Sunday, February 6, 2011

Slip sliding away...

Hey All!

Back with the latest report from Fort Dix! We're now at the end of our third week of training here. This week was even more fun than the first two if you can believe it! We spent the week basically learning how to find our way about in a combat environment both on foot and "mounted" (that is, in a HMWWV) and getting a crash course in tactical movement and IED identification. We got to throw grenades and patrol through the woods to a "village" where they tried "but failed" to blow us all up! What a lead up to the Super Bowl!!!

Sunday morning, after church, we all checked out our rifles and headed to the range for a little shooting. Everyone qualified and we took one step closer to validation.

Monday was spent getting familiar with our CBRNe gear. CBRNe stands for chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and "enhanced" (read IED's) weaponry.

We were all fitted for gas masks prior to arrival and then "refitted" last week. After a demonstration by some "volunteers" from the audience we all suited up in mask and protective suit and then partnered up to strip it all off in the prescribed manner. I felt like Randy in "A Christmas Story" all bundled up to go to school. Fortunately we were only in the suits barely long enough to break a sweat. The rest of the day was spent on map reading and familiarization in preparation for the navigation course on Tuesday.

The Nav course was pretty fun and I'm happy to report that the team from HMWWV Med-4 beat every other team to the finish! Our first task gave us bearings and distances to three objectives ranging 1/4 to 1/2 mile apart.

HM3 Cecil shoots a bearing to get us where we're going!

We took turns shooting bearings, pacing distance, and bushwhacking through snow, slush and mountain laurel to complete our task. Once we had reached our final objective we used maps and terrain features to locate two other points we had previously plotted. Then we headed back to the classroom and ate MRE's and drank cocoa while we waited for everyone else to return. Since we finished first they are letting us have two weeks in Germany at the midpoint of our deployment!!! Oh... wait... no they aren't... since we finished first we got to wait for everyone else... and that's all...

Wednesday was more Nav but this time it was "mounted"... After a quick briefing on the use of the military issue GPS system they turned us loose to go find a series of points located along various roads and jeep trails. There was snow and ice EVERYWHERE and some of the roads had had no traffic on them since the big storm last week! What a blast! Aside from our OIC pulling his hair out as his second in command blasted through the course like Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights and one vehicle getting stuck in mud up to the floor pans thanks to an Army colleague we all completed the course without much trouble and then headed back home for movies, web-surfing, and utilization of the horizontal time accelerator.

On Thursday, after another two hour weather delay, we headed out for training on how to operate under fire in the field.

After a classroom brief complete with live visual aids...
We took to the woods to put into practice all we had learned!

We low crawled

We medium crawled
And we did 3 to 5 second rushes to overtake a machine gun position in the woods.

All the while we battled our way over walls, under concertina wire, through smoke, snow and puddles!
Until finally we were victorious!

Then it was back to the barracks for... you guessed it, movies, meals, and mattresses...

Now, about the food...

I can't say that the food in the DFAC (chow hall, galley, cafeteria, whatever) will actually kill you. I can't even say that you couldn't live on it indefinitely. What I will say is that after three weeks of it we'd had enough! For Super Bowl sunday dinner, Christian and I decided that we would "borrow" a grill from the army barracks across the way and do dinner ourselves. It was by far the best thing we've eaten since arrival.

Steaks and grilled veggies... best meal at Dix!!!

1 comment:

  1. Dr. Harris, following your training with much curiosity. It's far more than the AF gave me before Iraq. Travel fast, stay well, get home safe. Best wishes, Chris Coppola