10.16.2007

Hats Off to the Infantry...

Ryan, I hope you don't mind me posting this...I read it and thought of you. Like we talked about before, I don't care if you think it's dumb when people tell you thanks because after all, you're "just doing your job"...you guys still put up with a lot. While I know this particular unit is from Maryland, it still reminded me of you. It's from http://www.democratherald.com/dhblogs/patrick_lair/?p=4.

Hats Off to the Infantry
by Patrick Lair

As our unit is only made up of about 20 members, we are usually thrown in with larger units for training purposes.

We recently had the opportunity to train with an infantry battalion from Maryland for a couple days. The experience just reinforced my respect for our riflemen.

This battalion is made up of several hundred guys from all walks of life, ranging from teenagers to men in their mid 50’s. Some are fresh recruits and some have been to Iraq or Afghanistan multiple times. One even served as a machine gunner in Vietnam.

Anyone unfamiliar with infantrymen is likely to find them gruff and rude at first blush.

When gathered in a training environment, they are not polite in most regards. They are often loud, aggressive, proud and vulgar.

This is forgivable, though, once you understand the nature of their job.

Infantrymen are treated like dirt most of the time, with the understanding that grinding labor under austere conditions makes a person lean and mean.

However, they are the backbone of the Army, keeping up skills which every other soldier aspires to replicate. And at the end of the day, they are good-humored, good-natured people, the kind you want to accompany you on a convoy.

These Maryland guys have spent the hot summer in tents, waking early in the morning and training till late at night most days. They are expected to carry heavy loads on their backs, fire the heck out of their weapons all day and then scrub them clean that night.

They are required to maintain their own vehicles, mount and dismount heavy crew-serve weapons each day, master emergency first-aid techniques and a host of other combat-related skills.

On the battlefield, they are the first ones to take a blast from the enemy. Instead of dropping into the fetal position, as human nature inclines us to do, their job is to grab their weapons and regain fire superiority.

As public affairs, I’ve become accustomed to scribbling notes and staring into camera monitors all day. So I always felt a few steps behind these guys during our training.

At one point, as we convoyed in humvees through a rubble strewn range, our trainers announced that the guy in front of me had just been hit with an IED (for training purposes).

We sped another 500 meters into a safe area, aligned the vehicles into a protective “wagon wheel” formation and prepared to call for an air evacuation.

Before I could get to the guy in front of me, the medic from another vehicle had already rushed to our position and taken charge of the situation.

Taking orders from the medic, we fanned out our weapons to secure the area, treated the soldier for fictional wounds, placed him on a litter and carried him to a waiting helicopter.

It was all done to textbook standards, according to our trainers. And it was accomplished at combat speed in the sweltering heat, thanks to the hard-driving mentality of these guys.

Not all of them, however, live just to soldier.

One specialist said he was in the middle of his final semester of college, with plans to leave the Guard and marry his fiance this summer, when he learned he would be taking a slight detour to the Middle East.

He was mobilized one month before graduation and whisked away from his bride-to-be for more than a year.

Just another example of American service members sucking it up and completing the mission.

At the end of the exercise, my unit climbed into air-conditioned vans headed for an office where we could throw together a DVD of all the video and photos we’d captured to give to the unit.

The infantry guys gathered their carbon-crusted weapons, loaded into steaming humvees and headed back to tent city to conduct a little weapons maintenance before returning for a night fire operation.

Although my job has a lot more cushion, and some of them probably envied the heck out of me, I couldn’t help envying them a little, too.

Part of me wants to drop the camera and all the politics to just focus on running and gunning, like these guys.

I’m glad somebody does it, and I’m comforted to know that there are people like them who’ll step up and carry the heavy load at times for the rest of us.

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"they are not polite in most regards. They are often loud, aggressive, proud and vulgar...[but] at the end of the day, they are good-humored, good-natured people, the kind you want to accompany you on a convoy."

That's you in a nutshell Doughboy... :)

6 Comments:

  1. Anonymous said...
    Thanks for sharing this; it's really cool. I'm saving it for all my infantry friends. :)
    Lynda
    kbug said...
    Exactly the kind of guys I'd want with me in a tough situation...or any time for that matter..... :)
    julie anna said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    julie anna said...
    Thanks for sharing that article. It is very true. I miss the fun and trouble that comes along with the Infantry!


    Suspect,

    I look forward to your comments. I joined you for a moment in secretly pining for Fort Lewis. I do miss home...Your barracks were right there next to the library? I've been there so many times. I probably saw you and never even knew it.

    As for the angry women in your future, I'm sure they'll be so glad to see you when you get home that they'll forgive you. There's just something about war stories and lonely soldier eyes that will soften thier hearts in an instant. No worries, it happens all the time!
    Anonymous said...
    Times up. time for a new post, please.

    Mom
    Anonymous said...
    I'm sure you don't need another burden, but we've come to rely on your posts! Just letting you know they're missed. Write when you can. You are much more than just a soldier.
    4/2 mom

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