Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Honesty is the best policy.

I realize that a lot of what I've talked about is probably taken with a grain of salt. Some of them sound a bit too outrageous to be true, I wouldn't blame you. Part of the reason I never worried about being recalled to active duty shortly after 9/11. None of what I did was "official". Heck my DA201 file, a list of what we've done officially only shows that I've completed basic training, and completed my term of service at a permenate post.

Honesty has always been my policy. Sure you can probably get away with stuff by not being honest, but once it become exposed all your actions become suspect. Being honest, sure it hurts a little at first, but in the long run, you gain a reputation as being honest and soon you have respect.

I got into trouble once in a while in the army, had to stand before the company 1SG, the unofficial commander of the unit. If I messed up and got caught, yes I was honest about it. It usually caught everyone off guard that I was honest and up front about my mistakes and accepted my punishment stoically and with poise. Me being honest probably kept me out of more trouble or at least kept the punishment to something simple like an hour extra duty in the evenings.

Being honest allowed me to earn the respect of many of the company's NCO's. They ran interference for me so that I could complete my four years active duty service and get out with an honorable discharge.

I found out recently from one of my old room mates who I've kept in contact with since we've both gotten out, that another reason I was kept around; my ability to shoot extreme accurate out to extreme distances. He actually sounded surprised that I didn't know I was being jockeyed over because of my skills.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

more fond memories

I was just thinking back to my days in a line unit. Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment. The 7th Cav is infamous as the one Custard lost at Little Big Horn and made popular again by the movie 'We Were Soldiers', based on the book We Were Soldiers Once, and Young.

Unlike the unit in Vietnam, it's no longer "Air Cav" but a mechanized Infantry unit instead, hence the Company/Battalion instead of the Troop/Squadron of an actual Cavalry unit. Only the 1st of the 7th is still listed as a Squadron, 2nd, 3rd and 4th are Battalions, 1st and 2nd in the 1st Cavalry Division in Ft. Hood, TX, 3/7 in the 3rd Infantry Division at Ft. Stewart, GA and 4/7 in 2nd Infantry I think in Korea. Don't think that's where they are all still located; units being deactivated and reactivated at new posts all the time.

Anyways, each one of the company's dismount squads had its own specialty, 3rd Platoon could breach any obstacle like a hot knife going through butter, 2nd Platoon could clear a trench line or building with an efficiency that looked like a deadly dance, me and the rest of 1st Platoon, we specialized in recon/counter recon patrol and infiltration.

This is partly where one of my nick names of "ghost" came from. A lot of it had to do with my time spent hunting deer in Southeast Alaska growing up, some of it had to do with the equipment we used. From the time I was transferred back to the dismount squad after being a Bradley driver, our Battalion commander wanted to use us in an unconventional role. We were encouraged to think and act unconventionally. Soon our gear began to reflect this order, it may have started out as regulation gear but was quickly modify to suite our individual taste and role within the squad.

We often got accused of looking like a band of gypsies, but given the nature of what we were tasked with it was required that we pack what we needed with us and heeding the costly lessons of Mogadishu brought to light in "Blackhawk Down" we all carried at least double the amount of ammunition and water then we thought we'd need.

"Coop" our single rifleman carried 4 magazine pouches on his BDU belt and more magazines in a butt pack. Myself, I carried about 1000 rounds of SAW rounds at the ready in addition to 2 M16 magazine pouches that could be fed into my M249 Squad Automatic Weapon in a pinch.

We packed 'heavy' the seven man squad had 3 automatic riflemen carrying the SAW, 3 grenadiers carrying the M16 w/M203 40mm grenade launcher and just one rifleman who carried an M16. On top of that, I carried an additional 2 quart canteen of water to the 2x1 quart water canteens that is standard. The others carried more water usually in the 'Camel Backs' which were starting to come out about that time.

In addition to the bayonet that was standard issue, each of us carried at least one other knife at the ready. Myself and 'Chief' were looking to carry additional weapons to assist in our roles of sentry stalking, he was looking to carry a machete while I looked further back to traditional Native American weaponry of the tomahawk. We also worked small bits of additional 3D camouflage into the works, if we'd been allowed, it would have been full on gullies suites like those used by snipers.

One of my biggest assets walking point were my boots, as any Infantryman can tell you, boots will make all the difference in the world. They started out as your regulation Black Jungle boot, nothing modified about it, other then before wearing them for the first time I put two liberal coats of mink oil on the leather to soften up the leather, soaked them in water and allowed them to dry around my foot.

They became so comfortable that I wore them all the time, as a result, I wore off the rubber soles. I don't remember the amount of rubber that was suppose to be on there to keep them within Army regulations, but i was way under it, the sole under the balls of my feet were at best 1/8" thick. Essentially I was wearing a leather moccasin, the rubber being so minuscule as to not even be there. This allowed me to sample the ground I was going to step on before bringing my full weight to bear on my feet.

My senses always heightened when I walked point, becoming one big antenna being the literal eyes and ears of the squad out there in front. This came from the knowledge that very often that the man walking point was the first to go, his death sounding the alarm to his squad mates to danger.

We always took our training seriously; our training became bloodless combat and fully expected warfare to be just bloody training. We carried body bags in our packs to sleep in not just for the psychological effect of accepting death they were considerably more compact and water resistant then the then issued goose down sleeping bag. We carried a set of blackened "dog tags" in our boots so that there would be a way to ID the body if our heads or feet got blown off.

Knowing my responsibility and the danger of walking point, my hearing became very acute. It was often said I could hear a mouse peeing on cotton at 100 meters and blow his pecker off at twice that distance. My sense of smell heighten that i could smell sweat about 50 meters and the distinctive smell of burning tobacco at over 500 meters, one of many health reasons the Army urged people to quit smoking.

Every step I'd make it'd take my mind and senses microseconds to determine what i was stepping on, if it could support my body weight and if it'd make noise when fully stepped on. I also knew to listen to nature, what kind of sounds were natural, what a bush slapping against artificial materials sounded like, what it meant when all sounds went dead in a forest or how to mask our sound signature with a gurgling of a flowing brook.

This kind of patrol work would be so demanding on my senses that every hour the point position was switched out between me and my "battle buddy" who happened to be a Navaho/Apache American Indian, while myself being Tlingit Alaskan Native. The really interesting part of this pairing up of the 'natives' was our compliment to one another.

At night with no reference points a person will drift either to the left or right as they walk, eventually turning a large circle. Part of our way to counter this was the switching positions every hour, and we always kept independent bearing and pace counts to make sure the other didn't stray too much.

The other compliment we had, the man we called 'chief' had a tendency to drift to the right during night patrols, I have a tendency to drift left, and being almost exactly the same height, our drift was nearly identical and canceled one another out so in the end we would be right on course. We were checked against a GPS one night, after nearly 12 hours of patrol we were off the final coordinates by 15 meters and if it would have been lighter when we stopped I could have triangulated our position off a couple land marks to correct our error.

We were constantly finding new ways to test ourselves, pushing things to the limit and were often tasked the mission of "OPFOR" or Opposing Force/ Red Team during training. After I'd been transferred out of Delta into Headquarters, I found out the squad I left behind pulled off a mission that embarrassed a lot of people. They'd been tasked with infiltrating a fully prepared Battalion headquarters compound, built by one of the Engineers units. It had three rings of security around the center were the "TOC" or Tactical Operations Center was located along with the high command of the unit they were playing Red Team.

With unabashed relish they recounted how they slipped through all three layers of security without being seen, using techniques I'd been teaching them about how to move quickly and quietly, got into not only the main communications tent, stole the log book but left some rather 'colorful' records behind to prove they'd been there in addition to slipping into that unit's Battalion Commander's personal tent and removed a few items which were returned at the debriefing. At least they didn't "Z" out the radios, which means throwing the switch on the CINGARS radio to "Z" which will instantly dump the encryption from the radio in event they should fall into enemy hands, while no harm in training tends to be annoying to the individual having to track down someone from Commo to get the encryption reloaded to the radio.

I'd wished I was there with them. I also remember one of our hair brained ideas to really test our skills, when mentioned to our Lt. was quickly shot down. We thought it was just his idea of denying us some fun, but I don't think he wanted the headache of trying to explain to either the Border Patrol why a squad of American soldiers were trying infiltrate into American across the Mexican border or to the State Department why the Federalies had the same said group of crazy gringos locked up in a jail.

After that, our Lt decided we needed new things to keep ourselves occupied, so he took half the squad and began to learn repelling with the goal of eventually teaching all of us how to "fast rope" out of helicopters. I was given the task of training the other members of the squad how to survive a drop into the water from a height in full gear and how to make flotation devises out of the gear we already had so that we could eventually learn to deploy using a 'helo cast' which would entail a helicopter flying low over a lake or bay etc while we jumped from it and swam to shore. These techniques are very similar to what I learned as part of water survival growing up, how to be dumped into the frigid Alaskan water in full fishing gear and keep from being pulled under by the weight.

Considering what all we were teaching ourselves to do, it's no surprise now that people very often thought I was a "Green Beret". Two of my mentors were Green Berets, one fought at Ka-Sahn, he was apart of the relief force sent in to help out the besieged Marines. The other, well he wouldn't talk about it openly, but from what I've been able to piece together, I think he was a part of the botched "Desert One" that was to rescue the hostages from the Iranian Embassy.

With memories like these, I sure do miss being in the Infantry.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

So I've been somewhat busy.

I've heard of this before, and had a friend send it to me again.


It's amazing how far one will go to relieve boredom when deployed.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

No Brainer

This one was a no brainer.

Brainy Kid

In high school, you were acing AP classes or hanging out in the computer lab.

You may have been a bit of a geek back then, but now you're a total success!

Scary Test

So a little bored, and wanting to something up beat for a change.

You Are a Little Scary

You've got a nice edge to you. Use it.

Ok, so I'm lazy too...

I tend to create my blog enteries on my laptop which has no internet connection then transfer them to this one which does. While I have some for the past few days, just haven't botherd bringing them over and publishing 'em. On my to do list, and not the 100 year plan listing either.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Can't teach an old dog new tricks

What is it about the generation that's about the 70-80 year range that is so....Infuriating?
Sure I've been through the whole, 'when I was your age we had to walk to and from school in the snow with no shoes, up hill both ways.'

My step father is probably a classic example of the extreme kind of this, he's always got to be right, has to know what's going on, critical of everyone and there isn't anything you've done that not only has he already done but under worse conditions.

He grew up in a logging camp, so he's been conditioned from birth to raise with the sun, so now he's a morning person, and if you aren't something is wrong with you. Everything he brings up the "I love my mornings" I know he's trying to take a jab at me.

I'm a night owl, always have been, probably always will be, a lot of it has to do with my light sensitive eyes. I see considerably better at night then most people, which I hate driving at night in the rain, my eyes catch so much glare. Doesn't help matters any that in the Army, we did everything at night, nor my last job that we worked very often before the sun came up or just as the sun was setting.

I know he's made comments to my mother to the fact of my reluctance to go hunting anymore. I am by far from a vegetarian, but I'm to a stage in life that the prospect of killing no longer appeals to me. I get the feeling that he's enjoyment of hunting isn't so much getting meat as it is the power of taking a life.

I won't bother explaining why I won't to him, he won't understand, nor will he try to understand. He's made up his mind and that's that. When you've trained to be a sentry stalker, one of the many duties I undertook, you get very up close and personal with taking life. What's really bugged me the most is not what I trained to do, but what knowledge I corrupted to become better and more efficient.

I joke very often that I knew how to deliver a baby way before I knew how to conceive one, I'd spend a good deal of time growing up reading and studying my father's EMT manuals. Between the knowledge of first aid and the human anatomy, combined with my training putting my emotions behind a wall, I was extremely efficient about that job. Efficient enough that I was given two nick names, "Ghost" because of my uncanny ability to seemingly appear or disappear without a sound and "Alaskan assassin" because I was so effective at the job and was from Alaska.

You can't unsharpen a knife and I dislike the similarity of stalking a deer and stalking a sentry. Not that I'm a powder keg waiting to go off, by no means, just that there's just some things in life that you shouldn't become too proficient at doing.

I wouldn't trade the experience nor time in the Army for anything, but I definitely wouldn't want to do through all of that again. You definitely learn to appreciate a whole lot more afterwards.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


you'd be hard pressed to find any pictures of me, let alone....revealing kind for HNT.

The other half the story....

Ok, so I didn't stay away from dating in high school and beyond simply because I was wrapped up in what I was doing. I grew up in a small town, population at last census was about 840, and I can trace my blood relations to about three quarters of the town, well, at least half anyways.

Probably one of the only real times I tried to date, it went all wrong. It was the end of summer, just after graduation and right before I left for college. I'd been busy working the fish processing plant, having been promoted to fish buyer, so I ran hoist, sorted fish, kept 'em on ice until they were ready to be cleaned and into the deep freeze.

Most of the summer I was kept busy, or kept myself busy, volunteering for every bit of hours I could get a hold of to sock a little more money away for school. So, nearly all summer long I clocked between 80 and 100 hours per week. I very often spent the majority of my day on the dock, with an occasional break to grab a snack.

At the shore end of the dock there was a store that some family members owned, but not just family worked there. All summer long when I'd stop in there to get a snack and a Mt. Dew to keep me going until next break I noticed someone new working, not just new to the store but new in town.

I'd make polite but small conversation with her, but wouldn't stay long, knowing full well the reek of fish permeated my clothes and followed me everywhere. This was very often the only way my mother knew I'd been home sometime in the night, since I was gone before they'd get up and back long after they'd gone to bed.

Anyways, summer was wrapping up, I was worked out of the schedule in preparation of me leaving to school within a week. I'd found out that this new girl, JS, was wrapping up to leave for school as well.

Figured it was worth a shot, so I'd asked her out to dinner which she agreed to the evening of both our last day's of work. I actually managed to smell halfway clean, having been kept out of the really dirty jobs for my last day, so I met her at the store when both our shifts were up.

I met up with her and walked her home, making small talk about what each of us was going to be doing in the coming weeks. Finally got around to asking where she was staying, which was with her father, but she didn't give his name, I guess she figured I knew who he was.

We get to an all too familiar drive way, and she announces that this is her dad's place, sure enough, it's my uncle and I got this sinking feeling that I've been flirting and hitting on my cousin all summer long. I dropped her off, got cleaned up and came up for dinner anyways but that sort of clinched it for me. I fear that any woman I start to date I'll come to find out I'm related to her in some way.

Small towns are great to grow up in, as long as you aren't related to the whole dang town.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A less traditional relationship

I guess the picture to the right explains a little of what I'm going to write about. It's an older picture, taken just after my basic training which is why i'm so damn skinny. Me with AT. I hate having my picture taken, and worse, having to pose for one.

I've been contemplating how to start this blog. What I've been wanting to say, I've only told one other person, and that person is RR who I mentioned in a previous posting.

One reason I become really good at what I choose to do is that once I commit, it's complete. By complete, I mean it, it becomes what I eat, breath, think until I finish it. This very often leaves little time for relationships, which is very often fine with me, those who also follow the same paths who have SO's tend to get the "you never spend time with me anymore" comment.

Even before I entered high school, I knew that I wouldn't be hanging around town and wouldn't follow my peers in marrying early and settling down near or at home. With that in mind, I kept myself busy with school work, hunting or with a job.

After enduring grilling after grilling about why I wasn't dating, nor wanting to be set up by anyone, I became convinced that the easiest way out of the ordeal was if I had an SO. About that time, I made my first trip to Oklahoma as part of a native leadership program. While there I met a girl who I'll call AT, we became fast friends and have kept in contact over the years.

I figured out that early on, it's not so much what you do as much as what you appear to do, so I concieved to show that I was "dating" someone. I figured it was easier to explain that yes, I was dating, but she was out of state, and quite attractive to explain my willingness to remain faithful.
So, on one of my phone calls to AT, placed from the teacher's lounge in the high school (with a calling card) when I was suppose to be in class, I asked if her if she'd go along with my plan. She laughed at first, then thought about it and agreed to play my "girl friend".

I guess it was a relationship of sorts, but the sole purpose was to decive everyone around me, so we did a lot of "traditional" things, even stuff that was so overtly over the top and showy that it shouldn't have been believed. But it was, all of it, got to the point people began to ask us how long we were married. We actually did our own things apart, but when I'd visit on leave, we were the perfect couple at least for appearance sake.

I sometime regret not having 'traditional' relationships, but given my nature of not staying in one spot too long, I wouldn't count it fair for a woman to try and keep up with me. I tend to be like a tumbleweed, going where the wind takes me. With no ties anywhere really, makes me well suited for life on the water.

I've never told anyone about the truth until a little while ago with RR, with her, I feel almost complled to speak the truth no matter what.

etch-a-sketch mind

anyone else have one of these, have a thought, then a good shaking up and everything is gone? or am I just going senile a lot sooner then normal.

youth worship?

About a year and a half ago, I began to notice that I'm getting grey hairs. Ordinarily it would be tough to tell, with my hair being so thick and dense, but a silvery grey stands out rather well against a raven black hue.

I began to ask myself, is not quite 29 too early for grey hair to be showing up? Was it the burden of command, having earned my Master's license a little while earlier. Thank goodness I'm not like my oldest sister, who by the same age had considerable amounts of grey hair, which she's constantly trying to keep dyed.

Upon reflection, which I very often do, I began to come to understanding, that this was just age showing through, and the anxiety I felt was the pressure of society to look young. I don't want to look young, I want my experiences to show, that with age I've had gained wisdom, I hope.

I've grown up indoctornated that age and wisdom was something to be respected, which has me somewhat at odds with societies growing trend of worshiping youth. I know a great many times I've felt at odds with society in general, it was my own cultural background showing through along with my stubborness to keep marching to my own drum and not go with the flow.