It’s been a very busy set of three weeks. It’s also been fun. First we started off with getting ready for living at the FOB (Forward Operating Base by going to several ranges and doing other prepatory training. Katie, Jacob, and Myself stuck together through most of it and relied on each other to get through. There was one day in particular where the range was organized to take up the entire day. the day waiting foIt was set up so that most of us where out of water and food and forced to wait in the heat ofr our turn. It was rough. In fact for a large chunk of our training water has not been as easy to find as other Army schools.
With one training family firmly established I got to meet someone that’s actually a relative here at Fort Sill. Matt Hargrave is Haley’s husband and is also a 2LT in the Army. With a bit of phone calling I was able to get his number and meet him after our duty day was done. We agreed to meet on Saturday. It was that same Saturday that I went to the temple in the morning to do baptisms for the dead. It was a neat experience. The baptism coordinator interrupted us a few times to share insights and give us instructions.
I had an insight as well. The font’s interior shape was smooth and resembled a circle. Circles are often used to show perfection because it is perfectly round. The interior formed a circle minus the steps entering into the water. From a particular angle the whole thing looked like a keyhole. I shared with the youth the idea that the Aaronic Priesthood holds the key to baptism and that having a body helps them to act as a key. Those who stand in the font literally act as the key to salvation others.
It was a great day. Please don’t ask me for driving directions though. I was following another ward member who took a wrong turn. There was also a tremendous downpour as we entered the building. It was wet enough for us to seem as though we had done baptisms before we even got to the door. After the temple I was set up to meet Jacob Snyder and his real family in OKC. They were visiting the OKC Bombing memorial and I managed to meander my way to that part of town.
When I got there I realized that the area required a quiet reverence and respect that I had trouble mustering. I was reverently and emotionally drained from the temple. I visited for a few minutes and then left.
I drove home to Elgin and waited for Matt to arrive. He showed up in the afternoon. We cooked hot-dogs and had several great conversations. It was cool. It was nice to finally talk to him for more than a few minutes. We both acknowledged that we had met for ten minutes in Rexburg back before his graduation and their wedding.
The next week marked our first week in the FOB (Forward Operating Base). It seems the Army is migrating away from camping when it comes to conducting operations. Instead we train similar to the way we conduct business in Iraq and Afghanistan. In both of those countries the military operates out of bases to conduct operations. Now in training it seems as though we’re doing the same thing.
The mock up FOB here at Fort Sill is pretty close to accurate—minus the living space. We’ve got 21 males crammed into a small room. Males tend to smell pretty bad without wearing all their gear during the heat of the day. When they do wear their gear it gets rather stinky fairly quick. Luckily we all had the fourth of July to look forward to. When the weather would get hot, and things would seems to get a bit tedious we’d all talk about the things that we’re going to do over the weekend. I went shopping.
As it turns out Lowe’s was doing a military discount and so I picked up some pickets to keep the trees in the yard growing straight. I met up with Matt and Haley on Saturday and picked up a lawn mower and a safe. The safe is to accommodate the rifles that arrived around the time of graduation.
Saturday afternoon was full of family. Katie was visiting relatives but the normally empty and quiet house was full of fake and real relatives. It was fun getting to know Matt and Haley and peeling back the layers of who they are. Jacob (Snyder) showed up after a fun day out at the wilderness refuge. With Hovan’s and Hargraves it was truly a re-onion.
After the weekend life got a bit interesting as we were forced into week six on the FOB with full time operations. Now I’ve done 24 hour operations in a lot of different circumstances. Here 24 hour ops consists of the cadre doing 12 hour shifts and us doing missions every 3-4 hours. The week concluded with a 10 mile ruck march beginning at 0345. It was my longest hike with that much gear in years. I carried the M249 SAW the entire way. The weapon weighs 15 pounds, and I added it to my 46 pound rucksack it was a significant load.
At the time of writing this, I have blisters on my feet that have been draining for the past 12 hours and are still leaking. I fell asleep last night at 1800. It seems that the training I did before coming here wasn’t quite enough to toughen up my feet. I did try–the photos are proof. I’d rather be hiking in Utah.