Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Letter from September 29

Mom & Dad:
Things have really been picking up here lately. We just started using our rifles this week, and had intro to pop-up targets today (kind of a pre-pre-qualification). I hit 29 out of 40 targets...I'm not very happy with that, but I have a week and a half to improve before qualification. If I get 40 of 40, I get a 4-6 hour pass, and my cell phone! So I'm gonna work hard.

Yeah, we did the gas chamber. I assume you've been reading up on Basic? Look up Infantry OSUT specifically for better info. I wrote about the gas chamber in another letter, but yeah, it wasn't fun.

The Chaplin came and talked to us today. I guess the pictures should be up soon. Look for a "129" on the fronts of helmets. That's me.

I'm glad to hear Dad's doing well! Is the plan for replacement still the same, or are there any changes? Is he still feeling good after these few days?

Thanks for letting Grandma Hopper know about the chocolates. You have no idea how much I'm looking forward to those.

I actually got a letter from the Seventy as well (I had to do pushups for it)! It was generic stuff though, no real solid information, haha. I know who Bro Funk is! I see him every week!

Well, that's it for now. Time to sleep. Hope to hear from you soon!

I Love You,
-PFC Brad Hopper

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Letter from September 25

Hey again. Just bored at 3:00 am doing CQ duty. We had Land Navigation yesterday, had to find a bunch of points using only a map and a compass. It was a lot of fun, they gave us 4 hours to do it and my group got it done in 3; we were the first ones back. Then we sat around waiting for dark to do a night land. It started to rain pretty hard...There was a Drill Sergeant saying things like "Suck it up, we're staying, just gonna have to do it in the rain!" Then the rain got harder by a lot, so they took us back and we didn't do it. Kinda disappointing but oh well. A lot of the teams got very lost in the day land nav. It probably would have been very bad at night in that weather.
What are gas prices like? The DS's were talking about it, but didn't give any dollar amounts, and you're my connection to the world right now. Tomorrow, we're throwing hand grenades. I can't wait, but it probably won't be as fun as I'm hoping.

Mmm, a good dinner and a milkshake sounds SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO good right now. I've only eaten DFAC food for the past month, and I think I only spend about 2 minutes eating per meal.
The 36 hour pass is kind of up to the First Sergeant's discretion, and if my platoon screws up, we all lose the pass. We have plans though: A few friends and I are going to go to Taco Bell and stuff ourselves!! Then go to a hotel and play xbox for probably the whole night, then sleeeeeeeeep.
Well, lights just went out. I'll write more later.

You think YOUR days are brighter when you get mail? For me, it's what keeps me going! We have to do 15 pushups for every letter past 2, but it is completely worth it. I'd do twice that much.
Regarding Church, that's another thing keeping me going. Like I said, this whole Army experience has really boosted my faith. It helps me through a lot.
You're right. I'm sorer than I've ever been. It's weird though, my weight has not yet changed at all. I'm sure I'll get a lot lighter soon enough, though.
Glad to hear Drew's having fun! How long has he been there, a week or so?
It's hard to believe, I've been gone for a month now. Time has gone by fairly quickly, but I still can't wait to get home. My platoon is getting somewhat better, we have official leadership now. I'm not a squad leader any more. It was just temporary anyway. It's fine though. I don't think I really wanted to have that responsibility anyway.
I like the blogspot idea! I'm looking forward to seeing what people have to say.
Regarding packages: We are not allowed to have food, or "entertainment" - i.e. books, magazines, games, etc. Basically nothing on the contraband list. Vitamins are okay (send me Glucosamine!), general care items (moleskin, etc.) are fine. So packages are okay, but they need to be opened in front of a Drill Sergeant and he needs to okay it.

Hey, this'll be my last letter for this envelope. Just wanted to give you an update on what's going on since the last couple days. On Wednesday, we had our Biological/Chemical warfare classes...That means we went through the gas chamber. That was possibly the worst 2 minutes of my life. They took us in, with our gas masks on, then they made us lift up our masks, say our name and last 4. We put the masks on again, cleared them, and sat in there for a few minutes. Then, we had to take the mask off, put our helmets on, and lift our mask up in our left hand and our weapon in our right, at shoulder level. We couldn't leave until everyone had them at shoulder level. Just to give you an idea of what CS gas (A.K.A. Tear gas) feels like, stand in the smoke of a campfire and breathe deep for 30 seconds. Multiply that by 20, and then set all your exposed skin on fire. Then get a Drill Sergeant to punch you in the stomach and yell in your face "BREATHE!!!" That's about what it's like. It was...horrible. But I'm proud to say I did it.
The last couple of days have been Red Phase Testing. We did a bunch of written & practical tests on everything we learned in the past 3 weeks. We passed without trouble, but today we needed to pass an IG, or "Ispection General" on our barracks to officially pass into White Phase. We actually failed the first IG, so they gave us 1 hour to fix up, and we passed. So we're officially in White Phase now, which is awesome because now the DS's will lighten up, we'll have more spare time, and we actually get to start training on the fun stuff.
Well, that's it for now. Oh, wait! We started doing combatives today, too. Basically, practical martial arts. Anyway now I'm done. I'll write more later!
Love, PFC Brad Hopper

Photos finally!!

Go here: http://www.soldierschapel.info/2-58/photogallery/F%20Co%20Grad%2005%20Dec%2008/F%20Co%20Simpson%2025sep08/index.html
to photo number 15 - look at the kid second from the right, top row. I know that’s my boy’s hand…his face is a bit thin….
Then go to photo 16. He’s in the middle on the top row…

Finally….some pictures!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Letter from The Seventy

We got this letter from the Church office of the Seventy in Salt Lake City yesterday, at the same time we got the latest letter from Brad (below):

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Hopper:

We recently learned that Bradley has joined the military and is attending basic training in Ft. Benning, GA. We are pleased to inform you that he has been attending the Church services on base and are grateful for the spirit he brings to the meetings. Brother Funk is the Church leader at Ft. Benning and will do all he can to help strengthen Bradley's faith and testimony. We appreciate your support and know you join with us in asking that the Lord will guide and protect him during this time of uncertainty and turmoil in the world.

In these troubled times, it is heartwarming to see sons and daughters courageously step forward to help preserve our freedom and way of life. You can be proud of the part you played in molding Bradley's character. Courage and patriotism do not come automatically; they are planted in the hearts of children by their parents. We express our gratitude to you for your selfless service in his behalf.

We have a deep and abiding interest in Bradley's welfare and want to ensure the blessings of Church membership are available wherever he is stationed. As military members move around, occasionally they are unable to find out where and when the Church meetings are held. Our Military Relations Division can assist them. Likewise, we are able to help concerned parents locate the bishop or branch president where their son or daughter is stationed. In addition, many times we can assist in locating the name of a group leader aboard a ship or at a deployed location around the world.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact the Military Relations Division at (801) 240-2286 or e-mail them at PST-Military@ldschurch.org. We know that the Lord is mindful of Bradley and the challenges he will face as he valiantly serves in the military.

Robert C. Oaks

Letter from September 14, 2008

Mom & Dad:
I'm scared. I guess it hit me hard yesterday, while we were having a class on mines and IED's, just how real it all is. They've made it very clear to all of us: We are all going to either Iraq or Afganistan. And it's scaring me to death. I don't know what I was thinking when I signed that contract.

There is one thing that's been comforting though. I re-read my patriarchal blessing, and it helps me to know what I should be doing, and that if I do the right things in life, everything will happen according to the Lord's plan. And that if I live faithfully-no matter what happens to me in Iraq or otherwise-we will be together forever. That is the most comforting feeling of all.

I missed church today. Ironically, because I was reading my patriarchal blessing and the formation time for LDS passed by without me realizing it-but it has given me time and a reason to think, to read my scriptures and write this. The Army has really shaken my faith, given me direction and helped to show me what I need to do. I'm going to try my hardest to do it. I love you.

Letter from September 12, 2008

Mom & Dad:
I guess it's okay if you type letters if it means you'll send more!

I bet Drew's happy! He looks like be's got a good setup there. I still need his adress!

You should send some pictures of this Agility Course you made for Annie (and Bella). Where is it, in the back yard? What does she think about it?

Grandma Hopper sent me a letter. She wants to send me chocolates here...Can you make sure she doesn't? if they are sent here they will be taken & eaten by the Drill Sergeants, so if she could just send them to you & I'll pick them up at Christmas, that would be awesome.

Well, I'm out of time. I love you guys lots, I'll write more later!

-PFC Brad Hopper

Monday, September 15, 2008

Letter from September 11, 2008

Mom & Dad:
Hey again. One month ago, do you think I could have voluntarily gotten, then given an IV? Well, that's what we did today. We're on our first aid week, so everyone got to have and give an IV today; it's called "Stick Day". I did it without any problems at all! If nothing else, this whole Army thing has at least all but fixed my fear of needles.
We also learned how to do more complex things like first aid to a sucking chest wound, and needle chest decompressions, but we don't get to try those out on each other.
So how are things at home? It's probably pretty quiet, seeing how Drew and I are both gone now. That's okay, we'll be back around December to liven things up again.
HAPPY (EARLY) BIRTHDAY, MOM! Okay, when you get this it won't be early, but right now it is, so there. I love you guys lots.
PFC Brad Hopper
P.S. Could you send me more envelopes & stamps? Please?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Watch for Photos of Brad's Battalion

Here is a website where photos of Brad's Battalion should soon be posted. When you get there, click on 2-58 and scroll down to fox company. Right now, the last group is still posted, but we expect to see some of his group very soon: http://www.soldierschapel.info/index.html

Letter from September 7, 2008

Mom and Dad:
Hey, it's Sunday today. I just got back from church. Apparently most of the day today is down time, so I get to write. I guess I'll try to give a comple rundown on what's happened so far. I've been in basic for a total of 9 days now. The first day was rough - lots of smoking (punishments), we had to hold our bags above our heads for about 15 minutes...it felt like 3 hours. The next few days got better slowly. We have done the confidence course (a bunch of obstacles like climbing an upsidedown ladder then flipping over it and coming back down), the leadership course (problem solving - platforms and obstacles that require teamwork, most over water), and the Eagle Tower (repelling and Rope ladders). They've all taught me a lot about myself, and building our team at the same time (yeah, right). My platoon...is frustrating. I hope we can pull it together soon. On that same note, yesterday one of the guys in our platoon decided to make a phone call without asking permission or anything. He got an Article 15, we all got chewed out, and the whole platoon lost phone priveleges "until further notice", so don't expect any phone calls from me for a while.
We're actually getting a lot more sleep and a lot better food than I was expecting. We haven't been woken up in the middle of the night yet!
Well, it's just about chow time, so I'm gonna wrap it up. Hope to hear from you soon!
Love you, PFC Brad Hopper

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Letter from September 3, 2008

Mom and Dad:
Hey again. I haven't had a chance to write, they specifically told us not to for some reason. I started basic on the 29th and I'm now laying in bed on the end of day 3. I'm ver sore...Lots of physical work, as you know. I'm carrying around an M4 assault rifle with me wherever I go now, it's a little weird but they're trying to get us used to it. So far we haven't done much substantial training, mostly just PT, getting smoked, getting yelled at, and standing/marching in formation. Tomorrow we do the confidence course.
A friend of mine, his name is Buck is having trouble with the PT...He's only 19, but he's having heart problems, and they might send him home. He passed out once already due to it.
Apparently mail takes a while (1-2 weeks) to get here, so please, write me as often as you can, I will do the same. We got 5 minutes of phone time today, but you didn't pick up :-( I hope you got my message.
Could you guys maybe take a family photo and send it to me? I love and miss you all a lot.
PFC Hopper
PS-I'm a squad leader

Monday, September 1, 2008

Everybody Write!!

This is a new blogspot where the Hopper Family will post happenings and letters from Brad, our oldest son. We are incredibly proud of him and want all who are interested to know of his progress!
Please write to him often...he has told us (and his dad remembers) how much letters buoy him up and help him to stay strong.
His address is:

129 PFC Hopper Bradley
F Co 2-58 IN, ITB
9375 Conway Drive
Fort Benning, Georgia 31905-4926

Laurie 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