Thursday, January 31, 2008


Training at TBS doesn't really lend itself to improving your PFT. The long days and frequent class time don't allow for much in the way of physical improvement through quality physical training. I was shocked to learn that we were performing a PFT next week, and were performing one today to "see where we are at." 12 pull-ups (blah), 100 crunchs, and a 20:57 3-mile run later, I was surprised. I knew my pull-ups were lacking, but my run has gotten about 40 seconds better. With that in mind, I hope to regain those lost pull-ups and get my PFT score away from 242 and back up to the 260s where it belongs.

My Tactical Evaluation

I received my tactical eval yesterday. I was actually quite pleased with the result. My AI (A Captain that observes you during your billet) is a Public Affairs Officer. With such an evaluator, I was very pleased to receive an "above average" in my communications and tactical/technical proficiency sections. Overall, I received an average. While that may seem...well, average, I'm quite happy with it nonetheless. You have to understand that in a group of extremely aggressive and competitive Marines, average isn't too bad.

I'm generally happy that my tac-billet is out of the way. Now for the more stressful garrison billet.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I'm tired. I'm not sure if it's from a couple of rough weeks and I haven't caught up with my sleep yet, or what, but I'm exhuasted. Then again, we ran about 4-5 miles in flaks with sappi plates (22 lbs) this morning...but still, I feel like I can't catch up with my sleep. It's times like this that you just have to dig deep and keep moving. There will be a rest day in the future, and you only have to last until that day.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Weird, petty people

Maybe it's what my training forces me to focus on all the time. Maybe I'm just loosing patience with others. Whatever the reason, I find this story ridiculous. Here, we have some random town in Vermont voting on arresting President Bush on various charges:
Brattleboro residents will vote at town meeting on whether President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney should be indicted and arrested for war crimes, perjury or obstruction of justice if they ever step foot in Vermont.

The Brattleboro Select Board voted 3-2 Friday to put the controversial item on the Town Meeting Day warning.

According to Town Clerk Annette Cappy, organizers of the Bush-Cheney issue gathered enough signatures, and it was up to the Select Board whether Brattleboro voters would consider the issue in March.

The individual responsible later compares President Bush to Hitler. I'm guessing history isn't his strong point. I'm guessing the board of this town just don't have anything useful to vote on, like taking care of town projects.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Some motivation

Sometimes it's necessary to take a step back from things when it gets miserable and remember why we are doing what we do. I love Marine commercials for this reason. Here's the new one:

Friday, January 25, 2008

Gas Chamber

Today we did the gas chamber "qualification." It was fun stuff as we performed mask clearing in some pretty powerful CS gas. I think it was a bit thicker than what I was exposed to at boot, but my mask took care of me. That doesn't stop you from getting exposed to the gas...and it does have some pretty "fun" effects.

CS gas is an irritant, so it burns the eyes and sinuses. You're eyes tear up and your nose runs like crazy. The back of your throat burns as well as your freashly shaved face (the small cuts from straight razors are particularly painful. The end result is best summed up in this picture of one of my fireteam members:

Amazingly, the effects are very temporary. With some clear air, you'll be fine. When you shower later that day, you will get some burn as it reactivates with the water.

Now, I understand the effects of CS gas are nothing compared to pepper spray. I've heard pepper spray is some pretty nasty stuff, and I'm hoping to stay away from that stuff.

My Tactical Billet

At TBS, we receive billets (jobs) that we prepare and fill so our leadership can be evaluated. The usual is one tactical (field) and one garrison. I performed my tactical billet this week as a PL (patrol leader); basically a squad leader performing a security patrol. I found it very challenging, but believe I did well.

Tactical billets can basically be broken into two sections: the 5-paragraph order and the action taken (be it a patrol, ambush, defense, etc). I feel that my order went really well. I knew my area of operations and its features by memory. I rehearsed my terrain model orientation in the shower the night before and the morning of my order. I was confident in the details of each section.

Things got a little rougher after the order. The loading and unloading of the helicopters went well, but seemed to kill some of the momentum once we hit the LZ. In general, I'm happy with the way our patrol worked. We got the drop and ambushed several other patrols, and only had one that really got us unprepared. I'll get my official evaluation next week.

Now, what I will always remember is calling in the helos and then the rush of running up to the bird. The wind from the rotors blowing every direction and the defending noise/pressure as you near the ramp at the rear. It was an awesome that I'll remember forever.

As a sad side note, in my preparation to be PL, I left my camera at the barracks, so I don't have any cool video. Hopefully, I'll be able to bring it for FEX 3 (our next helo insert).

Monday, January 21, 2008

Of Challenges and Obsticles

Life has always thrown rocks my I believe is true with most people. The hard part is how do you deal with them. It's tempting to run away from them, or otherwise give up. The challenge is to persevere despite what opposes you...or the pain. It gets very difficult sometimes and then you begin to doubt yourself. It is those times it is absolutely critical to get back up, after life has kicked you over and over again. I'm going through one of those times now, but I believe I will learn something from it. I know I'll see what the lesson is soon enough.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Cammies in the Treeline

When I first saw the digital woodland patter, I really wasn't sure how well it would work in the treeline during winter. Well, it works really well. You just have to see it in real life to truly get the effect.

Let this be a lesson. That which you can't see *CAN* hurt you.


The previous week, we did our first of 6 FEXs. 5 days in the feild with several different stages of training. The weather held out for us with the lows in the 30s and the worst day being about 16 hours of rain. The last night for us, we performed a live round night fire. The end result is pretty cool. I'm visible in the foreground center with a M249 spare barrel bag on me.

That wasn't the only event. We also got to tour a gun line (made up of 4 155mm howitzers) and make calls for fire:

One of the best moments was a live drop of a mk82 500 lbs bomb from a AV8 Harrier during a Call for Close Air Support demo. Very awesome:

It was rough sometimes, but all-in-all, it was good stuff.


Friday, January 04, 2008

Back to life.

Well, it's time to get back to work. It's going to be tough getting back into the groove, but the end result will be worthwhile. I've been working on getting everything ready here before I disappear for FEX.

In other news, one of my college roomates is moving to the area and will be visiting next week to house hunt. It's been four years since I've seen him (since he joined the Army). It'll be good to see him again, even if it's just for a few days.

A funny story.

So one of my platoon buddies told me a story, and Sarah told me I must blog it. So here we go: He was attending a wedding of a friend and was asked to show up in uniform. Rocking out his Dress Blues, he continually gets asked to dance by this little girl (aged 3 or 4). After many dances with her throughout the evening, the mother approaches him and asks if he knows why the little girl keeps asking for dances. Not really sure why, he says no. The mother responds, "She thinks you're Prince Charming."