Sunday, April 26, 2009

Motorcade Training

Yesterday and today's training was pretty fun. Yesterday we were at the shooting range learning the style of shooting we are expected to use while performing VIP security details should we come under attack. Once they taught us correct methods using both the M9 and M16, the day culminated with what the call they transition drill. Basically we are moving around as if we are walking with a VIP and then all of a sudden we come under attack. We have to move the VIP out of harms way while at the same time engaging our target. What they throw into the mix is your weapon is filled with random amounts of ammunition so you have to transfer from one weapon to the other when one runs out of ammo. This happens a total of 14 times. It sucks. Meanwhile the instructors are yelling at you throwing rocks at you pulling and tugging at you etc to raise your stress level. All while running the VIP to cover. It was pretty intense. I was beat at the end of the day.

Today we trained on operating in a motorcade while transporting a VIP, which was also fun. We got to push the Humvees to their limits. Executing various high speed turns and learning how to "read your vehicle" and different types of braking techniques like threshold braking. Surprisingly I got a few compliments on my driving. In the beginning of the day I was mowing down cones and by the end everyone wanted to ride with me. We have one more day of training I believe and then our final day which will combine all of the training we've had this week in a real time scenario. Can't wait!

Iraqi Army attempting to do jumping jacks:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Same old....

Not much new to report on today. The training has been pretty fun. I can't get into too much detail for security reasons. Today we focused on dealing with situations where fans are trying to shake hands with the VIP and/or get autographs. I never knew how much small details made such a big difference. Since I don't have much to talk about, I have put up a video. This video is a commercial my squad leader here did. He is the big guy on the right. The commercial is for a company similar to Comcast our way just up in NY/NJ. Its called Optimum. He is every bit intimidating here as he appears in the commercial.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Now you're talking...

This is the training I've been waiting for. Protective Services Detail aka High Risk Personnel Security Team aka Bodyguard. At least it sounds like the training I've been waiting for. The course is eight days long so I'm not 100% sure what they have in store for us, but they've mentioned motorcade driving, anti-ambush training, instinctive firearms training and stuff like that. They also mentioned evasive driving. Like the famed "pit maneuver", "J" turns and ramming through vehicle blockades.

The basis for the training is for when we have to escort VIP's. A VIP could be a celebrity, high ranking military, dignitaries, ambassadors, senators, etc. Today was all classroom material, thank God, because my heel was killing me. Hopefully it gets better before this training picks up speed. I thought about posting a picture of my blister, but I'll spare you. So instead here is a pic of me in class trying to stay awake.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Land Navigation

I'm sure you were all watching the news to see if there was a story of a Sailor trying to be a Soldier and missing somewhere in the Washington State Mountains. Well, I made it out. So if you do see that on the news, don't fret, its not me. Started out the morning in a classroom learning how to read these maps and magnetic direction, grid direction etc. Its actually rather complicated. Its nothing like the maps I'm used to seeing. The first part of the outdoors portion we had to find a location using only a map, and the second portion we had to find 2 locations with only a compass using the Azimuth technique. I'm not even going to even try to explain it. You can click on the word azimuth if you really, really, really wanna know.

So anywho, I made it to my locations, I did get a little lost. Actually I was going in the right direction and didn't trust myself and went a little off my track. I was also one of the last people to finish, but I finished.

A few of you had asked if my uniforms fit. Yeah, they do fit, although today was my first day wearing the complete uniform with the boots. Walking in the woods 3 miles in brand new boots didn't go over too well. I've a got a pair of nasty blisters on my heels. So I'm not quite sure if there not a good fit or it was just the fact that they were new.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I apologize in advance....

Today was a pretty good day. When I woke up today I was pretty pumped up for the scheduled training. UCP. Unarmed Combatives Program. Also known as MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). I've been wanting to take lessons/train in MMA for some time now and haven't really gotten around to it. The Army has 4 levels. We only got to do an INTRODUCTION to level 1. It was about as basic as you can get. Most of the stuff was things I learned from wrestling in Highschool and watching UFC on TV. Well, maybe a little more advanced than that but you get the picture. What I didnt take into account when getting excited this morning was the Army motto "Train like you fight, Fight like you train". Which means we were doing all of these moves in 50lbs of gear. After about 10 minutes I had had enough.

Now I'm sure some of you are wondering what I was apologizing for. I am about to tell a story and it contains some language some of you may not approve of, but I said it and found the story funny and felt I should share it. So I apologize in advance. For all of the training we do, we finish them with an After Action Report. They go around the room and ask us for things that could improve the training and things we think they should sustain. For almost every training there is this Lueitannt that always asks for something moronic and usually makes us sailors look soft. Like "I think the chairs in the classroom should have more padding" or "the coffee wasnt hot enough" or my favorite "how big are the spiders in Kuwait?". These questions and comments are annoying and whenever he riases his hand a round of sighs falls upon the room. What is he going to say now type of thing.

So today was no different. It was different for me though because it is hand to hand combat training. Tough guy stuff, and like I said it was basic. No striking or anything, just a couple takedowns and arm locks and stuff. So what is the first thing this Leiutannt says? "You should give us pads and mouthgaurds". A few chuckles let out and then I say out loud in front of everybody......."Would you like them to supply you with a tampon too sir?" A roar of laughter lets out and then everyones eyes focuses on the Leuitennant. It sinks in. He is our boss. He is about 8 ranks ahead of me. He doesn't look amused. You could hear a pin drop.

Now everyone is staring at me. You hear a few "ooooh"s. "You're done man". Things of that nature. So now I'm worried. As soon as the class adjourns he makes a b-line right for me. Stick a fork in me. I'm done. He says "haha, that was a good one man, you got me". Whew! Boy was I relieved. So now its funny again. He is from Bucks County and we talk about Philly sports now and again, so maybe thats what saved me. But enough walking the tight rope for me. That was too close.

We also had a brief about a brief we are going to recieve tomorrow. You read that right. A breif about a breif. Just go with the flow right. Anyway, apparently I will be dropped in a forest tomorrow with a map, a whistle and a compass and have to find my way back. Whats with the whistle you ask? Thats if I get lost. I am supposed to start blowing that whistle so when they send the lookout party it will be easier for them to find me. Originally the told us we would be in groups of 3-5. But I guess that info was incorrect. I'll be alone. Hopefully I didn't get my sense of direction from my mother.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I didnt forget about you

The last few days have been pretty long and not all that exciting so I haven't had much to write about. So here is another video to keep you entertained until my next instalment.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

It's been a long day...

Today was our longest day so far. We started around 630am, and just finished up around 1030pm. We were at the shooting range the whole time. I'm pretty beat. We shot the M16 and the M9 (Beretta 9mm). I've shot both before, but its been awhile for the m16 (4 years) and I've never shot pop-up targets with the M9. So I was a little nervous about passing. I passed both first time up. I cut it close with the M16 though. It kind of funny though because we also shot both weapons at night and in pitch black darkness. I got perfect scores on both weapons. Normally it would be the other way around, but hey, I'll take it any way I can get it. Below is a picture of my first target. This is what they use to "zero in". It's for the M16. The purpose of zeroing in is to adjust the front and rear sights of the weapon to ensure your shots are on target. The target is on a regular 11 x 7 paper and is placed about 25 meters away. The distance and the size of the target shows where you would hit if that were a full size target 300 meters away.

The big news is that I finally got my uniforms in today. Tomorrow I will inventory the bag and try everything on. Hopefully all of that goes well. If you're lost click Really... to learn about my uniform issue.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Yesterday and today is/was the same training we did the day before yesterday. Although today we are shooting the 9mm handgun. Which is kind of a disappointment compared to what we got to play with the last two days. They should start of with the small boys and work your way up to the big boys. Tomorrow we finally get out to the actual shooting range instead of this simulator. The big thing about today is that my uniforms are supposed to come in today. People here are taking bets if they actually come in or not. Since I don't have much to talk about today here's a funny video. This kid had surgery at the dentist and I guess he's still a little high off the medicine

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Too many chiefs not enough Indians.

Yesterday was a pretty long day. An easy day, but a long day. We played on that same simulator as Sunday but with bigger weapons. This time we fired the

M2 Browning aka Ma Deuce

MK 19 Grenade Launcher (40mm)

M249 SAW

M240 Machine gun

The top 18 shooters of the M249 and M240 (9 each) will get the chance to go to the range and shoot the real thing. I was not one of them. Which is great in my book. I've already fired them before so it wouldn't be a new experience for me, plus the guys who will be shooting it have to carry them around the whole time were here, and also when were overseas and I want no parts of that. But again the simulators were pretty cool. We got some good training. Tonight we are doing nighttime fire of the M16 I think. We'll see how it goes, especially in the rain.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Wheres Woody?

Can you find me? No? Look a little closer.... Closer.... Yup you found me... The one sticking out like a sore thumb. (I tried to think of a better "sticking out like a" but nothing came to mind. Feel free to leave a comment of a better one if you know it) Now I know how this guy felt:

Today was miserable. It was in the 40's and pouring rain. Which from what I hear is the norm around here. Luckily we were inside all day. It started off with a familiarization of the M16 rifle and ended with us firing on an indoor course. It was very high-tech. It was all computer and lasers. I've been on simulators before, and this has been the closest to the real thing I've seen. The rifle recoils and everything. They make the targets smaller to simulate how big they would appear from a longer distance. The people who normally operate the program were off for Easter so the instructors today had some problems fixing the glitches and bugs we were encountering, but it still was beneficial. Here is another pic:

That's all for today. Hope everyone had a good Easter!

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Today we got to participate in HEAT. HMMwV Egress Assistance Training. It was a little scary and fun at the same time. Basically they take a HMMWV that is out of commission. Chop off the front and rear ends and attach it to a rotisserie. It is used to simulate what it feels like to be in a vehicle that rolls over, and teaches you how to escape safely and help the injured escape as well. There are 5 men in each HMMVW. Two in the front, two in the back, and a gunner on the turret. Everyone is buckled in except for the gunner. Guess who was the gunner. Yup. Me. I volunteered though. No one else seemed too interested.
The gunner usually has slim chances of surviving a rollover. They didn't tell us that, but I think it's safe to assume. If you're lucky to be fast enough to even get inside the truck before it flips, you then have to sustain the damage you take from being tossed around like a pair of shoes in a clothes dryer. To make things interesting they throw in rubber ammo cans and fire extinguishers to get tossed around with you. Below is a video I found on youtube of similar training. Also, on a side note, they have video cameras and microphones inside the truck, so everyone on the outside can hear you. As you can imagine, some strange things come out of those speakers.

After all that was done we were whisked away in a cattle truck to our next training evolution. (The cattle truck has its name for a good reason. Picture a horse trailer with 50 people crammed in it). This training was grenades and claymores, CBRN (Chem, Bio, Radio, Nuclear) gear, and field sanitation (how to dig bathrooms). The CBRN I've had a hundred times in the Navy, the field sanitation was pretty much common sense for most of us, but the Grenade training was pretty cool. They gave us what I thought was inert grenades to play with. We watched the instructor throw one and then we did it. I was under the impression these were just hunks of metal and we weren't actually going to throw them. So I was the first one up, and I go through all the motions. Pull the pin and all that but I simulate throwing it. I just make the motion with my arm but never let go of the grenade. Next thing I know the instructor is screaming at me to throw the grenade. Turns out these things actually had a small firecracker like charge on them. So I heave the thing away and it blows up. Everyone was laughing. I thought it was funny as well. The instructor didn't find it too funny though. He found it even less funny when the guy behind me did the same thing I did. Right after he watched me do it and get yelled at. So that was today. 10 hours of training. 50lbs of gear. I'm beat and we have 12 hours more tomorrow, Easter Sunday.

PS... Still no uniform for me...Everywhere I go I get asked by 10 people why I'm in a different uniform than everyone else. My explanation gets more far fetched every time. The newest one is that I'm a Navy SeAL headed to a secret mission in N. Korea and my unit is already there so I'm training with these guys.

Friday, April 10, 2009

In My Nose?!

So we went Off-Roading today.....And YEAH......It was AWESOME. I got to drive for about 20 minutes. Its incredible how well this thing handled the terrain. Some of the hills were so steep, it was like when you're on a roller coaster at the top of the hill and you cant see the road below you. Except now you have to worry about making sure there isn't trees underneath you. I did pretty well. I only bottomed out once. The instructor did have to tell me to slow down a couple times though. It was too tempting to not test the speed boundaries going through 30 inches of water and mud.

Wasn't able to get a picture of me actually driving so you'll just have to take my word for it. So on the left you'll see me hanging out in the back seat while one of my shipmates drove.

This is a photo I took while riding in the back. You can't really see out the window, but its just hills and trees and stuff. The black thing on the right side if the picture is a sling where the man operating the turret would sit.

So yesterday I mentioned a little bit about this Combat Lifesaving training. Yesterday we just had a briefing about the training we will be getting and I'm scared. Not only will be giving each other IV's, we will also be shoving breathing tubes up each others noses. Their words of encouragement were "as long as you stay relaxed it's not that bad" and "when they tried it on me I got three bloody noses". Boy. Thanks for the motivation. A couple guys here are paramedics and they were always taught that you will only put these tubes on someone who is unconscious. I guess that doesn't apply to soldiers. Haven't gotten a date on that training yet, but I have a feeling I may come down with the flu that day.

Here's a video I found of someone else going through it.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A real I.V.?

Got my first experience driving the M1151A1 today. It was surprisingly fairly similar to driving a car. We drove around the base on paved roads, so I didn't have to worry about adjusting the gears for different terrains. I got to drive a total of about 10 minutes. I had alot of fun though. Now that I feel pretty comfortable with driving it, I can't wait to hit the off-road portion tomorrow. To spice things up a bit they are calling for storms tomorrow which should be intresting to see how it affects things.

Next topic today is Combat Rescue Training. We have some kind of preparatory brief tonight for this training. I'm not sure if were actually doing this tonight or in the next CRT class, but apparently I will be sticking people with IV's and they will be sticking me. Not sure If I'm too keen on sticking other people with a needle and I'm even more concerned with people who are not medical professionals sticking me with needles.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

N.ever A.gain V.olunteer Y.ourself

Nothing too exciting today. I'm going to try to update daily, so hopefully the other days are more interesting than this one. Today pretty much went down as expected. We went to class around 9am which was nice. The morning was spent in the classroom like yesterday. We went over the different manuals for the vehicle, operating the vehicle, and performing maintenance on the vehicle. We also took a test to get our license for the Humvee. Everyone passed the test, so we should be getting our licenses tomorrow. I'm a little nervous about driving the vehicle. I've attempted to drive stick a couple times and didn't do too well at it. These are actually automatic, but there are about 20 different combinations of gears. It's kind of hard to explain, but in a nutshell there are 3 shifters. One is your P, N, OD, D, 2, 1. Pretty standard. Than you have H, H/L, L and....... to be honest, some other stuff that I forgot already. If you can think of type of surface and degree of a slope, there is a combination of these gears for that. Which brings me to the maintenance of the vehicle. I'm pretty much a Jiffy Lube type of guy. A mechanics dream so to speak. Now I'm expected to perform maintenance on this monster? I'm sure I'll get the hang of it, but to me it was a little intimidating. So that's pretty much it for today. Hopefully tomorrow we get to drive ;)

......And no, still no new uniforms for me. Hopefully tomorrow too.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I'm trying out Twitter. We'll see how it goes.

Driving training

Today we officially started actual training. Driving training to be exact. We are being trained to operate the M1151 HMMWV (Humvee) 4x4 weapon carrier by the 191st Infantry Brigade.
Today was mostly classroom stuff. Lots of powerpoints and stuff. Some of it was basic defensive driving and rules of the road you can apply to any and all vehicles. And some was specific to the Humvee we'll be driving. The technology in these vehicles is pretty amazing. I would like to get into more detail, but I'm not sure whats out in the public and what they've told us. If you're interested, I'm sure you can find the info somewhere on the net. We will be driving it around base on regular roads on Thursday I think. Then on Friday we will be going off road. Up hills, over rocks, under water and all that fun stuff. I'm a little nervous operating a vehicle so big. Also there are some gears you have to shift in and out of for different terrain and stuff. Hopefully I pick up on the training and things go without a hitch. So that's pretty much it for today. In case you were wondering I got new soap and shampoo today and got a nice hot shower.

Hurry up and Wait

Monday was our first actual day of training. It consisted of mostly administrative stuff and gear issue. We would rush from one place to the other spending hours in between in formation just waiting to be whisked away to the next evolution. Typical military fashion. We got some pretty cool gear. Mostly stuff I probably wont use but cool nonetheless. The one piece of gear that was not cool, was the rifle they gave us. Big oafy M16's. Don't get me wrong its a good weapon, but for a law and order det, we really need something more compact like an M4. I used both in the past and prefer the M4 for any situation, but for what we're going to be doing, the M4 is what we need. Not mention the M16's we got were pretty old and beat up. A few guys got guns with crooked or no front sights (sights are what you use to aim; for those who are lost).

I also want to address our attire overall. We look like soup sandwiches. It's bad enough we're Sailors living in Army country, doing an Army job and trying to fit in, but the least they could do is hook us up with matching gear. I currently have gear in 3 different types of camo. Army Digital camo, Navy Woodland camo, and Navy Desert camo. It really looks horrible. Now I'm the exception with 3 different types since I haven't received my desert camo yet, but everyone else has two types, and it doesn't look much better. The keep telling us "One Team, One Fight", why not one uniform? I'm not saying all together, but for situations like this, they should put us in Army digital. Much like a Navy Corpsman stationed with a marine unit. Navy insignias on a marine uniform. They've been doing it for years and it's worked out quite well.

The last bit I wanted to talk about is how when I went to the shower Sunday night, I accidentally left my shampoo and soap on the sink. Which I admit was a mistake on my part. I didn't notice until Monday night after I worked out when I went to take a shower. I asked around, everyone saw it down there, but no one knows what happened to it. So either they threw it away or someone kept it for themselves. Apparently it sat there for over 12 hours. There is only 20 of us here. You're telling me not a single person could shout out if anyone was missing theirs? Anyway I had to go to bed without a shower and it didn't feel to great.


The first day at Ft. Lewis was not too bad. I had somewhat of an idea of what life here would be like, but most of it was hearsay. Unfortunately, the rumors were true. We were put in WWII "historic" (obviously a way to make the situation sound better) barracks. Open bay. Open shower. Hot days and cold nights.
Everyone got their new desert camo uniforms on that Saturday except for three people. I was one of those people. I only brought one other uniform, so I hoped the new uniforms would come in soon. I was placed into a squad. Squad 2. So far my squad seems to be the best one. Everyone gets along fairly well. Haven't had any problems. Everyone that came on the deployment was supposed to be an E5 or above, so being so top heavy with guys who are used to being leaders at their respective commands has created a little tension so far as guys compete for the better jobs and evaluations. I don't mind that, but a few guys have gone over the top to the point where it is almost annoying. Anyway, there is only one or two of those in my squad of 12.
Saturday was mostly for getting settled in, unpacking, meeting the guys etc. A few guys weren't getting in until midnight, so I decided to make their beds for them that way they could go straight to bed when they got in. They don't know I did it. I hope they appreciated it and would have done the same for me. I slept pretty good that night. Anxious to see what next week will bring.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Ft. Lewis

The second leg of my journey takes me to Ft. Lewis in Tacoma, Washington. Our flight was scheduled for Saturday April 4th. It was an early 7am flight and our flight was out of LAX. Which is about an hour 1/2 away from Port Hueneme. There were four of us on the flight. We left for LAX at 4:30am and arrived at the airport just in the nick of time. Unfortunately, one of the guys that came with me left his bag laying in the parking lot at Port Hueneme. He must have felt terrible. Glad it wasn't me. Lucky for him there were some guys going out on a flight at 12pm and were still back at Port Hueneme. So they were able to take his bag with them. So other than the embarrassment, it actually worked out for him. Now he didn't have to heave around luggage all over. The flights didn't end up being too bad either. I never have this much luck at the airport. 4 flights in a row. Not only no hiccups, but I even got hooked up with the economy plus and the spacious row in between first class and coach. Not only that, but I had room in the overhead for my bags. No people with obnoxious sized carry ons. No crying babies. No kid falling asleep and drooling on my shoulder. Enjoy it while it lasts I guess.

It starts.... Sort of..

Real quick background info first. I'm a US Navy Master-At-Arms. I was active duty for 5 years and have been a reservist for two. I have been selected as an individual augmentee. I will be performing 400 days of duty somewhere in Kuwait with the US Army.

Ok. Day one. Friday Mar 27th. I arrive at Naval Operational Support Center in Wilmington Delaware. After a few hours of paperwork, I'm given my plane tickets. My flight goes out from Philly at 7am the following Sunday. That day was also the day my Dad was having the Grand Opening of his new store. So my Mom and I decided to check on him, say hello and go to lunch. So we do that and on our way home from lunch I get a phone call from the Navy telling me not to get on that plane. Turns out I have a cavity and apparently cavities and deployments do go together. So my flight is rescheduled for Wed April 1st (my Moms Bday), and I have now have a dentist appointment almost 2 hours away at Ft. Meade. So, I got the cavity filled and headed out on Wednesday. My parents and my fiance Christina took me to the airport. Goodbyes were a little rough as expected.

The flights went well. I even got upgraded to economy plus (about 4 more inches of legroom) by the people at check-in since I was military. Someone from the Navy picked me up from Oxnard, CA and took me to the processing center at Port Hueneme. Here is where all of our initial paperwork is done. We get our shots, uniforms, dog tags, briefings etc. Most people do it in 5 days. I had two. So to say I was a rushed would be an understatement. But Everything went without a hitch and I stayed on schedule.