Original article posted by chamblin:

There are two parts to this. The first is that I’m only going to get 10 days of leave. This is not nearly enough time to do all of the things I want to or hang out with all the people I want to. The second part is that I have gotten mail from only seven different addresses the whole time I’ve been here, and four of those are blood relatives. My training is done, so don’t bother writing me a letter at Camp Shelby anymore. When I know my address in Iraq, I’ll let you know. For those of you who are my friends and haven’t written me, I understand. I know all to well what “out of sight, out of mind” means. I also understand that you are busy and things come up. I just hope that you will be equally understanding with me when I don’t make time to hang out with you while I’m on leave.

Well, enough of that. It’s been a while since I’ve written a newsletter, and a lot has happened. I’m going to give you the highlights. One thing we did is Reflexive Fire. That’s techniques for engaging targets closer than 20 meters quickly and accurately with limited use of the sights. To go along with that, we were issued new weapons. They have tactical rails on them which allow us to mount gadgets. I got a flashlight and what is called a “Fast Aquisition Scope”. It has a littel red dot in the middle that lets me know where my rounds will go. I like it.

Probably the high point of last month was General Conference. It was a nice boost for those of us who are surrounded by…less than impecable standards. Those of you who pay attention will know what I mean. It also makes it much more special when you have less opportunity.

One other big training item was a six day battalion exercise. It was obnoxious. My battery is ready for whatever, but the guys who run the show on higher levels need more practice. We spent most of the time going into local villages looking for people and stuff. Our platoon has been named “Search Platoon” because we’re always the ones who go into buildings and we’re good at it.

We got new uniforms. The Army is switching to a whole new camoflage pattern and uniform style. I don’t like it. Everything is velcro instead of buttons and the fabric won’t take a beating like the old uniforms. I blew one of by cargo pockets out by trying to put an MRE in it. Its the same pocket, but it just couldn’t take it. It was a pain trying to get the right sizes too. The people who fit us would only give us bigger sizes if we whined really bad or popped the stitches by flexing. (One of my buddies did this) It was like pulling teeth, but I got what I wanted.

As far as fun goes, we went to Six Flags in New Orleans. Lagoon beats its pants off.

The rest of our time here has been spent packing. We loaded a lot of containers. The Army doesn’t believe in boxes. We have containers.

Well that’s it. I’ll post my address in Iraq when I know what it is. I’ll get two weeks in the “middle” of the rotation to do what I want. If you want me to hang out with you then, write me *ahem* and let me know. Also, pray for me and my buddies. I can’t say where I’m going, but isn’t a pleasant place. Thanks,