I am a 54 year old male; I resist labeling myself with a contrived label of race, but I do have a dark complexion and I am human. I was born and raised as a Catholic in the Greater New Orleans Area (West Bank), Louisiana. I permanently left that area at the age of nineteen when I entered the United States Army as an Armor Crewman. I did my Basic and Advanced Initial Training at Fort Knox, KY...when it was still the Home of Armor. My first duty post was Fort Carson, CO, and, in sum, I spent about thirteen years at that post of the nearly twenty-two years total that I was enlisted. I served a tour in the then West Germany and two tours in South Korea; I was deployed with the First Cavalry Division in Operation Iraqi Freedom II, 2004-2005, and then I retired to my present location in Middle Tennessee. I have worked a variety of jobs since I retired from the military, including two stints at a VA Medical Center; presently, I do some construction work part time, but because I am a self-identified Empath and Introvert diagnosed with PTSD and MDD, I try to spend as much time as I can at home alone with my awesome dogs. I am of average build and appearance, and the only special skill I posses, that I am aware of, is my ability to write technically and intellectually. Writing, to many, is a very abstract and foreign endeavor, but my linear perceptive mind allows me to compare writing to engineering; a body of writing as well as a building should achieve a high degree of technical compliance, this is the objective measure. Subjectively, writing and buildings can have a varying degree of effects intellectually and emotionally; the vast majority of buildings go by unnoticed, but the world is filled with engineering wonders that inspire thought and arouse the emotions...this is the writing that I endeavor to present here.
Today I would like to introduce you to the original pack core; Sheena came first, then I got Manney a few years later from the same breeder (their relationship is aunt-nephew); finally, the next door neighbor got Bonner from a friend about a year or more later. The evening that they met, Manney and Bonner became friendly…it became obvious by the next day that they would not accept being separated, as they were both digging under my fence from opposite sides. I figured the best way to solve this was to provide an opening in the fence for Bonner and hope that the Rottweilers could not fit through. I decided to try pulling out one board and luckily that worked; Bonner was able to come and go as she pleased. She loved to stay with Manney and would often spend the night…refusing to go back home when called.
These three have always played this game where Bonner will get something in her mouth as insignificant as a rock and Sheena, then Manney, will line up behind her and make like a little train; sometimes Bonner does not want to play this game and it really seems to frustrate the other two…funny and bizarre!
I have some very interesting stories to tell of my many experiences in the military, but more than story-telling, I will try to show how things play out against military regulations and law; furthermore, I will emphasize what I learned about leadership…including my time as a small-group leader. I believe that you will find some of those perspectives within this example.
My first overseas duty assignment (in 1985) sent me to the then West Germany, the town of Wildflecken, and my camp, known as Wildflecken Training Area. My Company First Sergeant was a very jaded and sadistic fellow…definitely not someone you wanted to piss off. He passed out Bars to Reenlistment and Administrative Flags of Favorable Action like they were candy; he also used his punishment authority (a maximum of 14 days extra-duty, and 14 days of restriction to the company area) without any hesitation. I was lucky enough to squeak by without any serious “corrective training” or punishment action from him; but, one day, this particular Staff Sergeant Tank Commander…he was not so lucky.
My Tank Company was participating in live-fire gunnery, and at the time we had M60A3 tanks. On non-range days we parked our vehicles in a temporary motor pool, and the vehicles were always subject to inspection for cleanliness, maintenance and contraband of any kind.
I remember it was a summer afternoon…hot and dusty…we were working on our tanks. The M60 tank had a separate Commander’s cupola atop the turret for the .50 caliber machine gun; the cupola also had a tray to hold the linked rounds of ammunition for the weapon. The tray had a series of doors inside the cupola that provided access to the ammo when loading or unloading belts. When it was not full of ammo, this place was a great area for the Tank Commander to store stuff; unfortunately, it was also a favorite target of inspectors, because trash and contraband tended to be left there unintentionally by the crew. It was also a place, on rare occasions, where ammunition (that was supposed to be down-loaded back to the ammo pad prior to departing the gunnery range) was found. This is a serious offense, punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice with serious consequences, both immediate and to one’s career (safety and accountability matters).
The beloved First Sergeant in question was doing his due diligence, randomly inspecting tanks and other vehicles of the company, when…holy crap!, he found two belts (200 rounds) of .50 cal. ammunition left in this Staff Sergeant’s cupola from the previous night’s live-fire range! Not a good day.
First Sergeant loved to apply his own brand of unmerciful “corrective training” as an “option” to administrative punishment (documented-permanent). This career-minded Staff Sergeant accepted Top’s offer of re-training and was told that he needed to return the ammunition to the ammo pad on the range and then explain his error to the Ammunition NCO. Staff Sergeant requested to use the First Sergeant’s vehicle to travel to the range, as it was almost 5 miles one way, but the First Sergeant had a different idea. First Sergeant wanted this Staff Sergeant to have a “significant emotional event” connected to his corrective training (for maximum reinforcement) and instructed him to suit up in his field uniform and road march (walk) the belts of ammunition (draped over his shoulders and wrapped around his neck) out to the ammo pad…then he could completely humiliate himself apologizing to the Ammo NCO…wow!…then he could road march back to the Company area…morally defeated and physically exhausted…(shit like that hurts…it breaks the weak…only the strong survive). He did not get back to our barracks until late in the evening, and all he did was get out of his uniform and collapse on his cot.
Please do not feel too sorry for this Staff Sergeant though, he was another prick of misery…Karma is a bitch! We laughed then…I still laugh now!
A life and career in the military is so much more a journey than a destination…even with a brief stint. I dreamt of joining the military, specifically the United States Army, ever since I was a child. I also found tanks and armored vehicles to be fascinating; eventually, I did grow up to enlist in the Army as an Armor Crewman, and I spent the better part of twenty-two years of active military service as a Tank Commander, both state side and overseas. My experiences in the Army certainly did not always live up to my expectations, but in balance, I am happy with the choice that I made to enlist and eventually become a career soldier. I retired from active duty in June of 2005 at the rank of Sergeant First Class; my last assignment was deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom 2 (OIF II), with the First Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood, TX.
This blog is not intended to glorify armed conflict or violence in any way; but more precisely, it is a retelling of my experiences in the Army and what I learned from it all…including combat, in an informative, and I believe extremely entertaining reveal of what it is really like to serve as a combat arms soldier in a maneuver force.
Enjoy the adventures of our K9 pack through ongoing narrative, images, and video; presently, the pack consists of an odd cast of characters (both K-9 and human). Please feel free to comment and share stories, images, and videos of your favorite K9 beasts.
Her Majesty Queen Sheena (aka: Sheena, Sheena-girl, Neena, Bitch, Party-girl), she is the 8-year-old matriarch, alpha-female (spayed) Rottweiler, and presently the only K9 member that likes to get high…as it helps with her arthritis, stress, and night-terror.
His Majesty King Mannheim (aka: Manney, Manney-boy, Big-boy, Boy, Big-love, Stud, Bear), he is the sweetest member of the pack…also the largest; a protective big brother type coming in at a whopping 150-160 pounds, my second Rottweiler, 5-year-old male (intact).
Raphael (aka: Boo-boo, Little-boy, Scrappy, Bear-cub, A-hole, Jerk, Meanie, Bully, etc.), he does not like Manney-boy, and seems to try to make that clear every time that they cross paths. Boo-boo is also inclined to hump anything soft, warm and fuzzy thing that he is introduced to, until discouraged against it. He is my 3-year-old Havanese holy terror weighing in at almost 10 pounds (intact).
Amos Elvis (aka: Amos, Son, Amos Moses) This is my stepson’s Scottish Terrier/ Schnauzer mix (?). He is a rescue dog, also about 3 years old, a chunky 30 pounds, and neutered. My son rents our upstairs apartment and Amos guards that as his domain over the other dogs, especially Raphael, as these two are primarily inside dogs and spoiled rotten. Amos is also known to launch himself into Manney-boy like a huge airborne torpedo when Raphael is present.
Toby (aka: Tobias, Toto, Red, Boy) This is the latest addition to the pack, a lovable and energetic 7 month old Australian Cattle Dog (Red-heeler) intact male, who can climb like a fox; he has endeared himself to Manney-boy in a big brother/ little brother relationship. Toby loves to tirelessly practice his “heeling” techniques on Manney-boy and Manney endures it all.
Bonner (aka: Bon-bon, Nawnee) Bonner is a beautiful red with white markings, 4-year-old, female American Pit-Bull Terrier (spayed); Bonner has always been like Manney’s “girlfriend” from the moment that they met…now, fully grown she weighs about 45 pounds and loves socializing with Toby. She used to have full access to the pack through an opening in the fence, but I chose to close it up for the time being due to Toby entering the neighbor’s house through Bonner’s pet door and stealing items from the house to chew on…like expensive lingerie! She does still interact with the pack, or one-on-one with Toby, but only under supervision until he matures out of the puppy behavior.