Vote Republican. Cling to your God and Guns.

31 July 2006

My Son's Fear Factor Moment

My son,The M-60 Gunner in my fireteam, all 8 years old of him, will not eat veggies. Or fruit. at all...

So, when we are at the Olive Garden, celebrating my lovely daughter, the Radio Operator, and I order the Sampler Platter as appetizers for the family, I know that there is no way that I can get my son to eat any of the fried zucchini that is served with this part of our fantastic dinner.

The platter comes, and during the course of the rest of us eating this semi-gourmet plate of Italian delicasies, I take one of the zucchini pieces, cut it into fourths, and put a small sliver on a side plate.

"Bailey," says I, "if you eat this piece of fried zucchini, I will buy you an X-Box."

Now mind you, dear readers (as I know there are only a few out there, and my wife and brother are the majority of my fan base), I had not discussed this wager or challenge or whateverthehell you want to call it with The Boss; I merely knew that there was NO way that he was going to eat a piece of the squash family (green, at that); I had a smug expression on my face as I made this challenge to him. No a chance in hell.

Bailey, the non-vegetable/fruit eater, just acted as if Joe Rogan and the entire Fear Factor crew had just walked into the Olive Garden. Before HouseHold 6 (the Wife), who at this point stopped eating and stared at me with a "What the HELL are you doing!" look on her face, could say anything, he grabbed that piece of zucchini and threw it into his mouth, swallowed it and the opened his mouth and stuck his tongue out, just like on Fear Factor. He then asked, "Can we go and get it tonight?"

My bluff had thus been called, and I was screwed. Here we were, celebrating my daughter's birthday, and I wasgetting ready to spend a crapload of money on my son.

At this point, my daughter was rather perplexed. She said, "Can I get a game?" My boy is repeating his "can we get it tonight" question, and my wife is looking at me like I am the biggest moron ever to inhabit the planet.

"OK, OK, calm down," I say. I tell my son that he is not going to get off that easy, and we order him his own side of zucchini. My wife is still looking at me incredulously, and I am still stumped that he ate the G-ddamn zucchini. He had never fallen for that before, but then again, I never offered him an X-Box before. Oops.

So he eats most of the zucchini, as well as his meal, and I tell him that yes, we will get the game and each can get a game to play.

So, after dinner, we go and get it. X-Box, three games (I needed one too, come on...), and a godawful amountof money later, I learned never to bluff with my 8 (now 10) year-old.

28 July 2006

What I Did When the Wall Came Down

November, 1989

It was a typical fall day in Bavaria, cloudy and windy. I was flying in an OH-58 Scout Helicopter, and there was also an AH-W Cobra attack helicopter with us. Our mission this day was to fly the Southern sector of the West German border. It was supposed to be a normal day, but this day would be the start of a historical weekend.

We start the patrolling; flying right along the border, 100 meters off for the entire "trace". The job of the patrol is to make sure that there are no troop movements or anything untoward. I had been on a lot of these missions, and enjoyed them immensely. The only problem was that the OH-58 helicopter is a small bird, and in strong winds it can be buffeted around quite a bit. This was one of those days.

The day started out well, and the sector trace was going well. We stopped for lunch and fuel at a small city called Vilshofen, and where we sat on the terrace at the airport cafe, we would watch the Danube River. It was beautiful.

Taking off again, we noticed that clouds were coming from the west. we climbed above them and continued on, not thinking anything of it. A while later, we were still above the clouds, and we were beginning to run low on fuel, and needed to begin heading back.

The problem was that we were till above the clouds, and we could noit find a hold to go through. Once cannot just drop through the clouds; in mountainous terrain, if you go through the cloud bank and hit a mountain, your trip is abruply ended.

So we are flying in a certain part of the Border area, hoping to find a hole to drop through. i am getting nervous, as the pilots (who I had flown with dozens of times before) were starting to get nervous as well. I keep loooking at the Fuel lights, and they are consistently dropping. They are still in the "Green" (green lights), but once they turn yellow I knew we might be in trouble, as that means that there is 30 minutes of fuel remaining on board. Army regulations required that when the 30 minute lights came on, the aircraft was required to land as soon as practical.

With concern but not panic, the pilots are talking amongst themsleves and the other bird. They agree that it is becoming an issue. There is simply no holes to drop through anywhere near. At this point we did not have enough fuel to return to our home airfield. The only option at this point was to land at one of the Border camps, of which there were several all along the East/West German and Czech borders. So it was agreed; we would land at one of the camps and request fuel for the following morning.

So, we fly along and hope to land at Camp Gates, and thankfully they find a hole in the clouds. We fly through the holes and unbelievably, we areonly a few minutes from the border camp. We radio in to the camp and tell them that we are going to need beds for 5 men and fuel for the aircraft in the morning. We also have them call the Regimental HQ and tell them what has happened, so our wives can be told that nothing is wrong.

We go into the camp, and we are fed dinner, and we are watching TV. We knew that there had been demonstrations and calls for the end of Communism. Well, that night it officially ended, and the East Germans were on the wall, tearing it down and celebrating.

As we were still on a mission, we were bound by regulations regarding drinking. However, as this historic moment, the Fall of Communism in Germany, the entire Border Camp partied; to the tune of two beers a piece.

After our beers we were given bunks to sleep in, and I went to sleep rapidly.

The next morning, we all woke up early. We were fed breakfast (the border camps prided themselves on the food; it was pretty damn good (I love Army food anyway, but this was good stuff, and lots of it), then taken to our aircraft. The fuel trucks had driven from our airfield, and given the birds the badly needed fuel.

Finally refueled, we boarded up, and started our flight back to our airfield. But, as the border was finally opened, we went out later to monitor and see all the activity along the border. It was amazing; hundreds and hundreds ofcars just crossing and parking, in fields, so they can visit and experience their first taste of freedom in over 3 decades.

I am extremely proud of my service on the border, and even prouder that I was there when it came down.

Another Krauthammer Masterpiece

Charles Krauthammer has written another fantactic article, this time about Israel's response to Hibollah's attacks on them.

The closing graph: "Israel knows that these leaflets and warnings give the Hezbollah fighters time to escape and regroup. The advance notification as to where the next attack is coming has allowed Hezbollah to set up elaborate ambushes. The result? Unexpectedly high Israeli infantry casualties. Moral scrupulousness paid in blood. Israeli soldiers die so that Lebanese civilians will not, and who does the international community condemn for disregarding civilian life?"

Read the rest; well worth the three minutes it will take.

26 July 2006

Awesome argument in Support of Israel

Hugh Hewitt (who, if you are not reading and listening to, you should be ashamed of yourself) has the best article yet on why the US and her allies should continue to support Israel.

Go read it.

24 July 2006

My Job Is To Kill One Of You!!!

August, 1986.

The humidity was stifling in the cattle car, the trucks they shove 68 people in designed for 21. We had our duffel bag strapped on our backs and our civilian bag in our right hands. In our left hands we had our newly issued ID cards. Stangely, no one said anything; each of us left to our own thoughts and fears. Me, I was terrified.

We had spent the last week or so at the Reception Station, United States Army Training Center, Fort Dix, New Jersey. There we received our uniforms, our haircuts and learned very rudimentary training in Drill and Ceremony (left face, right face, etc); we would learn this and more, as nauseum, over the course of the next 9 weeks.

Finally, after what seemed forever, the cattle cars stopped. the doors opened, and a voice booms from outside the truck, "You have exactly 10 seconds to get off the truck, and 7 of them are gone!!! MOVEMOVEMOVE!!! Throw your bags on the ground and get in the Front Leaning Rest Position!!"

So, we start shuffling out of the car and throwing our bags into a huge pile. I finally get out of the car, and do the same. As everyone else had just gone into the Front Leaning Rest right by the truck, I had to run a little bit to find a place to drop.

The Front Leaning Rest Position is the position a soldier takes when beginning to perform Push-Ups. Place your hands where they are comfortable for you. Your feet may be together or up to 12 inches apart. When viewed from the side, your body should form a generally straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.

We stayed in this position for a couple of minutes, until everybody was off the bus and ready to begin our smoke session. Finally, we hear a voice say, "ONE!" We lower our bodies to where our upper arms are parallel with the ground, and hold it. Almost immediately we hear, "TWO!" and we bring our bodies up to the starting position. On "Three!" we went down again, but immediately came up on our own, yelling a thunderous, "One!" That is known as the 4-Count Push-Up. It takes about 2.5 seconds to complete 1 full exercise, because it is an immediate 1-2-3-1 movement.

We started performing these as the Drill Sergeants walked around this gaggle of new soldiers, telling most of us to straighten our bodies.

1-2-3-14, 1-2-3-15. Then a break, and we would stop, with our arms beginning to jiggle, muslces spasming. Then, the Drill Sergeant would bellow, in his deep, menacing voice, "Exercise! One! Two! Three"

"15," we are screaming, as though our voices will somehow mask our tired arms and bodies.

I am beginning to think to myself, "Dude, what the hell have you done?"

I look around, and we are all looking like fish out of water. Most of us have our asses in the air, so that our bodies look like an inverted "V". Sweat is pouring off my body, and we are all just trying to do one of the two push-ups as the drill sergeant calls out like a metronome, "1-2-3"

"Forty", we all yell.

Finally, we hear the Drill Sergeant say, "Position of Attention, MOVE!"

With that, we bring our feet up, and we then move our bodies up and stand at attention. At this point we see our Drill Sergeant. He is about 5 feet, 7 inches of Pure American Whoop Ass. His uniform is impeccably starched. His Jump Boots gleam. His muscles bulged out from the sleeves of his uniform jacket. We cannot see his eyes, as they are masked by the Ray Ban Wayfarers on his face.I look at him and think that this man is going to kill me.

He gets us into a marching formation and marches us over to the company area. We are put in with the rest of the company and after put at the position of At Ease (feet 18 inches apart, hands behind at the small of the back - right over the left - and the body can slack and relax).

At the head of the company stands a taller guy, with a mustache. He is also wearing the "Brown Round" campaign hat that identifies all Drill Sergeants in the United States Army. He talks in a mild mannered voice, as if he is calming the sheep before the slaughter.

"Welcome to Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Training Brigade. My name is Senior Drill Sergeant Calhoun. On behalf of the rest of the training staff, and our company commander, Captain Cross, welcome to the United States Army. Today starts the first day of your Basic Combat Training, where we will make you into United States soldiers.

"But first, we know that it is hot, and you must be tired. so we have some milk and donuts inside the company area, and we would like any one of you that wants to can come inside and have some cold milk and donuts with us."

I was completely confused. Here was this Drill Sergeant,asking me if I wanted some milk and donuts? It sounded so good. I was hot, and could definitely use a donut, but ther was no way on thisplanet Earth that I was going to go and eat with them. I tired to look around, and the Drill Sergeants are smiliing, offering us to come inside, beckoning with their arms, waving for us to come in.

No F***ing Way. I did not fall off the Yam Wagon yesterday. I told myself that it had to be some kind of trick, and I was not going to fall for it.

However, for someone, the temptation was too much. He raised his hand, and they welcomed him into the company area. They slapped him on the back and acted as if he was their long lost brother; smiles, and everything. Poor Bastard.

I swear, as God Almighty as my witness, I never saw him again.

After the ruse was over, Drill Sergeant Calhoun gave control of the company to the platoon sergeants. I had the fortune to have the meanest, baddest Drill Sergeant in the company. His name, Drill Sergeant Simpson. This was the same guy who was giving us the push ups earlier. I could not believe my luck. I wanted to die. He took us inside the company area where we put our duffel bags in our room. He took our civilian bags and put them in a huge closet, and locked it. We would not get them back until graduation (we actually raided the closet a few days before, and when the drill sergeant cadre found out, they smoked us (push up sessions from HELL) for days, but I digress).

After getting our rooms, we went back outside, and went to chow (dinner for you civvies). I cannot remember what it was, but I ate springly. I was not feeling well, because I knew my death was imminent.

After chow the company divided up into the platoons, where the Drill Sergeants introduced themselves. Drill Sergeant Simpson introduced himself. He was an infantryman, with extensive training in Central America and Korea.

After telling us about him and what he had done, he said something that chilled me down to the very core of my being. His last statement was, "My main mission during this training cycle is to kill one of you motherf*****s." The way he said it, I was convinced, beyoind a shadow of a doubt, that I Would Be The One. To Die.

The other DS, Drill Sergeant Eyman, then introduced himself. He too was an infantryman with tours in Europe and Korea. I was amazed at these two men, as they would be the ones who would mold me into a soldier.

But it didn't matter, as Drill Sergeant Simpson was Going To Kill Me.

I prayed hard that night, making sure I confessed all of my sins. I wanted my consicence to be clear. I never knew when Drill Sergeant Simpson would kill me, but I wanted to be ready by making my peace with The Lord..

23 July 2006

Invading Mexico

Early in my military career, I had the opportunity to go to Fort Huachuca, Arizona for some advanced training. If you don't know, Huachuca lies in southeast Arizona, not too far from the border of Mexico.

The training I attended was to qualify me to perform certain missions that were in a Blackhawk helicopter. So, I did a lot of flying.

During one of these missions, the pilots asked us if we wanted to fly into Mexico. As the terrain looked exactly the same everywhere (moutainous desert), I figured it did not matter. The bird we were in used advanced (for the day) navigation aids - which were required for our equipment - so we figured these guys knew where they were. We thought it would be pretty cool, so we in the back - all three of us - said, "Sure!" How many guys got to take this opportunity? What the hell, as they say...

So we continued to train on the equipment in the back, and after several minutes the pilots told us that we were in Mexican airspace. I knew that there was not going to be any kind of interceptor aircraft (My son's Webelos Den and I could take the entire Mexican
Army - even to this day), so we just continued having fun in the back of the bird, playing with the radios.

After about 4 minutes, the pilots decided to turn back. All tolled, we ventured about 7 miles into Mexico. Sometimes I wish I had the power to take care of the immigration problem; it might have begun on that day.

About 4 years later I was stationed at Fort Bliss, in El Paso, Texas, right on the border with Juarez, Mexico. My friends and I used to joke about how easy it would be to go in and take a foothold of Mexico with just about 200 guys...

As I was in an Armored Cavalry unit, we had access to M1 Tanks, attack helicopters, Cavalry Fighting Vehicles; basically everything we would need... We talked a lot about it, and even thought about getting a map of the area and drawing avenues of approach, phase lines, and all the other aspects that make a successful miitary operation.

Only in America does its military trust all of its soldiers with knowing how to read a map. Initiative is a cornerstone of the American fighting soldier. If something is wrong, you are expected to fix it. One of my former Squadron Commanders (I was in the Cav; the Battalion equivalent is called a Squadron) used to say, "Always do the hard right over the easy wrong." That saying has always stuck with me, because it makes sense... But I digress...

So that was my 2 experiences with going into Mexico. Good thing that we were a group of happy soldiers...

EW Platoon, HHT 4/3 ACR - I'll drink one to you guys tonight!

22 July 2006

Skinny Dipping!!

Well, not really (but it got your attention, didn't it!!!)

As I was putting my Auxiliary Home Alarm System in Standby Mode (also know as putting my dog out to do her nightly business), I decided to get my feet wet in my pool. It has been well over 100 degrees for over a week,and my pool temp is a brisk 88 degrees, not a very refreshing temperature, to be sure. But I thought it might be nice to get my feet wet to try to cool off.

I try to put my feet on the top step, only I missed. I was actually near the washout area, which is roughly 18 inches, only I was off balance. Knowing I could either get hurt or get really wet, I chose the latter, and jumped away and fell into the pool.

I was lucky; I didn't get hurt, and I had to change my clothes anyway.

Here is a picture of my guard dog; doing what she does best...

My daughter looked at me and laughed her ass off as she got me a towel. She is grounded for the rest of the month.

Not really, but she did laugh her ass off, the brat.

East Berlin

We woke up early and decided to take the bus to Checkpoint Charlie and walk over to the East sector. Mistake....

We got on the efficient bus system and after about 15 minutes the bus stopped. And stopped.

And stopped.

Finally, after about 15 minutes we find out what the problem was. Apparently there was some kind of accident and they were landing a helicopter in the middle of the street. Finally we were on our way.

We get to Charlie, and I go in and talk to the American MPs and tell them we wish to go over. They ask for my car license plate number, and we tell then we want to walk.

"You don't want to do that," says the MP.

"Why not?"

"Well, if you walk over, your wife is not protected like you are. If something were to happen you would have to try to make it to the American Embassy. Basically, we really recommend that you drive over there."

So, after the fantastic pep talk by the MPs of the Berlin Brigade, we decided to go back and get the car. So,we jump on the U-Bahn (subway system) and get back to our car. We go back to Charlie, and go back inside. Unfortuantely, we had spent so much time going back and forth that we only had a few hours to really shop.

ASIDE: The previous night, after dinner, we went to an exchange place and decided to exchange some of our US money for some East German Deutschmarks. We had originally asked for $100 but we were told we would never be able to spend that much... so we decided on 50. It still came out to alot of money.

We are reminded that we can purchase limited items of things, as the East Germans rely on the things we American went over to buy. Down comforters for less than $5 and other great deals. Only one comforter per person.

So we leave Charlie and cross into the East. Immediately an EastGerman soldier asks forthe paperwork. As my wife was driving this time, I had to sit at the position of attention and not move my head. The guard walked around the car, then asked for the paperwork. once through their checkpoint, we begin looking for the main shopping areas. Unfortunately, as we took so much time back and forth, we got pretty late to get to the comforter shop. We picked up some fantastic blankets and some other odds and ends, and walked around the central part of East Berlin. As we were getting ready to take a picture of a large radio tower, a woman came into the picture, and began yelling at my wife in agitated German. I told my wife to put the camera down until she passed; these people are paranoid enough, and they do not need to have an American taking their picture. Once she passed, she took the picture.

At one time, the East Berlin Polizei (Police) was the largest police force in the world. I saw an officer almost every 50 meters or so in theshopping area. It was eerie, walking along, in my uniform and having every single police officer look at me with intense suspicion. As I wsa in my uniform, I was considered a diplomat, and was immune to anything. Obviously, we were required to obey all laws and act like a respectable American and diplomat. So, we were polite, and always said "please," and "thank you" whenever we interacted with the locals.

After a while, we realized that it was getting late and we decided to leave. We walked over to the Brandenburg Gate, took some pictures of it, and proceeded to our car. We crossed into the West, and checked back with the MPs at Charlie. I changed out of my uniform (my feet were killing me from walking in my dress shoes - I was in a combat unit and wore that uniform very seldom) and we again went to the steak restaurant for more dead cow.

Now in more comfortable clothes, we again walkedaroundthe Ku Damm and did a lot of window shopping. We were really impressed with the beauty of Berlin; it is a great city. We went to bed relatively early so we could go back to the East the next morning.

When we woke up the next morning, my feet were so swollen from the previous day that we both knew that there was no way I could get them into my shoes, much less walk around for hours in them. We were both very disappointed, as we really wanted to go and find the comforters. So, insted we drove around the west sector and saw a lot of great landmarks.

After that last day of sighseeing, we made our way out of the East Sector, and drove up to asmall town north of Hamburg. One of my cousins was an exchange student there and i asked her if I could have her visit me for a week. The family agreed and I went and picked her up and drove back to Nurnberg.

The trip to Berlin a success, I then went back to working 7 days a week protecting the West from the Commie Horde...

But those missions are not for public knowledge...

Berlin - to the Hotel

OK, so we have just entered West Berlin and missed the exit to get to Downtown. The West Berlin area is huge, and I did not have a map, so that was priority one. So we began looking for a gas station to buy a map.

We had reservations at a hotel on the famous Kufurstendamm, a major street in then-West Berlin. We needed to find out way to get there. After about an hour of the unintended but awesome sightseeing tour of West Berlin, we found the "Ku-Damm" and our hotel.

By this time, it was getting towards early afternoon and we were both hungry. So after parking and checking into the hotel, we went that bastion of culinary masterpieces; yes, we went to Burger King.

I went to the counter, and in my best German (I took it for two years in high school - Foothill HS, class of noneofyourgawddamnbusiness - and living in Germany made me a better speaker), I ordered a Whopper with cheese - no mayo, large fries and Onion Rings, and a Pespi Light (Euro Diet Pepsi) . She came back in English better than mine to confirm it. I had forgotten that most Germans in West Berlin spoke English (the younger ones, especially). So with our bellies full of that fantastic cuisine, we went to our hotel room to get settled and for a short nap (we were pretty tired from the trip).

We got up a few hours later, and the night life on the Ku-Damm was just starting. We walked all over the shopping district, and found a steak restaurant for dinner. Whe had net seen a steak restaurant in well over a year, and we jumped at it. We knew that it might not be as good as the steaks we had in California (or what I had in Texas - 32 oz. steaks for $10, and you cut cut them with a fork, they were so tender (if you order meat more cooked than Medium you are a commie and I do not like you), but looking at the ambiance of this restaurant we knew it couldn't be that bad.

So, we went in and were not disappointed in the least. Our steaks were really good, and the sides were awesome as well. A great dinner and a good time. After dinner we walked around more and enjoyed the cool evening, even with the rain (this was in October, and the weather was typical fall in Europe: rain and cool temps). We finally turned in at the hotel, where I made sure my uniform was squared away for the trip the next morning (final polish on my shoes, made sure my name tag was secured properly, etc.).

Next, the Fateful Trip into Commie East Berlin

21 July 2006

Berlin, the Trip - Part 2 - the Drive

So, here we are driving in East Germany, and the difference is amazing. Most cars are Trabants or Wartburgs, and my car (a 1989 VW Golf, with American Specs), could outrun them in 3rd gear. So we are putting along, with the traffic, and every 5 miles or so was a huge tower along the highway to monitor whatever; I was never really sure.

After about 1 hour and 45 minutes we began seeing the signs for our exits. We took them and eventually made our way to what I think was called Marienborn. As we were approaching the border traffic was beginning to really pile up. After a few minutes a lane opened up that said, "US FORCES ONLY". So we got in that lane and sped up to the border area. Once at the Soviet Checkpoint we had to stop again. There the whole process started all over again, but was much quicker. We went on our way and went right into the Checkpoint Bravo area. Once at Bravo the American MPs (this checkpoint housed all of the Allied Forces) logged the time you arrived (to make sure you didn't speed) and asked if I noticed any significant military activity. Actually, I had: there was aa Army convoy that was parked on the side of the autobahn heading toward the border. There were 21 large trucks similar to US Army 5-ton trucks with large amounts of East German soldiers and other equipment that I had noticed. I informed the MPs of this fact and they asked me of anything else and I told them no. They thanked me, logged the Intelligence Coup of the Century that I told them about, and let me go on my way.

Once back in the car, we began our drive into West Berlin. Right out of the parking lot was a sign that said "Downtown Berlin", or something like that. Whatever, we knew that was where we wanted to go.

I drove right by it, like a dumbass...

Now we were in West Berlin, with no map, and beginning to get lost. A great start...

For more information about the Allied Checkpoints, go here.... Pretty good and comprehensive information... some good pics and maps too.

Hey A$$HOLE!

********CAUTION:The following will contain some colorful language, to say the least.*********

You have been warned.

To the driver of the Redfire 2005 Mustang, CA License Plate Number 5LPC822:

On every car I have ever driven, from California to Texas to Europe and even Saudi Arabia, there is a lever on the left hand side of the steering wheel. It is used to indicate to other drivers that you intend to change lanes. To indicate you want to turn left, you pull down on the lever and a set of lights will flash in the front and rear left side. To indicate right, you push slightly up and the same lights on the right side will flash. These are called, coincidentally, "Blinkers". Now, some automobiles will have these lights on theends of their side-view mirrors. Pretty cool.

I am pretty sure that, even in the admittedly beautiful piece of machinery that you own, there is one.

Even in the advanced technological age we live in, there is not a tool out there THAT CAN FUCKING TELL ME TELEPATHICALLY YOU WANT TO CHANGE LANES. YOU HAVE TO MOVE YOUR HAND TO THAT SMALL LEVER AND LET ME KNOW.

While we are at it, cheesedick, if you do desire to change lanes, at least give me some room to adjust instead of come within 2 feet of my truck while moving at 65 Miles per Hour.

So, to recap, assface, these are the steps:

1. Look over the shoulder of the lane in which you want to enter. That means turn your scrawny neck around and make sure you have enough room..

2. Use the lever and push or pull in the direction you want to go.

3. Safely make your lane change.

I have your car and plate memorized. I saw you yell at me through your window, acting indignant as if you did nothing wrong and then get bent out of shape when I flashed my lights at you. If you drive in a safe manner, people wouldn't have to let you know you almost hit them.

Happy trails, asshole.

19 July 2006

Berlin - The Trip (part 1)

When in the Army I was fortunate enough to be stationed in Germany, much to the chagrin of both my brother and dad (my brother got Panama and my dad’s closest assignment to Europe was Greenland; no comment there).

Anyway, my wife and I decided that we wanted to take a weekend vacation to Berlin in October, 1989. At the time, travel to Berlin was permitted, but on your leave form you had to have on the form “Travel to East Berlin Authorized”. If that wasn’t on the form, and you tried to go you would be turned away at Checkpoint Alpha.

That’s right, there was a Checkpoint Alpha, and a Bravo, in addition to the Charlie. It surprised me too, but I never really thought about it. Alpha was the Checkpoint at Helmstedt, which was the crossing point for American troops to drive to Berlin. Bravo was at Dreilinden, in the south part of Berlin (and the entrypoint to West Berlin from East Germany), and Charlie, of course, was the gateway from West to East Berlin.

So, I got the proper info put on my leave form, and we began the drive early in the morning to Helmstedt, which was about three hours away. We arrived at Alpha at about 7:00 or so. When we went in we were met by the MPs which manned the checkpoint. As they were in an isolated post, they did not have access to a daily paper, they asked us if we had any relatively recent copies of Stars & Stripes. I gave them what I had, and they were appreciative. They then told my wife that she had to go into the lobby area while I received a travel briefing. So, she went out and played the slot machines that were there (she won about $5, so it was a plus). Oh, and some of the MPs had language training in Russian, for reasons that will be explained later.

I sat down and the MPs proceeded to tell me what I could expect as soon as I left Checkpoint Alpha. I would go from there to the Soviet (not German, Soviet) Checkpoint on the other side of the border. I would get out of my car and go to the Guard shack. The Soviet (read: Commie) soldier would immediately salute me. Even though I was not in uniform (not required for travel TO Berlin; when I went into East Berlin I had to be in my Dress (Class “A” uniform), I would salute the soldier back. He would hold his hand out, and I would give him my Berlin Travel paperwork. He would go inside the guard shack, make a phone call to the other shack across the street, and come back and give me the paperwork. I would then cross the street and go into the other shack and put the paperwork under the blacked out window and wait until they returned it. It could be immediate or it could take a few minutes. I would then go back to the other Commie, return his salute, give him the paperwork, and he would look over it again, then give it to me. One final salute and I would be allowed to get in my car and begin the drive to East Berlin. A dog and pony show to the max, but if it improved relation between the Two Superpowers, I was not going to screw it up and cause World War 3.

In my car, my wife was not allowed to look around; she was requested to look straight ahead while I was performing the “ceremony.” No cameras were allowed, and had to remain in the trunk the entire drive through to Berlin. If they caught us with a camera visible, I could be in serious trouble. So, no camera. During the drive, I was to take note of any military activity of any kind. I was not to write it down, but remember it any way I could, especially significant troop movement.

They then proceeded to tell me what I could expect during the drive. They then told me exactly how far I would stay on each road, and what exits to take (including photographs of the signs). They also told me how long I could expect to be in the Corridor (they called the route to Berlin the Helmstedt-Berlin Corridor), and what I could expect is something went awry. I was given a notebook with the pictures of the exits as well as some other documentation. Inside the notebook were also two pieces of paper. These papers had sayings in Russian, German, and English. If I were stopped for any reason, I was to hold the first one, which basically said that I was an American and demanded that I be on my way. If, after 20 minutes, I was still detained, I was to show the second one, which said that I demanded to speak to a Soviet Liaison immediately. If I had to use that one, then this defecation has hit the ventilation, and all kinds of stuff would be put into action. They assured me that it wouldn’t happen; but Murphy’s Law… That was the reason some MPs in the Berlin Brigade had the language training, so they could do stuff like that (talk to the Russkies, etc.). I was allowed something like 4 hours inside the corridor before they would count me overdue.

So, the briefing over, I pulled my wife from the slots, and we got in our car. I drove over to the Soviet Checkpoint, and was amazed at all the preventative measure keeping those people in. As I was driving, I was unable to take in all the soldiers, guard towers, guns, lights and barriers that were on this road. It was incredible.

So I pulled up to where I was supposed to, and got out of my car. I was so tempted to be wearing my KGB T-shirt that I got at DLI, but that would have gone over like the proverbial fart in church (the MPs probably would have made me change, anyway). I walked to the Russian soldier, and I swear he looked 12. But, he had a real AK-47, so I did not laugh, (yet, this gets better). He saluted, and I gave him the best salute I ever gave a private in my life. He reached his hand out for the papers and what do I do? Like a total f***ing idiot, I shake it. I Shook A Russian Soldier’s Hand. Me, the Ultimate Commie Hater, Ever. Not only that, I said, “Dobry Den!” which means Good Day, in both Czech and Russian. Immediately after I shook his hand I realized my mistake. I felt like a moron. He was pretty nervous, as I am sure that there were about 40 pictures of us shaking hands from as many angles. He kept his composure well, though. I gave him the paperwork and he went into his shack to call over to his superior. I was to remain at the position of atttention, so I could not move around and look at anything. He came back after a few seconds, and gave me the paperwork to take over to the other building. So I walked over to the other building (on the other side of my car), and walked inside. There was a chair, a big TV (like from the 70’s), a table with lamp, and hanging on the wall, a picture of the Big Commie Himself, Comrade Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev. But the large birthmark on his head had been airbrushed over. I laughed. I put the paperwork under the window as instructed, and waited. And waited.

And waited.

As I was waiting, I heard a phone ring. I heard a voice answer it, and immediately he yelled, “Dobry Den, Comrade Major!” (it sounds like Mayor in Russian). My ears perked up and I desperately tried to use my listening skills to find out what they were saying, but as I was trained in Czech, Russian sounds like a retarded Czech speaking with marbles in his mouth. So I gave up and still waited for my paperwork. During the conversation he gave me back my paperwork and I left to go back to the other side of the street.

ASIDE: My wife told me that as I was in that building, the Soviet Commie walked around my car, several times, looking at it. As my wife was instructed not to look around, she looked straight ahead. But when he walked into her view, they smiled and kind of laughed at each other. She said it was funny.

So, I go back to the other Commie, and salute him again. He put his hand out again, and I gave him the paperwork this time. Again he went into the shack and made his call. He came out, returned my paperwork, and for the third and final time, we saluted. I then did a Parade Ground Perfect about face movment, and walked to my car.

I got back in my car, and slowly proceeded through the checkpoint. Once through, we went along the East German Autobahn at precisely 100Kph (60 miles an hour); the speed limit over there (in West Germany, the speed limit inside the city limits is 100 kph; outside it is unlimited – pretty cool). The difference between the two countries was amazing.

Great Article by Krauthammer

I read this article by the Chrales Krauthammer this morning over at Realclearpolitics, which is one of the better places to go for political commentary.

I highly recommend it, as most of the other stuff there. Good insight from all over the political spectrum...

14 July 2006

Only The French

Would classless enough to sue for a replay of the World Cup Championship Game because their star player was an ass and got insulted enough to go ballistic and do something to get him kicked out.

"Doubts over whether a match official relied on video evidence of Zidane's head butt to Italian defender Marco Materazzi meant the final should be replayed, lawyer Mehana Mouhou said."

What a bunch of tools.

But considering where it is coming from, I really shouldn't be surprised.... They think they can do no wrong, and nothing is their fault.

12 July 2006

The Hammer of God

is falling on Lebanon. The is Israeli Army has taken up positions in Lebanon, and they are not leaving soon.

My favorite quote from this article:

"If the soldiers are not returned, we will turn Lebanon's clock back 20 years."

A can of Whoop Ass has been opened, and the Israelis are doing the dealing.

They have already bombed the Palestinian Authority Building...

I guess voting for a terrorist orgnization as your representative government wasn't such a good thing, huh??

Go get 'em, IDF!!!

UPDATE: This blog is keeping a great update on the situation. Keep it up, Dave!!!

I SO Cannot Wait for This to Happen

"Major League Baseball officials expect Barry Bonds to be indicted on perjury and tax evasion charges, according to a report in Tuesday's editions of the New York Daily News."

Go here for the full skinny!!

Barry Bonds is a self-absorbed prick. I never liked him even before he was accused of taking steroids, and I think everything about him is phony.

On the other hand, he is probably the single greatest player of his generation, which is the shame if it all.

I hope he spends serious time in prison, and if the steroids allegations prove true (I am sure they will); he never gets into Cooperstown.

10 July 2006

What kind of friend are you?

Go here and find out.

I have Texas friends, and I have other friends, and I will take my Texas friends, and my friends from Texas, anyday...

Taken from A Trainwreck in Maxwell.

Good site, by the way.

08 July 2006

Another Camping trip

Well, The HH6 and the M60 gunner (wife and son) elements are again off to camp; this time down south of here... It will be 5 straght weeks for those two. It started with Yosemite, then the North Coast, then Cub Scout Camp (one overnight), then last week's marathon for the 4th ofJuly (which was gorgeous weather), and now this trip for 3 nights.

I am sure that the Gunner will have fun, but HH6? she will be thoroughtly tired by the time she is done.

But she is a remarkable mother who will do anything for her kids.... I wanted to go on this trip, but she says that this is the last trip she will be going on, as he will be a Boy Scout next year. I doubt that, as she says that she is going on the Catalina Island trip in a couple of years... So so much for that idea. She just wanted to go down to the Big Sur area...

Have fun!!

Update on the Korea Thingie

It looks like we are going to be testing some more Kick-Ass Military Equipment if those pesky North Koreans decide they want to lauch another missile or 9...

This story reports that the USS Mustin, one of the most advanced guided missile destroyers in the US Navy (ergo, the whole planet) is en route to join the US 7th Fleet. The Navy says that this move has been planned for months, but I see the BS being waved somewhere...

I still thini we need to have acouple Stealth Bombers fly over Pyongyang just to say hello to the fine folks Up North...

And if an errant missile or Daisy Cutter were to drop, so much the better...

Why I Hate Country Music

I like most kinds of music, except for two: Country and Western (I don't consider "Hip Hop" and "Rap" music; it is shit).

I used to listen to some C&W (my wiife likes it), but when I deployed to Op Desert Shield, I was so immersed in the stuff that I literally got sick of it.

This is the culminating story:

I was picked for a detail that required me to separate from most of my unit. This detail had to pakc up and get a bunch of gear ready for shipment back to Germany. I was one of about 12 guys, all guys I pretty much knew. However, the guys that I knew outranked me. No bigge; it was not a bad detail and we all got along pretty well.. Except that thee guys were hard tried and true Rednecks.

Now I had listened to Country music a lot (not by choice, but such is life in the Army); when in tents with the platoon it would be playing a lot. Randy Travis, Garth Brooks, Travis Tritt, you name it and I can probably sing the lyrics and tell you who tries to sing it. When I got sick of it I would put on my handy Walkman and immerse myself in the music of my choice (at the time - Late 80's/early 90's) I was into the post-Punk/European New Wave scene (Depeche Mode/New Order/Smiths/Joy Divison/Clash/Ramones/etc/etc/).

Not this time. The tent next to us during this detail was playing serious and obnoxious rap crap, and it would not stop... at all, until very late at night. Well, my tried and true Redneck Friends had had enough, and broke out Hank Williams. Not Hank Wiliams, JR, but twangy, sing-songy Hank Williams and would wait until the troops in the Tent Next Door (we didn't know them; they were from a different unit) would finally stop their rap crap and begin with Ol' Hank. And. Would. Not. Stop. It was so loud and obnoxious that I could not drown it
out with my walkman (they eventually "ordered" me to turn it off, in case they needed my batteries. Assholes (I say that with the utmost respect to the Non-Commissioned Officer Corps of the United States Army).

This battle lasted for about three days.

There are few exceptions today (some patriotic 9/11 songs and Charlie Daniels), but I am pretty burned out on it. The experience of that, plus living in Texas for 3 years will burn anyone out.

I have graduated to more metal and hard rock (Rammstein, Metallica, Ministry), but I am a total 80's geek through and through.

Now you know (if you were ever interested in the first place).

And, if SSG J. Smith (you know who you are) ever reads this, thanks for nothing, and do I have permission to speak yet???

Always Ready, Sergeant!

God, I really miss it all...

07 July 2006


Looks like the Army lieutenant that announced he wasn't going to engage in "war crimes" is in deeper doo-doo than he thought.

Go here and read up on the other charges this asshole is being charged with, besides Article 87, Missing a Troop Movement.

I read this originally at Rivrdog, a great site in and of itself... He has all kinds of good information everyone should know.

For what it is worth, I normally do not call officers names. For one thing, when I was in it was bad mojo (you can and should go to jail for it); besides, I knew few bad officers when I was in... I was pretty lucky. Being in the Cavalry is like no other unit anywhere.... but I could be wrong.

But back to the topic at hand. This "officer" had no plans to deploy, and made his bed. Talking bad about the President and other topics are not protected in the military. He knew it, and is going to pay the price.

Few people know that your rights are not like all the civilians in the military. It is the only place in American society where a dictatorship, for lack of a better term, is commonplace. Strict obedeince to orders and discipline is the name of the game. True, a soldier is required to no obey an unlawful order, but I never experienced an unlawful order.

I hope this guy gets life.

New Krauthammer Article is out

Go here and read about it. It talks about the latest Supreme Court ruling concerning Guantanamo and the terrorists there....

Interesting reading, as always from Mr. K.

06 July 2006

So I Come Home

From work today, and my son is screamin fmr me to hurry up, as he wants me to watch the replay of Tuesday's Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest.

The Japanese guy, Kobayashi Maru (or whatever his name is) won it for the 6th year in a row, and broke the world record to boot!!

My boy cracks me up sometimes...

05 July 2006


Just got home. Tired. Sore. Dirty . Hot.

Will show incredible pics and share stories later.