NEWEST STUFF IS AT THE TOP
Finally received Tom's Darby letter and a couple of others, so I've now got all his Ranger School journal updates posted on here! This is a long entry, but it all came directly from Tom, and provides a pretty good look into what he's been doing for the past month or so...
Yeah, I wore my flight suit to Benning last Friday. Goofy, I know, but I sure wasn't going to waste any bit of that hour we had to see one another by stopping to change on the way there. Ah, well. Memories. Or something like that.
Please keep up the letters, messages, good thoughts, and prayers for Tom- he really appreciates them, and they make the days a little more bearable. All the best, and I'll update as soon as I receive another letter from him. Thanks for reading.
Have a great weekend,
Another Ranger School Update: I saw Tom during his end-of-phase refit on Friday! I had morning flight line, but was able to drive the two-and-a-half hours to Benning afterwards and see him for about the last hour of their break, which was wonderful.
He's definitely lost quite a bit of weight and was covered with poison ivy, but in good spirits. He said it's not as tough as he expected, but there are some standards and other things that are a challenge to deal with. Even though it's "easier" than he thought, he made it clear he's extremely glad to not have to do that phase or anything like it ever again!
Their typical Benning day started around 4 am, at which time they ate their only real meal for the day (an MRE). The morning was all layouts and mission planning and prep, followed by the real mission later on that afternoon/evening. They'd get back around 1 am and eat another MRE, and then get 2-3 hours of sleep before doing it all over again. He said the worst parts were the not being able to eat during the day, and being constantly cold and tired- and wet, as there was some really bad weather in the area recently.
His entire squad is going on to the Mountain phase, which is pretty uncommon- out of the whole battalion, only three squads are. That being said, they've got the teamwork thing down pretty well (even though they peered one squadmate out, so that guy will be going to Mountains with another squad). All in all, Tom likes the guys he's with, and they like him too... he did above average on his peer evals, which is good news. Part of his score and "popularity" is due to his ability to start a warming fire in the pouring rain- he said he wouldn't give up his time in the boy scouts for anything! He passed his two graded patrols without any major problems, and then was handpicked by the RIs to help two classmates achieve their "go".
All in all, a pretty successful phase. One of the best things about Mountains is that they'll get blueberry pancakes in the mornings (guys that have their tabs supposedly still talk about how great those pancakes are), and more sleep and food since it's so cold. His new address (good through 17 March) is:
Ranger Martin, T.
5th BN, RTB
2nd SQD, 2nd PLT, A Co
ATTN: Class 05-06
1 Camp Merrill
Dahlonega, GA 30533-1802
Tom said he sent me a letter during the Benning phase, but I still haven't received it. It has some "journal entries" in it that he's been writing every night though, so as soon as I get it, I'll post them on here so you can all get the day-by-day. Keep up the good thoughts, prayers, and messages if you can- Tom said he appreciates them all.
Thanks for reading (and putting up with my updates!). Enjoy a little Calvin and Hobbes and, until next time, take care.
First update from Tom! His letter was from the end of Day One so there's not too much to report... at the time, things were going relatively well for him. He passed his APFT and first day tasks, and has "pretty great guys" in his squad. A lot of our classmates from West Point that branched Infantry are in his class, too.
It's Day Four now and I haven't heard anything else. In this situation though, no news is definitely good news. If you're interested in what he has coming up in the next few days/weeks, check out the RTB site for info on the Benning phase.
His address is:
Ranger Martin, T.
4th BN, RTB
2nd SQD, 2nd PLT, A Co
ATTN: Class 05-06
Ft. Benning, GA 31905-5400
It'll change around the 25th of February, and I'll post the new one as soon as I get it. He'd love a letter or two if you get the chance to write.
If you're not much of a letter writer, leave a message on the Guestbook and I'll be sure to forward it on to him. Regardless, keep him and Class 05-06 in your thoughts and prayers. I'll update again when I hear more.
I made it through Pre-Ranger and while I wouldn't want to do it again, I'm extremely glad I went.
We had pretty much the same experience we'll have during the first phase of actual Ranger School so now I know exactly what to expect. The Ranger Instructors (RIs) gave us the same classes we'll get in the next few weeks and also held us to the same standard we'll see. The difference is that these RIs actually wanted us to succeed and to retain as much information as possible so they took extra time to answer questions and tell us exactly what the RIs next week would be looking for. The RIs at actual Ranger School, from what I've heard, are all about weeding people out left and right. No worries, I already know what they're looking for.
Some of the instructors I had have quite the background. My favorite one was a guy named Corporal Rosie. He initially went through Ranger School in 1981, was in the Ranger Regiment for awhile, got out around '86 and moved back home to Scotland. He was in the British Army from '87-'93 and then got out to join the French Foreign Legion until around '98. After that he moved to Manhattan and joined FDNY as an EMT. He was one of the first ones on the scene on 9/11 and after that day he decided he wanted to be a Ranger again so he got back into the Army by way of the National Guard and now, when he's not fighting fires in NYC, he's an RI at the Pre-Ranger Course at Ft. Benning. He speaks like fourty eleven different languages, has more "field craft" knowledge than anyone I've ever met in the Army, is a great great guy to talk to, and absolutely loves what he's doing. Good dude.
All in all, I feel 90% confident about the next 2 months now as opposed to the ridiculous amount of anxiety I had before I started a few weeks ago. That other 10% comes from the random stuff that could happen that might get me recycled or bounced out. Injuries, dumb mistakes, or falling asleep too many times is all it takes, but, as we all know and have proved multiple times over, I'm invincible and have the largest flock of guardian angels in the world flying over me.
I'll send Erika "journal updates" as I get a chance to write them at Ranger School and she'll update this for me while I'm gone so that everyone can stay in the loop. And the Guestbook link finally works again so if you leave something, she'll forward your message on to me. I'd still appreciate a letter or two if you get the chance and I'll do my best to get one back to you as soon as I can.
Say a prayer or two for me and if you're around Ft. Benning on April 7th, stop by for the Ranger Graduation Ceremony. I'll be there and you should be too.
Rangers Lead The Way!
Got quite a surprise today when I received a phone call from Tom. He's in the Pre-Ranger Course right now, and his class was given a couple of hours off today to go to the PX, get haircuts, etc. before heading out to their six-day FTX.
All in all, he's doing really well. He and the other four Cavalry guys that showed up for the course were a day late due to some miscommunication at Ft. Knox but, after having to deal with the initial anger/frustration of their trainers and classmates at their late arrival, they all ended up getting on just fine.
They're treated pretty well during the course: three full meals a day (although they make them completely clean their plates and get them inspected before they can leave the mess hall), and six or seven hours of sleep a night. The basic philosophy of the course is to ensure everyone that's going on to Ranger School will be ready as far as the common tasks go, but not too worn down to actually do well once they start.
He'll be back from the field on Friday, and will have a couple of days off before reporting to Ranger School on Sunday. I don't have an address for him yet, but as soon as I do I'll update again.
Happy Saturday. In Tom's words, that's all for now.
West Point Archives
October 1-18 2005
October 19-31 2005