At about 4 this morning I was awoken by my son, he was crying because he uncovered himself and was cold. Covering him up I looked at the clock "Yes!! Still 2 hours to sleep" I thought. Climbing back in bed I thought about this week and how hectic and long it will be. We are training another unit to deploy. This week will be a larger unit than the last few so I am sure we will be in for some early mornings and long nights. I dozed off thinking about the 4 day pass we will get for Thanksgiving.
5 AM I am awoken by "The Outsider" by A Perfect Circle, my ringtone, it's my team leader "Gotta come in early they walk at 6" he tells me. "Ok, en route" I say as I reluctantly climb out of bed. I hate morning just to let everyone know. Getting ready is a breeze I lay out all my gear, wallet, and car keys the night before so I can be out the door in minutes. I start my car thinking it is going to be cold morning to play OPFOR. Driving in, I listen to some sports radio and the talk of Monday Night Football "Bills lost good" I think to myself. I listen to this for the 50 minutes I spend driving to the Camp. Pulling into the main gate I tell the guard good morning and have a great day.
As I drive away the cell phone goes off again. My squad leader this time, "Meet us at the Range Control, we are picking up weapons". "Roger" I say as I deviate from my normal route on my way to Range Control. I pull in just as they are pulling up. "You better hurry up !!!" one of them playfully yells. Making sure to grab all my "snivel gear" I head to the van. As I climb I am told to grab the SAW (M249 Machine Gun), to drums of ammo, and get both our squads radios ready.
I hand the radio up as we pull into my hide spot, I jump out with my SAW, ammo, "snivel gear", and radio. Finding just the right spot I "snivel up", I also put on my "traditional Middle Eastern garb". I opt out of the head scarf today due to the fact I am wearing a ski mask and I would look a bit ridicules with both on. As I finish this I lay in, load my weapon (with blanks of course), and prep my grenade sims. Now I wait.
Waiting to attack these units can be pretty tough especially on a cold November morning laying on a ground lightly peppered in snow. But it is my job and I deal with it the best I can. On days like today I think of the people who fought in wars past. I think of the things they endured for this great country, and for some reason it makes me laying in the cold snow covered leaves about an hour from my house a lot easier to take. If doing this helps even one soldier make it home alive and in one piece then it will all be worth while.
Suddenly I hear an explosion followed by gunfire to the north. This means the other members of my squad are attacking the first of three platoons. Listening to this I know soon they will cross my path. And as I keep a lookout I listen for the sound of feet shuffling across the gravel and leaders barking orders to their soldiers. I watch and listen as they first of the unit crosses my sight, waiting for the perfect time to strike. Finally, I see a soft spot I pull the trigger listening to the familiar sound of blanks popping on full auto as I watch the unit respond. "In the woods on the right" someone yells. Then they let me have it as I hear and see multiple weapons fired in my direction. I fire back and this time I get even more of a response. I then wait for a lull and as they get complacent I throw my grenade sim and let loose with one more volley of automatic fire. They attack back furiously as I move back to another hide and wait for the next unit.
This goes on for three platoons, and as the early morning darkness gives way to another Army sunrise I realize just how lucky I am. Yes, there are times I hate this job but today I can think of no other job I would rather do. I am thankful for the soldiers we train, they are doing something not many Americans will ever do. And I am blessed with the opportunity to help them come home safely. So although this week will be long and I am due for even more cold unpleasant mornings I know in the end I am doing something I am proud of and will always remember this opportunity I have been blessed with.