Thursday, November 10, 2005


Well, I survived the training deployment and arrived home completely exhausted on Tuesday afternoon. We spent yesterday squaring away the shop. Today I returned to my civilian job. I have tomorrow off. Hopefully I'll be able to catch up on my sleep and my blog reading. Until then, here are some random thoughts generated by my deployment.

-A KC-135 can get you to your deployment site faster than a C-130. It's a little quieter (only a little) and a lot roomier too.

-MOPP Level 4 can get really uncomfortable.

-Time slows down at MOPP 4. I can't explain why. It just does. I think it's some sort of quantum physics thing.

-Some people worry about having to urinate when at MOPP 4. Once you've been in the gear long enough, you realize that you're sweating too much to have much fluid left to worry about. Unless, of course, you had to go badly just before putting on the gear. In that case, you're shit out of luck. Speaking of which, defecation can be problematic as well.

-And speaking of fluids, "HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE" while at MOPP 4. If you have trouble using the canteen tube on the mask at first, you'll have it figured out after 4-5 hours in that mask. Or you'll pass out.

-You'll get more from the training if you take it seriously and act like it's for real.

-The idea of having nerve agent shot at me scares the shit out of me.

-I need to get into better shape. It'd sure be helpful while trying to get around in that gear. Pretty much all I've done since I got back from Qatar last year is eat junk and watch TV. Not good.

-BDUs can get pretty heavy when every square millimeter of the fabric is soaked with sweat.

-On a four or five day exercise, you are usually just getting used to working the night shift when the exercise ends.

-I was nostalgic for MREs on day one. By day two, I was sick of them already.

-Whoever came up with the idea of putting the little Tabasco Sauce bottles in MREs should get a Meritorius Service Medal, or a Presidential Medal of Freedom, if they're civilian.

-When hydrating, drink water, not Heineken.

-After the exercise ends, drink Heineken, not water.

-When I'm exhausted, it only takes two Heinekens to do me in.

-No matter how fast your flight home is at the end of a deployment, it never seems fast enough.

-When the aircrew breaks out their personal Dunkin' Donuts stash and shares it with the pax (passengers), you know you're going to be landing soon. Fifteen to twenty minutes is a good bet.

-I'm glad I went. I'm glad it's over. I get to do it all again next spring. And thanks to this deployment, I'll do it better next time.

Teresa said the following in the comments section:
Oh and the hot sauce thing - it MUST be something to do with the military... is it from basic??? LOL - I only ask because every single military person I know LOVES hot sauce... Just an observation mind you.

Good question. Since her son is a soldier, it's important for her to understand the importance of the favorite seasoning of American service members.

When I first joined the US Army in 1986 (back when Miami Vice was still on TV), there were no miniature bottles of hot sauce in MREs. Also, there was a more limited variety of MREs available in those days. While MREs weren't bad, they got old in a hurry. After a couple of weeks, you weren't sure whether you should eat the plastic container, or the food inside it. To combat this gastronomical dilemma, I used to carry a bottle of Tabasco sauce with me whenever I went to the field. I always carried it in my left breast pocket. The way I figured it, if some commie bullet was going to take out my hot sauce, it might as well keep going through my heart. After all, who wants to go on living without hot sauce?

At first, my fellow soldiers all laughed at me. After a couple days, the laughing stopped. By the end of the first week in the field, they were asking me if they could have some of my Tabasco. Team player that I was, I shared it with these less fortunate, less prepared troops.

Toward the end of my enlistment, the powers-that-be, in their infinite wisdom, started putting itty-bitty bottles of Tabasco in the accessory packets of MREs. A couple of years later, they started putting chemical heating packets in the MREs as well. I claim no credit for the heaters, but I suspect that they stole the hot sauce idea from me. I think I should have some money coming too. How does a nickel for every bottle of hot sauce placed in an MRE sound? Damn, I'll be on Easy Street.

Actually, the hot sauce craze in the military probably pre-dates me by a generation or two (or three, or four). Military food has a reputation for being bad. This is not always the case (sometimes, it's actually very good), but there is a sameness to it after awhile. Hot sauce can combat that blandness. With enough hot sauce, even the aforementioned MRE plastic wrapper would taste ok--though it would be kinda hard to chew.

At any rate, while we should take some time this Veteran's Day to thank our veterans for their service, on behalf of veterans everywhere, I would like to thank the folks who invented hot sauce. Their creation has made life for American military personnel around the world just a little more bearable.

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