No more time to dilly-dally folks. I have been packing over the last couple of days and am just about set. I am authorized 4 sea-bags when I leave and with all of the mandatory equipment and gear I've been issued that means I have about 3/4 of one sea-bag that I can fill with my own creature comforts. I am pleasantly surprised by how much crap I am able to stuff in to these things. Good tips and scoop from my shipmates who have gone before me has made the packing list much easier. Besides, Amazon.com ships to Iraq, right?!
It's been cold and rainy here in South Carolina for the last several days and I very glad that my combat boots are waterproof. We did our big Convoy Exercise in the pouring rain, and I must admit...while I was nervous about 'doing all the right things' (meaning: not letting my team get ambushed and killed), I actually had a really good time. The IBA was incredibly heavy after wearing it for several hours and jumping in and out of the HUMVEE and running around in the woods just about did me in. We performed fairly well and I sank in to a deep slumber at the end of the day. (Here's a picture as we got back to base after the exercise.)
By far, though, the highlight of the day was when my entire platoon surprised me by singing Happy Birthday to me. I NEVER in my wildest dreams thought I would spend my birthday in the backwoods of South Carolina, in full body armor, a 9mm strapped to my leg and an M16 in my hands. Very very surreal. (Here's to hoping that I birdie the Road Hole when I play St. Andrews on my next birthday!)
As I stated in my last post, my room mate left and we have spent the last 36 hours finishing up medical tasks and getting our gear in order. We'll be leaving soon, but I can't really say much more than that. There have been moments of extreme anger and deep laughter over the last month. It's been worth it. Every second of it.