Current Events / News

Original article posted by Cornelius:

We went there to do training of all kinds. Some of the Army’s favorite training is called “misery training”. This is where you live or work in the most barren, depressing, difficult conditions the Army can find. It gets you used to not having things that we are used to. I consider it useful for if I get called to serve in a third world country. I also got a good idea of what it is like to have an annoying senior companion. And an annoying junior companion. I don’t believe in annoying Mission Presidents, but if there was one, I’d be trained to deal with him.

We did non-misery training too. That was fun. We did a lot of the stuff that we had trained on in Mississippi. Apparently that whole experience was useful because we got high compliments on how good we were at doing what we were supposed to, instead of acting like idiots. The real infantry units got their bases overran during the night. I guess that’s why we’re going to be guarding the real FOB in Iraq.

I’d say I survived the experience fairly well. I did get a little desperate for some fun though. There were a few times where I needed to let go a little. I snuck up on a few people while they weren’t looking and did my Gollum impression. No one in my unit has ever seen the fun-loving, playful side of me, so I guess it freaked a few of them out. They thought I was loosing it. I probably was.

I also started screaming…for ice cream. The Baskin Robins on post was closed, so I went to the commisary and bought a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and an ice cream scoop (they didn’t have spoons) and wandered around post eating it. Mmmmm…Cherie Garcia…

That’s about it for Fort Irwin. Watch Dune sometime. I didn’t see any worms, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t any. Now I’m on leave for a few days. And I’m having a great time. Too bad I don’t have much time. I don’t have an address yet, but when I get it I’ll post it. The internet is probably going to be the best way to get to me though. The mail takes two weeks each way in Iraq, and everyone has the internet. Just post comments here and I’ll look at them. Or, if you like, e-mail me at It really helps to hear from people.


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,


Original article posted by chamblin:

The word of the day is succinct. It’s cool. Look it up. If you can guess the movie, 12 million points. I’m feeling more… benevolent today than normal. And less like I hate everything. Don’t give in to hate. That leads to the Dark Side.

It’s been raining here. Lots. So far our X-wings haven’t sunk into the mud. But that’s probably because we park them on gravel.

So I’ve been reading The Miracle of Forgiveness. It’s really good. If you haven’t read it, do so. Some people will tell you that it will just make you feel bad about yourself. I say, “Balderdash!� If it makes you feel lousy, then you probably need to read it. There’s no lazy way to be perfect and that’s what we need to be. You know who you are.

We’ve had a few days off here and there and I spent them at the mall. I got to play Skee-ball at Chuck E. Cheese. That was fun. There’s also a game with a laser pistol. And a video projector in the mall. I won a trophy. It was fun. I also saw the Easter Bunny in the mall. I asked him if he’d seen Mall Rats. He nodded and started to back away. If you’ve seen Mall Rats, this will probably be funny. If you haven’t seen it, don’t. It’s rated R and for very good reason. The part with the Easter Bunny is still funny.

As far as how training is going, it’s going. It’s mostly over. Hooray! In the last two weeks I learned how to drive with night vision goggles, extract myself from a minefield, and we went to the gas chamber, to name a few. It all sounds cool, but don’t be fooled by clever packaging. Busy work is busy work, even if you try calling it something like “Advanced Combat Training! Or an equally misleading term.

I saw something the other day that none of you will ever see outside of a movie. I saw a tall, good-looking blonde girl in jeans and a sweater come into the café to check her e-mail. She was carrying a laptop and an M-16. I know the guys are jealous.

Well, it’s time for me to wind down now. We’re going to the range tomorrow. We’re engaging targets from 30m away in buddy teams. It’ll be fun. Remember, “He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat.� I like random advice.

The man who likes random advice,


Original article posted by chamblin:

We are getting so many neat new things it’s incredible. National Guard units never get anything except for hand-me-down. My new body armor actually came shrink-wrapped! It’s nice too. It weighs less and is more effective than the stuff we had before. All of our new gear uses a new system of straps and loops which makes it totally customizable. I can put stuff wherever it is best for me instead of where the Army decided it would look cool. I got a new helmet, too. It’s got movable pads on the inside and a complex strap system. It feels more like a bicycle helmet than anything. It’s also 2lbs. lighter. Woo-hoo! I got a new rain suit that is actually waterproof. I got nice desert boots that I don’t have to polish, I got some nice new thermal underwear. It’s all black, so when you dress up in it and put on the cold weather balaclava, you look like a ninja. I have pictures.

I also got a digital camera. But I had to pay for that. It’s been a lot of fun.

There are a couple of things I got that I’m not so thrilled about. The first is a smallpox shot. All of you old people who were around when that was mandatory know what I’m talking about. For the rest of you, it’s like an infected mosquito bite. From a radioactive mosquito. With three heads. It’s driving me nuts! We’ve been ordered not to scratch it. Bad things happen if you scratch it.

The second thing I got was a sprained toe. Someone fell on it while we were riding in a track. So I got put on a profile, which is the Army’s version of a doctor’s note. Since I can’t train, all I’ve done since then is guard things. I’ve had time to read and write, but I’m almost out of stuff to read. I’m going mad. Mad!

I have a fun story to tell. A friend of mine who is over in Iraq now got attacked. His HumVee was going down the road when they passed a parked car on the side of the road. This car had many hundreds of lbs of high explosives in it. Some one detonated it when he was right next to it. As the top turret gunner, he of all people should have been killed by this. However, not only did he survive, but the only damage to the vehicle was a flat tire. Everyone was fine. It’s not because of our armored vehicles. It’s because of his personal righteousness and faithfulness to God’s commandments.


1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

9 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;

10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

I actually had a couple of days off not too long ago. I did some shopping and went to a movie. It’s called ‘Robots.’ Very good. Much like Shrek in its style of humor, but without all of the dirty jokes that only adults get.

It’s a good thing I got some days off, too. I was about ready to mutiny. Funny story. We were in a bus and the driver had to stop to get fuel. I told him that if he drove all the way home, I’d buy the gas. He said, Nuts to that, I’ve got the Army’s credit card! Then, everyone on the bus cheered.

All in all, it hasn’t been all that bad. The MRE’s (a.k.a. ‘Happy Meals’) all have candy in them. Remember to write the man who stands as a bullet sponge between you and Haji. Defending Truth, Freedom, and the American Way,


Original article posted by chamblin:

During the last four days we did urban combat and, thanks to many hours of playing CounterStrike, I understood immediately most of the concepts that they taught.

During the four days we ran through many exercised. Our platoon rotated between building search, inner cordon, and negotiation/prisoner search. I will explain these in some detail.

The first thing that happens is called an inner cordon. What we do is roll up to a place in all of our big, armored vehicles and surround it. This is pretty easy. If anyone shoots, we shoot back. Very simple.

The next step is negotiation. A team gets sent in to ask nicely for whatever it is what we want. If we don’t get it, they leave quickly.

The last part is room to room search. This is where all the action is. When we did this one at night I ws th first man in for the whole platoon. It was very exciting. I can’t give you a lot of details, but if you’ve ever played CounterStrike on a team that really knew what it was doing you may understand. I missed the day building search because I was at a class on medevac with a chopper.

The next day we had one exercise. The instructors called it “Vietnam Day.” They took everything they could think of and threw it at us. This includes a live medevac from a hot LZ. My team put a bunch of people on litters and loaded them on a chopper. I got to ride on the Huey also. It was really cool.

Today I got my weapons switched. I was carrying the standard M-16. Now I have the M-249 SAW. Again, I must give a CounterStrike analogy. Those of you who play are no doubt familiar with the machine gun that’s so expensive and powerful it has its own category. Yeah. Those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s like taking a garden hose to a water fight where everyone has squirt guns. It’s mine now. I asked to have it and all my buddies said I wa crazy. Mostly because its really heavy. I told them that: #1. I know I’m crazy, and #2. Everything the Army “gives” us is heavy. If I’m going to a water fight, I want a garden hose. I don’t know what these guys are thinking.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Remember, the slow knife penetrates the shield. That’s about the best piece of advice I have to give right now. Think about it. It’s done wonders for me.

Your soldier of… Something,


Original article posted by Cornelius:

The address is:

Blaine Anderson
222nd Field Artillery BN(C BTRY)
Bldg 2490
Camp Shelby, MS 39407

The promise is that if you write me a letter, then I will write you a letter. There will be a newsletter-thingy posted here to keep you informed, but I would appreciate all the support you can give me. Perhaps the management would consider adding a topic for me, as I don’t have my own? That would be really cool.

Well, so long everybody.

Original article posted by Cornelius:

Some of you know part of this story already. For those who don’t, I’ll start at the beginning. Back in April, I started working on mission papers. Everything went fine until I tried to get my immunization records from my National Guard unit. You have to have some shots now before you can turn in papers. It didn’t used to be that way, but they changed the standard before I started working on it. The problem was that someone lost my file. It took them until August to get me what I needed.

Then, I turned the papers in to my bishop. He took them to the stake president. All of a sudden they re-drew all of the student ward boundaries in Cedar City. I ended up in another stake. Start the process all over again. Only this stake president says, “I’m not sending in your papers until you’re an elder, and we’re not going to do that until the next stake conference.” That was in November.

So I waited and the weekend before Thanksgiving I was ordained an elder. The day before Thanksgiving, my section chief calls and tells me our unit has been put on alert. I ask him if I can still turn in my papers. He tells me no, but he’ll ask anyway.

This weekend at drill I got to talk to my battery commander who tells me that I’m going to Iraq with everybody else. He also tells me to look at the experience as something positive and remember how many of the current General Authorities went to WW2 before their missions. I thought about it and he’s right. I’ll come back from this with a stronger testimony, more wisdom, more knowledge, resume-building experience, and a big wad of cash.

The point is that every time I get close, something changes. I know that God has something planned for me. You can look at this as I’ve been getting the shaft, or that God knows it’ll be good for me. Maybe even necessary. Every trial contains a blessing and it’s been my experience that the bigger the trial, the bigger the blessing. For those of you who play FFXI, think of it as I’m being power-leveled. Sure, I have to fight tons of stuff that’s way too hard for me, but there is someone behind me who will protect me, heal me, and if necessary raise me. And I get experience ten times faster than normal. How many of you would turn that down?

Well, that’s the story. You decide if it’s good or bad, triumph or woe.

Orginal comments:

Nickname: squishous
Re: Strong am I with the Force…but not that strong.
This is a triumph, brother, a triumph.

it’s been a while, I am glad to hear you are still moving forward with your papers. I am sad that you will be put in harm’s way, but you will remain in our (mine and Mindy’s) prayers.

and remember what you would do if 100,000 Zergling suddenly came over the ridge…


Nickname: Stephanie
Re: Strong am I with the Force…but not that strong.
I shall say a triumph, even though it scares me more than a little.
Come and visit and I will feed you donuts.
And you can tell me when you’re leaving.
I’m moving to NZ in Jan, so visit me before then. During the weekend.
Love you

Nickname: gandhi2
at the risk of sounding blasphemous….
If you ever need 36 WHM, I’ll be there in whatever sense I am able. Seriously, God, Light, Energy(insert conscious creation entity/god(s)/pantheistic universal force here) be with you. I hope you make it through this OK. I have a brother, recently married, who will be home for a year, before finishing off his required active duty time. Hopefully, a year later will be peacetime, and he, you, and all others in the military can spend it in college with their wonderfully earned scholarship money.

Next Page »