But, it was still wonderful. I drove to Opelika, Alabama in the famous furniture search (we're in the process of finding a queen bed and coffee table set for the livingroom) and fell in love with the place! I never realized how (un)nice Columbus can be sometimes. Apology to all you avid Columbus fans, but its just not home. The people in Alabama were friendly, the thrift stores were run by churches and played soft Christian music and I even got to meet Billy Ray Cyrus #2. Its true, I got lost looking for "Flowers Thrift Store", which incidentally I found out is a bread thrift store, not to be confused with a clothing thrift store in which you can find all manner of exciting things. And so I stopped at a warehouse to ask directions of the man sitting in the beat-down lawn "recliner". He was Alabama's Billy Ray-complete with accent.
I came home to LOU's letter!!!! Yay!!!! He was able to sneak one across the 8 foot barbed wire fence to a waiting ar'mail'dillo. Actually, Charlie the mailman brought it this afternoon while I was out spending money like water. And its 5 pages of gruesome details! Those are 4"x6" pages-on green army notebook paper. Before Lou left we talked about letter-writing and he gave me permission to re-publish sections-so I'm going to try and do that for you now. The green is him and the pink is my commentary. I only omitted the sections where his pen was neither sharp, stub nor rusty. And since a blog is nothing without illustrations, I've found some good pictures to assist the telling of the tale.
After I left you in the parking lot we spent most of the day standing in the sun inprocessing. I was nervous and pretty tired, believe it or not. We did medical and all sorts of other stuff. Filled out IS forms over and over again.We had an MRE and went to bed at 11p. Needless to say, I didn't sleep too well. I thought I would but was worried about pushups. (He had been doing pushups all along a certain way and passing above the grade, but during the last Ranger physical test the grader only counted 60 out of 82 and told him the others were too sloppy. The we met Burns in the Post Exchange right after pre-Ranger school and he said they were very particular about pushups) Woke up at 1:15am for the RPFT (Ranger Physical Fitness Test)
Got to eat breakfast at 1:30 in the morning and if you didn't eat it, you threw it out. Then we had a brief at 2:00am and a RPFT spiel at 2:30am. The RPFT started at 3:00am. What a mess.
The RI (Ranger Instructor) grading me didn't believe in counting out loud or the pushups themselves. I was hitting my chest to the ground as he glared at me and yelled to go down further. I did about 60 good ones which must have equaled 49 (the amount needed to pass) cause he just looked at me and said,"Get up, Ranger". I thought he was playing a trick on me so I didn't but after he raised the decibel level to deafening I acquiesced. Sit ups went about the same but I got up when he said to. The run was 5 miles and I ran like the wind and my watch died half way through and I ran ever faster because I was freaking out. Came in at 37 min, very pleased. 6 Purrrfect pullups and I was over!
They were pretty nice on Day 0 cause we had the RPFT in the morning. Then we had it and the fun ended...or began. It started with the lay out. Dump all your stuff out (that would be the 3 man-size duffles containing $800..count them....worth of required equipment, purchased by the soldiers) Hold it up all at the same time. Oh, one out of whole group didn't. The pushup. The flutter kick....the longest and most miserable layout ever. RIs running around yelling. Then we did some briefings and got yelled at-sit down-get up-get out-get back in...Then we got a huge long Penicillin shot-hurt so bad I'm still sore. Then we walked over to the water confidence survival course. 40 foot drop and log walk. 75 foot tower. Scared! It was fun though.
40 Foot Walk and Drop
It was crazy. I got really worried when I saw it. So high and the log so narrow. Then we had to sit and watch 200 dudes climb up and fall. Literally I was the closest to quitting! All the other stuff, little food and no sleep to speak of was fine but for some reason I was in a bad state. Then it was my turn, death or glory. I practically ran across the log so I wouldn't freeze up. It worked, then when I climbed out on the rope I just never looked down.
I let go with no problems and fell to my doom.
The 75 foot tower had zipline and it was nothing but fun. (Wonder if he had visions of me riding those roller coasters during this time?)
Day 2-Malvesti obstacle course.
We did a 3 mile buddy run at 9:00pm. ACU's, weapons and camelback with boots. Had to have a random buddy and both of you had to complete the run in less than 30 minutes. We did it in 27. Back to Malvesti, we scaled 4 walls, did pullups, jog and get smoked between. Huge mud puddles-roll left....roll right...dunk your head-flip/combat roll all in the mud getting yelled at-very nice. (I had prayed for rain because it was so ridiculously hot here and I was worried about them overheating in the buddy run. The rain came down and the puddles filled up.)
All that went on till about 11:00pm-crazy smoker anyway, what you gonna do? Cpt McCleod used to say it was simply a shock to your system! I must say I agree! Teehee-teehee.
We got up at 1:30am for a cold MRE at 1:45am (which can look like this if you have a white linen tablecloth and a microwave handy)
(But probably looked like this MRE Cheese Omelet with Vegetables- minus the fancy china plate. Gag me with a spoon-which coincidentally is what you're given to eat it with! Wonder why?)
and a land nav retest brief at 2:00am. That was after the Malvesti smoke fest and 3 mile buddy run. I'm kind of going backwards any way, we went to bed after being smoked at 11:30pm, so tired! Passed through with flying colors. I failed the first time so I was stressing out. (This was particularly stressful because Lou is particularly strong in land navigation and felt confident about it going into the course) We have the 16 miler tonight so we'll see how that goes. I'm sitting here watching about 70 guys fail out due to land navigation. The course is HUGE and crazy. I never ever came close to failing a land nav course but this was crazy. So much brush and swamp!
Day 3-(afternoon) Hey, we are sitting in front of CIF across from the obstacle course. I'm feeling better about doing the 16 miler with 1.5 hours of sleep. We have sat around most of the day doing more layouts and CIF issue. We lost a lot of guys already, almost 40% and its day 3. (Here he mentions several friends of his who have been sent/almost sent home) Don't have details-we can't talk to guys in other companies.
We pack 2 days of stuff into 1 and there's lots I'd like to tell. You'll have to pick my brain after. I'm doing well.......
Signing off but so glad to have this letter! Hope you all enjoy reading the gory details!