Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ironing 101 - (Korea) Day 275

SPC Mick and I standing in front of our NCOIC so she could check out the tops
of our dress uniforms. It kind of looked funny still wearing our ACU bottoms.

This morning I headed to the dentist office instead of work. My dental status turned amber a month or so ago on AKO, but I wanted to wait until the exercise was over before heading in. Check-up exams are all walk-in, no appointment necessary. We had no meetings today, so I thought it would be a good day. I checked in and only waited a minute before being checked out. It was the quickest exam in the history of dental exams. It basically went like this:

Dentist: "Do you smoke?"

Me: "No"

Dentist: "Do you chew?"

Me: "No"

The dentist then took his little metal poke stick and touched some of my gums and teeth, then said I was done. Since I haven't had a cleaning in the last year he told me to schedule one, so that was it. I ended up having to go to my office and grab my dental records, then bring them back to the dental office. I forgot to get them before coming in. They were given to me when I out-processed from Ft. Gordon and have been in my office since I arrived here.

Just the walk back and forth from the dental office to my office had me actually dripping with sweat. It's so hot and humid here that no matter what you do, you just start sweating. I'll be trying to stay inside today as much as possible. That's pretty much all I did until lunch time, I sat in my office and did SkillPorts until lunch time.

I ate lunch in my room and video chatted with my wife, then headed back to the office. Once there I covered the phones in our office, everyone had to leave to do something which left me just hanging out waiting for people to get back and answering the phones if needed. I updated the events calendar…not too many upcoming meetings so far, but that seems to change on a daily basis.

Once everyone got back, SPC Mick and I drove the weapons rack out to K-16. Thankfully they were not having a training holiday today, I didn't really feel like driving out in the Korean traffic for a third day in a row. When we got back we waited for our NCOIC to come up and give us some good army training…she taught us how to iron our dress uniform. Neither SPC Mick or I had ever ironed anything before. What I learned is that it's much better to pay the couple bucks and have your uniform taken to the cleaners and pressed. It's a pain in the butt to iron it all just right…and it's time consuming. We left around 1800. The past two days our NCOIC said we would be getting off at 1600 so we could go to the gym and do PT…LOL.

I quickly headed to my room and tried to eat dinner. I wanted to watch The Hangover 2 which was playing at the theatre tonight. 30 seconds into microwaving my burrito the power on our wall went out. WTF?? I took my burrito upstairs to the common area and used it's microwave, then called the maintenance folks to let them know I was out of power. It was somewhat important because it also powered my refrigerator. I ended up having to wait for them to come take a look. They came…looked…said they would put in a work order for it and get back with me. I'm not sure if they did something or what, but 5 minutes later the power was back on. Did it flip a breaker? I'm not sure, but I'm glad it's working now. I had visions of all my food going bad.

Needless to say, I missed my movie and wasn't too happy. I ended up watching my TV shows instead and doing a little homework.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

No Iron - (Korea) Day 274

Kind of hard to tell from this angle, but this is a really wicked looking yellow
spider I came across while walking to the food court. I didn't want to get much closer
because it freaked me out...all those dots you see to the right were it's previous snacks.

Work call this morning was at 0830. When I got to work I headed straight to my office and checked my email and my promotion points since it's the start of the week. My current status is:

Military Education - 260 Maximum Points

Correspondence Course (Hours 1071) (Points 214)

I'm making progress, I only have 46 points left before I max it out. I was hoping to have it done by the end of August, but it will probably take a little while longer now that I'm splitting my time between schoolwork and SkillPorts. No matter what I still plan on having it maxed out before I leave Korea.

I headed down to the office and was told the new seating arrangement. We have a new female captain that has arrived and they are going to swap work spaces around between three people. I was tasked with getting this all done. Not only did I have to move all their crap, but I had to clean the desks and such. Not too bad, but it's amazing how much crap people accumulate over time! I then had to run to the multimedia shop on post to pick up a couple photos of the general.

I headed to lunch at the food court with SPC Roy. He had a pretty crazy weekend as well and told me all about it. When I got back from lunch I headed to my office and did some schoolwork before getting called down for another mission. I had to drive with our KATUSA and pickup the weapons rack we used for the exercise, then take it back to K-16 (near CP Tango). When we arrived at K-16 we found that they were having a training holiday, so nobody was working. We made the entire trip for nothing. We brought the weapons rack back and placed it in our supply office, I guess we'll try again tomorrow…after our NCOIC verifies that there is someone there.

I then had to bring my dress uniform down so my NCOIC could make sure everything was on correctly. We will be wearing these on Thursday for her promotion ceremony. She asked if I was going to iron my shirt. I wasn't planning on it and then I had to admit to her that I've never ironed anything in my life. Our sergeant's time training tomorrow is now going to be ironing instead of the new PT exercises…lol. Our NCOIC is going to bring in her iron and ironing board.

We then cleaned up and headed out. I had dinner in my room and then went to The Point with PFC Pickle. We swam laps for a while and then to our disappointment found out the hot tub was closed…bummer. I headed back to my room and did a SkillPort and watched a TV show before calling it a night.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up (3-Day) - (Korea) Days 271 - 273

Our "Victory Dinner" Korean BBQ with scrambled eggs & kimchi...Very Good!!

Saturday: I woke up around 0830 after 13 hours of much needed sleep, a great way to start a three day weekend. We get Monday off as a training holiday because of the exercise. I did my usual Saturday morning ritual of laundry and then video chatting with the wife and kids. I caught up on everything and spent a couple hours video chatting. It was nice to see and hear everyone. I wonder all the time if I've made a huge mistake joining the army because of all the time I will end up being away from my wife and kids. I will be missing so much of their preteen and teenage years. So many don't realize the everyday sacrifices that go into being in the military.

Today is our office's enlisted "victory party". The top brass are all having their own posh victory party celebrating their virtual win over North Korea during the exercise, so our NCOIC thought our office should do the same. We met up at the office at 1800…that is everyone except for Special K. He is notorious for not being able to do any after work activities because his wife has him on a very short leash. His excuse was that his mother was sick, but I'm not buying it. I'm pretty sure his wife told him that there is no way he's going.

The rest of us (our NCOIC, SPC Mick, & our KATUSA) headed to the subway and after about 4 stops we got off and headed to our NCOIC's favorite Korean BBQ establishment. The place is a little different than others because in addition to the BBQ, there is egg poured around the edge. While the meat is cooking the eggs start to scramble and kimchi is thrown in with it. It all tasted wonderful. Our NCOIC's husband (Mr NCOIC) joined us and we had quite a bit of soju and plenty of food. Everything was going swell until all of a sudden Mr. NCOIC got very pissed at our NCOIC. I won't go into details (it involved their kid), but he went from nice guy to yelling and cussing very loud. I felt bad for our NCOIC because I know she was pretty embarrassed. Not quite the night she had planned for us. Their fight eventually led them outside and finally they ended up leaving. Our NCOIC apologized and paid the bill. So we were sitting there wondering what to do the rest of the night.

We ended up going to a somewhat famous night club in Seoul called "Monkey Beach". Not really my scene at all, but fun to people watch. Young folks dancing to pop music on all the tables. We all ordered drinks and they were served to us in buckets. I can tell you that this was the start of what would later become a bad hangover. We hung out for a while and then our KATUSA said we should go do karaoke. Not wanting to waste any alcohol, I quickly finished my bucket…not a good decision.

Karaoke is very popular in Korea. They have a number of places you can go and rent a small room and sing karaoke. These places also serve food and beer to your room. We all got a room and started singing…well I laid down for a bit…something just wasn't quite right with my stomach, but after a couple of songs I was good to go. We all had some beer and we all sang…and by sang I mean we all sounded terrible. It's a good thing we had our own room. Our KATUSA was actually so bad, I didn't have any inhibitions about singing at all because nobody could be worse than him…lol.

We then got a call from our NCOIC and she said she wanted to meet up with us in Itaewon at a place called Seoul Pub. We took a taxi there and met up with her and her husband. They had worked things out and we all sat at a table and chatted for a while. We didn't drink anymore which is a good thing. I did use the unisex restroom there which was pretty interesting. This was the first time both sexes used it at the same time. I had to go pee so bad, I didn't really care. I do remember thinking it was kind of odd going pee in the urinal and having girls walk in and out to use the toilet. Stuff that just doesn't happen in America.

We headed back to our barracks at some point after 0230 or so and I promptly got in bed and passed out.
The Monkey Beach...where they serve alcohol in buckets!

The bathroom at Monkey Beach complete with CCTV...
big brother likes to watch you pee

SPC Mick singing while our KATUSA searches for the next our private room

Our "Resered" table at Seoul Pub in Itaewon

Sunday: I woke up with a sick feeling in my stomach and a raging headache. The stupid thing is that I know I should hydrate a lot more especially if I'm going to be drinking alcohol, but I didn't hardly have any water yesterday. I paid the price for it today. I took 3 Excedrin and drank some water. There was a UFC playing so I headed to Starbucks to get coffee and then took a taxi to PFC Pickle's room. Normally I walk there, but I thought I may throw up if I walked too far. I arrived and quickly grabbed the nearest chair in his room. I didn't move much from that chair for the entire UFC. I drank my coffee slowly and then also drank 2 liters of water before the UFC was over. I was hoping the water and the Advil I had in PFC Pickle's room would help. I finally lost the headache, but that sick stomach feeling never left. We headed out and caught a taxi to head to the USO, but found out that there was a demonstration going on and we couldn't get there. The taxi brought us back on post and didn't charge us anything. We wanted to go to the USO to purchase tickets for a Martial Arts Festival next weekend. Not sure what exactly it is, but it's something to do.

I headed back to my room and video chatted with my wife and kids, then did some schoolwork. I thought about taking a nap, but the schoolwork I had to do took too long. I then checked with PFC Pickle to see if he wanted to see "Super 8". I knew nothing about it, but saw it was playing at the theatre on post. We walked there and by this point my nausea was doing better, but I was still no where near 100%. We watched the movie, which was nothing what I expected…but it was good and entertaining. It basically centered around kids in a small town that uncover an alien. Kind of like a modern version of E.T., but with a huge freakin' alien that kills people instead of a cute little alien with a glowing finger.

By the time we headed back to our rooms I would say that I was feeling about 75%. Definitely much better, but it sure takes me a lot longer to recover than it used to. I never plan on drinking much when I go out, but I have to make sure I get some water in me if I ever even think I'll be drinking again.

Monday: I woke up about 0830 to my roommate coming into our room. Normally he leaves for the entire weekend, but for some reason he came back early. It's OK though because I was about to get up anyway. I got up and video chatted with my wife for a while. I feel 100% again! After video chatting with my wife I did schoolwork again.

I met up with PFC Pickle at the food court for lunch where we both ate foot long pulled pork subway sandwiches. For some reason we were both very hungry, but those sandwiches were very heavy. We both sat there for a bit feeling stuffed and bloated. I made a mental note to only order 6 inch sandwiches from now on.

We then headed over to the MWR at Moyer Rec Center and signed up for the Martial Arts Festival. Funny thing is that originally we were going to sign up at the USO and then found out that the MWR was offering a free trip…can't beat that! We then headed to "The Point" and worked out. After working out we sat in the hot tub for a while and relaxed. I love this place, it's going to be hard to go back to the normal gym after this.

We headed back to our rooms and I spent the rest of the day watching TV shows and doing SkillPorts. Back to the grind tomorrow….

Friday, August 26, 2011

Final Day of Exercise - (Korea) Day 270

The front and back of the coins that our KATUSA gave me. The one on the left
is from the ROK 2-Star general, and the one on the right is from his
counterpart...the US 2-Star general.

Work call this morning was at 0430. Oh yes…last day of the exercise!!!! I picked up the augmentees and headed back to the office. We were planning to leave 15 minutes earlier that the previous days. As I was waiting in the SUV our KATUSA jumped in the seat behind me and then asked to see my hand. Strange request, but I put my hand back there and he promptly placed two coins in it. Evidently the reason he had to stay behind yesterday was because he was selected to receive a couple coins from a two star general. I told him I couldn't take them and tried to give them back, but he insisted that I keep them. He said he thought I worked the hardest out there and that I deserved them more than him. I told him no way…he worked his butt off too, but he would not take them back no matter what. To tell you the truth, having a co-worker notice the effort and work that I put in was worth more than a supervisor in my eyes. It was an awesome gesture and I think these coins will hold more meaning than any of the others I have so far.

We arrived at CP Tango and immediately started to prepare for the awards ceremony from the four star general. There were 5 people getting the "Joint Service Award" and 30 folks receiving the 4-star coin. This is a lot less than previous exercises, I heard the new general wants to give more value to his coins. Our KATUSA and I were proctors for the ceremony. Our KATUSA held the case with the awards and coins and I handed them to the general as the folks came up to accept their award. The funny part is that this put me in all the photos that the people took with the general…lol. I thought about making a funny face, but kept it professional. Our NCOIC was one of the people that received a coin.

After the ceremony we started cleaning the office. Our NCOIC and our KATUSA headed to breakfast at the DFAC. During their meal she kept asking to see his coins, that's when he told her that he gave them to me and why. She was pretty impressed and ended up telling the Major in our office, who in turned told another person in the command group. The Major then ended up giving our KATUSA a different coin because everyone was impressed with his gesture. What I found out later is that our NCOIC was also given two more 4-Star coins that she was going to give me and Special K, but since our KATUSA gave me his coins she gave one to an augmentee that did a great job the entire exercise.

We finished cleaning the CP Tango office and waited for the end of exercise announcement. Finally it finished…North Korea invaded, South Korea along with it's UN allies repelled the attack and took over North Korea…thus reunifying the Korean peninsula!

We headed to K-16 and picked up some individual pizzas for lunch, then had to wait for the generals to leave CP Tango before we could pack up the office and head back to Yongsan. When we did get back, we still had a lot to do before we could call it a day. We had to drop off all the weapons at the armory, then take all the supplies into the office and turn back in all the rented vans and SUVs we had. Once this was done we prepared for our own ceremony for all of our augmentees. This is a little different than previous exercise ceremonies because it was only for the augmentees getting their Certificate of Achievements. These are worth 5 promotion points. Usually they are all handed out to everyone in our office at the same time, I'm not sure why we are doing it separate this time…I hear ours will be next week sometime.

I was unable to see the little ceremony though because I got a call about a "spillage" in our admin department. Classified data had found it's way to an unclassified computer. When this happens we have to immediately unplug the machine from the network and report it to the folks who are in charge of the secret network. I then got a call telling me that our colonel was unable to access the network. Turns out that his computer still thought it was on the CP Tango network and there was nothing I could do to change the settings, so I had to call the help desk and submit an urgent ticket. The only problem is that all the help desk technicians had all left for the weekend. Ugggghh. I had to setup an alternate laptop for my colonel to use over the weekend, but it wasn't a great solution because he didn't have access to any of his desktop files. Grrrrr!

My NCOIC mentioned going to eat at Taco Bell and asked if me and our KATUSA wanted to go. I said definitely…it sounds good. We had to wait for our KATUSA though…the two weeks of eating an MRE every day for lunch had caught up with him and he was stuck in the bathroom with a major case of diarrhea. When he did come out he politely declined and said he was heading home.

After dinner I got back to my room and shortly after laid down for a nap, but that nap turned into sleeping all night…13 hours total…much needed!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

9th Day of Exercise - (Korea) Day 269

A photo I snapped at The Point. This is just the line of treadmills (all with individual
TVs). Compared to the 4 that Trent Gym has, this place always has an open one.
Around the corner are a number of stationary bikes & weight machines.

Work call this morning was at 0430 as usual. We had the same old routine (pickup the augmentees, stage vehicles, and leave to CP Tango). After setting up the first meeting I was able to settle in and do all my schoolwork. I don't care for the exercise that much, but I do like that I have had time to do my schoolwork. The exercise itself isn't too bad except for getting up so early. We also have to have our gas mask in it's case strapped to the side of our leg at all times. This makes sitting in an office chair a little awkward. It also adds an inconvenience when going to the bathroom.

We cleaned up the morning meeting and then I read a newspaper for a while. Our NCOIC got all excited all of a sudden, then announced that she got promoted. She knew she was eligible and had been checking online daily to see if it happened…today she found out. It will be official on the 1st of September. She will be an E-7 (Sergeant First Class)!

The second shift arrived only a few minutes late and I took off to get the car ready. For some reason it took them forever to come out, but I didn't really mind. I was tired and quickly fell asleep with the air conditioning blowing and the radio on. We ended up leaving about an hour late and for reasons unknown our KATUSA had to stay and work with the second shift. When I inquired about it the subject was changed, so I didn't ask again. I'll have to ask him tomorrow morning.

After returning the augmentees to tent city, I headed to my room and changed into my workout clothes. I have to get some cardio in. I headed off to The Point and started running on the treadmill. I would love to say it was an awesome workout, but the truth is that it was one of those times when I struggled just to keep jogging. I never reached anything faster than a quick jog and even had to slow to a fast walk at one point. I had no stamina and my knees were hurting. I did get a sweat going, but it was a pretty dissatisfying workout. Better than nothing I guess, hopefully I'll feel better next time.

When I got back to my room I showered and then settled in for my nightly routine of TV shows and SkillPorts. One more day of the exercise left and then we get a 3 day weekend! I can't wait.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

8th Day of Exercise - (Korea) Day 268

Work call this morning was at 0430 as usual for the exercise. It was a normal morning with me picking up the augmentees and then staging all the vehicles. We left on time and arrived to CP Tango without incident. We setup for the morning meeting and then I did schoolwork. One nice thing about this exercise is that I've had plenty of time to do my schoolwork during the work day…even if there are interruptions from time to time.

My NCOIC came into my little office and started to take off her boot so she could scratch her foot that was itching. Our KATUSA came in and for some reason asked what color her socks were. She said green of course, that is the standard. Then she asked our KATUSA what color his socks were. He tried to change the subject, but she wouldn't be sidetracked. Finally he said he had white socks on. She gave him a hard time and then said he's her "soldier of the day". She gave him a hard time the rest of the day…lol.

I've been overhearing discussions about awards and coins for this exercise. I guess the new commander wants to significantly cut down on the number of coins that are given out. He wants them to have more value when someone does receive a coin. It made me doubt that I would be receiving a coin because they are being so strict with the process. If that's the case it would suck because since this is the first exercise for our NCOIC, she has relied heavily on me and Special K to train the augmentees and make sure everything runs smoothly. I have been getting up earlier than everyone on the first shift so I can pick up all the augmentees and staying later so I can drop them off. The only place I ever complain may be this journal, but it would be pretty crappy to put in all the extra work and not be recognized for it. I guess we'll see, the exercise will wrap-up this Friday.

We setup a few meetings and cleaned them and the 2nd shift actually arrived on time, I was pretty surprised. We left the earlier than we ever had previously and made pretty good time getting back. After I dropped off the augmentees and got back to my room I passed out again on my bed. This time when I got up though I talked myself out of going to the gym. My entire body is sore and I figured I would give it a day of rest. I almost went just to go in the hot tub, but it seemed to much of a pain to go all the way there just for that. Instead I did the usual…TV shows and more SkillPorts. The closer I get to maxing out my Military Education points the faster I want to get it done. One of the augmentees told me today that he found out that he just missed getting promoted by 6 points! I've talked to him before and he told me about his recent promotion board experience and how crazy it was. He was really looking forward to this promotion, but found out the cutoff scores today. The army publishes the cutoff scores for promotion each month. Each MOS has a different cutoff score which changes based on the needs of the army for that rank and position. He'll get a certificate of achievement for the exercise which is worth 5 points and I told him to get crackin' on the SkillPorts!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

7th Day of Exercise - (Korea) Day 267

Since I can't take photos at CP Tango, I figured I would take some around post 
of various landmarks. This is The Dragon Hill Lodge, The Point is 
located around back and below the hotel.

Work call this morning was at 0430…starting the normal exercise routine once again…at least until the end of the week when it's over. I picked up the augmentees and staged all the vans. We were all ready to go, but we were missing our NCOIC which was pretty strange. We still had 15 minutes until departure time, but normally she is there long before then. I gave her a call and she had just arrived. Turns out a cab hit her while she was riding her scooter into work. The streets in Korea are a dangerous place. Luckily she didn't get hurt and her scooter didn't sustain any damage. I guess the taxi bumped her and knocked her over, it could have been a lot worse.

We headed over to pick up the weapons for the officers and then took off. We still made it on time to CP Tango. Our KATUSA and I setup for the normal morning meeting and when it came time to call "stand by" our KATUSA was nowhere to be found. I stood near the door of the meeting room keeping an eye out for the general. Finally our KATUSA came, but he was so late we couldn't switch places. I usually don't ever call "stand-by" because I don't like to do it, but I was stuck this time. Our KATUSA gave me "the signal" that the general was coming. Usually we do something funny to let the other know it's game time and to get ready. Our KATUSA stared at me and started pulling his ear over and over again. I nodded and started laughing. The general came up and when he was about 10 feet from me I turned and headed towards the conference room. I was hoping there would be some officer standing near the door with his back towards me when I yelled so I could scare the crap out of him…no such luck. I yelled "Stand by" and then let the general walk in.

I then spent time doing schoolwork until the meeting was over and we headed up to clean up. At this point it was time for me to teach my class. My NCOIC gave me the subject of "semi-centralized promotions" last week to give a class on today. My students were my NCOIC and our KATUSA LOL. Luckily this is a subject I had previously checked into thoroughly because I wanted to know exactly what I needed to do in order to get promoted. I had a slide show already that my previous sergeant sent to us, so I went through the slides explaining the new system and what has changed. I also threw in that I've personally maxed out my civilian education and I'll have my military education maxed out before I leave Korea. Gotta let my NCOIC know that I'm not fooling around here.

I had some ramen with the ROK soldiers in our office and our KATUSA. After lunch we just hung out at the table and came up with silly games to play by flicking a piece of candy at each other to pass the time. Finally the second shift arrived only a few minutes late and after briefing SPC Mick and Special K we took off.

Once back and after dropping off all the augmentees, I headed to my room and passed out for a half hour. I then woke up and headed to The Point to go for a work out. After that I slipped into my usual routine of watching TV shows and doing a couple SkillPorts. SPC Roy stopped by for a bit to vent because right after he arrived at CP Tango for his night shift, he got sent back to Yongsan to drop off an urgent packet for his office. He needed to blow off some steam about an E7 in his office, then he was good to go and headed back.

Time to try and get some sleep now…..

Monday, August 22, 2011

Exercise Pause Day 2 - (Korea) Day 266

A photo I snapped on the way to The Point. On post delivers in funny little cars...LOL

Work call this morning was at 1000. This left plenty of time to sleep in and then video chat with my wife for a while before heading into work. Today was supposed to be a day off, but someone scheduled a meeting in our conference room, so the 1st shift was assigned to take care of it. I headed in a little early to get my colonel's laptop fixed for good. I had to run it over to the help desk and they were able to do the quick fix. I knew how to fix it, but just didn't have the credentials to do so. They fixed that as well, so I should be able to take care of issues easier in the future.

The meeting was an easy setup, just name tags and turning the system on for the conference room. Our KATUSA volunteered to flip slides, so I went on my computer and did SkillPorts for the entire meeting. It is Monday so I checked my current promotion points:

Military Education - 260 Maximum Points

Correspondence Course (Hours 976) (Points 195)

So I've almost hit the 1000 hour mark and I'm only 65 points away from maxing it out. It has been my mission to do this before I leave Korea and I don't think I'll have a problem doing so. In fact it inspired me to get some extra ones done today. After the meeting we grabbed everything we needed to take back out to CP Tango for the rest of the exercise this week. We then shut down the system and locked up the conference room. We got everything packed and the second shift for CP Tango arrived ready to head out. Luckily we didn't have to go out again like last Monday, this time the 2nd shift headed out and got everything setup for the week.

I headed back to my room, ate lunch and did some more SkillPorts, then watched a TV show. I then headed to The Point and had a pretty good cardio workout. Improving my PT score will also give me more promotion points, so I'm trying to make sure I'm in decent shape before my next test. After the work out the rest of the night alternated between reading a book, watching TV shows and doing more SkillPorts. I should be able to make a pretty good dent in the remaining 65 points this week.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Exercise Pause - (Korea) Day 265

The exercise officially paused yesterday at around 1500 or 1600 and will resume on Tuesday morning.

This morning was so nice, I got to sleep in until about 0800. Today was my lone day off during the exercise and I had plans to just relax for a while and then head to the gym at some point. I started my laundry and then received a call from Special K telling me that I have to work today at 1100 to help setup for a meeting. WTF? I got a little pissed, but within minutes I received another call. It was Special K again telling me that now I'm just on "Stand By" for the meeting. This isn't much better, because now I have to be ready to go into work if needed, I can't do much of anything except wait in my room. Then only a few minutes later Special K gives me a call back and says that I don't have to come in. I think they are all smoking crack at the office!

I then video chatted with my wife for a while trying to catch up on everything. We've been able to write emails back and forth, but except for a quick chat on my birthday we haven't been able to video chat at all during this exercise. I'm looking forward to it ending, it's only been a week…but it feels like it's been a month. As I was wrapping up my video chat with my wife I was planning to head to The Point and workout…then my phone rang. I didn't recognize the number and I shouldn't have answered it. It was CPT Hooah! and he told me to get to the office as soon as possible. FML!!! I was pissed…my office is all screwed up! I quickly shaved and threw on my uniform and headed to the office. So much for having a day off.

There was a big meeting in the secret conference room with I think every general on the peninsula. I helped Special K and SPC Mick set it up and then waited for it to start. Our colonel then asked me to take a look at his computer because it wasn't working now that he brought it back to the office. Since it had been associated with the CP Tango network it wasn't working on our own network now. Long story short there was nothing I could do to fix it and had to put in a help desk ticket, but of course since it's Sunday only the operator was working. So it will probably have to wait until tomorrow to get fixed. I left after that, my work day was only about two hours, but it still sucks having to get ready and go in on my only day off.

Once back to my room I changed and then had a great workout…perhaps all the frustration I had built up. I headed back to my room and then watched a TV show and then did another SkillPort. My roommate asked if I wanted to go to dinner, so we headed off post to a Korean BBQ and had some beef and leaf. It was tasty as usual…love that stuff! I finished the night off as usual…more TV shows and SkillPorts.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

6th Day of Exercise - (Korea) Day 264

The "IR" or "Subdued" flag insignia. This is part of the uniform during the exercise.
Normally only soldiers who have been deployed have these, we had to be issued these on the
second day of the exercise. It is worn in place of the colored American flag on the right shoulder.

Work call this morning was 0430 once again. My body did not want to get up this morning, I think it knew it was a Saturday and was just not cooperating. I moved quite a bit slower, but still made it on time. I picked up the augmentees at tent city and then loaded our SUV as usual and our convoy took off. Once at CP Tango we setup for a morning meeting and I did my morning ritual of checking my email and drinking my coffee. My NCOIC decided that it would be a good idea if I teach a class. Sergeant's time training will be me teaching a class on the semi-centralized promotion system. The class will be held next Tuesday (during the exercise) and my students will consist of just my NCOIC…lol. I'm not sure how well that will work out because it seems the SACO from our office is always calling her back to her laptop for something anytime she gets up. The good news is that I already have a PowerPoint that my old sergeant sent out explaining all the changes, so I will be able to use that for my "class".

We cleaned up the meeting and then as we were in the office our supply KATUSA called and asked if we had seen his helmet. Evidently he lost it and is freaking out. He is actually scheduled to finish up his service in a couple weeks. If you don't have all your assigned gear, you end up paying for it. We all looked around and I checked with the CP Tango security to see if they had seen anything…nothing yet.

I worked on my schoolwork and then read the news, it was a pretty laid back afternoon. At the end of our shift we cleaned up and also packed up most of our stuff since it is now the weekend. The second shift ran a few minutes late…no surprise there, but somehow SPC Mick missed the convoy coming out…now that was a surprise. Our NCOIC was not very happy about that. They were going to have one of our drivers pick him up when we got back and then return him, but the traffic was pretty bad. There is a bus run from Yongsan to CP Tango, so SPC Mick had to catch one of those.

I found out I have to work a little on Monday. Somehow I think I'm getting the shaft with the work schedule. I come in earlier than anyone else to pick up the augmentees. I stay later to drop them all off. The morning shift was screwed at the beginning of the exercise by working a night shift the first day, then turning around and working the morning shift the next day. Now I find out I have to work in the office on Monday because there was a meeting scheduled…WTF? Everyone else has the day off. At least I don't have to go in early and only have to work a few hours.

I headed back to my room and rested on my bed for a while. I entertained the idea of working out, but decided to just do a longer workout tomorrow after I finish laundry and such. Instead I watched TV episodes and did some SkillPorts. I haven't been able to do too many during this exercise, so this weekend I want to get at least a few in.

I get to sleep in tomorrow!!!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

5th Day of Exercise - (Korea) Day 263

Work call today was at 0430. The morning started off with the same ol' routine (pickup augmentees and head off to CP Tango once everyone is ready). Once there I got settled in and checked my email. Before too long my NCOIC came to me and asked me to take care of a semi-secret issue. I won't go into details, but i had to drive back to Yongsan and then back to CP Tango. I didn't mind because it passed the time and I listened to the radio. Speaking of the radio…here in Korea if you're an English speaking person you have a couple of choices. The main station is AFN "The Eagle" which serves the US service members stationed in Korea. Since it is only one station and it tries to satisfy the needs of a wide variety of tastes, they end up playing all kinds of different styles of music. One minute you will here a current pop tune, then the next song will be an 80's hit, then a country song.

Once back in the office I did all my schoolwork and then basically read the news for the rest of the day. We setup a meeting, then clean it up when it was finished. It was basically an uneventful day, but you can tell that the early mornings are starting to affect people. As I was reading the newspaper our SACO looked at me and pointed at our KATUSA while giving me "the look". I looked over and saw our KATUSA sound asleep in his chair. I slapped him and told him to wake up. There were times when I was reading the paper that I wanted to fall asleep, but our office is so small it's not a good idea. Near the end of the shift one of the ROK soldiers was asleep in his chair, then during the drive home my NCOIC and our SACO both fell asleep almost instantly for the entire trip. When I got back to my room after dropping off the augmentees at tent city, I video chatted with my wife for a while. I then watched a TV show and fell asleep in my chair halfway through it.

We also found out today that we have to work tomorrow as well. It's been a long week!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

4th Day of Exercise - (Korea) Day 262

USAG - Yongsan "The Assignment of Choice in Korea" I probably have to agree with
this statement since we're right in the middle of Seoul. (A photo I snapped on the way
back from my workout to my barracks)

Work call this morning was at 0430 and as usual for the exercise I picked up the augmentees and then got our SUV ready to take off to CP Tango…we left on time at 0530. Surprisingly it was a pretty easy going day today during the exercise. There were no emergencies or "cold coffee incidents", which is always nice. I started the day checking my email…now I have to make a little side note here. Having access to a laptop full time is a special privilege during the exercise. I have it because I'm the daytime IMO for the exercise. There is also nobody from our admin office participating in the exercise, so I don't have to share it with anyone. It's been awesome to have because not only can I check my email and such, but I can also do my schoolwork during any downtime…and there is a lot of downtime.

The graveyard shift had already setup for the first meeting of the day and promised they checked the coffee and it was hot! We only had to call "stand by" when the general arrived to the meeting. A ROK soldier in our sister office asked if he could do it and of course I said sure (I hate doing it…I'm just not a loud person by nature). The great thing is he loved it, so I'll encourage him to do it anytime he wants to…lol.

The day was pretty mellow after that…more schoolwork…cleaned up and setup a couple meetings. The ROK soldier I mentioned earlier that called "stand by" had an accident yesterday. I guess he was cutting paper and somehow almost chopped the top of his thumb off. He is now walking around with 8 stitches in his thumb. His hand is all bandaged up and he looks like a cartoon character with a big thumb in the permanent "thumbs up" position. So of course I had to poke fun at him a little throughout the day.

The ROK soldier, me and our KATUSA took turns playing each other at a Korean game which is very similar to "connect 4", but instead of connecting 4 you have to connect 5. It passed the time and before too long it was time to leave. The second shift was only a few minutes late and after briefing Special K and SPC Mick I headed out to get the SUV ready. We all were loaded, but had to wait again on the navy warrant officer. He was actually not as late as usual and we ended up getting back to the office at 1530 which is the earliest so far.

I received my second package in two days back at the office. The previous package was from my wife and this package was from my mom, sister and nieces. It was full of birthday cards and treats. It's funny, if I wouldn't have received this package I would have totally forgot that it was my birthday tomorrow. Strange how being isolated from your friends and family changes things. My birthday will come and go and it will be just another day, similar to all the holidays that have come and gone this year. When you can't spend them with the ones you love, they seem kind of pointless and even depressing.

I dropped off the augmentees and then headed to my room. I had energy and not wanting to see it fade, I quickly changed clothes and headed to "The Point" to go work out. There were plenty of treadmills available and I put in some much needed cardio. I also weighed myself and I've lost everything I gained during my leave…and then some. During the exercise I seem to eat a number of much smaller snacks throughout the day instead of big meals, so I always lose weight.

After working out I headed back to my room, ate dinner and then watched some TV shows along with completing a couple SkillPorts since I was able to do my schoolwork during the day. Hoping tomorrow goes as smooth.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

3rd Day of Exercise - (Korea) Day 261

(Unfortunately I probably will not be taking any photos during the whole exercise. We are not allowed to bring cameras, iPods, iPhones, or any cell phones into CP Tango)

Work call this morning was at 0430 and I did my usual routine of picking up the augmentees at tent city and bringing them to the office. Once everyone was ready to go we headed out and arrived at CP Tango without incident. I thought it was going to be a normal uneventful exercise day…that was all about to change with "The Case of the Cold Coffee Incident"

I was in the office getting ready to start the day when my NCOIC says our four star general is in a meeting and his coffee is cold. The midnight shift that we relieved actually setup the meeting and they are supposed to take the coffee crafts there right before their shifts ends so it stays hot. So I had to grab a spare craft and run to the DFAC located on the entire other side of CP Tango. CP Tango is located in a mountain, so all the hallways are underground and there are a number of fire doors that you must go through to get around. I started breaking a sweat before even arriving at the DFAC. I headed to fill the coffee only to find out that their coffee machine is broken…it's serving cold coffee. This is why the previous shift (our supply KATUSA) served the cold coffee, he didn't even realize it wasn't hot. I headed back to our office and started brewing coffee in our big coffee pot (used for emergencies). The coffee wouldn't be done before this meeting was over, but we were planning to have it ready for the next meeting which started shortly. To make matters worse, we don't have enough coffee crafts to stock two meetings back to back. We need a little prep time to transfer from one meeting to another. I was running all over that stupid freakin' place trying to make sure everything was good to go for the next meeting.

After setup was complete I ended up getting stopped in the hall by one of the general's aids (a Lieutenant Colonel). He had to spend about 5 minutes telling me how important it is that we check everything before we setup a meeting. Instead of talking about the exercise, they talked about cold coffee and so on. I just said stuff like "Roger That" and "Yes Sir" every 30 seconds or so until he was done. What really sucks is that none of this was our fault…it was the previous shift's fault. I think I may strangle our supply KATUSA.

The pace kept a little busier than yesterday. We setup a couple more meetings and of course cleaned up and washed dishes. I was able to do some schoolwork at one point as well. I had planned to do some SkillPorts, but unfortunately the computer I'm working on does not meet the browser requirements and I can't do any updating until I get back to our office.

Our KATUSA is awesome. I always bring some snacks to eat, but he will always bring me back something from the DFAC when he goes and gets breakfast and lunch. It’s worked out quite well so far.

The next shift arrived almost on time today. I said hi to SPC Mick and Special K and briefed them on everything that's going on. The second shift really has it easy, their schedule is much more relaxed than even our most relaxed day! Anyway…I head out to get our SUV ready and warmed up, then wait…and wait. Same old story as yesterday. I was hoping that having our own SUV would allow us to leave on time and not wait for anyone, but it turns out that everyone wants to ride in my car…so I have to wait. Today we were waiting on a navy warrant officer who works in the command group…we left an hour late again today.

Traffic was slow again and there was a light rain, so it wasn't quite as bad as yesterday's ride back. Once we arrived back at the office I did my usual routine once again, I had to wait for everyone to arrive and then take a van to drop off all the augmentees at tent city. I then headed to my room and just laid on my bed for a bit. I just feel completely exhausted. The rest of the night only consisted of me eating dinner, taking a shower and watching a TV show.

the wife

Your Katusa is a good person. You have to remind yourself it could be worse then dealing with the complaints of cold coffee. The weekend is almost here... than you get to finally see me via video chat.

Kisses my love.

Thursday, August 18, 2011 - 10:49 AM

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

2nd Day of Exercise - (Korea) Day 260

A picture someone took while inside CP Tango. This is a hallway inside the mountain.
Not sure how the guy was able to take a photo and post it on the web.

Work call this morning was 0430 for me. I woke up and quickly shaved, then grabbed my snacks and coffee and headed to get the van to pick up the augmentees at tent city. Once we were all back at the office, the augmentees drew their weapons and our KATUSA and I loaded our SUV with everything we needed for the trip to CP Tango. We headed out shortly after and I had a special guest in our SUV…our colonel. Surprisingly the ride was pretty smooth with very little traffic.

When we arrived our KATUSA checked on the setup for the first meeting and then waited to call "stand-bye" for the general. I then took the opportunity to use one of the laptops to complete my required yearly IA (Information Assurance) training. This is training that anyone who has access to the network must complete each year, or else you will lose your network access. The training is pretty simple and so are the questions. Most of it is just common sense about safe computer usage.

I then found out that our colonel was unable to log into the network with his laptop. It turns out that it has to be set to use DHCP instead of a static IP and I was unable to make the change because I didn't know the local admin password. Normally I would just use my "demigod" card and either change the password or just use it to make the change, but since we were not on our office network, my "demigod" card would not work….grrrrrr. I had to forfeit my laptop and setup the colonel's email on it so he could work. What a pain!

We cleaned up the morning meeting and unlike back at our office where we just take all the dirty dishes to have them cleaned, we have to clean them ourselves because there is no cleaning lady here at CP Tango. I can add dishwasher to my ever growing list of job skills I've gained through the army…lol.

I then sat down in the office and read a newspaper…..then I read another newspaper…then I started looking over the newspapers again to see if I missed anything…even the boring stories. There is a lot of downtime for us during the exercise and without a computer it is even worse. I had visions of doing massive amounts of SkillPorts…not today.

We setup for the afternoon meeting and then cleaned up our office in anticipation of our shift change. For some reason our shift change arrived 15 minutes late. I was anxious to get out of there, so after briefing Special K and SPC Mick on our current status I headed out to get our SUV. I pulled up to the entrance and waited…and waited. We ended up leaving an hour after shift change…WTF??? Hopefully it will get a little smoother as the week goes on.

We head back to the office and it started pouring down rain. There was so much…so fast, that a river was actually starting to form on the right lane. The drive back to the office was slow due to all the rain and a lot of traffic. Once we did get back I quickly fix the colonel's computer while I have it back on our network. It should be good to go for tomorrow now. Once the augmentees turned in their weapons I took them back to tent city. I thought about working out for a split second, but was having trouble just trying to stay awake, so I pushed that thought aside for now. I made myself dinner in my room and watched a TV show…I ended up falling asleep during the show for a bit.

I wake up and promptly take a shower. I feel all sticky as usual because of all the humidity here in Korea. That is one thing I will not miss. I then did schoolwork. I'm taking my last class of this year's TA (tuition assistance). I feel good that I was able to use all of the allotted money and I've made some good progress so far towards my degree. In October I should be able to renew for another year. There are a lot of rumors going around at this point that TA will be getting cut soon because of all the budget issues the government is having. I guess I'll have to wait and see what happens with that.

Time to get some sleep before starting this all over tomorrow...

Monday, August 15, 2011

1st Day of Exercise - (Korea) Day 259

That box is where we stick all the confidential paper to be shredded. Not sure if a
KATUSA wrote that or what, but it made me laugh.

Work call this morning was noon. It's a ROK holiday and for some reason the 1st shift for the exercise was told they will be working the 2nd shift schedule for Monday only, while the 2nd shift works a normal day at the office. Our KATUSA and I are on the 1st shift along with our NCOIC. I enjoyed sleeping in and being able to video chat with my wife for a while. I headed into work about 1100 so I could check my email as well as my promotion points. My current status is:

Military Education - 260 Maximum Points

Correspondence Course (Hours = 918) Points = 183

This means I have 77 more points to go before I max out, I'm slowly getting there! I then helped out setting up a meeting down in the secret conference room before getting ready to leave for the exercise. We headed over to check out our weapons and it took forever for the augmentees to get all of theirs. I think we ended up leaving an hour later than planned. This exercise is going to be a little different with the transportation. We have the normal drivers and vans, but our NCOIC picked the best SUV and I have become her personal driver. It's kind of nice because I will not have to squeeze in the vans with all the other folks, instead I will just drive. I also don't have to wear all the gear because I'm now technically a driver.

We headed out to CP Tango and after arriving we spent some time straightening up the office, basically getting it ready for the next two weeks of exercise. One of the offices were selling chili dogs, so I bought a couple for me and our KATUSA. After that we had to go to a very long and boring brief about the exercise. A lot of people in a big room which got hotter by the minute. Finally we had another brief by the fire department and promptly had a fire drill complete with fake smoke and all. (Everyone made it out safe)

We then quickly setup for the next morning's meeting and then left. We drove back to the office and after the augmentees turned in their weapons, I drove them all back to tent city. I was also nominated to get up early and pick all of them up for the morning shift tomorrow morning…not much sleep will be happening tonight. I ended up getting to my room after 2200 and then taking a shower because I was all sticky from the humidity. (CP Tango gets pretty hot and humid as well, so working in there all day leaves you a sticky mess)

I go to bed at around 2300 and for some reason have a hard time falling asleep. Most likely because I know I have to be at work at 0430 and sleep time is slowly ticking away…..

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up - (Korea) Days 257 & 258

Fight The Power!!! This was a protest going on outside one of our gates into the post.
Although most are peaceful like this one, we are always advised to avoid them. I believe
these protesters were angry over what some believe is agent orange in the environment 
stemming back from the Vietnam war era.

Saturday: Today I woke up around 0830 and did the usual Saturday morning ritual of laundry and video chatting with my wife. SPC Roy called me and said he's going to come over in a little bit. It turned out to be more like an hour, but he did finally arrive. We went and got our hair cut, then he asked if I wanted to go to the commissary. I try never to pass up a chance to go to the commissary when someone is driving, it's so much easier than going on the bus.

After shopping he dropped me off at my room and not too long after, PFC Pickle called me and wants to go to lunch. At this point I'm getting pretty hungry because it's now about 1400 and I haven't eaten yet. I also got a call from PFC Pink Eye from my platoon in basic training. (He was the first guy to get pink eye in our platoon). He is stationed in Korea as well…down south at the Humphreys garrison. He had made the trip up to Yongsan to check out the war museum and Seoul as well as to see the movie "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" which was playing at our post. We all met at the food court and hung out a bit. I gave PFC Pink Eye directions on how to get to the war museum and then we made plans to meet up for the movie later on.

PFC Pickle and I then headed to "The Point" which is the fitness center located under "The Dragon Hill Lodge". PFC Pickle has been raving about it and I decided to join since the first two months are free. Normally I wouldn't pay for something I get to do free, but they will be closing Trent Gym which I usually go to for about a month for renovations. Not only is The Point a lot nicer, it's less crowded and they have more equipment. We then went swimming and enjoyed the hot tub. I'm looking forward to using this facility during the rest of my stay here.

Later on we met up with PFC Pink Eye and his buddy at the theatre and watched the movie. It was a pretty good movie. It basically shows how everything started with the whole Planet of the Apes saga. A virus is created to help brain function, it turns out to make primates really smart and actually kill humans…and that is how it all begins. After the movie we walked PFC Pink Eye and his buddy back to the bus station on post. PFC Pink Eye then proceeds to tell us that during his first field exercise here in Korea he got pink eye again…lol!!

Me, PFC Pickle, and PFC Pink Eye (from my platoon in basic) getting ready
to watch "Rise of the Planet of the Apes"

Sunday: I woke up around 0845 and cleaned up my room before video chatting with my wife and kids for a while. The rest of the day was pretty chill. I watched some TV shows and did a SkillPort before meeting up with PFC Pickle to head to The Point to go work out. They have a scale there so I got on and found I was at 197 pounds. This is good because I got all the way to 204 during my leave when I was gorging on all that food. I'm usually around 195. We headed to Quiznos afterwards for dinner and then headed our separate ways.

I watched some more TV and then did another SkillPort before getting a call from SPC Roy. He came over and was a little upset. He was still in uniform because he had to make a run out to CP Tango today. His sergeant thought the exercise started a day earlier than it did. SPC Roy tried to tell him it was a day later because of a ROK holiday, but his sergeant would have non of it. They drove out to CP Tango and it wasn't until they all arrived and saw nobody there, that his sergeant realized that SPC Roy was indeed correct. Now with SPC Roy's Sunday ruined he was pissed off and wanted to have a drink or two. He needed my help at the liquor store on post because he had already used up all his rations for liquor. We then went to the Navy Club and had a couple beers before calling it a night.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Got The Levy - (Korea) Day 256

The augmentees hanging out in front of our office. This is where a lot of their
time was spent while waiting to go on the drives. The cover provided a little
shelter from the heat.

Work call this morning was at 0730. As usual for this week me and Special K took the vans down to tent city and picked up the augmentees. They all received their schedules, so they know what shift they will be working, who will be the drivers, and who will be the augmentees. The first shift then drove to CP Tango and then K16, then back to the office.

I helped out with setting up the secret conference room for a meeting and then ended up going to lunch in my room where I video chatted with my wife. After lunch I headed to the company to pick up a hard copy of the levy brief that I need to fill out in order to get the the process started so I can get my orders. Special K took the augmentees back out to CP Tango so they could practice some more pickups and drop-offs in the access tunnel, so I was free from augmentee duty for the day. I helped clean up the secret conference room and then gathered office supplies together for us to take to CP Tango.

I then had to wait for a conference that was going on in our conference room to end before I could leave. It lasted until 1800 unfortunately. Grrrr! Since I worked late I ended up not working out. Instead I headed to my room and rested for a bit before watching some TV shows and doing a SkillPort before going to sleep.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Floor It! - (Korea) Day 255

Work call this morning was at 0730. Special K and I had to drive a couple vans down to tent city and pick up the augmentees. When we all got back I found out that it would be only me going with the augmentees to CP Tango for the morning run. Special K had to take care of some other business and our NCOIC did as well. I took the lead van and sat in the passenger seat. I had the last of the augmentees that haven't driven yet take their turn.

My driver was a young PFC that said he hasn't driven in 3 years since his accident. Oh great! He was pretty nervous and any time he would change lanes or turn a corner he would speed up. I kept telling him that we weren't in a hurry and especially since we were the lead van, we had to make sure we didn't lose anyone in our convoy. I wasn't hard on him at all though because I remember the first time I drove the lead van in Korea during the last exercise! The other guys in the van were giving him a hard time though and it was kind of funny. They started playing an excerpt from Sponge Bob when he was in a driving class and as that is playing on the stereo the semi in front of us blows a tire. My driver freaks out and starts swerving and then floors it as pieces of tire are flying all over the place. Luckily there were no cars around us, so we didn't run into anyone. I had him pull over so we could check all the vans to make sure there was no damage and also to let him calm down a bit. Crazy!

We picked up and headed back to the office. Once back the augmentees all went to receive their security badges for CP Tango. After that I told them to go to lunch and meet back at 1300, so they got an extra long lunch. I helped clean up a few meetings and then I got a call from SPC Roy who just got back from leave and wanted to tell me all about it, so I headed over to his office and we ate lunch at the KATUSA snack bar.

After lunch Special K was back on the scene and took over the augmentee training. He took them out to CP Tango to start practicing the drop off and pick up from the tunnel. There isn't a lot of space, so it's good for them to get a feel for it. I stayed back and worked with our NCOIC to create a schedule for the exercise. We tried to pick out the best drivers and place them on the day shift when most of the action will be happening. Needless to say my driver today will not be a driver, he will be a TC (in the passenger seat assisting the driver). I will be working the day shift for this exercise yet again.

I headed over to the company to try and find out what I need to do next now that I have an assignment. They told me I need to go online and fill out a manual levy brief and turn it in as soon as possible. (This stuff drives me nuts, if it's supposed to be done as soon as possible they should have told me this earlier!) Anyway I went back to the office and tried to look it up, but the website is not working. I am now told that I have to go back to the company and get a hardcopy tomorrow…..grrrrrr. While at the company, the sergeant in front of me was telling the first sergeant that a general will be going through our barracks tomorrow. Crap!!!

I then did a SkillPort as well as some required OPSEC (Operational Security) training that we have to do before the exercise. I have to watch what kind of stuff I state here on the blog…don't want to give away any secrets. I try to keep my blog to the daily life of me in the army…nothing more…nothing less.

I overheard that we have a formation in front of our barracks, but I was never actually told. I don't really want to clean up a bunch of stuff that I don't contribute to. I already do enough of that in my own room. I'm not going to clean up our barracks because the people here are dirty. I headed to the food court after work and ate, then went to the library and read "Army Times". I headed up to the barracks after that, but when I got close I saw a formation…they must be still cleaning…I didn't waste enough time lol. I feel like I’m back in AIT trying to sneak away from formations again. I headed back to my office and did a number of SkillPorts. I haven't had the time to do many at work lately, so I felt like I was able to catch up a bit. Unfortunately I wasn't able to go to the gym. I was motivated and everything, hopefully tomorrow will work out.

I headed back to my room a little after 2000 and saw that it looked like everyone was back in their rooms. I headed to mine, took a shower because it's so darn humid here. I then settled in, watched a TV show and then called it a night.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Driving in Circles - (Korea) Day 254

Work call this morning was at 0600. We had to setup for a meeting in the top secret conference room. This was the only "normal" work I did for the day. The rest of the day consisted of training the augmentees. Special K and I took two vans and picked them all up at tent city at 0745.
We took 4 vans and made a convoy out to CP Tango. We had Special K driving the lead van, with me driving the 2nd van, an augmentee who already knew the way driving the 3rd, while our NCOIC drove the 4th. We made it there without any issues and I tried to show the folks in my van the various landmarks I use while navigating to and from CP Tango. When we arrived at CP Tango, we walked around the outside showing the augmentees the various portals and the helicopter pads where they will be picking up the generals and other VIPs. We then all loaded up and headed back to Yongsan where we broke for lunch.

I ate lunch in my room and was able to video chat with my wife which was nice, I wasn't sure if I would have the time or not because of our schedule. After lunch we all met up once again and made the same trip to CP Tango only this time our NCOIC did not come. We also had the augmentees drive the route while me and Special K sat in the passenger seat helping them out and answering any questions. We ended up making this round trip twice in the afternoon switching out drivers so everyone could get a feel for driving in Korean traffic and feel comfortable making the drive back and forth.

Speaking of Korean traffic…it gets so bad at times there was actually a food vendor standing in the middle of the road selling stuff. We went by quicker than I could get my iPhone out to take a photo, but it was definitely something you don't see everyday. He had on a surgical mask, I guess that was to protect him from all the exhaust fumes…lol.

We ended up losing 3 of our augmentees when we got back from the first trip after lunch. I guess they weren't screened well enough before they were assigned to us. Because they will be transporting high ranking officers and VIPs in the vehicles, they have to have at least a "secret" security clearance and these three did not. They are going to go to another unit and we will be getting three new ones tomorrow.

By the time we got back from the 2nd trip after lunch it was almost 1700, so we turned all the augmentees loose for the day. I was able to check my email in the office and quickly finish only 1 SkillPort. We then left for the night and I changed in my room and headed to the gym. After my workout I ate a snack and did the usual….TV shows and a SkillPort. I start class again next Tuesday, so the number of SkillPorts I have time to do after work is going to go down.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Augmentees Everywhere - (Korea) Day 253

A quick snapshot I took inside one of the augmentee tents. Not a fun time for
these guys. Very close quarters on cots.

Work call this morning was at 0830. When I arrived I headed straight up to my office and started doing SkillPorts. I knew I wouldn't have a whole lot of time once we started dealing with the augmentees, so I tried to do as many as possible right away. After about an hour I got the call to come down to the office and help out with the augmentees.

Special K and I ended up driving to pick up an augmentee that needed to get in-processed. Once we dropped him off, we drove over to to the TMP to pick up one of the vehicles we still needed for the exercise. We then headed back and took the augmentee and all his bags to his tent. We then headed back to the office where I took over driving and Special K headed into the office. I then drove our NCOIC around on a number of various augmentee missions. We picked up people, searched for people, dropped people off…basically a taxi service for the augmentees that were assigned to our office for the exercise trying to get them all squared away (processed and in their tents).

We then picked up all the augmentees that we had and took them to our conference room for an in-brief. During this time I headed over to the food court to grab a quick bite to eat. It was already about 1315 and I was getting pretty hungry! When I got back the meeting was just about to finish. Our NCOIC got a call that we had two more augmentees that had just arrived and were at the in-processing center (JRC). I asked if she knew their names…nope. So I headed down to JRC and when I went inside it was full of people. I started asking random people if they were assigned to our NCOIC with no luck. I went into a waiting room full of people and announced that I was looking for two people assigned to our NCOIC…all I got were blank stares. Finally when one of the guys doing the in-processing was finished with a soldier I cut in line and asked him if he knew about these guys I was missing. He didn't, but he asked another worker who said "Oh yeah…I think they are already up in Tent City." Grrrrrr. I was able to find out their names though, so that was a good start.

I then headed to the Tent City billeting tent to find out which tent these guys were in. When I entered the tent there were a few groups of people in it, so I walked up and started looking at people's name tags until I finally found them. What a pain in the butt! I grabbed them and took them to my NCOIC so she could give them a mini brief, then took them back to their tents.

After all this was over, Special K and I headed back over to the TMP to pick up our last vehicle. When we got back it was a little after 1700 and I headed back to my room. I had to work up the motivation to go work out, but I did make it to the gym. I had plans of running for a half hour on the treadmill, but they were all taken. I ended up on the stationary bicycle in the gym. This wasn't a normal workout though, instead of listening to my iPod and watching a few people shoot some hoop I was bombarded by the Zumba music that was blaring in the gym. The entire gym was full of 99.9% women doing Zumba led by what seemed to be a very energetic gay dude. It was actually entertaining to watch…people of all shapes and sizes with all levels of "Zumba Talent" doing their thing. The half hour on the bike went by pretty quick and I got a good cardio workout.

I headed back to my room and did my usual night thing… TV shows and do a SkillPort.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Driving Miss Daisy - (Korea) Day 252

This was put in all the augmentee's packets. It shows all the "off limits" bars in Itaewon.
They shouldn't be in Itaewon anyway because we are not allowed to drink alcohol during
the entire exercise. (They keep an updated list on the USFK Yongsan Website)

Work call this morning was 0650 for me. I got a call last night before I went to sleep from Special K letting me know that we both had to show up early and meet our NCOIC and get all the vehicles ready for the upcoming exercise. I'm still trying to get used to the time difference, I can't seem to keep my eyes open past 2130 and I wake up at around 0430 each morning….Uggghh!

I was the first to arrive and opened up the office. I sat down at one of the computers and checked out my promotion points since it's Monday and I had to do something to pass the time. I currently have the following:

Military Education: 260 Max

Correspondence Course (Hours 864) (Points 172)

So I have 88 more points to go before I max out my Military Education portion of my promotion points. I then started poking around seeing what I can find out about PCSing to Germany. Slowly people started to arrive in the office. Our NCOIC and Special K arrived and we left shortly after to the TMP (where we sign out the vehicles). Once we arrived we had 8 vehicles (a mixture of SUVs and Vans) to check out. We had to perform a "PMCS" check on each of the vehicles before we could sign them out. PMCS (Preventative Maintenance Checks and Service) is basically a checklist that we perform to make sure everything works as it should on the vehicle (i.e. lights, signals, doors, etc). Unfortunately it was raining for the entire process, so it kind of sucked. It takes a while to do a decent job. One SUV had a rear tail light that didn't work, so we couldn't take it, and another was missing the warning triangle and lug nut wrench. This wasn't a deal breaker as the TMP said we could pick them up at the Dragon Hill Lodge car rental office.

We then proceeded to each drive a vehicle back to the office after gassing them up. The second time around we brought some guys from our protocol office to give us a hand. After that Special K and I headed to the Dragon Hill Lodge car rental office to pick up the previously mentioned items. By this time it was lunch, so I had Special K drop me off at my barracks. I then video chatted with my wife for a bit while eating. I don't talk a lot because I'm stuffing my face, but it's always nice to see her and hear her voice.

When I headed back my NCOIC and I took one of the SUVs and picked up one of the first augmentees that had arrived. An air force sergeant had been flown in from Hawaii to participate in the exercise. She was in "tent city" but there was a little confusion on if she would be staying there or another location. We picked her up and when she found out what she would be doing she said "They flew me all the way from Hawaii so I can be a driver?". LOL…sometimes the military does some funny things.

Speaking of funny things…we ended up driving this poor girl around the post stopping at a couple places, making phone calls only to drive her back to "tent city" and drop her back off. Tent City is a bunch of permanent tents that are setup for augmentees to stay in during exercises. They are similar to the tents that I stayed in during the "Capstone" FTX at the end of my AIT. Sleeping on a cot is not much fun. This particular sergeant said she was deployed and had a lot better accommodations than what she has here in tent city. I'm glad that during the exercise I just go to CP Tango for my shift and then come back to the comfort of my own room.

When we got back I was able to do a few SkillPorts, but nothing close to the amount that I normally get done on a Monday. Before too long I was called by my NCOIC. I had to create packets for the augmentees that were going to get briefed tomorrow. I had to print out a number of copies of all kinds of information including command policies, bus routes, a map of Yongsan Garrison and much more. Everything an augmentee needs to know while they are here for the exercise. It was a pain in the butt, because after I printed everything out, I had to staple a number of the items together before putting them all in the packet. After 1700 SPC Mick and our NCOIC came up to help me finish. We were able to get everything done a little before 1800, then we packed everything up and we took off for the day. Although I wasn't totally free…I am on call in case any augmentees come in and get lost. I have the keys to one of the SUVs and I will have to go down and pick them up, then take them to tent city.

By the time I got back to my room I was tired, parched and hungry. Needless to say I didn't go workout as planned. I had all intentions to, but when I work late it kind of throws everything off. It might be good to rest a bit anyway, my whole body is pretty sore from the workouts I've been doing the last three days. Hopefully tomorrow I'll get off on time.

I spent the rest of the night watching TV shows and doing a couple SkillPorts. 88 points left…and counting down!!