Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Who Says Sailors Can't March??

Or "You can teach an old (salty) dog new tricks..." First day of class we have a test. Prior to attending the recruiter school each potential recruiter must complete an online "phase 1 course". So verify that you did, indeed, do your own work we are required to take the final exam over again. It was a tough test with no review and a little more than half of the class passed. I can tell you I was SO happy to see that I was part of the class that got a "Go". Whew.

I met a girl from Arizona about my age in one of the other classes. She and I went to supper together and will go get our nails done tomorrow. We have a LOT in common. She is one of three girls whose names all start with an "L". Her name is Lisa and one of her sisters is Lori. Her mom got married at 16 and got busy. I am one of four girls whose names all start with "L" and my sister, Lisa, and I are the oldest. My mom was also a 16 year old bride. Lisa is a lot of fun and I think we will help each other from being so homesick.

Class is intense. The instructors keep it fun but we are there for a reason. The one thing I LOVE about Army schools is the no nonsense attitude. We will have a lot of PT, which means I should be able to lose some wieght!

We also march to and from class. In case I didn't mention it before.... Sailors can't march. In fact I think the Navy takes a lot of pride in this small fact. I learned to march in Boot and that's it. In my 8 year Naval career, I never had to march again. Not the Army! They LOVE to march. We form up and march to cadence. I am trying to stay in the background and not be noticed. God forbid I have to call cadence. It is hard enough just keeping in step.

We have a PT test on Friday and then PT every M-W-F at 0500. Something tells me they take it more seriously here than they did in Alabama when I attended school there. We shall see.

Well, I am SUPER tired and need to go to sleep. I'll write more tomorrow.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Packed But Not So Ready To Go

Whew. I am packed. I think I have everything I need. I am "convoying" it over to Arkansas following three other soldiers on the way.

I spent the day with the kids, then went with hubbie and kids to his brother's house. We swam for a few hours and then grilled out. We had steaks, potatoes, corn on the cob, broccoli, caesar salad and fresh baked bread. Life is good. My kids had a wonderful time and the little one DID NOT want to leave her cousin's house.

Now my husband is in his recliner watching "Patton", the kids are playing quietly and I am trying to soak it all in. Yeah, I am only going for a month...but...

I won't be able to access my milblog from my laptop as blogger, myspace, and yahoo are all blocked on the "net-nanny". I *may* be able to post from school during breaks like I did last time I was at school. If not; I will find a library and post from there.

Say a prayer for me and my family. This will be tough on all of us.

Wanna see the future??

This is a fictional peice, but it is so powerful. Go read it and be warned. Here is part two. Be warned, Dan Simmons is not a Leftist. Bookmark his site, the guy is something else.

Remembering Those Who Gave ALL.....

Today is Memorial Day. Today, like thousands of other Americans, I will be spending the day with family grilling steaks, corn and baking potatoes. I will have a couple of Mike's Hard Lemonade and swim in my in-laws new pool. We will all enjoy our day off and relish in our freedom.

Before that happens I wanted to take the time (as I usually do) to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. This year I am reminded of SFC Paul Smith who is the Global War on Terrorism's (GWOT) only Medal of Honor recipient.

I had read about SFC Smith several months ago. I was moved to tears reading his story. However yesterday's paper carried a story about his mother, his wife and another mother. This really touched me how these mom's could see their son's desire to serve their country and give all they have for us. Here is Janice Pvirre's story. Here is a small quote:

Janice Pvirre will be at Arlington in person. She will join the other "Gold Star Mothers," those who have lost children in combat, to lay a wreath and to say a prayer at a white marker engraved with the emblem of this nation's highest military honor.

Her son, Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, died in a dusty courtyard outside Baghdad, fatally wounded in a furious firefight while showing "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity ... above and beyond the call of duty" _ a sacrifice that made him the only service member awarded the Medal of Honor in the Iraq war.

Among those Sgt. Smith's actions saved: Dan Richardson, who has recently married and himself been promoted to sergeant.

That knowledge is both a blessing and a burden, for one mother to know that any milestone she will celebrate with her son _ a birthday, a holiday, the birth of a child _ was made possible by another mother's loss.

I highly encourage you to read about Paul Smith and his family. Here is the Army's link for Paul's story. Get the tissue first.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Packing is such a drag

I have been doing laundry and trying to pack. I usually do my packing the night before since I am using most everything I need to pack..however I don't want to forget anything since I can't just run home to get it.

It is especially critical since I WON'T be getting paid on the first. You read right, I will not be getting paid. In addition I won't get a dime until the 15th of June. No travel money, nothing. Gotta love it.

I processed into the National Guard as an AGR (fulltime) position on May 16th. I had all of my paperwork but one item. I had said item faxed to finance that same afternoon. I have a copy of the confirmation. I called the finance NCO but got no answer. SO I left a message that the fax had been sent, call me with any issues. I then placed two more calls later in the week but still got no answer. I left it alone thinking if she needed anything else she would call.

Thursday one of our recruiters was down at MEPS processing in PVT Billy. We called him and asked if he could slide over to MILPAY and ask them if we were getting paid. He called back and said "Four of you guys are not getting paid, and in fact they don't have any info or packet on Lori." A feeling of dread came over me. I knew it, I just knew it. I breathed a heavy sigh and shook my head. SGT T was livid. He is travelling to the school same as me and wasn't getting paid either. He could NOT understand why. I asked if he had any paperwork the finance NCO had to process later like mine, no was the answer. I was trying to find a common denominator.

In walks my boss. He is an E-5 like the rest of our crew in Rome, but he has been a recruiter for a year and a half. I smile and say "Guess what? We're not getting paid next week, SGT." He hit the roof. He snaps open his cell and calls the NCOIC. Cussing and spitting he lets him know there is a problem. A few hours pass by and my boss gets a call from the NCOIC. I had already filled him in on the details so he says "No, she sent the fax that very day and has a fax confirmation in hand....(long pause) uh huh, no....ok. out." He snaps the phone shut and says that the finance NCO tried to say that my inprocessing was halted due to the paperwork still needed. They found the fax (during the call) and she backpedalled quickly. sigh. The other three weren't missing any paperwork so this wasn't simply an oversight. She just wasn't doing her job, so I don't feel *really* bad about getting her in hot water.

Long story short, the Lt.Col. got involved and the Sergeant Major as well (yikes). The packets were hand delivered to MILPAY and I am in the system. However I STILL won't get paid until the 15th unless a miracle happens.

SO! I am packing everything I can for school. The barracks on the Air Force Base are basically dorms. I will have my own room with a microwave and a TV. Dang, those fly boys have it easy!! I will take a small fridge, a toaster oven and my coffee maker, maybe a crockpot. That way I can make my meals there and cut down on costs. Poptarts, here I come!

I did NOT post this to beg for money (I know you know that but...had to be said) and I am DEEPLY TOUCHED by the offers of loans.... however my mother-in-law gave me a hefty loan. So, thank you for your kind offers to float me till the 15th. :-) I am really touched.

Friday, May 26, 2006


I was surfing my favorite blogs today and I ran across SGT Hook's blog recommendations. I decided to check out some blogs new to me. I went to The Yankee Sailor's site and parked there for a while reading his take on current events. As I read through the Land Lubber's Dictionary I got incredibly "home sick" (for lack of a better term) for the Navy. I found myself smiling and saying "Oh yeah, I remember that!" And laughing at some of the terms that we used to describe unfavorable events or people.

I highly recommend his site for the Navy point of veiw on the war. He is a SWO or Surface Warfare Officer. He is hard core Navy. It reminded me of great men I had the honor of serving under. Crusty Salty Sailors who knew what duty and honor meant.

I was in when beards were still allowed (for men) and bell-bottomed dungarees were the working uniform. (see above left). I wore dungarees and a ballcap with "Pearl Harbor" and "NAS Moffett Field" on it.

When I was a junior enlisted person and new to the Fleet I was stationed at Pearl Harbor. I tried really hard to be the everything person. I managed in a year to attain the position of Training PO (Petty Officer), Career Counselor, Test Equipment PO, and CPR Instructor. When my evals came out I had received a 3.6 out of a possible 4.0 A 3.6 is mediocre at best. I was livid to say the least.
ET3 Lori "Chief, what is up with these evals?"
CPO "What's wrong with them?"
ET3 Lori "A 3.6?? I do everything! I am a hard worker, I am doing the job of three E-6's!"
CPO "You are doing everything but your real job."
ET3 "huh?"
CPO "What did you go to school for? What is your rate?"
ET3 "ET or electronics tech."
CPO "Then do your job. How can I evaluate you as a tech if you're not doing your job..."
ET3 (steaming rolling out of ears) "I quit"
CPO "You can't quit, you're in the Navy."
ET3 "Oh yes I can. I quit being your "boy". You can send me to the worst site on the island, I don't care but I ain't your boy no more!"
CPO "That can be arranged Petty Officer." (striding away).

Well I got the worst site on the island after that. All the losers were sent there. No one wanted to be associated with that site. And to top it all off they had just gotten a new supervisor who had reported in from a ship out of the Philipines. I was ready for a very crusty experience. I reported with nothing but a bad attitude. The new supervisor didn't disappoint me. He told me I was going to work on a peice of equipment in the signal tower. I replied that I had no training on this particular peice of equipment. He shot back with a "you've been to ET school right?" Then tossing a huge 10 pound tech manual at me he said "Go fix it."

I worked on that sucker for 6 months. Each week he sat with me and guided me through a plan of attack. Each day I loaded up 40-50 pounds of test equipment and climbed 5 ladders to the top of the signal tower. I worked on that transciever each day. Over the years it had been cannibalized for parts. I had to rewire it, order modules and replace tubes. Each day I worked on it trying to get a signal. Each Friday I went over what had been done and what results I had. Finally the day came when it transmitted and I got a confirmation back that I had reached someone. I excitedly told my supervisor that I got it to work. He said "Will it pass PMS?" Meaning "Planned Maintenance Standards" or standards that dictate if a peice of equipment meets certain perameters. I stood there dumbfounded KNOWING it wouldn't. I stood as all the air went out of me like a deflated balloon. "Take the day off tomorrow then come back and try to get it to pass PMS." I stood not believing my ears... Liberty with no request chit? OK.

I took the day and came back with fresh resolve. I worked on that equipment for a few more weeks and got it to pass every test except one. I returned to the shop a little defeated. As I slumped on the stool next to the bench with the tech manual open trying to figure out why it wouldn't pass, my boss tossed a log book to me. "Open it up, what do you read?" Page after page of E-5's and E-6's that had tried and FAILED to get that equipment even operational. As I turned each page it was slowly dawning on me that I had accomplished what others who outranked me couldn't. I was speechless. My boss came over to me looking over my shoulder reading the log and said "How do you feel?" I sat stunned and then a huge grin spread on my face and I said "Like I can fix f*cking anything." He said "Good, then I did my job."

The rest of my career in the Navy (and civilian jobs) was spent fixing the problematic equipment. I wouldn't give up. Once we had an issue with some comm equipment between the ATC tower and the radar room. I had pulled out whole consoles chasing a ghost tone that would appear and disappear. Right before I was transferring out they finally called the company that designed and manufactered the equipment. They sent two engineers to look at it. They couldn't fix it and I heard through the grape vine that years later it was still giving them problems. Yeah, I followed up on it because that was the only problem that ever kicked my butt.

I got my 4.0 evals and kept them for 5 years. I moved up from that site to better locations on the island. I then transferred to NAS Moffett Field and loved every minute of it. I learned a valuable lesson from my CPO and my boss. Mission First, believe in your men, expect more and you'll get more.

I really love being a Soldier...but boy I sure do miss my Navy days.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

To the Most Wonderful Kid I know...

In the Military, if you are not on Leave (vacation) you are at work. That means 24 hours a day you are on call. In the recruiting world that is especially so. There is also a thing call Liberty. Liberty means you are authorized to leave the Post but you are not on Leave.

I am leaving for Arkansas on Tuesday. Monday is a Holiday and my boss decided to give us all 4 days off or a four day Liberty Pass! Whoo Hoo!

Remember Josiah and Billy? Billy held up his right hand today and is now PVT Billy. Josiah has to wait until next week. He lied on his application and MEPS caught it. Geez those guys are good, they put the screws to these prospective recruits and they fess up. We cleared up Josiah's issues and he goes to MEPS on Wednesday to get a physical and raise his right hand.....IF nothing else pops up.

Funny thing, Josiah had said he didn't know where his mother was and his aunt and uncle were legal guadians. Not. So I found mom, met with her, answered questions and had her sign the parental release forms. However not before I handed her my card and we discussed HER joining the National Guard. You could really see the wheels turning in her mind so I will call her next week from school and see if I can set up a meeting with her and my boss. This is too much fun.

I attended my son's awards ceremony at his school yesterday. I cried. This was his last year in elementary school. He made the Honor Roll for the first time.

When Josh was born he was so bright. He walked at age 8 months and was talking in three word sentances by his first birthday. He could add up to 5 by the time he was three. He was all boy and was wide open from the time he woke (early, since he was an early bird like me) till the time he fell asleep in seconds at night. Yet he never had any interest in trying to read. He would get frustrated with books, wanting only to look at the pictures.

Then came school. By the time he was out of the first grade he still couldn't read. I blamed the teacher (of course) and I decided to take him out of public school and homeschool him. It was very difficult! I tried several different types of reading programs and still he had trouble. I made him write things out and very soon discovered that he was not able to learn by sight. I prayed about it and decided to just chuck everything and start him like I learned when I was in the first grade in Ohio. This was in the years before "Phonics", they just expected you to read.

I sat down with him and made him read a paragraph out of a book. I told him to just try and I would help with the harder words. He would agonizingly struggle slowly through a few sentences. Then I would read the paragraph so he could hear the flow of the words, then he would read it to me again. I soon realized that he could sail through on the second try. Then the light bulb came on in my mind. Joshua is an auditory learner, he learns by hearing not by sight! We continued with this method since it seemed to be working. We worked hard on spelling by rote (out loud) and spelling tests were not in writing but rather like a spelling bee.

Third Grade brought a lot of changes. Grace arrived and I had to return to helping my husband in his office. Joshua was enrolled in public school once again. He was placed in special education classes and I cried. Yet I was determined to get to the bottom of the issue and help him overcome.

The school wanted to label him. I did not. The school wanted their puppet psychologist to evaluate him for ADD or ADHD. I did not. The puppet thought Joshua should be on meds, I REFUSED. I decided to take matters into my own hands.

After months of calling, writing and pestering I got an appointment for Joshua with a highly recommended psychologist that specializes in children with learning disabilities. His office put Joshua through a battery of tests lasting two days. Then weeks of waiting as the tests were analyzed and an appointment made to go over the results. Finally the day arrived and I was so nervous.

We arrived in the esteemed professional's office and he quickly put us at ease. He asked that Josh go play in a playroom while he discussed the results with me. Right away he said that results aside, Joshua was a very pleasant well adjusted boy that was a pleasure to be around. I smiled, said thank you and said that Joshua was a great kid with a great personality. I said "He is just naturally good natured." The psychologist shook his head and said "That doesn't happen by accident." I said "well it helps that he is just naturally a great kid." This time he stopped me and said "Mrs. Fields, I have been doing this a long time. He is a wonderful boy and ...that... doesn't... happen... by... accident." He didn't shout but he was firm. I got tears in my eyes and said a quiet "thank you". It was nice to be told you're doing a good job.

The man continued by going over Joshua's test results, a 122 IQ score (good), slight ADD and a reading disability. He explained that Joshua can't learn by using phonics (no duh) and that endless writing sentences and word lists wouldn't work with him (been there, done that). He said that when he learns that c a t spells cat he then cannot read r a t and know that it spells rat. He said that sounding out words doesn't work with him, that he has to learn each word as it is. sigh. yep. That explained a lot.

The good news was that eventually it would not even be an issue as adults don't read by sounding everything out, they just look at a word and know what it is. He said that Joshua would soon be reading like any adult, but it was going to take time. He also said the ADD was slight and that he recommended meds but it could go either way, so again I refused. He said that was fine and recommended some methods to help Joshua cope.

I took the results to the school. They assigned a person to Joshua to help him with reading everything. I continued to work with him at home, encouraging, challenging, threatening! LOL. It was slow going. Third grade he was doing first and second grade work. Fourth grade was doing third and fourth grade level work with minimal help. This year (fifth grade) was the first year he was doing his own grade level and with NO help from special education teachers. Not only was he finally doing his own grade level on his own ( no special assistance) HE MADE HONOR ROLL!!!!! (tears in eyes)

I was SO proud when they called his name. I walked briskly up to the stage (in uniform) shouting Hooahs and snapping pictures. Then I stopped, looked at that cute little (big) boy with the huge grin on his face, my heart was bursting and I took my fingers and pointed to my eyes then at him and mouthed "I am SO proud of you!!" Then the tears came and I sat down.

He has worked hard. And I am STILL convinced that my little fella is just a great kid, with a great heart and a wonderful attitude. I just happen to be lucky enough to be his mom.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Where do I start??

This past week has been a whirlwind. We were part of the welcome home party for two different Armory units. We opened old offices in Rome and Cedartown. We spoke with three classrooms on "career development". We ran down parents and kids from all over NW Georgia. We have a full schedule lined up for next week. whew. I'm loving every minute of it.

Although I really enjoyed greeting the troops coming home, it was physically and emotionally exhausting! It is so high energy it saps all your strength. And teaching in a classroom all day?? Teachers, my beret is off to you. My goodness, those kids require you to stay on your toes every second. I loved being in front of them and talking about their futures. They have so many questions and are just scared to death. It was nice to talk about what their hopes and dreams for the future are.

I absolutely love dealing with the kids. We had to chase down several for paperwork and signatures. I want to talk about two in particular because they stole my heart. Thursday we were delivered four packets for four kids from a recruiter that is on his way out. We made calls to four sets of "parents" and got screamed at, hung up on and made plans with the other two kids.

Yesterday we drove to an "alternative" high school. This is a school for trouble kids. As we entered I was astonished. It was a dump to say the least. We found the office and asked the nice woman if we could see Josiah and Billy. She paged them to the office and we chatted about the two boys. "Well I hope you can do something with them. They sure do need something!"

In walk two teenaged boys. Josiah was tall standing (or slumping) at 6 foot 3 inches. He has dark hair and deep brown eyes. He has a vacant stare and looks like he is just waiting for someone to give him direction. Billy has sandy blond hair and sharp blue eyes. He is tall, as well, at 6 foot and 2 inches. Both boys have an awful complexion, a combination no doubt, of poor diet and hormones.

Josiah wears a Crue T-shirt and being an old heavy metal fan I strike up a conversation about the t-shirt. His face lights up and he says "Now yer talkin 'bout ma kinda music!" We discuss the Scorpions, Iron Maiden, AC/DC etc., as my supervisor discusses some issues with the school secretary. We get permission for the two to miss school this coming Wednesday to go to MEPS.

MEPS is the Military Enlisted Processing Station. AT MEPS our two will take the ASVAB (aptitude and vocational skills) test Tuesday night and then have their first military physical and swearing in on Wednesday if all goes well.

We go over their packets for enlistment and any issues. There is more paperwork to fill out. Billy is concerned that he may not graduate high school next year. The mama in me comes out and I tell him that sure he can! He says he has to pass all his classes next year, he can't fail one. My heart broke. At 18 he can't even hope to pass all his high school classes. I looked him straight in the eye and said "You're smart aren't you??" He shrugs his shoulders. I continue "Sure you are, just look at you! You can do it! I have confidence in you!" He stands a little taller and my boss says "We will study with you, tutor you, do whatever it takes to make sure you graduate. You do NOT want to go with a GED!" This is spoken by a man with a GED and then a college degree. Billy looks hopeful.

We discover that we still don't have Josiah's birth certificate. He says he has it at his home. We also need a final signature from his parents on the paperwork he just filled out. Josiah explains that he lives with his aunt and uncle and doesn't know where his parents are. He explains that his aunt and uncle are staying at friend's house during the day to babysit. We get directions to the house and make arrangements to meet Josiah after school to get his birth certificate.

As we leave the school I had to stop and use the latrine. Can we say nasty? Billy and Josiah leave to return to their class. As I am leaving the school I walk past a room where Billy and Josiah are excitedly telling their buddies that they will be going to Army Boot Camp this summer so they can join the National Guard. They have hope and their voices reflect the joy of hope.

We drive to the home where the "aunt" and "uncle" are staying. We spot three brand new cars in front of a very aging home. There is a newer barn type building in the backyard, with a very big lock on the door. We knock on the side door and a woman comes running through the front door shouting, "No! You need to come to the front door!". Hmmm.

We enter a dump. I mean, a dump of a "home". It stinks, there are clothes, toys and dirt everywhere. She invites us to sit down but we (gladly) say we can stand. She signs the papers and sighs and complains about Josiah. "I hope y'all kin do sompin' wit him. He's a mess." This last pronouncement makes my blood boil. The translation for "he's a mess" is I am a lazy shit too self absorbed to actually give a flying fart about the child who is in my care to ACTUALLY discipline or teach him to succeed. It is a blanket statement to cover all the ill behavior of a child...."she's a mess...." sigh, cover my heart with my hand "I can't do anything with him/her." It starts when the child is about 2 and continues through out their lives. GOD FORBID you should actually teach the kid that HE CAN BE RESPONSIBLE!!!

We get signatures, we make arrangements to meet Josiah for the birth certificate. We leave the "home" and my two comrades remark on the mysterious barn. Both have worked in Law Enforcement before and comment that the barn and the new cars go together. My boss says "Can we say Meth Lab?!" Yikes. My hearts breaks a little more.

We return to the office and begin processing their parperwork into the computer. Since I am new I am to put in Josiah's info and look everything over in both files. Since they are joining the military they have to account for all their history for the last 7 years. They haven't moved around a lot, that is encouraging. As I get to put in the information on Josiah I get to his mother's information. Her location is unknown. My heart breaks again. The poor kid doesn't even know where his mother is. Then I get to Billy. Mother? Location unknown. Damn. Just Damn.

Good news? These boys are joining the Army National Guard. They will go to boot camp this summer and come back in time to attend their senior year in high school. They will drill one weekend a month with us! They will be watched over, encouraged, disciplined and then after high school graduation they will go to Advanced Individual Training (AIT). They can come back home to drill with the Guard or join the Army, Marines etc. They have a future, a hope for the future.

Feels damn good to be a recruiter.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I Can't Say I wasn't Warned...

SFC Ranger had warned me when he was interveiwing me "You'll cuss me the first three months you're a recruiter..." Well, I am not cussing anyone but I can see how this job could take over your life.

I wake each morning at 0430 and am on the road all day. I meet people, schedule meetings and drive some more. I got off "early" today because I haven't been issued my "Class A" uniform yet. The awards ceremony tonight for the JROTC was to be in "Class A's". So my boss asked me how much I wanted to attend. Ha! So I got off to go home at 5:45PM!! Hmm, since I have been on the road since 0500, I only worked 13 hours today.

I have a headache, my feet hurt and I am going to cut my hair short enough to not have to wear it up all day. Don't worry, it will still be long enough that I will still look feminine and cute so my husband doesn't divorce me. I am sick of McD's drive through food. I ate a McMuffin at 0515 and a #2 meal at 1500 (an hour after the headache set in from lack of food). No supper. I am not even hungry. I have two loads of laundry folded and put away and my uniforms in the dryer now.

I get to "sleep in" tomorrow since I don't have to be at the Rome Armory (my new office) until 0800. YEAH!!!

Oh, my new digs are a shambles. I don't know who the former recruiter was... but geez. The office is a barren wasteland of gray walls, gray metal desks and gray metal lockers. No cool posters, no recruiting incentives at all. I have plans. Weapons hanging from the ceiling, a sign with "Kill a Commie For Mommie" on one wall, posters of tanks, hummers and Blackhawk Helocopters on the other walls! (big grin) So any other ideas??

Monday, May 15, 2006

Wow, what a Hero's welcome!

I did a lot of "recruiter" stuff today but I wanted to talk about the welcome for the tanker unit of the 48th Brigade. Wow.

First, ALL the firemen of this county showed up. ALL of them. There were State Troopers, local and county police. The mayor and state represenatives were there. Several radio stations covered the event as well as TV. The whole street in front of the armory was covered in yellow ribbons and flags. The local High School JROTC was there in full uniform. And finally the state chapter of the Patriot Guard Riders rode in and escorted the troops to the armory!

I stood at attention with the others in uniform and saluted as they marched into the armory. I cried as I saw children run up to their dads and hug them. I cried as I heard the commander's voive break as he thanked his men for their service under him. I got thanked by several civilians and they didn't stop thanking me when I explained that I was not part of the unit, they just wanted to thank me for whatever service I did.

It was very emotional and oh so wonderful. The guys were SO thankful for the reception. And to beat it all I FORGOT my camera. Sigh.

There is another "welcome home, Heroes." scheduled for Wednesday in Calhoun that I will be attending. The county is letting the kids out of school at noon that day so they can line the streets as the guys for that armory come home. Dang. I drove up there today and already the street from the freeway to the armory (over 5 miles) is lined with yellow ribbons and flags. THIS time I will bring my camera.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


Tomorrow is my first day "on the job". I will be going with my boss (my recruiter) to greet the 48th Brigade return from Iraq to Canton. VERY nice assignment! I am excited. I will bring plenty of tissue as I am liable to cry. I will post tomorrow evening about the day's events.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

I really try to stay out of politics...

I have some very strange ideas about government. I guess it comes from my Colombian heritage (Dictatorships), from growing up in the U.S (Democracy/Republic) and Germany (conquered country occupied by foriegn troops). I am an Army Brat and was raised with a lot of structure and discipline, I tend to not be very liberal. So I try and keep my mouth shut.

HOWEVER when I read this story about National Guard troops being used to secure our borders (good idea) and Governor Schwarzenegger's comments after admitting that it IS the Federal Government's JOB to secure our borders, well my blood is boiling. He continued:
"Not to use our National Guard, soldiers that are coming back from Iraq, for instance, and they have spent a year and a half over there and now they're coming back," he said. "I think that we should let them go to work, back to work again."
First of all I hate to be the one to enlighten the governor...but our troops have been coming and going to Iraq for three years. I am sure he knows that but it just appears so good to sound like you are backing the troops when you are really backing an unsecured border and all the illegals that work like dogs for nothing on the big corporate farms in California.....

Secondly..... what? Securing our borders as a National Guardsman isn't work? I know what he meant...but it was insulting to me that he feels securing our borders isn't a worthy cause and that any soldier would be less than HONORED to have such a job.

Daaang it, I think this is great work for our troops. Gee maybe if we secure OUR borders we won't have to watch another September 11th. I know it is a long shot but if given the choice..wouldn't you rather PREVENT a terroist from freely entering our country and causing havoc instead of mopping up a mess AFTER the fact?? Every Soldier believes STRONGLY in protecting our country, what an honor to be able to do it HERE at HOME.

I really considered the idea of volunteering for duty in Iraq. I am usually the one to help out in an emergency, I am the one who jumps into the fray to bring order so volunteering to go to Iraq just seemed natural to me. I was actually filling out the application and only had to turn it in. I spoke with Grey Eagle via internet about her experiences there, being a wife and mother. I talked at great length with my family and friends about volunteering. Grey Eagle was very inspiring to me. She cautioned me to not run into the fight, but to carefully consider all my options. My husband finally said "Listen, why not wait until you are called, your time will come and when it is right, it will be right." I listened to sound reasoning and waited. I had applied for several positions and the recruiting position came through.

My point in telling this story... I wanted to show there are people/soldiers/troops who WANT to serve. When I read they were sending troops to the borders, I really felt like it would be a great idea. There are a LOT of troops that are stateside and would be MORE than willing to volunteer. It is what we are trained to do, stateside, globally, protect and defend ALL enemies BOTH foreign AND domestic.

I am not an isolationist, I don't think we should roll up the welcome mat, but then again...we shouldn't leave the back door unlocked and open.

Friday, May 12, 2006

"AT EASE!!!"

I got a phone call Wednesday afternoon asking if I could fill in for my son's teacher at lunch on Thursday. All the fifth grade teachers were going out to lunch for teacher appreciation, and parents would be filling in for them. I said sure, no problem. Then I hung up the phone and thought .... two hours with a bunch of unruly 5th graders...what am I thinking?

See, I love children. I adore babies. I used to dream of having a house FULL of kids. And Teenagers..I LOVE 'EM! Teenagers are so full of LIFE, they have open minds, they are thinkers, challenging everything. Teenagers are the best.

Then there are tweenagers. sigh. This is the age of about 8 to 14. They are uncoordinated, silly, foolish and a pain in the patootie. This is MY opinion. I love babies and I love teens...but the tweenagers?? They drive me nuts. Every single stinking thing is "boring" or "stupid". They are mean to each other. They are annoying. MY OPINION, K?

So, yesterday about 11 am I arrive at the school with my 3 year old in tow. The teacher smiles, says thanks for covering for her, shows me what plans are expected for the class and leaves.

OF COURSE right away I have unruliness. A substitute is in class that means party time, right? Since it was 11am it was time for lunch. The class ran out into the hall and then ran to the lunch room. Not five minutes had passed and I had lost control. Two more hours to go. Lunch was pretty uneventful except for the part when another teacher had to get my students in order. OK, that's IT!!!! I will NOT have someone else doing my job. If these kids needed discipline I was the one to give it.

Lunch was over and I ordered everyone in line. Now when I say ordered, I mean ORDERED. I decided, hey, I've been to boot camp, I know how to act like a drill instructor. The kids were shocked. I changed from nice sweet Mrs Fields, into SGT FIELDS. I yelled "LINE UP AGAINST THE WALL.....NOW!!!" Then I went in the women's latrine (Army mindset now, right?) and yelled "COME ON LADIES...EVERYONE IS WAITING ON..YOU!!!" Little girls scurrying out into the hall to see everyone in line standing at attention. We double time it back to the class room, teachers staring at the mom in the Army "Hooah" sweat shirt yelling, "doubletime, people, don't keep me waitin'!".

We get in the classroom and I have 10 minutes to kill before the class changes. I go to the front of the class and I announce "I am SGT Fields of the Georgia Army National Guard. I heard some of you didn't believe Josh's mom was in the Guard. Raise your hands, who didn't believe I was in the Guard??" Several hands shoot up. I ask who in the class knows anything about the Guard. No hands. I ask who has questions about the Guard. Several hands shoot up and I take a question and answer period. I breifly outline the history of the Guard. I tell them that 20 presidents have served in the Guard, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln, U. S. Grant, Harry Truman to name a few. I spoke about how the Guard helps locally, statewide, nationally and globally. Then it was time for them to change class.

My new class comes in with GLEE at seeing yet another Sub. I see it in their beady little eyes, they think "push-over mom". I am still standing at the front of the class and proceed to order everyone in their seats. A look of utter shock on their faces. Now I am the one wearing a look of glee. I announce that I am SGT FIELDS! I am in the Army National Guard. I go through another question and answer period. Only this time the boys have a LOT of questions. Do I know hand to hand combat? I tell them that, no, I do not know hand to hand combat however if a soldier ever gets to that point something has gone terribly wrong. I talk about our superior armed forces and how the insurgents are no match for our guys with a gun. We talked about RPG's, about IED's etc. A kid asks me if I have ever been called a maggot. I respond "of course." Snickers across the room. Then someone asked about my sweatshirt. "What does hoorah mean in the Army?" I quickly corrected him to the proper pronounciation.."It's HOO ahh" and then showed the back of my sweatshirt with the definition:

They were like "COOL!". I announced that it was time to turn in journal entries and do their current day's journal entry. They looked bored and disappointed. They moved at a snail's pace getting their work done. I kept calling out encouragement.."come on, get it done. Who is STILL not finished?" I spot someone with a headset on listening to a CD palyer... hand it over sister! I realised I needed to get MORE serious with these kids.

Time for their vocabulary test. I shout that I want everything off the desks. I run around shouting at the kids not complying, acting like a DI, they are loving it. I announce that we will take the test the ARMY way! I have them count off (yelling "I CAN'T HEAR YOU" occasionally) then I make the odd numbers move to one side of the class and the even numbers to the other side of the class. They take their test quickly. Then I yell "CHECK YOUR PAPER TO MAKE SURE YOUR NAME IS ON IT. NOW, THE LEFT SIDE OF THE CLASS MOOOVE TO THE RIGHT. THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE CLASS MOOOVE TO THE LEFT! MOVE MOVE MOVE MOVE!!!" They quickly moved and we graded the papers. Shouts of Hooah were going up when I would ask someone "YOU! Read question three!" "Hooah, number three..." We then worked on a worksheet together. People who got the answer wrong had to "Drop and give me five recruit!" It was hilarious! They were fighting to get the answers, fighting to get their work done, working hard to pay attention.

We had some time to kill and I asked them if they wanted to play some of the classroom games...noooooo, they wanted more of the ARMY! So I gave it to them. We discussed several terms peculiar to the Army and Military. I defined that "At Ease" was a command for a certain stance but also to quiet down. I talked about boot camp, where I had been stationed, women in the Military etc. They asked if I ever had to "drop and give em' 20". I said of course that just this past drill my phone went off during formation and my 1st SGT said to drop and give him 10! They were amazed. Then the teacher returned. She was in shock. I had them policing the room and warned them "IF YOU MISS A SINGLE SCRAP OF PAPER, NO MATTER HOW SMALL, I WANT 5 PUSH-UPS!" The noise level started to rise and I called out an "AT EASE!", soon they quieted down again. The room was soon spotless but not before several boys dropped and gave me 5 anyway! Finally one said "Can you be our teacher?" I laughed and asked him how old he was. 10 years old. I said "In 8 years, look me up, I'll make SURE you are in my Army!"

I briefed the teacher on what had been accomplished and then got my things together to leave. As I was leaving the room my new recruit said "see ya in 8 years!" I said "Hooah!"

I stopped by another classroom to pick up my son since it was close to the end of the school day. He said "Thank God! That teacher was awful... hey what was going on in your classroom?? You could hear y'all all the way into our class." I asked what he heard and he said "A lot of shouting!" LOL.

Well, I had a blast. The kids were great. Maybe tweenagers aren't so bad. They just need direction. I felt energized and ready for more. My son was NOT happy that he had missed it. Oh well, he gets it EVERY DAY! LOL.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Last Drill Day

Last night I could hardly sleep. I got about 4 hours of sleep and had to get up at 0500. I showered and got ready to leave for the armory. They were holding the APFT today so I was wearing my PT gear. I passed with no problems.

I had my last drill date today. The National Gurad owes me a day with pay so I asked to take it tomorrow. They said yes.

It was bittersweet saying good-bye to my unit. I haven't been there very long; 8 months... but I have made a few friends. I almost feel guilty leaving. The unit is just standing up and I was their only Commo person. But since I am now a recruiter I will still see the unit once in a while.

I am VERY tired and worn out both physically and emotionally.

Friday, May 05, 2006

It's Official...

subdued drumroll.... I am now an official GaARNG RRNCO selectee. I have been notified my start date is May 15th, 2006. Talk about anticlimatic.

Wanna See a Real Hero??

Cowboy Blob posted this story about a U.S. Marine HERO.

CAMP PENDLETON - He was shot seven times. Then 40 pieces of super-heated shrapnel melted into his flesh.

And at three different moments, in nanoseconds laced with adrenaline, confusion, sweat and blood, Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Bradley Kasal took account of his life.

Then he decided it would be OK if he died.

His decision earned him the Navy Cross on Monday.

OORAH! 1st Sgt Kasal! 1st Sgt has decided that when he is fully recovered he would like to deploy to Iraq again. Dang.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Finally 0500 and time to get up. I didn't bother with make-up since we would be running PT. I was dog tired from only getting around 4 hours of sleep. SPC Colbert and I groaned from lack of sleep as we dressed for PT. I donned the too large gear and went outside where SGT Caldwell began to laugh hysterically at me. It was bad enough the shirt and shorts were three sizes too big, but the XL Long jacket swallowed me up to the point that the jacket came to my knees. SFC Ranger found another jacket in a XL so it wasn't quite as long. SGT Caldwell was still poking fun at me when he said "I'll never get to say this again but... I can honestly say SGT Fields was all in my pants!" Hoots and hollars go up and I reply "Yeah you're right...that's the *only* time you'll *ever* get to say that!" We all laugh and the shout goes up to head on out to the college.

We all loaded up into our vans and headed over together to the college gym. EVERYONE else was in the PT long pants and jacket except the "X-Men". MSG Important pulls aside SFC Ranger and whispers something to him. SFC Ranger replies "Some of our team didn't have the long pants so if we are going to be wrong...we are ALL going to be wrong together. Hooah!" Wow. I mean wow. This meant a lot to me. We assembled in formation and the teams began to report...again with the "THE X-MEN ALL PRESENT AND ACCOUNTED FOR!" I was beginning to like this. Seems our team has a *lot* of spirit and pride. We get ribbed about "being Superheroes" but it is all good natured.

I glance to the front of the formation and I spot the new Sergeant Major in PT gear..... shorts and a jacket! I had to chuckle to myself. Maybe he didn't have pants either. I doubt it. He puts out the word that we are to have a urinalysis or a drug test. We line up, males on one side of the hall and females on the other side. I am first in line and gladly so, the coffee I had earlier was screaming to come out! ;-)

The rest of the morning and early afternoon is spent listening to lectures and a tour of the campus. We are (finally) released from lectures at 1600 to go change into PT gear and participate in "Team Building" events on the campus. We played tug-of-war, volleyball and basketball. The X-Men won some and lost some, but we had a great time. Suddenly it was time to leave. I packed my few things, said goodbye and left for home.

The drive back was uneventful and I reflected on my new team. I really liked them and am anxious to go ahead and start.

Last night was spent cuddling my children until bedtime and then my husband gave me a luscious and looong back rub until I fell asleep next to him in the bed. I was so tired and he let me drift off to sleep. I will have to repay his kindness tonight! ;-) wink wink.

So. The X-Men, hmm? I did some research on the X-Men and found this website. I also did some research on Rogue. Actually, she *is* pretty cool. That's her on the right. SGT Caldwell asked me if Rogue wears spandex and I said that she did at home. LOL. Boy does she wear spandex, just look at her!! Apparently each of the characters has quite a history including Rogue. You can read her story here. Her vitals are 5' 8' and 120 pounds, brown (with a white stripe) hair and green eyes. I am no where near any of that except for the brown hair! Her powers are: drain off portions of a living beingā€˜s essence upon physical contact, giving them a biophysical shock while synthesizing into her body their physical skills, memories, personality traits, and superhuman matrixes to a varying degree....


Wednesday, May 03, 2006


I was invited to attend the recruiting seminar held in Dahlonega, Georgia this week. The North Georgia Military College is there and the GaARNG holds their recruiting seminars on the campus. I was "invited" because I am *still* not official. I packed to stay overnight and after kissing my husband good bye I left to travel about 2 hours away.

I arrived at the hotel at about 11:15 to find everyone "milling about smartly" on the balcony/walkway or just kicking back in their rooms. I grabbed my gear and was sent to room with another female, SPC Colbert. SFC Ranger greeted me with a big booming "Hello SGT Fields! Glad to see you, good of you to come." Then he and SGT Caldwell (my recruiter) began to feverishly discuss some strategy they were cooking up. I unpacked my things and came outside on the balcony/walk way with everyone else.

Soon SFC Ranger and SGT Caldwell walked up to me grinning. I smelled trouble. "What?" I said suspiciously. SGT Caldwell quickly explained "Our Team has a 'name' or 'alter ego'. We are known as the 'X-men'. We needed to come up with a character for you since you are on our team and so..." SFC Ranger contined for him "And so... you are Rogue. Rogue is so cool, she sucks all the power out of the people around her!" He then curled up his arm and hand into a snake like vise and made sucking sounds as he grabbed SGT Caldwell's arm.

Ew. Rogue certainly doesn't sound cool. They continue to tell me all about the other team members and their characters with great excitement. I am thinking, ok, what have I gotten myself into?? Grown men giving each other character names and gleefully discussing the attributes of each character. Hmmm. I smile and keep my mouth shut.

Most of Tuesday was spent at the parade grounds for a change of command ceremony. It was very nice. These guys are well practiced in close order drill. The commands went out sharply and everyone followed the commands effortlessly. The call went out to the formation for each team to report. "Team 8 all present and accounted for! Team 9 all present and accounted for!" Now it was time for SFC Ranger to report for Team 10 and he did so with "THE X-MEN ALL PRESENT AND ACCOUNTED FOR!" I waited for someone to say "WTF??" But each team continued to report. I started thinking this is pretty funny.

Later we were dismissed and we left for the hotel and to eat supper. SFC Ranger said to me "SGT Fields, did you bring PT gear?" I explained that although I had brought workout gear, I did not bring my Army PT gear. SGT Caldwell searched his things and came up with a PT shirt and shorts...three sizes too big. SFC Ranger dug out a jacket sized XL long. He then announced that PT uniform for the X-Men on Wednesday was not going to be the jacket and long pants but the jacket and shorts (since I didn't have the pants).

SFC Ranger asked me if I was going to stay for Thursdays' Team Building exercise up the mountain and the ropes course. I replied that I couldn't stay and he said "Aw come on Ranger Fields!" I laughed, me a Ranger?? SFC Ranger looked like he suddenly remembered something and SGT Caldwell said "Oh it comes...". SFC Ranger looked at me quite seriously and said "I don't like having to say this and you won't here this from me again... Here is my Male Soldier/Female Soldier speech. When I see you I don't see male/female, I see SOLDIER. I won't ever make a differentiation between you or any other soldier. You won't have an advantage or a disadvantage. To me you are Ranger Fields, a soldier in the Army National Guard. OK, that's done...carry on." I actually was very appreciative of this little speech. Shows me he's thinking.

I went to dinner with several of the guys and SPC Colbert (the other female). We had a good time and joked quite a bit. After supper we watched "American Idol" on TV in one of the rooms. We joked and poked fun at the contestants and had a good time. SPC Colbert and I retired to our room and watched some Seinfeld. I finally drifted off around 11PM.

0310...KABLAM! then bright light filled the room followed by another loud boom. Were we under fire??! No. There was a big thunderstorm moving across the mountains and with the curtains cracked I could see the whole sky lighting up followed by the sound of thunder. I lay there willing myself back to sleep. roomie's phone rings. She fumbles and answers it and says "Hello?...What? Um I think you have the wrong number..." I swore outloud and she laughed. I try in vain to sleep.

I didn't want to keep her awake so I lay in the bed thinking about the day before, about the coming day and how much I missed my little family. I imagined my Gracie all cozy curled up in her bed, of my Joshie probably upside down in his bed, covers and sheets all knotted up. I imagined my Payson snoozing quietly and hugging my pillow. Sigh.

More to come....