Last week, I finally got to jump out of a plane again. My last jump had been in March, right after I returned from Iraq. I’ve been on every manifest just about since then, but I’ve ever been bumped off because there wasn’t room, or there was bad weather, or I had something else I was forced to do that day.
But I actually got to jump twice last week! It helped since my company was running the op. We jumped C-23 Sherpas, which are small Vietnam-era transport planes. I had to crouch as I walked off the rear ramp, since the ceiling’s so low that apparently people hit their heads and then fall on their asses on the ramp.
The jumps ended really nicely, as my chute opened quickly and I spent 1-2 minutes floating down to terra firma. I also got to watch the HALO jumpers as they burned in about 13,000 feet before pulling their cords and floating in for a stand-up landing with their special chutes. Our chutes are better than the 82nd’s, but we still have to execute PLFs, or parachute landing falls, which in reality is like rolling over on your side hoping nothing on you breaks.
This weekend was abbreviated since I had to pull 24-hour staff duty driver on Sunday. Everywhere in the military, people are tasked to man the staff duty desk in case there’s an emergency or if someone needs help. My NCOIC was cool and let me hang out in my room until I needed to perform security checks or whatever.
Ryan went to Seattle to visit his sister, Thomas went to Vegas to do a fantasy football draft with his friends, and my Julie went out of cellphone-range to do some LARP. Which left me sitting here wishing I could go travel everywhere and with nothing to do. =)
On Saturday I met up with the wife of a friend I went to job training with in Texas. She had invited me to this Democratic Party picnic for what I guess was northern Tennessee. I helped man the booth for Operation Helmet, a non-profit effort to send helmet cushioning upgrade kits to primarily Marines, who still use the old K-Pot helmet, which relies on a cheap tension webbing system which exacerbates head trauma in blasts. I brought my own helmet to show how much better the new helmets are, which we in special forces got first and then the rest of the Army.
Apparently I took to it like a duck to water, and the other people at the booth (all women) said they were happy I was there to connect with the veterans. I also let kids try on my helmet. We raised enough money for three helmet upgrades, which the main person there was very happy with. So that was good!
I’d only been to Democratic functions before in the last election. So I got the opportunity to see a lot of people. There was heavy participation from unionized workers. One old Vietnam veteran stopped by our table and got furious when he saw that the Support the Troops wristbands that we were giving away were made in China. Then he and his other Vietnam veteran union buddy ranted at me about the war and stuff. I told them I was getting out and they told me that I’d be pulled back in and that there’d be a draft. And that no one in the military re-enlists because they want to, which I politely had to correct him on.
I don’t know the whole union stance, I admit. But they seem to be a heavy load upon the Democratic party. They influence its flexibility and relevance to the modern world considerably. They shape opinion on war, international affairs, modernization. Unions were great for ensuring workers’ rights, but at some point they became too much of a burden upon a company’s operations. I am not convinced that outsourcing and globalization is hurting anyone in the U.S. except those who do not have the means or effort to adapt to it. Workers’ rights must always be safeguarded, but I think unions reinforce an isolationist, ignorant view of the world.
A lot of the local politicians came out to support the event. You can tell who they are because they’ll just cold-call you, walking up and reaching out to shake your hand, addressing you by your first name. Politicians are peculiar creatures. I really could not get along with them. You’d just want to put them at a desk in an interrogation room with a bright light and get truthful answers out of them. The people I met were nice but didn’t really seem to stand for anything. They paid a LOT of lip service to the unions though.
There was unbridled Bush-bashing but also careful attention to bringing up Cheney and Rumsfeld also. A lot of talk about pulling out of the war. This is the issue I think the Democrats should push on in the elections. The Republicans will use the economy to deflect attention.
The governor of Tennessee got up and did his expected speech, claiming that he spent the whole last term cleaning up house and now he needs another mandate to go and do the stuff that the crowd there wanted. The whole event was keynoted by Harold Ford, the popular nominee for U.S. Senate. He got the crowd fired up with Tennessean religious sermon-style rhetoric, bi-partisanship (appeals to Republicans who are anti-war and anti-Bush), and glad-handing with the locals. What interested me most was that he seemed a little apologetic but certain that we must not pull out of Iraq immediately. Typical fucking senator.
So it’s the anniversary of 9/11 today. Lots of coverage in the media. Bush and his buddies were on TV shaking hands with lots of people. He’ll probably include in his speech tonight how many people told him today that they support what he’s doing.
It’s 5 years after 9/11 and all we do is stand around feeling sorry for ourselves and talking in our black suits. But it’s not even mourning. It’s almost like celebrating. It’s like an orchestration for the moral justification for continued war. I see more war lingering in the memory of 9/11. I see the guerrillas continuing to get exactly what they want.
I am not sad about 9/11. I am fucking pissed about 9/11. It’s a big reason why I enlisted in the Army. When I think about 9/11, I wonder why we are not hiking through Afghanistan and Pakistan, setting up patrol bases using our special ops. I wonder why we do not have a well-budgeted CIA establishing a presence in chaotic war zones with power vacuums. I wonder why our Army is muzzled, kept to its master on a short chain, instead of being unleashed to do what it does best: attack and hunt. I wonder why instead of strengthening global networks and international relations, we have reflexively become more isolationist, religious, and afraid. I wonder why we don’t realize that the international terrorist community is several magnitudes bigger than it ever used to be, and how we are not only training and arming them, but setting up our military to fail against future threats.
I wish the Dems would get some balls. They conveniently and obediently fall into the Republicans’ line of being anti-war cut-n-run pussies by not being represented by people who could effectively illustrate the usage of special ops, covert intelligence, and paramilitary international cooperation as an alternative to big Army occupation. They neglect using scholars of American constitutional history to defend civil liberties against increasingly totalitarian legislation and executive power.
Anyway, I’m done. I just bought “Ghost Wars” and am enjoying a newfound interest by the media in Afghanistan, where our real war of terror should be fought.
Also, my buddies are home again. And Julie is back in cellphone-range. =) Hooray!