Friday, December 24, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Well, I just finished day Three of the DIA Deployment Qualification Course – DDQC. It’s a pretty comprehensive, in-depth course designed to prep us for going downrange.
Monday was pretty lightweight, largely sitting and listening to an instructor, covering all the administrivia of a deployment.
On Tuesday, things got interesting. After sessions on IEDs and convoy ops, among other things, we went through emergency vehicle egress training using stationary Humvees. We went through this drill three times, wearing body armor and helmets. Did I mention that it was really freakin’ cold? Probably mid-20s, before thinking about the wind chill factor from winds gusting up into the 30 MPH range. Anyhow, the first time around, I was “helped” out of the vehicle. Unlike a good paratrooper, my first point of contact was my face. Thank God for the helmet and protective goggles! I only ended up with what appears to be a sprained knee, with lots of pain, swelling and limited range of motion. Oh joy. The next two practice runs were much less damaging.
In the afternoon, we wrapped up the day with a nearly three-hour-long session on psychological factors, focusing on PTSD. You get immune hearing about it in an abstract sense on the TV news, but when a warrior and PTSD victim stands in front of you and pours his soul out, it gets personal. We all left the classroom that day very much sobered, with lots to think about.
Today we got ito the nasty stuff. We started with the basics of Chemical-Biological-Radiological-Nuclear warfare, then on to the proper care and use of the gas mask. I can get it on pretty fast now. The rest of the day (and, indeed, the rest of the week-long course) was dedicated to medical issues. First aid, medical care, you name it. Dealing with injuries and trauma of every imaginable sort. Candy-ass that I am, what with my blood and needle phobias, I need to be really careful while I’m deployed. As I sit here writing this, looking back on the afternoon, I’m surprised I made it through all the pressure bandages, tourniquet practice and trauma slides and video without depositing my lunch on the floor.
It’s times like this that I ask myself what I’ve gotten myself into …
Saturday, December 11, 2010
So where did “Wirehead Jack” originate, you ask?
It’s a blend of several influences. First, many years ago, a colleague who was at the time a young Army MI Special forces officer was having computer problems. I offered to help, and did what IT geeks do in 90% of their initial troubleshooting efforts – reboot. It fixed his problem, got him up and running, and he ever afterward called me “The Wirehead.”
Two people have consistently called me “Jack” over my life. One, a friend in high school, who went so far as to sign his picture in my senior yearbook with the inscription, “Remember me as the first person to call you by your true name, Jack.” And my primary care physician, Dr. Robert Enelow of Burke VA, has called me “Jack” since Day One. And that was a quarter century ago.
And finally, putting them together. I’ve lately gotten addicted to the “Repairman Jack” supernatural thriller series by F. Paul Wilson, a fellow Xavier high School alumnus (although he graduated eight years ahead of me). FPW is a tremendous author, and Repairman Jack a wonderfully-developed, three-dimensional “flawed hero” type. So, in homage to Dr. Wilson, I put it all together and, as my deployment approaches, I’ve decided to reinvent my persona as Wirehead Jack.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Then I have to clear the physical and psych screenings. Shouldn't be a big problem there, as long as my dentist can fix a couple teeth that need crowns before my deployment date. The worst part? Getting immunizations and having blood drawn. Living in a crappy environment, possibly in a tent, and eating bad food prepared by the Brits who run the mess halls is one thing. Coming face to face to a hypodermic needle is quite another.
More to follow as I work my way down the road to Afghanistan.