Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mailing Address for Brad

Brad has a mailing address!
PO Box 341
Fort Drum, NY 13602

Send him a note!!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Well, we haven't added to this blog in a while. Brad has been settling in at his duty station at Ft. Drum, Watertown, New York. He arrived there in January. His unit just got back from deployment in December.

Brad purchased a car for himself and is glad to be on wheels again. He is enjoying the freedom.

The big news of the day, though is that he got orders today for thier next deployment. They are heading to Baghdad in Januray. Please e-mail him or comment here if you have questions or comments. He would love to hear from everyone!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hey everyone. It's Brad, and it's Friday, Dec 5. Today is my graduation day.

I'm sitting in a hotel room with my parents right now, relaxing for the first time in about 16 weeks. My civilian clothes don't fit -quite- as well as they used to, but they're really comfy compared to the Army ACU's.

It feels good to have some freedom finally. We all get about a month of leave, due to how graduation fell right before Christmas Exodus. So I'm going to go home, relax for a while, and get ready for the training to come.

As far as how basic was: It wasn't quite what I was expecting. Physically it wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be - There were lots of times when we'd push ourselves past our limits, but eventually you just get used to it and get the job done. What got me through the really painful parts was the thought that "In an hour I'll be warm and dry, looking back and saying 'that wasn't so bad.'" Emotionally and mentally though, is what was the hardest. They cut you off almost completely from everyone and everything you knew in your civilian life, and it's impossible to explain how much it really hurts and gets to you unless you have been in that situation.

Then there are the mind games that they play. The Drill Sergeants will constantly make fun of everyone for everything, but the worst part is how they tell you how weak and pathetic you are. For me, I expected it for the first few weeks, but when they kept it up just as much and even more later on in the cycle when I felt I had improved, it... well, it sucked. But I guess it just made me push harder towards the goal.

What was probably the biggest 'turning point' in the training would have been the IV day... I've always been very squeamish around needles, and having to actually do one myself was a big challenge. But when I was able to tell myself "This is stupid, it's an illegitimate fear" and just do it, and get through, it felt great.

Anyway, I got a little longer-winded than I was planning. I'll just leave it at this: I'm back home for a while, and I hope to see a lot of you guys soon.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The man himself

Hey guys. It's Brad, I'm on a pass so I figured I'd check out this blog I apparently have!

Things are going well. We got done with our Field Training Exercise (The culmination of all the training), and now we're in our 2 recovery weeks. That means we'll be "cleaning until we die." We'll clean our equipment and the weapons issued to us, then we'll clean them again. And when we're done with that, we'll clean them again. Even through the night we're cleaning, a quarter of my platoon is up at any given point at night cleaning.

Only 2 weeks to go though, and I get to go home! Dec. 6 at 9:00 or so PM I'll be home.

Mom and Dad: Since I didn't get my phone back yet, here's my general flight info (I don't get a copy of my itinerary, and I didn't really get much choice of a flight):

I leave on Dec. 6, at 12:40 from Atlanta. I make a stop for 3 or so hours in... Uh, PA I think. Then I'll come home, and get there around 9 PM or so. Then I have a return ticket to GA on the 5th of January, I can't remember times on that one though.

Anyway, got other stuff to do. I can't wait to see you all! 2 weeks!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

November 4

Mom & Dad:
Hey! We had another Bivowac last night, sans rain. It was nice & clear for the whole night. We had to pull 50% security again because our Drill Sergeant officially hates us now. But at least we were warm during our broken up 1 hour intervals of sleep.

So I'm officially a soldier now. These last 5 weeks will be as follows:

Week 1: Squad and team tactics, 10-mile ruck march. We already did the ruck march, and it almost killed us. I HATE rucking.

Week 2: FTX prep. We'll be learning more about what we'll do on FTX, and how to do it. We'll get all the supplies we need & do final preparations.

Week 3: FTX (Field Training Exercise). It will be 7 days of in-the-field training, sleepin under the stars every night. We will get missions, and have to execute them without Drill Sergeant guidance. It will include a river crossing and a 12-mile ruck march, which will...completely suck. That's all I'm worried about, the ruck march. After that's done - at the end of the ruck - is a giant party on top of what they call "Honor Hill." It might be the proudest (and smelliest, after a week in the field) moment of my life.

Week 4 & 5: These are recovery weeks. We won't be training these weeks, just doing PT and cleaning our gear. It'll probably be the longest 2 weeks, EVER.

I didn't get a chance to look up my local hotels. Sorry, but I didn't have much computer access! However, we just sent out a packet full of graduation info., which included local info-places of interest, activities, restaurants and all that. It should have some good info. By the way, when you call for that kind of stuff, see if you can get a military discount! They really save a LOT of money on stuff like that.

Well, it's lights out. Really hoping to hear from you soon. I'd love some pictures! Please, lots of pictures! I don't even care if they're old pictures, anything will do. Thanks!

Love you guys tons!

P.S. Talk to SSgt. Miller for me if you can, ask him what my home town recruiting will entail. Cuz I have it for sure, and I'd like to know what I'll be doing!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

October 27

Mom & Dad:
Hey! Glad to hear from you again. I was starting to get a little depressed, honestly, because I hadn't heard from you in a while. Nope, I didn't get my phone again that next week, but I should this Friday. This Friday is the end of week 9, which is the end of the "Basic" portion of Basic Training. Then we start 5 weeks of advanced training, then graduation! So on Friday we get a 36-hour pass to rest and have a break after the first 9 weeks. It's going by fast.
So this past week...Let's see if I can remember. Monday we had Land Navigation all day long, and through part of the night. We got lost at night, it wasn't very fun. Especially with the GIANT SPIDERS everywhere.
Tuesday and Wednesday we prepared for and did the Convoy Live Fire which according to the Drill Sergeants was completely useless, but for some reason the higher-ups make us do it still. All it did for me was send a hot 5.56mm casing down my neck and burn me pretty bad.
Thursday we did GFT, and learned more grappling and some chokes. Not very exciting. Friday we had intro to MOUT (Military Operations in Urban Terrain) and a new company started, and we got to see all the scared Day Zero privates running around. It was fun to see what we were like the first day we got there, and see how far we've progressed.
Saturday we did more MOUT, running around shooting blanks. It was fun.
Today, Sunday, we're going ot Church, getting haircuts, and hanging out at thePX for a while. Pretty normal Sunday. And I get time to write, finally.
How's Drew? Is his leg okay? I'm actually really glad to hear he's playing football again. He's still drumming, right?
On the financial situation: Don't worry about it too much. Nothing else should need to be paid before the 1st, and I will be paid on Nov. 1. I fixed the issues.
Well, that should be about it. This week will be easy, with more MOUT, then Basic graduation and 2 days or so of freedom. I'll call you asap when I get my phone!

I love you!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

October 18

Mom & Dad:
Hey! I haven't heard from you guys in about 2 weeks :( Hopefully, I'll get a letter from you Monday. This week has been crazy. Monday we had GFT (Ground Fighting Techniques) which stunk, as usual. We aren't learning anything useful, and we cram 200+ people into a small room and then we get smoked if anyone talks. And they aren't the normal "Do Pushups" smokings, they make us do things like low crawl through the sand pit.
Tuesday we got to play with the M2 .50 cal machine gun, and the MK .19 Grenade launcher. They were both fun, but nothing really special.
Wednesday we did small team tactics, learned the basics of fighting formations and that stuff. Then Thursday we got to use the M249 & M240B machine guns which were pretty cool. We'll have some of each assigned to our platoon.
Yesterday we had something called the Battle March and Shoot. We had to do some first aid & radio tasks then carry a guy for 3 1/2 miles (all of us carrying about 50 pounds of gear). Also, did I mention this a race? So we ran the 3 1/2 miles. I'm hurting today. When we got to the end, we had to do a 25 meter shoot, 40 rounds, at a man-sized target. We were all stressed and as tired as we could be, so our shots were not as accurate as they could have been. Now, the other 3 platoons had been preparing and practicing for 2 weeks, and we had been told what we were doing the night before we did it. So we lost in a bad way, and so we got yelled at.
Today we're getting class A's, but I already have mine since I'm funeral detail, so I'm sitting in the bay writing letters.
I'm including a picture and a drawing...The drawing is an example of what we do when we're bored (don't ask, it's weird), and the picture...It's from 2 weeks ago, we had a guy leave for 2 weeks because of a stress fracture. Before he left he took some pictures & mailed them to us. So here's a picture for you.
Well, that's about it. Hope to hear from you soon. I love you guys. A month an a half!

PFC Brad Hopper



In Barracks 10-5-08

Grandma Inman and Brad

Grandma Inman and Brad
Thanks for your support Grandma!

Family Photo

Family Photo
The Family at MEPS

Swearing In Day

Swearing In Day
The Swear In