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!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Work? Really?

Well this is more of a vent than a post...
We had a little rough landing today.... and some of you may be saying wait didn't I just read about that? Why yes my readers you did... well it happened again.  Not as bad this time and I had nothing to do with it so that was good.  There was however a conference call with the guys back home and as the call was drawing to a close my flight lead back home tells us that pretty much no matter what I am not allowed to take manual control of the aircraft.... well lest see here when I got here my job was a lot harder. So I will give you a list of things.

  • Talk to the military to coordinate missions and brief capabilities of the platform- this was taken away from me almost immediately by our Liaison.  
    • I did continue to talk to the military and was again told to knock it off this time by my boss 
  • Call into the conference calls 3 times a week to give the people back home a status update on equipment, missions, etc....- this was taken away about a month ago.  I apparently was giving too much information... didn't realize that was a bad thing.  This task was passed on to another flight team member
  • Manually control/trim the aircraft during test flights to ensure the plane flies straight while under manual control... also take control during emergency procedures - taken away tonight.... apparently I am not allowed to do my job anymore.

These are the main things that have run up against a brick wall on.  I have apparently worked myself out of a job at this point.  Its just frustrating because I took this job mostly as a favor to a friend, and as a way to make some savings back into my account.  Well 3rd times a charm, I am going to finish my time out here and that will be all she wrote on this project.  I am tired of the BS, there have to be companies that run a better business than where I am at.  So yeah... I suppose I need to email my boss and find out exactly what it is I am allowed to do.  I mean I might not even be allowed to look at the aircraft sooner than later.  Whatever.  Guess its time for bed.  Good night 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Another one bites the dust!

So yeah... I may or may not have had another plane eat the dirt...   There were extenuating circumstances that led up to this happening and some of those were new things that I had not run across before.  One of those being that when you trim an aircraft to make it fly level when you take another aircraft on that same box the trim is all messed up... I found this out when I had to take the plane today on landing.  It was coming in straight for landing, and it was quite high... so I told the pilot to kill the engine.  As I was going to land it manually.  Well as soon as I took it the plane did a crazy turn and dive due to the fact that I trimmed it for the other plane.... and well we almost lost the plane outside the wire.  It was good but bad all at the same time.  I don't know.. I had never run into that issue before and I need to figure out how to alleviate that problem in the future.
On another note I have been looking at other jobs.  I may need one after today... kidding, but seriously.  I have found a good potential job in Oregon, I would like that because I would be closer to home and not in the desert anymore.  I am awaiting word from them.  I may be home sooner than later.  I was originally supposed to be home at the end of April early May time frame.  Now it might be sooner than that due to a lack of funds.  The contract to my knowledge has not been renewed so therefore we will need to pack up and send all the stuff home starting in the next couple of weeks.  I guess its a good thing that I haven't purchased anything else online lately.  Although I can't say I am surprised at any of this, but it still sucks.  I did manage to get everything but the truck paid off though so that is good.  I will be able to pay off a decent chunk of it though and I need to make sure I set aside enough to fix whatever problems I may run into with it when I get home.

I am also going to be doing a Triathlon in September when I get home.  So that will be something new that I have never done before.  I think the biggest challenge will be the swimming portion... I am not the strongest swimmer and I will have to find a decent pool/lake when I get home to train in.  Although if I get the job I am looking at I will have the ocean right there to work in.  Well I think that is all I have on my mind at the moment.  So Happy Valentines Day and Peace I'm outta here.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Triathawhat!!!!??? Triathlon...

Holy crap... so no shit there I was.... minding my own business, talking to my sister.  I get a message alert on Facebook.  I check it and its from Brenda Day, the Sergeant Major's sister.  She asked if I would do a triathlon with her in September, and as I was telling my sister about this she pretty much jumps to volunteer.  I didn't expect that at all, she was in a pretty bad wreck last year and for her to volunteer to do this athletic feat or even attempt it is awesome.. I hope that her physical therapist can give her some good exercises so she can get in shape for this.  I am already proud that she wants to do it and if she can get to the finish line I will be probably the proudest big brother ever.  I am starting to train.. I ran twice today and rode a bike.. I am nowhere near where I need to be, but I do have like 8 months to get ready for it.  But I won't have access to water til May time frame. So I will be a little behind in that area.  I am looking forward to trying this event though.