back to throw it but stopped, turned around, smiled, and lobbed it over his shoulder about 10 feet away from all of us. He then waved and walked away. We all did not know how strong it was going to be and just sat there. The wind changed and the cloud started to fade toward the instructors to the side but then shifted again, blowing it into the stands. I thought it would just sting but suddenly my lungs seized as I got a good wiff. Immediately, my body reacted and I started hyperventilating. My eyes burned and I could not breath. I did not know if we could leave but it got real bad real quick and I bolted out of the stands along with all the others. I ran away from the smoke, gagging and lurching. I thought I was going to throw up and I was taking short gasps. I finally accepted that I would throw up and let it go, expecting to see my lunch but nothing came up. I could not see or breath and was so pissed that I could not think. They called us back and continued the class but I vowed that if I ever ran across that sergeant again in the fleet, he would regret it.

This brings up the point that harassment is rampant around here. These enlisted guys are so used to seeing so many thousands of lieutenants around here that their respect level goes out the window. What is worse is that they have the backing of the captains so there is not a damn thing we can do about it...but remember and take names. There was no training in that episode. The day before, we had warning and gas masks. The reason was to introduce us to the gas and show us how it worked and how to protect ourselves against it. Today, we did not have any masks and had no way to protect ourselves. The instructors were laughing at the reactions so it was nothing but pure harassment. I see this as totally unsat, having nothing to do it was me it happened to.

After this, we had other classes on SAWs, grenade launchers, fighting holes, and then finally the grenade toss range. As you can imagine, the enlisted men who worked there were extremely cautious because they do not want to be blown up. They ran the show by the numbers, making us go to the practice range first. You throw the fake grenade at a wooden target of a man and then duck, going through the steps. Most people were trying just to get it into the pit where the wood was but I was the only one to actually hit the target. On my second try, I hit it again after talking trash and then backing it up. It was funny.

After we had our practice, we went to the range down the road and went through the numbers again, this time with live grenades. You draw your grenade and then get into these concrete cubicles. When instructed, you pull the pin and throw it, then ducking behind the cement. The explosions were enormous and there was wood and dirt that rained down afterward. It was really awesome to hear such a loud explosion. It was more like a concussion wave because you could feel it.

After all of that, we marched back to the base and I was supposed to be let out of cleaning the weapons because I was there early to draw it out of the armory. I was happy because I would just get to catch dinner before the chowhall closed. But like most things around here, I got gypped out of that deal and had to go with everybody else to clean. We were there forever but then Arratia went to the Hawk and grabbed a tub of free chicken wings. We all demolished them and then Trenery went back to get more. We did the same thing to the second batch.

After cleaning, it was about 2000 and I changed over for the long night ahead. I had the fit rep test to finish and the presentation. I went to WalMart to get posterboard and then went to three different places looking for a copier machine. I wanted to make a copy of the fitrep so that if I messed it up, I would have a spare to start over with.

When I got back, I got to work. Acu showed up and started working on his. Of course I over-achieved and put more work into the project than I planned or was necessary. But I had good posters. I also finished the fitrep and got to bed about 0300. Acu was struggling and kept falling asleep. I knew tomorrow would be tough with such little sleep but I was well on the way to being done so I thought I would sleep soundly.

Free Advice for Today:
Don't flush urinals with your hand -- use your elbow.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Tuesday, October 14, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

I awoke in a better mood today because of one reason. I started thinking about God last night and how I was taking on too much on my own shoulders. I know that this might sound like a desperate reaction to extreme loneliness, but it is what happened. I have known for awhile that I have been lacking God in my life so maybe it takes hard times like these to enable me to see better.

Once I started thinking, this is what I came up with.

I have been trying to do everything myself without taking into consideration that I can’t do this alone. My depression over the last few weeks marks the end of my endurance because even the accomplishments have been hollow and without joy. I started thinking about how God has taken care of me and it became increasingly clear that His hand has been guiding me without me knowing. Good things have happened to me and I have performed well thus far but I have been nervous, stressed, depressed, and moody. It is like He has let me think I have accomplished these things through my own abilities but now I see that he has let me fret over the events while all the time making sure that things work out for me. He let me have enough rope to hang myself but has been taking care of me all this time.

It is like He was letting me worry and take on the stress on myself until I got tired of it but all of the while He has been ensuring I do well. He is letting me come to Him. After I realized this, I felt the stress go away. It would creep in but I would say “Let Him take care of it, He is taking care of me.” This stopped me from worrying and I prayed that He would give me the strength, knowledge, and endurance to make it through the day. I would think that I did not have to worry because no matter how bad it got, He would guide me so I was covered.

For the first time in awhile, I genuinely smiled. It felt so good.

When I woke up, I still had a little moody to me but I vowed to not stress. I calmly got ready after being woken up by an early Souliere. I was a little irritated but I was trying to change my views even if only by a little. I know it will take work but I am tired of being miserable and now I see why I have been.

The first thing that happened today was the pneumatic dart exercise. We went to the class first where we were talked down to by Capt X who has the most demeaning demeanor of all the SPCs. Luckily, we got to go to the field first and deal with enlisted Marines who showed us how to use the equipment.

They took us to a field where they had a bunch of miniature simulated targets such as town, tanks, hilltops, etc. There was a mortar tube set up in one corner with a special attachment that launched air-propelled darts. We would work out the problem of distance and direction and feed the information to the enlisted Marines who would then make the adjustments and fire. Then we adjusted out fire until we hit it. There is a specific protocol that we have to learn and it is quite complicated.

I did well. There were five of us and I was one of only two who actually hit our targets. Linderdakis hit her little tank and actually broke the model. Barney was the most knowledgeable as far as the questions went. Sloan was hesitant and A seemed lost. The test is going to be difficult.

After that, we went into the classroom to listen to X talk down to us. It was an indoor simulator and we called in fire on projected targets. I really dislike him and could not wait for the class to end. The best way to put it is that he is basically an ass.

After that, we went to chow and I tried to get some stuff done. We were due at the gas chamber after chow and we went there for a class. A gunny taught the class and he was not too happy when other sections were late. He has a good sense of humor but there was little doubt that he saw us as a bunch of lower life forms, as a whole. It is like they can say anything they want as long as they follow it by “Sir.” I feel sorry for the enlisted man who tries that on me when I get out of here.

The class was about NBC and it was the same thing that I have heard over the years. I had a few interesting moments. As we went to the road by the field we were in, we had to take a seat. I stopped dead in my tracks because the ground was covered with leaves and it struck me like a knife through the heart. I remembered playing in the leaves with Alex at the University. I would bury him and then go around calling his name. He would jump out and laugh when I looked surprised. He really liked that game. It hit me that he would love these leaves and I think that Capt Whiteside saw me hesitate. There was no way he could have known what I was thinking but the look on my face probably spoke for me.

The other moment that comes to mind is when the gunny talked about atropine and getting gassed. It brought back a lot of memories and it did not feel good. I sat in the back and was silent. I did not know it would affect me like that but it was uncomfortable. I was probably the only one in the group who had gone MOPP 4, which is putting on all the protective gear in an emergency, when I was in the Gulf. I told the whole story to Barney who was sitting next to me.

Utsler ran by as we were having class which reminded me that I have to call him.

After the class, it was time to go to the chamber. Everyone was freaked out about it but I was calm because I had done it so many times. There were some seriously scared people and all of them were trying to play it off. I sat back silently remembering what to do and what not to do. I made sure I was in the front of the first group because the gas would be the weakest in the first group and as the first few people, I would be out the quickest.

We went in with the mask and suit on. I could feel the gas burn my head were skin was exposed but it did not hurt bad. I expected it and I could tell that some did not know what to expect. I stood there and was thankful that my mask was doing its job because I could not smell a thing. You could see the thick mist of CS gas hanging in the air. We got in a circle and had to then bend over and shake our head. This showed us that the mask was on tight and was not going to come off even when we shook our heads. I noticed that WO Robinson was talking to Lefringhouse and Lefty said he could smell gas. The WO’s response was simply, “OK,” and then walked away. I knew Lefty was in for a bad time.

We then had to do jumping jacks to show that we could do physically demanding tasks and still breath with a mask. After those, we all had to take off the mask and hold it at our waist. I held my breath, closed my eyes, and did it. Instantly, I felt the gas on the exposed skin. It burned especially because I had sweat all over my face and the pores were wide open. They told us to put the mask back on and clear the mask. This means that you block the main outlet valve and then blow, expelling the gas in the mask out the sides. I did this a couple of times and got most of it out. But there is always some you do not get out and it seemed that every time after the first time, I would let more in that I got out. My eyes started burning so I closed them. It stung my lungs a bit but it was not as bad as some. Some had inhaled before they got any gas out of the mask and were paying the price. The coughing and wheezing began.

The next thing we had to do was to line up against the wall, putting one hand on the shoulder of the lieutenant in front of us. Then we had to take the mask off and walk around the room. I knew to close my eyes, hold my breath, and follow the lieutenant in front of me and I would be fine. The chamber is really just a test of panic control. If you stay calm, you are fine but if you panic, it gets ugly quick.

I took a deep breath and took the mask off. The line started moving and I knew I had gotten a good breath. Not even five seconds into it, I started hearing coughing. Whoever it was was in trouble. Once you cough, your body involuntarily starts taking breaths. Then you get in more gas and cough more which makes your body take in more gas. It starts a chain reaction and the victim is basically screwed. I knew we had to take a round around the room and thought it would take about 30 seconds. As we walked, I heard more and more lieutenants start the process. I heard a gas mask hit the deck. I heard coughing, gagging, wheezing, moaning, retching, and panic. I still had a good hold on my breath and thought I could hold it forever. I was surprised that I heard so many people losing it. I did not know if I was doing something extraordinary or if they just were clueless. As we rounded the last corner, I started to falter. I knew that if I had to let the breath go, my body would want a nice deep breath to replace it. I snuck a peek at the door to see if we were allowed to go out or if we had to go around again. My eye smarted but not as much as I expected it to.

For a brief moment, I thought we had to go around again and it almost made me lose my hold. But then I noticed we were filing out and I knew I could hold it. I slowly let it out to alleviate the pressure and was out in the open in no time. I got away from the door and it did not hurt that bad. I had to take a breath and got a little gas but not as much as if I would have been inside. It was not too bad right after but after I opened my eyes, I started having the effects. I coughed once and spit. Other than that and my eyes burning for awhile, I was over it. Others were freaking out and had snot hanging all out of their faces. They were throwing up, gagging, pouring water over their heads, and generally looking like idiots. I was undressed and back in my regular clothes, cover on, waiting for the word to leave. I was the only one who did not look like they had been to Hell and back. The gunny came up to me and said, “Lt Grose, you have done NBC before, haven’t you?” I did not know if he meant going through the chamber or worked in NBC as a prior. I just said yes and I could see through his mask that he was smiling, pointing his finger at me and saying, “I thought so.”

After we went through, we all watched the other groups go through and it was like a show when they came out. We got to see what we looked like when we came out and I will have to admit it was a funny sight. People had cameras and pictures were clicking like crazy. It was a funny scene AFTER you had been through.

We were done for the day after this so I went back, showered and changed. I had to take care of some business so I put on my spit and polish cammie and boots. It just so happens that Capt Whiteside called a surprise meeting and I was the only one who showed up looking like I was ready for an inspection. Everyone else had the field cammies they had just worn all day and were looking like trash. I thought it was funny because I looked so much better than everyone but just because they were the only cammies I had to put on.

We had the meeting and I probed the captain about MOSs and schools. He said we would know our MOSs, where the training will be, and our first duty station all at once. He also said that comm school only goes once a year but said maybe twice a year. But if we miss it, I will have to wait around doing desk jobs until the next class starts. That could be as much as a year of waiting.

After the meeting, I went back to the room and we were secured. I was about to go to mainside to get copies but the training officer, Lt Michum, said I could go nearby. I went to S1 and they let me use their copier. I met Lt Omahondro, a MECEPer I knew from San Diego. He let me have some paper because we were supposed to bring our own. I told him I would repay him. After he was gone, it seemed that everyone left and I was alone. I had copier problems but had no one to ask. After much head scratching, I figured it out only to run out of paper. I took some from a shelf, knowing there was no one around. I finished up and left, shutting the lights and closing the door. I did not know what else to do and thought it was funny that I would be left all alone there.

After coming back, I remembered that I had to get some aiming stakes because I was assigned the SAW gun tomorrow. I went out into the woods with my PT gear and e-tool. I heard a few others chopping away getting their stakes and soon realized that PT gear was the wrong uniform to be out in the woods in. After a few scrapes and scratches, I was done. I had broken my e-tool but had the stakes, formerly known as small trees.

After getting organized some more, I decided that I wanted McDonalds. I got dressed and went. I noticed that it was kid’s night and Happy Meals were on sale for 99 cents. So I bought two of them to save money. I figure I can make it a weekly trip and not only eat out but build up a nice little collection of small toys for the kids at Christmas. I figure quantity is more important than quality at their ages.

I started to do a take-home test and then the phone rang. I was hoping it was family and was happy when it turned out to be Chris. I enjoyed talking to him and was glad to get a break from the loneliness. I had a million things to do but we talked for over and hour. I think he is going through the same loneliness as me so we have a bridge. I consider it time well-spent and it felt good to have had a conversation with my brother that made me feel good.

I decided to write about the day because they slip by if I do not get them down. With my new fledgling trust in God, my mood was better overall. I know it is new and I have work to do on it, I hope that I can keep faith and actually stick with it through rough AND good times. If anything, it will help me take pressure off myself. Tomorrow will be another day and another opportunity to test my commitment. I also tried to minimize cussing and will continue. It is like a game.

Free Advice for Today:
Be prepared to lose once in a while.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

No BLOG entries for October 11, 1997 - October 13, 1997.

Friday, October 10, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

Prep Time
First Aid Test
Computer Skills
Field Protective Mask
Close Air Support
Initial FT/Squad Tactics

Free Advice for Today:
Be happy with what you have while working for what you want.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Thursday, October 9, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

Combat Related Injuries
Introduction to Supporting Arms
Call for Fire
Call for Fire (Cont)
Casualty Evaluation/Evacuation
Injury Prevention / Rehabilitation
Introduction to Marine Aviation
First Aid Review

Free Advice for Today:
Return shopping carts to the designated areas.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Wednesday, October 8, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

We had an early on-deck time this morning and I was tired from the night land nav course. We had another day land nav course today and back to back sessions were not very fun. We were scratched up and tired but had no choice but to charge forward.

This course was longer than the rest. We had six hours to get eight boxes, the most we had ever had. The day started out cool and we started out at 0700. I got my sheet, plotted my points, and dismayed that many of my points were spread out. I saw the furthest one was along a road so knew that I would have to go for that one first. You can do the points in any order as long as you get them. It took me 20 minutes of running just to get to the first attack point.

I got out there and it took me forever to find a box. I did not even know if I had the right one and did not like how all of this was starting out. I took the farthest one because that is when I was the freshest and it was the most cool. I finally found it but was not comfortable if it was the right one. I shot an azimuth to the next one but the leg was too long and I knew I would be off. So I followed the road back to a closer point and had to do a blind shot from an less-than-ideal place. I was unsure which made me nervous. I followed it and eventually found the box but again, I was unsure. I was not having a good land-nav day. My third point looked better because it was just off the trail. By the time I even got to where I wanted to be to start, it was over two hours into the course and I had but two points I was unsure about. I got to the rail crossing and shot my azimuth. I followed it, the surest out of the three. I got to where I knew the box had to be and could not find any boxes. I searched for a half hour and then backtracked and shot it all again. Again, no box. I was getting upset and knew I was spending too much time on this but I kept looking. Finally, I gave up and headed to an open field to get to my next attack point. As I was walking, I came across a box by chance and recorded it. Again, I had no idea if it was the right one.

My next point was over by a demo range where I had never been before. They said it had barbed wire around it and it was near the river on the map. So I decided to walk the river until I got to it. It turned out that it was not readily apparent where the barbed wire was and I walked about 4 times as long as I thought it would take. By now, I was utterly exhausted and running out of water. I knew that I was pitifully behind and that my boxes were “iffy” at best. I kept walking, stumbling by now, and my morale was low. I kept going and going and going...

Finally, I hit a road crossing and tried to locate it on my map. There were a half-dozen other lieutenants there doing the same and I wanted so much to ask one of them to show me where the hell I was but we could not talk. I reconned the area and found some familiar places but could not pinpoint where I was. It was so frustrating because if I knew, I could find my boxes from there. It took over a half hour before I set out and guessed at my location. While I was there, there was this idiot lieutenant who is known for being extremely stupid, unknown to himself. He thinks he is Caesar. He had killed a snake and was in the process of gutting it telling everyone around him how much his girlfriend is going to like it when they eat it.

I shot my azimuth and went looking for the box. I could not find it and was getting more upset and tired by the minute. It was hot and I had been walking aimlessly for a long time. What was worse was that I only had 4 out of the 8 boxes and time was running out. I figured I had to get 6 to pass. I decided to give up on the two in this area and go for two others. Before I left, I figured that I should put something down on these boxes just in case I got lucky. I had seen two boxes along the path as I was coming down but did not think they were any of mine. I could not remember the exact number of the box so I decided to run back along the path to make sure. It was probably wrong but it was a number. I got a little lost and ran into a third box. I said, what the hell, and recorded it.

As I was walking back to that stream. I came across a major path. I saw that the path and the stream orientation fit with a point on the map. Suddenly, I knew where I was at. I found a point and paced it off to where the box should have been and then turned into the woods and looked around. Right there was the box. I ran back to the juncture to step off. I had six boxes but I knew at least one was wrong. I was getting dizzy and was out of water. My body hurt and I was exhausted.

I started heading back and I knew that the last boxes were towards the end where I had to be. One was way out and I knew I would not have a chance to get it. I had less than an hour so I headed back. I was very tired. I had not had any food, it was hot, I was out of water, and was beat. I stumbled around and the road had a lot of rocks. I knew I was in bad shape and getting worse. The road stretched out and I was walking in the sun for 35 minutes. I stopped sweating and that was a bad sign. I was worried about fainting and was still a ways away. I ran into another lieutenant and asked for some water. He gave me some and I went on.

I got to an intersection of a path and the road. If I followed the road, I would make it back and it would all be over. If I took the path, I could try to find one more box. I was in a dilemma. I only had about 25 minutes and did not want to be late. I did not really care much about my score because I really felt I was in physical danger. I changed my mind a dozen times knowing that all my boxes were not right. Should I give up and call it good? What if I was late? How did I expect to go right to a box when I had struggled all day? The map said that I had to go along the path for awhile even to get near and I was not in a condition to go a long ways anywhere. I must attribute my decision to God because suddenly, I took the path and went into a jog. I was struggling but I was chancing it all on getting this box. I went about 300 yards, about half of what I expected and then I saw something.

I came into a clearing and there were three rappelling towers. I had seen where I was going to and it said “tower” but I was looking for a water tower. What is strange is that the maps we have are old and do not usually show much detail of manmade structures. The map showed three little dots in the exact configuration of the three towers. I was amazed and my box, according to the map, was about 20 meters into the woods. I oriented my map and without using a compass, deduced where the box was in relation to the towers. I just went in the general direction and prayed. This is the worst, most inaccurate method there is for finding the boxes. I stumbled into the woods and ran into another lieutenant. By this time, my voice was hoarse and I croaked when I asked him for water. He gave me a full canteen and I poured the entire 1 quart down my throat in about three gulps. By now, I did not care about the rules and said “Please tell me there is a box around here.” He said nothing but when he stepped aside, there it was about ten feet behind him. I was looking at my passing score and I had found it breaking every piece of training and advice that we had been given. What is more, he was finished and knew the fastest way to get back. We got back in plenty of time.

As I waited in line, I asked others for more water and I asked another for some food. I was not being shy at all. A lieutenant had some trail mix and dried fruit. I did not like either of them normally but I threw handfuls into my mouth not caring that large portions were dribbling down my chin. Someone else game me some Crunch and Munch and I ate it as fast as I could. I started feeling better.

When I got to the front, WO Robinson took my card and told me that I got a 76%. The passing score was 70% so that final box is what passed me. There are about a dozen things in this story that made the difference between passing and not passing. So many of them just happened and it amazes me that they all came together to get me a passing score by the skin of my teeth. God was definitely with me today, of that I have no doubt.

Free Advice for Today:
Finish projects before they are due.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Tuesday, October 7, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

We had the basic skills test today and I was a little nervous about it. They had practically given us all of the answers but game time has never been my strong suit. The test was pretty easy and I ended up getting a 92.8% on it. After the test and review, we had a few first aid classes.

The instructor, a female major, came across as kind of strong but as the classes went on, I was relieved to see that she softened up a little. It was nice to be treated with respect, a commodity that sometimes does not exist. She was not condescending and was knowledgeable.

She taught us basic life support and then we broke up into groups to work on the resuscitator Annie dolls. She took lieutenants that were CPR qualifies, me included, to lead the groups and we got little cards and read the scenarios. The Marines would have to perform the correct steps. It felt good to be in charge and I find if you act like you know what you are doing, people will respond. I did not know much more than the others but they did not know that. It is funny because it is all attitude. I was learning just like they were but I know they thought I had known this stuff perfectly.

After this, we had a class on injuries and saw some nasty slides. It did not bother me much but there was one lieutenant that practically fainted. Someone yelled, “Ma’am!” from the back and next to him was a Marine leaning over, eyes wide open. They helped him up and he looked totally disoriented. They helped him out and I thought it was just a demonstration they had set up earlier. But it was real and he came back in a little later. It was strange to me that someone could react like that to photos. It was gory but not to the point that you would faint.

After this, we had a brief on the fitness report take home exam. The adjutant, named Major Conboy, gave us the sheets and then went over what we were to do. He was very specific. I took copious notes.

In the afternoon, we had SPC time where I got a little sleep. Night land nav final was tonight so I knew that I would need some rest.

I did not feel good about this test. It is one of the more infamous courses that has the reputation of being rather difficult. We had four hours to finish five boxes. We had to do a course with a river running through it so it had the potential to be very difficult. I got my card and went to the starting point, waiting for darkness to come. I knew that one of the hardest things about this course was the time constraint so I concentrated on being accurate and quick.

When it finally started, I set off and felt a little better. The woods were not as thick as the second practice and I was doing well. I came up to the river and the boxes were on the far side. I looked around and wondered how I would cross. To me, in the darkness, it looked like I was on a cliff and the river was 30 feet down. I could just make out the water and was wondering how I was going to negotiate it. I slid down to what I thought was the cliff edge but was having trouble making anything out. I strained to see and then looked around for a rock to throw to see how far it was. I could not find a rock so I spit. To my utter amazement, I discovered that it was an optical illusion. What I thought was the entire river was just a ribbon of light reflecting off the water. The spit landed about a foot from my face and I realized that I was level with the water. It was a weird feeling. Luckily, I came out near a bridge and crossed it, noting where I had come out from the woods. I found a box nearby and recorded it. I had actually came out in between two boxes but because of my weak left ankle, I figured that I naturally push harder with my right foot when I walk. This has the effect of making me drift left so I picked the right-side box of the two. So far, so good.

The next leg went fine but I was taking longer than the 45 minutes I planned to take per box. It made me a little nervous but I charged on. The third leg required me to head back to the river. It was a tough leg and it started in a weird direction. I had to trek a far distance just to get to my starting box. Once you find the boxes, you follow them in a line to fine the box that marks your next starting box. It took me 15 minutes just to find my starting box and I was getting scared that my time was oozing away. When I got to it and shot my azimuth that I was given, I was horrified to see that it pointed away from the river and somewhat behind the road. I was confused but figured, oh well. I followed it and the road bent later down the line and I ended up pointing in the right general direction. It was a scary concept to start off completely opposite of where you thought you would be going.

I kept going until I hit the river but when I got there, I saw no boxes. There were other lieutenants looking around and we could not figure out why we could find no boxes. Even if it was not the right ones, there should have been a line of boxes along the river ever 50 meters. I went up and down the trail that paralleled the river but could not find anything. I started getting scared because if I could not even find the boxes, I could not find the starting point to my last leg and I would fail for sure. I was wasting time and was getting very nervous. It took a long time and then I committed to a direction and followed it. Wherever I was, I was way off where I should have been. Finally I saw a box and shone my flashlight on it. It was box number one which meant only one thing to me. Somehow I had drifted way right and missed the line of boxes. So when I came back, I knew that #1 had to be my box because it was the first one to that side. I did not come between boxes but had drifted so #1 would be the only logical choice. I recorded it and had to go 300 meters to my last starting point.

Now, I was scared again because I had 40 minutes and it was my longest leg. I had not finished a box in less than 45 minutes and this was the longest one. I decide that I would have to haul ass and give up some accuracy. I started off and was flying. I hit some rough bush but got through it without stopping. I was not even keeping a pace count because I just wanted to reach the road and did not care about the distance. I had only one speed at this point and it was balls to the wall. I had no idea how close I was but about 15 minutes into it, I got stuck hard in the open eye with a branch. It was sticking straight at me and I bend the branch as it scraped across my open eye. I stopped, stumbled, cussed and rubbed. It hurt like hell. But I got my compass and kept going, unable to open my eye. I stumbled forward and five minutes later, I came to the road to my surprise. At that point I knew I would make it but was amazed that I had done it in 20 minutes. Of course, I came out in between two boxes so I picked the right-side one again and went to turn in my card.

I handed it in and said a little prayer while he graded it. I had gotten all of them right except the last one. I missed it my two boxes but that had still left me with a 90%. I was so happy but I could still not open my eye. I went back to the barracks and it was getting a little better. I could open it but it still hurt. I looked at it in the mirror and it was all red but I knew it would be OK. I took a shower and hit the rack, satisfied that I had survived another milestone at TBS.

Free Advice for Today:
Respect your elders.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Monday, October 6, 1997

Quote of the Day:
Be an umbrella for your subordinates on rainy days. No one gets to them without going through you." 
- Unknown

I had a horrible night’s sleep last night. I tossed and turned and felt like I was supposed to be doing something other than sleeping. I woke up grumpy and not wanting to start the day. The mood stayed with me all day.

I got up and I had called a mail rep meeting the first thing but like always, not enough people showed to have a meeting. I distributed what mail I had and then said I would call another meeting during class.

I also chewed out "S" for leaving my answering machine unplugged on Friday. He apologized and asked if I missed my important message. This incident pretty much cut off all communication between us and I think that the next step will be forbidding him to use any of my appliances in the room. It is only a matter of time.

We had classes all morning, mostly on weapons such as the SAW, mortars, and grenade launchers. It was interesting but I was tired. After a long 1 1/2 hour chow, we had another class and then had line training II. I did not like it very much because of my mood and the heat. We learned some more moves I will not remember. I am also stressed about the test tomorrow. It is worth weight 4, which is a lot.

I had Lt Barney as a partner and it was a little strange to be practicing hand to hand combat with a woman. We did not let up and none of the moves involved any personal zones so at least I did not have to deal with that. She knew the moves well and could execute them as well as any man. She is also tall and sturdy therefore eliminating the “petite woman” problem of throwing your partner around. We were about equal in ability.

After line training, I went back to the room to wait to be secured. We all fell asleep for awhile and the secure time was delayed. It felt good to sleep but people kept coming in. I found out we have a “C” inspection tomorrow so I could lop that on top of all the other things I had to do.

Mac came over and gave me a haircut. After cleaning up and taking a shower, I got to business. Leon came by and was waiting for Acu to get out of a meeting and we had a good talk while I fixed up my charlies. He talked about his girlfriend and how he is still trying to get her back. I told him that they need to sit down and have it out by communicating. I think he is leery to put out an ultimatum for fear of losing her.

I finished doing my charlies, made a template for a lesson plan due this week, ironed my cammies, polished my boots, and studied. I did my laundry and studied some more. I am always so nervous before a test and I hate it. I had some soup for dinner and just want to sleep to get away from myself for awhile. Tomorrow is going to be rough because we have a written test in the morning, an inspection, classes, and night land nav final. I hope to perform well tomorrow and will hopefully wake up ready to go to work.

I got a package from Carrie today and while I love what she sent, it still did not bring me out of my mood. I cherish the cutouts and pictures from the kids. I love the “I (heart) my daddy” plaque they sent and have it hanging over my rack. I was hit with a wave of depression at one point tonight and just felt like crying. I didn’t but the emotion was so intense and sudden that it hit me like a punch. I wanted so much to call Carrie but I would not know what to say. I miss them more every day and I hope this depression subsides soon. I feel myself pulling away from those around me and I am not even happy when I am by myself.

Free Advice for Today:
Seek respect rather than popularity.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Sunday, October 5, 1997

Quote of the Day:
Officers get paid to make decisions. If you can't, you need to seek employment elsewhere." 
- Unknown

I slept a very long time. I awoke at 1000 and did not feel like getting out of bed. I did not think I had a lot to do and woke up depressed, much like most Sundays. I just lounged in bed, falling in and out of a light sleep. I thought about the kids and how we would wrestle in the bed on Sunday mornings. I hid under the covers to try to block the light and remembered how much the kids loved playing under the covers. What I would give to do that now.

I finally got up at 1100 and called the theater to see what was on. I wanted to see The Peacekeeper with Nicole Kidman and George Cloony. Luckily, it was playing and I wrote down the times. Afterwards, I showered and got dressed. I checked my email and was happy to see that Carrie had sent me email. I read it happily and felt better. I saw that I had very little time to get to chow before it closed so I rushed out and ate breakfast at the chowhall.

When I got back I noticed that I could see the early show and that would leave a big part of the day. The Mariners played today and I wanted to see the game. I went to the movie and saw that Shep was in the coffee shop. I asked him if he wanted to go and he did. I ran over to the store to get some snacks and we barely made it on time.

The movie was good and I had a good time. It was about stolen nuclear weapons and Nicole Kidman played a government worker heading the stolen nuclear bomb division. Cloony played a Rambo type of Army colonel. It was a fun movie but won’t win any Oscars.

Afterwards, I found out that the game started at 1600 and it was 1500. I went back to the barracks to call Mac and noticed Sloan was in the room studying. I did not like that because on the weekend, I consider the room mine and I do not go over to his apartment whenever I want to. I did not have the time to discuss it with him so I let it go. I called Mac and they said that I could come over and watch it. I did a few things around the room beforehand and then went over.

The game was pretty sad. The M’s were down in the series by two games to one. Randy Johnson was pitching but was not doing that great. They rocked him for a homer in the first inning and the Orioles pitching by Meccino was outstanding. I watched the entire thing and we lost 3-1. That ended the season for the Mariners with no playoff advancement and Grif only got 56 homers on the season.

After the game, I went to Wal Mart and bought $20 worth of room supplies. I bought toilet paper, paper towels, scrubbing bubbles, air freshener, and Kleenex. They forgot to pack the Kleenex so I was not going to go all the way back for it. When I came home, I cleaned up the room and started studying. I ironed cammies and polished boots when Carrie called.

It was good to talk to her but the kids were sick. I got to talk to Steph and it was fun hearing her little voice. Her speech and clearness gets better every week. I had a good time listening to her tell me about her necklace and that she was over at Lyle and Sharon’s house. Alex was too sick to talk but at least I got to tell him that I love him.

Carrie and I talked and I told her all about the weekend with Kristine. I did most of the talking but she told me about what was going on around there. Just the act of communicating with her made me feel better. All of my Sundays are geared around talking to her and it would not be complete without that conversation. I miss them all so much and I have to fight depression every day without them.

After we talked, I did some more studying, cleaned the sink and the shower curtain, and finished getting ready for tomorrow. Thus ends another weekend and marks the start of another week without my beloved family.

Free Advice for Today:
Throw a surprise birthday party for a friend.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Friday, October 3, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

10-mile Hump
Jane Wayne Day

Free Advice for Today:
What you have to do, do wholeheartedly.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Thursday, October 2, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

I knew that today would be a very long day. I was right. It started with nerves for the land navigation test. We had early muster then we had about an hour before the test. I laid in my rack and did some last minute studying, trying to relax. For some reason, I did not feel too good about this test even though I had done plenty of studying.

What I was worried about happened: stupid mistakes. The test had a lot of map work and the choices were rather vague. I knew that I could do well, medium, or poor depending on how the answers went. It was set up that even small mistakes would be costly so it was not hard to pick the wrong answer. The worst part of the test is afterwards when they go over the answers. It is very nerve-racking. Plus, you do not remember what you picked and I forgot to make a second answer sheet for myself. Oh well, it is done and I will get a grade. I do believe I did the most I could so my performance is irrelevant.

After the test, we had an intelligence class. It was taught by a female captain that I am sure most of the male Marines paid attention to rather closely. Sloan, I found out later, was particularly taken aback. Throw a steak in a pen of wild dogs and that’s what you get. To me, it was just another boring class and I did not even know the effect she had until afterwards when they were all talking about her. Mr. Aware.

After chow, which I ate eagerly because I knew we had a hump, we had a service etiquette class. It was more entertaining because the instructor was jokester. After springbutting a few times, the instructor asked Lt Picado how she knew so much. She said her mother taught her and then added, with an accent, “I was raised a propa suthern girl.” That got a big response. There are always unexpected, funny things that happen in such a large group such as that.

When he was talking about tobacco, he asked who chewed. Everyone started saying “Barney.” The instructor told Barney to stand up and to his surprise, Barney was a female. You could see the shock on his face. He did not know what to do and it was a running joke. She really does chew.

After this class, we had an exam review for the upcoming test. It was given by CWO Robinson, who sounds just like the old neighbor guy on Beavis and Butthead. Everyone was making fun of him. He basically gave us every question that was going to be on the test so everyone should do well on that one.

We had a couple of hours after that before we had to muster and get on the busses. We had night defensive fires demonstration. We were supposed to have the hump tomorrow but the Commandant decided he wanted to talk to all of the captains tomorrow so they moved the hump back to just after tonight’s demo.

We loaded the busses and went out seven miles to the demo site. We got in bleachers and was sitting around waiting along with many other companies. I saw Joe, Frank, and a few others I knew. They all knew we had a hump and teased us.

As we were all sitting there waiting, all of the sudden a huge explosion that you could see, hear, feel, and taste went off. It was about 50 yards in front of us on a line about 300 meters long, covering the entire front of the reviewing stand where we were. We were all sitting there talking and suddenly there was an enormous flash of light and the heat was like a wave. It popped my eardrums and I reacted by ducking my head as I felt the shock wave vibrate my entire body. It was the loudest thing I had ever heard and the closest I have ever been to such a large explosion. Huge fireballs rose and smoke filled the air. It was the beginning of the show and I was thinking that I can take that kind of event but there were a lot of wives and family members there that I bet about shit their pants.

The demo started out slow. It basically simulated a company in the defense waiting for an enemy to attack. There was a loud speaker that narrated what was happening and they showed us the different weapon systems they would use in what order. It started with flare and artillery illumination. They sent in long-range mortars and artillery and even did helo passes for observation. It picked up once the “enemy” got closer and they started using short range mortars. The best part was at the end when the enemy was close-in. They lit the area up with illumination flares and mortars and then went to town with machine guns. It was night and they had tracer rounds so you could see where the rounds were going. It was awesome. They laid down a curtain of steel that would suck to have to deal with. At the end they did a Final Protective Fire (FPF) which is basically giving it all you got because the enemy is making a charge. Suddenly, all the guns started and it was a living hell in the field. Even the helos were firing from above and the scene was unreal. An outstanding display of the capabilities of a Marine Corps rifle company with support.

After the show, we went to our packs and stepped off. Because we were only seven miles out, we humped 1 1/2 miles further, turned around, and then humped all the way home. The pack was much lighter and the pace was extremely slow. We went about three miles per hour. It was easy and I am glad for it. Because it was a cool night, heat was not a factor. We broke it up in three legs. First, we went three miles and took a 15 minute break. Then we went four miles before breaking and then finished up the last three miles in an hour. We got home around midnight and got secured.

My feet were pretty much unaffected but my back hurt. After each break, everything was fine but at the end of each leg, the pack, as light as it was, still hurt my back. It was the only pain that I had to deal with and it was bearable. The other enemy was boredom. We played word games such as naming musical groups and then coming up with another that started with the last letter of the one before. It kept us busy but boredom was definitely a factor.

I went to bed around 0100 with a sore gluteus maximus but happy that the day is over. Tomorrow, I get to see Kristine and am looking forward to it. Then the weekend, the sweet two days of catch-up.

Free Advice for Today:
Never ask an accountant, lawyer, or doctor professional questions in a social setting.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Wednesday, October 1, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

Customs and Courtesies
Comm Exercise

Free Advice for Today:
Hang up if someone puts you on hold to take a 'call waiting'.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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