Alpine Summit

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Home Stretch

Approximately 20 weeks ago, I left my home and my friends, family and known life to work for the Army. Now I'm nearing the home stretch of my initial training and will soon be a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army. It's a weird feeling knowing I am going to be placed in a position of leadership and responsibility in the world's strongest military. While I'm proud of what I have achieved, I'm also humbled. Had you told me last September that I was going to become an officer in the Army, I would have laughed at you. Now that I'm actually here with only 3 weeks left, it's the far goal I have been working for for so long now. I miss my home, and my family and friends a lot but I'm also very happy with my decision to join and while the first several weeks of service were some of the worst weeks of my life, it quickly improved and has actually become fun at this point!

My plans for now are to go to Ft. Lee, VA and check in with my OBC class where they will send me to Ft. Sill, OK for BOLC II (6 weeks). Crazy, I know, sending me to Virginia then to Oklahoma, but nobody said the Army made sense. My next stop after BOLC II is to go back to Virginia and finish up there for OBC (14 weeks). My assignment preference is Ft. Carson, CO so I can be closer to friends and family, but who knows what's in store for me? When I first started basic training, I was convinced that I would do my time in the Army and get out ASAP. Now that I have been given more freedoms and actually have a much better view of how life in the Army outside of training is, I'm not so sure. Not only has my quality of life improved since basic, but I also have many options should I decided the Quartermaster corps isn't for me. For example, I can try to get branched into something else like Intelligence, Armor, Artillery, Civil Affairs, etc. once I make Captain. My prospects as an officer are much brighter than they were when I was a specialist in basic training.

My budget is still in the works and I'm hoping to get some semblance of normalcy with it soon. The problem is going from living off of $700 per month to $750 every two weeks. In real world terms, that isn't a lot of money, but in the Army where they pay for everything, it's actually quite a bit. You're probably thinking to yourself I must be some kind of horrible business student for not being able to balance my finances, but it's really a matter of 1. finding the time and 2. having the consistent life that helps to solidify and good budget. I'm also trying to establish myself as financially independent while trying not to lost my ties to my parents who are helping to handle a couple of my financial obligations. For now though, I'm doing fine and keeping my head above water.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Fieldwork and exams

My final field exercise is coming up and I will be out of contact for about 2 weeks. I should have windows of civilizational contact every 3 or 4 days, but for the most part will be incommunicado. I hear it will be a lot of lying around doing nothing, which kind of stinks because what could take us one week if we barely busted our butts, is taking two weeks with gobs of downtime. Oh well, it'll be like a camping trip more this way I guess.

My evaluations will take place during this field exercise and I will be graded on how well I lead during a squad attack and breaking contact. This means I will be doing some studying this weekend and getting my thoughts organized for the briefing I have to give. They are more concerned about how well you brief and lead during the operation and don't much care if you do the tactical stuff wrong. After all, they're evaluating leadership, not combat proficiency. Keep that in mind to those of you yet to come here.

In other news, I read today during my rare and valuable downtime that there is a protest at a college over the new president.

Gallaudet University students blocked access to campus for a second day Thursday, escalating their protest against an incoming president they say lacks the skills to lead the nation's only liberal arts university for the deaf and hearing impaired.

Just what skills does this president lack that has these students up in arms?

Fernandes has said some people do not consider her "deaf enough" to be president. She was born deaf but grew up speaking and did not learn American Sign Language until she was 23. Those who are against her presidency say she is an unsuitable choice for other reasons.

This school is for deaf and blind students who don't want their disabilities to limit their intellectual growth. However, they are more than willing to want to deny a person her job of being president because she "isn't deaf enough."

First of all, what is "deaf enough?" Also, as a liberal arts college, what ever happened to judging someone on the content of their character and not the color of their skin (yes, I know--we're talking disabilities not race, but the underlying concept is the same)? Maybe if they spent more time learning about MLK and others like him, they wouldn't be so elitist when it came to their new president.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Latest from Riordan St.

So I haven't updated on my OCS adventure and as promised, here is what I have been up to lately. We recently had our first field exercise, which was actually our second time in the field. We learned various squad tactics like ambushes, assaulting a bunker, breaking contact and other things of that nature. I'm typically not a fan of going in the field considering it means a lot of sweating and rancid port-o-johns. Luckily, the weather was cooler than usual and I was actually cold in the evenings and barely sweat during the day. That coupled with our platoon having about 6 port-o-johns to ourselves, was nice and made the experience much more enjoyable.

One of the more notable moments was when my battle buddy for the exercise and I were manning one of the perimeter corners of our patrol base where the 240B was placed. For those who haven't been around this particular weapon, it's quite loud. So we heard some rustling in the woods and our standard operating procedure was to call for anyone approaching to halt and then shoot. So we hear rustling and called "halt" but still heard rustling so my partner in crime opened up with this thing and woke up not only our platoon, but several people from other platoons who were actually quite a ways away. It was pretty funny and it pissed off a bunch of people. Oh well.

In other news, we just went to senior phase which means additional privileges such as walking ourselves to chow and wearing "civilian" clothes after we're done for the day. As I gain more of the freedoms and luxuries I enjoyed as a civilian, my regrets for joining the Army decrease. For the most part, my only regret is being so far from my girlfriend and my family still.

We have a potential recycle in our platoon who utterly failed at being the platoon sergeant this week. He has already been recycled twice and just cannot seem to grasp the fact that he needs to tell people when and how to jump. He's absolutely paralyzed without direct instruction. I'm not sure what is going to happen to him now, but things aren't looking good for him--that much I'm sure about.

Finally, this weekend is a 4-day weekend and I am in Atlanta visiting my friend from when I lived in Florida back in the late 80's. I'm really happy with the change in scenery and love that I'm nowhere near Ft. Benning. Today I found out my friend from high school is also in Atlanta because he just had a kid. A pleasant surprise to say the least. I am going to to go have lunch with him after church on Sunday and see his new bundle of joy. Monday morning, I have to go back to Ft. Benning and get ready for another several weeks of work.

Until next time, I will keep trying to update on items of interest as they occur.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Speed and Angels Trailer

In production. Learn more at www.speedandangels.com. True life story and action documentary about two navy officers chasing their dreams to become fighter pilots.

I saw this trailer and thought to share it here. More on my OCS/Military experience later. We have a 4-day break this weekend and I intend to use it. I do hope everyone is doing well!

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