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December 27th 2008

no good deed goes….

It’s said that life is like a roller coaster, baby baby.  Ups and downs, and a little crying and a little throwing up. I’ll make a less-educated guess that the proper metaphor for The Grandee Army of The Republic is found on the other side of the Galactical Fun Park, right next to the scary-ass waterslides.

The short answer to the long statement is thus: I got another one of the “more problems” promotions. Whereas before I was busy defending the Troop from the Red Tape Hordes, now I’m working on the Squadron level. It’s roughly the equivalent of just-barely getting the hang of city politics, then pissing off enough people to get thrown into the State arena. There’s a lot of blood up here.

The glamorous answer to the long statement is this: we Staffers bust our assess on the Science of War. Troop movements, cross-Battalion coordination, cutting orders, developing graphics, you know – all the sexy shit they show in Hollywood.

Anyway, we rock the science of war so the Squadron Commander can rock the art of warfare – who to flank and when, whereabouts to feint, and the rest of the fun shit. It’s usually uglier than an albino tiger, but sometimes – and only sometimes – it’s fun as all hades.

Enough to make a man proud of his profession.


The good news is that I finally swam the goddamn Rio. It’s been a goal of mine since I hit the Republic. The EPT was founded, in part, because that’s the point where the Grande stops heading south and starts heading east, towards the gulf. And so I cleverly avoided the worst of the industrial pollution by crossing up in the New Mexico area – about a half hour drive (15 in my batmobile).

Here’s the proof:


contemplating the deeper meaning of life


rocking the deeper meaning of life


conquering the deeper


the end of the deeper


November 23rd 2008

B SERIES, aka I wish it were 1944

See, here’s one of the funny things about the Army. They spent four months and a shinny copper nickel training to me to fight these:


Then they told me to forget all that nonsense, I’ll be working with these:


And then they sent me to Little Rock and got me learned up on kicking in doors and chewing bubble gum and dominating a house room-by-room:


And then they tell me to forget all that nonsense, I’ll be rocking one of these:


That’s right, gentle readers. Contrary to the smart money, I got promoted. Twice, although neither one had much of anything to do with the other. The first was the more problems type – from PL to XO. Then, about two months later, I got the more money type – from LT to LT.


And since we’re speaking of nonsense, we also pulled BRIGADE SERIES, a 10-day wargame in the South Painted Desert. Here’s some pictures to prove I did it:


My chariot. The M1068 Integrated Command Post Vehicle. In fourteen words and three punctuations: I dearly love sweet, sweet tanks and the ’68 is not a goddamn tank.


Remember the Aztek? Pontaic’s SUV-with-a-tent? No? Don’t worry – the Firebird folks canned it after five real short years. Anyway, the Army thought it was such a kickass concept that they developed a tent to tack onto the back of the USS Deckalski (my chariot’s nom de guerre).


That’s Edgerton, the world’s most over-educated Corporal, holding the pudding. It’s best not to ask certain questions.


That’s Sam Kane. Wait. No, sorry, that’s me.


Commanding the biggest target on the FOB.


Those are friendlies, which means I’m not in Big Trouble.


I got to roll out Cowboy style exactly once during those ten days. Never thought I’d be so happy in a humvee.


With Katmandu, who keeps me sane.

October 2nd 2008

Shooter’s Choice and the Arkansas Delight

Wow. A lot’s happened. Here’s the short of it.

Went to Phoenix:



Kelly, outside some Dawson’s Creek thing, I don’t know.


A real good picture of a cactus.


Don’t try this at home, kids.


I’m stationed in El Paso, buddy. I had no choice.


What a terrible movie.


There’s nothing I like more than a well-preserved hole in the ground.


My father’s father finally – and peacefully – met his maker. Went to Denver. Turns out, among other things, that his brother Tom was in the 2nd (gramps was in the Air Force) and used to kill time with Audie Freaking Murphy. This picture is from my Commissioning. The short guy was my first salute:


Sure will miss him.


Went to Arkansas for a month. Yeah, that Arkansas. By the end of the third day, we were – from the holster – squeezing 4 rounds onto a square foot of steel within 3 seconds. That was the pistol course and it really set the tone for the rest of the year (I mean month).



3 warrior leaders, waring and leading.


Working on my killing skills.


This is Mike. He’s the Medo, which means he’s in charge of all the Cav Medics. Funny story, I went to camp with his finance.


The Ready Room for the Advanced Urban Warfare course.


Me and my brother Platoon Leader, Kathmandu. Note the swelling on my welted hand.


Me and my brother PL and the Cav Medo. Note the badass Custer ‘staches some of us are rocking.


Another shot of the Ready Room, and the Duke, and LT Miles Murray, who looks a lot like my awesome Uncle Mike.


We went through a whole lot more than a wheel barrel of simunitions. I caught a few of them myself, mostly on the thighs and hands. They leave nasty-colored sand-dollar sized welts because they leave the barrel at a very motivating 450 feet per second.


A shot from the catwalk of one of the main shoothouse. We spent all of our nights and most of our days in there, clearing rooms, trying to keep the hallway firefights as short as possible and learning the painful lessons of urban warfare- principal among them being that if you’re shooting a lot, you ain’t moving. And if you ain’t moving, you’re dead.

July 23rd 2008

the stars at night…

So there was this wedding in Denver, see? And I had a bit of Leave burning a hole in my 201 file, see? So I blasted out of the EPT and shot across Texas. The idea was to speed East, hit the major population centers, then arc up and west.

If I were stationed in Das Vaterland I’d be taking trips to fair Vienna or Waterloo or the Bastille. But I’m stationed in Texas and, well, the best laid plans of the hounds and humans, right?

If you’ve ever been to T-E-X, I apologize. But at least you’ll understand why I laugh when I say that the Cowboy Capitol stands a full four feet taller than the National Congress. So we checked it out, ate some over-hyped ice cream, spent too much money at the REI, grabbed some BBQ at the Kruez Market and skipped town to Corpus.

Corpus is a kickass town, and I wish we could’ve spent more time there. Of all the East Texas towns, it’s got the most vibe’n atmosphere. It was good to see the beach again, natch. We toured the USS Lexington, spent the night on Padre Island, sucked down some damn tasty oysters and briefly enjoyed the easy life of luxury.

San Anton-e-oh:
The Alamo isn’t as big as you think it is. And you can now buy Texas-shape pie tins and Lone Star golfballs there, which has got to make the Greatest Heroes of America’s Most Obnoxious State start grave-spinning. So there’s that. But there’s also China Grove. And the Riverwalk was neat but crowded.

The last of the big-gun ships, the USS Texas, floats just east of Houston, near the Oak Tree that Santa Ana surrendered under. So that was cool. And some whacked out postman spent decades turning his house in the ‘burbs into a shrine to the Citrus Orange, which I’ll take as a sign to Git Out Of Texas As Soon As Now.

Still, I wanted to see where Tom Hanks takes his problems. I paid my sixteen, made my way through the door and started to choke -the Food Court took up half the building. It felt like Gilliam’s Brazil.

Anyway, I asked where the actual CAPCOM building was – if I had to by a Space Rover Explorer Overpriced Tram ticket or what. And that’s when they told me that it’s been closed to the public since 12 September, 2001.

I did get a pretty good Asteroid Burger, though. And there was a decent Apollo exhibit pushed behind the (no joke) Mayan Maze. They even had “real – honest” Moon Rock, which was a nice gesture.

I wasn’t too impressed with the Seawall, but there’s an old Oil Rig-slash-Museum that was well worth the trip. Three stories of self-guided factoid-reading on Oil finding, drilling, refining, and the like.

The Big D:
I’m pretty sure we actually made it to the moon. And I chalk Roswell up to a few overeager Army officers (believe me, there are plenty of them). But Lee Harvey? I have my doubts. But eitherway, you can’t travel through The Friendship State without stopping at Dealey Plaza. And might I say it seems so fitting that you can’t climb the six floors of the book depository; you have to take an elevator. That’s why everything is bigger in Texas – the traffic, the waistlines, the vice taxes.

When the Conquistadors came looking for gold, they made it all the up to north Texas. Specifically the Palo Duro Canyon, which is as beautiful as it is remote. It took a lot of willpower not just to grab a rucksack, start walking, and get lost down there for a week or a month.

This city’s got two things going for it: Ozymandias On The Plains and the Cadillac Ranch (bam!). Both were pretty damn sweet, and rounded out the trip. I saw a lot of good family at the Denver wedding and got a chance to catch up with some quickly-deploying amigos from Tank School. And that was about it for the 2nd biggest state in the Union (they hate when you say that). I saw just about everything except FT Hood, and I’m saving that for another time.


by some bizzare twist of fate, Richard is the faveriote COIC of both her and me padre

ah, Corpus: that Sparkling City by the Sea

recreating How Things Was outside the Alamo

the Grassy Knoll, baby

a Mile High in Denver

with my brother lieutenants (the lucky ones stationed in Colorado)

and there’s 54 more Fent-tastic Fent-ographs over at The Picasa, including a few from before this trip. Click it twice to bring up the full deal.

June 22nd 2008

I wanna be a cowboy, baby

When John Wayne needed help, he called in the Cavalry – meaning the horsetop elites. “Elite” because it’s Pretty Damn Tough to fight effectively on thousand-pound steeds. But, if used properly, Equidaes allow a unit to outflank, out-surprise and overpower (fighting on Mustangs gives greater height, speed, and inertial mass than the unfortunate rest of the Army). And, because of these unique abilities, the Cav is often given long-range missions with little oversight. Things like scouting, screening, raiding, and skirmishing are the traditional roles.

Anyway, the Cav’s been around for a long, long time – although it didn’t really come into it’s own until the invention and adoption of the stirrup around the 7th century. And all that history breeds tradition. And a big, big part of that tradition is Earning Your Spurs. In the modern US Cavalry, you go on a Spur Ride about six months after you hit your first Cav unit.

It differs from post to post, but this time around I was required to (among other things) memorize and recite Fiddler’s Green, conduct a dismounted patrol, evaluate and treat a casualty, prepare a SINCGARS radio for transmission, maintain and load and clear a number of crew-served weapons, set up and use a Traffic Control Point, react to indirect fire, and knock out a 30-hour set of continuous high-tempo operations in a mock Iraqi-village. You know, the standard.

And now, on the last duty day of the week, and at all gatherings of True Cavalrymen, you’ll see me wearing a Stetson and Spurs, just like The Almighty:


And that about sums up my recent Armying. Two more Lieutenants hit my unit, which is always bueno. If the Army isn’t keeping us busy on the weekends, we usually do a pretty good job of it ourselves.

There’s always something new to do down here in The City At The End Of America, but me and the Hillbilly still try to jet town once a month. The last big trip was to Del Rio, which is about halfway down the Mex-Tex border. If you’re ever in the area, I recommend it. It’s a neat place with a lot of character.

And now, without further ramblings, a twenty-odd photo extravaganza:

Kel, SPF gazillion, Guadalupe National Forest

fact: real cowboys drink Dasani

like Meat Loaf says, two out of six ain’t bad

A peso to the first cowpoke that tells me which Garth album this is

Counting my dolla dolla bills in Del Rio

this girl is hopeless

the Batmobile can’t red-line a thing without a little go-juice

despite the rumors, Texas ain’t all bad


these are the types of things you don’t expect to see between Marathon and Valentine

the world’s loneliest Prada store

Q: what’s the most dangerous thing in the US Army?
A: a Lieutenant with a compass and a radio
(here’s 8 of them)

buenas noches

twice a day, everyday

we couldn’t find a good Italian place, or even a mediocre one, so we ate at The Olive Garden

this is Chester Lampkin, the AM Weatherman for the best newstation in El Paso

At the Gordita Festival. They were selling Super Corn, but I just wanted a Snow Cone

Okay, they were both pretty good
Ask her about that shirt. Then ask her what happened to mine. Go on, ask her.

First. Live. Local.

my platoon, halfways through some training

at Sorrento’s, the best Italian this side of the Grande

let's lose charley