Friday, December 9, 2011

Home Sweet Hawaii

Ric made it home safely on Thanksgiving morning. When I first got to the hangar, there was a big rainbow stretching over the runway where Ric's plane would land - it was such a beautiful reminder of God's promise and faithfulness. It was an hour before the plane was due to land and I was already tearing up! The homecoming was the most amazing event I have ever been involved with. Watching families being reunited, daddies seeing their babies for the first time, and injured Marines welcoming their brothers home is a beautiful thing. Ric was one of the last Marines to get off the plane so I had time to take in everything around me. Once I saw him, however, it was like someone slapped blinders on my face. I don't have the words to describe the feelings of welcoming my love back from Afghanistan. Getting to see & hug Ric after seven months of praying for his life and his safety was shear ecstasy. It's a cliche, but everything was right in the world. I felt like I could relax for the first time in months. Having Ric home is a good thing!

Since Ric's been home, we have been enjoying Hawaii (what's not to love?!). He had four days off before he started work again so the first day or two (or three) he slept A LOT. Like 15 hours a day. I got to know every corner of the hotel real fast. But once he could hold his eyes open for longer than a meal, we ventured out to the beaches. When Ric started back at work, only half days till January, I started familiarizing myself with base. All is well and we're so thankful for this time we have together before coming home for Christmas and the wedding. It's going to be a busy two weeks at home but I couldn't be more excited!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Not Much To Say

Well, this blog is pretty pointless for the trip home. I cant talk about where I am going and when I am going there. Boo.

I'm assuming this is going to be my last post though because these next few days I will be pretty busy. And I am not the type to blog on a regular basis, if you haven't already caught that from the past 6 months.

What I can tell you is that I am in Leatherneck now and it has been fantastic! The food is great. The hot water is great. The weather is great. The lack of things to do is great. The USO is great. The wireless internet is great. And all of these great things equal a fantastic time after leaving Kajaki. I definitely didn't obide by the PT shower rules posted on the walls in the head. 1) Turn water on, get wet, turn water off. 2) Soap up. 3) Turn water on, rinse off, turn water off. No way. Instead, it was more like this. 1) Turn water on away from body until it gets hot because you have had enough cold showers. 2) Stand under the hot water for as long as you'd like. 3) I know it feels good, but don't forget to clean yo, nasty self. 4) Continue to stand under the water until you are clean, then stand under it some more. If you can't tell, it was a wonderful experience.

Some very cold weather in in my near future, and that is a terrifying thought. I'd almost rather go back to Kajaki. Almost. Oh well, after that, it will be Hawaii so I think I will make it.

The Noles are just terrible. We need to stop talking them up at the beginning of every year until they give us a great season. Booooo. Way to put me in a bad mood on my way home from deployment.

Oh, I snuck an FSU football in my CO's pack so when he gets home he will find it! He hates Florida State (big Clemson fan) so I'm really looking forward to hearing about that one after the 96.

Well, I guess thats about all I've got to say for now. I am safe. I am sound. And I will be home soon. Love you all

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Little More Rain

Well... good news. Other than the fact that I am headed home soon, it has only rained a little bit more out here. I was a worried the rainy/cold season would catch us here, but it doesn't look like it. That is great news because if you know me, you know I hate cold weather! Unless I'm on a snowboard. Then and only then is cold weather a LOT of fun. It is snowing in Manas however so I am not looking forward to traveling through there. And it better not delay our flight out.

I helped a little boy out today. It felt great too. We got a call from one of our southern patrol bases that said a station wagon was on its way up to the FOB with a boy that had been shocked by telephone wire. Being that he was completely clothed, they thought it was just his hand, but when he got up here it, the boy was burned on the entire right side of his body. We searched the vehicle to make sure it was clear and I showed them on the FOB to the aid station to get further care. (By the way, when I say showed, I mean I drove in front of them on our new Polaris Rangers which are $13,000 a piece. And they are wicked!) Because the burn was so bad, we requested an immediate air evacuation and I escorted the locals down to the LZ with a corpsman, interpreter and local police officer. Once we got to the LZ, I helped the Doc with the patient. He was just 11 years old and completely blistered from his right ankle all the way up his leg, hip, ribs, and right arm. It looks like he grabbed the wire with his right hand and the shock ran all the way down that side of his body. But you know what? Not one tear. It was amazing. I cry when I touch a burner. You could tell that he was in a lot of pain... he was clinching his teeth and flinching every now and then and his right leg was twitching too. Impressive. Kids here are a different breed in more ways than one though. They also work from the time they can walk. It is normal to see a 5 year old boy leading a donkey down the road with hay on its back. It's crazy. And this kid was probably helping with running electric wire. What are our 5 and 11 year olds doing? Anyway, as the bird approached I threw out the smoke for a mark to let the bird know where to land and we turned the kid over to the MEDEVAC crew.

On the topic of helicopters... last week I got to help out with a HST lift. We had some big refrigerators that were broken and needed to be flown out. IT WAS SWEET. Let me tell you why. Basically, you get to stand next to the reefer (fridge) with a chain in hand. The bird hovers right over your head with a wire hanging down and a loop on the end. All you do is hook up the chain to the loop. But having a machine so big flying right above your kevlar is a cool experience. Maybe it doesn't sound as fun written out... but I promise... good time.

Other than those two bits of news... I'm in the process of turning over all of the Battalion and Regiment gear to the next unit. I am so pumped about this. It has been my biggest headache the entire deployment. I don't think anything has been more exciting to think about than turning this gear over. And the time has finally come!!!

Alrighty then, hope everyone is doing well! Hawaii bound soon! Love you guys.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Back early

Lookie here. I am writing on the blog and it hasn't been another month.

I went up to the Observation Post for a couple days, but after the very first day I started feeling guilty. There was nothing going on. No enemy activity hardly at all. So all I ended up doing was relaxing, sleeping, and sitting on post. It was a great time, don't get me wrong, but like I said, I was feeling guilty. I don't like sitting around not doing much on deployment. It made me feel like I was wasting my opportunity out here. For the first time. That being said, I came back after three days and got back to more exciting paperwork.

Right now it's not all that exciting on the FOB. Everyone is working on submitting their leave paperwork to send to me so that I can look over it and make sure their plans are sound. If so, I'll recommend it and forward it up the chain of command. I'm also working on Equipment Density Lists concerning all of our serialized gear to make sure we take home the correct gear and turn it in back in K-Bay. And the smoother that whole process goes, the quicker we can all go home and enjoy time with family and friends. The last thing I am focusing a lot of attention on is my duties as the Plane Team Commander on the flight home. Surprise surprise right, just another job for me. This one entails keeping everyone informed of our flight times, ensuring we all make it through customs by not having prohibited items and keeping accountability of everyone at all of our stops. Sounds exciting, I know.

Alrighty, well hope you all are doing great. Love you guys.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Thankfully, Time Continues to Fly

I had this bad feeling that as time got closer to leave that it would start creeping along. So far that is not the case. And that is a great thing. Some if it probably has to do with how busy we have been around here lately. I thought things were crazy before, and it has certianly been turned up a notch since then. Annnnd guess what? I love it.

Last week I spent about 5 days up at one of our Observation Posts (OP). It was great to be on top of a mountain and watching all of the operations going on as opposed to being in the Combat Operations Center making all the operations happen. I liked being an observer for a little bit. Actually I am headed back up there tomorrow for another week. Then when I get back I will be turning things over to the new battery! YESSS! While I was on the OP we had our first rain of the season. At least the first rain that I have seen. Supposedly a few days prior is sprinkled a little bit. It was great to have different weather, but at the same time it was not fun being on top of a mountain in a storm. Not only was I on top of a mountain, but I was in a tower on top of the mountain. Then the lightening came. I had just gotten off post and laid down in my stretcher that was suspended about 10 ft off the ground in the tower when BOOOOM. It was like daylight in the tower. Yep, we were struck by lightening. I thought a bomb went off right next to us so I was actually glad for a second that it was just lightening. The three guys on post were luckily not touching metal and since I was suspended off of the metal I was good too. We quickly evacuated the tower though and got rained on in a bunker for about an hour. While sitting in the bunker, it reminded me of the miserable times I had freezing my butt off at TBS and I was instantly happy. It was bad, but it was no where near as bad as it was in Quantico. That's why we train that way.

I had a soldier try and knock the Marines once saying that Marines are such robots that when but in a bad situation, they accept it. While a soldier, for instance, if sitting in a fighting hole is freezing his butt off, will grab a heater and put it next to him. He is somewhat right, but mostly wrong. He is right that he and a lot of his buddies will look for a more comfortable situation, BUT he is wrong about the mentality of the Marines. When we train, we accept the bad situations because we know it is preparing us for the worst case scenario. Not because we are dumb robots. So as I was sitting in the bunker on top of a windy mountain getting rained on, with no electricity around me... I was glad that I had to sit in the snow for hours on end in Quantico with nothing to heat me up but my wet jacket. It made me harder. And it made me appreciate the fact that at least I was not getting snowed on.

Haven't gotten mail in a while but we should be getting some today. I am looking forward to that. In case you have forgotten... its past time when you can send packages, so please, no more. If you do send a package, just mark that it can go to any soldier or troop. Because I am sure after 4 months when it shows up on my door in Hawaii that nothing in it will be good.

I love you guys... and time.... keep on tickin'

Friday, September 30, 2011

Is summer over?

Hello everyone!

This is much easier to do if I keep it updated weekly but oh well! I guess I'm too much of a bum to stay on top of it. Julia got on to me this time and told me I need to get back to updating this more often.

You'll notice one thing different about me. I now double space after periods. It's crazy how quickly I got into the habit. I know its the proper thing to do but I have never done it until now. Not even in college. The reason I now double space and the reason I have not written in a while is because I have spent this whole month writing awards. The last thing I felt like doing after writing awards all day was to come back here and write some more. In total I wrote 21 awards, 12 of which were at least a page of military writing and four of them over two pages. The first few awards I had to go back and fill in a space after each period so I made myself learn quickly. And now I double space without even thinking about it. All the time. No matter who I am writing to or what I am writing about.

I have spent a lot of this month thinking about Hawaii. More than most. I am so excited about being home in November and seeing Julia when I step off the plane. It is going to be so nice to be "home." Which of course lets you know how excited I will be when I actually do get to my real home in December. You guys have no idea how important you are to me. You don't realize how special the people closest to you are until you can't have them around. I appreciate you all very much.

Other than award writing we've been pretty busy. As most of you know, the troops will be starting to pull out soon, but you wouldn't know it up here. We are continuing to roll on like normal. And I love it

September 11th was a great experience up here. It was so neat to fight for our freedom on that day. There was something special about it. Kind of sad that we are still over here 10 years later, but I can see that if we had come here and left quickly, it would not have changed much. These locals need to see stability and they also need a lot of guidance before we just take off. It's been fun taking part in working with the local police force. They are a mess. I had chai tea with them the other night and let me tell you... it was GREAT. They heat up the water by plugging two wires directly into the socket and place the other ends into the water. It works pretty well. Seeing the article of me on the internet on Sept 11 was pretty sweet too. I was excited to see what Julia and my mom said. That will be a neat thing to hold on to for the next few years... or the next forever years.

We celebrated Memorial Day with ribs and steak and then celebrated the Air Force birthday on the 18th with steak, chicken and mashed potatoes and gravy. We love celebrating holidays and birthdays because they send us all kinds of good food to celebrate it with. The Marine Corps birthday will be the best. Obviously. Not only because of the food but because we will start leaving Kajaki shortly after. And leaving this place after all the Marines have been through will be a joyous time. I know I'll miss it though. I can already feel a part of me is attached to this place. I'm already thinking about my next deployment and I keep hoping I get to come back here. It's such a unique area.

Really, I think thats about all I can update you on. All the operations are still Secret and on a "need to know basis" only. You guys be safe and I look forward to seeing you in a little over two months. Stay warm! It sure has stayed warm here.