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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.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween and Sunday Funday

Another calender week down, and another great South Bay weekend in the books. Celebrated a little Halloween, which, in all honesty I don't know what I was celebrating (not sure I do...). Perhaps it is more fitting to say that I took the opportunity to party wildly in a costume. While Manhattan and Hermosa Beach didn't quite get on Madison's level, the revelry was certainly present.

There were great costumes everywhere, but I'm not really fond of the "went to the store and bought an entire costume in a bag" deal. I like the ones that people really put thought into and create from scratch. Honestly, I think my favorite one of the whole night was this dude that went as Owen Wilson from Zoolander, complete with Razor Scooter strapped across his back. This guy was so in character and looked so much like Owen Wilson that if I had run across him about six beers later I would have been fooled. I lamely went as a doctor, with scrubs and a mask. Oh yeah, and one of those really cool pen lights to check tonsils, which instantly made me one of the most annoying people in the bar.

I didn't really have big plans for Sunday, but, as fate would have it, I was talked into a Sunday Funday with the Rockham Crew and Jeff. We went down to the pier to watch football games, and lo and behold, there was a pumpkin racing festival taking place right outside the door of the bar, on the street that slopes down to the beach. Families were everywhere, building and decorating pumpkin race cars in the hopes of taking home one of the three foot trophies on display.

We wanted a trophy.

Sooooooo we entered the race. (after debating who amongst us was fast enough to snatch one and make it home without getting caught.)

We got our pumpkin, put some axles in it, got the wheels kit, and brought it back into our garage (Shellback's Bar and Grill) for work. An hour later, after being signed by every patron in the bar, the Rockham Racer emerged, complete with beer bottle ears, bottle cap eyes, mixed-drink straw hair, lime wedge eye brows, and a salt shaker lid nose.

We stepped up to the starting line with a crowd of Sunday bar patrons at our back. On the line next to us, a young man (okay he was 7) in uniform (a spiderman costume?), complete with pit crew (his dad and 8 year old brother). We were in for some serious racing.

"You're going down Batman!!" I taunted.

"But, I'm supposed to be Spiderman," our opponent replied.

"I don't CARE!"

"Why don't you boys take it easy, this is for charity," the pit boss (dad) said.

"Why don't you mind your own business old man!" Joe shouted.

(none of the above happened)

The refs got us into position. Pumpkins were checked for illegal parts. Apparently they had something against glass beer bottles.

The light went green. We were off. We came out of the gates in a fury. Tires squealing, seeds flying, crowd cheering.

And then our pumpkin hung a hard left turn, cut behind spiderman's, and crashed head first into the retaining wall.

We got smoked by a seven year old. Not even a gracious one at that, because he came over after the race, pointed at us and said "I beat you, I beat you, I won, I won!". Thanks kid, I guess I wasn't watching the race. In defeat we did what any sportsmanlike losers would do, we went back in the bar, made some excuses, and ordered shots.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Congratulations Dave

A big round of applause for my best friend David Folwell, who just finished the Marine Corps Marathon out in Washington, D.C. in 4 hours and 4 minutes. Dave managed to raise $4,535 to donate to the Wounded Warriors charity, and they need every penny of it. Many people that read this blog donated to this cause, and Dave and I both want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

It's things like this, donating the time and pain towards running yourself to near death for a cause, or sending a check to a man whom you've never met for a cause you believe in, that makes serving and fighting for your country worth every second. With that said, thank you Dave.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Today Was Hump-Day

Today, October 25th, 2007, was my official halfway point in the Marine Corps. I'm at the top of the hill looking down, past the midpoint, on the homestretch, cooking with gas and taking names.

It doesn't really feel like it's been two years. Two years is a long time, after all, that's half the time I spent in college, and that seemed to go by slower than this. Maybe its because that whole 'deployment thing' often times doesn't really feel like it happened, it kind of just remains a 7 month void in my life, where I'm not really sure where it went.

So now I have only 729 days left. It's crunch time. I know I'm getting deployed again, where and when I do not presently know, but that will be another 7 month 'where does the time go' card. I figure that it's time for me to figure out what I'm gonna do with my life post Marine Corps (besides the obvious answer of relax, not where a uniform, not salute anyone, not show up 15 minutes prior to the 15 minute prior rule, and not hurry up and wait...).

Oh yeah, so how did the Marine Corps treat me on my 2 year mark? They made me wake up at 3 am to show up at the armory, wait for the armorers for 45 minutes, get a rifle, make sure I was staged at the pick up zone by 5 am, only to not get picked up until 6:30 am, show up at the rifle range at 6:45 am, wait for the range coaches to show up at 8 am, sit through rifle classes until 11 am (I'm sorry, but by this point, I think I know how to handle an M-16), pretend to shoot at barrels until 1 pm, and then wait for buses to be late at 2:30 pm. It was a great day to be a United States Marine.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

G3C is Famous!

Today I received an email from someone that had found this picture on the web.

Someone took that pic off this blog, put that slogan to it and submitted it to http://militarymotivator.blogspot.com/

This guy has some pretty funny ones up on his blog if you want to check it out.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Stark apologizes for saying troops die for Bush's 'amusement'

LINK

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Rep. Pete Stark, D-California, apologized Tuesday on the House floor for his recent comments saying troops in Iraq were getting "their heads blown off for the president's amusement."

It's not the blatant stupidity and insensitivity of this remark that is getting my blood boiling, its Starks' blanket assumption that everyone fighting in Iraq A)is a political pawn of President Bush B) doesn't know what they are fighting for C) somehow didn't volunteer for the ALL VOLUNTEER MILITARY and D) doesn't want to be over there.

This is right up John Kerry's alley of saying that if you don't do well in school that you'll end up stuck in Iraq. Wow. Hey, thanks for the thumbs up and high fives guys. Us dumb-shits over in Iraq really appreciate being publicly humiliated and used as political propaganda.

I really hope that if, God forbid, anything were to happen to me in Iraq, that congressmen like Stark, and there are dozens of them, would have the guts to walk up to my mom and tell them that I died for the President's amusement. I think my mom would punch them in the face. I take that back, my mom is way too nice of a lady to lower herself to that standard, but maybe with luck my dog would relieve himself on the guy's $1000 tax payer funded shoes.

Take your apology and jump off a bridge. For my amusement.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Medal of Honor Awarded


Everyone should read this story about President Bush awarding the Medal of Honor posthumously to the family of a Navy SEAL who died in Afghanistan.

LINK

Friday, October 19, 2007



For those who don't know, The Onion is a 'fake' newspaper that was started, I believe, in Madison Wisconsin. It's kind of like a print edition of the Jon Stewart Show, only everything in it is pretty much made up. The above article is a hilarious piece about a former teammate and friend of mine, Jim Sorgi, who backs up Peyton Manning on the Colts. It talks about a scuffle they're having over the way Jim holds the clipboard during games. Check it out, its a good laugh.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Michigan Game

Fri, Nov 9, 2007
Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS) to Moline (MLI)

Depart: 07:00am
Arrive: 12:07pm

Las Vegas, NV (LAS) to Minneapolis, MN (MSP)

Delta Air Lines
Flight 6625 operated by Northwest Airlines (on Boeing 757)

Class of Service: Economy

1 Stop – change planes in Minneapolis, MN (MSP)
Connection Time: 53 mins

Depart: 01:00pm
Arrive: 02:15pm

Minneapolis, MN (MSP) to Moline, IL (MLI)

Delta Air Lines
Flight 7031 operated by PINNACLE DBA NORTHWEST AIRLINK (on Canadair Regional Jet)

Total Travel Time: 5 hrs 15 mins


Do you know what the above gibberish is?? That is my flight itinerary to go back to Madison for the Wisconsin-Michigan game. Just got word passed to me today that we were going to get a 4 day weekend, and I was looking up flights within the hour.

The best part? My buddies Clay and Jeff get to come up with me and experience Madison for the first time. They got a little taste of the Badgers at the game in Vegas, and they are both slowly converting. This weekend is going to be over the top for them.

I AM PUMPED. I hate Michigan. Not as much as I hate the Hawkeyes, but, let's be honest, that hatred is unmatched. My boys have a couple of weeks here to get back on track, because when I come to town they better be on top of their game.

I just came across this picture on my camera. This is the card that my niece Claire gave me when my sister Erin and her family came to visit me while I was home. It reads, "I missed. I love you. I am glad you are home from war. Clarice Amelia Kick

116 DVDs to Go

I just want to let everyone know that I finally broke down and bought a tv. Why do you care? Well you might not, but if you were one of the dozens of very kind people that sent me dvds in Iraq, then you'll be happy to know that, while I didn't make it through all of them in the Zaidon, I plan on going through the entire stack now. Even the entire Cary Grant collection that someone sent me. I'm not sure I even know who Cary Grant is, but I'm gonna get real familiar with him real soon.

*On a side note, I still don't have cable. I find it very odd that the government will pay for criminals to have cable and HBO in prison, but they cannot hook it up for the Marines who live in the barracks.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Secret Ninja Stuff

The last two days have been pretty interesting for me. Our platoon commander has brought in an old friend of his who is a wilderness/survival/mixed martial arts/tracking/primitive living expert. This guy is basically the dude that every kid that grew up anywhere near some woods wanted to be when they grew up. He's only 27, but when your stories begin with, "Last year when I was doing a survival course in Nepal," or "So I was sparring this monk in Thailand," or "By week two I had lost 22 pounds," your age doesn't really matter.

Essentially he has been teaching super secret ninja stuff that you didn't even know was possible. Like starting a fire with two sticks. Okay, so maybe you knew that was possible, but I know you've tried, and I'm sure you failed. Well, we learned how to do it, and after shaping some tools with a pocket knife for about 30 minutes, we did it. We've done a lot of martial arts training. Today we even did a 3 hour manhunt style tracking course that he had set up the night before by running around through our desert area, pretending like he was evading police. We had to pick up and follow his trail, as well as determine which direction he felt that he was being followed from by analyzing how his steps would drift, determine his rate of speed, whether he was wounded (he was limping), etc. We also learned all kinds of wilderness survival stuff, you know, like Castaway meets Robinson Crusoe. It was pretty awesome.

The guys gonna be here for one more day. I'm kind of hoping that he can teach me invisibility or something cool like that. Maybe the force.

Monday, October 15, 2007

No Bed of Roses


This past weekend I watched the Wisconsin game at Busby's in Brentwood, right by the UCLA campus. It's the official LA Badger Alumni bar in the Los Angeles. This was the second week in a row that I have gone there for the games. I won't comment on the fact that the past two weekends the Badgers have lost, I can only guarantee that no one at that bar was cheering louder than I.

On a much better note, while I was there I had the pleasure of running into a few other former Wisconsin players, one of which has written a book about his playing days early in Barry Alvarez's tenure as head coach. Chris Kennedy was a walk-on on the 1994 Rose Bowl team.

I picked up a copy of his book, "No Bed of Roses", and, while I have not read it cover to cover yet, thumbing through it it looks pretty good. I don't sell out too often and peddle wares on this blog, but I know that a lot of Badger fans read this thing, and if you want a real 'insider' look on what your favorite team is all about, this is probably as real as its going to get.

http://www.nobedofroses.net/

Friday, October 12, 2007

Afghanistan??

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/military/20071012-9999-1m12afghan.html

Perhaps I'm not going back to Iraq after all...

The above article talks about how there may be a move in the near future to have the Marines take over combat operations in Afghanistan, leaving Iraq to the army.

“We are the premier expeditionary force in the world, and operations in Afghanistan would take advantage of what we do best,” Lt. Col. Chris Hughes, chief spokesman for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, said yesterday.

I agree with what he's saying. We aren't a police force, we're a fighting force. We don't occupy, we invade and destroy. The army, with their differences in training, numbers of troops, and equipment, are much better suited to Iraq. Let them patrol Baghdad in armored Bradleys.

“But in this case, you have two separate forces that have different requirements. As we start to move toward more of a security-and-occupation role in Iraq, that's more an Army type of thing.”

That's just not how we work. Let us go to Afghanistan and take it to Tora Bora. One of the guys in our platoon asked our platoon sergeant today as we were getting off, "Is there a lot of opportunities for Marines in Afghanistan?". He replied, "There's bad guys that need shootin' all over the damn world. They could send me to LA for all I care."
Just got done with an unmotivating 4 mile hike.

The only motivating part came when the hike was over and our platoon commander, Lt. Dixon, told us to drop our packs, take our cammie blouses off, put them in our packs and put our packs back on. "What? Did you guys think that little hump counted as p.t.? We're going on a pack run." And off we went.

Now I'm gonna reward myself with a little trip out to LA, the land of milk and honey.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Well, it's off to bed for me. Why? 3:30 am wake up call, that's why. 2/7 wants to go on a motivating road march tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Flak Jacket

Our new flak jackets arrived!!!! (fake enthusiasm)

Never mind the fact that we were promised them last February when we began combat operations in Iraq. Hey, better late than never right? Right?

Actually, I'm not going to sit here and say that our lack of new flak jackets lost the war for us last year. But, it is annoying to always hear about all this great new stuff we're going to get, only to have the field issue of the gear hit delay after delay. The new flak has some great features, it has a better cut and fit, it has more MOLLE integration, it has a rapid release emergency feature that allows it to be immediately removed off a casualty, and it has a cumber bun design that helps take some of the weight off the shoulders and put it on your hips. Not bad.

I'm sure the Army could have snapped their fingers and gotten them within weeks. Actually, they probably would have received the second generation improved version before the first one was even off the line...

The gear swap did mean that I had to scrub, wash, launder and shower out 7 months worth of the Zaidon that had been hitchhiking on my old flak. We're talking mud, blood, tar, dirt, sand, food, manure, etc. GOOD TIMES.

Want to know the very bestest news though?? And this is for real, the story goes like this...

I spend a few good hours cleaning my flak. I get it all together and ready to take in. I arrive at the issue facility and get in line. Then stand in line. For a very, very long time. You see, civilians run the issue facility, and civilians like their lunch breaks, and their coffee breaks, and cigarette breaks. They like to tell you that you need to scrub the rest of that tar off your yoke collar, or that your vest isn't dry enough. They also like small staffs.

I finally reach the front of the line. A nice young lady is helping me. I ask "Hey, I heard that these new flaks were going to come in a wider variety of sizes, like tall." She said I was was crazy. So, being in the sour mood that I was in, I said, "Great, looks like I get to deploy to Iraq for another combat deployment with my stomach, small intestine, large intestine, kidneys, liver and spine once again exposed to mortar frag, grenades, gun shot wounds and IED blasts." (you see, they DONT have flaks in tall sizes, so all last deployment mine stopped right above my belly button...awesome).

Well, to cut a long story short, she had sympathy for me and called her manager over. The manager said that they would take down my measurements and fax them to the company that makes the flaks and have them make me a custom one. DAAAANNNG.

Now I'm just waiting to see if it comes out of my next pay check.
Well, I have finally settled back into my midweek routine. It was difficult, to say the least, because this was the most depressing sports weekend in recent memory for me. My two teams, both heading into the weekend undefeated, on top of their respective leagues, decided to lose in embarrassing fashion to embarrassing teams. I will delve into their embarrassment no further.

I recently signed up for this new website that my sister Sarah sent me, goodreads.com. A lot of times I talk about or recommend books that I have read recently on this blog, so I figured signing up for this site would be a neat idea. It rates your tastes against your friends list and lets you read their reviews. It's pretty simple. To answer your question, no, I didn't get payed for that plug...

Friday, October 05, 2007

Happy Birthday Lang!


While in the Marines I have snuggled up and cuddled with many a man to reduce my cold, shivering misery. But there is no man that I'd rather wake up to in the back of a car after a night in Madison.... That sounds oddly non-heterosexual.

Oh well. Here's to 25 years. Have fun, and don't come knocking on my door in the same condition you did four years ago on your 21st (some of you readers know THAT story).

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Let's Hear it From Dave...

While I'm at it...

I’m also putting out an APB for the Wisconsin Badgers defense. Anyone seen them?? If you do run into them, let them know we have a big game this week against a much improved Illinois team, and it’d be nice if they wanted to come. 1-0. Let’s go.
Well, I’m back on base. That’s depressing in itself. I can definitely say I was ready to come back to California, but today we had to pull rifles out of the armory, and I could definitely have gone another month without touching one of those.

A lot of people have been asking me what path I chose to take regarding my last two years in the Marines. . I love being a Marine, but when my four years is done, I plan on moving on to something else.

Oh yeah, one more thing. I’d rather run my head through a wall then go to OCS to become an officer. No offense to them, but I have seen what they have to do in Iraq. It generally revolves around choosing what color chem-lite is best for putting in the heads or where the most tactical place to put a canteen on your gear is. No thanks.

Da Fam

A lot has happened since the last time I was able to get on here and throw up a post. I had a rather large contingent of family come in this past weekend to visit, putting the Wood household at Standing Room Only, I flew back to 29 Palms (well, Vegas anyway), and I began dealing with stupid stuff all over again. All this while maintaining some semblance of sanity.

I guess I’ll begin with the minor Wood/Bauer family reunion. I’m almost afraid to list everyone that came, because I’ll surely forget someone… Let’s see- first came my sister Erin and brother in law Darrell, with their FIVE kids, Mariah, Jared, Emma, Claire and Garrett, all the way from Ohio. Then, my Aunty Cindy, Uncle Bill and cousin Marissa from Nebraska. Next up, Uncle John, Aunt Maria, and cousins Amanda and Micah from Tennessee/Alabama/Mississippi. Then it was Uncle Paul and Aunt Joanna from Indiana. Finally, cousins Angie and Andrea rolled up on scene from Denver. That’s in addition to my sisters Sarah and Meghan, and brotha from a different motha Ryan.

Needless to say, my mom was close to freak out mode leading up to it.

Highlights from the weekend?? An all day bags tournament on Saturday (which Darrell and I should have won), watching some football (we about had to hide the kids for a moment when it looked like the Badgers might not win), grilling pizzas, attempting and failing at getting my nieces and nephews to sit on my lap, and numerous trips to the keg.

To all that came, thank you so much. It means a lot to know that I have so much support and love from all of you.