Day 54: Friday, 31 March (Mountains Day 6)

0400 wake up.  After the whole breakfast thing we moved up to the C Co planning bays for our first class with the techniques cadre.  The Charlie bays have ridiculous amounts of Army-related graffiti inside them from all the Ranger classes that have gone through before us.  It's mostly "Batt boys" that have their names and units up there, but a ton of West Pointers as well as USMC, SEAL, and 82nd guys have left their mark as well.  A lot of history in those bays.  Around 1000 an RI walked up and collected all of us that had signed our SOR paperwork last night and told us it was time to meet with the commander.  We got chewed out and called all kinds of horrible things and were told we have no integrity and that we weren't fit to lead men in combat and that lasted for maybe 20 minutes before he threw us out so he could go talk to the BN CDR.  10 minutes later we were recycles, and just like that I had tacked on another 3 weeks to my graduation date which is now May 26th.  Great.  On a slightly positive note, it could be A LOT worse.  A ton of guys are getting sent back to Day One to start Ranger School all over again for things as small as a single packet of sugar.  More than a couple guys got recommended to be dropped from the course, but we all doubt that will happen because apparently the BDE CDR doesn't believe in letting people go.  He just keeps recycling you until you either graduate or get hurt or quit.   That's one method, I guess.  So, that's that.  I get to spend two weeks in purgatory, again, and start Mountains again for a third time.  This time around I'll be sure not to be an IDIOT.

Day 55: Saturday, 01 April

Ahh... the recycle barracks.  Not a bad place, but not the place I want to be.  Today we dug out a ditch, picked weeds, and filled three hundred eighty sandbags with fine Georgia clay/mud.  That was fun.  Yep.  We got done much earlier than expected so the Staff Duty NCO let us go watch TV in the club.  We saw The Art Of War and then Underworld.  Two excellent flicks.  I had some IBC root beer and 2 slices of pizza.  A lot of guys used the phones, but I don't want to ruin Erika's weekend with her mom and Kevin by telling her about my 2nd recycle and I'm not sure how to tell my Dad about how his son is a total jackass for having a packet of Gatorade.  Oh well, I'll live and definitely learn from this one...

Day 56; Sunday, 02 April

Helped raise the flag this morning.  Actually, since I'm the only one that knew what needed to happen I got put in charge.  We spot-checked the areas we cleaned yesterday and touched up a few things and then started cleaning up the recycle barracks.  Some of the guys didn't feel like helping out at all and didn't really respond well to repeated requests to help.  One dude, xxxxxxxx, took it a step further when he was standing right where I was trying to sweep.  He gave me some serious attitude when I told him to move, but he did get out of the way.  What he did not do was stop talking or start helping so I, as the RIs like to preach, properly motivated him by "putting boot to ass".  After he got up off the floor we didn't have any more problems with anyone the rest of the morning.  I don't care if you're getting sent to Day One or that you're an Infantry Captain.  What I care is that we get the job done and I'm tired of dudes whining and complaining and screwing their buddies by not pulling their own weight, "Sir".  This group seriously reminds me of The Dirty Dozen mixed with a few characters from Cool Hand Luke.  We're all here because we screwed up, we've got no rank, no privileges, and the only way to get anything accomplished, at least with these guys, is to be a bit more firm than normal.  It sucks, but this is a straight-out-of-the-book case study from PL300.  How do you get people to act when they have no motivation, no fear of repercussions, you have no rank, and they don't care if the job gets done?  Not a fun situation.  Oh, and you have to live in the same room as them for 2 weeks.  Good luck with that...

At  lunch I saw a Blackhawk crew in the mess hall and I noticed the pilot had the Ft. Rucker Flight School patch on his left shoulder.  I asked him if he knew Erika, by some small chance, and he did remember meeting her in some kind of Medevac class a few weeks ago.  He told me he'd tell her hi next time their paths crossed, if ever.  After lunch we shoveled gravel out of the areas near the road that weren't supposed to have any gravel in them, moved the sandbags around to line the road, and shoveled some more gravel.  Basically we busted our asses all day.  The Staff Duty NCO for the day let us use the club again last night so we all went down and chilled out for awhile.  I left early to break the bad news to Erika on the phone and after like an hour-and-a-half phone call, which was awesome to just talk to her, I had to get going.  I called 1800Flowers and sent some tulips her way for everything she's done.  She'll say it's nothing, but that girl has really been taking care of me while I've been here having fun in Ranger School.  Gotta hang onto her :)

Day 57: Monday, 03 April

Did some worthless PT this morning and then literally, as the catchphrase goes, "made big rocks into little rocks" the rest of the day.  I could have been finishing up my FTX in Florida today with my original squad in A-2, and I hope they all made it, but instead I'm here at wonderful Camp Frank D. Merrill having fun in the labor camp of Student Operations.  A bit angry-sounding, yes, but it just sucks.  Braden was right, again, about how my thoughts of this school would change 100% when I actually went through it.  The only thing that matters, though, is just getting it all over with and moving on.  Tonight we had mail call and I got more than a couple letters from Erika, mom, Llaura, and Jason.  Definitely an excellent way to end the day.  Oh, and to all the people who have signed my guestbook, thanks.  It means a lot to hear from all of you and I won't forget it.  You should all hope and wish and pray that someday you have a girl as perfect as mine.


Day 58: Tuesday, 04 April


Made big rocks into little rocks all morning.  Took an hour nap after lunch.  Found out they caught another dude with contraband.  This retard, even after we all got caught with random stuff, decided to sneak some Copenhagen into the field.  I'm not one to talk, but that was pretty stupid.  After dinner we had to strip the floor in BN HQ.  Amazingly, no one else knew about the easy way to do it by having one guy sit on the buffer for more pressure on the floor.  The staff duty NCO though it was hilarious seeing us take turns riding this thing while another guy steered it around the floor.  Reminded me of AIT at Ft. Sill.  "Big Brother" came in tonight and officially locked up all the books, magazines, board games, etc. so now when we're not doing work details we just sit around and argue about pointless stuff.   Some of the guys are actually pretty intelligent, but the other half never know what they're talking about.  "They" griped at us some more tonight about how we messed up by creating the whole situation and how we don't have any integrity and on and on and on...  Good Lord, let me leave this place.  11 days till we start back up.


Day 59: Wednesday, 05 April


Loaded up in GSA vans at 0500 and took a little trip down to Ft. Benning to help supplement the number of people working to set up the Best Ranger Competition.  We had to mow out some areas and bush hog some areas and then we had a little reunion of sorts.  My original class, 05-06, finished Florida phase and is now back at Benning.  Everyone from Alpha Two Two made it except for one guy, Will Fowler, who had a negligent discharge of his weapon and got recycled.  It was pretty brutal, and I mean extremely tough, seeing those guys marching off to take their class photo and then leave on pass for the afternoon, but in a way it was motivational too.  I mean, if they made it then I can too, right?  I just have to get out of the mountains and I should be ok.  It just sucks.  A lot.  I should be with those guys, but instead I'm here in DaHELLonega at Camp Merrill working my butt off all day every day for an "open house" over a month from now that nobody's going to show up for anyway.  It's ridiculously tough keeping my head up and looking to the future when I graduate because there are so many things not going for us.  That being said, the hell with it all.  I've never quit anything before and I'm not leaving here without that damn tab.  A lot of the guys are talking seriously about quitting and one guy, an Armor 1LT, is actively trying to, but the cadre won't let him.  It just sucks being around these guys 24/7, but we'll make it.  Somehow.


Day 60: Thursday, 06 April


Mowed grass all morning and afternoon.  When I wasn't mowing I was weed-eating.  Picked up rocks that had fallen out of the gravel pits around the Company HQ buildings.  Stripped the BN HQ floor again because somebody didn't like the way it looked.  How do they expect us to get years of wax and dirt off the floor with no stripping solution?  We finally figured out a way to do it that worked and got it done.  Well, kind of.  In the process of busting our rears to get the job done we started entertaining ourselves by quoting movies.  The largest E-7 I have ever met in my life, a monster of a man, didn't like it very much when I yelled out, "What is your major malfunction, numbnuts?!?" in the R. Lee Ermey voice that I can imitate pretty well.  Everyone thought it was hilarious except him.  Strike 1.  We kept laughing and giggling like little kids while we were working until he told us to "Shut the F#@! UP!!!"  Strike 2.  One other group of guys was in the S-3 building cleaning it and this same E-7 caught one of them on the internet.  Duhn Dun Dun...  Strike 3.  We didn't have much fun the rest of the night.  He added himself to the list of people that don't like us because we're such terrible, untrustworthy, lazy, cheating, worthless, and all around slaveworking recycle Rangers.  Earlier today I almost got blood on the picture of Erika and I in my hat when I accidentally head butted an A/C unit while weed-whacking.  My head still hurts a lot.  Quote of the night: "Ranger, don't push my buttons.  I'm the biggest dick on this camp and you DO NOT want to piss me off.  Do you want to be low-crawling this parking lot?!?"


Day 61: Friday, 07 April


Loaded up in a GSA van again to take a little trip to Benning.  We've got a pretty squared away and level-headed NCOIC so hopefully he gives us some time off.  After a week straight of busting our butts in the Gulag at Camp Merrill we deserve it.  Today is graduation for Class 05-06.  Man, those tabs sure looked good on those guys.  I saw my old roommate from USMA, Colin Greata, and he handed me a letter he was planning to mail once he found a post office.  We didn't get to chat long, but he gave me a few inspirational words and then left.  I'll see him again someday, I'm sure.  Built and painted some walls and tomahawk targets for the Best Ranger competition the rest of the afternoon and got phone privileges after dinner.  Erika and my Dad did a pretty swell job of getting me out of my ridiculously foul mood tonight.  I saw it myself just in the way I've been acting and my attitude lately, but this past week has been absolutely ridiculous.  Not fun, but now we're at Benning for the weekend.  I never thought in a million years I would be so happy to be back here before graduation, but for right now anything is better than Camp Merrill in DaHELLonega.


Day 62: Saturday, 08 April


Bush-hogged a few areas around the tomahawk throw event, raked out a few areas, burned out some fire ant piles, pounded some pickets and around 10:30 the sky opened up.  Lots of rain.  We found some cover and after our NCOIC came back in the van we got a ride back from Todd Field to Camp Rogers.  After lunch it was still raining so... because all our work had to be done outside and because the RI in charge of us is probably the coolest RI in the entire RTB he put us on pass with this guidance: "Don't take the GSA van off post.  Don't do anything stupid.  Have the van back by midnight.  If you make me look bad I will kill you.   Roger??"  We all assured him we were tired of being in trouble and that we'd be smart and that was it.  We changed into PTs so we didn't stand out as much and took off on our 11+ hour pass.  I called Erika and she decided to come visit and while she was enroute I got to check my email and run some quick errands.  It was definitely great to see her and after dinner at The Outback and some more time catching up on things I had to get back.  A great night was had by all.


Day 63: Sunday, 09 April


Filled sandbags, loaded up the sandbags, put old sandbags (different ones) in new casings around the combatives pit at Camp Rogers, and then unloaded the original truck full of bags, all 200 of them, at a range on Ft. Benning.  Our NCOIC was talking to us today quite a bit and while we were on the way to unload the truck full of bags at the range he told me and Josh Miller, an E-6 from the 25th ID in Hawaii, about the 3 times he competed in the Best Ranger Competition.   He came in 5th, 2nd, and 8th in '96, '97, and '98 and from what he was describing it sounds pretty ridiculously tough.  I think it'd be pretty cool to try, though.  Maybe in 2 years after I'm back from Iraq.  Maybe.


Day 64: Monday, 10 April


Ah... Camp Merrill.  Ran 2 miles for PT, got my mail after breakfast, and didn't do anything else until dinner except put up some pickets and engineer tape to keep people from walking on our freshly seeded grass.  Erika, Jason, and my Dad sent some awesome letters and cards, as always.  Today we discovered the "Recycle Creed" amongst the other graffiti in the C-1 planning bay.  I also found the names of a ton of people I knew at USMA and added my name to the USMA Recycle Ranger roster.  My boy Braden's name was also up there on the wall of the North side of the building.  Pretty cool stuff.  Yeah, the recycle creed is a rather bitter, angry, and resentful sounding thing, but we think it's funny, so there ya go.  Also, we didn't write this.  Some angry kid back in the day did.  Funny stuff.


Recycle Creed


Recognizing that I did not volunteer as a recycle, fully knowing the stupidity of my actions, I will always endeavor to uphold the shame, dishonor, and low morale of the recycles.


Acknowledging the fact that a recycle is a more elite janitor who arrives at the cutting edge of the detail by stake bed, deuce and a half, or foot I accept the fact that as a recycle my country expects me to sham harder, longer, and hide better than any other soldier.


Never shall I fail my fellow recycles.  I will always keep myself mentally unstable, physically pathetic, and impossible to trust and I will shoulder less than my share of the task 10% and no more.


Gallantly will I show the world that I am a randomly selected and well screwed soldier.  My disregard for superior officers, carelessness of dress, and abuse of equipment shall set the example for other recycles to follow.


Energetically will I meet the RIs of Student Ops.  I shall defeat them on Camp Merrill for I am sneakier and will resist them with all my might.  Contraband is not a recycle word.  I will never leave a hidden cache of food to fall into the hands of an RI and under no circumstances will I ever admit my guilt.


Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to move onto the next Ranger phase, and complete this school, though I be the lone recycle.


Recycles Lead The Way!


Day 65: Tuesday, 11 April


We're no longer the Dirty Dozen.  2 guys left yesterday morning on a trip to see the Brigade Commander, COL Chin, at Ft. Benning.  One was the guy who got caught on the internet a few nights ago and one was a classmate of mine from WP.  This dude, Chris, was also supposed to graduate on April 7th with 05-06.  His girlfriend had already bought non-refundable and non-transferable tickets from New York and so instead of paying the change fee for May 26th they decided to arrange a rendezvous this past weekend.  He went to church at Mt. Zion with the other guys, met up with her there, and left.  He came back for lunch formation, but then immediately left AGAIN and didn't come back until dinner.  He did all of this leaving and returning by just walking out the front gate and thinking the guard wouldn't notice.  In broad daylight.  In uniform.  He got caught and is now facing UCMJ action for a laundry list of things, AWOL and conduct unbecoming amongst them.  Oofta... Not cool.  In other news, Josh Miller and I did our recon last night for our mission tonight to write our names on top of the water tower here on Camp Merrill.  We haven't done it yet and it's still in the planning phase, but I'll keep you updated if it actually happens.


Day 66: Wednesday, 12 April


Ran just over a mile and did some pushups for PT.  Cleaned up a ridiculously old cemetery by the Charlie planning bays and then sat around the recycle bay solving the world's problems.  After lunch we found out an SF team is using Camp Merrill as a training site for the day.   They'll be practicing hostage rescue in different parts of the camp.  At one point one of their support personnel, a younger guy with longer than normal hair, came in the bay because he was bored.  We got to talking, him and the rest of us, and I finally realized, or at least reaffirmed why I'm putting myself not only through this school, but what I'll be doing in the Army.  I don't want to be like this dude sitting here in front of me telling all kinds of "Special Forces" stories and claiming to be a part of 7th Group, but is nothing more than support for that unit.  I almost jumped up and told this little child what I thought of him and his mouth when he started giving reasons why Ranger School is a joke and why he doesn't need to come here and on and on and on.  I mean, he's riding the coattails of the unit he supports and then has the nerve and audacity to sit there and say all kinds of horrible things about the very school we've sacrificed so much for without his ever having gone through it.  No dice, dude.  That kind of punk is why I'm doing this.  So that one day I'll be able to say I bettered myself through some serious adversity for the sake of others.  Not to tell stories that I wasn't even a part of.  So that I can say, "You're welcome." to people that didn't even know I existed.  I dunno, maybe I'm romanticizing all of this way too much.  We'll see, I guess.  Am I crazy to want to do this job the rest of my life and do everything I can to be the best guy for it?  When it comes to things I believe in I can't stand to be in 2nd place.  I just want to do a good job when I finally get my platoon.  Call me crazy, but that's all I want.  That, and my girlfriend.  I'd like to have her around too.


Day 67: Thursday, 13 April

One month ago today, 28 days to be exact, I found out I was going to be a recycle.  True to form, tonight there were quite a few broken hearts of kids who didn’t see that kick in the teeth coming.  As we were prepping all the hot dogs and brown bags for tonight’s “DOGEX” we speculated how many recycles this monster known as Mountain Phase would claim this cycle.  As it turned out, some very surprising names were on the list.  My good buddy James Braudis, who was in my original squad in 05-06 and who recycled with me 28 days ago, is headed back to Day 1 for 2nd time failure at patrols.  Marshall McGurk and I will be in Bravo Company together next cycle because of patrols.  He started in February and this makes the second time he’s recycled a phase.  Matt Haith will also be joining us for another stroll through the Chattahoochee Forest.  Yeah, it’s cool to go straight through this school and my hat is off to you, but you have no idea what it’s like to be so close to accomplishing your dream and then having it jerked out of your reach AGAIN.  It’s sad, but everything is going to be alright.  At least we get to wear jungle boots now that the weather is warming up. 

Day 68: Friday, 14 April

Pretty much sat around and did nothing all day while the guys going forward got their stuff ready to go for their bus ride to Florida.  We got our care packages tonight and that was it.  It’s amazing how the number of recycles magically happened to be the number they needed to exactly fill 3 platoons coming up in the 501-06 class.  Amazing how that happens every cycle…

Day 69: Saturday, 15 April (Mountains Day Zero)

Said goodbye to my buddies again as they got on the bus to Florida.  George Kalandadze finally made it and I’m sure he’ll be fine there.  Went back to sleep for awhile and then got some tasks to finish before we got phone privileges.  Had a short but great talk with Erika and found out she got a really high score on her checkride this past Tuesday.  Sat around and waited for the busses of 501-06 guys to show up and around 12:30 they got here.  Round 3 coming up…

Day 70: Sunday, 16 April (Mountains Day One)

0400 wake up, 0445 formation with rucks, 0500 breakfast formation.  The new guys, like all the others, were amazed at the amount of food we get in the mess hall here.  I, for one, have gotten pretty disenchanted with friggin blueberry pancakes and I’ll take it a bit further by saying I’m almost sick of them.  Never again, once I leave this place, will I ever eat blueberry pancakes.  Ever.  We moved down to the BMM site and once again learned knots and belays and then had the opportunity to practice them pretty much all day.  I’m trying my hardest to stay positive through all this, and there really is quite a bit to be happy about, but come on… I’m had just about enough of these mountains.  On a positive note, a bunch of my buddies from West Point are in this class.  Randal Waters, Eric Perkins, Clay Hinchman, Sean Walsh, Perfecto Sanchez, Brian Schnitker, Marcus Morgan, Brian Mainwaring, and the list goes on.  Tons and tons of ring knockers.  Joey Snowden is also in my platoon with all those other guys.  Great great guys.  We had an Easter Egg hunt this morning.  No BS.  Two of the RIs hardboiled one egg for each Ranger in B Co and hid them around the belay class area.  We had 5 minutes to find one and eat it, but we all loved it.  Of course, instead of cute little bunnies or different colors on the eggs they had written things like, “Knot failure.  Recycle mountains.”  “Safety violation on Mt. Yonah = Major Minus”  “NO-GO”  “SOR for contraband” and others like that.  Funny stuff, but what do you expect from a couple RIs??  Quote of the day: “Man, good ole JC is my boy!!!  Hell, if I’d known they were gonna string him up on a cross like that and I’d have been around we’d have set up a friggin support by fire and rescued his ass!!!”  Happy Easter.

Day 71: Monday, 17 April (Mountains Day Two)

Dragged a SKEDCO up, down, and around a hillside in the morning and then practiced knots and belays all… day… long after that.  I’m trying to help as many people as I can, but some of them have literally, except for their shoelaces, never tied any real knots before and it’s not easy trying to teach them how to avoid or at least get twists out of a double figure-eight.  I found out today our graduation date is actually the 25th and not the 26th because of Memorial Day Weekend.  So that’s cool.  It’s awesome having so many of my friends from the Academy in this class and more importantly, in my platoon.  I’ve been having some trouble seeing the “half full glass” and they’re really helping out.

Day 72: Tuesday, 18 April (Mountains Day Three)

Got 9/10 on the knot test.  The friggin left-hand-brake rappel seat got me.  Of all the rappel seats I’ve ever tied, and there have been quite a few even before Ranger School, this was possibly the worst.  My tails were 10 inches apart, my securing knot wasn’t dressed or even that tight, and my carabiner was rotated upside down.  “Take a knee, Ranger…”  So no major plus this time around.  We did the vertical haul, 60 foot rappel, the suspended traverse and that was that for lowers.  Either way, that’s the last time I’ll ever see that site.  Our “sus-trav” setup was no different than the other two previous ones, but the RI let us go hog wild with how we “negotiated” it.  I was the guy at the bottom holding onto the prusik knot emergency brake, but it turned into THE brake with the way they let us ride down.  Basically we’d get a running start as fast as we could and then ride down at an uncontrolled and ridiculously fast and fun rate until the double pulley slammed into the prusik tied around the rope.  You went from “out of control fast” to a full stop in zero seconds flat and it was AWESOME.  Only a few guys even came close to hitting the tree, but everyone lived and it was quite the event.

Day 73: Wednesday 19 April (Mountains Day Four)

Took a little trip to Mt. Yonah again today.  The walk up was almost enjoyable without a radio or a “winter packing list” ruck on my back.  Eric Perkins and Sean Walsh carried the radios this time.  We got to the top in 43 minutes and got rigged up for climbing and rappelling on the upper part of the mountain.  I was one of the first to go up on the balance or “yo-yo” climb and as I got about ¾ of the way up on lane 8 the sky decided to open up on us with a pretty decent rain and thunderstorm.  We immediately moved back down to the bivouac site and chilled out/slept in our GP medium tent until the rain and lightning stopped.  By that point it was too late in the day to finish the climbs and rappels so we broke out the trusty SKEDCO and dragged 3 rucks to the upper LZ.  Alpha and Charlie Companies killed an Eastern Diamondback Rattler and a Copperhead on their lanes up the hill, but we didn’t see any snakes.  Definitely a good thing.  Walked back down after our AAR on the peak and after an MRE went to chapel services.  That “church stuff” really is good for you, I’m starting to rediscover.  I’m not about to join the Chaplain’s Corps or anything, but I do realize how much better you feel about life after you to go services like that.  Maybe I should go more often than once every few years.  After listening to the Chaplain’s message, I remembered why I started down this ridiculous path called Ranger School in the first place: to better take care of the people around me once I graduate.  It SUCKS being here, but I know this will help me in the future in more than just a few ways.  I mean, if nothing else, I can always say to anyone complaining, “Hey, at least you’re not in Ranger School.”  But seriously, it’s all about learning how to better take care of “Joe”.

Day 74: Thursday, 20 April (Mountains Day Five)

I really do love it up on Mt. Yonah.  It kind of grows on you after awhile.  Some guys absolutely hate it up there, but I think it’s the best part of the first two phases of Ranger School.  The view from the top this morning was exceptionally breathtaking because the fog was still covering the valley floor beneath us, but we were completely in the clear and it was just beautiful how the other hilltops around the countryside stood out of the fog.  Sometimes I really wish they’d let us have cameras here.  We did all our climbs and rappels and after walking back down for my last time (I’m serious this time), we loaded up on the stake bed trucks for the trek back to Camp Merrill.  Tonight our squad leader asked me to be his Alpha Team Leader for the next few days.  What is it that makes all these people want me to help them like this all the time?  As long as I don’t have to say goodbye to another class as they leave for Florida without me I’ll be fine.  Please don’t let another cycle go by where I get half the squad their GOs and I get nothing.  A tough guy can only be so tough before he’s beat down to the point where nothing matters and he just wants out.  Either way, this will be my last cycle in mountains.

Day 75: Friday, 21 April (Mountains Day Six)

Had classes this morning on terrain association, patrol base, and movement to contact.  It wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be, and I actually learned a few things even though this is the fourth time I’ve had these classes.  Each company has different techniques and B Co is no different in that regard.  The squad is really starting to include me as a part of their own and I’ve got a great feeling about our upcoming FTX’s because everyone is a hard worker that truly understands the meaning of “teamwork”.  We’ll have to see if that lasts when we’re cold and tired and hungry and soaking wet from being rained on.  Hopefully it does.  Got a pretty good load of mail tonight after we moved barracks and everyone seems to be doing great.  Erika included a few conversations and messages she’s had or gotten on my screen name.  Thanks to everyone who said hi.  She also added a ton of Calvin and Hobbes cartoons and even though we had a long day of practical exercises I still went to sleep with a smile on my face.  Definitely a good night, all things considered, and further proof I’ve got the greatest girl in the world to call mine.

Day 76: Saturday, 22 April (Mountains Day Seven)

More classes with the techniques cadre.  Today was Platoon Ambush followed by practical exercises on the airfield and then in the woods.  Lucky me, I was picked to be the platoon leader for both.  The iteration on the airstrip went pretty well and it was good for the new guys to see what right looks like, but the full dress rehearsal didn’t make me look very good.  Everything was going really well until the point of initiation.  The recon was great, the prep in the ORP happened quickly, and movement to the release point was good, but when I emplaced my assault squads I made a huge rookie mistake by not ensuring we could see the objective from our positions while laying in the prone.  When we did the recon we were on a knee and therefore higher above the ground.  When the actual ambush was supposed to happen we couldn’t see the OPFOR walking on the trail because we were too low to the ground.  So that was embarrassing.  Once the RI finished yelling and we fixed the problem the rest of the mission went well.  For a little while afterwards I was being really hard on myself, but after a bit I came around and realized that we do those practical exercises for a reason and that they’re not graded.  Yeah, the RIs are always evaluating you, but everything is gonna be ok.  It rained on us again today for the fourth day in a row.

Day 77: Sunday, 23 April (Mountains Day Eight)

Had a quick class on how to conduct a platoon raid and then did practical exercises all day.  We’re getting better and working together more with each iteration, but there are still a few guys that I can see causing problems in the field.  As Perfecto “Rodriguez, Lopez, Chavez” Sanchez said a few days ago, “White Phosphorus is gonna get us through.”  Hopefully it’ll be enough to have those 14 WP grads in the platoon to make things happen.  We had a mascot for almost an entire half hour today before our pet box turtle decided to make a mess in my buddy Steve Kiser’s ammo pouch.  We let him go shortly thereafter.  Quote of the day: “Man, I wish that the only thing we did in Ranger School was eat.  Time goes so much faster when we’re doing that.”  Eric Perkins, ladies and gentlemen.  The first graded chain of command gets emplaced tomorrow night and it’s go time until the end of the phase.  We’ll get ‘er done this time.



The rest of the story...

Ranger School


Mountains Round 1

Mountains Round 2

Mountains Round 3