Wednesday, March 31, 2010

13 days and a wake-up

One of the subjects that I truly enjoyed during high school was Greek mythology; I had a knowledgeable and highly motivated teacher. What young impressionable mind doesn't enjoy reading about the legends of ancient Greek gods and heroes? Today I began to feel a bit like one of my favorite mythological characters...Atlas. In case you don't remember, I'll give you a brief synopsis: In western culture, he is seen as a symbol of endurance. Atlas is typically portrayed on one knee and supporting an enormous globe on his back and shoulders. A liberal translation is that Atlas bears "the weight of the world."

Now don't read into this comparison too much, I don't think myself a god, a hero, a symbol of great endurance, and I surely don't bear the weight of the world. On the other hand, it really began to hit home today that I've got what the military refers to as 13 days and a wake-up before I depart for deployment.

The weight comparison comes to mind when I think of all the honey-do items that are waiting at home when I get back this weekend. Another comparison is the heavy thoughts that are a constant reminder of what is to come. You know when you board a plane or get 50 miles out of town on vacation and your spouse says..."Did you turn off the stove?" or "Did you shut the garage door?"...well imagine you're leaving for a year instead of a week. Simple things like who will mow the grass and who will open tight jars become real thorns in the side.

Each member of the team has deployed in the past, so we know what to expect. I think we could all agree that the hardest part of deployment for us is packing up and subsequently leaving home for the last time. I know this is also a tough time for our spouses, but in my mind the true test for those left at home begins when we leave. All four team members have a spouse and between 1 and 4 children...a household is a lot to handle by yourself, especially when you typically share half the work with a partner.

Don't misunderstand and think I'm asking for pity or sympathy, I volunteered for the military and am proud to serve our country. Team members will miss first steps, birthdays, and graduations...but I can say with 100% certainty that if what we do can help others then it's all worthwhile. The one request I do have is that each of you say a prayer for the families that we'll leave at home. Call them for no reason, visit them, and listen to them when they need to cry (it will happen).

Tonight I leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Thomas Paine, "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace."

God bless.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

It's not always work, work, work!

This morning Rich, SSG Joe Crowell, and myself went to what the locals call the "high desert." We picked up Rich's son, Nick, and drove to San Bernardino National Forest and hiked, climbed, jogged, and had an overall good time. There was snow atop the mountains surrounding Big Bear Lake and even though it is the desert, it has a beauty about it.

After our hike we found ourselves at the local Buffalo Wild Wings sitting beside two guys smoking a hooka. Don't worry if you don't know what it is, I just found out last week...apparently it's a California thing. I hear they are also quite popular among Iraqi men, but they're not smoking Lucky Strikes over there. Thankfully these guys were smoking flavored least they said they were. We closed out our day by watching Repo Men at the local theater. I won't ruin it for you, but what an awesome twist at the end.

Hope all is well for each of you...more later.

A few pictures

Here are a few of the pictures I took from SSG Richardson's Facebook page to share with everyone; they're all from our time at Fort McClellan down in Anniston, AL.

SSG Richardson preparing to fire the .50 Caliber machine gun

SSG Martin in the hot seat

CPT Campbell, CPT Floyd, & SSG Martin on the bus headed to the night firing range

CPT Campbell ready to load up and move out to Anniston

SSG Richardson & myself

Friday, March 26, 2010

A little background info to catch everyone up...

As most of you know my contracting team is headed for the Middle East within the next month or so, but what you might not know is that it takes quite some time to get to this point. We found out mid/late 2009 that we would be deploying and it seems that we have been in some sort of training environment ever since. Each of the four Soldiers on the team have completed numerous classroom training requirements along with a few weeks down in Anniston at Fort McClellan and another couple of weeks at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California.

The classroom training is the easy part...the only real risk is that you could scald your tongue on the coffee. On the other hand, the risk of hypothermia was prevalent during our time in Anniston. Visit SSG Richardson's Facebook page @ if you want to see the was snowing when we left Huntsville! It got down to 8 degrees a couple of nights and wouldn't you know that we had generator heat. The training at McClellan was fun, not contracting related, but fun. We all felt as if we were back in grade school with all of the running / jumping / crawling through the mud that we did.

Each of us have spent / will spend 2+ weeks at Fort Irwin in California. This place is a geographical oddity...45 miles from anywhere! It's basically a huge training ground for large or small units. Before coming here I had always heard tale of this place...turns out most of the stories are true. Once you get off of I-15 you drive straight out into the desert for 40 miles or so and then all of a sudden you crest a hill and down in the valley sits Fort Irwin. Last night the wind was gusting around 70 mph...I realize that no one will believe that statement, but apparently that is perfectly normal when you don't have trees around.

SSG (Rich) Richardson and I will have the weekend off over the next couple of days and hope to spend some time with his son who lives out this way. Rich did take me to Hollywood, L.A., Venice Beach, and other parts of California last weekend and we had an excellent time. Although Loni has always said she could live in the "big city," I think she would change her mind after a few minutes in that traffic.

So, now that you're more or less up to date I'll do my best to blog often on the happenings of our team. One final thought for the night...I've attached a picture of the team having a bite to eat at Chili's near the hotel. Please notice the look of joy on the faces of Daniel and Jeff! Persons pictures are (left to right):
SSG Rich Richardson - 1960th CCT
SSG Daniel Martin - 1960th CCT
CPT Jeff Campbell - 1960th CCT
SSG Joe Crowell - 626th CCT (Redstone Arsenal)
MSG Leatrice Person - 614th CCT (Fort Benning)
CPT Todd Floyd - 1960th CCT

Oh yeah, in case you don't know a CCT is a Contingency Contracting Team. Soldiers need it, we get it!