Computer Crash

20 - 30 Apr 1996

Sat 20 Apr

One year ago today I lectured at West Point. (This is a real story. I do speaking tours for the American Chemical Society. I was invited to do a tour in New York, including the Lower Hudson Section, which takes in West Point. One of my talks is titled "A Scientist Goes to Desert Storm." The local section wanted a different talk; one thing led to another; and I ended up doing a talk in uniform at West Point. There are several West Pointers here but I never mention this; they'll think I'm B.S.ing them.)

I spend the day printing reports and doing my boots. The IPTF guys come by, both teams. The guys have Batman Forever on TV in the afternoon. Radio watch 1800-2100.

Sun 21 Apr

A beautiful day. The convoy from Olovo that was to take us to Data Dump goes right on by, leaving Miller and Hadrick. Scott is mad. Then we notice our trailer canvas is disturbed. We suspect tampering but find out it's just the weight of melt water pooled on the roof. I read and catch a nap. Get to bed at 2100 for 0300 radio watch.

Mon 22 Apr

Radio watch 0300-0600. The rest of the team goes to Milici and beyond. Sem comes back from home at 0730. I round up an escort, including SFC Mann, and go in to check on parking trucks at the soccer field (mission later scrubbed)> We arrive to find an army demobilization going on. Then we go in to talk with Mr. Hrnic about parking and gravel for Staric and LA Diane. I spend the afternoon on the computer doing lots of letters and reports. It's a gorgeous day, about 70. I spend some time walking the perimeter, the only place here to take a walk.

I told Scott I'd do Command and Staff if he got back in time but they didn't. I go on radio watch at 1800. At 2000 a new sign goes up over the main gate: "Shawshank". SFC Holmes orders it down. (The name reflects the attitude of the guys who get stuck here for vehicle service. To us it's a haven; to them it's being stuck away from their billets, the rec rooms and the PX. They refer to us as a prison surrounded by water. The sign would be a controversy for some time but eventually stayed up.)

Tue 23 Apr

Another nice day. I'm up at 0715. We foot patrol in at 1100, drop Snickers off at the school, stop in at the mayor's office (not in), hospital, and social welfare. We run into Cliff and Choubey. We're back by 1530 and meet with a local shopowner about setting up a kiosk in our front yard. George McClellan and Kapoor stop in for a visit.

While working on a report, I keep getting errors. Finally there's a major crash. I lose Windows and some of MS Office. I pull radio watch 1800-2100 and use the office computer to do our reports. Just yesterday I backed up all our reports! Even so, we lose a few minor documents.

Wed 24 Apr

Another nice day. We leave for Demi at 0630. I try to get the computer fixed but it's a no-go. SPC Rasinski's (the commo computer specialist) only solution was to copy files to disk and transfer them. I can do that myself. I stop by the TOC and walk straight into a miracle. A LT Stein asks me if I lost a Swiss Army Knife - he found it in the mud at CP W30!

We go to brigade, then back to LA Pat. Hadrick and I assess the school in Tisca. Then we go to Sekovici. At the school we just miss the secretary. While waiting for the director, we watched (mostly heard) the neighbors castrate a pig, who was not happy about the whole thing. The director was very polite, showed us frost and flood damage at the school. He had a detailed wish list. This school is in great shape compared to many.

Psyops does their radio show. CI had also planned to stay late today on a mission of their own. On the way in to Sekovici at 1300, Dosen remarked that the day was only half over. I said "thanks, airhead, er, airman." Everybody else: "ooh - slam!" We leave at 2000, get back to Diane at 2100.

I pull radio watch 2200-2400, spending the time copying files to try to get our computer back up. Five years ago today we left Saudi for Turkey and Kurdistan.

Thu 25 Apr

Miller and Hoskins are out at 0630 for a run to Milici but are back by 0900 - the mission fell through. I spent most of the day on the computer. I copied the Windows and System files - 31 Meg - over 20 disks. the computer crashes trying to load the program manager. The program manager on the office computer refers to programs that aren't on ours, or at least not in the same directory.

I call Berenz at 1700. He thinks he may have the boot disks. We'll take the computer along on the Tuzla run tomorrow.

I have misplaced my notebook; I ransack everywhere looking for it but no luck. This is one of a rash of minor losses we have; I suspect some of the locals may be collecting intel but there was nothing of value in my notebook.

Today's mail brings galleys of a paper I have in press in the Journal of Geoscience education. I got a set a few days ago, only to find they were for the wrong paper. On an evening stop in Demi I got through to Jim Shea, the editor, who was already aware of the mixup and quite amused and embarrassed.

I go to bed at 2000, pull radio watch 0000-0300. As I'm getting off, I see a very bright orange satellite, magnitude -2, in the southern sky. It's moving slowly and must be very high.

Fri 26 Apr

I sleep in until 0715. Chief swings by to pick us up. We convoy to Tuzla West, where she visits a BiH brigade commander. Then we go to Tuzla Main. I run over to G5, find out where to get the computer re-booted. I go to G-6 and find out it will take 2-3 hours, more time than we have. I hit finance to cash a $100 check, then back to the parking lot. We're out at 1230.

We go out to Donje Dubrave, which we pass through on every trip, and Chief visits another BiH brigade. This is not far from where we drop Sem off to visit his girl friend, and he brings her over to introduce us. While we're waiting around an absolutely stunning blonde girl in a Bosnian uniform walks into the brigade headquarters; is this their recruiting plan? From here we go back to Staric so Psyops can deliver their papers, then Hadrick and I get out at Diane, Miller gets aboard, and he and Hoskins go in to link up with LTC Briscoe for a meeting with the mayor.

I had already planned to go in to Command and Staff to call Jim Shea about my galleys. At the G5 in Tuzla I got an e-mail telling me to call home. Miller had already gone in so I caught a ride with LT McDonald. I called Shea, left a message on his answering machine that the galleys were fine. I tried unsuccessfully to get Shawn about six times between 1830 and 2100. I did reach Chris but he had no idea what was up. I left instructions on how to get us at our PTT phone. We returned to Diane at 2200 and I pull radio watch until 2400. Shawn calls at 0120.

It got to 77 today, quite hot in full battle rattle.

Sat 27 Apr

I sleep in until 0830. Cliff and Chaubey come by.

We convoy to Demi at 1100 for Data Dump, which is being held at Demi this week. I took the computer in for another unsuccessful repair attempt. In addition to Scott, George and I, Poh, Frost, Prusiecki and Barb Miller come in. Frost is a bit peeved over the poor turnout. We have a really good briefing on the redeployment. It really is going to be 7 June for our team; we are in the first rotation (hooray!) May will be busy - we have to have a 100 per cent inventory by 5 May! We also have info on R and R passes to Budapest; Miller scrambles to arrange paperwork, weapons storage, etc. 1LT Taylor, the S1, is a big help.

We get back at 1700. I do Roger's counseling form and start on his NCOER, which is due May 24. Light rain off and on; holds down the dust (ten days ago there was snow on the ground).

Sun 28 Apr

A light day. In the afternoon we hike into town to check out the Bayram festivities. People are dressed up but not many people are out. Evidently they go to market in the morning and celebrate at home in the afternoon.

I pull radio watch 1800-2100 and begin work on the inventory paperwork.

Scott and Roger leave for Tuzla and their pass to Hungary. Roger would rather go to Split (the British R and R site) so he can be with Jennifer. He's really mooning and takes some heavy ribbing for it.

Mon 29 Apr

An eventful day. We are supposed to leave Demi at 0730 to hook up with D Company at LA Pat. That would make for a really rushed departure. Also LTC Briscoe is supposed to come in to our TOC for a 1630 meeting with local civilians.

At Demi, MAJ Jarred decides to send along SSG Griffis, the Master Gunner; that pushes the start time back to 0830. We leave for Pat with three vehicles and pick up four Bradleys. A few km further, COL Batiste nails us for speeding. We were doing 20 but the lead Bradley had floored it and was going over 30. Hadrick, as convoy commander, took the heat. We stop in Vlasenica and sneak into LA Lisa with only 3 vehicles, drop off the commo crew with their vehicle, and sneak back out with two.

We go to Milici. George stops at the hospital to see the doctor and pick up a wish list of supplies to pass up the chain. Then we visit the Boksit offices; they are thinking of reopening the mines and want to show us an alternate firing range. They send a mining engineer along as a guide. On the way, I ask him where the aluminum came from; the rocks above and below are all limestone. He doesn't know. Classic East-bloc technician: he knows his little niche but nothing else. At the mines we turn in on a side road, rough, potholed, with deep puddles and mud. We were told there might be mines (the explosive kind) but didn't see any. There was a truck with people cutting wood some way in. After a few miles, I noticed sinkholes next to the road; then we came out into a clearing and the most beautiful solution valley imaginable, a chain of about 6 or 7 sinkholes. I point this out to the engineer who just shrugs. It's obvious he doesn't have a clue what he's looking at. To be a mining engineer he must have had some geology but he doesn't seem to know any. We end up at a mine; impressive but not big enough. It's about 800 meters long and Griffis' gunners need 1200. On the way back out I watch the sinkholes; the valley along the road is a chain of at least 20 or 30 in a row.

We head on back through Milici and on north toward the Drina so the Bradleys can go check on some ICTY sites. They leave us along the road. One Bradley parks nearby and the others go up a side road to check the sites. There are people high on the hill overlooking us, whether just innocent bystanders or not we don't know. While we're waiting a cloudburst approaches. I guess from the cloud movement it will miss us. I guess wrong. It pours violently for 15 or 20 minutes. The Bradleys don't get back until 1600. We sneak into Lisa and out again with the commo crew and get back to Demi just in time for Command and Staff. LT McDonald outdoes himself; we get back in to Diane at 2300. I pull radio watch (what's left of it) until 2400.

We find out Briscoe never heard about the convoy speeding, and he just made himself at home in our office and his meeting went just fine. What looked like a bad day turned out just fine.

We talked to 1LT Taylor, the S1. He said we have to get our awards, OER's and NCOER's in as soon as possible. We think some of our unit are setting people up for a disappointment by telling people the CA chain will take care of all that.

Tues 30 Apr

Up at 0800. A quiet morning. I stitch up the fraying seams on the Hummer doors. At noon we take two vehicles to the wash rack and are not done until 1400. It took as long to wash one 5-ton truck as half a dozen tracks. We go to Demi to try to pick up 1LT Taylor for an outing in town, but can't find him. We do find out we have an 1800 class on fire support. We come back in. I shower; I'm clean, the vehicle is clean.

We're getting ready to leave at 1645. two pesky kids refuse to leave when I tell them "odlazite kuci" (Get out of here). They acted like they didn't understand. Then I said "Hoces da ja zovem policiju?" (Do you want me to call the police?) That got their attention.

The class was on how to call fire support, brief but useful (I hope not). While waiting for our return convoy, Demi called an alert. I was halfway to the latrine and decided to finish my prime mission first. We got back at 2000; radio watch until 2100.

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Last update 23 Apr 1997