Thursday, July 06, 2006

Back On The Line

Last week marked the end of a six-month detail with the local Army law office. Since January, I'd been assigned to a desk position, providing tax assistance to local servicemen and their families. It was a decent position with flexible hours and a laid-back, but always professional work environment. I enjoyed my stint there, and in the future I may seriously reconsider changing career fields to Military Paralegal.

But of course, that's behind me now. Today, I returned after six months to my regular unit-of-action. We're part of the Corps of Engineers, and as I've mentioned before, we are currently preparing for a yearlong deployment to Iraq. Between my initial arrival to a unit already deployed, and my six month stint with the Tax Center, I've actually spent precious little time with my fellow soldiers. In addition, this has put me at a disadvantage in terms of proficiency in my specific MOS, so as the senior E-4 in my unit, the pressure has been placed on me to learn quickly and assume a leadership role. That said, even though I'm not as stimulated by the work I do back here, I'm actually glad to be back on some level.

It's evident that a lot has changed in six months. For one thing, I've been assigned a vehicle (finally). It's a HEMTT variant, basically a heavy truck meant to replace the aging "five-ton" fleets. It's used in a variety of roles, from shipping to fuel storage to missile defense. They're great machines, really--durable and easy to drive, with a reasonably comfortable crew cabin vaguely resembling the cockpit of an airplane. They can be easily retrofitted with gun-turrets, and in the case of my particular ride, can also be equipped with an up-armor suite for the cabin. And course, mine has the full work-up. Automatic transmission, double-pane ballistic glass windows, available in either Woodland Camo or Desert Tan. Seats two. Plus all-wheel drive. Standard.

I know, I know. Envy me.

Anyway, I've also been reassigned to a new squad, though my platoon is the same. Big shake-up in the NCO leadership. I'll be working with a whole new group of guys during this deployment, and I have to say, I'm pretty excited to be in this squad. I'd actually like to take a few here to write about some of them, to flesh out some characters I suspect will be making repeat appearances in this journal. Names, as always, are altered:

Spc. Ryan Brooks, 25, Oklahoma

Brooks and I go way back. We went through Basic together, and though we're from radically different backgrounds, we get along well. He's one of the few people I work with who actually addresses me by my first name. Brooks is something of a good ol' boy, but while not always the most intellectual or tactful of men, he's good at his job, and has a good heart. Brooks is also one hell of a guitar player, as well as an aspiring country crooner. His drawling tenor made him extremely popular as a performer with the drill sergeants during Basic.

Spc. Wayne Redding, 20, North Carolina:

Redding's a decent guy. He may be a little immature, and slow on the uptake, but he has good intentions. He's loyal and a hard worker, so that earns him respect in my book. Biggest flaw is that he falls in love quickly. He's been engaged twice since being in the Army, both times to girls living back in the States, and both times he got burned.

Pvt. David "Oz" Oswald, 26, Missouri

Oz is probably my closest friend in the unit. I met him when he was still a Private First Class, and he was the first soldier to really welcome me in. In his spare time, he's a master DJ, specializing in House, Break-Beats, and Trip-Hop--a true genius on the turntables. Before my wife got her sponsorship to come to Germany, Oz and I were neighbors in the barracks. Since then, we've remained tight, but sadly Oz fell into a battle with alcoholism several months ago. The resulting workplace issues have since cost him his rank, but the good news is that Oz has been three months sober and has become known as the hardest-working soldier in our platoon. I'm convinced that now, after all that has happened, Oz will regain rank and respect quickly. For all his recent troubles, Oz is a great person, and a great soldier.

Sgt. Joseph Burroughs, N/A

Like me, Sergeant Burroughs is a recent arrival from the Army Reserve. I've only really seen him once, but he seems young and inexperienced. Brooks and I have been talking, and our suspicion is that we're going to have to pick up the slack for him a bit, until he can truly step into his role as our first-line leader. Time will tell. For now, though, Sgt. Burroughs is an unknown variable.

So. Yeah. It's going to be an interesting year. I feel a little bit more settled in now, and I'm learning quickly. If I get to spend my 12 months in the desert with these guys, I think I'll be okay. I just hope I don't let them down.


Blogger essa said...

I think you'll be fine. Just the fact that you "hope to not let them down", says to me, you won't. And it's a good thing you have some time to get adjusted to your new platoon. How's the PL? That's one of the most important parts. That and your 1SGT of the company. Good luck!

7:57 PM  
Anonymous Fate said...

Sounds like you have an interesting bunch there, that's for sure. Hope to hear more about all of them. Also wishing all yours safety while you serve overseas.

Oooh Rah.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Bob said...

What a small blog world! Hiya Fate.

Milo, I'm thinkin the desert tan uparmored and maybe the gun option but watch the salesmen they will try to get you to bite on undercoating, which you really don't need for rust proofing in the frickin desert. They'll send you to the "assistant manager" or "loan manager" at the dealership to really push the dealer added crap. Oh yeah, get the air conditioning. :)

3:54 PM  

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