Sunday, August 16, 2009

Week 2 of Field Training

I'm officially done with my second week of OBC! It seemed to go a bit faster than the first. Here are some things that happened:

*It didn't start out great. We had to report at 4:30 in the morning and knew that we had a long wait before we could get our weapons. That morning a new rule was instituted that we could not sit down unless we were eating. The week before we waited over 4 hours for the arms room to open up, so this made me a little cranky. Sometimes the time management is "menos eficaz" (less-effective).
* I found an evening of cooler, cloudy weather has a mildly intoxicating effect. Add some Erasure music playing over the loudspeaker and I became a bit giddy. Multiple this happiness with an instigated rule that we did not have to carry our lightening-rod weapons outside for the rest of the evening. Oh, the joy!! Some of the other music selections that were played over the loudspeaker included Vanilla Ice (my tent did get a premier of "Eyes, Eyes, Baby"), MC Hammer, LL Cool J, Michael Jackson, and New Kids On the Block. I waved my canteen to "Hangin' Tough" but found the whiny "I'll Be Loving You, Forever" to be a bit annoying.
* I survived the gas chamber! It's known as the "Mask Confidence" course and I do have great confidence in my gas mask. I was in a group of about 12 people and was led into a small room that pumped some sort of gas. The skin on our necks and hands burned as did some stretches and jumping jacks, and then we had to individually take off our mask and state our rank, full name, social security number, and where we were from. Some of the people in my group made it look so easy. When my turn came, I took a deep breath in, took off my mask, and proceeded to choke and cough my way through my words. It was almost like a drowning sensation while eating a jalapeno kind of feeling. Good time, good time.
*I had convoy operations training one day and started off in a simulator. I got to be the gunner in my group (stand through a hole in the "hummer" and shoot a really, really, large machine gun) and it was really awesome. During our field practice my job was to do security which entailed lots of kneeling on a very hot afternoon , and the radio person. While I was doing my radio job I missed out on the big "attack." On Thursday I did MOUT training which includes kicking doors, clearing rooms, and shooting enemies. That was pretty crazy yet fun too. This next week there is supposedly going to be some war games, woohoo!!
*I'm becoming more accustomed to bees and other stinging insects. There's always a lot of them during meal times and they just don't like to leave me alone. One of them suffered death by gravy. I do draw the line when they enter my tent. One victim suffered death by Blackhawk boot.
*The culinary highlight of field food this week was chicken. This was especially exciting after an encore of weird meatballs.
*I did make up for the MREs this week with some good food this weekend. Some friends and I went to a cool little dive in San Antonio called The Cove. It has its own car wash and has an indoor laundromat. It was nice enough to sit outside and we caught the last part of a local act in the var room. The food was amazing! It was all organic and we shared a vegetable appetizer that included falafel, naan, hummus, and sweet potatos. Most of the people had the bison burger and I tried the lamb burger with latin spices and sweet potato fries. Sooo good!! I tried some of the homemade ginger ale which was pretty good but really strong. My taste buds were on overload! Highly recommend this place!
* I ended this week with a wonderful visit with my friend Laura from PA school and her husband and met some of her sibs. It was a great afternoon and so fun to catch up. I may visit her in Houston in a couple weeks. Good times!
Stay tuned for more adventures next week! Last week of field training!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

1st Week of Field Training

Here are some thoughts and experiences from my first week of field training. It has been a lot different from the previous 3 weeks of "death by Powerpoint."

* It's still been pretty hot. There have been a few heat injuries, especially amongst my platoon. This week we're suppose to start our physical training again. Oh, how I'm looking forward to that!
* I think the most beautiful sight I saw was the porta-potty maintenance truck pull up. It almost brought a tear to my eye...well, maybe not. It was still rather exciting. Those things can smell pretty bad. I also learned it's best to get in line early for meals, as the line backs all the way up to the latrines.

* I've been getting accustomed to the MREs (meals ready to eat). I had quite a hit of indigestion after the first two. I'm even starting to get use to the rehydration salts, which tasted pretty nasty in the beginning. It's been nicknamed "sweat water."

*I survived land navigation. I've developed a greater appreciation for safety eyewear, patrol cap, and uniform. The daytime course had me going through a lot of branches and night-time I plowed through quite a bit of cactus.
*With all the bruises I've managed to acquire, I'm starting to look like a human Dalmatian.

* Often in the morning and during the few rest breaks there's music played over the loudspeaker. This included a wide variety of classics including Tiffany's "I Think We're Alone Now." One of the first mornings we were awoken by some weird movie soundtrack with a little girl crying, "Daddy!! Don't leave me!"

* My battle buddy had her birthday while we in the field. I bought her some lunch from the "gut truck" to spare her an MRE.

*I have to have my weapon - an M-16 - tied (literally) to me practically 24/7. Even when we use the latrines. I feel like it's my long lost conjoined twin. I named it Enrique. I don't know if Enrique and I will be reunited again for this next week. He will always be my "first"...

* I felt like I may have cheated on Enrique when I did my 9mm pistol training. I did do a lot better on the range with the pistol than with the M-16. I'm sorry Enrique...

* My shower Friday night was the first shower I had since Monday morning and it felt soooo good. Loved it.
* This weekend went way too fast. Part of it must have been the fact that I slept until noon on Saturday. Yep, I was that tired. One of the highlights was taking advantage of Sonic's happy hour. So many drink choices!! I was already thinking of my next drink before I finished my blue coconut cream slush. It hit the spot.
4 a.m. Monday morning comes way too early. There's sure to be more adventures this week.