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May 15th

Friday afternoon I had a lot on my mind so I took a walk out to the Superintendent's review stand on the far side of The Plain. 

I sat there for well over an hour and just watched what was going on around me.  The plebes playing ultimate frisbee near the base of Washington Statue, the officers and their spouses running across diagonal walk pushing their jogging strollers, the cows and firsties walking to Clinton parking lot to get in their cars and take off for the weekend, and the ridiculously picturesque scene before me. 

I looked over and saw the statue of General Patton in front of the library.  I saw the Eisenhower and MacArthur statues gazing out over The Plain and I realized how insignificant I am.  It was the first time in just under 4 years I had sat near that spot and really looked at The Academy.  I mean, we see the buildings around us every day, but this was the first in a long time I really looked past all the rules and restrictions. I realized how I'm just one of a few thousand kids who go to school here.  How I'm nowhere near as bright or able as some of them and how lucky I am to still be here. 

Colonel Thayer and I don't necessarily see eye-to-eye on much of anything.

Anyone who knows anything about me from the past 4 years knows that it's truly miraculous that I'm actually going to graduate in 12 days.  I mean, hehe, wow.  There are times when I can't help but smile because I've made it this far.  I remember applying for admission here while I was in high school and how the admissions office wasn't too keen on accepting me.  I thought I could make it at the time, but I didn't even come close to making it into the class of '02.  I did my time in the Army, re-applied, and here I am.

I remember all the trouble I've gotten myself into over the past few years.  I remember my Tac Officers going to bat for me in all the Academic boards.  I may not have believed in that whole "studying" thing, but they felt I deserved a second chance SIX times in six separate academic boards.  *nervous laugh* Hehe... 

I remember having to write all those journals for the Special Leader Development Program when Major Manus, my Tac at the time, decided I was a poor excuse for a future officer.  She decided the only salvation for me was to meet with her and MSG Jackson once a month, to meet with an officer mentor once a month, to write 4 journal entries a week concerning my observations of both good and bad leadership, and to read a book from the Chief of Staff of the Army's recommended reading list.  All of that throughout the course of 4 months.  I've still got every single one of those @%^&*# journals. 

I remember walking one hundred sixty five area tours and how at one point I got so bored that I figured out in my head how far I walked every five hours.  I used my pace count to figure out the length of the area we were walking, then I counted the number of laps we did each hour, then I did all the math in my head and found that I walked 11.2 miles every 5 hours.  There are far more constructive things to do than walk the area.

I've done some stupid things, but I'm still here.  I said it before and I suppose I'll say it again.  I've got some rather ginormous flocks of guardian angels circling above me.  I do believe that's the only way to explain it. 

 

God bless Joe.

 

And now, the rest of the story.

Friday night Eddo and I took a stroll to the Firstie club and partook of a few pitchers of Bass and Yuengling.  As always, a great time.  Saturday I watched the Old Grey rugby match between the A-side and the old grad ruggers for awhile and then teed off at the golf course with Jason, Chris, and Scott.  We hacked our way around the front 9 for a few hours and had a pretty good time doing it.  It's been awhile since I hit a golf ball, but I did ok.  Saturday night Erika and I went to Gasho Japanese Steakhouse over in Central Valley and enjoyed some Sapporo beer while the chef was flipping stuff around and cooking in front of us.  Lots of fun.

Good times with a great girl.

 

This picture was taken looking up.  The restaurant was built the way old-school Japanese people used to build houses and barns.  It's all made of huge timbers that are dove-tailed together and the roof is thatched.  Very cool. 

 

My last set of final exams is coming up this week.  I've got MilArt tomorrow, Law on Tuesday, and the Diplomatic History of Europe on Wednesday.  My other classes are all in DMI (Dep't of Military Instruction) and we don't have finals in those.  Well, we have one in MS470, but it's take home and pretty much the same question we had on an exam a few weeks ago.  Right on, Major Hickey.

12 and a wake up.

-Tom

 

P.S.  Johnny Cash rules.

 

 


 

May 12th

15 and a wake up.

I had one of my wisdom teeth pulled today.  It had to be done and USMA said I wasn't going to pin on 2LT bars until I did so there you have it.  The man says jump, you gotta jump.  I went in there, the doc shot me all full of Novocain and other anesthetics, and he went to work.  About 10 minutes later, after some slight discomfort, a lot of poking and prodding, and a small cracking sound (had to add that sound effect in there) he stood there holding my lower left wisdom tooth in his archaic-looking chrome-plated super pliers.  It was actually WAY easier than I thought it was going to be.

Ok, cool.  Show's over.  Exit stage left and get my painkillers and that's that, right?  Not quite.

The doc sends me upstairs to the Mologne health clinic to pick up my Motrin, Percocet (mmmm.... Percocettt.....), and some kind of crazy mouth wash stuff called Chlorhexidine Gluconate.  I walk up and notice the door is locked.  Uh, ok.  It's 3:00 in the afternoon and the health clinic is closed.  I start knocking on the door.  There's no answer, but I see the lights are on so I knock louder.  No one answers.  Ok, where are the friggin medics???  The anesthetics only last a little while, you know?  I want my damn painkillers!  I started pounding on the door and eventually a medic came.  I told him I had just had my wisdom tooth pulled and I needed to pick up my meds before the anesthetics wore off.  His response?

"Sorry, we're closed."

I asked why he couldn't just open the pharmacy up and get my stuff real quick, but before he answered an NCO walked up and asked what was going on.  I told him I was sent up from the dentist to pick up my Motrin and Percocet, and he cut me off with:

"Sorry, we're closed."

Thanks, dude.  God forbid you walk 10 feet down the hall, turn the key in the locked door, and get my painkillers.  I got a ride to the hospital on the other end of post and finally got my stuff. 

Allow me to say that I love medics, I really do.  My buddy Braden is a medical platoon leader at Bragg right now and my girlfriend is about to be a Medevac pilot.  Some of my best friends when I was enlisted were medics.  I love em, but come on...

Once again I feel the need to borrow a quote from one of the greatest movies of all time, Bottle Rocket.

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

 

This isn't the first time I've had an unpleasant experience with the medics.  A few months ago I caught strep throat when everyone else around here got sick so I walked on over to the Mologne health clinic to get checked out.  The conversation between me and the actual doctor checking me out went like this:

"Strep throat, eh?  How are you feeling, CDT Martin?"

"Well, sir, I'm pretty hopped up on Motrin and cough drops right now so... actually, fairly decent, I guess."

"Right.  Well, keep taking those and if you don't feel better in a week, come back and see me."

"Sir, I've got strep throat."

"Yeah, stick with those Motrin and cough drops and you'll be ok."

 

Ok, I'm really bitter, but all I ask is that you do your job.  It's not hard.  Just take care of the people you're supposed to take care of. 

And also bring me a pint of Yuengling or Bass.  With this missing tooth, it'd be kind of nice right now. 

-Tom

 


 

May 10th

17 and a wake up.

I just got back from a briefing for our MS498 class in which LTG Sanchez, the V Corps Commander in Europe, came and spoke to us about Iraq and all the counterinsurgency stuff going on and all that.  It started off like all the other VIP briefings we receive here, but when our small class began asking questions he started addressing a few issues we've never heard anyone of this rank comment on. 

He commented on negating the "inputs" slipping into Iraq that the insurgents use to sustain their fight.  The simple things these entail include weapons, manpower, and equipment.  There are other "inputs" to the system that can be measured, but you get the idea.  It's all about stopping the insurgency before it starts which means that we have to practice what the Army has termed as Internal Defense and Development.  In short, it means we give the Iraqi people something to do besides shoot at us.  We empower them to repair, build, or secure "stuff" and we give them a steady paycheck along with it.  That way when the hardcore insurgents come around offering money to set up IEDs or other nasty things like that they have a chance to decline the "offer" because they have money of their own and better things to do than that.

We don't have to "win the hearts and minds" as the overly-used and annoying catchphrase goes.  We just have to give them something to do besides shoot at us.  As Major Newman told us once, "disaffected and bored young men equals trouble."

LTG Sanchez mentioned that the Army is, in fact, stretched right now and that while not a desperate situation, it would be better if we had a larger active force.  I asked about Iran and North Korea and possible requirements there and he admitted that those places are of great concern to the senior Army leadership right now.

He seemed to have a much better and less politically-clouded idea of what's going on and what needs to happen than just about any other speaker we've had the opportunity to hear.  It seems that most of the old guys with stars on their collar that speak to us have political feel-good themes to their monologue. 

It's been awhile since I've enjoyed listening to a speaker like that.

 

In other news...

Erika found out yesterday that she's going to flight school to be a Medevac pilot after her initial Medical Service Corps Basic Course.  She'll be flying Blackhawk helicopters and we're REALLY excited about it.

 

That's about all the noteworthy news I have for you right now.  We're starting to sort through and pack up our stuff to go home after graduation and right now I've got boxes stacked literally to the ceiling all over the place in my room.  It's great, haha.

 

The camping trip to Niagara Falls is still a go and we've got a site reserved 3 miles from the falls.  I guess I'll be able to put all those Eagle Scout skills to good use. 

-Tom

 

 


 

May 8th

That does it.  I'm in the hunt for a new car once I get this thing back from the shop. 

If you check out the April 25th post you'll see why it's in the hospital again.  Jeez, what a nightmare.  Now that they've got the seal all redone there's something wrong with the keyless entry/anti-theft device so the computer won't let anyone start or drive the car.  It's been there for two weeks and I'd kind of like to get it back before I drive it from upstate NY to south Texas. 

Oh, the cost?  ANOTHER FIFTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS!!!  Aye carumba. 

So, yeah.  I'm looking for something else.  Right now I'm looking really hard at an '00 or '01 Toyota 4-Runner.  Those things are great and I have yet to talk to anyone with anything bad to say about them.

 

Isn't it fun being a grown-up?  I miss the days of elementary school recess and riding go-karts or bikes with your buddies and coming back home at sunset.  It's all good.  Now I'm "responsible" and stuff.  Hehe.

 

This is from a few days ago during a lull in the thunderstorm that passed through.

 

This weekend was pretty fantabulous other than thinking about the friggin car problems and the inherent money problems attached to that whole issue. 

Friday night Erika and I stayed in to watch Ghost.  That's about as chick flick as it gets, but it's cool.  She's worth it. 

Saturday morning I helped her shape her beret for awhile and then we went out with her Dad.  Geoff's a great guy and he and I really get along well.  We went to a motorcycle show at the local Harley dealer in New Windsor and then to lunch at the Cavu Restaurant in Wallkill.  Good food and great beer. 

I highly recommend the Magic Hat Number 9 they have on tap there at The Cavu.

 

Saturday night around 6 we moseyed on down to Ike Hall to hang out with some rather high-roller VIPs who had been brought together for the Association of Graduates "highest donation giver" banquet.  Most of these people were ridiculously rich.  One of them wrote a check right there on the spot for $4.7 million to give to the rugby team for their new stadium.  The guy's wife had a rectangular-shaped diamond on her finger, no kidding, about half the size of a stick of gum.  Big money in that room. 

Ross Perot was invited to attend, if that gives you any indication of what it was like.

I met an old grad named Brent Scowcroft, the former National Security Advisor under President Ford and then President Bush senior.  I met another old grad by the name of Doug O'Connor who was an All-American football player while a cadet and later retired as a Major General.  One part of the conversation with him went like this:

"I see you were prior service.  Where did you serve, Tom?"

"I was in Korea for a year and then at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, sir."

"Ah, Korea.  I was there for a bit."

"Really, sir?  What did you do?"

"I was the Provost Marshall."

"Which post were you assigned to, sir?"

(with a huge smile) "Oh, I was THE Provost Marshall."

"Of the entire peninsula, sir?"

"Yeah, that was me."

We spoke a little while longer about life in general and swapped a few funny stories until "cocktail hour" was over.  He retired from the Army a few years ago and now runs a consulting firm to offer big business executives and their companies leadership seminars.  He has like a 5 day conference and tells them how to be leaders instead of managers and they pay him boatloads of money for it.

I think I could do that someday.  After I retire as a two-star, of course.

 

The rest of the weekend was rather uneventful.  We did laundry and walked around the mall for awhile and that was about it.  It was nice and quiet.

 

19 and a wake up...

         

Oh, how the scenery around us is about to change...

-Tom

 

 


 

May 6th

In the spirit of Cinco De Mayo, we had a bit of a "party" here last night complete with people acting like complete RETARDS.  It's a good thing the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff of the Army, along with more than a couple other division commanders and chiefs of staff, were on hand to witness the "events."  I bet the secret service agents thought it was entertaining too.

According to multiple reliable sources, one member of our class started off the night by crossing the line and starting an inappropriate argument with one of these EXTREMELY high-ranking dignitaries about women in the infantry and other combat units.  Mr. Francis Harvey wasn't very impressed and finally shut her up after a string of uncalled for comments.  The following aren't exact quotes, but they've been corroborated by more than a few people who were there and you get the idea of how the conversation went.

"Sir, I really believe that one day women will be allowed to serve in Infantry units."

"No, they won't."

"But sir, I firmly believe that one day the Army's policy should and will change."

"No, it won't.  It's against the law. The law would have to change for the policy to change."

"But sir, I think it should change."

"NO.  It's against the law."

"But sir, it needs to change.  It should change."

(impatiently) "Young lady, I think the Secretary of the Army knows more about women in combat than you do."

"........"

I won't name names, but these comments shouldn't surprise you at all if you knew this person before last night.  Drive on, Ranger...

 

Later on in the night we had not one, not two and not even three, but FOUR Naked Men streaking through Central Area.  Of course, everyone in their rooms went absolutely NUTS and we almost had another "prison riot", but it calmed down and everyone went to bed. 

It amazes me how bold these dudes have become lately.  I remember last year when the Commandant threatened to turn back (hold back for one year) anyone caught doing Naked Man.  That effectively shut the little stunts down, but here lately they've made a dramatic comeback.  Maybe there's hope for this place yet.

While that was going on I was cleaning my TA-50 field gear and getting it ready for turn in.  That's the sort of thing I do these days.  I'm a ghost around here, I sit in my room and behave.  I've found the less people see me around the cadet area doing dumb things, the less trouble I'll get in.  So far it's worked great.  I've got people in my own company I literally haven't seen in months. 

21 days...

Time for another picture.  The other day our company took our Old Corps photograph and I do believe it turned out rather well. 

They didn't smile in The Old Corps.  They just sat around in Full Dress and looked cool and tough.

 

Erika and I spent some time together, just the two of us, when she got back from her Supe's boat ride and it was great.  We're planning on going to Niagara Falls for TEE leave in a few weeks and camp out by the falls.  It'll be the first time we've been able to get out of here together since 100th night and I'm really really looking forward to it.  I haven't been "camping" since the fishing/drinking trip at the prep school with good ole Staff Sergeant Mikey-O, but that's a story for another time...

-Tom

 

P.S.   Congrats to my favorite middle sister Laura for being the 10,000th visitor to my site.

 

 


 

May 5th

Cinco De Mayo.  That means we'll probably have breakfast tacos and burritos in the mess hall today.  But...  We already have that EVERY day. 

I think Kelli Kidd, our dietician and menu writer lady, is part Mexican.

 

Yesterday in scuba class Ross and Andrew "Plebe Club guy" Ferriter tried to kill me.  Twice.

We've got scuba class together in the afternoons on 2-days and it's normally the highlight of the academic day, but yesterday was the best thus far.  Mr. Bosse, our instructor, set up an obstacle course, put out puzzles, had a bag of gloves and hoods for us to mess around with, "lifting bags" you fill with air to bring up heavy stuff from the bottom, a little football/torpedo thing we could throw back and forth to one another, and it was just like elementary school recess on the playground all over again but underwater this time.  Very cool. 

Anyway, so at one point I'm messing around with a lifting bag trying to get it "neutrally buoyant" and hover just off the bottom of the pool.  You have to add air little by little using your octopus (reserve) regulator, but not too much or it'll shoot to the surface.  You can also release air from the top of the bag if you put in too much. 

So I'm sitting there trying to get this to work when all of a sudden I feel myself falling backwards and then pinned to the bottom of the pool.  I look around and see Ross and Andrew laughing their heads off because they've managed to sneak up behind me and drop a weight belt holding like 20 pounds on my tank and now I'm stuck.  I get the weight belt off, but as I'm busy doing that Andrew comes in and shuts off the air valve on my tank.  Haha, funny, dude.

Maybe for him.

I grab his octopus and start breathing off that until he gets my air turned back on, but then just as I start to swim away after I get my own regulator back in my mouth he does it AGAIN! 

Ross was trying to pull my fins off the whole time so here I am, underwater, messing with these two yokel-heads, trying to keep from getting in trouble from Mr. Bosse, and they keep shutting my air off. 

It's all good, I got em back before we got out of the water.

 

Last night Erika and I ordered from Steve's Gourmet in Highland Falls.  I know, it's not that exciting, but I had some yakimandu and bulgolgi.  Ahhhhh... GOOD STUFF.  Korean food rocks.  Erika got a sandwich, but kept trying to mooch some of my stuff because it was so good.

 

WE GOT OUR CLASS A UNIFORMS!!!

Dude.  22 and a wake-up and I put that thing on for real.  As soon as I got back from the tailor I put all the insignia and such on it, but left the 2LT butter bars off because I don't want to jinx myself. 

22 days...

-Tom

 


 

May 3rd

24 and a wake up.  That's fewer days than the yearlings have months.  We've got fewer months than the cows have years until graduation.  And the plebes?  We've got like half as many hours as they have days or something. 

So that's good. 

 

Here's a random picture for you:

 

I'm still a little bummed out about our performance on Saturday, but it's cool.  We made a few dumb mistakes, got screwed over a few times, but kept going till the end.  Hat's off to B-4 and the USMA Black team for finally beating the British. 

I found out last week I need to get my wisdom teeth removed because of the ski slope sledding incident last winter.  At some point while we were barreling down that hill on our sleds I went airborne and landed hard enough to knock my teeth together.  When that happened the bottom left wisdom tooth cracked, but I didn't know about it until that night.  Apparently the Army doesn't like you to have cracks in your wisdom teeth because they're telling me I'm not going to graduate until I get them removed.  Great.  Army doctors carving on me just weeks before graduation.  I can't wait.

 

Another random picture for you.  This was after a ride in the back of a 5-ton truck at Ft. Knox this past summer.  That's Rob, me, Tom Pierczynski, Orange, and RJ from left to right. 

 

Let's see...  I could use some money if anyone is feeling charitable.  Apparently I need a new "computer" for the transmission on the Trooper and the cheapest one available is gonna be $850.  Stellar.  It's a good thing I'm already living on my credit cards and that most of my 2LT paychecks this summer will be spent putting a dent in that debt.

I'm sorry I don't really have anything profound or exciting and upbeat to write about this time; things are just kind of in neutral right now.  I dunno what's going on these days.  Normally I'm in a great mood, but recently I've just kind of been out of it.

I need to jump out of an airplane again soon.

-Tom

 


 

May 1st

I made a separate page for this one.

SANDHURST COMPETITION

 

-Tom

 


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