Tuesday, August 30, 2005

We had a diagnostic PT test today. It was freaking cold this morning. I couldn’t handle it. Damn is it cold in the mornings here. We woke up at 0500 hrs for a formation at 0600. I was kind of pissed off about that. I mean, I missed out on a half hour of sleep and it mattered all day. I was tired a lot today.

I was really surprised on the results of my PT test. I did 57 push-ups, 68 sit-ups, and ran two miles in 14:38 minutes. That was a major improvement compared to my last PT test. I credit it to going to the gym back home and running on the treadmill. Now all I have to do is do some more push-ups and sit-ups. And maybe improve the run a little more. I certainly passed and am very happy with the results.

As for the other Joes in the company, they didn’t fare too well. Some didn’t do too good on the push-up event, others on the sit-up event, and a lot of guys failed the two-mile run. The company commander wanted us to have a PT test to evaluate us and see where we were. It looks like a lot of guys are going to be doing remedial PT. Those that failed were going to be doing remedial PT while the other soldiers were released from duty. I might have lucked out. J

Afterwards we did some urban combat training. I think it’s very important because I think it’s what we’ll be seeing over there. Maybe, hopefully not. It was pretty routine, nothing new. It’s the same stuff I’ve been through before. I really didn’t learn anything. But it is good to refresh my memory and practice. I don’t want anything wrong to happen when I have to do the real thing.

Ate lunch in the mess hall this afternoon. Ham, mashed potatoes, corn & peas. Seems like we have mashed potatoes everyday. It’s all right I like mashed potatoes anyways. Breakfast is always the same, either eggs made to order, bacon, grits, biscuits & gravy, pancakes, fruit, cereal, milk & juice, and lots of other stuff. I never eat this good at home. I better watch what I eat. Hopefully I’ll be able to pay the gym a visit at night. If not I’ll just have to cut back on my food intake. I could eat a lot here.

We got our CIF, Central Issue Facility, in the afternoon. They gave us lots of new equipment. It’s unbelievable. I’ve heard before that you don’t get new stuff unless your either lucky or your getting deployed. Now I believe it. Everything I got today was brand new. The bulletproof vest I got today alone cost about $600 dollars! Just image all of the other stuff I got today. Whew, I wish I could sell this stuff!

The only problem with CIF is that it took forever. They took us all in alphabetically so I had to wait in line for a long time, since my last name begins with a ‘P’. That’s the way it worked in SRP yesterday too. I might have to change my name and add an ‘AAA’ to the beginning of my name until the completion of this deployment.

We got back to the barracks and started putting everything together. Lots of the stuff came in pieces. Other stuff was in bags that I had to open and put away. I’m got a new sleeping bag, poncho liner (which I love), two pair of desert boots, desert uniforms, a brand new pistol belt and load bearing vest, hats, and all kinds of other goodies. I’m getting too much stuff to carry! How could anyone go into combat like this!

SRP, Solider Readiness Processing, that about sums up what we did for the day. It wasn’t bad. In fact, it went by pretty smoothly. It’s basically to check and make sure that I’m ready for deployment. Everyone has to go thru it. I had to go thru finance to make sure that my home address, dependants, and everything else was correct so I wouldn’t have any pay problems. I got a new Military ID card, they made sure that I had a will and power of attorney, and they checked my medical and dental charts to make sure that I didn’t have any dental or medical problems.

We also had to fill out some stuff on risk assessment. It had a bunch of questions like how much we drink, smoke, my driving habits, and the kinds of food I eat. It also recorded my height, weight, age, and gender. They told me that my risk assessment was average. I guess I’ll be ok.

I finished up all that stuff pretty quickly. There were some guys that were frustrated that it was taking so long. Reason being is because they were stuck in stations that had long lines. I was pretty fortunate because I looked out for stations that had little or no soldiers. We had 18 stations that we had to go through. At some of them they would just ask us a few questions and check off our check-sheet. We weren’t allowed to leave until we finish with the SRP. Once we finished we were done for the day.

This was the only thing that was planned. I kind of glad about it, I have other things I’d like to do today like go to the shoppette, get my clothes ironed for tomorrow, and entertain myself with a book or video game. I also have to call Angelica and see how she is doing with the boys.

The weather is really nice, in the 70s and 80s. I was getting chilly last night, blogging on my website, outside of the internet café. They have one on post but it closes at 1645. We moved into some World War II barracks. They’re pretty ancient. The white paint is pealing off the wall, we only have one washing machine, and the beds are all bunk. It would be cool if the Army paid for us to stay in the Marriott like the first night. That would’ve be really nice, but then I’m dreaming.

Here’s a picture of our barracks from the outside. When I get a chance I’ll take a picture of our mess hall and some other stuff on post. There isn’t much to see around here, although it is beautiful and the weather is really nice. Ft. Lewis reminds me of Prescott during the late fall.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Sad, Sad, Sad. That's how this morning went. I didn't think it was going to be that bad but that's the way it turned out. I was glad that they gave us a night at the hotel. It was really nice of the unit to do that. And a nice hotel it was. We all had to report for formation at the armory at 1600. After that we loaded up some more bags, heard a speech from the General, Brigade commander, and the State Command Sergeant Major. The Command Sergeant Major gave us an Arizona Flag. She requested that we take it with us to Iraq and take a group photo to post in the gallery of the State Headquarters for all to see. I'm pretty sure that we might end up hanging that AZ flag at our post in Iraq as well.

Well, my Angelica, my wife called me from the hotel to let me know that she was on the way. She was choking up. I knew she was taking it hard, so was I. I really didn't want to talk on the phone because my throat was getting all choked up. My Cousin Irene, Alex, and my Uncle Ray were the first ones to see me off at the Armory. I was really glad they came. Next was my Tia Juana and my Mom. Both were holding back tears. It was hard for me to hold them back too. Then finally Angelica showed up. It made the moment sadder. Now part of me didn't want to leave. Before I had no problems leaving.

The media was there. They took interviews of some of the soldiers. There were helicopters flying and recording the event in the air. There was rumors among the troops that President Bush was going to secretly meet us at the airport to thank us for our service.

Finally the moment came when I had to board the bus, to go to the airport. I gave everyone a kiss and a hug. I waited to be the last one. I wasn't in a hurry to leave. I wasn't in a hurry to find a seat. I didn't care. I wanted to capture the moment. It was a good one. I boarded the bus, turned around and waved goodbye, trying to hold back tears. As I sat on the bus I watched my family stand there, watching, waiting for the busses to leave. They all seemed sad. I also know that they were proud. I'll miss my wife and kids the most.

Below are some photos from our departure.

Here's a quote from the AP. Were were in the news today.

National Guard soldiers to deploy

12:56 PM Mountain Standard Time on Monday, August 29, 2005

By The Associated Press

MESA -- A major portion of one of the Arizona National Guard's combat units is likely headed to Iraq, with the soldiers involved expected to perform new duties.

Approximately 150 soldiers of the 1-180 Field Artillery Battalion were scheduled to leave their Mesa armory Monday to travel to Fort Lewis, Wash., for several months of predeployment training.

After that, the soldiers are expected to deploy to Iraq to perform security duties that typically would be performed by a military police company, said Capt. Paul Aguirre, a National Guard spokesman.

The Army has deployed numerous units of various specialties to Iraq to augment the service's military police. "They need them over there," Aguirre said.

The battalion has approximately 500 soldiers, many of whom have previously performed security duty at such places as the Palo Verde nuclear plant, Luke Air Force Base and Sky Harbor International Airport.

The Arizona National Guard said more than 3,000 Army National Guard and Air National Guard personnel have been ordered to federal active duty since Sept. 11, 2001.

Here are the guys, getting off the bus at the airport.

Here we are getting on the airplane.

I thought this was pretty cool. We fly straight over the Grand Canyon. I've been there before but never over it. I thought the aerial pictures would be pretty neat.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Today I was indocrinated into the NCO Corps. We had a little ceremony with Sergeant Major Bowers and the 1st Sergeant. We recited the NCO Creed and sang the Army Song. Ate our lunch, it was wraps. Nothing really to brag about but it was because steaks were going to be served for dinner. We had our GI party. That's where we cleaned the Armory and outside areas.
I took this photo below. I thought it was funny! This guys car got wrapped up because we were all told to move our cars to the rear parking lot to make parking room the families in the front. Well, since he forgot to move his car it got wrapped.
Here's where we checked into our motel. We were put into lockdown so we had to spend the night here. It's the Marriott in Mesa.

Here's the flag and the support banner that they put up for us in the hotel. The US Flag is displayed backwards as you can see. The hotel is really nice. I'm glad that the unit went out and got us the rooms here. It beats spending the night in the hot ass armory. Plus the family is invited to spend the night at the hotel with me. Sweet!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Today I did some drivers training. Mainly on the 2 1/2 ton cargo truck. It wasn't too bad, I'm just not that used to driving a big truck like that. It's pretty unlikely that I'll be driving one anyway but it's a good think that I know how to just in case. The automatic one was pretty easy to drive. I just had to get used to turning the steering wheel and the brake had to be pushed in with a little force to get the truck to break. The standard transmission on the other had was a different story. I'm used to driving with an automatic transmission. It wasn't bad, in fact I did pretty good. Until we got the truck back to the motorpool. Right as I was parking the truck I made a turn that was too wide. I would have to back the truck up and then turn it back in. Backing the truck up was no problem, it was going forward after that. As soon as I took the truck out of reverse, pushed in the clutch, released the break the truck would begin to shake and that die out. Not only that, it rolled back when I released the break because I was on an incline. I tried it over and over again to get the truck to go forward but I was worried that I was going to hit the truck parked in the rear. So finally I gave up and my instructor got in there and put it into it's parking spot. He made it seem a little easy. I guess it just takes some practice.

Tomorrow we will be on lock down at a hotel in Mesa. We won't be able to leave after 1300 hours. We'll be spending the night there. It kinda sucks because I'd rather go home, although I don't mind spending a night at a hotel that much. We'll see how it goes tomorrow.

Friday, August 26, 2005

There's Sergeant First Class Akers. He's trying to stay awake! LOL! He was fighting to keep his eyes open. We didn't do too much today. Common task training, Wills/Power of Attorney, and I made sure my family was enrolled in Tricare. Everything is almost set.

I want to thank my brother David. Tonight he went out of his way to buy me a Laptop. He had the money saved up and he offered to buy me a laptop before I left. What a guy! I'll have to pay him back of course but now I don't have to worry about saving my money and now I could have a little entertainment while I'm on the deployment. I wouldn't of been able to do it without him. Thanks again David, I really appreciate it!

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Well, here I go with the sensitive information. LOL! I won't disclose too much. The second e-mail I received was from operations. Tomorrow I have to report for duty. It's almost time. Just means that we're getting closer to deployment. We leave on Monday morning. I have a few days left to get whatever it is I need to do before I leave. It's going to get a little crazy.

This evening I went out to dinner, again. This time with my parents. They took me out to Sizzler. The food was really good. I had steak and shrimp. It's the usually Army meal before the begining or at the end of an operation. I figured I'dmake it a steak and shrimp because it'll be my final meal with my parents until I get back. Hopefully I'll be able to come home for Thanksgiving. We'll see.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Dang these days go by too quickly. I didn't have time for anything today. I finally got all my bills situated and my address changed since I'll be moving the family. Went over to my Tios Barb and Oscar's to get ready to go out to eat. They said it was for my birthday but I knew it was because I was leaving. My cousin Tyra was there. I haven't seen her in 2 years. It was good to see her again before I left. I'm glad I had a chance. My Tia Juana and Rosa were also there along with my Cousin Lisa and my second cousin Anothony. We had some dinner at On The Border. It was alright. Decent for Mexican food. I didn't mind. It was all good. I was glad to see them all before I left.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I called my buddy Denny today. I had to find out if we were getting issued Camelbaks. I don't want to take mine if I'm going a new one. I started packing some of my stuff, getting everything situated. Now I kind of have an idea what I have and what I'm missing. In fact, I missing a few things that are on the packing list. They've asked for 2 sets of PT uniforms when we were only issued one. Who made this list up?

I called my section chief, SSG Clink to find out what we were going to be doing on Friday. He really didn't know. Figures. I didn't think he knew anyways. He hardly knows what's going on. I also asked him when we were leaving. Denny told me earlier that we're leaving on Sunday. He told me the same thing. Why didn't he pass this information down? I wonder how long he's known. Way to communicate this down to your troops. Don't blame me when I miss a trip or formation, I'll blame it on being uninformed.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The day is getting closer. I got a call from the unit today. 0600 hours Friday the 26th, BDUs, soft cap, bring A bag and pistol belt with ammo pouches. I'm glad I don't have to pack a lot of stuff. I don't have a lot of stuff to take. I'll just have a book to read. I might have to break down and get a Gameboy Advance for a little entertainment. I'll certainly need a little entertainment besides reading books and magazines all the time. I could only take so much of that. I'd like to get a PSP (Playstation Portable) but those things cost $249! I think I'm gonna wait until I have some money. Besides, I want to save up for my laptop. I've been doing some research and trying to decide which laptop is right for me, what I'm going to be using it for. Movies, music, e-mail, blogging, and of course video games. Time to hurry up and get everything ready. Friday will be here before I know it. I'm glad I don't leave until this coming Sunday.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Well today I went to see family. This morning started out with my brother-in-law Andy. We had some Menudo and Tacos at a taco stand in Southwest Phoenix. He asked me about my mission, where I was going, how long I was going to be gone. I told him that we were going to have M-9s and M-16s. I'm hoping and I'd rather have the M-4s than the M-16s. Their lighter and shorter with the same accuracy and range as the M-16. We'll be trained on other weapon systems while I'm at Ft. Lewis but the M-16 will be our primary weapon. It's also my primary weapon of choice. I do like the SAWs and 50-cal though. I'll take those if I have to. I want to thank Andy for taking me out. I really appreciate it. He's a good brother to have.

Afterwards I went to see my Dad. I love spending time with him. I hate to see him get older. I think my son Peter is going to take it the same way. He's really attached to me. He's going to miss me on this deployment. My Dad always says the same thing, "Always have someone with you wherever you go". I'm pretty sure that I won't go anywhere alone. I like being with my Army Buddies anyways.

This afternoon I got to see my newly born Nephew, Marco. He is so cute! I wanted to take him home. I have enough boys anyways. I'm happy for Lucy. I'm sure she'll take good care of him. I hope to see him again, all grown up, when I get back. He'll be walking and talking by the time I get back.

Well, I called my Tia Barb and she's going to take me out to diner. Looks like I might be able to eat out everyday this week! Nice! My Mom is going to take me out this week too.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Well, today I didn't do too much to get myself more prepared for deployment. I'll probably wait until the last minute like I usually do. I mainly have to make sure that my wife is prepared to handle all the bills, take care of the kids, and what she should do in case of an emergency. I'm in the middle of preparing a deployment packet for her so everything she needs is in that one packet. Answers to questions regarding my deployment, health benefits, insurance, emergencies, and anything else I could think of. I'm keeping busy and I'm pretty confident about this deployment. I've grown wiser and I'm glad I'm going now rather then when I was younger.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Well, today was my last day at Arizona Heart Hospital. I've been working there for over 4 yrs and it has finally come down to this. I'm going on deployment, getting ready for Iraq. Pretty soon I'll be leaving. Today on the other hand was a weird day at work. The power was out, not just for a little while, but for the whole day. I got not one but two cakes. I said my goodbyes to everyone and told them that I'll keep them posted and let them know what's going on. That's why I created this blog. So everyone will know what I'm doing and what I'm up too. I plan on posting photos online as well. I only have one week left. I won't be working so I'll have more time to start getting ready for my deployment. I want to thank everyone for their support and I want to tell them to e-mail me if they'd like. I'll certainly reply. I'll post my mailing address as soon as I find out what it is for those that would like to send care packages.
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