Wednesday, October 6, 2010

UDC Day Two

Although today was a long one it passed quickly. Medical review, equipment issue, and some last minute training was completed. One nice thing about this place is that you do not have to take everything that they have on the equipment list. Naturally you have to take your M40 protective mask and, for me, 4 sets of uniforms. I used my best judgement taking only essentials and ended up with a 3/4 full duffel bag. I'll let you know how this turns out. NOTE: IBA and ACH are issued in Kuwait.

Another nice amenity from this place is that they are taking some of us to the post office tomorrow to forward-ship boxes of stuff we won't need right away.I'll be down to a 1/2 a duffel bag and a much lighter rolling duffel. We will do a class group photo in uniform before we check out of our hotels and travel to Dulles.

This will probably be the last post for a few days. I expect to be in Kuwait on Thursday. If all goes well I will be in Kabul before the end of the weekend.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

United States Army CORPS of Engineers Middle East District Deployment Center

Well, today I hit the ground running. Pick up at the hotel was 0715. There were 21 of us that eventually loaded up for the short ride to the UDC.  All the folks in my class are AMC (Army Material Command - sometimes referred to as A Million Civilians) deployees. Most were GS-11 or higher with a few Wage Grades mixed in. We started the in-brief promptly at 0745.

This facility, though small, has been selected to give us pre-deployment training, final medical checks, and perform last minute paperwork to help us on our journey. Additionally, we get our uniforms and some gear issued as well.

It felt like being in the Army again. We had mostly First Aid classes today with IED awareness and anti-terrorism / force protection instruction thrown in. The training was top notch and professionally done. We have both Army and civilian personnel helping us out as instructors and guides. Everything went smoothly and there was definitely no hurry up and wait. No time was wasted and it all ran like clockwork. Maybe it was not like being in the Army again!?

Tomorrow -  more briefings, M40 training, and equipment / uniform issue.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Vicky and the Wall

My earlier post was an unusual one for me. I don't normally go too political when I express my views publicly. I guess I was just taken by surprise by the status quo in D.C.

Not all was bad there though. The melancholy tour yesterday of Arlington, though emotional, stood in dark contrast to what I experienced across the Potomac. I had to park at the Arlington Cemetery parking lot today because nothing was available anywhere else because of the rally. When I finally started my return journey back to Winchester I had the chance, once more, to be in the company of giants. If not they themselves but their memory and spirit as well as the monuments and memorials that celebrate their sacrifice and moral commitment they had for our country.

Alas, before leaving I did go to a couple of sites that were very important to me. I stopped by "the wall" to pay my respects to the fallen heroes of Vietnam and to give thanks that my dad's name was not engraved there. After circling around the White House and behind the Eisenhower Executive Building I went to see Vicky. In this modern age of a Brigade centric Army no one seems to be loyal to the Division or any other higher echelon, for that matter. I am. I  proudly serve the 1st Infantry Division as it's ammunition manager. Vicky, or Winged Victory, is a monument to the 1st ID and protocol dictated that I stop and see her.

The Lincoln Memorial and National Mall

I ventured back to D.C. once more today. My intent was to see the Lincoln Memorial and wander around the Mall and then see a part of the Smithsonian. I was to be disappointed. The entire Mall area was taken over by a rally. This rally was purported to support jobs and unity for the nation. It was a veritable unholy mishmash of unions, antiwar groups, community organizers, various and sundry "workers partys", old hippies, new hippies, code pinkers, race baiters, Israel bashers, and blame America firsters.

I felt very, very uncomfortable walking among these folks. Although we share a country I've never been to where they come from. At least not in such numbers. I believe in freedom, one man one vote, and all that jazz but, and I've been around a while, I cannot conceive they believe some of the absurdity they spout.

They are what Stalin called "Useful idiots". They are the darlings, the base if you will, of the Democratic party. You know -  the party with control of the White House and both houses of Congress. You'd think that they would be satisfied. But no. They want free everything and a chicken in every pot or do they want free pot and forty ouncers for the UAW's lunch breaks? One other thing I found interesting, though, was that each new speaker that come up to the stage at the feet of Abraham Lincoln would say "Salam wa aleikum " or invoke Allah in some way. I find it interesting that Islam is the new "in" religion for the left. I wonder what happened to Gaia. The right reverend Jesse Jackson spoke at one point. I wonder if he is converting. He might - if there's money in it.

I left the Mall and went to the National Museum of American History. I tried to immerse myself in the America I learned about in school. It seemed every display was postured to expose a short fall or negative result of anything we did as Americans. Maybe I was looking too deep but I was uncomfortable of the story I was seeing. I will be the first to admit we, as a nation, have our faults and have done some very bad things. Sand Creek and My Lai come to mind as well as how we have treated various other groups of people over the years. When it comes to our country I do not put on rose colored glasses when I wave the flag. But I wave the flag anyway because that is what it means to be an American. Add to our society. Make it better and secure it for the future. Don't take things away.

I couldn't help but notice, after I left the museum, that some of the rally attendees were slowly losing interest and leaving, and that they were discarding their posters, flyers, and empty box lunches all over the Mall grounds. The jetsam and flotsam of their misguided policies littered the ground like the slime deposited by a slug as it slowly crawls along a garden path. We all have our paths to follow. Right now mine leads to Kabul, Afghanistan. I wonder if they knew today that amongst them wandered a man that would soon feed the beast that will destroy the bodies and souls of the extremist, intolerant, non inclusive, anti gay (officially) and anything but diverse Islamist madmen that they adore so much.

Salam wa aleikum.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Made It To Virginia

My travels today were relatively uneventful. Except for the dark, wet, and weary drive to Winchester from Dulles (about an hour) all is well. I will try to visit DC this weekend before reporting on Monday.

On a side note my son won his 3rd flag football game tonight. His team is now 3 and 0. "Woot, woot!" as my wife likes to remark.