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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.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Top Ten Moments of 2008

10. Attending the Wisconsin Badgers' Bowl game back in January as a military honoree. Being back on the sidelines was incredible, the atmosphere was amazing, and obviously the Fifth Quarter was the best time of the whole day.

9. Passing the Land Nav course at sniper school. The first week of school they hand you a compass, a map, and a list of 6 points, (along with a pack holding a sandbag, an overweight radio, and flak). The points are generally absurdly far away from each other, and you need to get half of them at night time, with no flashlight. All but two people failed the first attempt. I failed it, but successfully achieved King Blister status, due to my feet looking like raw hamburger meat. The next day I went back out and hobbled my way through it. It was honestly the first time in my life that I ever thought I may not have been tough enough.

8. Dominating the GMAT. Well, maybe not dominating. I didn't even score what I was hoping for, and I'm sure there are about a billion geniouses at MIT and Harvard that would scoff at my score, but...they are most likely complete dorks.

7. Watching Clay and Stephan take part in the first ever "Fleece Bet". Now this needs some back ground. Whenever there was an argument or challenge within the snipers in Sangin, the guys not involved would all start chanting "Fleece Bet! Fleece Bet!" in unison. The two involved would then have the option of partaking in a fleece bet. It's simple really. A fleece bet is kind of exactly what it sounds like, the stakes are simply that the loser must wear a Marine Corps issued polar fleece for 24 hours, that Marine was also not allowed to go down to the river to cool off. You must remember that in July it was about 125 degrees, so this was intense. Now, if one of the arguers wished to accept the fleece bet, but the other did not, then the fleece bet somehow was morphed into a "manhood challenge". The rules of the manhood challenge were never made entirely clear, however, the challenger somehow assumed possession of the other Marine's manhood (figuratively of course). He could then do whatever he pleased with it. I tried trading Clay's manhood to some ANA soldiers, but they didn't want it, so I flushed it down the river to Goreshk.

6. Listening to the ANA commander at a patrol base we were working at talking trash to the local Taliban commander who had attacked us earlier. The Taliban started the fight, but broke it off after we started make it ugly for them. The ANA commander then got on the radio and talked to them on their frequency, telling him we'd supply them with guns and ammo if he came back for more. He then called him a bad Muslim and said some inappropriate things about his mother and sisters. Hilarious.

5. Hearing that my dad finished RAGBRAI, a 500 mile, week long bike ride across the state of Iowa. He trained with that goal for the first 6 months of the year, and I found out via satellite phone that he and his team finished the whole thing. Hopefully this one makes next year's list again.

4. Figuring out the Rubik's Cube and finishing Pride and Prejudice. There is currently an ongoing race amongst the members of our team to see who will pick up a chick first for either being able to solve a Rubik's Cube, or for being able to intelligently discuss your thoughts on Mr. Darcy's mirculous transition from a prideful man to a .... blah blah blah. That one is really going to take some work.

3. Graduating Sniper School. I still can't believe I've been priveleged enough to join one of the most elite fraternities in the world.

2. Securing Showdown victory on the final play of the game against the class of 2000. With no time left on the clock, Mike Schmitt did his best to snatch victory away from us, even with his psycho brother Joe in his grill, but the ball fell to the turf. Of course the Showdown Afterparty could have its own place on the countdown, but we'll throw them together and give other moments a chance...

1. Seeing my mom at Victory Field after landing Stateside, having spent 7 months in Afghanistan. I mean, come on, was there any doubt what would occupy the top spot? Seriously, the video of her running to get me has about a kagillion hits on youtube.

Here's a link to last year's list


  1. Congrats on graduating Sniper School. That's awesome! OOORAH!

  2. Jake, you're a tough sweetheart! I love your number one! You are really special! Thank you.

  3. Jake, you are way ahead of the curve.

  4. I think everyone should take the time to do a Top 10 list for the year. Maybe then we wouldn't focus on the negative, but would be thankful for the positive. As a mom, I'm extremely pleased that your #1 focuses on your mother.

  5. I love your top ten list, especially your #1. Good luck on the "Mr. Darcy" thing.

  6. No grass grew under your feet this year, Jake.

  7. We are waiting for your New Year's resolutions. Do you make them pre or post party?

  8. Not sure which is more impressive: Pride and Prejudice or the Rubik's cube.

  9. could you post a link or a title for the youtube video? I never saw it and I could use a good cry : )

  10. Here is a link to the video,

    you may have to cut and paste into your browser.


  11. oh thank you. that was perfect. I'm the mom of two boys and can relate to how Jake's mom must have felt!