Fort Bragg

14 - 20 Jan 1996

Mon 15 Jan

Slept poorly, like taking 100 short naps. So did everybody else. Up at 0500 for a solitary 2-mile run. PT is on an individual basis and we want to keep it that way. We had classes all day, sharing the classroom with FP5. This is the first time I had seen the new JFKSWC and it is gorgeous. Classes included OPSEC, aircraft, equipment and uniform identification (money-making idea for Bosnia - go into the patch-making business!). After lunch we have classes on dealing with the media and a mission brief by COL Hess, former 308th commander. He is hilarious and wants to get this over with as badly as we do. Some gems: slap forehead with "I coulda had a CA), i.e., CA could have done that mission. Also "'Unlimited number of potentially negative factors' is how you brief a general that things are totally screwed up."

We hear things are going slowly in Bosnia, that people can't be moved in fast enough. By Desert Storm standards, the resources allocated to this mission are tiny, and the Bosnian infrastructure is in poor shape. We hear that Force Pack 7 may not be called up. (They were. By late February some would be in Bosnia but some would have gone home). Life support in Bosnia is primitive to non-existent.

Beautiful day, sunny and in the 60's.

Tues 16 Jan

No PT. Cold and cloudy. We had a totally pointless formation at 0550. After chow we got our ID cards. The system is impressive; they get a digital photo in seconds and laminate it with holographic plastic. I had to get mine redone; it listed my rank and pay grade differently. I got out to see the bus disappearing around the corner and had to sprint to catch it. A few others also got left and had to be picked up by van. From there we went to clothing issue. A LTC Starr had asked me if I could get him a duffel bag, which I did in the most time-honored fashion. Pick up flak vest, winter boots, thermal underwear, and so on. Then I went through the medical checks, while others went to dental. I got six shots, then went to chow. The Mob Det had told us they would "try" to get us a ride to dental, so I borrowed SSG Gadbois' rental car. A group of us got to dental and found folks who had been there since 1000 - 4 hours. I finally got out at 1730. Some people spent the entire day there and were furious.

By 1900 I was feeling the shots: sore arms and fever. I slept for a few hours and felt better by the time Scott Miller and I had arms room guard from 2400-0100. Typical Fort Bragg stupidity; a concrete block arms room with a combination lock vault door, and a locked hallway leading to it, has to be guarded. Breaking in would wake the entire building, but we need guards.

Force Pack 4 spends most of the evening loading. Looks like they will leave Thursday as planned.

Didn't We Just Do This in 1991?

Wed 17 Jan

Cold and foggy. Went for a run at 0530. The other day I felt like I could run forever, but I hadn't run for weeks previously. I sure didn't feel that way today - my legs got so sore I could barely do 3/4 mile. My arms are still sore from the shots. Go to JFKSWC for classes on Force Protection. The first class was on the operation of the pot-bellied stove we would be issued. What a piece of junk. Leaks, can't burn while unsupervised, dangerous and dirty. Needs a fire guard while used at night (a precaution honored more in the breach than the observance in Bosnia).

MAJ Bestul calls six of us out for an interview with an LA Times reporter, mostly people with interesting personal stories or civilian jobs: me (college professor), CPT O'Neill (attorney), SGT Argetsinger, SPC Brink, SFC Poh (builds log cabins), SSG Smith (former Green Beret, now paramedic). He also talked to MAJ Marquette, who had been running for county supervisor but was forced to withdraw when we got mobilized. (Marquette's story was more complex. He was going to nominate his wife to fill the post if he was elected. Other candidates had named their own replacements, but the State Election Board reinterpreted the statute and said he couldn't. Rather than risk having his opponents fill his position, he withdrew.)

My total productivity as of 1130 - zip. I got into some short classes on commo and prisoner handling. We were out by 1150. We were released for the day, then the CSM called formation at 1330. He and MAJ Frost had a tiff over that. At formation, LT Rossman and SSG Nicholson got AAM's for their pre-mobilization work.

Afternoon was sunny and in the 50's, very pleasant. Went to the clothing sales store in the mini-mall to get name tapes and patches. Called home.

SFC Poh organized a church service at 1930. Brigade meeting from 2030 to 2200. Got my flak vest and web gear set up. I'm mostly over my shots now. Some good naps helped.

Reportedly, Force Pack 4 (Jaworski's group) now has 179 day orders instead of the 270 we initially had. The general consensus is not to get people's hopes up prematurely.

Thu 18 Jan

Between yesterday's long hours and the remainder of the group getting shots, not many got up for PT. The morning was spent on an excellent mine training class with a field exercise. Afternoon classes on cold weather and rules of engagement were pretty good.

After training I went over to clothing sales. Mob Det was supposed to have a bus at 1730 but it never came. Fortunately COL Bukowski, our former commander came by. He was out with a friend and they dropped me off.

It was foggy most of the morning, rained in the afternoon. After that it was warm but quite muggy. I spent the evening fixing up my web gear and sewing patches. Called Shawn. It was 50 in Green Bay, melted most of the snow. Then the rain turned to sleet and the temperature plummeted. Supposedly a major blizzard is on the way.

What we are training on is better than the training for Desert Storm but the mobilization logistics are much poorer. The time frame is much shorter; there is less boredom but longer hours. So far there has been no time for language training. We have picked up a SSG Elizabeth Hughes from this area who is Russian and S/C qualified. She came up to Green Bay briefly and I met her there.

Scott Miller regaled us with tales of his climb up Mount Kilimanjaro. He and Barb took 1-1/2 years and spent $30K to travel around the world. They travelled through Europe, Africa, S. and E. Asia and Alaska.

Two newsmen from Channel 4, Milwaukee, linked up with us. They will be tagging along.

Fri 19 Jan

Up at 0520. Two mile run, warm and cloudy. It rained at night, but after chow it looked like it might clear up. Then it rained pitchforks. We drew weapons, formed up in the rain, then had tactical (MOUT) training, something we should have gotten here while waiting to go to the Gulf. We practiced clearing buildings, outdoor patrolling in urban areas, and tactical patrolling. Classes were good but short. About 1100 the skies cleared abruptly and it became sunny, cool and dry - delightful. I pulled weapons guard while some went to chow.

In the afternoon we had a serious cluster. There were 3 buses in the area. The CSM sent us to all 3 before we found the right one - the one closest to the billets. We had classes on airloading, field sanitation, NBC alarms, then a class on SINCGARS (Single Channel Ground-Air Radio System). It's a spiffy system IF nothing goes wrong. Fortunately, the active people in Bosnia were almost as new to it as we were. I sat with SGT Brian Decker, whom I already knew to be a sharp troop. The commander sat behind us and asked Brian for a rundown. Decker gave him a flawless briefing - scored major points.

By evening it's in the 40's, with brilliant stars. I called Shawn. The blizzard missed Green Bay. Shawn had a busy day tracking down an overdue medical bill that a collection agency called about. After three hours on the phone, the agency said they couldn't find the bill on their computer. We both suspect an attempted shakedown by an employee trying to pick up a little extra on the side.

Huge hubbub at 2020. The Air Force supposedly wants our vehicles ready by 0800 Monday for wheels up at 1900. Some folks went into Full Bore Linear Panic mode, and ran off to get the vehicles RIGHT THEN (only 48 hours to pack in!). I stayed up to help Jeff Poh. Ray and Scott guided the vehicles in, and I was in the sack by 2230.

If It's Not Raining, It's Not Training

Sat 20 Jan

Clear but very cold - icy at 0600 - maybe 20 degrees. As a general rule the Mobilization Detachment has failed miserably in support and organization, but range fire was well done. The people in charge knew what they needed to do and had soup and coffee out there to keep us warm. I was impressed and told the black woman sergeant so. The only sore spot came when some LTC came by and read the group the riot act for complaining about the cold. I was out on the firing line almost the whole time and thought morale was actually quite good. There were a few wisecracks but no real complaining. Everyone looked utterly baffled as to what he was talking about. Even the range crew had no idea what provoked this juvenile and completely unprofessional outburst. One of his lines was that it would be a lot colder in Bosnia. Actually, this was one of the coldest days we had the whole deployment. Zeroing took a long time because of the cold and our bulky gear, and we didn't get back until 1330. SSG Smith and I were among the last to zero and we both fired on the same target. I suspect he fired on mine, but nobody ever said who was wrong.

Once the sun came up it was nice and warm. In the afternoon E6's and up had a fire-support class on air support, and everyone else worked supply. I called Shawn and Dad after supper. I had LT McMurry give me a basic training buzz-cut. I get a lot of ribbing for it but I won't be cruising for girls for quite a while.

We start loading out about 1900. The news guys were out filming. CPT Comfort worked supply while Reschke, Miller and I did the loading. A lot of the tie-down work comes back quickly from Saudi. The Air Force is hyper about metal-to-metal contact. I put all the loose metal items inside our wooden team crate. We have a hummer in pickup truck configuration with the crate in the bed, plus a 3/4 ton trailer which is only half full. Our rucksacks go inside the Hummer. For the next few days we live out of our carry-ons. After loading up and tying down, we create load plans and packing lists. I get to bed about 0045.

Classes at JFKSWC

Range Fire

Train All Day, Load All Night


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Last update 23 Apr 1997