Would you like to react to this message? Create an account in a few clicks or log in to continue.

3 posters

    From a 10 Year Career


    Location : Here and There
    Registration date : 2020-08-20
    Number of posts : 26

    From a 10 Year Career Empty From a 10 Year Career

    Post by Antimedic Fri Oct 02, 2020 4:57 pm

    Some say I should have stayed in, and sometimes I might agree. I got out because I thought that was the best way to progress- I got out in 2006, and Medic (68W) Staff Sergeant (E-6) promotion scores were 798/800. I had 698/800, and ZERO civilian education to count toward the remaining 100 points. My plan had been to get out, knock out a 2 year degree and max CivEd points, get back in, and get back on a 20 year career track. Little did I know of the impending change in the promotion point system that would have given points for deployments and changed other things that would have seen me promoted to SSG just 8 months after I got out... Rolling Eyes

    When I was ready to reenlist--several attempts betewen 2008 and 2011--I was told that the Army wasn't interested in prior service Specialists (E-4) or Sergeants (E-5). So I kept going to school and ended up in the place I am now. Not too shabby, I think.

    On to the fun part.

    This is the Medical Platoon, HHC 1-508 PIR/173d ABN. We were at our August-November 2002 Grafenwoher-Hohenfels rotation, just before we were cut loose on a memorable but impossible-to-remember-because-of-the-amount-of-beer-consumed four day pass. If you're familiar with how the calendar runs in Germany, you know that Oktoberfest starts on the last full weekend of September... which aligned neatly with the pass we got between finishing ranges at Graf and going into "the Box" at Hohenfels. Litres of beer without end, for four days straight, right up until we staggered onto the train to get back to die Kaserne. Like I said, the memorable weekend that can't be remembered...

    From a 10 Year Career 000_me10

    Vehicle is a M996 Front Line Ambulance, the type that carried only 2 litters/stretchers. Other than being a forgotten backwater unit that got plenty of $$$, I don't know why we didn't have the 4 place version, other than we were spending our money on live ammo from 5.56 up through 105mm and 120mm for training instead of demanding replacements for things that were more than perfectly serviceable and adequate to our task.

    Uniform for Graf "garrison" was "Fluff and buff"- machine washed and dried BDU, supposedly generally wrinkle-free; and boots blackened, brushed to remove excess wax, and free of mud. We were going to be spending days and nights on live-fire ranges for everything the battalion had, and weren't going to be doing any parades or high-level inspections, so there was no need to have razor creased, starched uniforms and spit-shined boots. Of course, I was the guy who did fluff-and-buff pretty much all the time, and only dragged out starches-n-spits for special occasions. As you can see, several of us had been in the motor hole or other muddy places just prior to the photo, so the "buff" part of it was gone already for some footwear.

    No beret, Battalion and Brigade command considered this a field environment, so it was PCs all the way. And there is a distinction--if unofficial--between a PC and a BDU cap. BDU caps were for legs. A BDU cap had the rank pinned or sewn to the front, and might be blocked out like a Foreign Legion kepi, if someone at a high-enough level of command demanded it or if one wanted to kiss the @rse of the uniformity nerds. Paratroopers wore PCs- rank on the front, cateyes and nametape on the back, and usually had some form of high-speed-low-drag crimp. Not a Ranger Roll, per se, as that was respectfully left to the Ranger, so we did our own highly individual thing. 173d had and probably HAS more than it's fair share of 75th RGR alums who still rolled theirs as they did in Batt, so you'll still see Ranger Rolls on a few in the pic. My PC "thing" had the sides crimped inward noticeably, which had the effect of lowering everything but the front of the crown and keeping the top flat. I could blame it on the way I folded it to jam it in my cargo pocket, but that was just a coincidence. The uniformity nerds--we had another name for them--HATED it- it wasn't a Ranger Roll and so not explicitly verboten, but it looked sharp and they didn't think of it, so they sat and fumed, unable to unleash their extensive knowledge of AR 670-1 on the unknowing/uncaring.

    Location : Here and There
    Registration date : 2020-08-20
    Number of posts : 26

    From a 10 Year Career Empty Re: From a 10 Year Career

    Post by Antimedic Thu Oct 08, 2020 7:13 pm

    Once upon a time* when I was stationed in Italy, my parents decided that they would take a family spring break vacation in Europe to visit me and foreign exchange students they'd hosted over the years.  They started planning this in summer 2000, when I first got my orders for Germany (which were soon after amended to Italy), and they wanted to do it in 2003, which they expected would be my last year there.  

    Over the next year an a half, they researched the places they wanted to visit, bought airline tickets, made car rental and hotel reservations, and were getting excited about the trip to Europe.  Knowing that I spent a lot of time in Germany, they planned to be in the Grafenwoher area while I would be there, and I arranged a four-day pass to see sights and spend time with them.  

    A year into their planning and preparing, sh!t went sideways.  Some @ssh0les murdered more than 3,000 people by airplane on a bright September morning, and we were launched into the Global War on Terror.

    On my side of things, all training immediately took on a far more urgent cast.  We all know that bare weeks after 9/11 we took the fight into Afghanistan, and not long after that we were eyeballing Iraq pretty hard.  

    I watched FLIR video of the Rangers jumping onto Bagram.  I watched newscasts filled with faces of my friends as they prepped for deployment, went on patrols and raids, fought in the Korengal, and sometimes went home in flag draped boxes.  The 173d was not chosen to go to Afghanistan until much later.  

    In the barracks in Italy, we watched AFN News about the buildup in Kuwait, hoping we'd get deployed, knowing it was unlikely.  My parents were thankful, as my dad had been involved in Op Desert Shield/Desert Storm and they didn't want me to deal with the things he has to.  They adjusted their plans almost last-minute- the buildup for Iraq had disrupted the normal training calendar, and the 173d was not going to Graf for our usual March rotation.  My mom, dad, uncle, sister, and two brothers arrived in Berlin on a cool spring evening, picked up their rental van, and drove through the night to get to Vicenza.  My squad leader cut me loose on a mid-week four-day pass.  If you've spent even a DAY in the military, you know that a "mid-week four-day" is not a thing.  Regardless, he cut me loose and I spent the next few days introducing my family to real-deal Italian food and the cities of Vicenza, Venice, and Pisa.  

    I'm not sure if it was my mom or my dad, but one of them decided that it would be a good idea for them to video me reading some children's stories for my kids (I had 3 boys at the time, all under 5, and my 4th son was born a year and a half later).  We spent the last morning of their visit doing that.  

    On Friday afternoon when my family loaded up the rented van and headed toward Denmark, I got back into BDUs and linked up with my squad.  We banged out a layout of some mission-critical item (camo nets, I think), hit a second PT session (weight room), and got dinner at the Chinese restaurant just outside the main gate.  

    The next two weeks was spent in a fury of deployment prep, though we had no orders for anything.  We went to a MWR basketball court that had a big semi-permanent canvas-like dome over it, and CIF had us take and sign for our "Desert Issue."  This was 2 DCUs, 2 pairs of desert boots, a boonie hat, an extra 2-quart canteen with tan cover and strap, and a "desert scarf"- a 3'x5' swatch of cotton that looked like it was the same material as our brown BDU t-shirts.  This kit seemed "better" than what my dad had been issued at the end of Op DS/DS, but he got his on the way home and we were hoping to be going-to.  We were also starting to get a little apprehensive- if we were to go, would we be materially prepared?  PT and weapons training was solid, but deserts are f@cking hot and dry, and we had less than half the gear we expected we would.  

    We were told that our DCU needed name tape, U.S. Army tape, rank, 173d patch, and flag, at a minimum.  I had a sewing machine and had been doing jobs for guys in my platoons for a while, so they naturally brought their DCUs to me instead of waiting for Quartermaster to f@ck them up.  I never charged for sewing.  Once in a while I'd ask some guy or other to get me a spool of thread, but the usual deal was "Buy me a six-pack when you feel guilty."  That got a little out of hand.  When 1SG came up to let me know that the powers-that-were had ordered Velcro squares be sewn to helmet covers and shirt sleeves, the stacks of beer cases were four feet tall.  

    The company--and probably entire brigade--was short of holsters for M9s, so I borrowed a coolguy rig from one of our officers and copied it, using cut-up cots and duffel bags as materials, and scrounging webbing from the riggers.  These holsters probably are nowhere close to even "good," but they did the job we needed.  I wish I still had the one I made for myself.  

    We were told to pack up and pare down- "we might deploy in a hurry."   Packing lists were handed down from on high, and made no sense whatsoever.  I'd expected to be told to pack everything, and I was, but the organization was nonsensical.  Someone wanted me to have a DCU and a BDU in my ruck, along with all kinds of other stuff that should go into the "A" or even "B" duffel bags.  There was an order to issue 6 MREs to each Soldier and for them to be packed into ruck and buttpack, but because they were issued by hand receipt, we were not allowed to break them down.  I already had more cr@p than I could carry, and I wasn't allowed to... F.  U.  I broke them down anyway.  I packed the way I thought I'd need things- and neither a DCU nor BDU made it into my ruck.  

    We watched the news, both on AFN and the local Italian stuff.  We watched the 3d Infantry Division, the 101st, the 82d, and all the others cross the berm and go into the fight.  We watched as false surrenders turned into ambushes.  We watched it all and fumed about the unfairness of it all, that we should be there doing, not here watching.  While we watched and fumed, we packed, unpacked, laid out gear, drank beer, and waited.  

    On March 23, 2003, we came down for PT formation as usual.  Things got decidedly UNusual when 1SG stepped out of the headshed.  Normally, he'd be in PT uniform and would pick a squad to follow for PT.  Not that day.  That day, he came out in DCU and beret.  It was ON.  We were going, and we were jumping in.  No more watching it happen on CNN, no more being left out.  

    Warnos and fragos flew.  Maps were issued.  Cargo pallets were built up, torn down, reconfigured, and rebuilt.  After about 18 hours of constant activity, we were shuffled off to a gigantic tent set up on one of the sports fields.  Inside were rows of cots, and we crashed out hard for a few hours.  

    On March 24th, we were up and moving again at about 4AM, piling onto tour busses for the drive to Aviano Air Base, a trip of maybe two hours.  Most of us pulled our new DCU boonies over our eyes to sleep that much longer.

    The busses pulled up to the same rampside overhead-only shelter that we used for our training jumps.  The main difference that day was the size of the operation.  We would only rarely fly a full battalion out of Aviano for a training jump, and now we were pushing the entire brigade through.  That shelter was completely occupied by main and reserve parachutes, so we trudged over to the adjacent parade field to organize our gear and people for the jump.  We broke up into chalk order and grounded our gear.  

    From a 10 Year Career 001_eq10

    Once that was arranged, we were sent off for chow.  It was a novel experience, in that the word "no" had completely disappeared from the vocabulary of the Air Force cooks.  My recollection is that it was a regular USAF spread (good quality, servings a little larger than might be USDA Approved, but just shy of spectacular).  I don't think anyone took criminal advantage of it, but no one left that building unsatisfied.  

    It was probably 9AM by the time we got everyone back from the chow hall and started getting to the business of going to war.  We went through lines to draw live ammo by the armload (if I remember correctly, I drew 420 rounds of 5.56 NATO on stripper clips, 200 rounds 5.56 NATO link for M249s, 100 rounds 7.62 NATO for the M240s, 2 Claymores, 4 smokes--1 red, 1 purple, 1 yellow, 1 HC--4 frags, 2 green pop flares, 3 rounds 60mm M888 HE, and an AT-4).  While that was sobering, it sunk in that this was for really-real when our PA, CPT Reedy, issued antibiotics and live narcs.  

    From a 10 Year Career 002_am10

    Magazines were loaded, meds were secured into aid bags, ammo and demo was packed away so as to be quickly accessible once we hit the ground, and we then rigged our equipment for the jump.  There was plenty of bullsh!tting going on, maybe a not-quite-harmless prank or two, and plenty of smack-talk, all underlaid with anxiety and a seriousness we'd never had before.  Team leaders and up quizzed us all on the various parts of the mission, and made sure that we all knew the Commander's Intent and the jobs that each of us had, to the detail.  

    Some of us were detailed to build up the heavy drop pallets.  The medical platoon had been given a slot for one HMMWV, and we were set on making the most of it.  Obviously, supplies for the Battalion Aid Station (BAS) were packed aboard, but we slipped several crates of Javelin missiles into the cargo bed before the med supplies, camo nets, and other equipment.  We handed off the loaded truck to the Riggers, and headed back to the assembly area.  

    There was a little more smokin' and jokin' before we were sent back to the chow hall.  This was to be a novel experience.  Not only was "no" still not a thing, but they had pulled out all the stops- fried chicken, surf and turf (lobster and ribeye, not the Army version that substituted frozen fried shrimp...), fresh fruits and vegetables, all in quantities that left no room for the outrageous amount of pie, cake, cookies, and ice cream that had all been made that day.  There was more than one miserable wretch at the close of that meal.  

    It was close to dark by now, so we set guards on the gear and were taken around to the far side of the air strip to a hangar where we were put up for the night.  Cots had been set up, lights were dimmed, large-screen TVs plugged in and tuned to CNN.  We tried to sleep, but most were anxious enough that we spent equal time lying on cots with closed eyes and gathered in small clusters around the TVs.  We gave up on it around dawn on the 25th and went back over to the marshalling area with our gear, and did another round of checks on everything.  

    Breakfast that day was a morning version of the night before, thick New York strip with eggs, both cooked to order; ham bacon, and sausage filling any perceived gap in proteins; fruit and fresh donuts; and milk, juice, and coffee rounding it all out.  "No" was still not a thing in that chow hall.  I have to admit that the Air Force does not fool around with chow, and that send-off meal was truly exceptional.  

    Back to the marshalling area, another round of checks and mission quizzes, and then the almost-obligatory pep talk by the Brigade Commander, COL Mayville.  I can't say that I remember much of what he said, but he did paraphrase Jim Gavin, telling us to give him "thirty days and thirty nights of hard fighting, and we will be relieved."  It didn't quite pan out that way.  

    From a 10 Year Career 003_mi10

    After the pep talk, it was time to rig up.  We picked up our gear, drew parachute and reserve as we staggered out of the marshalling area, trudged up, on, and over scales to let us know exactly how much sh!t we were carrying, across the access road, and to our assigned aircraft.  I was on Chalk 9.  I weighed 220 pounds in DCU and boots, and 483 pounds with MOLLE/ALICE medic rig, helmet, weapons, ammo/demo, water, ruck, and T10-1C and reserve.  And they took away my AT-4, as it put me too close to "max gross overload" for the parachute.

    The plan was for partial in-flight rigging, meaning we'd put on main and reserve parachute and have that jumpmaster-inspected before boarding the aircraft.  Between 1 and 2 hours from the drop zone, the jumpmaster team would come around during the flight to hang our rucks onto the parachute harness and do a final inspection.  

    The Paratrooper having his 'chute inspected was then and is now one of my closest friends.  Fifteen years after we made that jump, he stood up with me as my best man, along with one of my oldest friends (known him and he can still tolerate me after 25 years), and my four sons.  

    From a 10 Year Career 004_ri10

    This photo has been used a few different places, and I was surprised to learn that I'm kinda in it.  I'm at the left edge, and you can see just part of my face.  If you're familiar with the large ALICE pack, you can see that mine--and everyone else'-- is stuff to and beyond rated capacity.  

    From a 10 Year Career 009a_m10

    I'll borrow a page from the "Band of Brothers" miniseries, and stop here.  

    *See my intro post for this to make sense - https://iacmc.forumotion.com/t12959-surprise-realization-i-m-a-collector

    Location : Here and There
    Registration date : 2020-08-20
    Number of posts : 26

    From a 10 Year Career Empty Re: From a 10 Year Career

    Post by Antimedic Sat Oct 10, 2020 12:45 am

    From the Bag o’ Bits- a PC. Not exactly as worn in the Herd, I wasn’t a Corporal until I was in 1AD, and the Airborne tab was added when several of us went to a camp in Germany as cadre for an EFMB competition in 2002. I have 2 recipes from that trip... 1 consumable, the other... not.
    Anyway- the PC was worn this way several times while I was assigned to 1AD, if only to irritate uniform nerds.

    From a 10 Year Career 25297d10

    The aforementioned side crimp. I may have to clamp this onto my youngest son’s head to get a better photo of that aspect.

    From a 10 Year Career B784bc10

    Name tape and cateyes. I may have gone a little overboard sewing these down...

    From a 10 Year Career Ec4ca610

    milly66 likes this post


    Registration date : 2011-07-29
    Number of posts : 1489

    From a 10 Year Career Empty Re: From a 10 Year Career

    Post by jimmyduncan23 Sun Oct 11, 2020 1:44 pm

    Nice right ups

    Location : Here and There
    Registration date : 2020-08-20
    Number of posts : 26

    From a 10 Year Career Empty Re: From a 10 Year Career

    Post by Antimedic Thu Sep 09, 2021 2:43 pm

    As we approach the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, I've gotten a little introspective.  

    When it happened, my cousin (RR) and I were in the Army.  He was a Tomb Guard with the 3rd U.S. Infantry at Fort Lee, VA.  I was stationed in Italy (Vicenza, 173d ABN BDE).  

    RR was not scheduled to walk the Tomb of the Unknowns that day, so he was preparing his uniform for his next shift.  He and I have talked about our combat experiences several times in the years since we left service.  After his assignment with the Old Guard, he changed his MOS to Blackhawk crew chief and deployed to Iraq twice.  In my mind, his first exposure to combat was when everyone in his unit not performing a funeral or Guard AT THAT SECOND went to the Pentagon to begin search and rescue operations.  

    From a 10 Year Career Rr_tom10

    The Herd was on our semi-annual trip to Germany for range density and a maneuver center rotation.  Every fall, we'd spend a month (late August-late September) at Grafenwoher to do all of our weapons qualifications and live fire exercises.  We'd then spend late September through late October at Hohenfels for a brigade-level field exercise, often with other units attached so that we could do combined arms (Infantry, Armor, Artillery) training.

    We had just finished the Graf rotation, had a four-day pass (I went back to Italy to spend a few days with my then-wife and three boys), and had travelled to Hohenfels and were getting ready to go into "The Box."

    I was a Medic, and assigned to the Evacuation squad.  This meant I was teamed up with another Medic and the two of us were assigned to a M996 FLA (HMMWV ambulance, the two-litter version).  We'd be sent out to pick up wounded and bring them back to the Battalion Aid Station (BAS).
    Sometimes we would also take people from the BAS to the Combat Support Hospital (CaSH replaced MASH of big-screen and television notoriety), but by doctrine, they were supposed to come to us for those kinds of transfers.

    On 9/11, we had spent the day packing, loading, prepping, and sweating to get ready for the Box rotation.  We also had a chain of command that treated us as adults- we were free to make our own decisions on all kinds of things, and we took the consequences--good or bad--that came with our decisions.  It was fairly late in the afternoon when American Airlines Flight 11 hit 1 WTC.  Having finished our prep work, we were doing what Soldiers do in down time: playing spades, reading smut, tossing a football around the barracks, and shooting the s***.  Our platoon leader came into the room and told us "an airplane hit the World Trade Center in New York."  He was kind of a goofy, socially awkward guy, so we went back to our pastimes without much more thought than it was a hell of an accident.  Being in the type of barracks we were, we didn't have a TV for anything other than a VCR/DVD player; we could never get the antenna right to get reception of even local television broadcasts.  

    The platoon leader came back in a little less than half an hour later and told us the same thing, "an airplane hit the World Trade Center in New York."

    The response was along the lines of, "Yeah, you told us that half an hour ago LT..."

    And he came back with, "No, they hit the other one."

    My squad leader asked, "You mean two different airplanes hit two different buildings within thirty minutes?"

    The PL said, "Yeah.  It's not an accident, either."

    We then dropped cards/dirty magazines/football and went out to the common room, where our Physician Assistant, a Captain, was checking out the events on the BBC website.  As more information came available, he told us, "Take this rotation seriously.  It's our last one before we go to Afghanistan.  Don't waste medical supplies, just tell the observers what you'd do for whatever notional injury they give you.  We're gonna need everything for when we jump on Kabul Airport."

    The Captain was of the type who kept his ear to the ground on matters of open-source military intelligence.  He deduced that the attacks had come from Afghanistan before any kind of official word was put out.  The Captain was also somewhat prescient.  We eventually got a combat jump.  We did not jump on Kabul, the Rangers did.  We jumped into Northern Iraq before the Herd went to Afghanistan.

    This is one of the BDUs I was using on around 9/11/01.

    From a 10 Year Career Img_3212

    From a 10 Year Career Img_3213

    From a 10 Year Career Img_3211

    From a 10 Year Career Img_3316

    From a 10 Year Career Italy_10

    As often happens, the combat platoons (Scouts and Mortars) of an Infantry Headquarters company do not have a MTOE Medic slot, but usually need one.  Because I'd been 11C1P in a previous life, I was often sent out with the Mortar platoon.  This is at the end of a live fire exercise in late 2002.  I'm on the far left.

    Intense and life-changing events like 9/11 shape our perspective for a long time to follow.  For years, I would get angry about a perceived lack of respect when 9/11 seemed to be fading from our collective memory.  I was outraged by the fact that people could function on that anniversary, when that event had tipped the first domino in a sequence of events that scarred me and RR beyond what we would have believed, beyond what many have told us would cripple them.

    RR lost a younger brother, KR, in 1983, when RR and I were five, and KR was two.  Several years later, after a few years of HARDHARDHARD anniversaries of that death, RR's parents would take him and his older brother out of school, and they would have a family day.  Not a day to wail, gnash teeth, and rend garments; they had already done that.  I use that Biblical reference not to mock, but to convey the depth of pain.  Wailing, gnashing of teeth, and rending of garments was, for a long time, how people could convey the crippling grief they felt, without having to consider words, without facing unnecessary judgment.  After those years in abject mourning, RR and his family felt that they needed to do something uplifting and joyous in remembrance of KR.  Camping was not out of the question, or a day on the lake or at an amusement park.  They did things they thought KR would have enjoyed with them.  

    RR and I have applied this same approach to 9/11.  It was a cruel day, and shaped us for whatever days we have left.  We have both spent several anniversaries wailing, gnashing teeth, and rending garments.  In about 2015, both of us were in need of uplifting and joy.  We ended up calling each other at the same moment on the evening of 9/11/15- he his "send" before I did, so his call came through while I was pulling his number up in my directory.  We talked late into the night, remembering, crying some, and getting stronger.  It was then that he told me about the family's remembrance days for KR, and we jointly decided to do the same for 9/11.

    This year, when I get up, I'm going to have coffee and Bailey's, and think for a few minutes on the immense impact on me, our family, our nation, and our world.  Then I'm going to cut the grass, help my wife get her classroom rearranged, and have a couple beers at a campfire in the evening while watching some mindless movie projected onto the side of my house, and invite any neighbor who happens by to join us.  

    I'm going to REMEMBER 2,977 who were murdered that day; I'm going to REMEMBER the thousands who lost their lives in combat and in the aftermath of combat.  

    In their honor, I'm going to DO THE THINGS THEY MIGHT HAVE WANTED TO DO on a beautiful September day.

    ripcord and milly66 like this post

    Sergeant Major
    Sergeant Major

    Location : California
    Registration date : 2011-12-12
    Number of posts : 401

    From a 10 Year Career Empty Re: From a 10 Year Career

    Post by Camonut314 Thu Sep 09, 2021 10:01 pm

    Thank you for this.

    Sponsored content

    From a 10 Year Career Empty Re: From a 10 Year Career

    Post by Sponsored content

      Current date/time is Tue Jul 23, 2024 11:19 am