Sunday, October 26, 2008

We go from here

After much deliberation and prodding, I have finally come to the world of blogging. In an effort to keep in touch with family and friends (all while maintaining a little history as well) I have started this blog. I certainly hope and wish it keeps me closer to all the people I love across the country and the world.
Where to start?
Well if you have no idea about where I am or what I am doing here is the skinny. I just recently commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. I graduated from North Carolina State University in May 2008 with a bachelors degree in History. For the past 4 months I have been through the initial stages as a junior officer. For 2 months I worked at Ft. Lewis, WA as a roleplayer simulating a hostile country for ROTC cadets that are preparing to commission as officers themselves. After Ft. Lewis, I moved to Ft. Benning, GA which is my permanent duty station until I complete training.

I am in Infantry LT (Lieutenant) which means I have to complete BOLC II (7 week generic course for all officers that teaches the basics of leadership), IOBC (Infantry Officer Basic Course; 14 weeks that teaches the basics of leading a 42 man infantry platoon in combat) and then Ranger School. Currently I have been at BOLC II in Fort Sill, Oklahoma since October 5th. Once I complete training I am slated to head to the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vicenzia, Italy.

The past three weeks have essentially been in-processing phases. Week one we filled out our basic Army paperwork (Finance, Medical...where they gave me 6 extra shots for no reason, etc) and generally sat around all day. The second week was made up of basic morning classes on how to use our equipment and weapons followed by afternoon classes of Army combatives. Army combatives are a mixture of Jiu-Jitsu and Muai Thai that focuses on defeating your opponent with grappling and ground control. This past week (week 3) was spent at the range where we qualified with our personal weapons.

This is my buddy Funderberk on the qualification range. If you look close enough you can see the small green silhouettes that pop up at ranges from 50 meters to 300 meters.

My roommate Tillman is on the left and a fellow Infantry Officer Micah Pawlata is on the right. We just got done shooting at a reflexive fire range. The range is able to show you exactly where your rounds are striking in respect to the target. The range also took under 2 hours so it was amazing (that's fast for a range)

Ft. Sill for certain hasn't been all work. The first weekend we were here the post had their very own Oktoberfest! This is Stephanie Thompson, an MI 2LT who I worked with at Ft. Lewis during the summer. The Army is all about family and this event was opportunity for families all over post to get together and have good food (the Brats were amazing), good beer and great entertainment. We are actually in a giant tent with a full band. Even the commanding general of the post was there.

We had a 3 day weekend and I got an opportunity to go to Oklahoma City. I visited the OKC Museum of Art and they not only had a Roman Art expose from the Louvre closing out that day, they also had a full installation of one of my favorite artist, Dale Chihuly. He is a master glass-blower that has creates world renowned installations all over the world.

These are just a small sample of the amazing genre of art that he has created.

So far I continue to struggle with the problems that occur with an organization that is simply so large. Communication can and will break down. Individuals will throw in their own personal issues that often don't pertain to the whole group. Despite all the problems, however, I have been blessed with a really good platoon of people to work with for the next four weeks. My roommates Jason Jeracka and Tillman Johnson are both great guys and have made the past three weeks here go by with ease. Despite the fact that both of them are in the National Guard (which is a great source for jokes between us) we have definitely made our barracks here at Ft. Sill a 2nd home. Whatever the Army throws at you, you can be sure it will be the people around you that will either make or break you.

This is my roommate Jason Jeracka while we are riding in the back of a truck on the way to the range. Jason is a Military Intelligence Officer and is headed to Wauchuca, AZ to start MI school once we are done from Ft. Sill. He is a Connecticut Yankee with a quick wit and an absolute addiction to "Cawfee". Jason is also a fully licensed EMT and is currently working on getting onto a full time fire department back in Conn.

This is my other roommate Tillman "Tilly" Johnson. One of the most humble people you will ever meet and also one of the old guys in our platoon. He actually owns his own Barber shop and is currently on his 3rd year of Chiropractor school. Lets just say the alignment sessions we have had are phenomenal (especially because they are free!)

Right now we are currently preparing to head to the Forward Operating Base (FOB) where we will spend the next 5 days conducting FOB operations. FOBs are what the Army is currently working out of in Iraq and Afghanistan. They essentially are large fortified compounds where troops can refit, fix their equipment, and rest in between missions. A lot of us are pretty excited to get out of the boredom of garrison ops and ready to pick up the pace with land navigation and working in and out of the FOB.
Hope that gave everyone out there a little bit of a heads up on what is going on. If you have any questions or concerns don't hesitate to send something my way.