Mailed blog – written by Julian
24 Jan 11
“Mable” (my M16) and I had a really long day, but we were successful. We went to the range for the first time and all had to “group” with our weapons. Grouping is shooting 8 out of 10 consecutive rounds in a 4 cm circle at a 300 meter distance. Well, Mable and I did it right from the get go. Only about 20% of our company was able to group in the first two attempts. Gomez, my battle buddy, and I had a pretty successful day. We felt good about that. But once again it was freezing cold out and we carried around warm jackets and hats, which we weren’t allowed to wear. Tomorrow is supposed to rain, but I have a feeling we might just carry around our wet weather gear instead of wearing it. Seems to be the routine around here. “Zeroing” will be tomorrow’s goal with our weapons. This is where you shoot 8 out of 10 rounds in the “center mass” of the target. Hence today’s blog post title. That’s what they yell when you can start firing.
This morning we ran, ran, ran. I’ve never ran that hard in my life. We ran in ability groups and in formation, so you really had to keep up otherwise you’d start a chain reaction of failure and I sure as heck wasn’t going to do that! At one point we ran up this huge hill and once we reached the top we ran back down it only to run right back up. Everything is such a head game. But I had great encouragement from my buddies on my left and right. Gomez was cheering me on for most of the way. Then when she had to pass me, Hassoon from Iran ran with me the rest of the way. He kept telling me to breathe and that I could do this and not to quit. It was so helpful; it’s really awesome when your buddies support you like that.
So yeah, I ran with a guy from Iran today. We have two guys from Iran, one from Iraq, one from India, and a girl from Ghanna. They’ve all been living in the states for a few years and for the most part will be translators for the Army. Pretty cool. Nandy is the guy from India and we always try to get him to say Apu quotes from the Simpsons. He hasn’t played along yet, but even the drill sergeants are trying to get him to say, “Stop stealing slushies from the slushie machine!” If you watch the Simpsons you know how funny this is.
Our Company really has people from all over. Oregon, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Florida, Colorado, Alaska, Connecticut, Kentucky, Hawaii, and even Guam. You get the picture, we’re from EVERYWHERE! It’s pretty neat. We are becoming a really close group, especially in our platoon of 56 soldiers. We’re all in this together no matter where we come from or why we’re doing this, we’re a team.
We really had to lean on each other today. Spirits are pretty low. It was a really long, cold and trying day. Before we left the range the whole company got smoked for talking and moving slow. We had to low crawl through the sand pit on returning to our bays, we were caked with mud and sand head to toe. Dirty. I mean our uniforms went from camouflage to solid red brown. You couldn’t even see my rank; it was caked over with mud. And then…no MAIL…again! I swear it’s on purpose. It’s really messing with our heads though. Poor Gomez just wants to know how her daughter is doing. I don’t know how the moms do this. It’s really hard to keep writing when you’re not getting anything in return. I’m sorry I’m not writing more individual letters, it takes a lot of energy just to keep up with posts on this blog. I’ll try to send little messages out whenever I can. Plus, by day’s end I can be pretty grumpy and don’t have my happy self. When you wake up at 0430 and go to bed at 2200 and every moment (and latrine break) is planned out for you, it takes all you have left to not flip out at each other.
We made it a third of the way through now. We will need much more strength and energy in the upcoming weeks, so PLEASE keep us in your prayers. We have days that are glass half full and days that are half empty. I pray for more glass half full day’s I know somewhere out there in this universe you guys are thinking, praying, and writing.