LETTERS FROM A SOLDIER #1
The following is the first of what I hope will be a series of letters home from my nephew Keith. I am submitting them so that we may all have a better understanding of the young men and women who are placing themselves in harms way to protect us, and our way of life. They will follow him through his training, and deployment. I do so with his permission, and the concurrence of his wife and son.
S/SGT Keith is an army veteran and civilian police officer who joined the active reserves after the September 11th attacks. He and 10 members of his MP unit have been activated for deployment to Afghanistan to train new Afghani police officers. All eleven are either police or corrections officers. The unit is presently at a base in the Southwest, training with a Navy unit before shipping out. This series will be his letters home detailing his training experiences, and continuing through his deployment. I am withholding his last name out of courtesy to his family and simply thank him for his service to our country.
I know it’s only been a few days since you heard from me, but we have a free day today so I figured that I would take advantage of that. We completed the Detainee Ops phase yesterday with a day long practical exercise. It was our task to run a Detainee Camp, Camp Outlaw, for approximately 10 hours. They even fill the camp with role players who dress and act as detainees. Many of the role players were the same that participated in our riot training exercise.
Everything that could go wrong in a detainee camp went wrong throughout the day. This obviously is designed to manufacture stress, and it certainly did for the Navy personnel that have been training with us. They had to deal with everything from minor problems, to a full out riot that lasted over an hour. It was actually pretty funny. They were throwing sponge grenades, plastic bottles, tennis balls, water balloons, and at one point, a plastic rat. During the riot I took cover in the guard shack and ate my MRE lunch.
As before we again acted as assistant instructors for the Navy people, and were there to give them guidance if they needed it; and boy did they ever need it. But when all was said and done, they didn’t do too badly considering none of them have experience either in law enforcement or corrections.
Needless to say though, I am very glad that this phase is over. Our Brigade Commander, Brigadier General XXX and Brigade Sergeant Major, Sergeant Major XXX, were down here today. They came to observe some of our training, and took some time to talk with each of us. Kind of a long trip to make just for the 11 of us, don’t you think? But it was a nice gesture, and they had kind words for all of us. Our next phase, which starts on Monday, is Urban Warfare, which should be fun. Tomorrow I have to make up Land Navigation training that I missed when I had to attend that Advocate training. I hope it isn’t too hot since this is Dismounted Land Navigation, on foot in other words.(ha-ha)
My eyes are back to normal, thank God. For those of you who didn’t know, I was having some difficulty with my vision after being hit with the OC, or pepper spray. My vision was blurry and it wasn’t getting better after 4 days, so I went to the Troop Medical Center. They think, and I agree, that it was just taking time for my eyes to recover since it is so dry down here. They gave me some drops and those really seem to help. I was a bit nervous about the blurriness since, as I told the nurse, all I have is my eyesight and my sense of humor, and I’m not that funny.
I tried burning my first DVD with the laptop the other night, and it seemed to work. It contains some brief footage of the night fire M-4 qualification range, which I thought XXX would get a kick out of. It also contains some footage of people at the decon station after being sprayed with the OC. Finally there is some footage of my promotion and brief hazing. If you listen, not to the profanity, you can hear me doing Richard Gere from An Officer and a Gentlemen while I am being sprayed with the hose doing push-ups.
Well that is all for now. As always I will continue to keep you all updated on my progress and hopefully soon conclusion to this training. Again I must say how grateful I am to all who continue to keep my family in their thoughts. The support that you have shown through your actions and phone calls gives me great comfort. I hope that when I get home, it’s possible for me to Properly thank all of you.
Talk to all of you soon.
Love and miss you all.