Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Climb Every Mount Yonah~

Today I feel as though my attention span was on a short-circuit. I logged on to the computer multiple times in order to take a break from my painting, but never actually managed to accomplish any great tasks. The bedroom set I'm working on right now should be ready to assemble by Saturday, but its taken the two last days' worth of my attention and I think the paint fumes have killed off most of my remaining "leetle grey cells". (for the benefit of all my Poirot loving friends!)
This is me after a morning of sanding and puttying in the warm Georgia sun. I correct myself, the 100 degree 100% humidity of Georgia's June weather. I was cooked! I sanded and cleaned the tall dresser, oversize nightstand and bedframe yesterday morning.
And this is the same nightstand, with a single coat of oil base Benjamin Moore paint!
This is my project for week #1 of Florida Phase. Yeah, I know I'm not going to Ranger School. But, a friend told me that she could always count on me to know the schedule. Apparently at one of our first "army wives" meetings I was all indignant about the printed schedule for IBOLC not being accurate and she remembered it. I have to admit that I do pour over the Ranger School schedule. I'm a Rabbit,"No,no,no...we have to go according to shed-yool!"
Friday, June 25th was an auspicious day. The last day of Mountain Phase, all day us girls waited to hear from our soldiers. There were only two options-I passed, now for Florida and see you in 21 days OR They recycled me and I'm going to have to repeat that torturous mess all over again and not see you for 50 more days! Not something you want to hear.
One of the Ranger Instructors at Camp Merrill told me he "thought I saw his name on the recycle list." when I asked about Lou. That's a story in and of itself, for a later time. Fortunately Lou was able to call me at 5 that night and tell me that YES, he had finished and passed and was on his way to Florida for Swamp Phase! God is so very good! I did have the urge to go sock the RI in the nose for passing out false information, however. I think I was developing an ulcer between the time of the mis-information and Lou's call!
(postmarked June 11, but probably written on Wednesday, June 9th) Hey Baby.We did lowers for the last 2 days, now we are doing uppers at Mount Yonah at Cleveland, GA. This is the mountain of Yonah- located in the Chatahoochee National Forest in northeastern Georgia.
 We got a horrible motivational speech and then we did a climb to the top in full gear, it was the most smoked I've been so far. The mountains will humble you fast. Then we did all sorts of pulley systems to evacuate a casualty off a really steep hill. Hopefully I'll survive but pulling a dude up a crazy hill with a ruck and weapon just about broke me off. It was so steep we just about had to climb.
Now I know why they feed us. We are gonna be refugees when we get out! We'll do all our rock climbing tomorrow, having a lot of fun. Hopefully the mountain won't be the end of us...teehee teehee. I'm sitting at the top of Mount Yonah and it is so awesome!!! This is another angle shot of Mount Yonah.

We just did our climb up the cliff face. So cool, you're on a cliff 1400 or so feet up slipping on rocks and getting yelled at. The view is crazy but then your legs start shaking and then you got nothing to hold on to, where do you go? 
 Tee hee! I'm like Spiderman up this hill. Oh Baby, I just did lead climb up a near vertical rock face. These people are nuts! It was so fun and so crazy. Lead climbing means you climb without a rope holding you up. You drag the rope up for the other guys. It was nuts like if I fell, but you never think about it or you'll freeze. S_____ and I did it all the way up about 90 ft up the face of Yonah. AHHHHHHH!!! 
(later on) 
The climb in the morning was crazy. We had 45 minutes to do 1.8 miles to the top. I made it in 41 and just about died. You would get a major minus (very bad, they have their own kick you out of Ranger school scoring system) if you didn't. I'm very pleased with this place, its so beautiful and the view is to die for. I'm just glad he didn't! We will definitely have a house on a top of a hill! I love it! It was so funny, all I could think about was coming up here with you and do some camping.We could climb up, bring some food and spend some quality time with a view. Well, we'll see if I'm still thinking that after mountain phase, then again. In spite of the beauty of those mountains, I have a feeling that not many Ranger students return there for picnics after graduation! They are beautiful, though. :) ___ Keeps talking about going on a cruise. I must admit it would be awesome and well deserved. Think about what you'd like to do. I have to admit, this Ranger School has its perks. It gets a man who normally is NOT a beach, sand, or cruise fan thinking about taking vacations-lots of them! We just have to make sure the place has funnel cakes, that's all I ask. :) We are about to head up to the church service on top of the mountain. (I'm guessing this is where they hold the chapel services on the mountain top, but I'm not 100% sure)
(later on)
Just got back. Very good service. He talked about the prodigal son and how he came back to his father and when will you come back to the Father? When will you let him cover over your dirty rags and so on. He also talked about Johnathan and his armor bearer trusting in God and killing the enemy. Good stuff. You know, I thought these guys would all be heathens, but there are no atheists in foxholes. Rangers are close to the fight and surprisingly religious. Not all, but the conversations and jokes are a lot better than I-BOLC. Plus they are hungry and tired and the only thing they think about is: food, sleep and graduating. Anyway, it was a lovely service and its really good to see the guys get some religion. We sang some songs and I was singing the loudest, lol. That is funny, because although Lou has a nice voice, he's not a big singer. Unlike his wife, who sings while driving/showering/cooking/and pretty much everywhere else. :) Lots of mumbling. But that's ok, at least they were singing. I really miss church and doing devotions with you. I know I didn't do them as regular as I should have but you really don't know what you have until its gone! This place is great for learning about yourself. You learn your fears and your limits. What you do under pressure with no sleep or food. The biggest thing is it gets you out of your comfort zone. All my love!!! 
And all my love and prayers to my best boy, Lou. Can't wait to have him home again! I'm so proud of him, he just kept plugging away during the following two weeks' worth of field training exercises. They were the hardest thing on his system, lasting 5 days each and consisting of missions day and night, little to no sleep and up/down mountains all the way. What a blessing to find out he passed Mountain Phase! We were able to talk on the phone for 8 minutes and I thought about how strange it is that I'm so excited over 8 minutes of phone conversation. Then again, it was our FIRST phone call since MAY 16, 2010! Life is full of little (big) pleasures. :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Sua Sponte" in Ranger Speak-More from Lou

Apparently, "Sua Sponte" is Latin for "of their own accord". This much I gleaned from an article about the Rangers. The author elaborated with, "You volunteered to lead the way-start learning at Ranger School." The phrase in a law book means something very different. But, since I'm focusing on Rangers, not lawyers, I'll leave it at that. 
I got back from my trip to Texas at 11 last night. It was hard to say goodbye to Betsy and the girls, but I needed to go home. Miss them already!

What a great feeling to touch down in Atlanta and be on solid ground again! It didn't help that we sat on the tarmac in Dallas for an hour while the mechanics repaired an issue with the plane's hydraulics. Gulp. Maybe I just have a vivid imagination, but it was hard to keep myself focused on Louis L'amour's Jubal Sackett and the Kickapoo Indian's idiosyncrasies while thinking about malfunctioning plane parts. No problems though. It was a trifle noisy-as seen from my window!
Biggest hurdle of the night was arriving at Groome Transportation in Columbus and chartering a van to take me to Fort Benning. The driver and I unloaded my luggage, I dragged it to the curb and sat down to wait for the next driver. 5 minutes later this same driver came up huffing and puffing to inform me that he HAD to take me to Benning because the Columbus driver "Didn't know de way. Dat id-ee-it, what is he doin' bein a driver if he don't even know de' town?" (this is how it happened-for real!) So, we piled my luggage back in the van, as he fussed and cranked over the other "stupid" driver. At this point I made the fatal mistake of using logic to say,"Its really not that hard, and I'm in the van. I know my way home, I could show him." Dum dee dum dum. So, he went back in the building to have it out with the other driver and the short of it was that I ended up having to unload and reload the luggage one LAST time, into the van of the "stupid" driver. lol. It was all rather amusing at 1030 at night. Then, once on the road this fellow commenced to tell me about the "brain work" involved in driving and how his wife thought he "dust sit in the de van and drive, but no sir, der was too much involved. You gotta treat de passengers as you own childern, like preciousness. Der ain't nuttin like jus sittin in de van." Although he was a trifle hard of hearing and prone to forgetfullness, we did manage to make it home and in one piece! Hooray!
So, since I had my mail held while I was away, I was anticipating letters!!! And Lou did not disapoint, I had 3 of them waiting with the junk mail, offers for free pizza and Chinese buffet, eyebrow waxing and gutter cleaning. So good to hear from him! It was like having him here with me for about 10 minutes, reading and re-reading.
Friday/Saturday (written right after the 8 hour pass)
Hey Baby! So tired! We played Ranger games all night and didn't sleep at all. We did get 3 hours on the Bus though. We are here at Dahlonega and we in-processed medical, did a smokefest layout on the rocks in the sun. From what guys are saying Mountain Phase is a smoker physically but they only had 3 recycles per company vs. Darby with like 30-40. So we'll see how it goes :). We have all sort of knots, rope and rappelling training going on for the next week. Not sure yet, but 3 meals a day and 4 hours of sleep may be on the way! 
Oh, I am a new man! Its crazy we got 4 hours of sleep on a bed! Then we just ate like the biggest breakfast ever! I'm on top of the world! I vote Mountains so far! Could be bad, not sure why they are being nice. Anyway, today we are doing our 30 and 60 foot rappel off one of these mountains. We got all our stuff last night and did familiarization, all this mountaineering stuff is pretty cool, the course is looking up! They treat us like people and we actually are learning stuff. We should do a lot of knots tonight and tomorrow. I miss you!.............
Well, things are going well. We did knots and rappels. So easy and then people get stupid and things get silly. Whatever! We'll all be strong Rangers! Food and sleep has greatly improved morale! Oh yes, and they assigned us battle buddies. (the guy you hang with for the course and depend on) I got S____. So I'm happy and he's happy now because I can do knots. Yay me. Tee hee! (S___ is the ER nurse that helped him out so much during Crawl Phase, a good guy) You should see how retarded these guys are. Now we are just sitting under the 60 ft cliff  waiting to rappell- JUST DID IT-CRAZY. 
We did it with ruck and weapon and helmet. Crazy cause it was all wet and slimy cliff rocks straight down, guys are flipping upside down and RIs are going crazy! Tee hee Tee hee!
Next letter: postmarked June 9th.
Hey Baby, passed knots and rappelling test!  Did all within time and flawlessly executed. We just did rope bridges across a stream here. 
It is so beautiful here all of us are talking about how we'll come back some time to enjoy it. Probably won't happen but it is pretty here! We just finished hoist and a-frame pulley systems off of the 60 ft cliff. 
All sorts of stuff we can use in Afghanistan to scale cliffs and get equipment up and down. We are supposed to go climb a mountain and do a sunset church service at the top. We are learning all sort of stuff and the RIs are pretty cool. They are 1000 times better than the xo*#f at Camp Darby. Its pretty cool! They want to teach us, not just be xo*#f. Sorry-teehee. Don't worry about me becoming a heathen, all the guys read their Bibles from the church services we had. Its so funny when they are here people turn to God for help. I remember CPT Mcleod said God was the only reason he made it through. I forgot to tell you but I made friends with an armor captain who was Baptist. We used to pray before every mission. I miss him as he recycled. We got into TULIP and missions and all sorts of theology. He had 2 kids and was a great guy. Hope he makes it through! Hope I make it through! I need to pass one patrol this phase and one in Florida then its-RANGER.
I'm seeing more of Bill and Bugg. CC is in a land unknown but I'm in 1st platoon, 2nd squad, A company and Bill/Bugg are in 2nd platoon. I'll try and write you more during the next few weeks as we;ll be here but then we do (2) 1 week FTXs (field training exercise- think camping without food or shelter) out in the field. I may be able to write but probably not. Letters and mail around here are hilarious. (referring to their unconventional and extremely slow mail system) By time you get this I may well be in Florida. All I have to do to get a "go" to Florida is one patrol. Too easy! I know its crazy but when I get out of here I'm gonna go to the beach. So, _____ (unable to decipher this) some beaches. I need flip flops, shorts and sun. I'm paste white, damp, wet and full of sores and bites that need salt, air and light. Yep, the beach sounds good. (This cracked me up as Lou grew up 30 minutes from the Jersey beaches and up til now despised beaches,sand and sun! Glad he has a craving though, because I love beaches!) The only hitch would be you getting off work, maybe we'll do a weekend. (I think he's forgotten about our family vacation to Florida in August! :)) 
And with that, the letter ends. At Ranger School, you don't worry about "Dear" and "Goodbye" sometimes-its "just the facts, ma'am". But, I enjoy hearing about any and all of what's going on with my Lou 4 hours north of here, in Dahlonega, Georgia. The area is beautiful, as he says. Its a historic area, known for the Georgia gold rush in 1827, I believe. It has many wineries and tourist attractions, as well as camping/cabins. Maybe we will actually get a chance to visit when Lou is eating 3 meals a day, resting 8 hours each night and has regained his normal stature post-Ranger Days. I'll post the 3rd letter sometime this week!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Forward All Mail to Texas....

I have decided I must get these last letter fragments on the blog before I get completely wrapped up in my Texas vacation! 
Its been great, these first 3 days have flown by and I see myself on the plane returning home in far too short a time! 
Lou is in the mountains, meanwhile, braving the elements as I hang out with T, Betsy and their 5 little stinkers, eating good food, sleeping far more than necessary, staying up past midnight (hence the need for sleep) and coming up with all sorts of messy crafts and games to play with Kate, May-May, Ashlynne and Debo. 

Back to the trenches! This is Lou's letter #3 that reached me while he was still in Crawl Phase. 
Hey Baby! Hope all is well! Its Tuesday and we got 2 more days! There is a lot of anticipation about "Go"s cause they don't tell you. I'm nervous but confident. (lol-love his way of putting this!) We started platoon OPS yesterday and it went very badly! We got smoked, yelled at and berated. When you go from 12 guys to working together to 53, things go badly and then the RIs have fun! We got smoked all through our patrol last night. We didn't hit the sack til 03:30 for a 04:30 wake up. Things compounded themselves cause no one got up and the PL (platoon leader) missed his brief-BAD NEWS!!! Another long day! Missing you terribly! Oh yah, last night we had fun in a swamp. The RI made us inplace in a swamp. Horrible. The smell was horrendous! But the spiders!!! The spiders were huge, big wolf spiders crawling on you! (Did you know these can have a 4" leg span? At least, unlike the widows and recluse they are not poisonous.)
 Saw a black widow on a buddy's ruck. Saw about 10 brown recluse spiders (check out the link if you have a strong stomach and want to see the damage a recluse bite can cause) and about a billion other creepy crawling, biting, stinging monsters. Ants, centipedes, and RIs yelling about how to watch out for snakes. Fun times. My body is still crawling. 
My leg is healing nicely and like I said, 2 days Baby! Then RIs are handing out a million spot reports (Ranger School demerits) If you get 3 you could get recycled. If you don't clean your M4 (type of gun-for the weapon letter/# identification illiterate) or fall asleep or just about anything really. CC's (friend) whole platoon got one for not cleaning up after themselves. 
Wednesday, June 2nd
Hey Baby! One more day! What a night, we did our mission and moved out back to camp but it was black out! I literally had to hold on to the rucksack of the guy in front of me. We went into a swamp then into a huge gorge 60-70 foot on each side. We literally crawled up the sides. We had rucks, weapons, radios, and tons of other special equipment. It was hysterical! Then we moved too slow cause you can't see and if you fall with all that stuff its bad, not to mention the huge drops and dips. The RIs started yelling and screaming. Definitely one of those "what did I get myself into" nights. Went to bed at 3am, up at 04:30 and am now sitting in an op-order brief, trying not to pass out. Tehe tehe.
I got 2 of your letters last night. It is always wonderful to get a letter. They hand them out at around 02:00 and morale is pretty low..............Sorry I haven't been able to write you. But I didn't have a lot of time and I gave away some of my envelopes. I will try to send some more once I get into mountains.........You never really know what you have until you have nothing....................................................
Another fragment:
I'm sitting here at L____ Army Airfield waiting for the guys to land the C-17 (this time the letter/# combo is a plane!) and jump. Its cool out and I'm in the shade. The RIs are busy with jumpers and I'm thinking of you! Life is good. Well, I still want to run down Dixie Road and see you!!! Oops, the gate just closed. I wish I was with those guys. I hope they don't get hurt but it looks really motivating to be jumping. Anyway, I'm airing out my leg and it looks much better. Its gotten some big puss filled pimples on and around my wound (This is gross and I'm a nurse!) so I'm having fun cleaning those.............. I'm sitting in a 3 hour briefing for Platoon OPS which started today. Hope everything is going well. I'm doing just fine! Counting the minutes! We may have some guys who need a ride or what not but we'll have plenty of time! I hope this gets to you by the time Friday rolls around. (And it did, but after we had already started the pass. :) So much for all the equipment lists he included that I could pick up prior to Friday!)
And now back to life in Texas! 
T and Betsy's youngest, Rebekah (Bekah) is the happiest little baby ever! But, she has this tendency to smile, start giggling and immediately douse you or some nearby victim with a bit of baby spit. In her case, a bit is a fountain worth! (Check out Betsy's noteworthy pic of her and Uncle David on Facebook if you have any doubts!) I have reservations about getting her too excited because of the flood that just might follow! I've been told (many) times by my mom about my own "projectile" episodes as a baby, so I just can't hold it against Bekah. Besides, she has the sweetest personality. You can't help but love her!
She loves to get around on the floor by "scooching" and in her case, it involves her head! She is amazing-and should totally apply to be featured in the infant Guiness Book of World Records for her flexibility and maneuvering!
We finish up a normal day of "kidland" here with Mommy reading to the girls and or movie/popcorn time!
I'm missing my Lou, but being in Texas with family is the next best thing! Thanks T & Betsy for letting me camp out with you!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Letter #2 and the End of the Crawling Phase

The same day Lou came home, two of his letters arrived in the mail. After spending several days deciphering these I've posted the first one below. Thought you all would enjoy the stories of a severely sleep deprived letter writer! These are all written during the Crawl Phase, which he graduated from on Friday. We thank the Lord for his goodness to us in giving Lou a "go". Again, Lou's writing is in Army Green and mine follows with explanations as needed.
 Date: "Honestly not sure what day this is"
So much has happened in the last week that this notebook wouldn't cover the half. The lack of food and sleep is definitely having an effect. I am thin already and hilousinations 
  (hallucinations-took me a minute to figure this out! I know one guy started hallucinating that his buddy's rucksack was the Chips Ahoy talking cookie from the commercial, lol)  are very common. We didn't sleep last night and only got 1:45 the night before and every night since we got to Camp Darby. Bill has a count and it was at like 20 hours total for past 11 days lol. I was patrolling at 03:00 something in the morning and am now famous for the "zig zag" or "weaver". Every ten steps I would make it from one end of the formation to the other. I had no idea the guys had fun watching but I don't remember. Still loving this craziness, all my love! These guys are crazy!!! (he picked up the multiple !!! habit from me, I think. Its a trademark Kim communication element. :)) We eat dinner at 2 am when we go to bed and eat breakfast at 04:30 or so when we get up and that's it. All day. You must (eat) it all, then can't eat anything else through the day. I'm sorry, I'm just upset that we spent the 2 hours of sleep time this morning getting yelled at. The night before we would have gotten 2.5 hours but some dude stole 2 MREs. We got group punished at 04:00 in the morning for nothing. Yelling and push-ups, all after a full day of missions. I did think it was pretty funny, but then I would think about the sleep and then "cry tears" would come into my mind. Then I'd think how ridiculous the whole thing was, 100 dudes getting smoked for $8 worth of MREs, what a mess!
I got 5 of your letters on Thursday, maybe? I was so happy having them in my pocket while we got yelled at for being chow thieves! Ranger games! Still haven't had a chance to read all of them yet. So busy! We got up at 04:00, chow/hygiene til 04:30. Then at 05:00 do a full equipment layout. At 06:00 if you are running the mission that day you do a w____ (couldn't figure out this word to save my life!) 30-40 minute brief on the day's mission. The format is crazy and it takes all 14 guys (there are 14 men in his squad) that hour to write it. Then from 07:00 to 10:00 we all work like crazy to get the op order ready. (click the link to see how technical it gets) We write it by scratch every morning. Draw diagrams on 8 chalkboards, terrain models and so on. We all work like crazy, team effort and then you brief it all if you are in charge that day.  10:00 your brief can take up to 3 (yikes) hours. Then you do equipment inspections and march out of camp around 2-3 in the afternoon. It is always so hot. The second you hit the woods the RIs (ranger instructors) hit you with arty (artillery) and ambushes. Its crazy and a lot of fun. We go several miles through the woods and swamps each day. It always goes into the night. We get back around 12:00 pm and then do a layout/MRE draw and possible chow. Bed at 2ish. That was my week. I was a team leader for one patrol, they don't fail you if you get a go or not but our squad leader did some dumb stuff and the RIs are HARD. They probably didn't give any of us "go"s. You get two patrols and you must get a go in one to move on and not recycle.
"The Burn!!!"
Very Traumatic!!! For last week I've been nursing a severe rope burn on my leg. We did the Darby Queen and my pants hiked up on one of them and the rope got me. Its about 3x5" It is above the top of my boots. Hurts so bad like needles, thousands. I put my socks over it to stop my pants from rubbing but then it healed into my sock and ripped it all out. It's huge, like a nightmare. I was so worried I would get kicked out or it would get infected. All the sweat, marching through the woods all day, lack of food and sleep make it impossible to heal. So I do my best to air it out for our 2 hours of sleep. But pants, sweat, briers, and patrolling just make it worse. I was very blessed to have an ER nurse in my squad. We got a fancy scrub/brillo pad 
(this is his description of a betadine OR scrub sponge :)) and scraper from the medics. So we grabbed a water can and I may never have experienced such pain. I was crazy, we brushed it and scrubbed it, scraped all the skin off. He said it was dead but it felt alive to me. (my poor husband, now he will know with certainty that nurses are heartless meanies! ) 6 days later I'm almost there. One little spot need to scab over but we have classes and an air drop so I'm so relieved. So much pain every step for 22 hours a day gets to you. Then my T.H.S. starts up. :) Tehe tehe.
(Tiny Heart Syndrome, its the guys' joke about the faintness of heart that comes on every so often. They say its when your heart looks something like the Grinch's before he has a transformation) 
I'm really doing very well, my love. And can't wait to see you..................................
Oh, and just for a little more sympathy my leg swelled up an extra inch or so. Tehe tehe. (Did I mention that I love my soldier? He's so funny!)
"I Got My Go"
So there I am stressing out because this is my last graded patrol. If I don't pass this I recycle the whole phase. Got up and ran around like crazy doing co-ordinations and planning, keeping the guys busy. We had all had about an hour of sleep. Just enough to make you miserable. Well, just to make it short. I botched it, I was using a totally different format, crazy long and I didn't write half of it. Some cards and sections I couldn't read cause its a team effort and some people do all sorts of stuff and then we bring it together and the squad leader (me) briefs it. (Hmmm, a group effort, after no sleep. Wonder why the handwriting was so hard to read? And here I was frustrated with group projects in microbiology, when everyone was awake.) Didn't have time to rehearse. Anyway, that's 20% of your grade and you need 70% to get a go. We moved out and got to the woods and I ______ (not sure of the word)  we moved, assaulted, and completed the mission flawlessly. So we finished and he (the RI) was an old school grader, hard and didn't like officers at all. They are not allowed to tell us whether we got a go or not until the end of the phase. But he said you did good and don't become a XO!X (Lou's abbreviations crack me up, the one for profanity resembles hugs and kisses far too closely!) because you got yours. Te he. Stressful day. Anyway, I am here at Airborne School...........................................................................................

(This is actually on post, about 8 blocks from our house. They brought them to the field and only the Airborne qualified guys could jump. Lou doesn't have Airborne yet so he was with the men who were able to sit down and watch the show. He will be going to Airborne when he graduates from Ranger School.) I'm just sitting here watching the road for a glimpse of you. (If I had known, I would have come up with many frivolous excuses to go driving down that road by the Airborne School last week!) I just have to stick it out and get my tab. I'm thinking that going straight through is do-able but we'll see. Pray for your man. I want to get a pizza, a milkshake and see you. Its nearly irresistible.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Day of the 8 Hour Pass-Ranger School

Yesterday Lou came home. It was an iffy thing, when exactly this famous 8 hour pass was supposed to fall. We thought the guys would get it prior to leaving for Mountain Phase in Dahlonega, GA and that's what our handy little "Ranger School brief" chart showed. But, the chart had been wrong before. So, there were a lot of rumors. A lot of text messages exchanged between us girls waiting on our men. We were told that they would call us the night before to let us know what time to pick them up (or they might not call). We were told that if they were recycled they would get a pass on Saturday (but no one knew how to find out if they were recycled). Some of the girls were showing up in the parking lot of the Ranger Training Battalion at 7am and the rest of us were like the famed American voters- "undecided". You see, in the army the men never get out when they're scheduled to. Well, I guess that's not always true because sometimes the timing is right. But, most of the time its not.
So we got to the parking lot at 11ish and hung around waiting in the Georgia sun. There was a discussion as to what to wear the day before.....and we decided standing in the parking lot that bathing suits would have been most suitable for the temperatures involved in standing on asphalt in Georgia in the sun. One of the girls was able to talk to her husband and found that he had been recycled, which was hard news at the time. "Recycle" can mean one of two things. You can go in a Day 1 and have to re-live RAP week with all its exhausting nonsense (see previous post for a blow-by-blow from Lou on it) or they have a little more mercy and let you insert at Darby. I think you still have to do the Darby obstacle course, which is a pretty formidable obstacle. But at least you don't have to complete the Malvesti and Darby, RPFT and Water Test.

Finally, right at noon we saw more men milling around inside the prison walls and several started coming through the wire gate and re-uniting with families. None of us had seen our husbands yet and I was definitely stressed. Like I said, none of us knew if they had passed or recycled.

Then, here came Lou in his uniform- looking about 20 lbs lighter. I can't remember what exactly I did, but I do remember babbling,"Did you pass? Did you pass?" and he was trying to understand what I was asking...and then he was like,"Yes, I passed. I'm going to the mountains." Those words made everything wonderful.
His uniform hung on him like a scarecrow's oversize clothing. The shoulder seams on his jacket were at the level of his biceps and his eyes were so tired and large, he looked like a little boy who's just been denied a second helping of dessert.
He had two buddies who needed rides to the Post Exchange (PX) and then to the laundromat to wash their 21 days worth of stinky swamp water and bug infested uniforms. Lou himself had 3 duffle bags worth to bring home.
He went back into the "prison" to change into his civvies and carry out all his extra gear. More men were being released at the time and loading into vehicles. No soldiers are allowed to drive on their 8 hour passes.  Their POVs (personally owned vehicles) are locked in a separate parking lot and they must depend on family or a friend on post to help them get around, or call a cab for the day. They are so sleep deprived during the 3 weeks they spend in Crawl Phase, Lou's company had anywhere from 1-2 hours of sleep a night.
If you are being recycled through Crawl Phase, you are not allowed to leave at the end when your fellow buddies are. Instead you can talk to your family through the fence and possibly set up a time for them to pick you up the following day, Saturday. You get an 8 hour pass on Saturday and then return to the Ranger Training Battalion for another 21 days of training, hopefully not to be repeated. Its very difficult to see guys in that situation, its so hard for them.
Once we left the Ranger Training Battalion, we headed to the PX and Clothing & Sales where Lou had a list of required items for Mountain Phase that he needed to purchase. We arrived home with 6.5 hours of our pass left and he began the layout.
There are 4+ pages of equipment and supplies that the officers must purchase to take to Ranger School. During their time in the field, stuff gets damaged, broken or torn by the elements (briars, thorns and thistles) and they must re-stock it. This we have found to be rather expensive. We laid out over $800 for the original Ranger School packing list. For the re-fitting, it cost another $200. Its quite the racket!
We sorted through 3 sacks of stinking,swamp water dampened, Georgia mud caked, bug infested uniforms and socks. It was fun! (maybe that's an exaggeration) I started laundry and we continued to work on the packing list. We then made a trip to Commando's to round out the tour and were finished with that. It was a good feeling!
Lou talked non-stop for the first 15-20 minutes of our time together. He was exhausted to the point of not always being coherent, but he did try very hard! He told me about his "rope burn" that he got from the Darby queen and his buddy S____ who he didn't know going into the course but who was a lifesaver. S____ is an ER nurse and he recommended scrubbing out the awful sore with a betadine soaked scrub/sponge. So, he proceeded to show Lou how and Lou said,"I squealed like a baby, but he saved my life, I think." The wound doesn't look nearly as bad 2 1/2 weeks later, but its still healing up. Its between his knee and ankle and it was further irritated by the swamp water, bugs and rough wet material constantly abrading it.
His legs were covered in chigger and ant bites. He said a guy practically had his hand eaten by an ant gang. Other soldiers' feet stayed wet for so long they developed a severe form of "dishpan feet" which then began to turn into pitting cavities in their soles, like nothing they'd ever seen before. They literally had no time to take their boots off day or night. They were going to bed at 3am after eating "dinner" at that time. They would sleep until 5 if they were lucky enough to and then be wakened to eat "breakfast". Those two MREs eaten within a 2 hour window were the only food they were allowed. They were not allowed to keep or stash away any of the food, it was to be eaten then or thrown out.
Lou ate as soon as I started giving him the food I'd brought to the parking lot. A laundry basket full of strawberries,blueberries and blackberries, along with a foot long sub. He ate in small amounts, I think his stomach had shrunk along with his chest. He did eat steadily though, consuming the fruit, sub, a Wendys chocolate blizzard, Asian boneless chicken wings, 4 vitamin waters, chips and finally the Chinese food he loves.

He lay down at the end of the pass for just a minute so I could crack his back and immediately fell asleep, waking up 2 minutes later with a start and a "I can't sleep, I have to get this stuff done." But, I did persuade him to take a 12 minute nap before we headed back to the RTB. The men are very in tune with the time, because even a 5 minute late arrival can get you recycled back to day one. They all were arriving on site 30 minutes+ early, as we did. Lou finished off his Chinese food and picked up his bags.
We said goodbye and he headed back to fenced area. He was shipping out this morning on a bus to Dahlonega, Ga- northern mountainous area. He was happy because they were guaranteed 5 hours of sleep on the bus and he intended to use it to full potential. He was so very grateful and humbled to have passed this phase of Ranger School. He said it was very much the work of the Lord and said he appreciated the prayers and concern of you all. As long as he continues and does not have to recycle either Mountain or Swamp Phase, I will be seeing him in approximately 40 days. I was so happy and thankful to have even these 8 hours with him though! I drove home to find that 2 of his letters had arrived in the mail after a 2 week stint of "empty mailbox syndrome"! These have many more details about the training and I will get them posted soon.