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October 18th

Ah, yes.  Another spectacular weekend.

 

Erika drove up from Ft. Rucker on Friday, we saw my boy Ed and his fiancÚ Liz in Indianapolis that night, went to the Purdue homecoming and joined in on the early morning drinking on Saturday, went to the Purdue-Northwestern football game for awhile, came back to Louisville, and went to my 16th Cavalry Regimental Ball at Caesar's Hotel/Casino that night.  Good times. 

I'll let the pictures do the talking.

This was about 9:00 in the morning.  In a bar.  We had been there for over an hour.  Hehe, yep.

 

Erika and I at the "Chocolate Bar" outside of Purdue.

 

Erika, Tom, Liz, and Ed.  This was about 11:30 so... yeah, we had been there for three and a half hours.  Hehehe, good times.

 

On the walk to the football game I decided we needed to cool off a bit so we took a shortcut through that fountain in the background.

 

Definitely worth the trip to Indiana.

 

At the 16th Cavalry Regimental Ball.  In the words of my OBC classmates, "Dude, that's YOUR girlfriend?  She's HOT!!!"  You're damn right, and a whole lot more.

 

My good friend and tank crew member Joe McConnell, the Princeton grad, who barely squeezes into the turret and does most of the thinking for our crew.

 

 Definitely a great night.

 

Man oh man oh man, a spectacular weekend.

I passed all the physical requirements to get a slot to Ranger School so we'll have to see what happens from here.  They can't give everyone a slot.  Keep your fingers crossed. 

Tactics is starting to get a bit...fun.  I can't really communicate to you how much work it is every night, but everyone in my class seems to manage so it's all good.  It just gets a bit old after awhile of writing an 8 page OPORD, drawing the graphics and overlays on transparencies for the map, drawing phase sketches and all that, and briefing it for 45 minutes the next day before executing your plan in the simulator.  I love it.

-Tom

 

 


 

 October 12th

"It's like walking real far with a lot of weight on your back."  -Deep Thoughts on Ruckmarching by Chris Scogin

We had a 6 mile ruckmarch this morning and while it's not my favorite thing to do in this world, it wasn't that bad.  I brought the GPS my parents got me for graduation from WP along and it worked great.  We did 6.08 miles in 89 minutes.  No big deal.

 

Tactics is starting to pick up.  We had to write an OPORD last night which involves taking the OPORD you get from your simulated Company Commander and figuring out what your platoon has to do given his guidance.  You have to write it so that your platoon knows the Situation, Mission, Execution, Service & Support, and Command & Signal for the operation.  It's a simple concept, but figuring out all the details and writing them down so everyone understands what's going on is the tough part.  On top of the normal 7-8 pages it takes to write a full OPORD you have to draw sketches of the different phases of the operation and be able to brief your entire plan the next day. 

We do one of these per night.

After the OPORD is written, we go in the Combined Crew Tactical Trainer (CCTT) and execute the plan.  It's actually pretty cool because this simulator is about as real as it gets even though motion of the tank isn't simulated.  You're inside a mockup of the turret and you've got to manage your crew, your platoon movement formation, the radios, any enemy contact you encounter, the terrain, dealing with your commander who's constantly bugging you for situation reports and such, and it can get quite busy quick fast in a hurry.

It's actually kind of fun when you get everything clicking right and you're on top of things, but as we saw today it only takes a few minutes for things to go all to hell.  One kid in my section was made the platoon leader for the afternoon's simulation and within minutes of crossing the Line of Departure had completely lost control of the platoon, had no idea where he was, where he was going, what the enemy was doing, and it was just a GINORMOUS gong show.  We were trying to help him out with getting things back on track, but it just went from bad to worse because he couldn't speak coherently on the radio, he started to crack under the pressure, and when he started yelling at us in frustration I started laughing my ass off.

It probably didn't help the situation, but I was the driver and I thought it was absolutely hilarious that this kid couldn't control 4 vehicles given the most powerful navigation and communication equipment on the planet and that he lost his cool under the slightest bit of pressure.  He was livid with me afterward because I literally couldn't contain my laughter at the hopeless situation he had created, but screw it.  It was the worst example of "leadership" I've ever seen.  Haha, EVER.

This is the same kid that earlier in the course asked me, "So, you went to West Point.  Do you think that makes you a better officer than me?"  I politely told him it wasn't up to me to answer questions like that, but after he started acting like a 12 year old in a uniform I guess we got our answer.  Whatever.

 

It's late so I'm going to bed.  Say a prayer for my buddy Braden Hestermann who just found out tonight he's leaving for Ranger School TOMORROW.

Rangers lead the way, brother.  Good luck.

-Tom

 

 


 

October 11th

We made it back from our road trip to NY for the West Point homecoming weekend.  The parade was rained out and we lost the football game, but I'm really glad we made the trip.  Just like our plan, Erika and I took off Friday afternoon around 5:45 and got to our hotel in Nanuet, NY at 7:00 the next morning. 

 

Final score Army 10 -- Central Michigan 14

 

Shaun Collins, Jeff Hathaway, Scott Patterson, and in the back on the right is Zach Castle.  They were yearlings in my company last year and members of my platoon last summer out at Camp Buckner.

 

The former plebes of C-2 hangin' tough in the cold rain.  Oh, and Adam Bartsch decided to "jump in" on the picture.

 

Cold and wet, but glad to be there.

 

It's not so bad of a place once you graduate.

 

After the game we dried out and warmed up and went to dinner with Erika's grandparents.  Later that night we went out with some friends from last year to South Gate tavern where I saw my friend George The Bartender.  He remembered me and it was nice to see a few familiar faces and to hang out with old friends.

Sunday we went to lunch with Erika's dad, Geoff.  He's a great guy you can always count on for a funny story and good times.

Erika's dad, Geoff.  Good dude.

That night we went out with Les to a restaurant across the river and then we got on the road headed back to Fort Knox. 

Monday was my birthday so at midnight, somewhere in the middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania, Erika asked me if I wanted to open my present.  I opened the first little package and discovered a little antenna-transmitter-receiver looking thing.  I kind of gave her a funny look so she told me to keep going.  The next little package was what looked like a keyless-entry keychain, but it had a few extra buttons on it.  I started to realize what she had gotten me, but I didn't know for certain until what she did next.  She took the little transmitter gizmo, hooked it up to a wire I hadn't noticed hidden in the molding around the windshield, took the keys out of the ignition, and pushed a button on the new keychain. 

The 4Runner's ignition turned over and the car started!!!

I couldn't believe it!  While I was in class Friday she had gotten this remote starter installed on my car and I didn't even know it.  We drove to NY and halfway back and I had no idea it was there.  Very cool.

 

We've got more OPORDs and Combined Crew Tactical Trainer (CCTT) time coming up this week so I'll be pretty busy, but Erika's coming up again next weekend for my Regimental Ball at Caesar's Hotel/Casino in Indiana.

A bunch of Cavalry officers at a formal function with copious amounts of alcohol present?  Let the games begin.  Ai-ee-yah.

-Tom

 

 


 

October 5th

I love going to the Korean barbers to get my hair cut.  They're ridiculously fast and they do a great job and they give you a little backrub when you're done.  It's great.

 

We've been at it learning tactics for over a week now and it's really not that bad, at least to me.  I had heard from the previous class that it's a ton of work at night and it seems like it'll never end, but I don't think it's that bad at all.  We're mostly done with the classroom portion of it and now we've gotten into receiving, writing, and briefing our OPORDs, otherwise known as Operations Orders, otherwise known as "the plan".

 

This weekend I went to Louisville with some friends of mine from my OBC class and had a rather decent time.  11 of us crammed into 2 hotel rooms after a night (and large part of the next morning) out on the town frequenting Irish bars and pubs and such.  Good times.

 

This morning for Ranger PT we did the Combat Water Survival Test (CWST) and tomorrow we've got our graded 5 mile run.  We have to pass a few mandatory tasks for Ranger school while here at OBC so that CPT Haeussler, the officer in charge of the prep program, will give his blessing and have orders cut for us to start Ranger school.  Two of them are the CWST and the 5-mile run.  Anyway, we did our lame little 25 meter swim in BDUs, boots, web gear, while carrying a rifle out of the water, and did our blindfolded drop from the high-dive and then we got to screw around in the water for awhile.  CPT Haeussler got bored rather quickly with that so he made us play "Combat Marco Polo".  Use your imagination.

 

Life is pretty good.

 

Oh, almost forgot.  This weekend Erika and I are headed to West Point for homecoming weekend. 

Want to hear a ridiculous and crazy idea?  Here you go.  She's flying in tomorrow night (Thursday) and staying here while I go to class on Friday.  When I get out of class at 5 on Friday afternoon we're jumping in the 4Runner and driving to USMA.  From central Kentucky.  900 miles one way.  In one night. 

Hey, I want to see that parade and football game on Saturday and we can't afford to fly so...

I'll tell you all about it when we get back on Monday. 

 

I'll be a quarter of a century old in 5 days.

-Tom

 

 


 

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