Thursday, September 25, 2008

Like an Ant: Boring in the Sand

We got a four-day pass after we had completed our training at Ft. Dix and all of us had a good time. Before we left they gave us a piece of paper with all of the phone numbers for the entire chain of command on it. In order to try to prevent unnecessary calls it included the following warning:
Be advised: All echelons of the unit are available to help you in need, however, understand that all requests should go through your chain of command as much as possible. If you go straight to the top, remember that the higher the hill, the greater the momentum is for a rolling object at the bottom.

I have heard that warning before but it was not put so eloquently. It must have worked though because everyone made it back from pass on time with no problems.

Kristen was able to fly out for the pass and was there to pick me up on Friday when we were released. We met Gepford and his brother at a place called Freefall Adventures.

It’s really pretty easy because you are connected to someone who knows what they are doing. The main instruction was to start walking out the back of the plane and then when you no longer have the floor of the plane under you, arch your back. I was the first one out the plane but it was amazing. You fall about 8,000 feet in a minute then pull the chute. The last 5,000 feet take about five minutes as long as everything goes well. I was a little nervous though because my instructor introduced himself as ‘Pancake.’ I didn’t ask him how he got that nickname because it’s kind of like asking your dentist why his nickname is ‘Whoops.’ Some things are best left a mystery.

The picture above is the plane we jumped out of and the picture below is one of us as we came in for a landing.

There is really no way to tell who it is but I assure you we all looked pretty much the same. Gepford and I were trying to determine if we were technically allowed to skydive on our pass. Gepford said, “Well, they don’t really need to know unless something goes wrong and if something does go wrong we won’t be in a position to get in trouble anyway.” Good point. Let’s jump.

I spent the rest of the weekend sightseeing in Pennsylvania. The Constitution Museum had free admission for active-duty military so it worked out good. They advertised the museum as “the first museum in the world completely dedicated to the United States Constitution.” I guess this is one thing that the Chinese aren’t competing with us on. The museum was sort of like reading a book but I suppose there isn’t a lot you can do to make the topic exciting. Once cool thing they had was called the ‘Hall of Signers.’ They had life-sized bronze statues of each person who signed the Constitution. It was strange walking among them because you felt like you were surrounded by people but they weren’t real people.

Once we got back to base they had a ‘Yellow Ribbon’ ceremony for us. At Ft. Dix they have a statue of a soldier that is called, ‘The Ultimate Warrior.’ They hang a yellow ribbon in front of that statue with the name of each unit that deploys until they return. I drew an arrow on the photo below pointing to our ribbon because it kind of blends in.

After the ‘Yellow Ribbon’ ceremony all we had left to do was pack our gear and clean up the barracks. Oh, and three or four speeches from officers wishing us good luck as we deployed and they stayed back in the US supporting us. In the picture below you can see Lewis trying to cram all of his gear into his bags. We were allowed to have two duffel bags and a ruck sack. Now, ladies that might seem like a good amount for a weekend trip, but this is all of our military and personal gear for the whole year. I hope somebody was able to fit an iron in their bag.

Remember I said we had to clean the barracks? Everyone seemed to find some things among their gear they didn’t need to bring with them to take up space in their bags. It seems as though no one had time to take out the trash though. Of course I couldn’t do it because someone had to go around and take pictures.

Once we had everything packed and cleaned all that was left was the waiting. So we waited to draw our weapons.

Then we waited for the bus to take us to the Air Force base for our flight.

Then we waited to go through security at the airport. We weren’t allowed to have any knives on the plane but of course we could have guns. This is me going through the metal detector at the airport with my weapon.

Then we waited for the plane to be ready.

Then we waited more for the plane to be ready.

Still waiting for the plane.

On the plane finally!! It was about a fourteen hour flight not including our stop in Germany on the way over. I should have slept for more than two hours of that flight but I didn’t feel tired for some reason.

We got into Kuwait at about 0530 local time and it was 80 degrees. I hadn’t dug out my sunglasses yet when I got off the plane and I was blinded by looking at all that sand. I would say it’s nice to be back here but I’m still looking for things that are nice about it. It’s still like having a blow dryer in your face so it takes some getting used to.
As soon as we got to our temporary camp here in Kuwait we had to unload all of our gear. I guess the best way to get acclimated to the climate here is to throw around 80-pound bags at high noon. We got the trailer unloaded and then searched out all of our gear and get it into our tent.

Now we are waiting again in a tent in Kuwait.

We have a little more training to do here in Kuwait but mostly we are waiting for a flight to Kuwait. I put the address for Iraq up on the right side of the page but I’m not sure how long it will be until we can receive mail. I would hold off on shipments of fresh meat for a while but letters should keep.

Sorry to keep you waiting,


"Being on the tightrope is living; everything else is waiting. "
- Karl Wallenda

No comments: