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

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In Barracks 10-5-08

Grandma Inman and Brad

Grandma Inman and Brad
Thanks for your support Grandma!

Family Photo

Family Photo
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Swearing In Day

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The Swear In