8.10.2008

GO NARMY!!!

21AUG-15SEP
Wow! I cannot believe it’s been almost a month since the last time I have updated this. Since the last time I wrote I have found out that I am in fact going to Afghanistan for nine months to a year. As of now I am set to go to northern Afghanistan about 50 Miles south of Uzbekistan. The area I’ll be in is quiet compared to the rest of the country. Currently there is a lot of development happing which is why I was chosen to go there. Like I said before I cannot give too much detail until I actually get there. Though I am not fond of the idea of being away from family and especially my beautiful wife for a year I look forward to seeing what challenges me and the local Afghans can overcome to help improve their quality of life. Because in the end, by assisting the local populace in rebuilding and sometimes building for the first time a infrastructure of a community with security and schools we (being Americans) develop a relationship that will stand strong when threaten by a terrorist group seeking support and new recruits in that community. This will hopefully slow the breeding of new terrorists and keep this fight on their soil in this generation and not in America during my children’s. Well, that’s my two cents. Since 20Aug The training days are getting much longer with some going over 24hrs but the plus side is that it makes the weeks go by faster. I have been receiving training in all different types of weapons. Though my mission does not entail using any of them it’s just nice to know (and I really like it). The weapons include the 50Cal (12.7mm) machine gun, 240B machine gun (7.65mm), 249 machine gun (5.56mm), M4 semi automatic rifle (5.56mm), M9 pistol (9mm), and my favorite the MK 19 grenade launcher (40mm) that baby can fire 6 grenades a second at over 800 meters. The training includes how to dissemble, resemble, take care of, and use the weapon. I qualified as an expert in the 50Cal, 240B, 249, M4 and a sharp shooter for the M9. For the MK 19 there was no qualifying just shooting. In addition, to the above US weapons we also did the same training with foreign weapons including the AK47 rifle, PRK machine gun, PKM machine gun, and the SVD sniper rifle. We did not qualify with these, but I can say I was over 90% accurate with them at the firing range. We were also trained in calling in air support via helicopter, plane, and artillery (all pretty cool stuff). We also had detain operations training, which included searching a house, doing a crime scene investigation, detaining suspects and questioning them. Though the Afghanistan security forces are responsible for doing all of the above and we are simply there to advise it’s a nice to have tool. Finally, this weekend we had our midterm evaluations which tested us in everything we learned since being here in Kansas. It was a team evolution and I am proud to say that Charlie Company Team 7 passed with flying colors. The evaluators were commenting that our team was the best team that came through for the mid term testing. I would have to say my favorite time within the last couple of weeks though was seeing Brooke (BY FAR). It was such an amazing feeling to see her at the airport. Though the three days we had together seemed like one it was such a breath of fresh air. Her family had a mini family reunion on Labor Day at the very nice newly built home of Geremy and Gina with tons of great pot luck food and running, screaming, and laughing kids. It was a great time. Best of all was just being and laughing with Brooke. I cannot describe how fortunate I feel to have her love and support through all this in addition, to my families and friends.

10-20AUG
















Training is starting to ramp up now and getting more involved and ,to me, more fun. This past week of training I went through a Combat Life Saver course where we learned battlefield first aid and how to give IV's which we then practiced on each other. Its good times, unless someone forgets to put pressure on the vain above the catheter before connecting the saline lock or IV because the blood that was going through your vain is now squirting out the catheter. This happened to my XO and it was the medic who was doing the IV right before he wanted us to try it on each other (talk about a real encouragement booster). Besides the IVs we also learn how to insert a 4.5 inch long and 1/8in in diameter tube down someones nose to help in breathing in case of an emergency. I had the honor of demonstrating how to do it to the class by inserting it into Captain Hansen's nose. In addition, to the CLS course, we did training with Up Armored Humvees, a communications course and I have also been doing extra Dari training. The Humvee training consisted of learning the ins and outs of the Humvee, doing a roll over simulator and actually driving the Hummers. The roll over simulator is a basically a Humvee that is hooked up to a rotisserie and the instructors then rotate the Humvee and leave it on its roof. Once they give you the command and after they have secured some of the doors to make it hard to get out you have 15 seconds to get all four people out of the hummvee (it is possible). Though my XO and Skipper had a little tough time and I had to help out but we got out. After the rollover simulator we actually did a convoy down a dirt road with wrecked cars and obstacles in the way and they did not care if you actually hit a car. One Humvee in our convoy actually took out a sign. We also did night driving with Night Vision Goggles (NVGs), which I thought was great! It was like playing a video game, with everything being green and a slight delay as you turned your head. It was really a cool experience. With the Comms course we were shown how to program and use various radio's. Along with CLS, drivers training, and Comms I really want to become fluent in Dari so I have been doing extra training, meeting a few hours a night, a few nights a week to try and learn the language. I can now basically carry on an introduction conversation, count to 100, ask where the enemy is, know some military and weapon terms, and tell some one to stop their car, get out and put there hands up, open their trunk and hood, and to stop or I will shoot. So I am getting there. The days are getting longer but it makes the weeks go by faster. I am now consistently getting up at 0430 but now I am not getting back to the bay till 2200 every night because of language training and now I am trying to get another work out in after language class. Till next time. Linda asked what FOB and URF stands for and they mean Forward Operating Base and Urgent Request for Forces. Before I got to training I was an alternate for four Civil Engineer Corps guys meaning after training I was suppose to go back to Hawaii and if one of the four guys got hurt or sick I would have a few days to get to Afghanistan and fill in for them. However, because of the high demand of Civil Engineer Corps Officers I got picked up to go to Afghanistan till the summer of 09 either north or south but that can still change. I may still go back to Hawaii and continue to be alternate because my community (Civil Engineer Corps) wants to make sure I am filling in for a CEC guy. Once it is confirmed that I am going I can not say the exact dates of when I am going and when I coming back due to what is called operation security. Hopefully I will have more details soon.






This is is the Medic showing us how not to insert a IV (right before we do it on each other)






This Captain Hansen showing us how not to do IVs on Senior Chief!!


This is me showing everyone how to do an IV. Notice not a drop lost




The Nose Hose!!!









In the bay with Dave














Culture Studies






01 - 10AUG


Salaam aalikum (Hello, peace be upon you), I hope everyone one is doing well. I just completed my first week of training which went well. My day starts at 0430 waking up and getting ready for Physically Training (PT) which I lead for my team. PT consists of everything from running, push ups and pull ups to rope climbing, and sprints, I try and do a sport day once a week where we challenge another team to ultimate Frisbee. After PT and chow we have class from 0800 to 1700 (5PM) (with an hour lunch) for culture studies of Afghanistan and learning Dari, which is the most common spoken tongue in Afghanistan. The culture studies class is about the customs of the Afghans, such as not pointing the soles of your shoes at anyone, and to make sure to always ask about their family before talking about business. In addition, to learning about Islam, we even had the opportunity to role play a typical meeting and had an Afghan dinner with members of the Afghanistan National Army. It was a great experience to practice the little Dari I have learned so far. After 1700 we have dinner and usually have other briefs or meetings to attend. There were a few days where we did not get back to our bay till 2100 (9PM). We train six days a week and have Sundays off. I carry an M4 (5.56mm), which are the updated version of the M16 with a collapsible stock, and a 9mm pistol where ever I go, even to dinner and class. If I have to take a shower I have to lock it in my locker and ask someone from my team to watch it. We did have an opportunity to go to Kansas City and go to the National World War I Museum. The displays and videos throughout the museum were very nicely done.
The living conditions are great with all things considered. I do have 39 roommates, and about half of them snore, but the ipod quickly solves that problem! The open bay is air conditioned, which is nice since it has been around 105 degrees everyday, besides that last two days because it was raining, causing the temp to drop in the 70s. Another plus is the laundry room is right outside the bay door and the shower room has personal showers (much better then the open bay showers at Kings Point because there is nothing like showing with a bunch of hairy dudes first thing in the morning). Well until next week....Khuda Hafiz (in God's protection).

Doing some one handed push ups with with 40lb body armor

My new wardrobe
My M4

The Bay


Eating a Afghan dinner
















The WWI Museum
Headed for KS




Swimming With The Dolphins

video

This was what Frankie and I would call the perfect day...we woke up in a cozy cottage in Volcano's National Park, on the Big Island. We got ready to drive to west side of the Island of Hawaii to do a kayaking and snorkeling trip across Kealakekua Bay to go to some of the best snorkeling on the Island and Captain Cook's Monument. We rented out gear, bought some sandwiches, and launched our kayak around 9:30 a.m. We were about 1/4 of the way to the other side of the bay when we spotted some dolphins hanging out near us. We got in the water, and to our surprise, the wild spinner dolphins got within feet of us. There were probably 20 to 30 of them, and there was a little baby one too! We found out that it was only about 3 weeks old from some locals. It was amazing. They were jumping and spinning all around us for quite a while. We swam with them until after noon, and then hung out in our kayak and ate our sandwiches. The water was only about 40 feet deep and crystal clear, and we would dive down and they would just swim with us there. I thought for sure that one of the adolescent one's was going to ram me, just to play, but then thought better of it! After they went away, we kayaked to the other side of the bay and snorkeled with beautiful fish, and coral. We also played with the crabs on the rocks on the shore, and weird sea cucumber things! Frankie found a ring for me wedged between two rocks, that will always remind me of that day...