Sunday, March 18, 2007

Stay/Wasting Time

For those who don’t know me real well, you'll soon come to realize that I love music (and therefore tend to reference songs alot). So the title of this blog, and the theme of last week, comes from my favorite artist, the Dave Matthews Band. So why was I wasting time? I need to describe the week in a little better detail than I've been doing for you to understand.

The week started with us doing a full day of pre-marksmanship instruction (PMI) on the .50 caliber and M240B machine guns. (For more info on these weapons go here: ;; and
PMI is definitely necessary, especially since we had the .50 cal range coming up the next day. What happens in a PMI is that we learn how to disassemble, assemble, clean, and fire the weapons in question. I was familiar with both these weapons since we used them when I was in the 10th Mountain Division, so these classes were just refreshers for me.

The next day we had the .50 cal range, and this is when the week really became an exercise in patience and tested my ability to entertain myself. Here’s how it went: At 5am we woke up, got ready for our day, ate breakfast and formed up for accountability. We typically take school buses, which are “escorted” by armored Humvees’s to our training location. The purpose of the escort is to give each team a chance to practice convoy procedures and rehearse possible actions upon contact. We loaded the buses at 7am and moved out to our range, which was approximately 25 minutes away. 90 minutes and 4 wrong turns later, we arrived at the .50 cal range. That was my first indication that this was going to be a long day.

Once there, we filed into the bleacher and received a safety and familiarization briefing. During this briefing I noticed that the person next to me didn’t secure his 9mm in his holster, so I very deftly took it from his holster and hid it. It took him about 20 minutes to realize he didn’t have it and then he started freaking out (loosing a weapon is obviously a big deal). I couldn’t contain my laughter for long and so I gave it back to him when he noticed the tears flowing from my eyes as I tried to contain myself. Since he was our SGT in charge, that little prank earned me the right to ammo detail for the morning. This consisted of breaking down crates of .50 cal ammo in full body armor and moving it to the ammo collection point – pretty back breaking work! It was ok though because I was busy and not sitting around. After ammo detail I got a class on foreign weapons; we learned to take apart and use AK47s, RPGs (rocket propelled grenades), and other pseudo-Russian made weapons that are popular with Iraqi insurgents. These weapons are simple and highly effective, firing 7.62mm bullets (compared to our 5.56mm bullets). After that class we sat in the bleachers for about 5 hours and did nothing, since the people on the weapons systems were having trouble qualifying. I finally got to fire the .50 cal around 5pm, and it was fun!! That weapon really packs a lot of punch! After that we ate our MRE (meal ready-to-eat) and got ready for the night fire portion. At around 10pm, we still hadn’t put a single bullet downrange. Finally, the range maintenance was complete and firing began around 10:45; soon after, all power failed and the firing was halted. At approximately 12am, the range was considered closed and cleanup began. SO in summary, I was at this .50 cal familiarization for around 17 hours, and I fired only about 200 rounds. It was probably a textbook definition of inefficient, especially since there were some people who didn’t fire at all!

The next day we did language training and simulated getting attacked by mortars. Interesting exercise – I had my hand “blown off” and had to be treated by some medics. The whole exercise went well, but started off as a cluster. One of the underlying themes of annoyance to me here is that I have been through real life occurrences of many things we are “simulating” or practicing, so when I see people who haven’t been through it do the wrong thing and then claim that’s how it would really work, I get pissed off. In any event, I usually don’t have any problem biting my tongue so I quickly let everyone know what they should be doing (despite my “injury”).

The last two days of the week were super boring. We had classroom instruction on the Army’s “Blue Force Tracker” (, which is like an interactive navigation system for the Humvees, tanks and aircraft. Since I had used it in Afghanistan and had recently received refresher training on it at Ft. Lee just one month prior, I was very bored! When I get bored I have trouble paying attention, so after these two days were over some people on my team were calling me CPT ADD, which is pretty funny since I have that problem most of my life. The instructor didn’t find me funny though, and after I decided that attacking the class with a nuclear bomb and several F-16s would be entertaining, he let me know that I was officially “unplugged” from the system. Oh well . . ..that just gave me the chance to follow the NCAA tourney!
I posted more pictures and I tentatively plan on updating this page at least once before next Sunday. However, our days are usually long and Sunday is the only day we have off, so as of now it’s the best time for me to purge my thoughts. Thank you to everyone reading this and thanks you for your support. I am overwhelmed by how many people have expressed their support and it has given me a newfound sense of motivation.

1 comment:

jesse habich said...

Hey Jason you dont know me but I play lax at Marple and PJ is my coach. He was telling the team alot about you and whats been going on. I want to thank you for doing what your doing for our country. It's probably real tough finally getting settled down and then you get sent right back. Thanks though, becuase without even knowing it, you've inspired our entire lacrosse team at Marple to keep working hard and not to give up. Thanks Jason. Stay safe over there, and again, thanks for serving our country. Good luck!