Thursday, December 29, 2011

Choosing Our Future Home - (Germany) Day 3

Received my new unit patch today - 43rd Signal Battalion

This morning we both woke up early again around 0500. My wife is still sick and we are both trying to adjust to the time difference. We had coffee and I poked around on the internet for a bit before having breakfast. I have to say that living with my wife once again is really wonderful. I hated being alone in Korea for so long. I'm really looking forward to spending my time here in Germany with my wife.

I met up with my sponsor at 0830 and we headed off to the central in-processing where I received a schedule of appointments that I need to make. I then met up with the finance guy to get all my army finances in order. I will lose my housing allowance and some other things such as the family separation pay & Korean COLA, but I will be gaining the German COLA as well as some one time reimbursements for travel to the airport and the travel to drop off my car to get shipped while back in Washington.

We then headed to the company to drop off copies of my PT card and weapons card since I didn't have those yesterday. We then went to S3 and did some more in-processing. After that we headed to housing and picked up keys to two different housing units. We picked up my wife and checked out the units. They are both in Patrick Henry Village, but are very different as far as the interior. One of the units had been remodeled and looked much newer, while the other with the same floor layout looked much older and dated. The choice was pretty easy and we headed back to the housing office and signed the papers for the updated unit. We were also able to order the loaner furniture which will arrive on Wednesday next week. We have an inspection scheduled for that Wednesday morning and we will have to check out of our temporary housing then as well.

We then headed to the food court for lunch before heading over to check out the costs of internet packages in for our unit. Interestingly they package their internet with phone or with TV & phone, but no internet only package. We are thinking about going without the cable package and just using the computer for our entertainment needs.

We headed back to our room about 1430 and called it a day. My wife took a nap and I laid down for a bit, but was unable to sleep…a headache was just too much. The rest of the night was pretty laid back…just watching a few shows and taking it easy.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

In-Processing - (Germany) Day 2

This morning we both woke up at around 0530 and could not get back to sleep because we ended up going to bed so early last night. We poked around on the internet and just hung out for a while until it was time to start getting ready. We met my sponsor at 0930 and he took my wife and I to do some in processing. We headed to S1 and then our company. He then took us to show where I would be working. I'm finally going to actually be doing some I.T. related stuff! We then headed over to get our IDs input into the system so we can come and go on base without any hassle. After that we headed to housing and were put on a waiting list, but were told it will probably be only about a week.

We then headed to the food court and had a bite to eat before heading back to our room. My sponsor is a pretty nice guy who has been very helpful. The post here is broken up into quite a few different locations. I'm currently in Patrick Henry Village which has quite a few amenities such as the commissary, but consists of mostly housing. There is also Mark Twain Village which is mostly single soldier housing and is where my sponsor lives. We work at Campbell Barracks which is yet another post. There are also a couple others that we stopped at for some miscellaneous items.

It turns out that they will be closing this post in the next couple of years. There are very few people coming in now. It will be interesting being part of this transition when the post closes for good. Once that is done we will be moving to Wiesbaden which is about an hour north of Heidelberg.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Germany Starts Here - (Germany) Day 1

I guess they got tired of people asking where 
the bathroom is at the Frankfurt airport

The last 30 days has rushed by as I knew it would. A month off seems like a lot of time, but I had to make sure all my household goods were picked up and shipped, and also had my car shipped off to Germany. During the time my wife and I both got sick for a good two weeks which really put a damper on my whole leave…so much for the flu shots they forced me to get.

The morning started off with yet another sad good-bye. It seems like I've had a number of these since joining the army, but this one was especially emotional because my wife was leaving with me. We had breakfast together with her family as well as my mom. I did pretty good until I was hugging my kids and saying good-bye. It just sucks having to leave them once again.

My father-in-law drove us to the airport in Seattle where we almost ran into a nightmare while checking in. Since we are moving to Germany for 3 years we packed quite a bit into our luggage as well as our carry-on baggage. My orders stated that we could each check in two bags at 70 pounds, but it turned out that one of my bags were over weight. The carry-on bags also had a weight limit we were unaware of. They weighed everything and it turned out that we had to actually check one of our carry on bags and pay extra for that as well as the overweight bag. The guy working at the counter for Lufthansa asked if I was PCSing to Germany and said he was former military and served in Iraq, then proceeded to tell me that he's going to waive all the charges which would have been $450! A great way to start our new adventure.

The flight was straight through…long and uneventful. We left at 1500 on the 26th and arrived at 1000 on the 27th. We both only grabbed some cat naps during the flight so we knew this was going to be a long day. Getting off the plane we weren't sure what exactly to expect. My orders said if there was not a liaison waiting then head to the USO and check in. When we found out how to get to the USO, we headed there with our cart full of bags and a guy came walking up in civilian clothes asking if we were PCSing. I said yes…and we followed him to a special check in area where he signed my leave form and we then waited for a bus to Heidelberg. Unfortunately we just missed the last bus so we had to wait 3 and a half hours. We hung out in the USO using their free Wi-Fi and my wife was able to slip in a quick cat nap.

At 1300 we then headed to the special check-in area once again and waited in their waiting room until 1330 when they accounted for everyone, then told us to wait some more. Our bus finally came around 1445. There was only my wife and I as well as one other fellow on our bus to Heidelberg. The bus ride was about an hour and we were dropped off at the lodging office in Patrick Henry Village. As they were checking me into temporary housing, they kept asking me if my sponsor was there. He wasn't at first, but then he arrived about 10 minutes later. He had a small van that he loaded all our baggage up and gave us a mini tour of the post with a stop at the commissary before dropping us off at our room. The room is much like a hotel room. It has a small bedroom, a living room, with a small bathroom and kitchen.

We were so tired. We tried to stay up watching a show, but it was a struggle for both of us. By about 1845 we gave up and went to bed. Being up for so long and unable to sleep on the flight finally took it's toll. We went to bed and both were out within seconds…hopefully we'll be able to sleep for a long time.