Sunday, March 4, 2007

"It's not the Ritz"

To my family and friends,

Often I am asked about the accommodations here at Fort Riley and my simple answer is "It's not the Ritz". The Ritz Carlton is known for its great service and accommodations, in reality this place is not The Marriott either, I am not sure I could put it on par with the Motel 6, although I have stayed in some pretty bad hotels, but at least I did not have to share the room except with some roaches. You might think of this place like a college dorm room setting. I have 3 roommates, which is actually living in luxury as the majority of people live in 40 man bays with bunk beds lined up together. In addition, our room has its own bathroom so we do not have to fight for a stall or a shower. Of course this is a plus and minus depending on what we had for dinner that day.

At the end of this week I was very fortunate to get away from Fort Riley and relax at a friend's house. A good friend of mine, Pat Meriwether, who lives in Kansas City invited a couple of us over to his house for the short weekend. Pat and his wife Kathy had us over to relax and remember what a normal household is like. They have two kids Brannon and Elizabeth who are around my kids age and it reminded me of my own kids. I am really looking forward to seeing them at Easter. I truly appreciated their hospitality. I am writing this update in reverse order, kind of like one of those Quentin Tarrantino movies.

Saturday is somewhat of a stressful day if you have something to do on the weekend because everyone is trying to get out of here. It reminds me of my old Naval Academy days when we eager to get out for liberty. Part of the feelings come from the fact, that we shouldn't be working on Saturday anyway, and when you have a busy day it complicates things. So this Saturday was busy. Part of our training requirements are to execute convoy operations. This is where you have to get your team together on your HUMWWV's and convoy, think of that old song "Convoy" by CW McCall from the 70's, "Breaker One Nine, this is the Over the Hill Gang moving out". We do talk on radios but speaking in a Southern accent and calling people "Good buddy" doesn't work real well with the Army, I was informed of this during our training. Actually, there is a lot of planning that goes into a successful convoy operation. It is like planning a family picnic, someone is in charge of the maps and route, another is in charge of the supplies and someone else is in charge of the machine guns, we usually left them off during our family outings. In the end, we were successful in loading up and getting everybody out and back from our trip. Our destination was a classroom in another part of the post (base) where we practiced calling in gun support from artillery and aircraft resources. We finished the day around 6:30 PM and we were on the road for liberty around 7:00. Liberty is an interesting word, I think of freedom and that is what we are fighting for, during the week it is what we are looking forward to on the weekend.

We had a pretty fun day Friday, learning more Dari and preparing for our convoy. We also practiced a course called "Combatives" which is really just a form of wresting and choking people till they pass out. No one suffered any major injuries during this evolution and we did a get a pretty good workout. I must say the choke hold does work if you are interested in having someone pass out in about 10 seconds. I of course really don't want to be in situation where I have to fight hand to hand with the enemy, I figure things must have gone really wrong, if I get to that point. It might be handy for the bars around Manhattan though.

Earlier in the week we had various courses in understanding the organizational structure in Afghanistan, more language class and how to recover captured personnel. The week started out with a continuation of Combat Lifesaver where we had a couple of scenarios where we had to rescue injured personnel. One scenario was in dark building and we had to find casualties and administer first aid and get them out of the building. After my team completed this one I saw the Army guys do the same exercise but they used their night vision goggles so they could see in the dark. Now that would have been a good tip to know before rushing into this scene with our little flashlights. You live and learn. The second scenario was outside and we had to march in a patrol formation about a mile away and get some information from a contact out in the field. Of course we were wearing our full body armor during these drills and that adds a few pounds especially when you are trying to carry wounded people on a stretcher. Overall it was a great training evolution and our team did pretty well.

Some of you probably heard about the attack on Bagram in Afghanistan, it was on the news earlier this week. Vice President Cheney was visiting when the attack happened, he was unharmed. It reminds us all to keep vigilant.

Well that is all from Kansas until next time. I hope you and your families are all well.


No comments: