Wednesday, November 30, 2011

(Korea) - Conclusion

GPS Coordinates of all the places I took photos during my tour in Korea

A zoomed in view of the photos I took while in Seoul

My time in Korea has been a very interesting, enjoyable, and yet depressing one. It was my first actual duty station out of AIT, but the entire time I was told it wasn't "the real army". The environment was very laid back, which I enjoyed after being in the TRADOC environment for so long. I was able to work on my degree and I maxed out my military education promotion points. I learned quite a bit about the Korean culture and enjoyed every tour I was able to attend. The toughest part was being separated from my friends and family, although I did make some good friendships that I think will least via Facebook.

My suggestions if you find yourself in Korea:

Get internet in your barracks: I used this quite a bit and even though it wasn't the fastest, it was my lifeline to my family and my entertainment needs.

Go to school: Korea is a bit more laid back than the rest of the army (from what I hear), so take the time to go to school. I knew so many people that planned to attend school, but kept putting it off. They ended up putting it off too long and before they knew it, the year was up.

Get out and see the land: You're in a foreign country, take advantage of it! The Korean culture is rich and full of history. There are a number of tours offered through the MWR, the USO and other special offices. Keep your eyes open and attend any of them you can. It's a great way to get away from the post and see the country.

Max out your promotion points: take the extra time you have to work on correspondence courses and max out your promotion points. It can be done.

Watch out for juicy girls: these chicks hang out at the bars and their job is to get you to buy them drinks from the bar. They charge you extra and their drinks are not even alcoholic. A lot of poor fools buy them drinks thinking they are going to hook up with them or something, but that will never happen…they are just there to help the bar make extra money.

Be careful driving in Korea: The driving laws in Korea seem to be just suggestions. They are aggressive drivers and there are too many cars for too little road.

Seems like all Koreans smoke: The no-smoking laws are lagging a bit in Korea. They seem to smoke everywhere!

Soju kills brain cells

Look out for yourself: This is true anywhere you are in the army. Don't expect anything to be handed to you. If you want something do the research yourself and get it done. You may have to get on your NCOIC, your company, or your battalion…but if you don't it will not get done.

Things I'll miss in Korea:

The KATUSA snack bars on post: These are great little places to eat and they are cheap!

The Pizza School restaurants: cheap pizza!!

Korean BBQ: There are so many great places to eat, but some of my favorite are the "beef and leaf" Korean BBQs.

Little massages after haircuts: Must be some sort of Korean tradition, but I love the little massage they give you after getting your haircut.

No Tips: Tipping is not a Korean tradition…you don't have to worry about it while dining in Korea!


seems like most of the stuff you will miss is food, hmmmmmm
So glad to have you home, even if it is only for a short time

Friday, December 2, 2011 - 11:44 AM


Hello and thank you for your wonderful blog and your service.  My daughter is a 35f, presently in Korea.  While she has only been there for a couple of months she really likes it and the Army.  It has only been 9 months since she joined and will be in Korea for 2 yrs.  Her goal is to do both Korea and Germany, so when I saw your blog I was wondering how you were able to do them both in such a short period.  Thank you again and I'm sure you will enjoy your time in Europe.

Friday, December 30, 2011 - 09:54 AM


I think I'm one of the lucky ones as far as getting consecutive overseas assignments (COT). When I had about six months left on my tour in Korea I was able to get a list of jobs that were open for my position at the time I would be leaving Korea. My NCOIC's husband worked in HR and was able to provide me with the list. I then emailed my branch manager and was able to request a couple specific jobs from the list that were in Germany. I followed up with a phone call a week later and when I finally got through to him, he set me up.

Friday, December 30, 2011 - 10:10 AM

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

So Long Korea - (Korea) Day 365

Woke up this morning at 0645. I got myself ready and then my wife and I headed to Starbucks on the base to get breakfast. Being from Seattle I gotta say that this Starbucks was a total disgrace to the name. The service was so excruciatingly slow we just had to laugh. If the Korean's working at this Starbucks tried to get a job in Seattle they would be laughed at and kicked to the curb.

After breakfast we said our good-byes and I headed to the little terminal while my wife headed back to the room. Unfortunately I am flying "The Patriot Express" from Osan and my wife is flying commercial from Incheon. I waited in the terminal for about 30 minutes reading a book on my iPad, then went through security. The security was the same here as any other airport, except instead of TSA agents they were all air force personnel. Once through security everyone waited in some big waiting rooms for another hour or two. I spent my time switching back and forth from watching TV and reading my book.

The moment finally arrived when we could board the plane and slowly, but surely I was able to get on and find my seat. My excitement about finally flying and saying good-bye to Korea was premature. We ended up sitting on the runway for over 3 hours! We watched a movie and were served a meal before we even left the runway. The pilot kept telling us that due to fog we had to wait. It seemed the fog hadn't changed, but we were finally given the green light to fly. We headed to Japan and had a two hour layover while the plane was refueled and prepared for the flight over the pacific ocean.

The flight back to Seattle was long and uncomfortable. I ended up with a major headache and couldn't wait to get off the darn thing. They played about 4 movies which I watched a couple to pass the time. Once we arrived my brother-in-law picked me up and we headed to eat lunch before he dropped me off at my in-laws. I had about an hour to unwind before I took our car and headed back to the airport to pickup my wife. We are finally back in the U.S. together! Looking forward to spending some quality time with my friends and family.

Monday, November 28, 2011

So Long Yongsan - (Korea) Day 364

I woke up at 0645 so I could get ready and leave to the staff duty desk at battalion. I arrived there and got signed out on leave. Once that was done I headed to 1RC to do my final out-processing, but found out instead of both windows opening at 0800, the finance portion opened at 0900 and I needed their stamp before the final installation out-processing at the adjoining window. I headed back to the room and had a small breakfast with my wife from the deli at the Dragon Hill Lodge. I then headed over to 1RC once again a little before 0900 to finish my out-processing which took only about 15 minutes.

I then headed to my office with my wife so I could show her all the places I've talked about via chat and through this blog. We headed to our conference room, my office, the control room, our office, our admin office etc. Once the tour was done and I said good-bye to everyone, we headed over to SPC Roy's office to say good-bye to him as well. We then headed to battalion once again and I dropped off copies of all my out-processing papers. While I was there I had them add the Overseas Service Ribbon to my ERB. I get this for serving in Korea and wanted to make sure I had it on my ERB before I left.

Once done we headed back to The Dragon Hill and checked out of our room. We ended up buying another suitcase in order to fit everything we had! We then met with SPC Roy and had lunch at Oasis, the Mexican restaurant in The Dragon Hill. I hesitate to call it a Mexican restaurant though because it is staffed with all Korean people and as I've mentioned before...they just don't quite get Mexican food right.

Once finished we said our good-byes yet again and then grabbed our luggage from the hotel and loaded it onto the special "patriot express" shuttle that runs to Osan twice a week from The Dragon Hill to Osan for folks that are taking the patriot express. The ride was a little over an hour and dropped everyone off at the Osan Air Force Base Patriot Express Terminal. This would have been fine except the plane does not leave until tomorrow and everyone needs to stay at the hotel here on base. So half of the folks walked and the other half (us included) took a taxi because we had so much crap to carry.

The hotel here at Osan is called the Turumi Lodge and is actually quite large. We walked around a bit, checked out the PX and then ate dinner at Chilis, a nice taste of American food for a change. We then walked to the terminal once again and I found out that I could actually do an early check in which allowed me to reserve my seat and check in my luggage ahead of time. This will allow me to beat the rush and come in a little later tomorrow. I headed back to the hotel and grabbed my luggage, then checked it all in. I'm ready to go!

We just relaxed the rest of the night in the hotel room planning out the first couple weeks of what we need to do once we get back in the states. 30 days seems like a long time, but I know it's going to go by too quick!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up (4-Day) - (Korea) Days 360-363

I'm finally together with my wife once again!!

Thursday: we woke up about 0800, but didn't get out of bed until 0830. Headed to get some coffee at Starbucks and then started getting ready for the day. It's so nice having my wife here with me. I'm loving every minute of it. We met up with SPC Mick, PV2 Charlie, and our new KATUSA. The army major in our office invited everyone over to his house on post for a nice Thanksgiving day meal. Our NCOIC showed up as well as the other officers in our office...and even our old KATUSA. It was an awesome meal and the generosity of of the army major was much appreciated. Everyone enjoyed themselves and everyone left extremely full.

We took the post shuttle back to The Dragon Hill and ended up just relaxing for the rest of the day in the room.

Friday: We woke up and headed downstairs and had the breakfast buffet. We then headed off to catch the bus for the "Black Friday" tour I signed us up for. We headed out to Osan for a day of shopping right outside of Osan Air Force Base. The shopping there is amazing with a number of small shops and businesses selling everything you can imagine. My wife had a great time looking through all the shops. We ate lunch at a Brazilian grill, which was just great. It was an all you can eat meat fest! The servers kept coming to our table with various barbecued meat and kept piling it on our plates. We left extremely full!

The tour was scheduled from 1000 to 1700, but we ended up getting back at around 1800. We ended up just relaxing in our room after that.

Saturday: We ate breakfast in the buffet at the hotel, then went to The Point and worked out. If that wasn't enough we then hiked up to Seoul Tower. Seoul Tower is a tourist attraction for lovers, so I came prepared with a padlock complete with our names and date written on it to lock on the fence at the top. The fence is loaded with a ton of "locks of love" which we attached ours to and then threw the keys over the edge to symbolize how we will always be in love. Kind of corny, but it was sweet and I think I scored some points with my wife :)

We hiked back down and met up with the young hawaiian for dinner at a local Korean restaurant he liked. The food was delicious and we sat for what seemed like hours just chatting about everything. I'm going to miss him and a lot of others here that have kept me sane during all this time away from my friends and family.

We took the stairs up to Seoul Tower...that's a lot of stairs!!

Sunday: We had the breakfast buffet once again in the hotel, then we walked to my barracks so I could show my wife where I used to live. We visited PV2 Charlie so she could see an actual room. Even though it was well after noon, we still woke him up when knocking on his door…lol. Ooops! We then took the subway to Myeong-dong which is yet another shopping area in Korea. I wanted to make sure my wife experienced riding on the subway in Korea. I also wanted her to experience Myeong-dong which is a little overwhelming. It's basically an outdoor mall with just a ton of stores and street vendors. There are characters dressed up walking around and the streets are full of people. The trip was a success and my wife also has a new wardrobe!

We then headed back to The Dragon Hill and headed to the hot tub. Our muscles were sore and we were tired from all the walking and hiking we've been doing. We've walked all over since first arriving on post, so the hot tub felt great! We then ate dinner at Bentley's which is a little pub in The Dragon Hill Lodge and always has some sort of special going on each night. Tonight's special was 3 pulled pork sliders (mini-sandwiches) for only 99 cents. You just can't beat that! I would recommend anyone that has to stay in Yongsan to check out the nightly specials there, I found out about them a little too late or else I think I would have been there every night for the last year!

Looking down at one of the intersections in Myeong-dong

Eating a big ice cream cone from a vendor in Myeong-dong

Thursday, November 24, 2011

In The Dragon - (Korea) Day 359

Woke up today at 0640 to give myself time to get ready and to gather everything together that I needed to ship. My roommate was supposed to have PT and be up, but because of the rain it was cancelled, so I worked via my desktop lamp. I was able to take everything I wanted to ship and place it on my bed. Once that was done I started to clean up a little until the movers arrived at 0800. When they arrived I turned on the lights and they came in, waking up my roommate LOL. Once I told them what to pack the three of them brought in a box and within minutes had everything packed and had me signing some documents, then they were gone. I was surprised how efficient they were.

Now with my stuff packed and gone I started cleaning my room in earnest. I also started to pack my luggage and realized rather quickly that I should have shipped more stuff! I didn't realize how much stuff I had until I started laying it all out to pack. I also put aside quite a bit of stuff to give to PV2 Charlie in order to lighten my load and of course help him out. Once I had my luggage packed I continued to thoroughly clean my room.

I headed to the office and donated my remaining coffee and splenda as well as my DVD-Rs to the staff. I grabbed the office car and returned to my room, then loaded the car with all my luggage. I then continued to clean before my final room inspection at 1400. I ate a quick lunch and then of course kept cleaning. The inspector came and checked every little thing which I was prepared for, but it kind of surprised me because I know he didn't check anything when my old roommate cleared (he didn't even clean any of the common areas such as the bathroom, refrigerator, or microwave). No worries though because I passed and he signed off my room after collecting my key.

I headed to the housing office and was able to out-process from them which was my last item on the installation checklist. I then drove to The Dragon Hill Lodge and checked in and took all my luggage up to my room. I still need to slim down a bit because I couldn't fit everything in my current luggage. Next stop was battalion S1 where I out-processed. I returned the car to the office and picked up some wine my ROK co-workers gave each of us for Thanksgiving. I walked to The Dragon Hill Lodge and relaxed in my room until SPC Roy was off of work. He picked me up and we headed to the airport to pick up my wife.

Seeing my wife after all this time was just awesome. I'm so excited to have her here for a little vacation and to spend Thanksgiving with me. She was hungry so SPC Roy picked a little hole in the wall Korean restaurant near post to eat and we all had some great food for a late dinner. Kind of nice for my wife to experience Korean food right away.

We then headed back to the room and did things grown ups do. So great to have my wife back!!!!


Congrats again on making it through this year.  Have a happy thanksgiving!  I look forward to more reading after your leave.

Saturday, November 26, 2011 - 12:55 AM

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pre-Inspected - (Korea) Day 358

What's left of my NCOIC's iMac after I salvaged parts from it yesterday

I woke up around 0700 this morning. I had no set schedule today, I just wanted to be able to video chat with my wife for a bit before I start the day. After the chat I cleaned up my room, but only a little bit. I have a pre-clearing room inspection at 1000 and I want there to be a big difference between the pre-inspection and the final inspection.

Right on time the guy from housing arrived for the pre-inspection. He checked out all the furniture to make sure it was still there and undamaged. He then showed me all the areas I need to clean before the final inspection. It's pretty funny because the place was a total dump when I moved in, I don't think anything had been cleaned in some time. I'll definitely be leaving this room much better than I found it.

I headed to the office to check my email and also to check in with my NCOIC. While I was there I installed iDVD on my NCOIC's laptop. I can't believe the new MacBooks do not come with that pre-installed. I know Apple wants to go all digital, but I think Apple's moving a little too quick with that one. I then headed to the travel office to pick up our tickets to Germany woohoo!

Back in my room I ate lunch and video chatted with my wife once again. I then started to clean up a bit and pack a bit as well. The movers will be here tomorrow to pick up the stuff I'm shipping from here to Germany which isn't much. I'm sending all my gear of course, my plaque, and some clothes...that's about it. I took a break and watched some college basketball, first time I've seen a whole game in quite some time. I really miss that! In fact it got me motivated to head to the gym and I arrived before the rush.

After the gym and showering, I headed to the barber shop and got my haircut so I'll be nice and bald when my wife comes tomorrow night. I then put together everything I will not be taking with me or shipping and took it to PV2 Charlie's room. I figured he could make some use of it (plastic-ware, paper plates and bowls, noodles, rice, etc). I'm going to give him a couple more things tomorrow as well.

The rest of the night was the usual…watched some TV shows and then called it a night.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mac Tech - (Korea) Day 357

This morning I headed to work about 0900. I'm still out-processing so I don't have a set schedule, I just need to check in with my NCOIC at some point in the morning and before the end of the work day. The only thing I had planned today was checking on the status of my leave form, and if that was processed go to a finance brief. I checked my email and then headed to the company to check on my leave form. They said it was signed and is now at battalion, so it will be ready before I'm ready to go.

I then headed to the PX to pick up an external hard drive case. My NCOIC picked up the wrong size and needed the bigger 3.5 inch one so I could take apart her iMac and salvage her hard drive. I then proceeded to recover all her data to her laptop. I felt like a Mac tech once again.

I headed to lunch and video chatted with my wife. I then headed back to the office to wrap up the Mac work on my NCOIC's computers. Once that was done I headed to 1RC to attend the finance briefing. I learned about all the money that I would stop getting (hazardous duty pay, separation pay & the cost of living expense for living in Korea). We also went over different advancements we can get because we're moving, but that is something I didn't even want to look into. Yes it would be nice to have extra money to help with any moving expense, but it all gets paid back at some point. I turned in my paperwork with my orders and signed off that I was there. One more thing off my list of "to do" items before I can leave.

Once back at the office I checked with my NCOIC about the PCS award she told me I would be getting. I am starting to wonder because there is not much time left for me here. She said it's taking longer because it's actually a joint award and is harder to get. She also said it will probably get approved after I leave, so they will have to mail it to me. That kind of sucks, because I know once I'm gone and out of sight I will not really be a priority and I wonder if I will ever see the award. I was just hoping to have it on my ERB before I arrived in Germany so it wouldn't be so bare. Well…I guess it's the thought that counts anyways.

We cleaned up the office and left. I headed to my room for a bit, then headed to the gym. After that I watched the newer Conan The Barbarian finally. I would say it has that old Conan feel, but more in the 2nd cousin kind of way…not a direct descendant of the Conan series from back in the day.

Looking forward to having my wife fly in Wednesday night. I can’t wait to see her and show her all the places I’ve been talking to her about. It will be so nice to be with her in real life instead of just “virtually” via web chat like we have been for most of this last year.


It's been a pleasure reading your blog.  I am going tomorrow bright and early to MEPS and begin my career in the Army.  I am 31 and your blog has given me great insight on what to expect for someone whom is a little older than the norm going in.  Look foward to reading future posts and best of luck at your new duty sataion.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 11:49 AM


Congratulations Steve. MEPS seemed like so long ago for me :). Basic training will be an interesting time for you especially being an older guy. There are some crazy things that go on and also some very funny things that just don't happen anywhere else. You'll bond with your fellow soldiers and you'll find yourself doing things you never thought you'd do before. I wish you luck in your future career serving in the US Army!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 03:12 PM

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up - (Korea) Days 355 & 356

General MacArthur Park with the statue of him at the end during our Incheon Tour

Saturday: Today I went on my last official tour in Korea. I signed up to go on an Incheon tour not knowing much of anything about it other than it was something to do and get out of the barracks for a while. We left at 0900 and headed to Incheon. The first stop was General MacArthur Freedom Park. This small park had a huge statue of General MacArthur as well as some flowers and other "park like" things. We spent about a half hour there before heading to Incheon Landing Operation Memorial Hall. This place was pretty interesting. We started off watching a little movie about the Incheon Landing operation that turned the tide of the Korean War. The place had a small museum as well as a monument. We had a tour guide that showed us around the place and gave us additional information.

The next stop on the trip was Chinatown in Incheon. This was an interesting little section of town I guess like other Chinatowns around the world. We were on our own for lunch and after walking around wondering what I was going to eat and how I was going to order, I walked by a restaurant were an old lady was standing outside and said "Engrish Menu" while motioning me to come it. I was so hungry by this point I didn't really care where I was going to eat, I just wanted something. So I sit at a table in this Chinese restaurant and I'm given a menu that has about 8 different choices in English. The waitress stood over my shoulder and waited for me to pick something…no pressure. I chose chop suey over rice and it turned out to be pretty good.

After that we met up and boarded the bus and headed back to USAG Yongsan. I did my laundry and then I ended up going to PV2 Charlie's room for a while and using his faster internet to download a bunch of entertainment to last me another week. We ordered some delivery from The Navy Club here on post. They have some really great food and it's awesome that they deliver straight to your room.

After dinner I watched a couple shows in my room and called it a night.

At the top of Incheon Landing Operation Memorial Hall

Looking back to the entrance of Chinatown in Incheon

Sunday: I woke up around 0900 and watched UFC 139 in my room. My new roommate slept until 1100 so I had to keep it down for quite a while which sucked, but I managed. It was actually a countdown show and the preliminaries before he woke up, so I was able to watch the main fights at normal volume.

I then video chatted with my wife and kids for quite a while. After that I headed to the gym and then to the food court to grab some dinner to go. I then video chatted again with my wife for a bit before watching some more TV shows and calling it a night. My wife will be flying here to visit for a week and spend Thanksgiving with me before I leave. I can't wait!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Out-Processing Continued - (Korea) Day 354

This morning I continued my out-processing. I had an appointment at 0745 at CIF to turn in all my gear. I grabbed the office car and loaded all my crap into the trunk, then headed off to CIF. I arrived a bit early and since they were not busy they went ahead and processed all my stuff ahead of schedule. Surprisingly it went very well and fast too. I was in and out with my paperwork signed and the equipment off my record.

Next stop was housing, but I wasn't sure if they opened at 0800 or 0900. Just to be sure I took a nap in the car and waited until 0900 before going in. Once in I was able to schedule my room "pre-inspection" for Tuesday and the "final-inspection" on Wednesday. I now have all my appointments scheduled and headed back to the office to drop off the car. After that I headed to battalion to finish up with almost everything else on my list. Once finished I had some extra time before lunch so I took a break at the library. I read the latest edition of Army Times and then went through all my paperwork to make sure I wasn't missing anything. The only think I have left to do without an appointment is the mailroom to change my address, but it does not open until 1400.

I headed to the food court and ate a Subway sandwich before heading to my room and video chatting with my wife for a while. Turns out everything with transportation was a little too easy. I have orders that state I can ship my car, but when my wife checked with the shipping company they require a lot of extra paperwork if you are still making payments on it. Our loan is through Chase and they were not very helpful to say the least. We'll look into our options once I get back in the states.

I then waited until 1400 and headed to the mailroom to finish up my last item on my checklist for the day. After that it was back to my room until about 1600 when I headed into the office to check my email and help clean up before getting a safety brief for the weekend. Our new KATUSA failed his PT test this morning, so our NCOIC said from this point on everyone who has failed will go to all morning PT sessions and also afternoon sessions. This may prove to be difficult because of the schedule, but I will not be around to see if they are able to keep to it or not.

I headed back to my room and changed, then headed out to a restaurant with a ROK soldier in our sister office. He wanted to take me out to dinner and a few drinks before I left. A really nice guy who I've had the pleasure to get to know. We'll stay in touch via Facebook and perhaps see one another again later on down the road. Because he's just a soldier in the ROK army he couldn't stay out very late, so we had to end the night early. I headed back to my room and watched an episode of Flashpoint before calling it a night.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Out-Processing - (Korea) Day 353

I am officially out-processing today, so I did not have to go into work at all. This gave me time to focus on all the places I needed to visit on post. I have a battalion out-processing checklist and an installation checklist. Each of these checklists have various places that I need to physically go and have the people sign off and stamp my paperwork stating I'm OK to leave the post. With all the technology available these days I would think this could all be done electronically. They are getting a little better at least because unlike when I out-processed from Fort Gordon, my installation checklist had about four places that had me already "pre-approved"…but this is like four out of forty places.

I started the day off by going to the office and getting the office car and taking off to my first appointment. I'm lucky being able to use the office car, there are a lot of people out-processing that do not have this luxury and have to walk anywhere they need to go. My first appointment was at the transportation office. I took about an hour with an agent scheduling the pickup of what little I have here in Korea and focusing on all my household goods that are still in the states to be sent to Germany. I'll be shipping both my car and my motorcycle, which is going to be a pain in the short term…but it will be awesome to be able to have our car and motorcycle in Germany. I'm looking forward to some long bike rides with my wife across Europe! We have to do some follow up with the household goods and the vehicles in the states, but my stuff here will be picked up on next Wednesday.

I then started going to the locations furthest away from my barracks. I hit the vehicle registration and pass office, which is a little strange because I don't have a car here. I then went to the ASAP (alcohol and substance abuse program) and was marked off there. Medical…Dental…Library…and so on. Most places I walk in and state I'm out-processing, they grab my paperwork and find their little section, then place a stamp and signature in it. I dropped off the car back at the office before lunch and left it there for them for the rest of the day. I had lunch in my room and video chatted with my wife.

After lunch I headed back out, only on foot. I hit some of the S shops in battalion as well as the armory where I turned in some empty magazines and a blank firing adapter. I stopped by the company and checked on my leave papers, which I'm glad I did because they were still sitting on the front desk. The sergeant on duty said she would process them asap. Looking through my paperwork I found out that I needed several copies of the finished leave form before I could attend a financial brief that is required before I leave. They have the brief on Monday and Wednesday, so she told me to check back on Monday morning. I'm hoping there are no snags this time with it.

I continued to get items checked off my list, sometimes going to places on the post I've never known existed. I think I finished about 60% of it today. We do get 5 days to out-process, but I want to get as much done as possible so I'm not stressed out as my flight out gets closer. I ended up getting called back into the office near the end of the work day because they needed me to drive a lady from our protocol office to pick up some plaques. There are only two of us currently that have licenses to drive the office car here in Korea and they are just now in crises mode trying to get both SPC Mick and PV2 Charlie in the next class…something that should have been done a long time ago. It was about 1730 or so by the time we picked everything up and I left the office for the day.

I headed to my room and felt pretty exhausted. I couldn't help but take a nap for a while. I then got up and watched an episode of Chuck and then read a book on my iPad. I have to say that being able to purchase books electronically and read them with this handy little device is pretty awesome!

Tomorrow I start the morning off early again and try and get the majority of my out-processing done.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Last Day In The Office - (Korea) Day 352

This morning we had to check in with the company at some point and were told to wait for a call at some point between 0430 and 0730. Once we got the call we had to head to the company and bring our NBC gear, our dog tags, and ID card. I had to change my sleeping habits a little last night because of this. Normally I sleep with my earphones in playing "white noise" from my iPhone. This works great to cancel out all the outside noises, but it also would keep me from hearing my work phone when it rang. So I had to sleep without the headphones…which made sleep not as good as it normally is, especially with my new loud roommate.

I got up and showered, grabbed my pop tarts for breakfast and headed to the company. When I arrived there were about 10-15 people standing outside waiting in line I joined the back of the line and waited. Not too much longer after that I hear in a Mexican accent "Son of Bitch….Shit!" (a sound bite from the old movie "Stripes") over and over again. I quickly grabbed my iPhone and turned off my alarm that I set just in case I didn't get a call this morning…LOL. Once in the company the process went pretty quick, they checked the dog tags and ID, because I already turned in my NBC gear yesterday they just marked me off the list, and finally they had to check my medical status to see if I was overdue on any shots…which I wasn't. I then headed to the office and dropped off my paperwork as well as my pop tarts while I grabbed my mocha from Starbucks. I then ate breakfast in our conference control room while watching a little college basketball. Little did I know this would be my only break until almost 1400. At 0800 we started setting up for meetings in various conference rooms. We would be setting up one meeting and then quickly going to another conference room to setup another. It seemed this was never ending with us either setting up or cleaning up from meetings that finished.

Early on there was a point where I left for a bit and took the office car to 1RC to get my PPD shot checked, it turns out I do not have tuberculosis which is a good thing. 1RC has a medical station, but it also has the installation out-processing office as well, so I was able to pick up my papers from there which was the last of my "to do" list before actually starting the clearing process tomorrow. Once back at work it was non stop action until we finally were able to take a break and leave for lunch at almost 1400. I was absolutely starving! Normally I would eat a small snack from my desk at work, but I actually never had any time to stop and do so. I headed to the food court and picked up a foot long subway sandwich, then headed to my room to video chat with my wife. I swear that a subway sandwich has never tasted so good.

Once back at work we cleaned up from a few meetings that finally ended and then setup for another ceremony in our conference room. We then had to do some deep cleaning in our office because the chief of staff (a two star general) will be coming to visit our colonel. So there was lots of vacuuming, dusting, and windex being sprayed all over. After we finished I also did a little IMO work and helped our new LTC move his files from one computer to another and then get everything setup and configured for him. I then tried to make sure PV2 Charlie was up to date on all the open issues and ticket submitting procedures because this will be my last day in the office. Kind of hard to believe after all this time!

We then had a meeting with our NCOIC before leaving to go over everything. Turns out we will not be having a room inspection tomorrow which is good. I also found out that I will not be able to take my PT test on Friday because my CIF equipment turn in is too early. It's kind of ironic because I am probably in the best shape I've been in since I've been in the army. I've been going to the gym almost everyday and having some great workouts. I feel as though I would definitely blow away my old score…I guess we'll have to wait until my next unit and see if I can stay in shape while eating all the good home cooked meals and exercising a lot less.

We left the office around 1745 and I headed straight to my room. I then went through all my CIF equipment and tried to do my best to sort out what I need to turn back in on Friday. We have a sheet that states what we keep and what we turn in, but somethings are more difficult than others to try and figure out what they are. I was able to get a PDF that had most of the items with a picture and description of them, so I think I'm in pretty good shape.

I then sat back ate a small dinner and watched a couple TV shows to wind the night down. Tomorrow is going to be the beginning of the end of my time here in Korea.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Negative on the FireWire - (Korea) Day 351

A picture we took yesterday with some folks from our office and
our old KATUSA before he left.

Work call this morning was 0800. We had to setup for a meeting in the secret conference room. This process took forever because we had to actually stay until the meeting started and it was pushed back. Finally got out of there around 0945 and I left to get some things checked off my list before out-processing. I headed to the company and dropped off my new leave form that only has 30 days for my COT and no additional leave. I then headed to battalion and picked up my out-processing papers. These papers contain a checklist of places I need to go and have them sign off on it. I will also need to go tomorrow to 1RC and pick up my installation clearing papers so I can have another checklist of even more places to go and have folks sign off on it.

The next stop was the travel office. I had to have my plane tickets changed to an earlier arrival date in Germany because of my shortened leave. That turned out to be a very easy in and out process which I was thankful for. Once back at the office I found out my NCOIC bought a thunderbolt cable which she unfortunately thought was a FireWire 800 cable. I took it and returned it at the PX for her and then grabbed a quick bite to eat before getting back to work to setup for another meeting. I then had to run another errand for our female army captain in the office. She needed me to pick up a coin from the G4 office which nobody actually knew where it was…they just pointed me in the general direction and said somewhere over there. After going into a building "over there" and asking I was finally given some good directions and I obtained the coin she was after.

Now there are some more things to get done. I went with PV2 Charlie to our battalion NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) room so he could pick up the protective equipment he needed and I took the chance to out-process from there and turned in all my crap that they gave me when I in-processed. All of the equipment except for the gas mask has just been sitting under my bed for the entire year. One actual step closer to leaving! We split up and I took the office car and was able to cross a few more things off my list. I went to CIF and made an appointment to turn in all my other issued items. Next was transportation to make an appointment. This will be for them to pick up everything I need transported from Korea to Germany as well as from my hometown to Germany. Finally I headed to The Dragon Hill Lodge to change my reservations for when my wife comes to visit next week.

Back at the office we cleaned up the conference room and the office and then had a meeting with our NCOIC. After everyone except Special K and I failed the diagnostic PT test we had been getting out early for the most part which gave us time to go to the gym. Now SPC Mick took a real PT test and failed. I'm pretty sure he ran an extra lap, but anyway he failed a portion of the test. Now they are going to have to start attending company PT which will suck for them. I say for them, because I'm not included now that I'm out-processing. I hate getting up so early and exercising. I think I get so much more out of a workout when it's in the afternoon or after work. I'm sure I'll be back to the normal morning army PT when I get to Germany though.

Still on our quest to find a FireWire 800 cable PV2 Charlie and I headed to Myeong-dong where there is the closest thing to an Apple Store in Seoul. Even they did not have the cable. It's so hard to believe that I'm having so much trouble finding a stupid cable. On the way back we thought we would get out two stops early looking for another place to get the cable and eat. We were both thinking the IPark Mall was close to that subway stop, but ended up almost getting lost in the process. We must have walked miles and wasted a couple hours wandering around. I was getting frustrated and hungry, so we gave up and headed back to Yongsan and ate at the food court…cable-less.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Questioning COT - (Korea) Day 350

Our old KATUSA in the old ROK army uniform during his ETS ceremony

Work call this morning was at 0830, but I ended up getting a call and had to go in at 0730. Our new KATUSA was supposed to be there, but never showed up and wasn't answering his phone. I left and when I arrived he was there, so I ended up going in early for nothing. I checked my email and printed out some copies of my orders. I also got one thing checked off my PCS checklist, I called lodging in Osan and reserved a room for the night before I take off for me and my wife.

We then setup for a KUB and afterwards I took our colonel up to the help desk that deals with all the secure systems so he could change his password. We then all headed to an ETS ceremony for all the KATUSAs that are finishing their mandatory service in the Korean army. Our old KATUSA was in it as well as my roommate. I've never seen so many smiles on KATUSA’s faces before! Once that was finished we all went to lunch at the R&R bar and grill here on post. It was a farewell lunch for me, our KATUSA, and our army major in the office. It was pretty cool because not only did our colonel buy my lunch, I also received a nice plaque as well as a certificate of achievement from our ROK sister office along with a business card holder. A very nice gesture from them for sure. I was also told that my award was not ready yet, so I am not getting it yet. The way things work it really would not surprise me if I did not receive it before I leave, but I'm just being a little pessimistic.

My goal after lunch was to get the rest of my checklist done today. I headed off to MedPros to get a PPD shot that is required before I can leave Korea. While I was there I also had my hearing tested. I knew before I tried to clear MedPros I would have to do that so I just got it done. When I finished I got a call from my NCOIC and I had to head back to the office to figure out some issues with my leave. When I got back there was a lot of confusion over my COT (continuing overseas tour) entitlements. I was told that I get 30 days of leave that is not charged as personal leave. The packet I turned in had my 30 days of COT plus a week or so more. For a bit I was told I could only take leave I've accrued and COT is not free leave as I thought, then my NCOIC looked up the regulation and found out as I thought that it is indeed free. The company then said I cannot take consecutive leave after my COT, I can only do one or the other. So it turns out I will only get 30 days leave, but it should be free. Knowing the army this will all get screwed up anyway…I'm not sure why I'm so negative today. Anyway I was able to make a new leave form and get it signed, but by the time I had it in my hand it was almost 1700 and the company was going to close. I'll have to do that first thing tomorrow.

Well I got three things marked off my "to do" checklist, but I've added quite a few more for tomorrow. I'm hoping I can get out for a while and get some of this done. By the time I got back to my room I had a new roommate already moving in. I knew it would be quick, but I didn't think they would have a replacement within hours of my old roommate leaving. The new guy seems nice enough, but he doesn't ever lock the door when he leaves which is going to drive me nuts.

I did some schoolwork and dorked around on the Internet for a while wasting time until I thought rush hour would be over at the gym. I guess with the four day weekend everyone was trying to get a good workout because the place was still packed even at 1930. It really screws up my workout, but I was able to make do with alternative machines when they became open. After the workout I headed back to my room and watched an NCIS before calling it a night.

the wife

You need to reiterate to me again when you need to be in Korea, and I need to know when we're leaving. I started second guessing the dates after we got of the phone. Love you my love... I'm one day closer to seeing you!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - 02:40 PM

the wife

Crap, I meant Germany. Whoops.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - 02:41 PM

LOL...I'll chat with you soon :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - 04:00 PM

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up - (Korea) Days 347 - 349

One of the bodies at the Body Worlds exhibit

Most four day weekends I wrap everything up into one entry, but I guess I got a little excited and posted yesterdays before remembering it was the weekend....oh well.

Friday: (Veterans Day) Woke up about 0930 and video chatted with my wife for a while. I then met up with PV2 Charlie and we headed to the war museum right next to post. I've been there multiple times before, but PV2 Charlie wanted to go and said there was a new special exhibit. It was called "Body Worlds" and was pretty interesting. "The Original Exhibition of Real Human Bodies" they use a process called plastination that allows them to show these human bodies as never before. It was pretty cool seeing all the exhibits. After the exhibit we headed outside and happened upon a performance that was going on in the war museum's courtyard, so we stayed and watched it. There was music, then drums, then an ancient army performance and finally a modern army performance with the Korean army, navy, marines and air force all in formations doing some pretty cool movements all in sync with each other.

I then got a call from SPC Roy asking if I could drive his car and park it at The Dragon Hill after he rented another car for a trip he was taking down south. We had lunch and then I headed back to my room. A little while later PV2 Charlie and I headed down to the theatre and watched Tower Heist. It was a pretty funny movie and had Eddie Murphy in it, who I haven't seen in anything but kids movies for a long time.

Another couple of the bodies from Body Worlds

Some of the drummers going to town on the drums during a performance outside the war museum

One of the Korean military formations during the performance outside the war museum

Saturday: I woke up about 0930 and headed to the Shoppette to grab some milk as well as coffee…I was totally out. I then did the usual…laundry and video chatted with my wife. Not a whole lot went on today…a workout at the gym and then I watched a movie in my room called "Ironclad". It's back in the medieval times in England and has some great fight scenes including one where the lead actor takes his sword and slices a guy almost in half from head to mid-section. Not much else going on besides a little schoolwork…just a relaxing day.

Sunday: Woke up about 0900 and thought I would be watching the UFC on FOX via AFN, but I couldn't find it anywhere. I ended up watching one of the preliminary fights on the internet and then finally it came up on AFN, but only for the main event. While I appreciate at least the main event being broadcast on AFN, it really kind of sucks that they didn't show any of the under cards like they usually do.

I then video chatted with my wife before heading to the gym. I did some schoolwork and then started watching numerous TV shows. I gave my comfy chair to PV2 Charlie and I forgot just how uncomfortable the standard chairs are in our rooms. I received the chair from SPC Short who I replaced and I thought it only fitting that it should be passed on to my replacement.

There were a few times as it got later in the night I was watching TV shows and there were loud knocks on my door and others down the hall. I freakin' hate living in the barracks and I can't wait to get out of this place. I just plugged in my headphones and kept watching my shows…there is no way I'm going to answer the door if they don't even have the decency to even say anything.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sung Nam Golf Club - (Korea) Day 346

A view of one of the holes at Sung Nam Golf Club with the guys that came as part of our group

Woke up about 0700, which is a little too early for a normal day off…but this just isn't any normal day off…I'm going golfing with SPC Roy. I got ready and ended up getting picked up by SPC Roy around 0800. We headed to the shoppette and picked up some beer, because golfing is one of the few places where it's legal to drink and drive. Plus I'm not that good at golf, so drinking makes it much more fun.

There is a shuttle bus that runs from Yongsan to Sung Nam Golf Club, which is a US Army golf course about 30-45 minutes from post. We met up with a couple guys that SPC Roy knows and one of them brought an extra set of clubs that SPC Roy and I decided to share to keep the costs down. Since this is a US Army golf course the prices are based on rank and for E-4 and below it's only $25 ($35 with cart) for 18 holes which is not a bad deal. The course itself was nice, a little short…but for me that is a plus. The guys we played with were decent golfers so instead of using the white tees I usually use, we used the blue tees.

Surprisingly I did fairly well. I hit the ball straight for the most part and even got par twice with the opportunity to get par about 4 other times. For those that have golfed with me before, they know this is a minor miracle. We all had a great time, the day was perfect and I can now say I've golfed in Korea.

We ended up taking a taxi back to post because the shuttle was going to be an hour an a half. Once back SPC Roy wanted to go out and eat, I ended up calling the young hawaiian and had him come with us so I could hear about his leave in the Philippines. We went to a little hole in the wall restaurant in Seoul that SPC Roy knew of. We had all you can eat pork and sides for only 10,000 Won (a little under $10). We fried up the pork at the table along with soup and various other sides. We ate and drank makkoli and chatted for quite a while before deciding to head to Itaewon for another beer before calling it a night.

I was pretty exhausted after 18 holes of golf and constantly drinking alcohol all day long. I never drank a lot at once, but it seemed like it was a slow constant all day long. I slept very well all night long…if you don't count the 4 or 5 times I had to get up and go pee.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Got Orders - (Korea) Day 345

The start of the Seoul Lantern Festival

Work call this morning was at 0830. We had a pretty hectic morning with the usual Wednesday morning meeting in the secret conference room as well as another in the top secret conference room we had to setup for. I helped PV2 Charlie setup most of the secret conference room, then left him to finish while I helped everyone else setup the top secret conference room. Once that was all finished I went up to my office and checked my email. To my surprise I received my orders! I truly thought it would take them another couple of weeks, but I guess having our NCOIC go over yesterday helped out. I nervously checked them out to make sure they included my wife this time and the shipment of all our household goods as well as our car. Surprisingly it was all in order!

Now that I have my orders I needed to find out exactly what I needed to do and in what order I needed to get everything done, so I went to lunch with SPC Roy. We went off post to a Chinese restaurant. Chinese food is different in Korea than it is in America. Just like we alter Chinese food in America to better suit our tastes, the Korean's do the same. It was pretty good, we had sweet and sour pork and some noodles that I call "black death". They are good, but they come in this black sauce with various items in it. SPC Roy let me know what I needed to do first and so on, so it was an informative lunch. Even though I'm not technically clearing until 5 days before I leave, there are a number of things I need to get done before hand.

1st I took my orders to our company along with my leave form, a copy of my LES, and a copy of my ERB. This will start the process of getting my leave setup, because I'm doing a continuing overseas tour (COT) I get 30 days of leave that do not count towards my earned leave which is very nice.

2nd I filled out a form at the company to get the process started to get a memo that I will need to take over to our battalion in order to get the out-processing checklist. I will get an email letting me know when the memo is ready to be picked up.

3rd I took a copy of my orders to the official travel office and got my ticket back to Seattle via the Patriot Express. I then got reservations for my wife and I from Seattle to Frankfurt. It's starting to finally seem real!

There were a couple other things I wanted to do, but was unable because Special K had the office car the rest of the day. I'll get back on track next Monday since we have a four day weekend. We cleaned up the office and headed out. I went to the gym and had a good cardio workout. Later on that night our old KATUSA picked up me, PV2 Charlie and SPC Mick. We all took the subway to see the 2011 Seoul Lantern Festival. It was basically a large number of hand crafted "lanterns" all on display along a small river. These weren't just normal lanterns either. There were various characters and themes all along the river.

We then had dinner at Mr. Pizza. I've seen the signs many times, but never visited one. Pizza in Korea is a little different than pizza in America…but as I like to say…pizza is kind of like sex, even bad pizza is still pretty good. This pizza was different but tasty. We headed back to post and I spent the last part of the night doing schoolwork before turning in.

Some of the characters at the lantern festival

More of the characters at the lantern festival

A whole lotta lanterns over one of the bridges over the river

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Electronics Mart - (Korea) Day 344

Unfortunately I couldn't get my iPhone out of my pocket fast enough to take a photo
of this. While at the electronics market there were two guys in business suits
riding together in an electric wheelchair...pretty funny!

Work call this morning was at 0700. We setup for a meeting in our conference room, but the meeting ended up getting pushed back an hour. We ended up coming in early for nothing, but no big deal. I was able to check my email and get a mocha from Starbucks, then watch a little TV. I then went to an awards ceremony with our NCOIC who actually came in from leave to attend the ceremony. One of her previous soldiers actually helped save the lives of people on a white water rafting trip while off duty. I wanted to go to show my support for this young man who did a pretty brave thing all in the middle of the rapids. I'm glad he and a couple others all received awards for this.

After the ceremony I headed to the company with my NCOIC to check on the status of my orders. The company hadn't heard anything, so a specialist came with us to battalion to check it out. When we checked it out in person I heard the same thing I've heard with every email…they are still waiting. My NCOIC stressed the importance of getting the orders and they said they would send through an email with the request. I'm still not holding my breath…nothing moves fast in the army.

After that I went to my room for lunch and video chat with my wife. When I headed back to the office I met up with my NCOIC and our new KATUSA. We all headed to the electronics market which is pretty close to IPark Mall which is not too far from the post. It is basically a few big buildings that are just full of various vendors selling electronics. Our NCOIC was trying to see if she could find a place that would fix her iMac. It looked like she threw it off the roof of her building! One guy we talked to with the help of our KATUSA translating looked at her computer and said "There is no answer for that" LOL. I tried finding a FireWire 800 cable so I could transfer the data from her iMac to her laptop, but even that was hard to find. I was able to find FireWire 400 to 800, but no 800 to 800 which is a little strange. We didn't look at a lot of places, so I may head back there over the 4-day weekend.

By the time we got back it was time to leave work, so I just headed to my room and took a nap. I then watched Hawaii Five-0 and did some schoolwork before heading to the gym. I arrived there at 1930 and it was still busy. They installed new mirrors all along the wall and I guess everyone wanted to look at themselves. It's a little frustrated trying to get a good workout when all the normal equipment I  use is taken. I was able to use alternative equipment and still get a decent workout. Maybe if I go late next time I'll start at 2000.

When I got back I watched an episode of Chuck before turning in.

Monday, November 7, 2011

SMA - (Korea) Day 343

Work call was 0830 this morning. We setup for a meeting in the top secret conference room and then we got a call from Special K telling us we have to pick two people to go to a CFC (Combined Forces Command) 33rd Anniversary Celebration. Nobody wanted to do it, so SPC Mick and I decided we would go and take one for the team. We caught a special shuttle that ran from our office to the theatre on post were the "celebration" was taking place. It wasn't much of a celebration. It was basically a couple speeches and some awards were handed out and they needed some people in the audience to clap. The real celebration was later at the Dragon Hill Lodge, but that was only for VIPs…which we were not.

By the time we got back to the office it was time for lunch. I headed to my room as usual and video chatted with my wife. Once back in the office I drove PV2 Charlie and SPC Mick to Collier Fitness Center (The Gym on post) and we attended another event that our NCOIC signed us up for. This one was for the Sergeant Major of the Army. He is touring around giving out a lot of information and taking questions to take back to the pentagon. His main focus when talking was a lot about benefits and entitlements. There are going to be a lot of changes because our country is in such poor shape financially. The army will be shedding at least 50,000 people. He said they will be recruiting less, forcing people to retire, and kicking out troublemakers. He spoke about how if we want to get promoted that it's going to be a lot tougher and we will have to do stuff to distinguish ourselves from our peers in order to get recognized. He also mentioned changes that are being proposed for a new PT test and new uniforms.

There were a number of questions asked, but the one I was most concerned with was about tuition assistance. He said the article in The Army Times was a little premature and he is for not making any changes to it. He also said if there are any changes that will be made, it will take a while to process. I'm hoping I can finish my degree before they make any changes.

By the time we got back to the office, it was time to clean up and head out.. The whole day seemed to consist of attending meetings. We left a little late, so I  knew I wouldn't make it to the gym before rush hour. Instead I took a nap. I then ate dinner and watched Survivor. My guilty pleasure…I love that show. After that I headed to the gym and did a cardio workout. My back is feeling better, but still not 100%.

I wrapped up the night by doing some schoolwork and then watching an episode of Flashpoint.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up - (Korea) Days 341 & 342

Saturday: Didn't do a whole lot this weekend, the only plans I had were delayed until Wednesday to go see some lantern ceremony. So today I woke up around 0830 and did the usual…laundry and video chat with my wife and kids. I then did schoolwork for a long time. I had quite a bit to do and it took most of the rest of the day.

I did make a trip to Moyer Center and signed up for a couple of trips before I leave Korea. Most of the trips I've signed up for in the past have not been very full, but lately they have been filling up. This time I got there in plenty of time! I then went to the library and read The Army Times. They have it free to read there and I don't want to pay for it. Actually I would probably subscribe if there were an iPad version, but there isn't. The main article was talking about the plan to cut tuition assistance. This would really suck because I'm making use of it. It's free money for school while you are active duty. I am planning to have my 4-year degree before I get out and the planned cuts are going to make that a little more difficult.

I then headed to the gym and kept it to strictly cardio on the bicycle making sure not to aggravate my back. When I finished I headed back to my room and watched some CSI: NY & Miami.

Sunday: Slept in until 0930 and then watched the UFC in my room. They rearranged the channels and I can now get that particular station which is nice…a little late, but nice. I video chatted for a while with my wife and kids again and then did schoolwork again for a while. I headed to the gym working out on my legs and some on my abs. My back is still a little sore, but I'm hoping another nights rest will help with that.

The rest of the night was just watching a CSI and the movie "Takers". A bank robbing move full of double crosses and lots of explosions and guns. Of course it was pretty good.

I experimented a little with moving my website. I currently have it hosted with Apple’s MobileMe which will be going away soon. So at some point in the next 6 months I have to find another hosting service. I’ve checked out something that looks promising, but it will change up the website quite a bit and there is no way to automatically transfer everything over, so it would be a time consuming process....we’ll see.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Back Ache - (Korea) Day 340

SPC Roy checking out my iPad while the KATUSAs are getting their
safety briefing for the weekend.

Work call this morning was 0900. Today was a little strange at work. We had no meetings at all and didn't have any side work to do either. Our NCOIC ended up telling us to go ahead and leave at 1100 which was pretty cool!

When I got back to my room, my roommate was there and asked if I could go with him to the military clothing store. He wanted me to purchase some souvenir army sweatpants and sweatshirt for him. He's going to be out of the army for good soon and wants a little something to remember it by. Military service is mandatory for Korean males and is sort of like a right of passage for a young man. He'll now go back to civilian life and return to school at the university.

I purchased myself some icy-hot at the PX while we were out. I guess I worked out a little too hard at the gym on my back. It just started hurting pretty bad, I must have really strained a muscle. Back in my room I lathered on the icy-hot and then ended up taking a long nap. The nap helped, but I ended up lathering on some more and taking some aspirin. Hopefully it will get better soon, I need to keep working out because my PT test is on the 18th. I'm taking today off of course to give it some time.

I watched the movie "Shaolin" that PV2 Charlie let me borrow. It's a Chinese movie with Jackie Chan as a supporting actor. It was actually pretty good if you like martial arts movies. I was a little skeptical before I started watching it because it was a foreign flick, but I was pleasantly surprised. It's about feuding warlords and how some Shaolin monks get caught in the middle. They end up taking a stand using only martial arts against guns and cannons.

The rest of the night was spent doing schoolwork and taking more aspirin…my back is so sore….grrrr.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Early Off - (Korea) Day 339

Fall is in the walk back to work after my lunch break.
I think most of the trees in Seoul are located on Yongsan Army Garrison!

So today I woke up at 0430, shaved and put on my uniform…ready for room inspection at 0500. Our room was inspected by a female SFC this time. I stood and held the door open (because you can't have the door closed when there is a female in the room) while she walked around and told my roommate all the stuff that was dirty. She left and that was it. I don't even know what she was pointing at and I don't really care…just glad it didn't last too long.

Work call was 0630 this morning, we had to setup for a KUB in our conference room. Once finished setting up, I headed to Starbucks for a mocha, but I mixed it up a little with actual breakfast and got biscuits & gravy from the American Eatery in the food court. Ironically the American Eatery is run completely by Koreans just like every other shop in the food court.

Once back at work I ate up in the conference control room while watching TV. When it came time for the meeting to start I stayed there and flipped slides. Once it was finished we cleaned up and immediately setup for another meeting in our conference room. This time SPC Mick ran the computer and I hung out just in case somebody needed something. When the meeting was over we cleaned up and then headed out for lunch.

I went to my room as usual and video chatted with my wife. Back at the office I just watched some TV until 1400 when I drove our new KATUSA to the housing office. He needed to fill out some paperwork for his pending move to our barracks since he's still in the temporary barracks. Once our old KATUSA leaves, he's going to take his room.

When we got back it wasn't too long before our NCOIC called us down and told us to clean up and head out early. We left a little after 1500 which was pretty cool. I went to my room and changed for the gym, but decided to go eat first. I ran into PV2 Charlie and our new KATUSA and we all headed to the food court and shared a pizza. I then bought everyone some ice cream for dessert. I picked up some items from the PX and the shoppette before heading back to my room. In order to miss the gym rush hour I decided to watch an episode of Falling Skies, then do some schoolwork before heading to the gym. Once back I watched an NCIS: LA.

Status of my PCS move: I sent an email this morning to S1 asking for the status of my orders. I received a reply stating that "since my DEROS is in November, they will look into it for me". Well no crap I'm leaving in November, I've been trying to get everything in order for months now. The army moves at a snails pace. I also learned that the lady who is working on my packet is leaving and was told who is replacing her. This can either be a good thing or a bad thing, I guess time will tell.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Sex Trade - (Korea) Day 338

Received my photo today with Leon E. Panetta, the current Secretary of Defense.
I wasn't quite ready for the picture and ended up with a goofy smile on my face.

Work call this morning was at 0830. We setup for the normal Wednesday morning meeting in the secret conference room. I let PV2 Charlie run the whole thing from start to finish and just stood by in case something went wrong. The meeting ran as planned and we cleaned up afterwards. We then headed up to our conference room and set it up for a KUB.

We took our lunch break and I headed to my room to eat and of course video chat with my wife. When I got back to the office I headed straight to our conference room for the upcoming KUB that we setup for. I flipped slides for it and then we cleaned up when it was finished.

I then had a special mission from Special K, I had to go around to the command group and collect coins for our army major that will be leaving soon. They are going to put them in a plaque for him. In fact we are going to have a hail and farewell on the 14th where they will be saying goodbye to him, our old KATUSA, and me! Woohoo!

We all received an email stating that we had to do some human trafficking & sex trade training. I quickly went through the material just hitting next until it was finished and then took the test. It's all pretty much common sense passing the test. The hardest part was finding the actual training and then finding out where to obtain & print our certificate.

We cleaned up the conference control room and the office, then took off for the day a little after 1600. I quickly went to my room and changed for the gym so I could get there before rush hour. I just wanted to make sure I got a stationary bicycle so I could get my cardio in. I'm aching pretty bad from my intense workout yesterday. I need to invest in some icy-hot!

Back in my room I ate dinner and watched The Vampire Diaries as well as Falling Skies. I then did my schoolwork before cleaning my room. I changed days that I cleaned my room from the weekend to Wednesday nights because we now have weekly room inspections on Thursday mornings at 0500. (Have I mentioned I hate living in the barracks?) So I get to wake up at the butt crack of dawn and listen to an NCO tell me what is wrong with my room after he walks around snooping until he finds something. I try not to clean too well so he can find something fairly fast and easy, tell me to clean it up and leave. No need to prolong the event.