We heard from Kevin Smith a while ago. He is a wonderful writer, and I plan to save his "letters home" on my blog when they come.

Greetings everyone. 
Once again I start up my journals as I prepare to deploy to Iraq.  Please enjoy my ramblings and feel free to pass them onto your friends.  If you would like to write back (which I would enjoy hearing from you), don’t reply to my home email address, but send it to kevin.duane.smith@us.army.mil

Take care,


Monday, 20 Nov 06

Well, I certainly never thought that I would ever find myself back at Ft. Benning (Columbus), Georgia.  After attending Airborne School here in 1983 and then again in 1990 when visiting a cousin of mine who was attending Airborne School, I put Benning in the rear view mirror and thought I would never return to the home of Infantry. 
But here I am. 
Starting another deployment.

The past three days have been hectic as we are readied for deployment to Iraq. 
For those who I haven’t had time to tell, just four weeks ago I was notified that I had only three weeks to prepare to mobilize.  So I and a just over a dozen soldiers from our Squadron are to move to Iraq. 

Our mission is to deploy as replacements for soldiers who were injured or lost in operations.  As for my job once I get there?  I’ll find out then.  I could be working at the entry control point, monitoring a radio in operations, or escorting convoys.

We were originally scheduled to be rushed through Ft. Bliss (El Paso), Texas, flying by Thanksgiving.  On Tuesday before our scheduled Sunday departure we were suddenly changed to Ft. Benning, departing on Saturday.

Today we did our medical inprocessing and many of us did a great impression of a human pincushion.  The least of us only got five shots.  I got six, along with the Flu mist.  The worst was the Gamoglobulin (for Hepatitis B).  It feels like they shot a syringe full of jello in my arm.  And right next to it is the anthrax.  That one just burned for about a half hour.

Tuesday, 21 Nov 06

Just when you think you have received all the equipment you need, we are taken to another facility where we wait in line for another issue (our third in two days).  We now have over three duffel bags full of "stuff."  Uniforms, Flack vest, new sleeping bag, rifle, pack…and all sorts of gee-wiz new army gear.  The volume of equipment seems a bit obscene, but there is a lot more coming to us once we get in country.

Wednesday, 22 November 06

Long Day! 
0415 wake-up, early chow, then out to the training site by 0700. 
We finally get released at 2000 hrs (that’s 8 p.m.) 
We spent all day at First Aid refresher training and identification and actions to take for Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s.)  Tiring day, but good training nonetheless.  You can never get enough training dealing with those two items. 
We are now released until 0500 Friday.  It will be great to sleep in.

Thursday 23 Nov 06

Thanksgiving Day
What a beautiful day.  I did a little reading, watched some TV and then went to a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner.  The dining facility had prime rib, ham and turkey with all the trimmings, including all you can eat boiled shrimp.  The room was decorated with a four foot cornucopia overflowing with fruits and vegetables.  The one thing the Army does right is ensuring those soldiers that can’t go home are treated well on the holidays.  We even had officers and senior Noncommissioned officers serving the meal.

After stuffing myself to the gills I then sat in front of a computer and knocked out five hours of nearly 25 hours of computer based training we have to complete before heading into theater.  It’s good stuff, but you walk out bug eyed after a session like that.

As I sit here on Thanksgiving Day, I realize I have so much to be thankful for. 
My great family, my church family, and finally that God has allowed me to grow up in the greatest country in the world.  A country that has wonderful soldiers like the ones I am with, and those I will soon serve with, that are willing to give more of themselves for the greater good.  To help nations of people to get a taste of freedom, and just possibly ignite that spark that inspired our forefathers to thirst for, fight, and eventually give us the liberty that we all enjoy.

So much for rest.  Tomorrow is a 0400 wake-up.  Then we head out to the range.

Friday, 24 November 06

Another great day of training. 
The weather was beautiful and the programs well done.  We spent most of the day going back to the basics.  Low crawl, 5 second rush, use of hand grenades, different firing techniques. 
This is what I call the great equalizer.  Whether you are the newest private or the older Colonel in the Army, man or woman, all had to negotiate the course.  I enjoy it because this old guy gets to keep up with the "kids" (of the dozen plus of our group, I am the grandpa at 43).

After a good part of the day spent crawling on our bellies in the sand like reptiles we then headed over to the rifle range to qualify with our rifles (and see how much sand you got in your rifle by not taking care of it). 
We all qualified, got back to the barracks, cleaned our weapons just in time to catch the second half of the Husker game.

We are now done, certified and prepared to deploy. 
Now all we need is a seat on a plane.  Nothing left here but boredom.

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