2 December 2012
Cold… Not a cloud in the sky. The stiff wind hit me in the face at 0500 this morning as I lumbered to the showers. Mud puddles are starting to freeze over; not frozen solid, but enough to form a sheet of ice across the top. Although the uniform policy is stricter than it has ever been on any other combat tours I have been on, this is the first place I have been that one can walk to the showers wearing flip-flops instead of socks and running shoes.
The latrines are nice. They have lots of enclosed toilets and large showers with hot water. Even if they weren’t, I would be used to it. My last deployment I lived on a Joint Service Station with toilets built of plywood. They did have toilet seats but your “business” dropped into the bottom of a sawed off 55 gallon drum that was burned each night. Our shower was a large white chemical decon unit that was used at a factory. We were able to snag it from another unit that wasn’t using it. The top housed the water tank and inside was a large horizontal handle that you pressed forward to be doused with water. Get wet, lather up, and rinse was all you could do. The first problem we ran into was getting the water tank filled. The whole contraption was about 15 feet tall and using buckets to fill it up was out of the question. We ended up pooling some money together and having one of the Iraqi Police go down town and purchase a water pump and some hose. From there we wired it up to a circuit breaker and the water buffalo. When a Soldier wanted to shower, he turned on the pump, showered, and then turned it off when he was complete. The other problem we ran into was that during the summer months, the water was scalding hot. And in the winter, not fun!
I got cleaned up and headed back to my room. The internet wasn’t working too well last night so talking with the girls was pretty hard, lots of dropped calls. I finally gave up and went to bed. This morning, the net was super fast and I was able to video Skype with my girls. I cannot tell you how much of a motivator getting to SEE and talk to your family is when you are thousands of miles apart. Simple things like getting to see Tabea’s (my 10 year old girl) new hair cut, my beautiful wife’s face, Kiersten (my 19 month old) recognizing me on the video, and getting to see my newborn Amelie sleep are given a new appreciation when you are separated for this long of a time.
After telling them good night (we are 12 ½ hours ahead) I headed into the Tactical Operations Center (TOC) to make my rounds. We are still working a few equipment issues, but all in all, we are good to go. Today was the Transfer of Authority ceremony with the outgoing unit and we have now assumed responsibility of our sector.
My job as a First Sergeant “1SG” (also known as “Top”) entails many things. The text book answer for what I do is “senior enlisted advisor to the Troop Commander”. I advise him on all matters regarding our Troop (anywhere from 100-175 Soldiers), tactically, administratively, and when Soldiers mess up, punishment. I am the hard ass of the Troop and ensure we maintain good order and discipline. When I first took over the job, I was a little overwhelmed with all the things I was responsible for, but after implementing some systems, guidance from former 1SG’s and Command Sergeants Major, it became a lot easier. I have been doing this job for a little over 9 months and enjoy what I do. I have had some friends tell me that being a 1SG is the best job in the Army, I have to disagree. Being in charge of over 100 Soldiers is gratifying, don’t get me wrong, but being the Scout Platoon Sergeant of 35 Soldiers of the 1-77 Armor Scout Platoon was the best time of my Army Career. I am sure I will get into my earlier career in the very near future of this blog.
With that being said… Everything I put in here is the truth, or how I believe it happened. I in no way will fabricate the story to make it more interesting. It has been no secret to any of my immediate family and close Soldier friends that I would like to one day write a book about my military career. It started with the idea of writing what happened the night of June 30, 2007, the Battle of Donkey Island (BODI). That idea morphed into writing about the whole deployment, and now I am at the stage where I would like to write about my whole career. Who knows, maybe this blog will turn into a “rough draft” of sorts. Due to operational security, I am unable to go into details about what we do down here, and like I mentioned before, days will become redundant. I, therefore, will enlighten you readers on other events throughout my career. When the day comes, (and I am sure that it eventually will) that I write about the Battle of Donkey Island, I will only write about what I experienced and what I felt about that night. It involved many heroes that night, but I will only write about what I believe to be factually correct. I know that all the elements that were involved in that night have different views on what happened, the fact of the matter is that everyone involved played a key role in the severe ass kicking we laid down that night.
Back to today: During the flights to Afghanistan, my driver was charged with the transportation of our Guidon. Our guidon is a swallow tailed flag that represents my troop. Back in the days, it was used as a rally location for troops on the battlefield. Well, it was stolen while at Kandahar. Needless to say, I flipped out. I had to walk around asking people if they had it… It’s one of the most embarrassing things I have had to do as a 1SG. It was found today. My driver was approached by someone that said they overheard someone talking about it. He ran it to ground and found that another Soldier in another troop had stolen it. Taking that guidon was the most expensive mistake that Soldier has ever made. I am going to do everything in my power to ensure that he loses every bit of rank he has.
Other than that, today was a pretty uneventful day! Stay easy my friends!