Saturday, March 25, 2006
Some blog readers (Hi, mom!) would prefer to receive my posts by email rather than having to visit this website periodically. If you count yourself among those, you may add your name to the list by simply sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You'll then receive a copy of all future posts by email. For the tech-savvy, this website also produces an RSS feed. Setting it up is left as an exercise for the reader. I've still got a week left at home and am enjoying the time with the family, thus the paucity of new updates. Rest assured that come April, I'll be posting a bit more often!
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Monday, March 20, 2006
Here we go. I'm all set! Now which way is Baghdad? On a more serious note, I really don't have to pack much. I'll be issued almost everything I need, including a new set of "desert camouflage" uniforms. I was required to buy my own insignia, though, the submarine "dolphins". Amusingly enough, the Navy Exchange online uniform store did not stock the submarine warfare insignia for cammies! I had to call them to place a special order.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Many people echoed the same question that I had on learning of my assignment to Iraq. Just what business does an officer that the Navy has spent millions training to run a nuclear power plant and drive a submarine have running around in the desert? Well, this news article explains a little bit about what's going on. I've edited this post to remove a lot of the details of the job for security reasons. You should know that it's important, and it will hopefully save some lives. When I leave Monterey on April 2, I'll be spending a week in Norfolk along with others, getting our final medical screening and other necessary things done; then about April 9 I'll begin a 2-week course at the Navy Individual Augmentee Combat Training (NIACT) course in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. It's almost like boot camp (but without the pushups) and the main focus will be mandatory training in defensive use of my M-16 that I'll be issued. It's the shortest of the possible training pipelines, leading me to believe that I'll probably be assigned to some "relatively safe" headquarters spot. Sometime late in the month I'll fly off to Kuwait for more training and then on to Iraq. Once my boots touch the ground in Kuwait, it will start a 365-day clock. Included in the 365 days is a 15-day "R&R" trip back to the states, which I'll be sure to take advantage of. It's nice at least having that one bit of certainty, a guaranteed date when I'll start my journey home. I'm generally looking forward to my job... after all, real military operations are exciting on some level. It will be hard being separated from my family for a year, but it's a sacrifice I volunteered for, and if I didn't do it, someone else would have to. Might as well be me. I hope and pray that what I do will save lives and help bring stability to the country.
They say that in the military, nothing is certain until it has happened. And even then sometimes we're not sure. So it is that even as I was contemplating my last two years in the Navy before my retirement, comfortably ensconced in a wonderful shore duty assignment for my "twilight tour" it came as quite the shock that I was being Individually Augmented (IA) to Iraq for a year. Yep, that's right. Me, a navy guy -- a submarine driver, even -- tapped for a tour of duty in the desert carrying around an M-16. Who would have believed it? I certainly wouldn't have, unless it was happening to me. I first found out about the assignment on March 1, the day before my daughter's birth. Talk about adding stress to the already stressful time of a new child! My orders came in on March 6, with a reporting date of March 19 for 3 weeks of training en route. And oh, by the way, our base housing is slated for demolition and our new home was supposed to be available on March 21. As my wife said, "that doesn't work." Fortunately, the housing office had sympathy on us and let us get the keys to our house on March 15. And the wonderful "military family" answered our call for help in spades, with about two dozen people showing up to help us move on March 16. We were done in 2 hours! And finally, at literally the very last possible minute, thanks to some support from the Admiral who I work for, I found out on March 17 that I got a 2 week delay. Ostensibly the Admiral was pushing for the delay for "mission critical" needs at the school. After all, I *am* teaching a course that I need to finish up. But behind the scenes, he and the other Admiral involved in approving the delay knew of my new child, the move, and many other factors, and did the right thing. As one of them said, "There's a war on, but we have to take care of our people." Amen to that. So instead of this being my last frantic night before leaving, I'm looking at two weeks in which to settle into and enjoy my new house, enjoy my family, and prepare for the trip in a controlled manner. I can't explain how much of a relief this is... a true answer to prayer. In fact, this whole experience has been a wonderful test of faith. I guess God sometimes has a fun way of getting our attention. I'll be keeping a journal of events at this blog throughout the next year, for those who want to follow along in my trials and travails in the desert. Feel free to share the address with anyone who is interested!