Day 1: Monday, 06 FEB
0245 Wake up at WTC (Warrior Training Center) compound. Convoyed over to 4th RTB. Shuffled around a bunch into 3 companies; I ended up in Alpha Co. Stuart got stuck in B Co so no dice on being Ranger Buddies the whole way through. We got to keep our winter PT uniform on and were issued a 2-quart and then got our briefing for the APFT. I was scared out of my mind, but the RI only took away 5 from my pushups. Maybe it's because I was doing them slowly and deliberately. Stuart was NO-GO'd on pushups and sent to the end to retry. He didn't make it. His two options now are to stay in the Gulag or quit. Sucks, but that's how it goes, I guess. It's sad, but I'm better off forgetting about him for the next 2 months. Did 59 situps, ran 13:17, did my 6 pullups and just like that my first and last Ranger APFT was over. Great feeling. Sat around for a little bit and then changed into BDUs for the CWST. Passed it just fine. Had some briefings from top brass. RTB CSM is a badass, the CO is too. Medic showed us pics of injuries from all phases. Layout after chow. Minor minus for missing a pair of glasses. Rained on us and everything got pretty wet. They let me keep the Fox River socks and resoled jungle boots, but can't wear the boots until Florida. They actually gave us free time for about 2 hours to square away the barracks and wall lockers. Amazing. Lots of ring knockers in our class. 2 meals today. Up at 0245 and lights out at 2300.
Day 2: Tuesday, 07 FEB
Wake up 0430. Way too early for the stuff we needed to do. After shaving and such we literally sat around for half an hour. Out on the rocks at 0515 and screwed around stretching for another 30 minutes. 5 mile run. Called cadence and got a major plus to offset the minor minus. Our 1SG took the idiotic initiative to form us up and march to the chow hall. We did the creed, our pullups, and got 10 people seated before an RI saw us and of course lost his mind because we weren't supposed to get hot chow and we did it without an RI. Got smoked for that one. Had 5.5 minutes to eat an MRE and then got smoked again because the CoC had no control. Well, yeah. They're all retards. Nobody listens to them, but whatever. They got fired and the new 1SG is CPT Art Patek. I'm still BTL in 2/2. Had a class on "terrain association" and then a test on it, but were never given a map to associate with the terrain. Jordan Bradford and I met up in the woods and BS'd a good half hour away. Got smoked like crazy later because everyone was back on time but one. Brendan Wentz got lost beyond hope. People not paying attention to detail made us carry 7 casualties the 2 miles back to Camp Rogers. Killed off 4 more along the way. Got back, had 10 minutes to put gear away, grab MRE, eat, and have trash disposed. Class on time management and basic stuff about OPORDs and WARNOs. All 280 something of us left crammed into a classroom and then they turned the heat up. People were falling asleep left and right. They let us take our tops off but 2 jackasses in the back left theirs on and so we all had to put them on. Dinner was another "eat and go" fiasco. Combatives after that and then FOOM boards until 2230. Lights out at 2300.
Day 3: Wednesday, 08 February
0100 Wake up. Formed up by 0140 and then got briefing for land nav course. Scarfed down MRE in 8 minutes around 0230 and then marched to land nav site. Had to wait until 0430 to start. Extreme cold. 66 guys all standing huddled front to back and side to side just to keep from shivering. Erika's Christmas present did well once again but I only got 5/6 points. I swear to God that last one wasn't out there. I looked for an hour and twenty minutes and no dice. Froze my butt off the whole time because we were only allowed BDUs, PC, and black gloves. Legs are constantly stiff and sore no matter what I do and RAP week isn't even half over. Marched back and got an incredible 30 minutes to eat and take care of stuff. I did laundry and still had time to actually taste my food. Had another MRE, of course. CIF issue and then combatives 3 and 4 that night. Tie-downs until 0300. People are turning into zombies. Lights out at 0310.
Day 4: Thursday, 09 February
0445 wake up. 1.5 hours "warmup PT". 2.5 mile buddy run. My Ranger Buddy Anthony Martinez and I came in first out of the whole company, but got nothing for it. 2 Scouts leading the way. Malvesti OC. Holy Jeebus. Cold. Smoke pit. Cargo net climb. Giants ladder. Mud/ice pit. Horizontal bars. Mud/ice pit. Worm pit. Mud pit. Pullups. Lost 3 guys including Tim Brooks and Jordan Earley to cold weather injuries. They're home now, but as COL Alexander said, "Make 'em cart you out." Got hosed off and were given like 5 minutes to change and eat an MRE. Didn't make it, so no food. Rucked to Water Confidence Test. Were allowed to eat, but got smoked for leaving rucks looking like a gypsy camp. "SGT, roster number 202 has successfully completed the log walk, rope drop, and suspended traverse obstacle of the WCT, SGT." Lost my grip on the rope trying to change hands. Almost got minor minus, but I guess they forgot. Rucked back. Hot chow. Saw Curt Daniels and Jason Meloy in DFAC. They'll join us tomorrow as Darby Inserts. Knife fighting combatives and more tie-downs until 0100. Lights out at 0115. First shower since I started.
Day 5: Friday, 10 February
0500 wake up. Supposed to have 0520 formation, but were given bad info and didn't have things ready so we weren't allowed breakfast. Apparently we weren't working as a team or moving fast enough and so began the 7 hours of pain. Before the pugil stick fights the RI smoked us every which way but loose. Anytime he had a chance throughout the morning we were pushing, kicking, climbing, etc. and combined with the cold... not fun. Pugil sticks went well. I got teamed up with a friggin 6'4" 220 lb SF E-7 and it ended in a tie so that's cool. We won the "King of the Pit" competition, but even with that our company got the crap smoked out of us later because people just couldn't figure out that they had to move their ass and do everything as quickly as possible and stop feeling sorry for themselves. The RI didn't let up until we started doing stuff in perfect synchronization and it was pretty brutal. When we got back we had 10 minutes to change and eat and of course we didn't make the time. After he finally gave us five solid minutes we finally ate our first food of the day. We loaded up with our new Darby Inserts and headed over to ABN school for Basic Airborne Refresher before our proposed jump tomorrow. Weather reports aren't looking good. 34' tower, Fuselage mock up, and suspended harness. Eat and go dinner in the RTB messhall. I seriously considered trying to snag a dessert on my way out the door, but decided against it. Good choice. On the rocks for 3+ hours doing tie-downs on LCE and ruck, but nobody messed with us and with the incoming cloud cover it was almost warm outside. Finally got everything OK'd by the RI and then the miracle of all miracles... He let us eat the MRE we were denied earlier for breakfast. We had to eat outside, but we could take all night if we wanted and Cheese Tortellini has never tasted so good. Took a long hot shower and scrubbed down for real for the first time all week and after cleaning my boots got to bed at 0030.
Day 6: Saturday, 11 February
Wake up at 0500. Strange how I didn't really feel all that tired even though we've averaged 3-4 hours of sleep each night this week. Colder, but not too bad and raining so no jump for us today. People not moving fast enough so we did Ranger Games with the RI for close to an hour. After we finally got our stuff together he gave us a few semi-formal classes on movement, LDAs, react to contact, ambush, and link up. We got 15 minutes to eat and I got a "Ranger Bar" oatmeal cookie. The friggin Rangers have their own candy bar. Right on. Call for Fire class after lunch, but not before some more rucksack pushups for not keeping weapons off the ground when rucking up. It's so frustrating because all it takes is the smallest amount of teamwork and we'd be straight, but some people in 1st PLT are IDIOTS and get us smoked all the time. Art Patek is now in my squad and I'm happy as hell he's not over in that PLT anymore. My Ranger Buddy Martinez is gone. He failed the land nav retest and is on his way back to Hawaii to his sniper scout team. That's 2 RB's I've lost so far. My new one is Jeremy Murphy, a 32 year old single NCO from the 82nd ABN. He got recycled in Darby for patrols and now gets to do it again. One of his buddies, a guy named John Dill, is a FOUR TIME Darby insert. Screw that, but you'd think he'd get it after a while. I'm happy as hell we didn't jump today. The fewer opportunities to get hurt, the better. Less than 2 weeks till I get to see Erika. Did our "Ranger Stakes" testing just before dinner and earned another major plus for getting 100% first time go's on AN/PRC-1L9, M240B, and M249. Now my count is 1 2/3 +. Some kids are really hurting on minuses. The RI played more "Ranger Games" with us tonight because someone said something stupid to him, 5 others left their weapon during testing, and 8 unsecured wall lockers. He got PISSED. Finally let us eat and go to bed after a PB class. Lights out was at 2400.
Day 7: Sunday, 12 February
Last day at Rogers. 0500 wake up. Formed up with rucks and marched to demolitions site after eating MRE in 10 minutes. Demo site wasn't bad. We got to blow up a cardboard box full of sand and det cord. The RIs played some games with us teaching us how to quietly get in and out of short halt and long halt posture. It was ridiculously cold. Again. Oh well. Just another story to tell someday. Our favorite RI went home after the demo site and it was pretty sweet to not do a single pushup all day. We got back and had to clear out our wall lockers and repack our rucks for the 16 miler tomorrow in 30 minutes. We all made it in time. Drew real weapons from the Arms Room and finally broke down and went "dumpster diving" for unopened MREs, covertly of course, with Art Patek and Chuck Labuda. We're always hungry and took advantage of a great situation. Finally were allowed to eat "lunch" around 4:30, MRE, and then 45 minutes later went to the mess hall for dinner. Retarded. I was the 5th stanza reciter and nailed it. That's my favorite of the 6. "Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country." Good stuff. Finished tie-downs for the new weapons after dinner and then got a class on Area Recon. I don't want to sound arrogant, but I've got supreme confidence in my chances of getting a GO in this phase. I've heard A Co is awesome in Dahlonega and Florida so all I've got to do is survive this one. Our squad, 2nd squad, is pretty tight and except for 2 guys, I'd go to war with any of them. It's mostly butter bars and captains but we have some really high-speed enlisted guys as well. 82nd, 75th, etc. Great guys with interesting backgrounds. Stood around on the rocks for a few hours and then racked out at 2330.
Day 8: Monday, 13 February
Wake up at 0400. Formation at 0430 with rucks, MRE until 0450 and then stood around freezing until 0530 when someone let us pack into one half of one bay in the barracks to stay warm. Formed back up at 0630 and stepped off at 0700 for our road march. We had an 18 minute mile pace and stopped at the 4,8, and 12 mile marks to change socks, top off water, add Vaseline to any chafing, etc. Only one kid, that I know of, fell out and when I say that I mean he blacked out and FELL DOWN. It sucks because we were on mile 13 and now that he's a heat casualty he's going home. We were so close to finishing RAP week, but not for him. We finished a while later and the docs checked our feet out. I had one tiny little blister on the ball of my left foot, but was straight otherwise. Some guys can barely hobble around. Hope they're ok for the Darby Queen tomorrow. I've heard mixed things about it's difficulty. We played more "Ranger Games" around "lunch time." We did a walk through of an Area Recon after tying down our newly issued SQD equipment and then had our first sensitive item layout. Our squad leader, at the time of issue, didn't keep track of things well when he handed them out to the squad and lost a SAW ammo bag. More yelling and screaming. Stood around the burning barrels trying not to get frostbite until about 2245 when they let us eat our other MRE. It was the first food we'd had since 0445. 18 hours with no food, but that's how it's going to be for the next 10 days. Crawled into my sleeping bag with everyone else and racked out by 2330. Almost forgot. That SF E-7 Gigantor LOM'd tonight. WTF???
Day 9: Tuesday, 14 February
0430 wake up. Happy Valentine's Day, Erika. Actually stayed nice and toasty last night. Got up and were told to eat an MRE. MMMmmm... Veggie Burger. Yeah, right. Everyone is a LOT happier this morning than yesterday and the RI's have left us alone so far. Yesterday was pretty much horrible. Had a briefing about the Darby Queen and now we're back out in our formation area trying to stay warm. Stood and jogged in place for 2 hours waiting to run The Darby Queen. My Ranger Buddy James Weckworth and I were the last 2 to start, but it was just the way we had been lined up. I made it just fine, but James had a little trouble on some events. My real Ranger Buddy, Jeremy Murphy, was on a detail and didn't have to run the obstacle course because he's a Darby Insert. Had a long class on Area Recon after a while and then spent the rest of the day until dusk doing practical exercises where we'd just rehearse an ambush or recon from start to finish over and over again. The sunset was beautiful tonight but, like always, the temp dropped as soon as the sun went down. We had a layout of equipment around 2000 and were then allowed to eat our 2nd MRE of the day. Mail call for the first time tonight. I got 3 from Erika and one from my dad. Great stuff, of course, and my squadmates loved the weather forecasts she included. Gotta hang on to that girl. I wish I'd had a chance to get her something for Valentine's Day, but I know she understands. We got released to our new "homes" for the next few days, the outdoor planning bays where we plan out our mission for the day when we start doing graded patrols. I put my Eagle Scout skills to use and got to fire in the burn/warming barrel going. I don't think I'll have anything to worry about come peer eval time as I do stuff like that for the squad all the time. Helping with knots on tie-downs, explaining the steps taught in a class from what I learned in Pre-Ranger, whatever. I just believe you have to be a "good dude" to make it through this course. "Rangers, you've made it. RAP week is over and now it's time to focus on your patrols in the future. Don't quit." Thank you, Sergeant. Anyway, all in all today was 1000% better than yesterday and it's time for bed. I wish I could see my girl... Lights out at 2400.
Day 10: Wednesday, 15 February
0430 wake up. Formation NLT 0515 and we had 10 minutes to eat. I'm getting pretty good at consuming an entire MRE in 6-8 minutes. The trick is to not use the spoon. Unless it's a solid chunk of food like chicken breast or something, just cut one corner off and squeeze it out like toothpaste. It tastes the same and you're ONLY concern is not having stuff to throw away when the RIs tell us to trash whatever is left. Any dry stuff like crackers, bread, or pound cake just needs a mouthful of water to help it and it's gone. Eat EVERYTHING. Lemon-lime powder, Tabasco, coffee, sugar, jalapeno ketchup, or whatever. Just swallow it. This morning we had a class on preparing and issuing a WARNO. It's the first major step you take when conducting bay planning and is basically just a ton of writing. Nothing too terrible. Paul Lushenko hooked me up with an "illegal" packet of coffee complete with creamer and sugar that I got for a stick of gum. I almost fell over like 6 times in that briefing on WARNOs because I was so tired. I don't even want to think about the last few days of Darby, but it'll be over soon enough and then we'll be literally freezing to death in mountain phase. We had a few more classes in the afternoon, the most important of which was the OPORD class. After that we practiced bay planning for quite awhile. The whole time we were trying to figure out how to break into the shed we had just loaded up with 3 pallets of MREs. Did more bay planning with the RIs until about 2000. After that we moved to the Company CP for a layout of special equipment, were the first ones done, and then ate an MRE after we grabbed our sleeping bags from "the chicken coop." We sat around for like 4.5 hours and about halfway through that time a few of us decided to take a shower. Took our sweet time and still sat around for an hour after we got back. Stood around until 0045 when we got a "stern talking to" about how some people had copped attitudes when they didn't pass events on The Darby Queen. Whatever. Finally released to our squad bays at 0120 and lights out by 0130.
Day 11: Thursday, 16 February
0500 wake up. No RIs around which was kind of nice. Ate chow, redid the entire packing list layout and then got our first mission. Did bay planning all morning and then loaded up on trucks to our start point. Walked a pretty good ways, like 4 km, over decent terrain until we got to our ambush site. Did the ambush, did it again for practice since these first two days of patrols are not graded, and then started on what was supposed to be a 2 click movement. 4 hours later, after having walked 8 kilometers, we finally pulled into the patrol base area. The RI for our squad was leading us to the PB and took a wrong turn on the "admin" movement. We wanted to kill him. Finally bedded down after eating around 0030.
Day 12: Friday, 17 February
We were supposed to wake up at 0430 to get our layout ready for the incoming RI. What we woke up to at 0505 was something different entirely. "POP! POP! POP! POP! POP! Wake up, Ranger!!!" One of the RIs had found his way into the perimeter and discovered the 2 guys at one particular position were asleep so he wanted to prove a point and use their rifles against them. Well, the blanks being fired woke up the rest of the PB and it somehow worked out that no one got in trouble even though the entire squad was racked OUT. I was made the Bravo Team Leader for the first half of the mission and everyone liked the way I did things. The chain of command for the 2nd half of the mission got themselves compromised during the recon of the objective. Retards. You can't sneak up on somebody or something in the woods without low-crawling. On top of that, in the hasty exfil back to the release point, we lost a set of binos. No problem, we found them later and discovered it was because they had broken in half and came off the dummy cord. Walked to our pick up point and while we were waiting the RI showed us some high-speed hand to hand combatives stuff. Take downs, submissions, wrist, arm, and ankle bars, etc. Got a ride back to Darby on a 5-ton, ate an MRE, took a shower, and racked out around midnight. I'm driving myself crazy thinking about Erika and seeing her next FRIDAY. Graded patrols start tomorrow. The weather is supposed to suck all week, but where else but Ranger School would it be any other way?
Day 13: Saturday, 18 February
0430 wake up. Dill was assigned SL for the first graded patrol and we all got to work with bay planning. It takes forever because you have to hand-write all the specific instructions that normally go in an OPORD. We were "lucky" enough to have a certain dude assigned as the RI for the day. Everyone got NO-GOs and they have to retest this week. The sleep deprivation is really starting to have an effect on me. Lights out around 0130 or 0200. Holy crap I'm tired... Cold and wet. Mandatory shower.
Day 14: Sunday, 19 February
0415 wake up. Day 2 of graded patrols. They made me the RTO so that's pretty sweet carrying the 75+ pound ruck and the coolest part is that if you're farther than a few hundred meters apart you get ZERO commo. B TL that afternoon. Prior CoC got us lost and took forever doing it. RIs hooked us up with an admin move to the ORP. Me and Adam Deerdorff kicked ass until I forgot to have my team reload their mags before assaulting through the objective of the ambush. Lost "The Bet" with the RI. During the accountability check after the ambush he bet me, as the B TL, that at least one person in my team had an empty mag when they should have switched it before assaulting through. Like an idiot I took the bet and you know whose rifle was dry? Mine. Oh, and the bolt was locked to the rear too. Idiot. Still 90% sure I got a GO. Stood around on the rocks till 0130. Finally ate at 0200 and asleep by 0230.
Day 15: Monday, 20 February
Wake up 0400. Everyone bitching at everyone else, especially xxxxxxxx. His retry is today. Bay planning was interesting because everyone is exhausted and hungry all the time and they take it out on everyone. Phil Patti, a good dude, was SL and the SQD pretty much screwed him because we didn't have everything finished that he had directed earlier. That meant that when the RI showed up to evaluate his WARNO it made him look bad. This school grades the individual "leader" on the performance of the group. If you understand group dynamics you have nothing to worry about, but a lot of people don't. They're the ones that think "leadership" is nothing more than screaming at people. The ones on the receiving end always get theirs, though. They'll "forget" to tie a piece of equipment down or to clean their weapon and the one who gets gigged for it is that jackass in charge who yells all the time. I think it's a great way to weed out the "Spotlight Rangers." Not that Phil is like that, people were just being slow. It's all good, he'll be fine on his retest because Phil is the most squared away National Guard dude I have EVER met. Ever. Finished the patrol, got back, stood around the burn barrel for like 6 hours, and finally got released to go to sleep at like 0100. Got to the bays, had "dinner" and went to sleep. Good thing I wake up in 3 hours to go play Ranger all over again...
Day 16: Tuesday, 21 February
0400 wake up for me and Matt Noreus. He asked me to be his RTO because apparently I know what I'm doing. Well, maybe. That means we have to be at the Company CP by 0445 to receive the Company OPORD. We go back, get the squad going on the bay planning for it, and around 1 that afternoon we roll out. That radio kicked my butt, and I hated it, but it's not that bad and hopefully it'll make me that much stronger for mountain phase. Or I'll be that much more broken down. I was given the absolute easiest job in the world that afternoon to be evaluated in: Alpha Team Leader for a squad ambush. I literally did nothing but low crawl up to a hidden security position on the ambush line and lay there until "actions on the objective" were complete. Almost got a NO-GO when one of the OPFOR came running down the road and got by me. I thought he was an RI so I didn't shoot, but I should have. Almost messed up the easiest position at Camp Darby, but once again those massive flocks of guardian angels took care of me. Patrol base tonight. The RI was impressed with our performance on the mission today so he left us alone all night. After we got the PB set up he even let us have a "tactical fire" to keep warm so once again I took care of it. My squadmates have given me the title of "Master Fire Builder" because I can get one going in any conditions and it's the only way to stay warm here sometimes. It shocked the hell out of them the night I started one in a heavy downpour. Everybody just stood there staring at me. "Holy crap, dude. You're amazing. How in the f*@# did you do that? Thanks!" What can I say? I wouldn't trade my years as a Boy Scout for anything on this planet. Later that night the RI called out the roster numbers of the next day's CoC and other assigned positions including RTO and MG. I found out I was going to be the RTO again, ALL FRIGGIN DAY. Totally uncool because it's by far the heaviest load of anyone in the SQD and I've carried it more than anyone. I didn't find out till later that I would have it all day which kind of scared me at first because if "they" designate an RTO in the morning that means that individual is the squad leader that afternoon. Ok, cool. I could do that . But, wait. A third graded patrol would mean I got NO-GOs on the first two which would mean I was in serious danger of recycling. Oh well. Finally went to bed around 0130 after eating around the fire. Not a bad day at all, for being in Ranger School.
Day 17: Wednesday, 22 February
0415 wake up. Went to the OPORD to get our mission, me and xxxxxxxx. Today is his final chance to get a GO. I can't stand the guy for personal and professional reasons, but I'll still help the dude get his GO. The RI came into the PB perimeter for the issuance of our WARNO and told me my job for the day. He said, "Get these bastards their f@*?!ng GO. You've got yours and there's no question of your ability so square away your buddies." So that's what I did. All while carrying the 80 lb ruck I like to call the "green paperweight of pain." It'd be cool if I could actually talk to someone with it, but no. These radios are rather uncool. xxxxxxxx's patrol went well and then came xxxxxxxx, an IN CPT just trying to get his career back on track. Total spaz and a geeky guy, but a heart of gold. I did my best as the "Jiminy Cricket on his shoulder", but his mission still failed. His recon elements were compromised and his compromise plan went all to hell when the OPFOR started chasing him, but he STILL managed to eek out a GO. Incredible. Maybe not ALL the RIs are evil. Most, but not all. That radio nearly KILLED me today, but I made it. It wouldn't be so bad, but after 2 weeks of 2 meals per day and 3-4 hours (at most, not counting fireguard shifts) sleep per night your body gets just a BIT worn down. No problem. Got trucked back to Camp Darby and started turning in sensitive items. Moved our bags around a lot, stood around just waiting a lot, watched time disappear until 0200 in the morning when we went and had our "DOGEX". 5 bucks got us 2 cheap hot dogs, 2 bags of chips, a Little Debbie snack, and a Shasta Cola. Whatever, I'll take it. Twice, haha. Found out the results of our graded stuff this week, I got two for two on patrols, had an 83% peer rating, and was recommended to move forward to Mountain Phase. Everyone in our squad is moving forward, which is damn near unheard of, but 2 got "peered out" because they're constantly bringing the squad down. They'll move forward, but in a different squad. xxxxxxxx was one percentage point away from also being sent elsewhere. Alpha Two Two is on it's way to Camp Merrill in Dahlonega, Georgia.
Day 18: Thursday, 23 February
0530 wake up. Formation with all gear at 0600. Stood around for a while, had mail call, and end of phase med check. I got a ton of letters from Erika, one from my sister Llaura, and one from Braden. Awesome letters, all of them. In 24 hours I'll see Erika, too! At med check the medics determined I have poison ivy on my forearms. Seriously, who gets that garbage in the WINTER?!? This guy.
Day 19: Friday, 24 February
0430 wake up. The best breakfast we've ever had including waffles, eggs, sausage, etc. I don't mean best EVER; just the best at Camp Rogers so far. Had a final briefing from the RTBN CO, got our care packages (once again the best girlfriend EVER took care of me), and then we were released. We changed into civvies, hitched rides with whoever we could find, got to main post, and when I saw my 4Runner sitting there life became good. Technically we weren't allowed to drive because of the severe sleep deprivation we had to put up with (average of 2-3 hours for 10 days), but screw that. I went to clothing and sales on post, the shopette to get some junk food, Commando's off post to replace all the stuff I'd used up or been without, the laundromat to do an entire duffel bag's worth of laundry (all 7 sets of BDUs, polypros, towels, brown t-shirts, boot socks, etc.), Sonic for some greasy food and a Route 44 Cherry Limeade, and then to a hotel to get a nap. Erika was able to make it up from Ft. Rucker, but we only got to see each other for an hour. It was still the highlight of my month to see her. The 8 hour pass ended WAY too soon and we were back at Rogers by 1700. They said a bunch of us were late even though, according to the time hack they had given earlier in the day, we weren't, and I had forgotten to get a haircut so I got 2 major minuses just like that. Because the 2 major plusses I thought I had coming only turned out to be 1 minor plus earlier in the course, I'm now sitting at 2 major and 1 minor minuses. Thanks. That night the cadre found all kinds of garbage in the barracks some retards had brought with them from their pass. Cans of dip, candy, magazines, etc. More Ranger Games because of that. Had another full layout and shakedown and they nailed a few guys for having more than the allotted 10 packs of gum. Whatever. They finally quit screwing around and let us rack out around 2330. Great day to start off with; not so great day to finish.
Day 20: Saturday, 25 February
0430 wake up. Another much "more gooder" than average breakfast in the DFAC. Moved all our bags outside again and just as the cold rain started falling we moved to the bus. Somebody had their heads up their 4th point and miscounted how many seats were needed on each bus. Our PLT stood in the 35 degree rain for 20 minutes watching these jackasses try to figure out the situation. We finally got seated by squads split amongst 3 busses, ate our MREs for lunch, and passed out. Fast forward 4.5 hours.
Camp Merrill. God, what a beautiful place. Mountains, clean air, awesome professional cadre, and much nicer barracks. Night and day isn't enough of a comparison for Darby/Rogers and this place. More like the most brutally cold and miserable night in the Arctic Tundra in early February compared to Erika and I on vacation in Puerto Rico last year. HUGE difference. I've heard the FTX is the most physically demanding of any in Ranger School, but I'll be in my element. My squad has changed a bit because our platoon went from 3 to 4 squads and we lost 2 due to peer evals. The squad now is:
James Braudis- AR/CAV 2LT
Adam Deerdorff- IN 2LT
Will Fowler- Forward Observer, 1st Ranger Battalion
Gary Gorrell- 11B Infantryman, 82nd Airborne
Georgi Kalandadze- Georgian Army, IN PL
Chuck Labuda- 11B Infantryman, 82nd Airborne
Phil Lukens- IN 2LT
Tom Martin- AR/CAV 2LT
Matt Noreus: IN 2LT
Tom Moxley- 11B Infantryman, 2nd Ranger BN
Jeremy Murphy- 11B Infantryman, 82nd Airborne
John Reinke- IN 2LT, USMA '05
Good dudes, all of them. I'm honestly looking forward to this phase despite the cold and terrain. "Men, when you rack out in your fart sacks in the patrol base after climbing hills all day, make sure you keep your boots in the sack with you lest they fill with ice and snow in the middle of the night." Good tip.
The rest of the story...
Mountains Round 1
Mountains Round 2
Mountains Round 3