Tuesday, May 31, 2011

First Lieutenant

We're so excited for Ric's recent promotion from Second to First Lieutenant.  Unfortunately they did not provide him with a celebratory cake in Afghanistan - we will have to eat one in his honor.  

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Loving it

It's been about 10 days since my last post. If I can't do better than 10 days then I'm just being lazy, no matter how busy I claim to be. I not only have a lot of catching up to do on here but I haven't done to great of a job calling people on the phone either. Here's what you need to do if you want to talk to me... Tell me to get my butt up early in the morning before the patrols go out and call you. If I get up at 0500 here then its 2130 your time. Thats usually a decent hour to call people, unless you are my mom :) Speaking of my mom, last time I talked to her (finally) she had just recovered from a tragic night being stuck out on a boat. She has always told me to watch the tides so I don't get stranded out there on the sand bars and what does she do? Gets stuck out there on a sand bar... with three other "responsible" adults. I wish Sammy and I had this gouge on our mothers when they didn't want us to take off on Mo-peds in the Cayman Islands. Though, we ended up doing that anyway.

But back to Afghanistan. Well, you all know the collateral duties I have so I'm sure I don't need to say things have been busy. I am continually learning to appreciate being busy because as stated in a previous blog, it makes time go faster. I really wish I could talk all about what I have been doing but I guess that is frowned upon by S-2 (Intelligence). What I can tell you is I am already having the experience of a lifetime and we've only been running the show for a week now. Some of our Marines have gotten into some tough situations and my Marines have done a great job at getting them out of those situations. These kids seriously impress me. I know we have a long deployment to go but these guys will do anything to save their brother and I'm looking forward to watching them work for another 6 months. Again, we have great eyes over our whole Area of Operations so there is no threat to our FOB immediately. We see them long before they are able to gain any kind of foothold. Just want you guys to be ensured that I am safe.

Now I want to run you through an average day so you can see what its like here. I must start in the middle of the night because I toss and turn a lot. I still don't have a room yet which means no AC. Just last night I moved into a different lobby than the one I have been in and it has 1 AC unit for the whole area, so it is a little better than the lobby with no AC at all. Looks like early June one of the rooms will be opening up, then I will have my own space and hopefully some internet of my own. Right now I just have to bug Lt. Ealy (I'm going to start calling him Dan from now on) to let me hang out in his room. Back to the morning, after waking up for the nth time, I start checking my watch periodically because I know morning is near. If we have a patrol going out in the morning, which we have had for the past week, I need to be in the Combat Operations Center/Fire Direction Center (COC/FDC). That means my mornings have started around 530-6. I started skipping breakfast because eggs heated up in a bag along with bacon and sausage gravy heated up in a bag gets old after a while. Unless Mopsey is cooking. I could eat that every morning for the rest of my life. Mmmm that also makes me think about this delicious sandwich Julia likes to make for breakfast with eggs, some kind of meat, cheese, and jelly. Sooo good. Or, the whole-in-ones I always requested from my mom! OR Lindsay's famous french toast!! Wow, I need to stop, my mouth is watering. (If you are around any of these people any time soon, request breakfast from them... they will deliver)

Usually as I get to the COC, the patrols are getting ready to step off and we just verify that their numbers and everything match with what they told us the night prior. After that I make some oatmeal (someone from Bravo battery left it behind in the COC), drink some coffee, and track the patrols movement throughout the AO. This is where I can't really get into detail, but if stuff happens, stuff happens and we take care of it. You can say I work in the "brains" of this deployment. We always have to know whats going on at all times. Who/what is at all the locations, who is patrolling, whats going on, are we sticking with the mission, are the vehicles ready to go and much, much more. I'd say on average patrols get back around lunchtime, maybe a little before or after. I try to bum Ramen or Manchurian off people for lunch, but if I cant, I settle for an MRE. There is one new MRE that is fantastic. Maple Sausage. It is a chunk of sausage sitting in a maple syrup juice. Yum, yum, yum. BUT, noodles are my favorite right now and I really hope a package from my mom comes soon containing those items. If you want to know what to send me, those will work. I like any flavor. Spicy, chicken, beef, spicy chicken... you get the picture. I could also use a pillow. I wish I had brought one of my really comfortable feather ones, or stole one from the hotel in Ireland. Right now I sleep on a bag of t-shirts I have. A pillow is probably difficult to ship though so I wouldn't worry about it. I've blown two fans since I have been here as well. One time I didn't think the 220v power was running through our room and the other time I thought it was plugged into a power converter. It turned out to be some crummy bulky blue outlet extender or something. I don't know. I had the chance to get a power converter in Leatherneck too! The good thing about Laptops though is that they come with a converter in the cable so at least I can charge my laptop. Plus I bought a nifty little 4 inch fan that plugs into my computer via USB. Its not as good as the fan I brought with me (one that I blew) , but being that it actually works, it will do.

Wow, I am really good about going off on a tangent. I just try not to bore you with COC talk too much, that is all. So yes, when patrols are back, I eat, then get to work on all my other stuff. Today consisted of playing with Microsoft Excel for hours making a template for the hundreds of pieces of gear I need to maintain accountability of. I'm separating the gear by which unit is responsible for it and making a record of where it was seen last. That way, when I have to get eyes on everything once a month it won't take me forever! I am really dreading having to do this for the first time though while I try to figure out where everything is. Oh well, just another thing to keep me busy. I also worked out some organizational things with the Armory as well. I know that the more I get things in order now, the easier my life will be for the next few months, but it is sure a pain now.

In between the paper work junk I try to take a break to work out (around 1500.) I've been pretty consistent with it. 3 days on 1 day off is my rotation. Though, instead of working out today I took a nap because I was too exhausted. That made it two days off. Oh well, maybe I'll go do some pull-ups later. Then again, maybe not. I promised Julia I'd be a hunk-a hunk-a burnin' love when she sees me next so I'm trying to stick to a routine. I also have a confession. I said I would stop drinking soda because I didn't think it would be around. Well, the other night I sat down to eat a DELICIOUS (more on that later) meal and a Corporal brought be a soda. I didn't ask for it, but I couldn't refuse it. So, I have had one soda over the past few weeks. Still not too bad if you ask me. At least I don't get headaches anymore from not having one.

After the workout, or nap, I get back to work until dinner. This is when I surprise you. The dinners here have been great. It could very easily be crappy food, but our guys know how to work the seasonings just right to make things very tasty. Heres just a few solid meals we've had called "Class 1 meals". Steak kabobs (with chopped garlic, I saw the cook preparing this one). Homemade mashed potatoes (which I missed out on because they ran out before I got to the food line). Beef Enchiladas. Green beans with bacon. Ribs. Beef gumbo... Thats all I can think of now. But even the food they have to warm up in bags they make taste better too. I'm very impressed. If they don't get a combat action ribbon, they deserve some kind of great award.

After evening chow, its back to the COC to finish things up for the night. This could mean I get out of there as early as 1930 or as late as 2230. Just depends on whats going on. After that I head to Dan's room to see if internet is working (it wasn't last night, sorry Julia!) I may watch one or two episodes of a show or a movie if its not too late, then I hit the rack just to do it all over again.

All the heads (bathrooms) here crack me up. To turn on the sink, shower and toilet is some huge ordeal with instructions written all over the walls on how to do it without screwing everything up. I wish some plumbers could come see some of this piping. It is ridiculous.

We have little mini clothes washing spinny buckey things that most of us use to wash clothes, but there is also a bathtub outside where you can let your clothes soak and use that ribbed scrubbing thing that they use in The Little Mermaid to clean everything, including Sebastian. Yes, I just referenced Little Mermaid. Yes, I am a Marine. So what. Anyway, last night I washed off at about 2200 in the tub. I just hosed off with water, rubbed some soap on me, and rinsed. It was really cold water, and a very glorious feeling. I can now say I have had goosebumps in Afghanistan during the summer.

Okay, well I think I am going to call it an end for now. It is already so long that I am contemplating not proof reading it. Maybe I will just skim. By now you already know if I actually did proof read it or skim because you've kept mental notes of all the silly mistakes I wrote, or did not write. Love you guys, talk with you soon!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

About to Take Charge

May 16-
Man, days can fly by like that. I can't believe the 11th was the last time I wrote something. Thats fine by me though. The faster the time goes, the better. And by the looks of how busy I will be, I'm going to wake up and be getting married in no time. Busy you ask? Yes. Let me ramble off just a few of my jobs.
Of course first and foremost, Fire Direction Officer. Next, Headquarters Platoon Commander, Watch Officer, Supply Officer, Armory Officer, Assistant Executive Officer and Command Emergency Response Program Pay Officer. So what this means is I lied to everyone when they asked me what I would be doing in Afghanistan. I thought I would just be receiving calls for fire from observers, processing some data and sending it to the guns. That job in itself can be quite busy, but since we are providing fire for ourselves we will usually know when fire support will be needed. That is, when we send a patrol out, be ready to go. When a patrol is not out, do everything else. Honestly though, I love it. Like we discussed earlier. Busy=Time going faster. Time going faster= getting home soon. Getting home soon=getting married soon. Getting married soon=Having a wife sooner. Now, I'm no Einstein but I believe that means, Busy=Wife. Gentlemen, does that sound correct? Hahaha and the best part is, there are no women here to slap me. And by the time I see you women you will be too happy to see me you wont want to slap me. You know its true.
Going with the facts just proven and thinking about my life being busy with a wife, that kind of makes me sad. That means the time that I will want to slow down and enjoy will go the fastest. Booooo. I no longer like my logic.
Its very pretty here. The lake, dam and river provide irrigation to all the farmers in the area which makes for some nice greenery to look at. On top of that, the water is beautiful. I'm holding out hope that they will let us swim in it! My mind should probably be on more important things, like my job(s), but this water out here is really distracting. I don't think there is anywhere else in Afghanistan I'd rather be as far as a FOB goes. From everything else I have seen, its all dry sandy desert. I'll put some photos of the area up when I get a chance so you can enjoy it with me. It is very hot though. Its not even the hot months and I'm convinced we are hitting the 100's already. I'm betting it gets up to 120 around August. Its a crazy but very true thought. For the past two weeks and the next 6 months I will sweat every single day, almost all day long. It's just like at OCS in Virginia where I was soaking wet all the time from the humidity. For example, right now I'm sitting on my cot in pt gear with shower shoes on and I am STILL sweating.
A good time for me to PT here is around lunchtime. There is a problem with that though. No, not the heat, I can work through that. Its the fact that we can only take showers during a two hour block in the morning and an hour and a half block in the evening. If I get up early, it will be to call home because its nighttime then. If I stay up late to work out, it is packed. The gym isn't very big as it is, then throw 20 more Marines around and you end up just watching a bunch of dudes work out. That may be your cup of tea, but not mine. I tried using the shower that the CO/XO/1stSgt/Gunny have because they can shower whenever but I was told I wasn't allowed to use theirs… that its only for the people who live there. Sometimes I just don't understand people.
I've taken a tour of most of the battle space that we have Marines on and gotten a pretty good picture of how things may pan out over the next couple months. I'm not saying I know whats going to happen, but its nice to know some history about this place and learn from the unit that has been here the past 7 months. Don't worry about us too much over here. I am confident in the capabilities of our Marines and our Commanding Officer. We will never take unnecessary risks. We know our job, know our buddies jobs, and know how to accomplish our mission.
My living quarters right now aren't too bad considering the situation. I am in a building and I have a cot. Thats pretty good. Problem is… no A/C, no fan and nowhere to put all my stuff. We all love living out of our suitcase though so no big deal. The great thing is that after B Battery 1/10 leaves this week we can move into their rooms. The one I have my eye on has A/C. I'll let you know if I acquire it. I didn't even sleep in the building last night because there is no circulating air. Instead, I took a bug net and a cot and laid outside in my skivvies. It got nice and cool. I even got in my sleeping bag liner halfway through the night. I've decided to continue doing that until I can move in to my room.
There is only one spot on the FOB with purified water. The problem is, the water in the sink is cooler (coming from the Dam) so I tried drinking that. It actually worked out well. I have not gotten sick yet and its a much more convenient trip to the bathroom than the water pump. The plumbing system here is pretty funny though. Theres directions on how to work everything written all over the walls saying turn this handle, don't turn that handle, that knob is for decoration, that knob will overflow the head, etc etc etc. Thats how complex it is.
Food is just fine. Meal rats in the morning and evening and MRE's during the day. On Fridays we have steak and crab meat. Last night (Sunday) we had a meal rat steak that tasted better than the real steaks we get and the crab meat taste like snot. The "good" food is called Class 1 I think. Class two or three should not taste better than class 1, but sometimes it does.
Okay, I am about to pass out, not sure if its because I'm tired or hot, but either way, I need to get some rest. PEACE

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I Just Want Pizza!

May 11-

Something interesting actually happened last night. The fact that this is interesting just goes to show how lame this place is. I really feel like I am sitting in 29 Palms just watching everyone else build roads and waiting to do something important. All that to say, here it goes. I was in the middle of watching The Modern Family and the dad decided to cool things off by going and getting pizza. This of course got me thinking of eating pizza back in Hawaii. Bob's Pizzeria is quite a find over there in Kailua. I meant to get it the day before I left and pack a few slices away for the trip. That didn't happen. It's okay, next time I will spend my time more wisely so I can better spoil myself before I leave. (I mean, I'm never going to deploy again Julia, so I take back that last sentence.)

Oh right… pizza. Its nearing dinner time, around 1830 so I take off my headphones to ask if there is anywhere we can get pizza, knowing it probably wouldn't happen. At just that moment, a few Staff Sergeants were talking about some pizza they ate for lunch! WHAT? WHERE??? I mean, I'm an officer, I can't sound too excited about this, lets try again. Where did you guys find pizza? It turns out there is another smaller base right across the way that has a nicer PX and better places to eat. Leave it to our Staff NCO's to find it. Another one of those little things that makes the Marine Corps great.

The directions to get there seem easy enough. Take the "black line" to camp "Bastone" and order a pizza with wings. But again, if you know anything about the Marine Corps, leave it to the Lieutenants to get lost. Not the stereotypical lost in the woods kind of lost. Because honestly, I know I can find my way around with a map and compass better than most. This is the kind of lost that Junior Officers get in when they try to make quick decisions and just go for it. Well, after waiting for this mysterious "black line" bus for 45 minutes, Lt Ealy decided to lie to us and tell us the bus to the flight line will take us to the same place. So, we all hop on. Now, I am not above asking people for directions if I don't know where I am going. Julia might disagree, but usually I know where I am going with her ;), so I don't ask. In this case, I welcomed the idea of asking how to find Pizza Hut, the problem is the only words the driver knew in English were: "no" "flight-line" and "other bus." So we decided yes we will take this bus to the flight line because there is no other bus.

After arriving at the flight-line and mentioning the word 'pizza' to a pilot we were just talking to, he stops us… pizza? Hahahaha he laughs out-loud. Turns out we should have waited for the "black line" back at the other stop. The black line takes you to Camp Bashtun (not sure how to spell it because we never made it there, point is, its not Bastone) And get this, the flight line is not a block away. Its a good 15-20 minute drive. By this point it is 2030 and we are starving. Oh, I just realized you all don't even know who we is. It was myself, Lt Meek and Lt Ealy. I am one of those people that will continue down a path that looks hopeless simply because I spent so much time waiting, ill just keep being miserable until i get what I want. These other two guys are the kind that abandon ship when they are hungry and will take a stale sandwich over trying to find this pizza place. Here I was hoping for a hot pizza and wings and I end up back at square one. I would have been more excited about eating at Camp Leatherneck but after 2030 they stop serving hot chow and they just have bread thats been sitting out all day and sandwich meat thats been sitting out all week. They overrule me and we head back to Camp Leatherneck to get a sandwich for dinner. We finally get some food in us around 2115. Which stinks because I had planned on being back around 2000 so I could call Julia and catch her on her lunch break. Oh well…

So thats it. For those of you worried about me over here… save it. That is about as crazy as it gets here. At least where I am now. We are going to try again today to find that pizza place. That was the deal I made with them. If we give up, we try again tomorrow. We did have a very interesting discussion over the failed 3 hour dinner adventure. We talked about the Marine Corps. Its purpose. What we are doing and what we should be doing. The gist of it is that we are fighting right now as a medium sized expeditionary force as opposed to a lightweight amphibious force (which is what the Marines are traditionally supposed to do). The Marine Corps has spent a lot of money making us this medium sized expeditionary force. Why? Probably because for the past 10 years the fight has been inland and the nation has called us to occupy when the Army needed help. To me, occupancy is for the Army alone. That's why they are bigger and its what makes them slower. The Marines should go in, hit em hard, and get out. If the US wants to occupy and stabilize or whatever else, don't make us do it. Remember, this is just my opinion, no one go quoting me as a spokesman for the Corps.

[A few hours later] Random Thought: I've stopped drinking carbonated beverages. I hear deployment is not the time to try and break habits BUT i figure there may be a lack of soda so the temptation wont be as strong. I'm going on one and a half days now. I almost forgot at lunch today and had to give back the Sprite. Yes, lunch. We made it to pizza today and it was FANTASTIC. I got a Hawaiian (naturally) because its the most healthy pizza out there ;) Except instead of ham they put pepperoni. Last night we were actually at the wrong bus stop. No black line stops there. This time we went to the right one and on the walk to it the bus was driving by to I stepped out in front of it to stop it. They drive slow so it wasn't dangerous. Though, it is likely the most dangerous thing I have done since I've been here haha. Sorry elementary school teacher, I walked out in traffic. Oh and the camp is called Camp Bastion. That was exciting as well to finally know how to spell this mythical pizza hub.

I woke Julia up this morning. It was nice to hear her tired voice. She is always so sweet when awoken, with a little bit of delirious on the side. I love it. It's nothing like when she is sick though, oh man, I cant wait to have fun with that one day!! I also tried calling mom again but she wasn't awake yet. One day I will get to talk to her. I really want to talk to my sister too but I always draw a blank when I go to make the call. I know the number, 4*9-4*6* (for security purposes, hah) Not to keep it from you all necessarily, but my whole life all my buddies have wanted her number and I have yet to make it available to them. You are welcome Linds. Thanks for being beautiful all your life, I always enjoyed keeping my friends away from the house when you were home.

Well, looks like I am finally heading up to the Dam soon. Thats all I have for now. Love you guys.


May 9-

Well, not much has been going on recently. Who knew getting to my final destination would lead to so much down time? Not only that but there was all this stuff I bought thinking I wouldn't be able to get it anywhere and sure enough there has been a decent PX at my last couple stops where I could have stocked up.

It's been tougher connecting with people back home. Mornings are the best time for me to talk while I'm here at Camp Leatherneck because the phones and computers are open. The problem is everyone in Florida is sleeping at that time. In order to call people back home at a good time I would need to call in the afternoon or evening here and the wait at those times seems like forever. I think I'm just going to deal with the wait tonight to I actually get to see how everyone back home is doing.

Both my mom and my grandma hit the ignore button when I called. Its funny to see what solicitors have done to people back home. They bug everyone so much that we can't take calls from unknown numbers. No one wants to deal with them. There must be something more to this soliciting business. Theres no way it can be that great of a technique. If you have ever bought something from a solicitor, comment on this post and let me know how in the world they got you to pay attention. The whole time they are talking to me, I try to think of a clever new way to say no and get off the phone. No matter the excuse, they can't argue it. And now I don't like them even more because they made me miss talking to two of my favorite women in the world.

Julia though, she is just so nice that she answers the phone no matter who is calling! At this point in my life I am going to enjoy that fact because it means she is going to pick the phone up when I call. A few years down the road when we have bills from the phone company or solicitors saying we bought something, we can re-address the issue. Its funny to think that a few years down the road I will still be with that girl. All that time, 6 or 7 years now, I spent wasted trying to figure out what/who the Lord had for my life. Little did I know it was this crazy beautiful blonde that was there loving and supporting me all along. Now that I know, and I cant spend time with her, I'll be sure not to take that time for granted ever again. Thinking about our future is something that I really enjoy occupying my thoughts with. There are SO many things to think about that I know her and I will love doing together that I rarely even have to think about the same thing twice.

Sorry, I'm getting a little soft. Its only been a week and a half too… I'm scared to know what these posts will look like in 5 months. :/

I'm getting really eager to head to the Dam. I'm waiting for a letter from Pops talking about all the Dam fish or the Dam people in the area. Thats not all I'm waiting for though. It will be nice to actually feel like I have a part in helping something with the war. However big or small it turns out to be. Sitting here just feels like a waste. I am very glad this is not my stopping point. I'm sure some of you would rather me stay here for safety reasons, but please don't wish that on me. I would be miserable! And I would come back fat. It's hard to turn down the fresh dipped ice cream after every meal when I know I won't be getting any for a while. The food here is pretty stinking good too. Last night I had surf and turf. Yep. Steak. Lobster Tail. Shrimp. The whole shebang. mmmmmmmmm

Time to get to another episode of The Modern Family. I'm a new fan. I have the whole first season (of course) and it is cracking me up! I love it! Cant wait to see the new season that is running in the States right now. Bye bye for now…

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Almost There...

I am not really supposed to tell you when exactly we get to our destination, but I can tell you I am finally in Afghanistan and will be where I am supposed to be shortly. We had to shoot a range yesterday and have a few classes to do here at Camp Leatherneck before we can move on.

The flight in was good. Actually, it was the first time I've flown in a C-17. Nothing too special. No in flight meal or movies showing. It only took a little over two hours so that wasn't bad at all. The tent we are staying in is decent as well. At least we have AC here. I will be sure to enjoy it while I can. The base here is HUGE. Looks like they just found some unoccupied land in the middle of the desert and built a base. There is nothing else around for a good ways. Getting internet access here is more difficult than in my last two stops. You have to apply to get WiFi and it takes about two weeks. So for us just passing through, our personal computers are good only for movies, music and games. These internet cafe's all have about an hour wait, so good thing I don't have anything going on today but a class tonight.

I'm scared to look at my bank account. I've made a couple phone calls with my credit card, having no idea how much it was going to cost. It doesn't really matter though. There's not much else to spend money on anyway. I lost two great pairs of sunglasses (surprising, I know) right before we deployed so I'm debating getting a good pair. Other than that, I just buy sweet tea from a can because I'm terrible desperate and that's about it.

I don't really have much more time on the computer so I need to wrap it up. I am also not going to take the time to proof read it so give me a break. My high school English teachers would kill me. I hope everyone is doing great. I love you all and can't wait to see you again. I'll try to get back to you guys soon.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


May 3-5
Well, I awoke to another beautiful morning in Ireland. I'm sure you are wondering what was on the menu for breakfast. You guessed it. Potatoes! Actually there was a great layout of fruit, granola, weird bread, cereals, eggs, bacon, sausage, beans (yes, beans), and potato wedges. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Other than that there wasn't much more to my day. It consisted of an 8 hour flight, a movie (Unstoppable) and an episode of the Band of Brothers. Unstoppable was good because it was based on a true story. If it hadn't been, I don't think I would have bought it. I forgot to mention a few days ago I began my Band of Brothers Series. I have a few different seasons of shows and decided to start on this one. I think The Office will be next. I'm on the 7th Episode now. They are all just over an hour long and there are 10 total. It's very good. I highly recommend it. I wouldn't say its better than The Pacific but still, worth a look. 
I slept for most of the flight. Once we landed some busses took us to an unloading zone where we eventually grabbed all our gear to make sure it didn't get lost and stacked it all up on pallets. Then it was off to get linen's because we will be here for a couple days and then chow. I've now officially had two breakfasts today. One Irish breakfast on the 3rd in Ireland and a decent chow hall breakfast on the 4th in Kyrgyzstan. What happened to my lunch and dinner in between??? Oh yeah, flying over a billion time zones to the east is a great way to completely miss a day. If you ever start off a day on the "wrong side of the bed" and just want it to be over with, here is your solution. Hop in a plane, and fly east. If you want your day to never end though, wait till I get back to Hawaii and fly west to come see Julia and me!
I think about living in Hawaii often. The fact that I will be living in the best place I've lived yet AND that I will be living there with the greatest girl in the world somehow always consumes my thoughts. 
Two times now my Marines have mistaken me for one of the Corporals in the Battery. When enlisted Marines mistake a Lieutenant for a Corporal, it makes for an awkward moment. One time I was Skyping with Julia and a fellow Corporal proceeded to wrap his arms around me and pretend to kiss me on the cheek. He would have noticed it was me much sooner but his eyes were closed preparing for a passionate kiss. He later told me it was the most embarrassing moment of his life. The other time was when a SSgt woke me up shaking me telling me to get out of the rack before he gets in it with me. Hahaha, and people wonder why I love this job. Marines are great. You never… never know what to expect. 
This place is alright. Theres some neat shops to check out and a lot of chow halls. I'm glad I don't have to stay here for deployment. I think I would gain 30 pounds. Its a shame that some people actually do deploy to a place like this and get all the same pay benefits others get in combat zones. Oh well, not my worry.
Looks like I'll be here for a little bit longer. Hope you are all doing great back home. Love you guys.

- Ric

Monday, May 2, 2011

Stuck in Potato-ville

2 May 2011 -

Well… a day later and still stuck in Ireland. I shouldn't say stuck because that has a negative connotation to it. I'd rather be here for extra days than in Manas where I have to carry all my gear around everywhere I go. At least here we get nice rooms, convenient showers, and great food. Wow, it's only 10:00 am back in Hawaii and we are about to go to bed!

It's funny… every meal has potatoes. Yes, some stereotypes are very, very true. I had potato soup today for lunch. Remembering it was from a cheap hotel made me think it probably isn't going to be the best quality. Well, the worst potato soup in Ireland can still compete with the best potato soup anywhere else. This stuff was good. For dinner, instead of soup it was mashed potatoes. One of my favorite foods out there. It wasn't as good as Mopsey's mashed potatoes, but it was still pretty good.

Tea. Tea is everywhere. It's actually competing with coffee and for me that is a big deal. I am usually a big fan of coffee and not so much a fan of tea. But they know how to do it right here. Times like this make me want to travel the world to eat all the local foods I enjoy in America and see how everything is supposed to taste. You know what else is in every store here? Guinness. If you are a Guinness fan, I don't think there is anywhere else that can compete with the selection you'd have in Ireland. I'm sure it's driving the Marines crazy that they can't partake. I'm fine with tea and potatoes.

Random thought: Writing day two of this journal I am discovering that somewhere along the way I learned to type without looking at my fingers. I know in college it was my goal, but I don't remember it ever happening completely. I need to go back to one of those typing games I always practiced on and see how much better I am.

I saw a castle today. No, we didn't go sightseeing or anything, its just that right behind our old hotel through the woods is a freaking castle! No joke. I couldn't believe it at first. I had only seen castles in movies and here one was. You would think it would make me think of kings or royalty, perhaps even knights. But no. Instead what came to mind was Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Sad, I know. Anyway, the castle was sweet and it had a beautiful lake right in front of it. I looked for a moat but no luck. I wish I could post a FANTASTIC photo that Dan took of my today doing the heel click on my way to see the castle. Its classic. I'll show it to you whenever we can get his camera hooked up to a computer.

I guess the reason it is so green here is because out of 365 1/4 days in the year, it does not rain about 10 of them. It's just a light drizzle the majority of the time which isn't bad, but its overcast all the time. That made me change my mind about wanting to own some of this beautiful land. I like Sunlight and warmth way too much. I know my fiancee does too. She would likely end up killing me if I brought her here to stay.

Supposedly Osama Bin Laden is dead now. I don't say that because I think they are lying, I just say it because the fact that he could actually be dead has not sunk in yet. And to bury him at sea because Saudi Arabia wouldn't take him? Thats ridiculous. Someone was talking about how they had to do something with his body quickly because Muslims believe you need to be buried within 24 hours of death. Personally, I would say who cares when he should be buried. It's not like he's going to heaven anyway. I don't think, however, that we should do what an unnamed marine posted on his Facebook wall concerning the treatment of his body. It had something to do with being wrapped in bacon. The main problem with his status update is that it did not read Osama… instead it read Obama. OOPS, not smart Marine. Classic mixup. Classic junior Marine. Classic I hope the media doesn't grab that statement and twist it into something completely inappropriate that Marines say.

For those of you thinking it will change things, I am thinking it won't. Only when leaders of small or tight knit organizations are killed is when that organization may fail. This is an huge, very spread out "organization," if you will. All it means is someone will take his place, we may have a new head honcho to look for, and the Taliban will continue to do what they've been doing the whole time… attempting to murder, torture, coerce and control innocent civilians. It will be easy to remember that the day Osama was killed was the first day I deployed. So much for my glimmer of hope to capture him :)

Well, thats all for now. I know these posts will start getting a lot shorter as my time becomes more occupied but there really is not much going on right now so I'm taking advantage of it.

Bye Bye Paradise

1 May 2011 -

Our wait in Hawaii was not as long as I thought it would be. Turns out, we pulled up at Hickam Air Field and were out of there within two hours. Realizing that I would not be able to talk Julia every day was more painful than I thought it would be. I figured because she wasn't physically there, goodbye wouldn't be too tough. Sure enough, it still broke me up a little bit. I love that girl. I simply can't explain how much more I love her than I ever thought possible to love anything in this world.

Our first stop, Alaska. A quick 5 hour and 15 minute flight brought us to Anchorage and the first thing I see when I walk into the airport is a statue of a white grizzly bear. Awesome. They said it would be an hour wait to refuel and resupply the plane. Again they delivered. We were back in the air in no time. Good thing too because no one was at the airport, every shop was closed, and there was nothing to do.

The flight to Ireland was a little longer. What was scheduled to be an eight hour flight over the north pole turned into about nine hours. Good thing I really don't mind long flights anymore. Flying to Hawaii and back a couple times helped me prepare for times like this. I just see it as more time to sleep and watch movies. Arriving at the airport again they promise a short stop… approximately one and a half hours. We held a short promotion ceremony for 6 Marines right there inside the airport and shortly after discovered we may have to wait as much as three hours while they attempt to fix a bent door. I always wonder how they find such significant problems AFTER we get off the plane. It was obviously not that big of a deal, and if it was, they should have caught it before we trusted this beast all the way back in Oahu.

The airport was nice. A bar and grille was open where I enjoyed a latte and later on a delicious cupcake and Fanta. It was humbling to see how much value the American dollar had actually lost outside the US. I paid 6 bucks for a cup of coffee that was a little over 2 Euros. My bother was quickly distracted by the accent of the bar tenders and all the Irish attire around. I almost couldn't resist getting a t-shirt. I'm sure I will on my way back home. I also got to talk to Julia! I was SO happy she answered the phone. I've never wanted someone to answer the phone more than that call right there. I'm still not sure how much the payphone cost me because I paid via credit card, but those 10-15 minutes talking with her were priceless. I was telling her you would think it would be sad to hear her voice and just make me miss her more, but it was kind of the opposite. I was just happy. No sad thoughts at all. I felt so lucky to have the chance to talk to my baby just one more time before it becomes much more rare.

Oh yes, the flight, right, well… we waited and waited and after about 6 hours we realize they aren't fixing the plane and will need to send us a new one. So what do they do? Put us up in a hotel for free. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? A Boeing 747 on my pre deployment flight to 29 Palms first class, and a hotel stay on my deployment to Afghanistan. See, they do take care of us. At the hotel I found an advertisement for Dungarie Castle. I don't know what it is but I love the name. Makes me think of how great it would be to come back to a place like this just to visit. It is nice at least to get to see more than just the airport though. It's dark right now, but I look forward to the scenery in the morning.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Deployment Day

Ric left Hawaii yesterday at about 10am local time.  They flew from Hawaii to Alaska and then to Ireland.  He called while in the Ireland airport to say that all is well and he is enjoying the very gracious meals being served on the planes.  From Ireland he will fly to one of the -Stans...not very descriptive I know...and from there on to Afghanistan.

I was unable to see him off in Hawaii, but thankfully one of our good friends (thank you Brooke!) snapped some pictures for me and sent him off with a hug.  I'm so proud of Ric and look forward to seeing him again.

~ Julia