26 June 2009

Things are different...(Part two)

I came back to Fort Riley on the 2nd of January and flew out the EARLY morning of the 3rd, stopping in New Jersey, Reykjavik(sp?), and Germany(I can't remember where but there was snow on the ground.) before we landed in Kuwait on the evening of the 4th. We were trucked to Camp Buehring where we had an In-Brief and they scanned our ID cards for "War-zone" accountability. We were able to stay in Camp Buehring for Breakfast, after we helped the Army guys that were staying there that were on the same flight as us unload their stuff from our truck. They loaded us onto another bus for the trip to Camp Virginia. Everybody slept for the hour trek.

When we got to Camp Virginia we offloaded our bags into our tents. After that we had to hike to the Navy LNOs offices, which gave us a tour of the Tent City, and we were able to see where our showers were. Why does it seem that they always stick you in the tent farthest away from the showers and shitters. At the LNO offices we did more paperwork, got our orders stamped and went off to our tent. We were able to get some chow(by then it was lunch), hit the PX and Barbershops to get our trims in. We had to be at Ali Asaleem at 3AM(which meant up at midnight) for an 8AM flight. Why? I dunno, I don't do schedules. Just follow them...

We landed at Baghdad International about an hour and a half after take off. We waited with our baggage for what seemed like an eternity. I also noted that things here were a bit different. Whereas Camp Virginia seemed like a ghost-town compared to Baghdad International. People were buzzing around, helicopters were almost flying in and taking off non-stop. We loaded our bags onto the bus, provided by KBR, and began our trip to Victory Base. For a few days we did nothing. Ate and slept was pretty much the highlight of our first days in Iraq. After a couple days like this we went to the Navy LNOs at Victory, which were housed in one of the Lakeside guest houses across the way from the Palace that Headquartered the Coalition forces. We submitted our final travel claims and such, did our final pay checks to make sure that our HazDuty pay and tax-free was started and back to the tent we went.

We started our check-in briefs with MNSTC-I later that week. This consisted of FINALLY finding out where we were going, Intel Briefs of Areas assigned, and some training about how the finances worked (more along the lines of submitting projects and such). After this we said goodye to some members of our team as we stayed behind in Baghdad to attend MRAP drivers training. This took a few days to get straightened out, as I've never seen anybody nuke something so simple. I guess that's the Army and civilians for you. After days of just being told that no-one could train us AFTER we had confirmed seats in the class. We finally had some help from the higher-ups and we got called back to get a "shorter-version" of the class, since we already missed 2 days worth of it because someone couldn't get their head out of their ass. After the training was concluded we sat around some more waiting for our Air Movement Requests(AMR) to go through. Here in Iraq, if you don't submit more than 3 AMRs at a time, you probably aren't going anywhere for awhile. It was a short time after we finished our drivers training that they decided on the bright idea to move us to Camp Stryker, which is closer to the airport than Victory

At 2100, sometime in early February(I think it was the 4th or 5th), we finally got a helicopter(UH-60 Blackhawks, one for our bags and one for us) to FOB Delta (at the time, I had no flippin idea where this was). We didnt know if anyone was going to meet us there, so we were prepared to sit in tents for another few days. I can't remember what time we touched down, but as soon as we off-loaded our bags the Helicopters taxied out and took off. There was no-one but us around. Here we were in a strange place, we don't know where to go, and there is no-one to guide us. Did I mention it was pitch-black on the flightline...

24 June 2009

After a year, things are different...(part one)

I'm in Iraq now. I feel I need to bring everyone up to speed after a year of absence.

Shortly after my last post, I received orders to deploy to Iraq. At the time, I didn't exactly know what I was going to be doing. I only knew that I was going to Fort Riley, Kansas for 8 weeks for training before a year long deployment. I didn't even know where I was going. I was slated as an "Alternate", meaning that I would go to training and if they didn't need me I would go back home. As you would later find out, this was most decidedly not the case. I had a few months to prepare, as I wasn't leaving for training until September. I was able to put my Household Goods into storage and terminate my lease with no great difficulty. I never did see nor hear about my security deposit. Oh well, not that much money anyways. I stayed with my Grandparents for a few days before I left for Kansas. I also left my car for them to babysit for me while I was off to training.

At Fort Riley I found out that I was going to be a Combat Advisor to the Iraqi Army, more specifically geared to Logistics and Support (Supply systems, Maintenance, Medical, etc.). We went through the usual riggamarole with weapons training, convoy training, comms training, and specialized classroom training on "How to be an Advisor" and Arabic language and cultural immersion classes. I also had advanced medical training which was a joke... Also, it was at this time that one of the HM1s in our group hurt his back in a Hummvee rollover trainer and was sent home. Guess what? Yours truly was bumped up to primary. We got to go home for Christmas, which was pretty nice.

I flew back to California to pick-up my car to drive to Washington. I made it to Redding, CA on the first day. We(My Grandpa was riding with me) left Redding at about 0600. We started to get some snow in the Siskiou(sp?) mountains. After we crossed over into the Oregon flatlands it cleared up. About 100 miles out of Portland it started getting bad, and what was normally an 8 hour drive turned into a 18 hour slow crawl all the way home. It never let up, in fact, once we crossed the Columbia into Washington it started to get real bad. It cleared up though as I got through Olympia, as the snow plows had already been at work. I got to the base of the hill at my parents house and high-centered on the unplowed snow and ice. I had just drove 1200 miles and I run into trouble 250 feet from my house... sigh...

I had a really nice visit with my family. The hard part was leaving. It always is....

To be continued...

12 May 2008

Getting Set Up

So I promised that I would get better about posting. I guess that once every 2 weeks is better than once every couple years.

I've kept busy the last few days by setting up my apartment. I bought a $2,000 computer, which is a little more than resonable, but it's a bad-ass machine. 2.6ghz Intel Core2 Quad, Corsair 4GB DDR2-800 RAM, 750GB Hard Drive, NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GTX, 512MB of Dedicate Video Memory, 48x CDR/RW with LightScribe, 16x DVD-ROM, and I updated the soundcard to a X-FI Fatality myself. So I bought a desk for that. I also got a Logitech 5.1 Surround System to go with it. I then bought a 50-inch 1080p Plasma HDTV. Oh yeah...the thing is sweet!!! I was playing GTA IV on it yesterday and I love it for gaming. I have the cable guys coming on thursday to set-up my internet and HD cable. So I'll be able to start blog-rolling from home again. Also I should be updating my mySpace and other things like that.

That's pretty much all that's been occuypying my life so far. So I'll try and keep you up-to-date more often.

30 April 2008

Thoughts, random or otherwise unimportant

Sometimes when you sit around you just happen to think about whatever pops into your head. I'm sitting here at my desk at work thinking to myself about all these things, and I figure that to get them out I'd just blog about them.

Something that's been on my mind since I arrived here in San Diego is all the Marines that are here receiving medical treatment. I think about the sacrifices that they have made and the places they've been. Then I think about those corpsman that are with them. The ones that are getting shot up and wounded, sometimes killed. The ones coming back with PTSD and they still want to go back out there. The reason that I'm thinking about them is how I've never been on the ground. Sure I was in the gulf for three months on the Comfort when the war first started, taking care of all the Marines and Soldiers, EPWs and civilians wounded. But that doesn't compare with being there. I floated off the coast of Somalia for 4 months doing absolutely nothing, and again floated off the coast of the Phillipines for 5 months, doing pretty much the same. You might ask what I'm getting at. I was Meritoriously advanced to 2nd Class for my innate ability to handle desk work, cure headaches and reduce dislocated shoulders. I have a bronze star on my Sea Service deployment ribbon, while some other 3RD CLASS corpsman have a SILVER star on their COMBAT ACTION ribbon. This kinda tears me up inside. Why was I given the advancement opportunity for doing desk work while guys on the front lines that are getting shot at, taking mortar rounds inside their fencelines and FOBs aren't being offered the same? Was it because I was a standout at my command? The best Third Class on the boat that did pretty much nothing more than his job and nothing else. Sure I maxed out my quals, but thats what any good sailor would do, right? Maybe its just that Corpsman humility thing getting the best of me. Am I really that much better than I think I am? I just don't think that someone who sits 5 miles off the coast and does paperwork should be given another chevron when guys are taking rounds over their heads stuck at the same rate they were when they left. And even after all this I'm still not really excited about going to Iraq(or even Kuwait for that matter) anytime soon. It'll happen soon enough, I'm sure. But thats down the road. The point is that I feel bad for those guys who put their lives on the line everyday are still stuck in a slump of bad advancement, while the guy who was safe got the gold...

Another thing I've been thinking about is politics. I've never been one to really follow politics that much. And I have always wondered about what party I would fall under. Both of my parents are staunch republicans, but are open to vote for the best canidate even if they are not republican(Dad voted for Ross Perot a couple times). So when it came for me to register to vote for the 2004 general election I did so as a republican. But I have always wondered about my party affiliation, so I found a little quiz on Blogthings.com that I took. In the quiz it provided a statement and 5 responses(Strongly Agree, Agree, Not Sure, Disagree, and Strongly Disagree). Here are the statements and my opinions....

1. People have a right to unrestricted gun ownership. Strongly Agree. I believe that Americans have the inherent right to bear arms, as outlined in the Bill of Rights. At the same time I also believe that certain provisions should be in place to prevent arms of any kind falling into the hands of a convicted felon, for example. If guns were outlawed, millions in the US would become criminals overnight. How would we police that? How would people defend themselves?

2. Abortion should be illegal in all cases. Disagree. I believe that abortion should be legal ONLY in the cases of incest, rape, and any condition where the mothers life is in danger if the child is conceived(i.e. ectopic pregnancy).

3. Drugs, including marijuana, should be illegal. Disagree. I believe that Marijuana should be legalized. I am not a pot head by any means, but this is a harmless drug. Alcohol is more toxic to the body than Marijuana is. So treat it like alcohol in the workplace, don't come to work drunk and don't come to work high. And if the governement taxed the shit out of it like they do cigarettes, think about how much more millions of dollars would be infused into the national budget. All other drugs should remain illegal.

4. Taxes should be lowered for all income brackets.Strongly Agree. This is a no-brainer. Who likes paying taxes anyway?

5. Marriage is only for a man and a woman. Gay people should not be allowed to get married. Disagree I'm not a homophobe. Nor am I gay myself. I'm kinda middle of the road on the whole gay rights thing. I do believe, however, that if two people love each other, why shouldn't they be allowed to get married? I'm not religous either, so you can't throw the whole Bible thing at me.

6. Social security should be replaced with private accounts. Not Sure I'm not 100% up-to-date with the whole Social Security thing. I know it's a depression-era system that is poorly funded and way out-of-date. Not sure if private accounts are the way to go though. Maybe you should just take "a system" away and let everyone manage their own retirement benefits.

7. Stem cell research is unethical. Strongly Disagree I strongly believe that any research that has the potential to yield life-saving results and cures for Cancer, Parkinsons, and any other disease is worth it.

8. We need to stay the course in Iraq. Pulling out is not an option. Not Sure As a member of the Armed Forces, this is a touchy subject all around. In the beginning I thought that we should stay. Three years down the line...I'm not so sure anymore. Too many have died and I think it's turning into another Vietnam.

9. Parents should be able to choose between competing schools for their kids with vouchers. Not Sure I'm not even 100% sure what this is about...

10. Oil companies should be left alone to run their businesses as they choose. Disagree I think International political bodies should be placing caps on how much they can charge for gas... I think prices are getting ridiculously out of hand.

And I scored 47% Republican, 53% Democrat...No wonder I'm going to vote for Obama!!!!

29 April 2008

Been a while....Hasn't it?

It amazes me that I can be away from this for so long and my account is still right there where I left it. Weird....

The last time I left I was ranting about a deployment which didn't really turn out all that bad. I look back on it now, a year and a half later and think to myself that it could've been worse. A LOT WORSE!!!

I kinda feel like I've returned to an old friend. I was tooling around the internet, bored as hell at work, and I stumbled across the blog that got me here in the first place. It happened to be Sean's Doc in the Box. It brought me back here to my own neglected blog. It's almost a warm comforting blanket.

So whats happened since that last post. Not much really...

In August 2007 we deployed to Zamboanga, Phillipines and tooled around Mindinao and Holo Islands for a good 5 months. We pulled into exotic ports like Saipan, Kota Kinabalu(Malaysia), Dumaguete(Phillipines), Tacloban(Phillipines), Singapore, Penang(Malaysia), Guadalcanal, Tonga, and Home. It was a lot of fun... I think I have pictures posted on my MySpace profile. And yes...I came back still single. We got back to port in February and March 15th I left the mighty USS Reuben James (FFG-57), for what I thought at the time was going to be bigger and better things at NavMedCen, San Diego. Boy, was I wrong!!!!

I reported to the self-proclaimed "Pride of Navy Medicine" on the 15th of April 2008. I was originally assigned to the Emergency Department, supposed to be relieving their LPO, I imagine. But I will never know. I was reassigned to the Emergency Management Division of the Disaster preparedness Department which is apart of the Directorate of Administration. And my clinical experience is torn from my hands and shot down the tubes.

Now, I can both be pessimistic and optimistic about this situation. I am planning on going to IDC(Independant Duty Corpsman) school within the next few years. This is the toughest school in the Navy with the highest attrition rate in the Armed Forces. And I need the clinical experience dammit!!! So I come to a job sitting behind a desk, with no patients... I'm not even in the same building as the main hospital...FUCK!!! Let me catch my breath....

On the other hand, working from 0700-1500 every day leaves plenty of time for studying for advancement, taking college classes and just getting prepped and building a solid package for school. So I guess it can't be all that bad.

So right now I'm waiting to get paid so I can pay first month's rent so I can move in to my new place. I'm living with my grandparents right now and the old folks are cramping my style. The only good thing is that theres a cute hottie that works at the store in their community that I like to look at when I go buy ciggarettes.

So I must go for now. I promise that I will be a more frequent writer. I should now that I have more time on my hands... A LOT more time.

10 January 2007

Not as bad, but close

I'm feeling a little bit more calmed down the last couple of days. The last post seemed a little dark. I guess it was just post-leave deppression that I normally get after spending time at home and then coming to a place where your appreciation equals the sum of work, hours spent after 1600, and how much ass you kiss.

And I had a whole long post about deployment and details and everything and in one keystroke it was gone. Internet explorer closed and I lost about an hours work. Guess it wasn't supposed to be seen.

Anyways...a List of things that sucked about deployment

1. Being on a ship underway for 78 straight days with the same 250 guys.
2. Not having a day off for 78 days because the CO decides that every sunday he wants to schedule UNREPs and VERTREPs
3. Fried chicken, baked chicken, grilled chicken, dry-ass chicken, chicken salad, chicken ala-king, chicken noodle soup, chicken adobo, chicken nuggets, chicken patties, bar-b-que chicken, chicken ribs, chicken teriyaki, chicken gumbo, chicken stir-fry, chicken stew, chicken ravioli, and that's just for openers. Chicken twenty times a week. Colonel Sanders has nothing on this place.
4. Laundry that comes back soaking wet.
5. Five hundred plus movies in the ship's inventory yet they repeatedly play only about 20 of them.
6. Milk that tastes like it came from a cow with mad cow disease. Milk that has a shelf life greater than that of a nuclear bomb or that would not evaporate if placed on the sun, has to have things in it that are not good for you.
7. People who actually believe that a cigarette filter can take down a helicopter from 300 feet away.
8. People that think that it is okay to sell a completely melted candy bar, stale crackers or flat sodas for full price.
9. The smell of some guy's rack who believe's the shower is an annual requirement.
10. Hot dogs with the word Dingo anywhere on the box should have been rejected immediately.
11. Only putting out butter when there is no bread. When bread is available, all you ever hear is "nobody broke out the butter."
12.Not seeing port for 78 days because the CO wanted to see some "action" that never came. And in sight of land the entire time.
13.Doing 30 knots straight towards port only to stop 5 miles out and have the Helo launched and land to drop someone off.

Now the list of good things about deployment...

1. Nobody Died
2. Sydney
3. Mauritius
4. Hong Kong
5. Making New Friends
6. Getting 2nd Nam
7. Getting Capped to Second Class
8. Not getting shot at

More about recent events later....trying to get you guys caught up....

05 January 2007

It's been a while

So after an arduous workup and deployment period, a Post Operation Movement standdown, a Promotion, an IDC change, a CO change, another 1/2 of a training cycle and a holiday '06 stand-down, I'm back.

I'm exhausted and ready to transfer. Alas, I still have one more year including a work-up period and another deployment. After 2 years already, it's old. The 3 section duty during stand-down and throughout deployment, the painting to cover up the chips and scratches that come from cleaning so much, the dust bunnies that touch everything and reappear 20 mins after you just mopped, eating rice with every meal, and dealing with young-ins that after being in the navy since breakfast think that they know everything and can run the ship by themselves. I'm tired of it. Sick of it all.

I'm not happy doing my job any more. When I try to enjoy it, it seems like it slips through my hands like sand. Maybe I'm holding on too tight. I try and relax and just chill, but something always seems to happen to piss you off more. I thought that when I got promoted the bullshit would stop. Nope... It just got thicker. I'd rather be shot at right now than deal with stupid people. These guys make marines look like friggin geniuses.

It got so bad at one point that I hit the bottle just to relax myself enough to sleep. I was drinking at least once a day. And I would get so annihilated on the weekends that my friends didn't even want to hang out with me. Thats when I realized I didn't need another problem in my life. So I stopped drinking altogether for a little bit before it got worse. But I'm still in an emotional funk. I'm depressed, but its not so bad to call it clinical yet. I have my good days and bad days. I keep trucking on. I guess its not as bad as it could be.

Anyways, I have to get back to work. I'll write later about deployment and how much it sucked.