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This blog exists only as an archive. It is a journal that serves as a window into my life as a Marine combat veteran serving in Iraq and Afghanistan; it was written with no filter, no politics and no agenda. Please feel free to follow my journey from beginning to end. Welcome to my life.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Madison


Wow. That would be the only word capable of describing how amazing this past weekend was. Jeff, Clay and I flew up to Madison, watched the Badgers stomp Michigan, it was Veteran's Day, it was the Marine Corps birthday (we're all closet motivators), and it felt like every one of my old teammates were back in town.

The weekend started off for us with a drive to Vegas. We had planned on getting a cheap hotel (they have to be a dime a dozen off the strip, right?). Well, apparently not cheap enough for Marines. Sixty bucks? No thanks. So we decided, "Hey, let's just go to the airport and sleep there!" So after a briefly scary moment when we were trying to check in and our reservations weren't there (apparently they won't let you check in the day prior to your flight???), we staked out a spot underneath some pay phones that was near a restroom. It had a beautiful view of the strip, and seemed tucked away enough that we wouldn't be bothered. Well, we got bothered. At one point at 4 am, some creepy dude that had crawled next to Clay and fell asleep within arm's reach of him, followed me into the restroom and started asking me for money.

Iraq Mode Switch: On.

That situation ended up not escalating, but needless to say, our night was miserable.

Fastforward to Madison. We arrive Friday night, and surprise, we drive straight to Wando's. Walk inside, take a deep breath, and ordered our first Spotted Cow. Friday night we also had a birthday party for an old friend of mine, Owen Daniels, whom I had not seen since I graduated almost two and a half years ago. A bunch of our old teammates were back in town and all showed up. It was practically a Badger Football team '04 reunion.

Saturday, we woke up, walked to our car in the parking garage (yes that means I didn't sleep in it this time!) and got all dressed up in our Marine uniforms. It was Veteran's Day, it was the Marine Birthday, and, well, we were on a budget. We grabbed a razor, walked back into Wando's, shaved, got looked at strangely, and we were off to the stadium.

The game was unreal. We were walking around on the field pregame, and were about to return to our seats when one of the band directors grabbed us with a motivated "Semper Fi Devil Dogs!" and told us that he wouldn't allow us to sit in regular seats and that instead we were going to sit with the band in their section. He said, "you have free reign to do and go as you please, if anyone gives you any grief, tell 'em Gunny said so!" THANK YOU.

We spent the first half partying with the band, which I might add I worship. It might sound weird to hear an old football player talk about the band that way, but ask anyone and they'll tell you that we have the best band ANYWHERE. No one has more fun. One of the strangest things happened while I was going to the restroom. I was walking up the stadium steps and I heard someone shout my name. I turned and looked and some guy was leaning over a railing, waving at me. "I read your blog all the time!" he shouted. Well random dude up in the stands, I didn't have the chance to tell you then, but thanks.

The second half we walked back down onto the field and hung out by the bench, all the same ex-players from Wando's were down there as well. It was a great time, made even better by the woodshedding that we put Michigan through.

Post game was the best. On our way to our friend Jerry's tailgate we got sucked into the Stadium Bar, which throws a big bash in it's parking lot. Once in there, there was no escaping. Jeff, Clay and I have never been more inappropriately touched in our entire lives. I think every middle-aged woman at one point in time groped one of us, most of them while holding their husband's hand. Makes for an awkward moment when a gentleman says, "hey Marine, happy Veteran's Day, let me buy you a beer." And then when he turns back around to hand it to you, his wife is feeling your chest. AWKWARD. It was all in good fun though. We ran into plenty of retired Marines, the majority of whom were higher ranking than us, luckily we didn't get locked on by any of them.

Any guesses on where we ended up after the Stadium? If you guessed Wando's you guessed right. We were there, literally, from 5 pm until 5 am, way after bar close. I won't even go into how nuts that place got, it would just get repetitive- beer, shot, beer, beer, shot, beer....

So there it was. One of the best weekends I can remember. To everyone that came up and gave us a sincere "Thank you for what you do" I just want to say, "No, thank you." Why? Because it's the kindness of the everyday person that makes fighting for strangers worth all the risk and sacrifice. I rag on the Marine Corps all the time on this blog, but ultimately I love what I do, and I would join all over again, and I am more than willing to go back to Iraq, or Afghanistan or any corner of the world to finish the job, because I love my family, my friends, the Badgers, Wando's, State Street, Ian's pizza late night and Spotted Cow.

Happy Belated Veteran's Day

14 comments:

  1. There's a lot of us random dudes reading your blog, you crack us up and you get out there and party! Some of us are stuck at desk jobs all day long.
    Cheers!

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  2. Here here! I second that what the 1st anonymous commenter said! Love reading your blog. :)

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  3. Good for you Marine and i think Windsor and Howey would be saying the same thing,... I'd go abywhere or go back and do it all over again for the same reasons.

    Ftr. Windsor out.

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  4. Sounds like you had a freakin' blast! From another random blog reader (but I live in southern WI), THANK YOU for what you do. I think I sent out like 30 text messages that day to all the fighting men I've adopted and sent care packages to over the years...there is nothing better than being able to thank one of you young men or women for doing what you do.

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  5. Another echo from a daily reader of your blog...THANK YOU! I'm glad you write, awed by your talent, and proud of your commitment to service! What's interesting is that someone like me (who isn't from Wisconsin and hasn't even been there) has become a Wisconsin football fan thru reading your blog. My husband thinks I'm crazy. Glad you had a great weekend, Marines deserve a blowout every now & then!

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  6. I concur with the other "anonymous" posts. I live vicariously through your blog and reminisce about Madtown. You make me SO homesick (I'm stuck here in Suckeye hell, Ohio) Keep living the dream and thanks for sharing with us.
    Alumna '91

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  7. Very funny post! Thanks for sharing.

    If you are ever in Boston, let me know. I'll make sure you don't sleep in the airport.

    And no, I won't touch you since you appear to be the same age as my sons.

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  8. Way to go Badgers and Jake! What a way to spend Veterans Day 2007.
    Your blog is popular with us random dudes. I started reading to get the story from a marine in Iraq and I check your blog weekly for all the great stories.

    Too funny, in one of those pictures (the one where you had a babe in each arm) it almost looks like you have a diamond earing. I was like WTF? for a second there.

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  9. Jake, I think there are some things you haven't shared very well with us. One of the photos of you three Marines was very high resolution and I was able to look closely at your chest lettuce (ribbons). One of your buddies has a Purple Heart and you have a Naval commendation with a "V" which means for Valor in combat. What is the story? I know already you are very humble about your service, I dont expect you will tell us how you earned it, but it is even more proof to me that you are the kind of Marine that makes me proud to be your brother in arms. Semper Fi Devildog

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  10. Well, in defense of middle-aged women all over, I've got to say that what you do makes you guys sexy as all get out. Add the uniform and wellll...groping is still inappropriate, but understandable...lol.
    Much appreciation for what you do.

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  11. Jake,

    Posh's husband here, good to see you on Sat. I was sitting in the 3rd row behind the Badger bench and saw you and your buddies on the field. I was armed with my 1 gig memory card for my camera so I figured I would snap some picture for you guys. I also saw you go jumping into the band for "Jump Around" and tried to take some video of your "dancing", even though I was far away, you may want it. Let me know if you would like me to send any of it to you. I think you have Capuzzi's contact info, he knows how to get in touch with me. Take care and good luck in your Thanksgiving battle!

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  12. some one wrote:
    "Jake, I think there are some things you haven't shared very well with us. One of the photos of you three Marines was very high resolution and I was able to look closely at your chest lettuce (ribbons). One of your buddies has a Purple Heart and you have a Naval commendation with a "V" which means for Valor in combat. What is the story?"

    I think everyone here will agree with me that you have proved that you are a hero.For a true hero will do his duty, what he feels is right without boasting what he has accomplished and to stay true to himself .

    hero (hir′ō, hē′rō′)

    noun

    any person, esp. a man, admired for courage, nobility, or exploits, esp. in war

    any person, esp. a man, admired for qualities or achievements and regarded as an ideal or model

    Jake, YOU are our hero,and I pray to God every day that he keeps you and your friends safe in his hands.

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  13. Jake,

    You guys looked squared-away in your charlies, except for your belt.

    Trim that belt Marine!

    ; )

    Semper Fi, glad you guys had fun.

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  14. some one wrote:
    "Jake, I think there are some things you haven't shared very well with us. One of the photos of you three Marines was very high resolution and I was able to look closely at your chest lettuce (ribbons). One of your buddies has a Purple Heart and you have a Naval commendation with a "V" which means for Valor in combat. What is the story?"

    Read the 3-12-07 post. 'nuff said!

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