Final Week: Parent Version

 Mailed blog – written by Mom Plamann

10 March 11

Well, I haven’t blogged since I started getting GI Jules mailed blogs to post.  Her writings are so well done – I felt as though her writings helped us all visualize her daily tasks.  I also could  feel her emotions – high’s and lows.  As a parent, I was really comforted to know she knew where to find here strength – through prayer and faith that the Lord is continually with her, guiding her through her days.

I can’t tell you how anxious I am to see her on Wednesday, March 16 “Family Day” and then we will see her graduate on Thursday morning – March 17.   She has mentioned how worried we might not recognize her! apparently she is skinny and buff – and all I know is I will recognize her and I can’t wait to hug her!

We hope to leave Fort Jackson (S. Carolina) on Thursday and drive Julian to Minnesota (it’s about a 16 hour drive) – she will have a very small window to get to MN and then to report for duty in Fort Bragg’s (Atlanta, Georgia) by Monday, March 27.

Thanks everyone for writing her.  Thank you for posting your comments on the blogs.  Your words meant everything to her.

Well, sometimes you just gotta say it….Am I proud of her?….HELL YES!   

Shoutin Out a Big “HOYAH” to  GI JULES!

– Mom “Pam” Plamann

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Steppin Off

 Mailed blog – written by Julian

6 March 11

Here it is, folks.  My last blog to be sent home.  The rest of my entries I’ll be able to type in myself….on my new laptop!  Yes, that’s right, G.I. Jules has entered the 2000’s and has invested in a laptop.  I first have to wait for it to arrive with my wonderful parents…NEXT week!

So, I’ve reached the end of BCT, Tomorrow morning we step off to head out to the field for four days.  After that, all we have to do is out process, and return our gear, and practice for GRADUATION!  It’s been quite the ride.  I kinda relate it to high school in a way.  You make some lifelong friends, learn about who you are, screw around a lot, and in the end you’re sad to say goodbye, glad to leave, and never want to return again.  I can’t wait to tell you all about the next 10 days, and I’ll actually be able to type it out myself! 


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Gomez Blog 3

 Mailed blog – written by Julian’s Battle Buddy “Gomez”

4 March 11

Dear Plamann Blog:

Hey y’all!  Today as we completed our final march, which consisted of what is known as “Drag Hill Brother’s” march.  It all went well except for the fact that we had to wait (which felt like a lifetime) to each chow.  The rest of day is what drill sergeants love to call “weapons maintenance,” before was called cleaning weapons.  Clever thinking drill sergeant!  Next week Vic Forge, and then graduation….and then I have the opportunity to myself some real coffee. MRE coffee is starting to get old, and I’m tired of begging folks for their coffee. 

Everyone here is going crazy, and it’s driving Plamann and I crazy, but we are somehow able to manage.  It’s nice that we have been able to get to know everyone here, and the sense of brotherhood/sisterhood is definitely there.  Today Plamann and I donated to the AER program too, which surprised me that there wasn’t more people.  I figure if you pay X amount of money for horrible food here, why not donate/contribute to something that is necessary.  Tonight, VIC FORGE PREP, and tomorrow.  I believe all will go well, and the moment when I meet Mom & Pops Plamann will be soon.

Take care y’all.

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“Drag Ass Hill” has Brothers…plural.

 Mailed blog – written by Julian

4 March 11

Remember a while back I mentioned this huge hill we would encounter on our marches that was about 45 degrees steep?  The DS’s like to call that hill “Drag Ass Hill”  Sometimes you just gotta call a spade a spade.  Well, today I met that hill’s big brother, bigger brother, ginormous brother, and gargantuan brother!

On our 12K march we avoided Drag Ass Hill and I thought we’d do the same today.  No such luck.  If they wanted to make this final march as though and grueling as possible.  Just to show how long 16K really is, uh mission accomplished.

Step off was at 0600 and it was a nice cool morning, thank goodness for that.  Also, in a weird way I was thankful I have a cold.  I had no appetite really, so it was easier to march on an empty stomach.  We were all doing really good at the 7 miles marker.  After our second break we were ready to finish strong.  Just before we stepped off again to start our last leg, our female DS yelled out of the truck at us, “Privates, don’t be scared when you turn the corner and see that hill.  I’m serious, privates, it’s not as bad as it looks.”  We all laughed….. little did we know.  The other DS also encouraged us nicely, “Privates, the suck has yet to begin.”

We turned that corner and laughed again, but this time it was nervous chuckles.  That hill looked to be at least a mile high!  I don’t think I’ve EVER seen a hill that big.  But the DS was right, as always’:), and it wasnt’ too bad.  The incline was stretched out over about a mile, so it was nice and gradual.  THEN, holy moly, they took us into the woods and nearly the whole rest of the way was spent dredging through a foot of sand.  The more the terrain went up and down, curving around, the more frustrated I got.  I already have a short stride, and in the sand it became mini.  As I fell back from the person in front of me, people had to pass me to keep the formation up.  I didn’t mind though, it’s what they needed t do.  It just frustrated me that I was pushing myself so hard, giving it all I had, and people were still passing me.  But, I still hung in there and stayed in the front of the company with the rest of my platoon.  I did not fall out and get on the van like others, not even close.  I finished strong.  All of the Death Dealers finished strong.  And at the finish line was our DS beaming at us, as proud as ever, ready to check our feet. (what a job!)

We were bused back to the company and finally arrived for breakfast at 1100.  Yes, that’s right!  We did all that work without breakfast.  Our tummies were so ready for food.

I, Specialist Plamann, a former slow eater, ate a plate full of food so fast I could have put a speed eater to shame.  I ate four pancakes, two pieces of toast, three sausages, a big  helping of scrambled eggs, and an orange in about five minutes.  And I didn’t even feel full.  The things you learn to do in the Army.

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Omaha, No-maha

Mailed blog – written by Julian

3 March 11

Third platoon  has the pleasure of being the turd of the company.  I mean, we are by far the best as I’ve explained many times before we’re the turd in that we always get the short end of the stick.  All things are done in order, first, second, and third the turd.  By the time it’s thirds’ turn, we are usually rushed through and/or cut short.  Today was no exception.

All of the ranges we go to are named for major battles or soldiers who exemplify military service.  At the gate of each range the story is posted of its namesake.  I always find this inspiring and a great reminder to why we are doing what we do.  Today we did Omaha, named for the epic battle on the shores of Omaha Beach in Normandy, France during world War Two.  This was our second visit to Omaha, the first time Third did not get to live fire, just dry fire (no ammunition). So today we were really hoping to use some bullets! No go.

Our firing was stopped by a fire.  Yes, that’s right, the range caught on fire.  At first the DS’s just told the privates to keep shooting and be thankful for the realistic setting.  There’s fire and smoke in Iraq too, you know.  The fire was at the end of the firing lane, but after 30 minutes it grew too big and the smoke was moving right toward us.  We had to cease-fire, there was a fire.  Just as Third Platoon was up to shoot.  Shoot.

Boo, hiss report:       Halfway through the day I cam down with the sniffles and sneezies.  Boo, hiss.  Alas, a package came tonight from mom containing my favorite throat pastilles that I swear by.  Hopefully they do the trick.  At dinner I only had time to eat some rice and two tangerines.  That was frustrating because tomorrow morning we have a 16K march.  That’s not much nourishment for such a big march.  Boo, hiss.  Lastly, I woke up this morning at 0245.  I had fire guard for an hour, tried to sleep from 0400-0500, but everybody was up and making so much noise.  I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but Gomez and I have the bunk right by the bathroom.  Very inconvenient.  Boo, hiss.

BUT… I’m glad I’m here.  It was a great day, and I thank the Lord for all my blessings.  Such as, letters from Auntie Gayle, Jennifer, Mags, Meebs, Danielle, Becs, Sherri, Ruth, and of course Mom and Dad.  Thanks guys, you keep me going!

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Big, BIG Guns

Mailed blog – written by Julian

2 March 11

Our military issued ear plugs were no match for the big booms of today.  So loud!  Today was U.S. Weapons Training.  For most of us, in our military jobs, we’ll never touch these weapons again, at least not on a regular basis.

First big boom boom was the M203 grenade launcher.  It looks like, well a big gun that shoots grenades.  so cool.  It goes “THUMP.”  Then we shot the AT4, which civilians would call a bazooka.  This thing is huge! We only got to shoot blanks.  But the two highest PT scores in the company got to shoot live rounds.  Wow, so loud.  The blast actually shook the dust off our helmets.  The neatest part of the AT4 is that it’s not actually a heavy weapon and despite the ginormous back blast, there is very little kick back as you hold it.  The last two weapons were the M249 and M240.  The M249 is like an M16 gone psycho.  It’s called the “Saw” and it shoots 4 rounds every 3 seconds.  It goes “pa, pa, pa, pa, pa.”  We shot from the pron (on our stomaches) all side by side.  This part was the loudest because not only did you have the noise from your weapon in one ear, but your buddy’s weapons noise in the other ear.  The M240 finale was fantastic.  it was mounted to a frame similar to one on top of an armored vehicle where you’re in the hole from the chest down.  The M240 can shoot 60 to 950 rounds per minute.  The shells just fly out like confetti.  Yeah, my life is pretty crazy like that now a days.

We are still not technically in blue phase, the final phase of BCT.  Our DS’s told us that last chapter never got their blue flags.  We’re just tired of seeing our white flag up.  But on the other hand, we haven’t really been acting like we deserve it either.  The reason behind keeping  us in white phase to the end is that it keeps us striving toward something and keeps us on our toes.  We need that.  Two more weeks.  Gotta keep the eye on the prize…seeing my wonderful parents and drinking a good cup of coffee.  I can almost taste it.

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Mailed blog – written by Julian

1 March 11

Well, rabbit, rabbit, rabbit blog readers!  I made it to the month of graduation!  We only have ten days of training remaining and then we prep to go OUT of this place while I’m super excited for family day and graduation.  I’m trying to relish each day left.  Everyday I try to talk to someone different in my platoon.  I’ve only got so much time with all these people and most of them I’m really gonna miss.

Today we did a training exercise with ILAV’s.  Don’t ask me what that stands for, no clue.  But they are vehicles that are like Humvee’s on steroids.  The insides are insulated with fire-retardant materials and you sit in seats that are made for race cars.  It was pretty hot out today with all the gear on and we were all sweating before even getting out of the ILAV.  Let me tell you, armored vests do not breathe :).

Once the vehicle stopped, our 6 man team jumped out and started bounding up a lane toward the enemy and returned fire, at every barrier we got behind.  I was the one who got stuck in the prone position.  That’s where you jump down and kick you legs out so you’re flat on your stomach shooting.  It’s very tiring to do with 40 pounds of gear on.  But it’ll only make me stronger!  We did pretty good, killed the enemy quickly and stayed alive.  Two key objectives in war. 🙂  When not running around killing bad guys, we learned how to spot IED’s, improvised explosive devices.  Another good day soldiering.

I hope my notes are still of interest to those paying attention out there.  Things are becoming mundane as training winds down.  I’ll try to keep things lively.  Thanks for all your love and support!


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Drum Roll Please

Mailed blog – written by Julian

26 Feb 11

Ladies and gents, the results are in for Specialist Plamann’s final PT test, and boy let me tell you, these numbers are a real humdinger.  Now let me remind you folks, to graduate from BCT you need to score above a 50 percent on each category, for a total over 150 points.  To start Officer Candidate School, you must be over 60 percent in all three.

My goal before entering BCT, was to leave with 60’s across the board.  Today I blew those expectations out of the water.  Truly, it wouldn’t matter to me what the actual numbers ended up to be, just as long as I did better than yesterday and gave it my all. I cannot express how amazing it feels to kick your own ass.  Yes, I’m pretty proud.  There’s a lot of pride in the air today and the assassins are standing pretty tall.

How’s that for suspense?   Are you guys ready for the numbers?  In my first PT test.   I did 16 push ups, 35 sits ups, and two miles in 20 minutes flat. (as a reminder, for the sit ups and push ups you have two minutes to perform as many repetitions as  you can.)  well today, I was a regular PT Wonder Woman.  I completed 38 push ups for a score of 85 percent, 54 sit ups for 70 percent, and a two-mile run in 18:05 for 81 percent.  My total score was a 236 and I couldn’t be more excited.  With the progress I’m making I definitely think a perfect 300 is in my future… somewhere.

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A New Life

Mailed blog – written by Julian

25 Feb 11

At the start of all this I knew I would change, and for the better.   I just couldn’t predict how much.  I thought I’d be just a “better me”.  Instead what I have gotten is a new life.  Becoming soldier has not made me a “better me” but a “new me”.   The changes I have undergone have been so deep.  From here on, the world will be a different place for Specialist Plamann..  Today was a sad day as we had a memorial service for Private Jordan T. Chase.  As I’ve said, the “assassins” (Platoon name) have become a family and to lose one of our own so soon has been really difficult.  At the front of the chapel were his helmet, rifle, boots, and dog tags, along with a great picture of him in uniform.  Stories were shared and we all agreed PVT Chase was an exemplary soldier.  I loved the story of him lifting up the backpacks of his battle buddies on marches so that it was easier for them to climb the hills.  That’s how I will remember him.  I have a feeling PVT Chase will forever be lifting our packs and his giving spirit will live on.

The rest of the day was very low-key.  The company commander wanted to be sensitive to our emotions.  We were given the opportunity to talk to the chaplain and then broke off into platoons to relax and share stories.  After lunch we watched the Hurt Socker and after dinner watched Restrepo.  I have always enjoyed war movies, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t .  However, I now see them in a very different light.  Those guys on the screen look, act, and talk just like me.  Restrepo is a National Geographic documentary about a company in Iraq.  It is very real, sobering, and eye-opening.

When I raised my hand and swore to serve my country, I knew I was guaranteed to go to war.  Since then, the trainings and lessons I have learned make that reality so much more tangible.  I am getting the best training out here and I know I will be ready for whatever my country needs me to do.  I am an American Soldier, beside my brothers and my sisters I will proudly take my stand.

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Mailed blog – written by Julian

24 Feb 11

As someone wise back home says, teamwork is the best kind of work.  You know who you are.   Today it felt like our whole company was really working together.  During training the platoons were all mixed together and we had a good opportunity to get to know people outside our tight knit circle.

It was another beautiful day spent playing outside.  We are all developing fantastic neck and hand tans.  It’s pretty funny.  My hands are about four shades darker than my arms.  It’s the only part that sticks out of my uniform!

Each day we add more of our skills together.  The last week is a huge exercise where we put everything from BCT together.  Today we did running and shooting, covering your buddy as he runs for cover, shooting behind barriers, blown up cars, and even trash cans.  The course was an urban setting and we had to bound up to the building where the enemy was firing from, shooting  the whole time and then blowing them up with a grenade.   Yeah, it sounds fun and it was.  We were supposed to go through twice.  Once dry, just saying “bang, bang”, and then again shooting blank rounds.  Unfortunately there was only enough time for the dry run.

After dinner chow, we normally go to our bay classrooms as a platoon and either have Q&A with our DS about training or just clean our weapons.  It’s a nice way to relax after a long day running around outside tonight, just as we sat down for platoon time, we got a call over the intercom saying to come down to the drill pad.  We had to move all the sandbags which surround every building and line the sidewalks, and stack them in this field.  Apparently there’s some construction tomorrow.  Anyway, it was a big job and we weren’t too excited.  But, we worked as a team and did the job in half the time we were allotted.  The whole company was running around in the dark, carrying the heavy bags and singing cadences at the top of our lungs.  For some reason, we were so motivated!  It was a good feeling.  We felt like a family.

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