Saturday, November 27, 2010

Belated Thanks

*EDIT: reread and made some stupid typos. I also realized I started, but neglected to finish, a section. Such are the problems with reviewing my own writing.

It's two days past Thanksgiving. Originally was going to post a "things I'm thankful for" post then, but it was a busy day.

I am most thankful for my family. I could write for page after page about what my mother has meant to me, and not have it scratch the surface. There are a lot of people who can't say the same thing about their mother (I know, I recruited some of them). I have never been the perfect son and have made mistakes great and small which have, no doubt, caused her sleepless nights and great frustration. But she's always been there for me. Can't ask for much more.

Continuing on family, these next two are in no particular order. AM has been a second mother to me. I come home to Houston as much to see her and UB as I do to see mom. Which bring me to UB. After the death of my dad UB has been my surrogate father-figure. His advice and guidance on all things "manly" served as my guideposts growing up, and even to this day.

The SFC B family is not particularly large, or at least not as large as some. There is a flock of Uncles who I don't see as often as I'd like, but when I do it is as close to, I think, hanging out with my dad as possible (why did I have to get the Bradshaw hair?!?).

And I couldn't go without mentioning my Super Sister. She uses all of the smarts and talent I did not develop/have/wasted. She needs to draw more, or at the very least draw my damned Tiny Pet. I was far, far, far from a perfect brother (as much as I'd like to I just can't rehash the "bike" incident) and I didn't realize it until I'd moved away from home that I was blessed with a fun, smart, cool sister who I now don't get to see or hang out with nearly often enough. If you read this Super Sister's Significant Other I'm glad that you make her happy, keep doing so and we'll get along fine.

With family out of the way I need to express my gratefulness to the Soldiers with whom I've served.

I have been blessed by having a string of fine NCOs as leaders and mentors. Starting with SFC Lynskey back when I was an E-0. He taught me the value in my MOS and how important it was. He also instilled in me the pride which comes from doing my job well, and to take satisfaction in those successes. This is an important lesson for any 42A, and one which too many don't learn. SFC now 1SG Stone was the first NCO who took me aside and taught me what it meant, what it really meant, to be a NCO. He held me to a standard that no one previously had, and challenged me to meet or exceed it. And I'd like to think I have. He was, unquestionably, the best leader it's ever been my pleasure to serve under. MSG Indyck and SFC Brooks were like some sort of old married couple. Where MSG Indyck was a detail-oriented professional who expected excellence (and it took me a bit to improve so that I could deliver that excellence) SFC Brooks was a kind and caring person who would try and find the best in people. Together they made for the best working environment I've ever had. MSG Jones had a knack for determining the most important part of a mission, and ensuring it got done. Learning how to pare away distractions and identify what is really important to the Commander's Intent makes life so much better.

I've taken almost as much from my peers as I have from my seniors. Dutch made Massachusetts fun, and is probably the only person in the Boston Metro area I'd warn before nuking the area from orbit. The only thing which made recruiting worth it, and a period in time which I look back on with any fondness were my fellow recruiters. While in recruiting I had nicknames for most of them in an effort to provide some distance from what I was writing and who they were. Those who knew of the blog knew who they were. At this point I'm far enough removed from the scene of the crime time period to not feel the need for such juvenile obfuscations. Hawley was the epitome of the "recruiterness" for me. He was no-nonsense and basically ruled the recruiting station with an iron fist. That he did so with an intense hatred of being in USAREC is all the more impressive. Wiery had Hawley's dislike of USAREC, but where Hawley expressed it as a flare of hatred, Wiery kept a cooly professional distance. Of all the people to go ODA with he was the one who I enjoyed the time with the most. Discussing the Army and our lives and bull-shitting PMS helped kill many a day. Paton and Cruse, two people of very different lives, but the two people who made each day in recruiting an adventure.

Only recently have I been able to have anyone whom I could refer to as a subordinate. For the people currently serving in my section, and those who have recently left, I could not succeed without you all. Santa couldn't deliver a group of people more professional or competent. Any success I have in this assignment is directly attributable to y'all. Of course I will never tell anyone that and I keep all praise for myself while diverting any blame directly to you. I wish nothing but the greatest success, personal and professional, for all of you, and want to do whatever I can to facilitate that happening. Unless it requires you to leave my office. In that case I will 5 block you.


I can't choose family, and I can't choose my co-workers. So to have had so many of both for whom I'm grateful to know works for me.

Of all the choices I've made in my life, a whole lot of them have been really, really bad. How on Earth I've managed to find people who consider me a friend is, sometimes, mind-boggling.

Keeping some privacy for folks who have never asked me to write about them in such a public setting I'll abbreviate or use other names as appropriate.

C, my best friend. The low-key sober person to my me. Our common incredulity at Caleb's idiocy and appreciation for all things stripper has lasted almost 15 years. No matter the time between get-togethers I'll make whatever effort is necessary, and drive over miles of unlit North Carolina backroads to raise a glass with you. If my retirement plan to just live in an Italian exotic car falls through we'll see about getting that business running.

Ama, there isn't really much I can say here that I don't think I've told you. Suffice to say I'm extremely thankful for you.

The other Sheep, you always have a place to stay in Wisconsin. However if you find yourself in Wisconsin it is your own damn fault.

LT the best comment friend I have. I know you think you want to go 79R, but, think about it. Think about it long and hard. It's a bell that cannot be unrung.

H, aside from my relatives I haven't known anyone on this list longer. You're not last here because of merit, but because of the limits of my words and thoughts. I don't really know how to express what is on my mind. What I can do though is put in writing that I'm glad, and thrilled, and thankful, very thankful, for your friendship.

Anyways, I think this post has exceeded the combined length of every thing else I've written this year. It's two days late, but I'll blame that on mechanical problems (if it works for Southwest it can work for me). I think mom has some errands to run and I'm going with because, well, it's freezing in the house.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Been a while... again

Long time, no post.

No Recruiting news, not much to post.

Wasted a week at the end of October in Chicago attending a conference.

On Sunday I watched the Texans lose a second heartbreaker in a row. To their credit they didn't lose the way I'd imagined they would (I'd bet "punt returned for TD").

Within my battalion I'm the Casualty Ops guy. If we need to provide people for Casualty Assistance, Casualty Notification, or provide a Military Funeral Honors Team I'm the person contacted to spin those elements up.

I got that call Sunday night.

A Soldier had been found dead at their residence. Since it was 6pm on a Sunday night, and I already had my dress uniform ready I told the Casualty Assistance Center that I'd do the Next of Kin notification. I'm not going to ruin someone else's night by having them go out.

I met up with the other Soldier who was going with me to do the notification. We had to officially notify the Soldier's father of their death and offer the Army's condolences.

It is never an easy duty. Although this was made somewhat easier as the father was already aware that the Soldier was dead. My partner and I are still showing up at someone's house, in this case very late (because we had to drive about 90 miles we didn't arrived until almost 10), and inserting ourselves into a very personal and private moment.

Sitting there in the living room with this Soldier's father and step-mother there is little you can say. You relay the message that the Army mourns their loss. You provide what comfort you should. You relay what information they need, and what you know of what they want. You gather the information you need from them.

There's a lot more to say on this, and it was a really fascinating and emotional night. My partner and I were let into a family that didn't know either of us from Adam. They shared with us some very private things that, I think, they needed to share. And they told us these things to make us feel better.

Being in the Army can be trying.

Decisions made about you, over which you have no authority or ability to concur, resist, or change. Choosing who gets sent into some of the most dangerous fighting occurring in the world. Inconsistent schedules and last-second changes rendering previous plans obsolete. Having to separate who you are as a person from who you are as a professional. These and a thousand other cuts chip away and can stress you out.

But sitting there on a stranger's couch, after telling him that his child is dead, in part due to his service in the Army which I represent, and having that stranger thank me for coming all that way to relay this news in person was a touching, almost over-whelming moment.

I really cannot see me ever loving to do something more than I love being a Soldier.

Anyways. Have to finish packing.