Thursday, July 30, 2009

You Know You're In The Desert When...

.... You eat Habanero peppers to cool your mouth off.

Work has been pretty busy this week. In addition to my regular work, my collateral duties and volunteering at the USO has been making the days go by fast. Last week I also started doing the Sexual Assault Prevention Patrol or SAPP. We have never had any incidents here, so this is merely a preventive measure. I'm sure whomever created it has it at the top of their evaluation report. Something to the effect of "Spearheaded the creation of to date, because of my genius program, we have had no incidents"

It's a good program to have, but they ask that we ride ATV's so we can get into places our vehicles cant. Which at first sounded like fun, till I got a sore throat from breathing in all of the dust created by the ATV. Also, when I'm done my patrol my uniform is covered in dust, so for the rest of the shift I look like a dirtball. And the kicker...ATV's DONT HAVE AIR CONDITIONING. I think the goals of the program could be met just as well, by getting out and patrolling the areas the vehicles can't get to on foot, or maybe just making it someones sole job. Give them a uniform more comfortable like a bike cop would wear or something. So anyway, that's my rant I guess.

In happier news I got care packages yesterday. I got 3 from back home, and 1 from group called Operation Gratitude. Check em out. Great program.

I wanted to thank all of you back home that put stuff into the care package my Mom sent out. It really made my day. Except for Trent's diaper. I could have done without Trent's diaper. All of the other stuff was great though. I'll have to pace myself on eating the sweets. It's been tempting to pick at them before I go to bed. Below is a picture of all of the stuff that was sent:

So thanks again to all of you!! PS..That big bag of laundry was not sent. That is mine and it is clean, I just hadn't put it away yet.

Lastly, Christina's Aunt and Grandmother bought her another Sphinx over the weekend. It's name is "Roo". In case you didn't pick up on it, our cat that just passed was Kanga. Kanga and Roo.

Miss Everyone....7 more months!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

"The IA Experience"

Since I started this blog a few months ago I have recieved a few emails from other Sailors who are scheduled to go on deployment to varios places as an IA (Individual Augmentee). They mostly consist of questions about what to bring and what to expect. I'm happy to hear this blog has become somewhat of a place to prepare them for thier deployment. In doing some research to help one of the people who emailed me, I found that another Sailor had created a blog which is a little more "informational" than my stories can be at times. While I highly recommend this blog for those who are seeking to learn more about being an IA, please don't hesitate to email any questions you may have. The writer of this blog also added my blog to his list of IA links back in April so thanks to him for that.

The IA Experience :
"I came across a post on Eye of the Storm mentioning that the "collective Navy Individual Augmentee experience" is one of three books not yet written that Charles would love to read. Me too. I'm on the hook to head into an IA this year, and in trying to learn whatever I can about what the next year holds I have come to the same conclusion as Charles: the IA is a unique part of Navy history that needs to be recorded for posterity. So this might end up being another blog about my IA, when it arrives. Or it might work out to be a step toward recording others' IA experiences for posterity. We'll see. For now, I've linked to any Navy IA blogs that I can find on the right side of the page in the hopes that people can use this page as one stop shopping to see what's going on in the world of Navy IAs today."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Narmy Strong......

......when an Army Of One just isn't strong enough

Well it's Tuesday and the sandstorm never came. I heard that it slowed down and could be here by Friday. I'm sure on Friday they'll say that it should be here by Monday.

Last week was fairly quiet. I do have a pretty good story to tell though.

So on Sunday night I was out patrolling the base in our Durango (Glad I went to Humvee school) and I was flagged down by a soldier who stated he thinks there may be an IED in a dumpster near his tent. So I go over to the area where they are and they tell me they hear a beeping noise coming from the dumpster. This is the first sign to me, that this could not possibly be an IED. I know the terrorists aren't the brightest and most advanced enemy, but they know better than to put a warning on their bomb. "Here's the bomb..The beeping noise...just wanted to give you a heads up". So anyway, just to be on the safe side I call for back-up and we evacuate the nearby tents. Now the Army guys who reported it are practically demanding that I call out EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal). These are the heavy hitters. You don't call them out unless you know it's for sure an IED or you just can't tell. It's better to be safe than sorry, but at the same time, don't drag them out of bed for something bogus.

So I decide to get closer to try and hear the beeping. Up until this point I've been about 40 yds away. So as I get closer I hear the beeping. I know that beep. When we first got to Kuwait, and we were sleeping in those tents, my tent had that same beeping noise for three days straight. It was an alarm for the smoke detectors telling you to change the battery. It doesn't stop beeping until a new one is put in. So now I am 90% positive its a smoke detector, but I need to be 100% sure. So I open the dumpster. These Army guys headed for the hills as soon as I lifted the lid. It was funny to me. It's dark and I can't see a thing, so I ask them for a flashlight. They said they had one, but they weren't coming to me. So I walked back over to get the flashlight and I tell the guys I'm pretty sure I know what it is, I don't think it's a bomb. One of the guys says to me "Hey. No need to be the next hero man, just call EOD and let them handle it". Which I also found amusing. I thought about going back over to the dumpster and start asking for tools that would be used to disable a bomb. "Yeah, I'm gonna need a pair of pliers, a roll of duct tape, a piece of bubble gum and a pair of tin snips". Instead I opted for, "No hero man, just doing my job. Trust me, I've seen the movie Hurt Locker and just went through 3 days of IED training at Ft. Lewis".

So anyway, I go back over, rifle through the trash, grab the smoke detector out, rip out the battery and toss it back in. The Army guys were pretty embarrassed. I made sure to assure them they did the right thing. Had I not recognized the beep and completely assessed the situation to my complete understanding, I would've never have gone over there. When I was in Bahrain in 2003, a terrorist set a pretty big explosion in a dumpster that rocked the base. Shattered windows. It was scary. So when I say if I didn't know, I wouldn't have done it, I mean it. Been there, done that type of thing.

The main thing is, is that these soldiers are on there way to Iraq. Where IED's are the most dangerous thing there. They've lost friends to IED's. So to you and I, it might be a no brainer, "ah it's just a smoke detector", but they cannot take anything lightly. I made very sure to make sure they understood that even though it was what it was, they did the right thing, and that they continue to do the same thing in Iraq. You don't want to help them get into "the boy who cried wolf" phase. Where they stop calling out possible IED's because the last 3 came out negative, because that's the one that will blow. So anyway, it's a funny story, but I had to put it into perspective. See it through their eyes.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Quiet is Good

Things here have been pretty quiet, aside from a few minor offenses, the Soldiers have been pretty well behaved. The average temperature has increased about 5 - 10 degrees. I haven't checked the weather lately, but on Thursday they were predicting a major sandstorm to roll in Sunday or Monday. Hopefully it doesn't. They're the worst.

As for me things have been pretty good. I have been going through a battle with "Big" Navy lately though. It seems to have been fixed, but it will be about a month before I know for sure.

The whole thing is really complicated, especially for someone not familiar with the military, but I will try to break it down.

On Mar 5th 2002 I joined the Navy. I enlisted for a total of 8 years. 5 Active Duty and 3 inactive ready reserves. So I would have been getting out of the Navy all together on Mar 5th 2010.

On Mar 5th 2007, I got off of Active duty and decided to go active reserves instead of inactive in order to receive an enlistment bonus. The bonus required me to enlist for a total of 6 years reserves to qualify. Since I was already required to do 3 years in the reserves I just extended that contract for 3 years. Thus fulfilling the 6 years. My new contract would expire on Mar 5th 2013.

With me so far?

Now this is where no one seems to have a clue as to what happened.
"All of the sudden" all of the Navy computer systems say that my contract will expire on Jun 25th 2009. No one has an explanation as to what triggered this. So on Jun 25th, I was technically discharged from the Navy. The original contracts I signed cannot be found.

So now that I'm discharged things start to happen. My pay stops. My benefits stop. I'm basically non-existent as far as the computers are concerned. So after 3 weeks of people passing the buck on whose fault it was and who was going to fix it, they finally decided that I would have to re-enlist and they would back date the paperwork to Jun 25th. You would not believe the drama that went on, and is still going on about this paperwork. Meanwhile I just sat here watching, waiting, not getting paid and not receiving benefits.

Now the new date for my contract to expire will be Jun 25th 2012. Which is fine with me except for the fact that I received a nice bonus for the extension till 2013 I did back in 2007. Now that that contract has been "breached", I'm worried they will try to recoup my bonus. Only time will tell. I have been assured they wont, but when this all came about I was assured my pay wouldn't stop too.

Hope everyone is doing well back home! 230 more days....

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Not a whole lot new going on out here in the sandbox. The base has been busy, so I made sure to buy a couple extra bottles of soap and shampoo in case they sell out. Tonight there was a country concert here. Artie Dean Harris was the singers name. I'm not really a big country fan, but without much to do here I checked it out. It was a pretty good show. He has opened up for a few big country singers and I guess he is releasing his first album soon. I think he said he opened up for Big & Rich, Kelly Coffey, Emerson Drive, Daid Alan Coe, and a few others I didn't recogonize.

On my days off I have been pretty bored so decided to start getting into weightlifting and volunteering at the USO here on base. I'm pretty excited about working at the USO. From what I understand I will just be doing random odd jobs they have there. Keeping myself busy should help the time go by faster on those days off.

On a more somber note, our cat Kanga died today. Not sure what from. Christina was at the beach when it happened. Here are a few photos of her:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


This is played at every base in Kuwait at 6am as revele. I'm glad I work the night shift and I dont have to wake up to it every morning.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dust Storms

Not sure if this is the one that just rolled through here, or there is another one on the way......

"Many Iraqis considered the storm to be the worst in living memory"

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fly Eagles Fly.....

Happy 4th!

If you didn't already notice I was able to get a few pictures uploaded to my last two blogs so be sure to check them out.

It looks like the sandstorms here finally are done. Yesterday was the worst day yet. I was able to get a few good pictures of what it's like driving during one of these. Hopefully I'll be able to upload them soon. I talked to a few of the locals and they said said they have seen much worse sandstorms, but not continuous sandstorms for 2 weeks like this. They said it usually only lasts 2 - 3 days.

As Aunt Eileen commented on my last blog, the Eagles cheerleaders were in Kuwait the last few days. I believe they go to Iraq tomorrow. They didn't come to my base, but they did go to Camp Virginia, one of the bases I'm responsible for policing. I was off, so I caught a ride with the guys who were working the shift down there so I could get some pictures.

I ended up bumping into one of the guys who I was in that VIP training with at Ft. Lewis, and he brought me over to join him and the cheerleaders for dinner. They ate at the Army Dining Facility where we normally eat. They didn't seem impressed :) I'm sure after two days in Iraq they will be wishing they were back eating in Kuwait. There were 6 or 7 cheerleaders. They were all really nice. The majority of them were from South Jersey, so I shared a few of the jokes I've heard about South Jersey girls. They didn't find them funny, but the girls from Delco and Montgomery County did.

I asked them if they were scared about going into Iraq, and for the most part, they weren't. They were more worried about camel spiders than anything. I guess they saw that email that went around. If you saw it, it was a soldier holding this camel spider that was 2 feet long. Turns out that photo was a fake. They're actually pretty small. I flipped some boards over outside to show them one. They do chase you though. Not to attack, but for the shade. You will sometimes find them standing next to you to get some shade. If your shadow moves, they chase you to try to stay in it.

So after dinner we got some pictures, again I'll hopefully be able to upload them soon, and they went over to the USO tent to sign autographs. There were about 60 or 70 guys there waiting to get autographs. Its a real small base. There were 3 guys that came in late, very rowdy, hootin' and hollerin' ,that claimed to be from Northeast Philly. They also claimed to be proud season ticket holders of seats in the "700 section". I asked them if they meant "700 level". They said yes, but they hesitated. The guy doing the photography for the cheerleaders asked them to sing the fight song. Fail. I think they only said the last verse correctly. They made fools out of themselves. The cheerleaders were rolling their eyes at them and boos erupted from the crowd. They walked out in shame. That, unfortunately I didn't get footage of.
So all in all it was nice to talk to people from the tri-state area, and nice to see girls for the first time in awhile.