Saturday, July 26, 2008

CPL Squared Away

My Team is growing. The X-Men, as we are known as, are growing. We have close to 20 people on our team now. MSG Ranger is now 1SG Ranger. He formed Recruiting Office Teams of which my office is one. So now I am a "Station Commander" or as it is called in the Guard; Recruiting Office Team Leader (ROTL). I said "Does that make me a ROTtwieler??" 1SG was amused for a second. Then he said "No that makes you a Team Leader." Roger, 1SG.

I hired a Recruiting Assistant or ADOS (Active Duty Operational Support). CPL Squared Away is 24, a MP for the Guard and works at a local hospital as a EMT. CPL Squared Away is one of the most squared away soldiers I know. CPL's uniform is always inspection ready. CPL Squared Away is always on time (if you are not 15 minutes early; you're late). CPL has a permit to carry a concealed firearm. CPL does. When I issue instructions, the appropriate questions are asked for clairification and then instructions are carried out. I never have to worry or wonder. I called and offered her the job. She said yes. I plan on making CPL into SGT Squared Away as soon as possible.

We had a wayward recruit that was AWOL for the last drill. AWOL in the Guard is not as serious as in Active Duty. Please, no howling or knashing of teeth. It's the truth. In my active duty days, if I had not shown up for work for four days (the equivalent of one drill) I would have been put in the Brig. I would have gotten a Captain's Mast (Article 15) and had reduction in rank and had money taken from my pay. In the Guard we contact them by phone and that is considered good enough. Not for me.

So, the wayward recruit was contacted after I left him a voice mail. We arranged to go meet with the recruit. I sent SGT Rural Recruiter and CPL Squared Away. I instructed CPL she was to wear her MP brassard and cuffs. They met with the wayward recruit who was sufficiently convinced that we mean business. If we have to find him again it will be with a local Sherriff in attendance. I don't think we have to persue that avenue.

The Smell of Salty Air

A few days ago I needed to access to help an applicant locate his old Army records. I noticed the "Buddy Finder" icon. Hmmm. I wonder if I can find some of my old Navy buds?! I clicked it and typed in a few names. Each time a few names came up with rank and home of record state. I clicked on one in particular, my Chief from Ground Electronics at NAS Moffett Field, California. It showed he had retired as an E-7. I Googled his name. There was a name and number from his home state. I hesitated but reached for my cell phone and dialed the number. Voice mail and I didn't recognize the voice.... but I left a message and forgot about it.

The next morning I got ready and went to work. It was drizzling and I remembered I had lent the keys to the Armory to one of my recruiters the day before. I was locked out. And it was drizzling. How does that go? Imagine a Drill Instructors rumbling voice saying "IT DOESN'T RAIN IN THE ARMY!!! IT RAINS *ON* THE ARMY!!" Indeed. I flipped open my Gov't. cell and dialed my team mate CPL Squared Away. "Got keys?" "Oh, I'll be right there Sergeant!" So I stood in the drizzling rain contemplating my day ahead when my cell rings, I don't recognize the number and answer "This is Sergeant Fields..." The voice on the other end says "Hello Sergeant Fields. This is Chief Salt."

Sometimes you can be in one place but are instantly transported to another place and time. This was one of those times. I felt like I was a kid in the Navy again. I felt nervous like I shouldn't have called my Chief on the phone the night before. He was on the other end, what was I going to say? I felt like saying "Uh, sorry Chief, I didn't mean to disturb you. Uh, I'm an idiot. Please excuse me and I'll let you go..." Then I remembered that GEEZ 15 years had gone by. He's a civilian now; I am a Staff Sergeant about to make Sergeant First Class (equal with a Chief). I relaxed and said in my biggest (unintentional) Southern Drawl "HAAAEEY! How *are* yew??" Imagine the syllables all drawn out. I instantly felt like an idiot again. He chuckled.

We reminisced for quite some time. He did retire, but now worked for the State. We talked about old friends "Have you heard from Margie and George?" (Nope). Chief is building a cabin on his acreage and lives alone with his blood hound. I told him about the kids and about the Payson, organic farming and my recruiting. We talked while I waited in the drizzle that felt almost like sea spray. I felt odd and sad. So much time had passed. I was a kid way back then. I had made a lot of mistakes but had also accomplished a lot. Had that much time really passed? I felt like I did the time I went back to visit my old elementary school in California. I attended Buena Vista Elementary in Oceanside. It was so SMALL and I remembered it so huge. I felt like a stranger interrupting in a dream. Dispelling the illusion with the truth.

I talked about deploying. He had spent sometime in the Sand. So we were switching gears, talking about the future, goals, plans... this felt better. We discussed recruiting and the different missions of the Navy versus the Army. Soon CPL Squared Away arrived as we ended our conversation with promises to keep in touch. Whew, I breathed a sigh. Deep breath... yeah, I do believe I could smell a tinge of salt in the air! It smelled great. ;-)

Friday, December 07, 2007

More on Deploying

Energy is high as everyone considers the upcoming deployment. Lots of kids at the schools wanting to know if they have time to join, train and then go. For Seniors...yes. For Juniors, no. Very reassuring.

On a bad note... I ran out of gas today. I was in my POV and had the kids with me. I was rushing o an appointment and thought..."I am not THAT low on gas." Well, I was. So I glided the car over to the side of the road. Told the kids to stay put and walked the half mile to the gas station. In Uniform. NOT A SINGLE CAR SLOWED OR STOPPED!! Not a single one. Now mind this is in a rural area so a woman walking from a car with emergency blinkers on down the road to the gas station is OBVIOUSLY not on a nature hike. I bought a gas can and paid for gas at the station. CLEARLY needing gas. Even the lady at the counter put two and two together and said "Ohhhh, did you run out of gas, hun?" Ayuh. NO ONE offered to drive me. NO ONE even said "You need help??" The store was full of men with trucks and cars parked outside. THREE even pulled out of the parking lot and passed me as I WALKED down the road!!! By the time I got to my car I was steaming.

On a good note. While I was walking, one of my recruits called my phone. I had left it in the car with the kids. My son answered it and told him what had happened. This kid says "Where are y'all? Does she need help?" I called him back and said "Can you believe that I walked a half a mile and back and NO ONE stopped to help??" He said "In uniform?? What kinda sh*t is that?? excuse me SSG Fields." I agreed.

I have thought more about deploying. If I do.... I need to reclass. I have considered going 88M. I love to drive. My hearing would not be any sort of impairment. Good idea?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

We're going to Afghanistan

It's official. The Georgia Army National Guard is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan May of 2009 to train Afghani troops. News releases were sent out, and the television, radio and newspapers are all announcing the pending deployment.

Several things need to be said:
1st: It means nothing. The dates, places and mission could change at any time.
2nd: Since it is an official news release/announcement it is extremely vague and gives no true details.
3rd: The timetable is set for 18 months from now. A lot could happen between now and then.

I have had several calls from recruits. Some hoping we will leave sooner, some wanting to know if it affects them. Oddly, no parents have voiced concerns. Yet.

We had our monthly team meeting at my armory yesterday. MSG Ranger went over several things with the X-Men. We are number one on Task Force Spartan. We are 6th in the State but after next week should jump to #2 or #3 slot. We have a contender for Rookie of the year and Chief's 54 Rural on our team. We went over some new software programs available to us. We went over some new recruiting programs such as "Active First". A prospect can opt to go Regular Army for 2, 3 or 4 years then do 4, 3, 2 years Guard and get $40K, $50K or $60K in bonus money. Sweet.

Then MSG pushed aside his paperwork and said, "Let's talk about the deployment. No Bullshit, who wants to go when the 108th goes?" Some hands shot up. Mine stayed in place in my lap. He continued, "There is a right way to go about this and a wrong way to go about this. You need to have the f*ckin b*lls to tell me to my face. You hire your replacement and train them BEFORE you go. " Hooah. He began to talk about how he understood the desire to go. "You hear the sabers rattle, you want to go do what soldiers do!" Hooah. He talked a little about his deployments. 3 time combat veteran. SFC Infantry spoke up about the mission. "Training troops, what does that mean? It means going on raids with them, it means training them in the field, in the classroom, all sorts of places." He was on a similar mission in Iraq. He had a squad of eight E-7's training Iraqi troops.

The MSG Ranger said, "I get it, I get why you want to do this. For those of you who have ain't going. For those of you who haven't, I'll support you going. Some of you need to go. Go get your badges, medals and ribbons...." I slowly raised my hand.
Me: "It's not about that...."
MSG: "Yes it is."
Me: "It's more than that. It's why we enlisted, why we serve, we can't sit back and watch from the sidelines. I don't care about ribbons!....."
MSG Ranger (The look of shock and worry on his face betrayed some of his emotions): "I get that too. I want to go. I've been asked to go. YOU ain’t going. You have babies. You're mama. What about the Payson? You don't need to go. You ain't going."
Then he spoke about a friend of his. He said his friend had once said that he had a calling on his life to be a soldier and if he didn't obey that call he was disobeying God. Tears began to slowly slip down my face as I listened. I knew my calling. I am called to be a recruiter. I silently wiped away my tears hoping no one else noticed. MSG Ranger's voice softened as he looked specifically at me but I don't remember much of what he was saying. I was tuning him out as my emotions raged against my logic.

How can I stay back while "my guys" are over there? I am not bragging but I am a damn good electronics tech. I can fix damn near anything! I can work on radios, radar, anything electronic. I can help!

Then logic kicks in. I am deaf in one ear. While that was not a critical shortcoming in the Navy..... It *is* in the Army. I cannot tell the direction of sound. As commo for the Navy, I was not required to be an operator of the equipment. In the Army, I am. There is no way for me to talk into a radio headset and listen to commands at the same time. I got one good ear and if it is in use....I can't hear anything else.

Last night I was watching "We were Soldiers" with Mel Gibson and (blissful sigh) Sam Elliot. The kids were asleep, my husband was in the living room reading a sci-fi book and watching a farming program. I wanted some time to myself so I sat watching the movie alone in my bedroom. There is a scene where the commo guy is calling in coordinates to HQ. The planes are bombing the enemy according to these coordinates. He gets a set of coordinates wrong. The plane bombs the guys in his troop. LTC Moore reassures him to continue… he does. What else can he do?

Mistakes happen, shit happens. But if I know going in that I am more prone to making that kind of mistake?? Could I live with that? No. So I am no good for commo. I need to reclassify in another MOS. I have a lot of thinking to do. Yes, I have a calling. But... I have a lot of prayin' to do.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanks Giving. No, that's not a typo. Today is the day to GIVE THANKS! Today is the day our nation sets aside time to thank our God for His goodness and mercy.

“It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord…” (Psalm 92:1)

"Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness." Psalm 107:8-9

"Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Who can utter the mighty acts of the LORD? Who can declare all His praise?" Psalm 106:1-2

"I will praise God's name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving." Psalm 69:30

Today I am thankful that through all the experiences in my life (both good and bad) the Lord is faithful and shows me mercy and lovingkindness. I could give a HUGE laundry list of things He has given/done for me. I am truly blessed! God is good.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Get Elfed

This is absolutely hilarious. MUCH funnier with someone you know. But check out me and the Payson getting elfed!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Honor Your Hero

This website is hosting a contest. Here is a quote from the site:

Do you know a Veteran of Iraq or Afghanistan who deserves to be recognized?
Nominate him or her for VA Mortgage's 2007 American Hero Award. Just fill out the form below and in 300 words or less tell us why your hero deserves to be honored.
10 Finalists will be selected and the winner will be chosen by an online vote. All finalists will receive $500, and the winner will receive a grand prize of $5,000. All nominations must be submitted by December 14, 2007.

So if you know a deserving Vet, by all means nominate them!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Happy Veteran's Day

This weekend make it a point to shake a Veteran's hand. Most of the older ones went through pure hell while serving you. In church today they will mention the Vets and ask them to stand. Give them a resounding ovation.
Hell, jump up and shake their hands.
Here is an email tribute I recieved. I like it.

It is the VETERAN , not the preacher,
who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the VETERAN , not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the VETERAN , not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the VETERAN , not the campus organizer,
who has given us freedom to assemble.

It is the VETERAN, not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the VETERAN , not the politician,
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the VETERA N ,who salutes the Flag,

It is the soldier,

Who salutes the flag,

Who serves beneath the flag,

And whose coffin is draped by the flag,

Who allows the protestor to burn the flag."