Alpine Summit

Sunday, September 17, 2006


So I haven't been keeping up with this as much as I had hoped. Last week we had our first time in the field. We did land navigation ("land nav" for short) where we spent 3 days straight walking MANY kilometers looking for markers in the woods to punch our papers. Land nav can be fun, but when you do THAT much walking and THAT much of the same thing in the kind of heat and rain we were in, it gets kind of tiresome. I guess I don't have to mention what kind of motivation that was for me to get a first time "go" on the land nav test on Thursday... which I did.

The test was broken down into two parts: daytime and night time. During my daytime test, my first point was supposed to be at an azimuth of 190 degrees for about 300 meters. For the life of me, I couldn't find the stupid thing and spent an hour of the four they gave us to find it. Considering that our minimum pass score was 5 points out of 9 given, you can imagine I got pretty frustrated. So, I gave up on it and decided to move on to the next one which was no easy task having already embarked in the woods not knowing my exact location. Once I made it to my second point, I was a lot happier because the road I was on took me to 6 more points before I headed for the finish line. I made it in with about 30 minutes to spare. For the night time test, my points were fairly easy to find and I found 2 out of 5 (the minimum passing score) within the first half hour of the 3 hour test. The rest of my time was spent walking the road back to camp where we had begun that morning. I finished with one hour to spare. There are a lot of techniques to use in land nav to find your points, and as much as it sucks walking around in the woods until your feet are about to fall off, it was good for helping me find my own technique. Not everybody got first time go's, and some even failed the retest on Saturday. Being able to relax this weekend was a well-earned reward for me after putting a lot of hard work in "at the office."

One of the days we were out in the field, it rained like a monsoon and I was absolutely soaked. Luckily the weather was pretty warm but my scorecard almost turned into mush when I pulled it out to get punched at my points. Ugh.

Anyway next week is more class stuff, though we'll be outside for most of it, to get ready for our second field trip: FLX 1. This week is going to be even busier than the last for me because they have made me squad leader AND I will be leading the PT session on Wednesday... which is consequently the day we have our 7-mile ruck march scheduled. It might get rescheduled, but I'm prepared for it if it is. We should get another pass next weekend which will be nice and Sunday we'll prep for the field and Monday will be the beginning of our second field exercise. I'll try to keep my hygene up this time. I'm really happy this time in the field was not like BCT where they ran us ragged and made us do "stand to" in the mornings and be absolutely silent all day. These are a tad more enjoyable.

As for the title for this post, we say that in one of our cadences when we are marching. The caller will go "1,2,3,4" and we respond with "ooh ah CHARLIE" (I'm in Charlie company). The caller goes "1,2,3,4" again and we respond with "ooooohOCS!" It's really bothersome and got old a LOOONG time ago. Oh well. "Just 10 more weeks and I'll be through!"

That brings me to how much time has been flying here! In BCT, time practically stood still and I often felt as if I would never finish. Here, graduation seems just around the corner a lot more. I think the fact that they give us more liberties, treat us with quite a deal bit more respect, and we have more avenues to communicate to loved ones than BCT, does a big difference with regard to how fast the time goes here.

For now, things are looking way up, and after our FLX 1, we should have our second 4-day weekend! As much as I enjoy it here and for all its perks and up-shots, I'm still homesick a lot and rarely is my mind far from home. I'm looking forward to when I will get to see all my family in November and get that bar pinned on.


Friday, September 01, 2006

OCS, Week 2

So this week was nothing but classwork. We went over offensive/defensive operations, troop leading procedures and the five paragraph operations order (OPORD). The classes weren't so bad because they would insert movie clips in the presentations to illustrate what they were talking about. You would be surprised how well that keeps a group's attention. Having all-day classes from 9-4 (or 5) would be mind-numbing for most people. In fact, it was for some of the prior service guys here because they already know the stuff we are going over right now. For the rest of us, though, it was half-way enjoyable!

The best part about doing nothing but classwork this week was that it was in Infantry hall where there are countless vending machines and a coffee shop. Having just come out of basic, you tend to miss the simple things in life like caffiene and sugar. I have certainly been making up for lost time, but the weird thing is that I'm still not eating nearly as much sugar as I used to before the Army. I have lost my taste for it somewhat (but still LOVE it). Now it is more of a "oh no, I better not eat any more sugar... it can't be good for me!" Not that I'm complaining--I'm in the best shape of my life, it's just that the Army changed me and that's a visible sign of it. Whenever I eat junk food I feel like I'm breaking the rules or something.

Anyway, this weekend is Labor Day and we get a 4 day weekend! I'm really enjoying it so far (even though it's the first day). Having a break like this is really nice since we will be going into the field soon for about a week. Though I plan on enjoying my break, it still isn't the greatest because I would really like to see my friends and family (and girlfriend). That's the only aspect that I can truly say has been "hard" to deal with. PT and smoke sessions aren't anything. Sure you hurt after doing it, but it always goes away. Being without friends or other support and constantly being at your job is more difficult because I know it won't end until the training ends. It makes me wonder how I will cope if (when) I get deployed.

I have had prior service people here tell me that TRADOC (Training and Doctrine), the all-encompasing "education branch" of the Army, is nothing like the normal Army. I certainly hope so because from what I have seen so far, I am not too happy. Not that I'm saying the Army is bad, it's just been hard. Despite their best efforts, it's just not home. So from that standpoint, I am not really inclined to stay in after my contract is up. On the other hand, the Army does do a LOT to make sure I am happy and well taken care of. So while my official stance is "I don't know," my unofficial stance is "probably not" regarding whether or not I am going to stay in for 20 years.

Yesterday I called a cadence for the first time for my platoon. It didn't end so well because I screwed it up and was told to get back in formation by our platoon sergeant. Oh well, roll with the punches as they say.

I can't believe week 2 is already over at OCS! I only have 12 (11) weeks left! I put 11 in parenthesis because we get two more 4-day weekends before graduation which lowers the training cycle by a week. I still count it though because if I'm not near family or friends (or girlfriends) then it isn't really "time off" for me.