Thursday, March 23, 2006

A little "Manual" Labor

Dear Gang
I had a great time up in DC at my folks house and on Friday night was able to go protest in front of Walter Reed Hospital against the Pinko's who give our Marines and Soldiers a hard time when they are bused in there on Friday nights. You guys would be proud of our supporters who have coffee and pizza out to make the night go by nice and fast. One of my Mom's friends "GunNut" was out there and I wanted to thank her for my present!! You are awesome girl!! If you live in the DC area and can visit these guys on a Friday night, go help out to let the troops know that the Pinko's are down the street and mean nothing. Also, is needing some funding, if you can send them a donation, it will be going to the most important cause around!! I sent Marty Money via paypal and it was painless. Below is a memory I had, thought I would go back now and type out memories for you since I'm home and limited to the amount of time I can spend on the computer with the little ones begging me to build forts and play "Daddy GI Joe" to their Barbie's.
Hope you guys are doing well and I'll talk to you soon.
Semper Fi,

The two Marines stared out of the window overlooking the parking lot next to the old Iraqi control tower. It was windy as all get out, a light splattering of rain falling as passing cumulus clouds sailed overhead. There was a ton of gravel dumped two weeks before, that while all smoothed out, was far too deep. The SUV's parked next to the building would have to back out in four wheel drive because with all the rain sitting below the gravel that was intended to keep them above all the mud, they would get stuck.
There below was a lone Marine with a shovel in his hand, the constant crunch of metal biting into gravel could be heard 80 feet over head. With each scoop, another sling, the gravel pit slowly started thinning out. Of course, this taking hours to do. The first Marine sipped his coffee again, the only sound between them. They watched for another ten minutes. The door to the office opened with a slight knock, both Marines by the window turned to acknowledge the visitor and returned to the lone figure below. The visitor joined them at the window, "What did he do this time?" The Officer with the coffee took another slow sip of his coffee and replied "Well, our young devil dog was caught doing doughnuts over next to the new Can Camp in our Trooper yesterday afternoon in the rain and mud. He even made the General's blotter in the morning meeting. I got over ten phone calls on it this morning." He paused and then continued "I figured if he liked being out in the mud and rain, he could take care of our gravel problem down there."
The visitor nodded and they watched this guy work like a piston engine. "Man, he just keeps going like that little bunny" mumbled the Staff Sergeant next to the Major. The Officer shook his head, "that boy is dumb sometimes, at least he could have put a fake number in the window and blamed it on Grunts next door or even better, the Army" The visitor, a Gunny, smiled. "Are you going to have him doing this till you leave next week?" The Officer, thought about it, "The jury is not out on this kid yet, might let him go for another day or so to keep him out of trouble, hell it makes me tired just watching him!"
They all nodded and went back to the sound of his metal blade digging into the pit. The Gunny summed it all up for us "Life is tough, tougher when you are stupid"

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Homeward bound

Well gang,
How do you ensure that you get to spend the night in Ireland by making the plane break down??? That's easy, just sit there and say over and over "I hope that everything goes smooth and we get home fast!!!" Do this and presto, you're guaranteed to break down. They put us in a super nice hotel about 20 minutes from the airport that included it's own pub. Since all we had on were our desert cammies, we were NOT allowed outside of the hotel for any reason. Also, the State Department had reported a growing number of political anti-war protesters in Ireland harassing troops, so they warned us not to speak to any of these folks if they approached us in the hotel. I am here to tell you that we never ran into such persons while there. The pub was full of the most kind and gracious folks in the world. They even let me get up and sing Elvis with the band around 11 pm.

The grumpy MEF Grunt SgtMaj didn't like the idea that we were able to drink, at all. So he posted himself at the entrance and gave each young enlisted Marine the "Evil Eye" if it appeared they were having toO much fun. After four pints of Black and Tans, I can say that I was pretty well toasted, AND that, added to not having slept much, ensured that I was in a dead sleep by midnight. I love the fact that the local families bring their kids with them for dinner and entertainment in Ireland. They sure got their money's worth that night from all the Jarheads letting loose.

The following day, it was particularly quiet with all the guys a bit subdued from our activities the night before. Towards the end of the flight, you could feel the energy building with the thoughts of reunions with family members. Once you land, like anything in the Military, it's hurry up and wait. You get off the plane and after about an hour and a half of turning in weapons, picking up bags, you finally file onto a bus for movement to a large warehouse. Our C.O. at Cherry Point had a Fantastic reunion set up with the Band/pizza and loved ones all in the warmth of our supply building. It was everything that I imagined it would be and more.

Here are the immediate observations that struck me when I got off the airplane and through the night. Everything is so green. Marines wearing the green cammies again, the trees, the grass. Then only having to walk five feet to use the bathroom that has real soft toilet paper and endless hot water. A bed with a firm mattress, a bottle of wine in the room, my wife next to me, no helicopters rattling the room, no sounds of distant explosions, no phone calls in the middle of the night. Now I face a bit of "withdrawal" from being there. A sense of purpose in daily life, knowing that you helped save lives. It's different now--I can't get my 3-year-old to do what I want, at all!! Ha!!

I will have to change my blog to reflect that I'm home now, but part of me is still over there. I think they should bring back the draft, or a choice of four things for every 18-year-old in our nation. Either go into the military and see the world; go into the peace Corps and help out folks in our own back yard vice Africa; go into the border patrol and keep all the deadbeats out; or join some sort of CCC like they had in the thirties and forties. This will give our nation's youth and future leaders a greater understanding of just how great America truly is!! We take for granted all the wonderful opportunities available here and it makes me sick sometimes. When I run for Congress... Anyway, it's great to be back home and I wanted to thank everyone for their awesome support of my Marines while I was over there. Please keep them in your prayers and if you want to know what the best way to support them, just continue to talk positively about the mission, why we are there and the young men and women who are in harms way. That's better then any cake or box of cookies you could send them.

Semper Fi,

Friday, March 10, 2006

"Can I lick your Foam???"

Dear Gang,
"Sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a mighty trip..." Flashback a couple of weeks to when I cleaned out my room in the tower and moved into one of our extra little white flimsy "Tornado Magnets" (if we lived in Texas), for the few days before we departed TQ for home. The bonus to the move was I no longer carried the brick around, thus it was harder for the new Col to track me down. Can I say that a sonic boom was heard around the Camp that weekend??? Yes, that was the sound of my quick release straps coming undone and this heavy pack, screaming down to mother earth at the speed of sound.
I have to admit that I was ready to go home as we started the process of a slow return. I remember my old boss saying that time scoots up to the point you are about to leave and then it comes to a grinding halt! There are many hurdles to jump before you will see your loved ones anytime soon and this is an example of what your week is like starting on Tuesday evening/Wed Morning.
First, show up at two in the morning to catch a flight out to another base. Now you could fly from my base to Kuwait, but they want you all together, so off we go. Remember that flying in the back of a CH 46 is cold and colder if it’s still winter time conditions in the desert. So I show up with my gortex jacket on under my flak Jacket, my fleece headliner and gloves and everything short of long johns on for this hour flight. My Ssgt and Sgt. are dressed the same and then my PFC shows up... LegHound has nothing on at all but his uniform and FlakVest. I’m concerned as I am standing there just freezing with the regular wind chill blasting from the North.
"LegHound, where the hell is your cold weather gear? You’re going to freeze your nuts off" He bows his chests out and says, "That’s OK Sir, I’m from Indiana and we’re tough." I’m thinking that I have an Aunt who lives in Indiana and I don’t recall her mentioning that the state was plum full of idiots. Actually I was thinking of that John Wayne poster that hung over my old SgtMaj’s wall that said "Life’s tough... tougher when you’re stupid..." I tell him to put some on now or he’ll freeze to death. Come to find out, he mailed it home to make his load lighter.
Our chariot arrives a few minutes after I discover LegHound is in summer mode and it turns out they put us on an Army H 60. My visions of frozen snot sickles on LegHounds face evaporate, see, the H-60 can close the doors and the ride is VERY comfortable. Now I’m actually warm sitting there with all that gear on while simpleton next to me leans over and yells, "Sir, this isn’t bad at all, I feel great!!!" Well, God looks after Drunks, idiots and Marines this time...
You arrive at this next base around 4 in the morning, do the bag drag to a giant circus tent with 100 of your closet snoring friends racked out in 95 degree temperature , get a few hours of sleep. Say hi to your buddies there and then leave again the next night at 7pm. Oh sorry, form up at 7pm to bus up to the holding tents to fly out on some AirForce C130.
We load up in the back of the C 130 with all the engines roaring and sit there. Seems the Air Farce Loadmaster didn’t like the way the Marines had built their luggage pallets and made the guys load them a different way. I could almost imagine this crew sitting around at breakfast laughing about all the ways they could mess with the Marines on their way out. After 45 minutes, I see a Marine stand up on his red web seat and yell for the loadmaster who is wearing a big gray flight helmet. When this crewmember makes his way over to where Captain "X" is standing (see he’s very short and standing up was still shorter then the six foot crew chief) and in his New England slightly Ted Kennedy accent says VERY LOUDLY "I have to make a head call", but from my side of the plane, it came out Blah, Blah, Blah, but to Airman Smuckatellie it sounds like "I have a head cold" Now flying with a head call is a serious thing so he leans over and says screaming at the little Captain "Can you hear me???" The Captain blinks a few times and says "yes", Airman Smuckatellie says, "Can you clear your ears???" The Captain looks around at everyone who is now riveted to this conversation, "Yes, I can, but whaaaat doooessss this have to do with taking a PISS???".
He takes him off the plane to pee behind the engines...all I can say is, don't pee into the wind... We make it to Kuwait to go through customs there where they search all your bags, Xray them, put you through a full body search, minus the cavity check and you stay up another 24 hours before you leave on your freedom bird to go home.
Understand that we are flying through Shannon Ireland and they serve beer there at the transient bar. After six months in Iraq, drinking that piss water Non Alcoholic beer, the idea of a pint of Black and Tan is really appealing to me. Well, we land and the plane Captain (Guy is in charge of the announcements etc) stands up and tells everyone that after much debate, the Senior Grunt Col there has decided that we can't have any beer because there is a rule somewhere out there that we aren't allowed to drink in the airport in uniform. Turns out the Grunt SgtMaj named Jones or Brown or Smith told the Col this rule and was defending it left and right as the law of the land. I tried to impress upon him that this was probably intended for more stateside then here so PFC idiot didn't get drunk in his uniform on the way home and beat the crap out of some pinko anti war protester. All of my pleas with these guys fell on deaf ears and I remembered something... Never argue with stupid people, they just drag you down to their level and beat you up with experience. No offense to the smart "Grunts" out there, but some of your brothers are real knuckle dragging fools. To add insult to injury, we go out there and the entire bar is full of Marines on their way over to Iraq and they were enjoying their last beer for awhile. Our poor guys were sitting across from these guys, wishing they too could just lick the foam off the glass. So SgtMaj, if you are reading this, know that you scored no points that day with me or the other 291 Marines on that plane for being just over the top stupid, and if you are ever on one of my flights you can forget about a first class upgrade.
Next time, I'll tell you how to break the engine on a jet so that you can stay in Ireland and actually drink a nice beer or two...
life is good home now and I'm back into the routine of "Daddy". I will also get to the story of hanging out with Capt B. on my way out of the Corps... We had a blast and here is a picture of us in the politically correct Marine Corps as we smoked out Cigars outside of the Generals building. Thanks for a great Day Capt B.!!!!
Take care and I'll talk to you guys in a few days.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Safe on Deck

Dear Gang,
This is going to be short, just to let you know that I made it home safe on deck!! After six months of being very healthy without one sick day, I’m down with a bug. Things are kind of crazy here with a couple of days off before I have to fly back to N.C. to be demobilized from the Marine Corps and back to my old job.
I can tell you that after a couple days of no sleep, a plane breaking in Shannon Ireland (lots of beer) and finally arriving in Cherry Point to see my folks and wife waiting for me, it was all worth it!! I need to go away a couple more times just to get this kind of home coming from everyone!! My Mom/Dad and wife made big signs on sheets and Taco Bell signs that greeted me when we got off the bus at Cherry Point. There were a couple of funny things that happened and I’ll jump on next week to start putting my thoughts down on paper.
Being home with the family is the most incredible feeling! I love it. Plan on a couple of postings soon. Until then, take care and God Bless!!
Semper Fi,