An Obscure Re-Onion

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.

Improvised Living

In any army school you live in the barracks. Most folks don’t understand what a barracks room looks like. The quality of some barracks compared to others varies quite differently as well. To put it simply it’s somewhere between a prison cell, a motel room, and a dorm room. Someone smarter than I am can make the graph of those things. I just know that when I walk into the door I see a mix of all three.

My roommate for this stage of adventure is a young man named David Sherman, who graduated from Clemson. He’s low maintenance, and a good guy. There’s just two of us in the room and we both feel pretty lucky. Most folks have 3-4 people in their rooms.

This week we were kept busy inprocessing for the school. Somehow the Army didn’t quite keep my digital dental records and so I had to start from scratch. That was an annoying three hours waiting in line to get my teeth x-rayed. I did manage to get it done though and so I wont have to worry about it again.

It’s not very surprising to realize that after nearly two years of being around my family full time–I miss them. So I decided to adopt some of my fellow students and make us a family. I started with Jacob Snyder. When we noticed that we both had the same name we developed a story to go along with it. Mom and dad had trouble having kids, so they adopted me. Then you showed up and they felt like they had gotten things right and named you Jacob. Jacob Snyder is the “good son” while I got treated as the red-headed step child.

Having a brother is great… but it still didn’t feel like a family. So we needed to adopt a sister that would help us complete the scheme of things. So we adopted Katie Richesin. She was the quietest one in the squad. So the story goes: Katie’s our sister and she’s quite because of how domaneering we are and how mean we were to her growing up. Ironically, as soon as she accepted the fact that she was adopted into a family she wasn’t quiet any more. In fact she’s got quite a complimentary personality. She’s the perfect addition to this made up family–and we’re glad to have her.

Jacob Snyder is from Missouri–the only state where it was legal to kill Mormons until the 1970’s. He drives a blue Toyota truck, is a good speaker, listener, and friend. Katie graduated from the Citadel and enjoyed some time in Africa doing humanitarian work and research for a project. There’s a lot to her that’s underneath the surface and we keep telling her that she’s gotta find the guy that loves her for all that’s there. We also been having a bit of fun practicing saying “Rukungiri.” The name of the town where she spent time in Africa.

Well “the family” needed a name. So we started shopping around and the best one we could find was Chrissy’s maiden name: Hovan. There’s no one else here at school with it, it’s easy to say, spell, and sounds cool.

The family decided that we were going hiking this weekend and took along a few other folks. Five of us all together hiked what they call “mountains” here and had a blast. We saw a tarantula, a cave, adventure, and fish. At the top of a rock there was a seasonal puddle with some very small fish in it. I’ve emailed a professor at USU to see if anyone knows the name of the creatures… I thought they were cool!

We found a cave full of daddy long leg spiders — there were so many of them on the ceiling that their legs looked like fur. It was a bit creepy — but still really cool.

Being away from the kids gives me a chance to go and have adventures. It’s important to keep busy while away. I’ve put the highlights together for this blog but there was a lot more to this week than just making a family and hiking.

I’m glad to be here with these folks, doing the things we’re doing. I’ll let you all know how it goes.

I’ll have the photo of the three of us up later.