I walk the middle


16 December 2012

It was a somber day around here on the FOB. With the massacre in CT weighing heavy on everyone’s mind, chatter was little to none in the offices for the first half of the day. I spent a good half the day taking advantage of the silence to work on a few evaluation reports. I feel so bad for the families of the tragedy yesterday, and reading the news and all the posts about the event just show how polarized our country is. It seems that I am the minority in America, the guy that walks the middle.

Reading below may piss off some people, but this is my blog and you are reading to get my opinion and hear my stories. I wrote this and then thought about not publishing it as it may make some people mad. But it shouldn’t. So I am going to leave it as is. I love this country and everything it stands for. I put my life on the line for this great nation on a daily basis. Below is nothing more than one man’s opinion.

America has a problem right now and everyone seems to believe that it’s the fault of “the other side”. Everyone I talk to has an opinion that cannot be swayed. People are either pro-gun or not. Only a small majority are in the middle such as myself. It’s tough to hear people say that they do not believe any regulation on guns will work. “Arm the teachers and this wouldn’t have happened” well…. That will lead to a form of regulation. If you arm the teachers, you are going to want them to go to some sort of training to be able to correctly handle the weapon right? Be able to shoot in a crowded room with kids running around? Going to cost $$$ to send them there. Who’s going to pay for that? Government? Or are you going to force the Teachers to come out of pocket and pay for it? Well, that’s regulation.

“It’s not the good people with guns killing people”. Correct again, but what should we do? What about guys like me? What about us Soldiers that have killed people? When the day comes to leave the Army, I want nothing to do with weapons. I have walked the streets of hell and I now deserve safety without weapons. What about my rights to be able to walk down the streets and feel safe? The majority of pro-gun advocates will tell you “want to feel safe, carry a gun.” Quit being selfish! Should I count on the “Good Guys” that have concealed and carry permits to protect me? Worked in the Mall in Portland Oregon didn’t it?

I also see the fact that banning weapons isn’t the answer either. C’mon folks… For you that believe that we will lose our 2nd amendment rights, you are living in fear and need to apply for the show “Dooms Day Preppers”. Remember, BOTH Clinton and President Obama had a majority in the Senate and House and didn’t pass a gun prohibition and revoke the 2nd amendment. It won’t happen. Politics my friends, too many Americans own guns (most per capita than any industrialized nation on earth), and if they pulled something like that, well, there goes reelection

“Let’s do something about mental illness”. Yeah, but how are we going to go about that; another Government program that is going to sap our taxes? Using the pro-gun theory, it doesn’t matter; they can still get knives, brass knuckles, nun chucks, etc. So what do we do? Take all the people with mental health disorders and put them in camps and shield them?

“Criminals are still going to commit crimes and get guns.” Yup, you are correct. So, instead of making it harder for a criminal to get a weapon, we keep it status quo? Because what we have in place now, works? If everyone has a weapon, crime will be down, correct? Again, what about my right to not carry a weapon? I carry a weapon 24hr a day, 7 days a week, for the next 9 months to protect our 2nd amendment right…. Isn’t that enough?

What if we completely gave up on the war on drugs and let cartels move drugs into the country freely? Would the drug problem be better?).

“Drunk drivers kill people in cars, but we don’t ban cars.” Ok, let’s make it legal to drink and drive and the number will go down right? Nope, we regulate it by hiring more cops and running check-points.

And on the other side, in NO WAY do I believe the Government has the right to take away our guns. We have the right to have weapons to hunt and protect our families. It is our constitutional right. I think that people believe that regulation equals a gateway into prohibition. It doesn’t. Does the Government regulating the age to vote going to eventually lead to us not being able to vote?

Are regulations going to stop bad things from happening? No, I’m not stupid, but it may stop a few from happening, and that’s enough.

This is one topic of discussion that will never die. I see both sides and both sides have some valid arguments, but America, we need to do something, ANYTHING to help stop this stupid shit from happening.

And don’t get me started on the media…. Why, oh why, would we EVER want to report on this shit and post that maniacs picture all over the TV? Why? Because we watch it!

And I will now step down from my soapbox.

Now back to the present….

We got mail in this morning. A wonderful group called “Stockings for Soldiers” sent us eight large boxes filled with individual stockings for each Soldier in my Troop. They are great; each Soldier has their own stocking with their name across the top and filled with goodies. Mail has become a pain in our ass lately. It’s not that it’s the lack of mail that people are sending, it’s that the people that are supposed to go get it, are not. Our Squadron has volunteered to make the run to the FOB that our mail arrives at and is now picking up mail on a regular basis. They bring it back to our FOB and distribute it amongst the units. Late last night they made a run and now are mail room is loaded with boxes of goodies sent from home.

It’s cold, really cold now. Mud puddles are frozen over and we are supposed to get dumped on with large quantities of snow tomorrow. Not looking forward to it! Although a white Christmas would be cool, I am not too fond of frozen toes and fingers!

Christmas is a tough time of the year during deployments. Each leader has his/her own view on how to approach it… Some believe that we should throw a party and celebrate the season, while guys like me want to treat it as just another day. Normally, the chow hall will be decorated to match the season and will put out a pretty good spread. That’s all I need. I want to stay busy and keep my mind off the fact that it is Christmas and I am not with my family. But others believe that we are a family and that we should spend it together. I do see both ways…. Ugh… The man that walks the middle…

In Ramadi, Christmas came and went without much fanfare. One of my Soldiers, “Smokey” did dress up like Santa and sneak through our barracks to hand out Christmas presents that his friends and family had sent. It was funny and did lighten the mood. God, if there was one thing that my Scouts could do, they could lighten the mood of any situation, no matter what it was. Even in the most downtrodden situation, ball-busting was allowed, hell, even encouraged. Reminds me of this one time at our JSS…. I may have the actual event timeline messed up, but these events did happen.

Even during deployments, certain training must be conducted on semi-annual and annual basis. With our mission and running the JSS we were unable to drive my platoon back up to the FOB to knock them out. The easiest way for us to get these classes done would be to have the people that gave them come down to our JSS and give them to us.

Our JSS had been hit by two Vehicle Born Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs) in the past, so we made sure to develop a battle drill and rehearse it on a regular basis, in case it ever happened again. It was simple; the night prior myself with my Platoon Leader Jimm and our Senior Scout Ryan Allman, would pick a time early in the morning to conduct the drill. Ryan would take a stick or two of C4 and rig it to blow right outside the compound. When given the word, he would blow the C4, shaking the compound and waking up all our Troopers that were asleep. The Soldiers had it down to a science, and after months of firefights and contact with the enemy, they weren’t rattled at all and just executed the battle drill to perfection.

The Soldiers that were coming down to give the classes didn’t get out into sector much; they are affectionately called “Fobbits” (what I am now)and had seen little to no “action” outside the wire. The night prior, in our Command Post, it was realized that we hadn’t conducted a VBIED battle drill in a while. Get where this is going yet? All it took was a simple suggestion and it was done. We were going to conduct a VBIED battle drill at our FOB and not let our visitors know what was going on, you know, to “Welcome” them to our little slice of heaven. Some may say that it was a little overboard, but that’s how we rolled.

I cannot remember if it was the same day with the same visitor, but for some reason, I think it was. Everyone in our platoon had a nick-name or went by their call sign. Jimm was 6, I was 7 or Papa Bear, we had P-Nutz, Doc, Boots, Ham, Ocho, and many more. This next story revolves around “Bobby Two-Guns”. Bobby was one of my go-to Soldiers and was a combat vet from OIF II (our Battalions first deployment to Iraq). He got his nick-name from making a bad decision to try and ship a pistol home from the first deployment. Getting it out of Iraq to Germany wasn’t a problem, and he had a plan to get it to the states, but didn’t. During a health and welfare inspection of his room, the pistol was found and he got busted down a rank or two (happened before I took over the platoon). “Bobby one-gun” didn’t sound right, so the guys called him “Two-Guns” because it sounded better.

We were receiving a class about preventative medicine from a medical officer at the JSS, and for some reason, I think it was the same guy on the same day as the VBIED drill. We all crammed into a room and “Two Guns” sat right next to the officer that was giving us our class, facing the crowd. Bobby wasn’t a big guy, about 5’8” and 160 from what I remember, but what he lacked in height and weight, he made up for with the size of his sack. That dude wasn’t smuggling plums, he was smuggling grapefruits! Leave your computer unlocked? You come back to find your desktop picture is now a happy snap of his sack. Leave your book lying around? Your bookmark is replaced with a printout of his sack. Go to the fridge to grab a drink? Don’t be surprised to see “Two-Guns” sack posted on the door.

Back to the class… As the Officer is giving his class, I can see that “Two-Guns” is fidgeting around with his pants under his uniform top. And at the completion of the class, the officer asks “Any questions?” Without hesitation, “Two-Guns” lifts up his uniform top to expose his gigantic sack and asks “Yeah Sir, is this normal?” We ERUPTED into crazed laughter while the officer turned beet red… It didn’t matter who you were, or what rank you were. If you were coming down to visit, you were going to get greeted the “Saber” way. By the way, that officer refused to ever come back and visit us again!

3 thoughts on “I walk the middle

  1. Too funny. I remember “greeting” our WWE wrestler visitors with a controlled blast after hyping them up all morning about how we the most mortared FOB in Iraq. It was all fun and games and a great life until later in the day when we actually did receive incoming. “Ha ha guys. Another controlled blast?” “No! Get to the bunker. This shit’s real!” The look on their faces was priceless.

  2. “Who’s going to pay for that?”

    That’s the issue isn’t it? There’s no such thing as a free lunch and no such thing as a free (or easy) solution to a social ill. Anyone who claims to have a solution for some major problem that could fit on a bumper sticker, they’re invariably oversimplifying the problem.

  3. 1 SG Gibson. I found your blog through milblogging.com. I deeply appreciate milblogs from soldiers downrange. We civilians need your perspectives. I know there are some restrains on what you can write, but what you do share is invaluable.
    uaI appreciate your post on In the Middle. First, take heart that hear in Idaho, were guns are used a lot for hunting and feeding families, there are people, gun owners who are not all or nothing thinkers. My dad is one and he sees no need for civilians to have assault weapons.

    Second, you do a great service is show that the issues of ending gun violence is complex and both sides have some valid arguments and really, there are more than two sides to this issue. I am an Episcopal priest and our tradition glories in the Via Media – The Middle Way. So your blog post caught my eye and peaked my interest.

    Be safe. God’s blessing be upon you and your fellow soildiers.

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