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February 28th

Our last class function of any kind, until graduation, is over.  That and the speech LTG Melcher gave really made us all realize that in 88 and a butt, it's go time. 

Yeah, we hear it all the time that the Army needs "leaders of character" and that we're "entering an Army at war" and that "we have to hit the ground running."  "You're paid to be the responsible adult in the platoon."  "Be tactically and technically proficient."  I'm sure you've heard a dozen more of these same type clichés.

But think about it for a second.  In 88 days we head off to OBC, possibly Ranger school and whatever else, and then we become responsible for this guy's LIFE.

No more cadet cynicism and sarcasm. 

88 short days and this becomes your reason for existence. 

 

I didn't mean to make this into a somber entry, but it kind of hit me this weekend.  I think I've said enough.

 

This weekend was rather spectacular.  Erika's friends, Amber and Carrie, the blind dates for Jason and Les, flew up from Tennessee Friday night and even though their flight was delayed we got over it and made the best of the night. 

Les got to the city late that night because he was in The 100th Night Show, but we all finally got together and headed to Tir Na Nog, the greatest Irish pub in Manhattan.

Carrie and Jason.

 

Amber and Les.

 

Erika and yours truly.

 

Saturday I had to wake up early to get back to school and walk 5 area tours, but the rest of the crew stayed in Manhattan to do a bit of sight-seeing before they headed up to West Point to get ready for the banquet.

They made me the platoon leader.  Only 6 more and I'll be done with area tours forever.  Hopefully.

 

Some kind of giant artwork was on display in Central Park called "The Gates".

Les and Amber.

 

We all met up at school around 4:30 and after a little bit of sight-seeing around the academy everyone got ready for dinner.

Looking good.

Sorry to disturb you two...

 

The banquet was great and the guest speaker, Lieutenant General Melcher, was short, sweet, and effectively to the point.  He talked about us graduating in less than 100 days and really put that in perspective when he said it was as much time to graduation as had elapsed since the Army/Navy game.  That really hit home. 

After dinner we took the shuttle bus down to Eisenhower Hall to watch The 100th Night Show which starred our very own Les.

He played a few different characters, but the greatest were the "Little Red Wagon Boy" and the one and only "H. Ross Perot."

We got back down to Manhattan around 1:30 in the morning and woke up Sunday morning pretty late.  We checked out of the hotel and all took taxis to Little Italy in southern Manhattan for lunch. 

Good stuff.

Les and Jason took Amber and Carrie to the airport after lunch and that was pretty much the end of things.  Erika and I stopped at The Palisades mall to see a movie, Constantine, and then drove back to school.

All in all it was a great weekend and now it's time to focus on Spring Break in Puerto Rico.  It's gonna be a helluva time.

-Tom

 


 

February 24th

There have got to be ginormous flocks of guardian angels flying over me.  That's the only way to explain this.  I think that's the story of my life.

 

So no $#!% there I was.  Washington Hall in room 5006.  A hundred and twenty five fellow tankers and me sitting there listening to CPT Young explain how the process of picking our posts would work. 

We're all staring at a giant projection on the wall with all the different places available and the number of slots allocated to each.  More than a few guys had printouts of the "straw poll" we had done on our own to give people an idea of what they could realistically get and those of us toward the bottom of the OML (order of merit list) were just sitting there waiting on our name to be called so we could stand up and pick from the scraps left over.

Before last night I was expecting to get either Polk, Drum, or Korea.  I wasn't too keen on ANY of those so I was hoping there would be some chance in hell I'd get at least one or more options, but because I was 123 of 126 I didn't have too much faith that it would happen.

As the names were called off one by one each guy would stand up and call out the post he wanted.

Lewis!  Hawaii!  Germany!  Hood!  Carson!  Stewart! Riley!

Everyone reacted in some manner each time a post was chosen because it meant that either one more available slot no longer existed for them to pick or that the person in front of them had "taken one for the team" and picked a post no one else wanted (like Polk, Drum, or Korea).

Hood!  Carson!  Germany!  Hood!  Hood!  Riley!  Germany!  Bragg!  Hohenfels!

As we got into the higher numbers on the OML I started to notice that nobody had picked what I wanted as my first choice all along.  There was only 1 available slot for this post and everyone knew it was a sweet place to go.

Wainwright!  Lewis!  Korea!  Drum!  Benning!  Campbell!

It was still up there!  No one had picked my first choice!  We were up in the hundreds now and Les had his name called out.  His first 3 choices were gone, but he picked Ft. Bliss.  It's not his preferred assignment, but at least he'll be on real tanks in the 1st Cavalry Division.

Bliss!  Korea!  Hood!  Germany!  Riley!  Polk!  Korea!

By this point everyone around me had pretty much already chosen and they all knew that my first choice was still up there as a possibility.  Of course, by this point I was going nuts because it had come down to either Polk, Drum, Korea, or my dream assignment.

The number 122 kid stood up and chose Drum.  I was next.

FORT RICHARDSON!!!

Denali State Park in my backyard.  Anchorage right next door.  Any kind of hunting or fishing I could ever want.  A skydiving dropzone 10 miles away.  Beautiful scenery everywhere you look.  Mount McKinley a few hours away.  An assignment as a recon/scout/cavalry platoon leader in a brand new airborne light brigade commanded by COL Garrett, the former Department Head of DMI.  HELL YES I'LL GO TO ALASKA

 

123 of 126 in the branch.  1 slot available.  How could the guys above me NOT want to go here? 

 

You're all welcome to come visit.

 

-Tom

 

 


 

February 23rd

I've got a pass approved for this weekend with the stipulation that I still have to walk my area tours on Friday and Saturday.  Fine.  I'll take it.  As long as I get out of here and get to stay in my king size suite at The Barclay I'll be cool with it.

 

Post night is tonight and, to be completely honest, I'm absolutely tired of talking/thinking about it.  Here's why:

Yeah, it was my decision to switch to Armor.  I'm happy with that decision because it's where I belong and I'll love it.  Having said that, I severely narrowed my options to choose my first post assignment when I did the switch.  Instead of having just about anything I wanted it looks like I'll have to choose between Polk or Drum.  Had I stayed in Field Artillery I could have had Richardson, Wainwright, Bragg, Hood, Germany, Benning, Campbell, Sill, and a ton of others to choose from, but no. 

Now I've got these two options:

Freeze my butt off in the middle of nowhere, New York or...

Drown in a mosquito-infested swamp in the middle of nowhere, Louisiana.

Maybe the "post selection fairy" will somehow give me a few more choices, but I'm not putting any bets down on it.  I'll let you know how things turn out.

-Tom

 


 

February 22nd

Quick update to get everyone back on track with what's going on. 

I now owe the Army 8 years after I graduate because I switched from Field Artillery to Armor.  Tom is happy.

Get some.

 

There's still a chance I might get pass this weekend for 100th night because CPT Wooten is a most excellent man and might somehow find it in his heart to show mercy on a poor sinner like me.  Maybe.  Nothing is definite yet, but I'm still holding our reservations at The Barclay in NYC for this weekend. 

 

Spring Break plans are finally all set.  Erika and I are flying to San Juan on Friday the 11th, staying 6 nights at The Intercontinental San Juan Resort & Casino, and flying back Thursday the 17th to her house in North Carolina. 

 

During our Sandhurst run today a pack of wild 7 year old kids threw snowballs at us as we ran by.  They were lining the sidewalks on both sides of the road and thought we were the perfect target.  Of course, we couldn't throw anything back because all we needed was for little Johnny's daddy to be some old crusty full-bird Colonel who would hammer us for assault on his angelic most perfect 7 year old.  It's all good because they didn't hit me, but my buddy Zach took one in the ribs.  It was a pretty hellacious crossfire.  Yep.

 

I've gotta get some work done so that's it for now.

-Tom

 


 

February 20th

They got me.  As I write this I'm just over halfway finished walking off my 30 hours awarded in my Battalion level disciplinary board.  All for going to Wal-Mart to get a Valentine's Day card.  I'm a criminal...

But seriously, after this I'll have completed 165 area tours.  Yeah.  One hundred sixty five.  That's ALOT.  Most people graduate having walked maybe 10 or 20.  Yours truly is almost a double century man.  I'm not sure if I'm proud of that or not, but I guess it'll be something to brag about later on in life.  Maybe.

I got 80 hours for my 21st birthday party here on post at the beginning of plebe year, 5 hours for sleeping through the first day of econ class because my buddy who said he'd wake me up didn't, 10 hours for getting caught launching water balloons at people, 5 hours for something else dumb I can't even remember now, 30 hours for a "spirit mission" on the cadet battalion commander that went horribly wrong (I'll tell that story some other day), 5 hours for missing the stupid lecture a few weeks back, and now 30 more hours for going to Wal-Mart the night before Valentine's Day to get a card.

"Pointless act!  That's inappropriate!  That's inexcusable!  That I DON'T forgive!"

Bottle Rocket.  A great great movie.

Yeah, I didn't plan ahead and there were a million other options I could have exercised besides blowing post to go to Wal-Mart, but come on...  I was picking up a V-day card.

Erika got another A+ this weekend for all she's done for me.  For starters, she stuck around just to be with me when she could have taken pass to go anywhere she liked.  The only 4-day weekend of the semester and she stayed here with me.  I've got a keeper.  I've had a terrible sore throat and cough the last few days and she got all kinds of Nyquil, cough drops, Dayquil, food, coffee, and a ton of other stuff for me too.  Excellent.

So that's that.  I was stuck here walking hours this weekend instead of skiing in Vermont.  Perfect.

Thursday we walked off 2 hours and Friday we walked off 5 more.  Saturday and Sunday "higher" decided there should be some school support at the men's and women's tennis matches, gymnastics meet, and wrestling match so instead of walking the area we all got bussed up there to sit in the bleachers for 5 hours each day. 

We found out the hard way today that tennis has etiquette very similar to golf; you don't make any noise unless "play" is stopped and it's appropriate to do so.  That's all well and good, but you have to remember the caliber of cadets you've just bussed up to watch these tennis matches.  Most of us are working off area tours for a reason so you shouldn't be too surprised when we start causing trouble by making noise when we're not supposed to.  After a bit of cat-calling and taunting of the other team on behalf of the "rabble rousers" in the stands, a lady came over and told us to be quiet.  It kind of reminded me of that scene from the movie Happy Gilmore where Shooter McGavin is trying to putt and the crowd is talking trash.

"Damn you people!  Go back to your shanties!  This is golf, not a rock concert!"

Happy Gilmore.  Another great great movie.

I think that's really all I have to say about all this.  One day I will be the Commandant here--mark my words--and I'm gonna change a few things.  After that we'll see, but the world is mine.  Anyone who really knows me knows it's possible too. 

I should probably concentrate on finishing my area tours first, but you gotta have goals, right? 

-Tom

 

 


 

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