Sunday, November 25, 2012

End of an Era....

Well it has been quite some time since I have written, and not really because I have not had anything significant happen, more so because I was being lethargic and not writing.  I figured I needed to write sooner than later though.  Because in just over a month I will be done with the Army, done for good, no drills, no jumps, no ranges, no deployments... no more Army.  Which is very strange for me...
This was a journey that I started over 10 years ago, I began to go into recruiters offices around this time in 2002.  I was just finishing up my last quarter of college and new that I wanted to join the service.  Afghanistan was already in full swing and there were talks of the invasion of Iraq.  I knew that I was going to be doing something that would likely take me overseas.  I didn't tell anyone about my intentions, out of fear, out of doubt, out of probably sheer necessity.  I knew that I was lucky enough to have friends and family that would definitely try to talk me out of it, they loved and cared about me and didn't want to have the potential to lose me.  After going to all of the different branches I settled on the Army, they offered me a deal to go into the Special Forces right off the street... which to dumb college kid Brendan I had really no clue what I was getting myself into.  I remember telling people about me signing the papers after the fact.  My best friend, my girlfriend, and my family... the latter being the hardest. I signed the papers in April of 2003 and didn't get the nerve up to tell them until memorial day that year.  I was home eating dinner, it was a birthday dinner for me being that my birthday was the week before.  I had finished eating, I excused myself and went and got my enlistment papers out... I told them that I had enlisted.  There was a moment of disbelief, and then the tears and anger came out.  My sister who was 14 at the time ran upstairs crying saying that I was going to be killed over there, my mom left the room in tears and my Dad and I were sitting at the table still.  He was quiet for a minute, he looked at me and said " You know you might get killed over there?"  I said I knew.  Then he said "You might have to kill someone?" I said again I understood that.  He then said that he wasn't thrilled but he supported my decision.  My Mom came back in and we talked about it a little, but you could tell she was upset.  My sister and I talked about it over time too.  10 years later here we are, I am getting out.  I am ending something in my life that has taken up 1/3 of my life.  It's a strange feeling, yet I know that the things I have done and seen will be with me for the rest of my life.  Both good and bad, I have made some great friends, I have seen what war can do to a person, not just the bad stuff, but how it can make a person go to the extraordinary lengths that they never knew they could do.  So I wouldn't say that I am sad, but I don't necessarily know the word that I am looking for.
On that note here is to the next 10 years and the surprises they may bring.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

5 Years....

Its been 5 years since the world lost a great man.  5 years removed from a day I will never forget.  I relive that day most days of my life, and there really isn't a day that goes by that I don't at least think about it.  Be it a strange throbbing in my thigh, or I happen to read the bracelet I wear for the umpteenth million time.  As this time of  year approaches its difficult for me.  This was a major turning point in my life, a point that tested me in ways that I still don't fully understand.  SGM Brad Conner was the epitome of what a soldier should be.  He led from the front, he cared about his troops, he was a genuine person.  I only knew Brad for just about a year.  But in that year he taught me a lot.  He showed me what its like to be a true leader, a respectable person to those who look up to you for guidance.  And over the past 5 years I have had the blessing to meet his family, to find out why this man got up everyday and did what he did.  He was very good about keeping his family and work apart.  Which was a blessing and a curse for them, as I have found.  I only hope that by me being there for the short time that I had with him, that I can enlighten them on the Brad Conner that I knew.  All the while they are showing me more about him that most would never see.  Its been helpful in my road to recovery being apart of their healing as well.  The physical wounds are gone or scarred over by now, but the mental ones are as fresh as the day it all happened.  There are other things that have added to this over the years but that day will be the one that sticks out to me in my mind as the one that was the game changer.  I saw things that day that scared me.. I saw things that amazed me.. Its amazing what a situation like that will do to people and it really brings it down to the primal level.. Who will come out ahead.  People that I would have never guessed as being a squared away soldier, someone who I deemed as a "shit bag" because of previous actions, came out shining above the rest.  People that should have been in "Charge" so con-fuddled and scared that they didn't know how to do their job.  Boggled the mind.  I sit here today knowing that I couldn't have done any more than I did... yet I wish I could have.  Rest in Peace Brother.  De Oppresso Liber

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Something Profound and Amazing!

Well hello there... Today... well today was good.  I have been feeling better.. Still not sleeping well but I guess the body is just getting used to it.  I have had a new symptom in my who knows what the hell is wrong with me disease..  I'l start by prefacing that I have had issues with smells, or sounds stuff like that setting off memories or feelings of stuff that has happened to me, but more recently I have had stuff set off things that didn't happen to me.. injuries that weren't mine, things I saw but didn't actually have happen to myself.  Its not painful, but I can taste, smell, and somewhat feel different things.. its only happened a couple times, but been a very strange experience none the less.
I know that I need to get help with the memory, the sleeplessness etc..  I haven't up to this point due to pride and not wanting to admit that I lost.  However, I am seeing that the more I wait the more I actually lose.  My memory is so much worse than it used to be, I will do something and unless it was a super profound event I won't remember it.  This scares me, not remembering that I did stuff or to do stuff...  I can't be having that happen.  Of course the more it happens the more I think about it... which probably leads to it happening more... and the cycle begins.  I will be the first to say life is full of surprises and that in order to succeed you have to do... you can't sit around and expect stuff to change.  You have to act, you have to stay positive, in the moment.  Otherwise you will regress and deteriorate fast, which leads to nothing.  I get discouraged, I have my trials in life, but I always pull through.  Because I do stuff, I get off my ass and drive on.  It pains me to see the younger generations who have this false sense of entitlement.  That everything should be handed to them on a silver platter, the people that are too worried about getting that new cool phone so the "fit in" rather than spending the money on things that are important like rent food etc... I have been guilty of it in the past, and it came and bit me in the ass.  And I just realized that I went on a very strange tangent right there.  Probably because I started writing this last night and finished it today.  So with that I say two more days and I start my process home.  Home to where many more challenges await me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Surprise!!!! Oh wait no..

So you have really got to be kidding me.  Although I am not surprised one bit but the transgressions that took place tonight... needless to say I am quite not happy.  I was asked to stay longer because apparently the wheel needed to be invented... again.  I guess what gets me is this isn't the first rodeo.. although they managed to fuck it up when the guys ahead of me left.. the had to postpone me leaving.. its like really? have we never heard of backwards planning?  For crying out loud.. I am glad I held off and left a buffer for my personal travel when I got home, because regardless of if they were going to reimburse my tickets.. it would have still thrown a wrench into other peoples plans as well.. Other people don't just get a random 10 days off.. and so by me making plans and then potentially getting them ruined would have sucked..
They gave me a choice to volunteer to stay.. yet they emailed the other people here and basically called me out.  Fucking not happy about that shit.  I can't be a dick and say no, well I could, but I want a good reference.. regardless this has just inspired me to really bear down and find a new job.  The favor to the friend is done.  I can't seem to get a straight answer as to how long I will actually have work for when I get back.. one person tells me til the end of the year another says til mid summer.  Regardless I doubt I will last through either of those dates.  I have CTFO, I just can't believe that this place has gone on as long as it has.... oh well... keep on keepin on I suppose.  On that note I have to be up in 4 1/2 hours.. so I suppose I should try to sleep.  Although blood pressure is still pretty high.. going to be a strong ass coffee day to morrow.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bloggity Blog Blog Blog....

Yeah so I really have nothing profound or interesting to talk about I don't think.  So I will talk.  I lost my "J" key on my keyboard yesterday and it's pretty much driving me insane.  So I have found my self trying to find other words that don't start with that letter... Its proving to be quite easy I suppose.  I am slowly counting the days til I come back to the states, its coming up pretty fast which is nice.  Granted I still don't know what I will be doing.  I have scheduled dates to go home, go to alabama and going back up to WA again to do a race.  I still need to buy my tickets for the Triathlon, and get a hotel, then I need to get back out there for my buddies wedding at the end of October.  So lots of small trips are planned, although I would like to take a nice trip overseas to somewhere not here.  Somewhere tropical, or that has a lot of history to it.  I have yet to travel through Europe I think that would be fun.  Or go to Australia, or.. well really anywhere and see the world.  I have a passport I may as well use it.  Now to find the employment that will allow me to do that.

The weather here is getting to that point in time where almost every day there are huge thunderstorms that come through and bring with them incredible lightning shows.  I got caught outside yesterday running to the chow hall and pretty much became a human lightning rod.  It was pretty cool.. granted I got soaked right before dinner, but it was still pretty cool to see.  It also likes to tease us with big ole clouds that surround us but none of them ever commit to coming at us.  We are in a pretty big geographical bowl here so things tend to skirt us a lot.  So really I guess what is really on my mind the most is getting home, seeing how things will play out and getting a pizza... I mean I have been craving a good pizza for quite sometime now.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Short Timers in 3....2....1... go..

So I am sitting here today, surfing the interwebs and pretending to work and it dawns on me... I am not motivated right now.  I woke up I was still tired, I usually get up a couple hours before I need to do anything serious, and yet I just couldn't find the motivation to even really put on my shoes.  I mean I did and I went and did my job, but I have definitely fallen into the short timers trap.  I have less than a month left, I have a calendar that I am scratching the days off of.  I have been making travel plans for when I get home.  I have been looking for work yet there doesn't seem to be a lot of positive feed back on that front.  So there are a lot of mixed feelings going on around here.  I know I have work through at least mid June where I am currently, but I also know I don't want to live in Tucson... So that tells me that I need to get shit hot on finding a new job.  Oh well.
On another note I have been having very strange and vivid dreams lately.  Some strange and some not so good... which is strange because even after everything I never really had nightmares.. And for this stuff to pop up 5 years down the road? Well that is just strange, I have had more daytime wandering too.. I don't know why its happening... and its not to the point I am worried yet.  I should probably take some preventative steps though when I get home.  Seeing as I can't get medical care out here for anything and I doubt the VA has any claim out here... Oh well.  Well enough babbling for now.  I am sure I will write more as the days get closer.

Friday, March 16, 2012


So one of the wicked side effects of being out here is I do an amazing amount of internet stalking.  That being said I am entertained and somewhat ashamed of what other people write on peoples photos.  I guess I was raised different, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.  I guess if I were raised to treat people like that I wouldn't even realize that I was doing anything wrong.  However I was raised with morals, a conscious, and an ability to treat people with respect.  I appreciate a good looking woman as much as the next guy, but I don't feel the overwhelming urge to tell this woman; be it someone famous or not; things that are A. just plain disturbing or B. really really stalker creepy like.  I don't know, but I have run across this time and time again on different social media sites, and it has never ceased to amaze me what people deem to be appropriate in their own right...  I think that the internet has a lot to do with that.  Mostly because of lack of interpersonal interaction over the internet allows people to get away with this.  I couldn't imagine walking around in a social aspect and hearing people talk to someone they way they do on the internet.  I know that this isn't anything new, but I suppose that having this extra time on my hands has opened my eyes to it.  Oh well I know there is nothing that I can or will do except write this and express my thoughts.  Oh well.

On a different note I am scheduled to come home at the end of April or early May.  This being said I need to start planning my travel schedule for when I get back.  I have grandiose dreams of travelling all over and going to see people... I also need to figure out work.  Whether or not I am going to be staying with my current company or trying to find a new one.  I don't really want to move to Tucson mostly because I am tired of the desert.  However I don't really know that I am opposed to moving to somewhere else to find a job. I want to get back to Washington, but who knows.  Oh well on that note I think its time to check off. Have a great day.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

And now.... wait for it.... we wait..

Yeah... so I now officially have no idea when I will be back home.  I know I have a no later than date, but as far as potentially leaving early.  Not a clue, funding hasn't been approved, but it hasn't been denied either.  This is almost worse than the Army, I did the hurry up and wait for many years.   However I didn't think i would be running into it in the civilian side of things...  Although now that I think about it, this is an military funded project.  So it makes more sense.  I have been looking for some jobs, but I've kind of been slacking lately.  I guess I need to get hot on that again.   I really don't want to move all my stuff down to Tucson just to be laid off.  I am also a little tired of deploying.  I know I have said it before, but I think I mean it this time.  I do enjoy travelling but going to the same spots; ie: Iraq and Afghanistan; neither of which are good tourist destinations.  I am also on the shit list for the national guard at the moment.  I got an email from my Warrant Officer basically telling me that I was getting put into the In-active National Guard, it was either that or I would be considered AWOL and I would get the disciplinary paperwork that accompanies that.  So that seemed like the logical choice I suppose.  I keep going back and forth about staying in the guard or getting out.  I know the likeliness that I will get to go to HALO school or get promoted are slim.  So I should just get out.  Those are the two factors keeping me around, that and the off chance that there is another war.  Being out here and seeing the troops leave on missions day in and day out really brings back a lot of feelings, the uncertainty, the adrenaline, and excitement that I used to get whenever I would go out on an operation.  Its a strange feeling that most people will never fully understand.  I know that if I get out I will probably be bored, and as much complaining as I do whenever I have drill I do enjoy it.  I get to see familiar faces and friends that I haven't seen in a few months.  The camaraderie that I have with some of these guys is different than that of my other close friends or family.  I guess its different because for them, they have been there... We have fought side by side, literally and figuratively.  Regardless of if we were in combat together at the same time we have done the same thing.  So to talk to them about stuff is different then when I try to explain it to my civilian buddies.  Don't get me wrong, I will talk to them about stuff all day long because they do enjoy my stories, and they do want to understand.  However its impossible for them to fully grasp what I am talking about.  Oh well... On that note I am going to go to the gym.. still trying to figure out a good workout schedule that works for this Triathlon... I'll get there.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Eerily Beautiful

So while I was walking back from the shower this evening I had a moment of clarity and peace.  Its a strange feeling to have when you are in a war zone.  It was almost a nice spring night here, the wind was blowing through the trees of a name I do not know.  That was the only noise I heard aside from my footsteps.  When I realized I didn't hear any helicopters, trucks, people, birds etc.. and all I heard was that it was soothing, relaxing, peaceful.  Then my exact next thought was oh shit what was going to happen... luckily nothing did.  Sadly I couldn't just enjoy that moment, call it training, PTSD what ever you want to say.  Any time I have been in a situation where I had a moment of calm it was usually followed up by a few moments of sheer and utter chaos.  I then started thinking back on all the stuff I had been through in the military, while to some may not seem much, but to others is a world away.  Most people have no concept of what goes on here, they now there are bad guys and we fight them.  They know that troops do dumb things that get plastered all over the news.  They hear about or know people that have been killed over here, but no one really understands what it is like out here.  I am just a dirty contractor now, and yet I find myself longing to put that monkey suit on and go on a convoy out of the wire, to go do that hit on the house that we know is full of bad guy building IED's...  Sadly and to the joy of many back home I cannot.  I can't help it, I loved what I did, I just didn't like who was in charge.  They let me and my fellow soldiers down one to many times.  They continue to get worse too.  I occasionally talk to the soldiers out here.  Stuff they tell me they can and can't do now is sickening to here...  their hands are so tied in political bullshit that they can't even test fire their weapons.  To me that is unsatisfactory, someone in their chain of command has failed them.  To let them roll out of the wire with an unknown functional weapon to me is wrong.  So on that note I will let you all in on one story of mine.  I will change names but the story is true.

No shit there I was... (ok just wanted to start a story like that).  It was a night in Iraq like many others, 80 degrees and cold.  I was the truck commander for our little jaunt to the Regional Embassy Office in Al Hillah Iraq.  The trip its self was only about 20 min or so, but it was treated as any combat patrol should be.  I was going over the plan and personnel load out of the people on the convoy, and I noticed our cook *SSG TOM* was the .50 cal machine gunner on my truck which was the rear of the convoy.  Now for those of you who don't know SSG TOM he is not the brightest bulb in the bunch.  He was a cook, and not a very good one.  He had been our cook the whole deployment and had messed up just about every meal he had made yet for some strange reason we couldn't get rid of him.. but I digress.. Well SSG TOM had no experience as a gunner, and had been on limited convoys throughout the deployment.  He had been a driver all those other times.  I should say this was about a week before we were scheduled to go home, so a lot of guys were burnt out and not wanting to do the minuscule tasks.  So I go to the convoy commander and tell him that don't think its a good idea to put TOM on the gun.  He looks me dead in the eye and says "well he's gotta learn sometime"... Blew my mind.. a senior NCO and he says that?  I said back to him no he doesn't if he wants to learn take him to the range... but me being but a SSG and him being a SFC I wasn't going to win that battle.  He tells me not to worry because he gave him a 2 hour class prior to us leaving.  I still wasn't impressed.  So the convoy lines up to roll out, I hear the lock and load over the radio, I then hear TOM start loading the .50  only I could hear he wasn't getting the rounds to load right.  I ask him if he is ok.... no answer.  Then it sounded like he got it right, so I left it alone.  We get maybe 3 miles outside of the base and I hear him trying to load the gun again.  Pulling on the charging handle and I look up and his barrel is pointed directly at the trucks in front of us... I yell at him to find out what the hell he is doing.... no answer... by this point I am already mad and going to be having a talk with him about flagging the other vehicles... well get get to the REO and we are told to unload the weapons.  I hear him up there struggling with this... and then I hear him start beating on it. CLANK CLANK CLANK!!! Finally enough was enough.. I punch him in the leg so he has to answer me, "WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING UP THERE!!!!"  he pops down from the turret and starts stumbling over his words trying to come up with something.. I finally asked him to see the round that was "jamming" and when he handed it to me it was all sorts of fucked up.  The base of the round was dented beyond repair it was the front was bent as well... I am absolutely beyond mad at this point.  I get him out of the truck and just go off on him.... I asked him why he let me leave the compound with out a loaded weapon.. "because I didn't have a flashlight on me"  I have 4 on me right now why didn't you say something... "I dunno... sorry"... next question why did you flag the front two trucks while you were trying to reload what if you had accidentally shot them? "I dunno..."  And this went on for a couple minutes more and finally I had enough I was about to destroy this kids life... so I told him to get the fuck away from me...  I went to the SFC and told him what happened in a kind of " I told you so" manner.. because I did tell him so..  Luckily the guy we were picking up there knew how to work the gun.  So the ride back he was in my gun and SSG TOM got to ride with me... he tried to talk to me once and I told him to shut it.  We get back and I called him out.  Made him tell everyone what he had done, he started crying and honestly felt bad, but I was still so frustrated.  He tried a couple more times to come talk to me finally I had to tell him that I would come to him when I was calm enough for him to talk to me....  there is more to that story of what happened later to him, but I will leave it at that for now.   

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Are we there yet?

Yeah so I am apparently ready to be going home.  Even though I don't really know when that is going to happen.  There are two different time frames, end of March or end of April take off from here.  I am fine with either I just need to know so I can plan accordingly.  I have a lot of stuff to do... so tonight I finished working and decided that now would be a good time to start getting ready to leave.  I re organized my huge box with all the stuff that I A. haven't used in 5 months or B. don't see my self using in the next couple months.  Keeping the essentials out clothes and computer, but just like last time my collection of stuff has grown.  I may or may not have done some internet shopping buying some new threads and such.  Granted I think I look pretty darn good, but I was already strapped for room on the way in here... That's another thing.  I will have room in my bags if I don't have to pack my body armor in my bag... if we ship it there won't be an issue.  That took a bag on its own practically.  Who knows.  I am looking forward to getting back though.  Granted I am not sure quite what I will be doing just as of yet.  I have to make some pretty big choices coming up.  I have applied to a couple jobs, and awaiting a confirmation from them.  I have to step up my training for the Triathlon, as in get my sinking ass in a pool.  I mean I like the pool... but I have never done competitive swimming before, so there will be a decent learning curve there.  I like the bike, never ridden one 50+ miles before.  The only thing I have done before is run 13 miles.  It wasn't for competition, and I don't remember it being easy.  Oh well.  Plus there are new people to meet and old people to visit, all of which I am pretty excited about.  So we will see how my life turns out in the next six months.. I am sure that the madness will ensue, but it will all be worth it in the long run.  I am ready to be back home and hopefully find a job that will let me settle down a little and not be gone all the time.  I came to the realization that I have been gone at some point in a different country every year for the last 5 years.  I did the math and of the last 60 months I have been home for 31 of them... that's not a very good average.  So here's to new adventures!