A “Normal” day

19 April 2013

I often get asked “What does a First Sergeant do?” Well, since nothing other than packing and turning in of equipment around here, I will break down my typical day (back in Washington and here in Afghanistan). For starters, the Garrison life in Washington is my world. I am involved in 98% of all operations that happen in the Troop, but during a deployment it is almost opposite. I have frequent phone calls from fellow First Sergeants complaining about the same thing: we are not busy enough. I combat the down time with writing this blog and looking for things to take charge of.

In Washington:
0400hr – Wakeup
0405-0420hr – Personal Hygiene / get dressed
0421 – Let dog outside
0425 – Sit down to drink coffee. As soon as my ass cheeks hit the couch, dog scratches door to be let back in.
0425-0435hr – Catch up on ESPN and drink a cup of coffee.
0435-0450hr – Drive to work
0455hr – Enter office, place bag into locker, unlock computer and wince at the amount of emails I have waiting for me.
0500-0530hr – Sign “Sick-Call” slips for Soldiers that need to see the medics. I have found that making the hours this early in the morning has cut down on the amount of Soldiers that want to see the medics –vs- conduct physical training (PT). During this time I am also sifting through all the emails, developing a plan of action to complete the tasks that were given via email, and dogging the Soldiers that think they are sick or have a need to get out of PT.
0530-0555hr – Pull medical readiness report, read Daily Tasking Order and place key dates on shared calendar.
0600-0620hr – Platoon Sergeant meeting to discuss the day’s activities and had out details
0630 – Accountability formation.
0635-0730 – Conduct PT – To be honest, I don’t conduct PT every day because I like it; I do it because I have to. Very few people enjoy the morning PT sessions, but in our profession, it is essential our Soldiers are in good physical shape. I will usually knock out some exercises for one specific body group and then go for a run. I remain around our Squadron footprint and will drop in on some of my platoons conducting PT (just to let them know that 1SG is looking).
0730-0800 – Personal Hygiene and change into duty uniform
0800-1730 – As you may have noticed, I start my day pretty early, and it is for a reason. With 9 sections and roughly 170 Soldiers, I am always doing something throughout the day. Processing awards, evaluation reports, observing training, correcting evaluation reports, correcting awards, developing Soldiers and leaders, and meetings are just some of the tasks that I conduct on a daily basis. And the meetings… All throughout my career, every leader I have had has taken me aside and molded me to take their position. Each has told me what to expect when I reach that level, except for one small detail: the amount of meetings that I will have to sit through.
1740hr (and not a minute later) – I am out of the office. If I leave any later than 1740hr I will not make it out the exit I want (only open until 1800hr) and I will be forced to sit in stop-and-go traffic that will turn my 15 minute drive into a 35 minute drive. I’m not the last person to leave the office, but I am the first one in. I have learned that if I get up early, before my girls are awake, I can get to the office and accomplish all that I would have done if I had stayed late. I peel out of work at a decent time in order to spend time with my girls. Too many times in my career I have left for work before my daughters were awake and gotten home well after they have fallen asleep; missing quality time with them. The timeline that I work now allows me to be home and eat dinner as a family.

Deployed:

Around 0700hr – I wake up, get dressed, and head into the office by 0730hr. My toothbrush and razor are at my desk so I fire up the computer and read the news from back home. I have a pattern: CNN.com (get the left wing nut job view), Fox News (for the right wing nut job view), then Drudgereport (for the center-line nut job view). When I have received my tolerance of BS (which is has become shorter and shorter each day), I will sometimes check Forestgrovenewstimes.com to see what’s happening back in my hometown and KIRO news for the Lacey news.

After I have shaved and brushed my grill, I fire up Facebook to chat with my wife. By this time my daughters are in bed but Katrin is still awake. I chat with her while going over emails that I received the night prior. I don’t have nearly the amount that I would in Washington due to the hours that I keep here. My job is not much different than it is in Washington; I really do the same thing here except I spend more time in my office. Oh yeah, and more meetings:

Monday – Logistical Synchronization (LOG SYNC) Meeting
Tuesday – LOG SYNC
Wednesday – LOG SYNC, FOB Force Protection Working Group, Mayor Cell Meeting
Thursday – LOG SYNC
Friday (today) – Maintenance Meeting / LOG Sync, Operations Order Brief, Awards Ceremony, Commanders Update Brief, Leaders Professional Development brief by the Command Sergeant Major
Saturday – None
Sunday – None

Every hour or so I will get my ass up from behind my desk and make my rounds. I wander through the different offices and shops to check on operations and the overall well being of my Troopers. This cycle goes until lunch when my Commander, XO, and I head over to the chow-hall. We grab “to-go” plates and head back to the office to watch a movie (Argo is in the cue right now) and to shoot the shit. Once all of us are done eating, the movie is shut off and we are back to work. By now, I have pretty much caught up on all my work and begin to look for different things to keep my mind occupied. Lately it has been pretty easy as we are packing out to go home but in the first part of the deployment it was a little different…

0730 – Office
0735 – Start first cup of coffee and pull up CNN… I read about how awesome the President is, all the programs that government is helping provide, and how retarded Romney is.
0745 – Flip to Fox News and read about how the Government and the President are going to take our guns away and how that will trigger a civil war. Read about how the democrats are spending this country into the ground. I look at Bill O’Reily’s picture and think about “Tides, you can’t explain that” and laugh.
0755- Over to Drudge Report to try and even out the media madness. I used to think Drudge was Center-Right, but as the days go on I believe it is more Fanatical-Right. I end up getting tired of the news as they have nothing good to report anymore. It is all “Shock” news and tailored to pull the Right wingers further Right, and the Left wingers further Left.
0800 – Fire up Facebook and chat with my wife.
0845 – Make my first rounds of the day.
0846 – Correct my first Officer that is standing around with their hands in their pockets
0847 – Correct a Soldier for being out of uniform
0900 – Return to my office and resume chatting with my wife as I correct an Award or Evaluation Report
1000 – Make another round
1001 – Correct the same officer for having their hands in their pockets.
1015 – Back to my desk
1015-1130 – Play Station 3 it DOWN!
1130-1230 – Lunch
1230-1300 – Make my afternoon rounds, talk with Soldiers, drop off all awards and evaluation reports to the Command Sergeant Major
1300 – Correct another officer for being out of uniform
1300-1400 I will usually duck out of the office to conduct some PT at the gym or go for a long walk. My knees are too bad (from jumping off the top of the Tank) to run anymore.
1400-1730 – Desperately find something to do. This is the time that I feared most when I was a young Soldier. Nothing is more dangerous than a leader with nothing to do. These are the times that the “Good Idea” Fairy rears her ugly head.
1730-1830 – Dinner again with the Commander and Executive Officer and we continue the movie from lunch.
1900-1930 – SKYPE TIME WITH MY GIRLS! This is the best part of the day. I get to talk to Tabea after she eats breakfast and heads out to the school bus.
1930-2300 – Continue to chat on Facebook with Katrin as I work on some more awards, evaluation reports, and prepare for going home. Most of my time lately has been signing thousands of documents for our troops to be allowed to go home. Earlier I had written that I was looking for things to take charge of; one of those is completing all the documentation that is needed. I figure since the troops are busy conducting missions, I can spend my evenings doing all the paperwork for them. I have the information in databases, so why not?
2300- I finally call it a night and head back to the tent. I take a shower, jump in bed, and play a few games on the PS3 (NCAA Football or Road to the Show 2012) or read a book. I fall asleep around midnight and wake up the next morning to start it all over again.

I know, it’s not that glamorous. Not nearly as glamorous as what I did last deployment, but I keep myself busy and my Troopers focused.

3 thoughts on “A “Normal” day

  1. Sir, you are an amazing man, very dedicated to family, work, country. With all the sorry news about sexual abuse in the military, it is good to know there are good hearted, hard working people in our military, like you and my dear brother, Sargent Patrick Graham, OR Tec at Madigan Army Medical Center, Ft. Lewis. God bless you, your troops and your family.

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