Archive | March 2007

A change in course

Remember the Air Force gig? Yeah, probably not going to happen.

You see, I have some sort of code in my records, placed there by a general officer, that limits my options to move around or tansfer to about…oh zero percent.

There are only scant few ways to remove said code and allow me to fly free into the ether. One of them is to reenlist.

Yes, reenlist. You see, to leave the service, you have to serve longer. Now, why would I wish to sign up for a longer stint, you might ask?

Well, as it turns out, the code will keep me locked into Fort Hood for around two years. That means another jaunt to a not-so-nice place in the interim.

By reenlisting, I can secure a choice of station, meaning I can choose to go somewhere else. The Army is big on retaining its members, especially from my rank and my job. That gives me a lot of barganing power.

So I’ve been thinking about returning to DINFOS, the school where I learned to be an Army journalist, and become an instructor. It takes a bit to get nominated to one of those positions, but it’s doable. I’ll be giving it serious thought. That would stick me in the Fort Meade area for another three years, instead of the two-three-ish years at Fort Hood; but I think I would enjoy the D.C./Baltimore area far more than Texas.

What do you all think?


Gone to D.C.

Several times a week, there’s this meeting called a “stand up,” where the executive officer, the staff officers and me, the staff sergeant, sit around the table in the conference room and explain to each other what projects we’re working on. It’s a strange attempt to prove why we’re needed and why we should be left alone.

Each of us takes our turn going in to detail on the various little projects we’re working on. For the past–oh, I don’t know, eight weeks, I’ve been telling the XO (second in command) that I was leaving on March 28th to go to Fort Meade, Md., near D.C., to attend training to correspond with my new rank.

This Monday, however, I guess it finally clicked.

“Sergeant Salmons, when do you leave again?”

“The 28th, sir.”


“Yes, Wednesday, sir.”

I didn’t think much of it at the time.

Once we adjourned and retreated to our respective hovels, I worked for a few minutes before I had to run down to the command group and give the secretary something. My plans were to hunker down, hammer out the story I owed my journalist higher-ups, finish a few sundry fringe projects (picture CDs for various people, posters for the hallways, etc.), then crank out the colonel’s thesis on logistics (all told, would be around 15 pages when finished). I had been working on it for months, but always was side tracked and redirected with new projects. The big man was getting impatient, and I needed to get it finished.

I was walking by the XO’s office, on my way to the secretary.

“Sergeant Salmons…”

“Yes, sir?” I stopped and poked my head in.

“Did the S1 tell you that you were tasked to do the change of command invitations and program?”

“I was about to, sir,” the S1 chimed in, walking down the hall to the XO’s office.

“Oh, ok, well Sergeant Salmons, you have the program and invitations to do. By Wednesday,” the XO explained.

“Ah, alright. Can do, sir,” I was always so, so eager to leap into another project.

The brigade change of command was scheduled for May. It was a chance for the whole lot of us to get spiffied up in our Army Combat Uniforms, march out to a field in formation, and be arrayed in our finest drill and ceremony to astonish and delight the outgoing and incoming commanders. Some of us would be spared the parade. I, for example, would normally be taking pictures–save for this time being tasked to narrate the ceremony, making my normal media-escort duties a little tred upon as I am the sole member of my shop.

As we inched toward May, all manner of gifts, rehearsals, and general hoo-ha would consume every officer gunning for promotion, which, in turn, would consume the lives of those under them. Most Soldiers can’t stand ceremonies like change of commands.

For reasons like this new program and invitation gig. I was supposed to research the unit, find what streamers we have been awarded through the ages; compile a biography of both my commander and the incoming commander; and wrestle with PowerPoint to alter the atrocious template for the program itself.

“Oh and the colonel needs you to write a speech for him to give during an inactivation ceremony.”

Lovely, a speech too.

With Monday spent and my new assignments gained, I set out on Tuesday to try to chip away at the beast of work. Never mind the fact that I still had to get things ready to leave for D.C. You know, things like paying the rent, making sure my mail was taken care of, bills, all that sort of business. Tuesday was one of my lower days in a long time. By the end of it, when I dragged myself out of the office around 2130 and headed home to pack, I was dead tired.

And that’s where I am now. Worn out. Not just physically, but all the rest of the “allys” as well. I’m leaving in a couple of hours for D.C. I’ll write more when I get there. With luck, I’ll be able to recharge and regroup, before the bastards find a way of reaching me there, too.


Slow motion flashes

There are little scenes that play in my mind when half-awake. Sort of like a dream half assembled. I can sit at my desk, still partially in uniform, back from a late night at work and coax sleep from a few minutes from now to right away just by closing my eyes.

The spurts of sleep only last a few seconds, enough for my head to nod forward and back, but the scenes are there. Streets, colors, people, juxtaposed in ways only dreaming can rationally explain. It’s weird to skirt the edge of sleep like that. Anybody else ever see those sorts of scenes?

I lost my fire tonight. I was supposed to stay late to edit a big story for el colonel, but was called away to cover a story in a nearby town that kept me up into the late evening. By the time I made it back, I was beat. The colonel would have to wait.

Not the wisest choice, I know; but sitting here, with the time nearly tomorrow, I’m hardly concerned, content with watching my private avant-garde theater as I nod off.

Flamenco woman under water, reaching toward the left; streetcars, clouds, the idea of smelling pumpernickel without actually smelling pumpernickel; a mustached man clearing off a messy desk.

Mmmmm, interesting. I think all of it means everything tomorrow will be fine, and I’ll keep my rank even without the colonel’s corrected story. I’ll head to bed now to find out if I’m right.


Woohoo! Wrangler wins best in Army!

Ok, I admit it. I am officially out of the blogging habit.

Whereas I used to think of the blog constantly, I’ve weened myself off of it in the name of “taking a break” and have done too good of a job. Now, a whole week will go by before I notice the lack of a post.

This will change. I can’t pledge it in blood or anything, but this thing is really the only thing worth a damn during my normal daily routine. It connects me to friends, brings in awesome friends to comment (woot!) and generally makes me feel super good after a cathartic rant.

Speaking of feeling good, the Army-level journalist competition results finally came out today. For those out of the loop (which, given my infrequent posts, probably is everyone), I was selected as the FORSCOM journalist of the year. FORSCOM is the largest chunk of the U.S. Army, made up of all the units that deploy to places like Iraq–basically everyone who’s not in a training role and not in Europe. I was blown away at the honor!

During that level of competition, my newsletter “The Wrangler,” featured on my links at right, won second place. This was especially noteworthy since my public affairs (read journalist) shop in Iraq consisted of a sergeant first class and myself. The E7 was my boss and went to a lot of the meetings, giving me the time I needed to go on missions, convoys, take pictures and the like. Then, I’d come back and put together everything into a newsletter. I poured hours and hours into that damn newsletter, squeezing in pull quotes, and moving modules around on my 8×10 canvas so everything lined up and fit. That’s much easier described than practices, believe you, me.

Anyway, along came the Army-level event. I was the nominee for the journalist-of-the-year gig, and “The Wrangler” still got to compete, even though it got second.

I didn’t get the journalist-of-the-year nod, but our little powerhouse of a newsletter came back from behind to win best Army field publication! We beat out all the huge, full-fledged newspapers; which was a total surprise to me.

You see, they all had huge staffs dedicated solely to publishing their respective papers, along with support writers that put out sports sections, history lessons, etc. I always was jealous they had the resources to get theirs printed on professional printers and could spend so much time on varying their content.

Still, I’ll have to wait until I receive the judge’s official comments and critiques, but I guess we won them over somehow. I am very proud of that newsletter! It represented everything our PAO shop did over there. I also wanted to congratulate uber peep “Ian” for winning first place for his commentary. Good job, brutha! My former newspaper “The Turret” came close with a 2nd place finish. Yaarr!

God bless and I’ll talk to you all soon. Seriously!



Good gawd these Mondays seem to get right on you. You’re recovering from the last one and–boom! Monday’s fist is in your face; forcing you to get ready to get back to the swing of the week, ready to put the dreams away for the weekday daylight hours.

And what are those dreams, friends? I’ve been looking at mine recently. I won’t pour them out here for the sake of privacy and brevity, but I’ve counted them a time or two. Life has a numbing way about it, the “routine” and all, doesn’t it? Week blends into week as Mondays stack together. Soon enough it’s time to keep the routine going and what we want to do is pushed aside.

I definitely don’t want to be that guy who sits at his desk in twenty years, wondering the “if” game. I guess some retrospection and second-guessing is unavoidable, like the gambler who sees his hand bust, wishing he had stayed at 17.

This isn’t one of those campy “go for your dreams” posts, but there comes a time when people need to take stock of what they’re pouring their efforts toward. You know? The “journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” garbage. How much closer are you (and I) to our goals? Be it weight or a book or a painting or a location, everyone needs a reminder to take an hour and read or learn a new language or do whatever.

Ok, I guess this has turned into one of those campy posts. Meh.


Like it never happened

Have you ever fallen asleep on the couch, one lazy Sunday morning, to wake up when it’s dark? You had plans for the day, but now things were closed and the specter of wage-earning activities loomed overhead.

That’s sort of what happened to February. There weren’t any exciting dreams during the “nap.” There weren’t any jarring noises that eventually woke me up. It was just there–March…into the second week, like it was hours ago.

I did have small urges to write about the past little bit, like those shallow slumber periods where you remember opening your eyes; but my numbed mind decided to drift again and the calendar turned.

I finished the first phase of my staff sergeant school, termed BNCOC for the initiated (Basic Non-Commissioned Officer Course for those not). You know? I’m not going to talk about it. I will say that I really was sleeping through life on many levels in the time I’ve been away.

Phase two begins at the end of this month. That should promise to be much more interesting, as we are to learn more about our militant journalistic enterprise rather than basic military knowledge. I’ll be attending said course with none other than uber peep Finch, featured at right.

So now that I’ve stretched and yawned a few times, how are things? Did the guests all go home?


%d bloggers like this: