Monday, October 19, 2009

News from Camp Jaker

Well it has been awhile since I gave all my regulars an update on SN2. This is the Marine Corporal who was deployed to Afghanistan back in May.

We have been able to keep track of him using the "Mom" network through Marine Parents dot Com. A great resource by the way, for anyone else in the same soup as us here in the Swamp. It's a funny think, I started to take notice of all the other Marine Parents out there; there is the Store Manager of the local Wawa store (she wears a Marine Mom pin), there are several of us that get coffee in the same store, I buy embroider shirts from another, and I have been more than once asked about the sticker on the back of my car. The two Blue Stars always gets noticed and the Marine tag is a giveaway.

Anyway, we missed a call from the Young Corporal when he called and we were in Michigan a ways back. He called the weekend we were in West Virginia moving the Daughter to her new work site. And then on top of that, he called but we had our house phone forwarded to the Daughters number so she spoke with him for 40 some minutes. She called us with a run down.

To say the wife/mom was a bit miffed is an understatement. But then we had help from CNN. When Anderson Cooper was there doing his week in "On the Battlefront" he was actually hosted in country by my Son's Company (Charlie Co. of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment). We caught glimpses of the "boy" walking in Camp Jaker, another of him building up one of the Hesco Barriers (those are those huge sand bags that are used to set up their base). And then at the end of a long report there is Anderson Cooper interviewing an "unnamed Marine", it was Jon.

We were delighted to see him in close focus and even talking. He looked and sounded great. I did take issue at what he said and I'll quote here "as weird as this sounds this is actually a nice home". Now, I am thinking here about those words. The wife/mom on the other hand is so overjoyed to hear his voice that she doesn't even know what was said. I told her they don't paint "this place" meaning our house on Pheasant Lane as such a nice place. She did not understand. I explained as best I could, the long report by AC360 was about how bad the conditions were for our Men there in that awful place and there is our son saying what a nice home it was. Would not one think that living in dirt was an improvement; from what conditions did this boy come from? She did not understand.

Building up a Hesco Barrier:

Yeah, thats him. Talking about how nice a home this place is?

Look at that look, I mean from Anderson.

Still it was nice to see and hear him.
There was more info later on his movements, patrols that other boys of Mothers that the wife corresponds with passing on information reports. Tracking by data point, rumor and hearsay, but it works.
Finally, three weeks ago on a Tuesday night around 9:00 pm or so we get a call from an unknown number. Normally I would ignore the number but the area code was from the next county over, the one my In-Laws live in and I thought maybe it was them calling us from an un-programmed number. It was Jon.

Mom and Son conversed for almost 40 straight minutes; I listened on the speaker phone while she was on an extension. Him and I always do our own talking after Mom drops off the line, straight speak between just us men. It was a great.

He was tired as he had spent most of the night awake, having several fire mission early in the night (he is in charge of the Camp mortar squad) and then he had to take a turn on watch at a nearby over watch post. They have their main supply road under constant surveillance, the Taliban using the cover of night to come out and plant IED's. They now have these over watch posts all the way up and down the road so they can see and respond to these nocturnal activities. His previous training as a Squad Designated Sniper keeps him in those towers on most nights.
I did get from him the story of his strange quote. He laughed and said that his response was chopped from what he was responding too, that in the weeks before they were encamped at Jaker they had all lived on their feet. Their 'home' was where ever they sat down for the night, carrying everything on their backs. So, moving into Camp Jaker was a big deal. He also said that they actually interviewed him for more than 20 minutes. CNN only put up the one response.

All in all he was in fine shape, he has lost some weight but the care packages are helpful. The Vienna sausages I snuck into one of his packages were a great hit, as was the portable shower Mom sent to him.

No word from the Son-in-Law. Jon says his platoon was detailed to the southernmost edge of his Companies area of responsibility. So, we are still looking for word from him.

The wife/mom is already planning her trip to San Diego for the homecoming in December. Tickets already in hand by the way, never too early to buy them in her mind. And yes, I did caution her knowing all too well about military deployment schedules, but I think she wants to spend Christmas in sunny Southern California no matter what.

I will hold the fort down in the Swamp, with Lady the Princess Pompeian of course as my company.

BT: Jimmy T sends.


Bag Blog said...

That is pretty cool that you were able to see your son on TV. I totally understand your wife's feelings on talking to your son and being there for his homecoming.

Ed Murray said...

Jimmy thats GREAT to actually see your boy on TV !! Glad all is fine

JimmyT said...

Lou, thanks and you are right about the Mom thing. I don't bother to try hard to talk her out of it. He was her "Sweet Little Boy"!!

Ee, thanks too, and it was a great surprise to see him. And yep it is great all is well, at least as of when he called. Releif was only short term.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Buck said...

VERY cool about the TV! So... did Jon have any kind words for AC and the CNN crew?

JimmyT said...

Buck, He did say they were Ok and that Anderson seemed to be everywhere. He passed this story on:On the CNN crews their first night there, after being up a long time to get to the Camp, we are talking they had been up like 20 hours, they are finally getting some sleep but Anderson is up, he apparently does this personal video journal every night. Well, Jon's team gets a fire mission, and they race out of their tents to the mortar pits which happen to be just outside of the tents CNN are using. Jon said as normal the Marines made a huge racket getting the tubes ready, yelling back and forth their checklists that they do, you know Challenge-Response and then of course they send the rounds out and with every one they yell some kind of epitaph instead of 'Fire', something like "This Bud's for You" and on You the round takes off. This goes on for a few minutes and Jon says when they are done they spruce up and notice all the CNN guys standing in their PJ's looking at the Marines who are standing in their version of PJ's, helmets, flack jackets, boots and boxers! He said they all stood around laughing and trading sleep wear secrets.

Ah, Marines, what would we do without them!!

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Reese said...

"Ah, Marines, what would we do without them!"

We despise Marines in these parts. Except that we love them. That's one tough looking dude. Look at that look, I mean from the Marine. Friendly-- 'til he's not.


Former MM1 Reese and wife former MR2 Reese, she having had a "run-in" with a Marine during a security alert ca. 1987.

JimmyT said...

Bob, I never expected that one of my own would join the Marines, the Air Force sure, he was the smart lazy one and that fits. But going Marine was a shock, and he had it all set up before hand, only wanted me there to witness his enlistment.

I feel for your wife, we had those security alerts all the time on the two aircraft carriers I was on and I hated them guys the way they treated us Squids!!

BT:Jimmy T sends.

Buck said...

That's a GREAT story from Jon, Jimmy... thanks!

re: ...the Air Force sure, he was the smart lazy one and that fits.

Heh. "If the shoe fits..." But not really -- it was tradition, in my case. I knew from the time I was about eight years old that I would be Air Force... there was never a shred of doubt.



Dad pointed me your way and I sure do appreciate it! Great story about your son! I've always said I hold our Marines in high regard. I never wanted to be one, but I sure do appreciate everything they do!

Gotta love the media...we had Casey Stengel here recently. We watched the report after the fact and the location changed as did many of the unit designators...oh well, the message was an overall positive one. Fair 'nuff!

I'm on my way to a Marine controlled FOB this am actually. Check on my HH-60 maintainers there.

As for family tradition, I was "handcuffed" in the USAF recruiter vernacular, when I walked through the recruiting station door. My boy has consistently mentioned the USAFA as his #1 college 13 this is obviously subject to change. I push not one iota, but if he goes that route, I don't think I could be any prouder...5 years will tell.

Thanks for a great blog!



Oops...0419 and not enough coffee yet! Dad always says "don't publish until well caffeinated!"

Casey Stegall...not the baseball player...

Off to hang with the Marines! Semper Fi!


virgil xenophon said...

Jimmy T./

Great looking kid! You and his Mother must be proud! What does you wife look like?--can't be YOU! :) Boy, how times have changed. Even Generals couldn't "call" home except with GREAT difficulty over the old autovon sys we had in the Vietnam era. The ability to communicate to the home front today is like another galaxy from my day.
(And then I think of when in the days of sailing ships it used to be measured in MONTHS, so it's all relative in a way...)

JimmyT said...

AFCAPTBUCK, thanks for stopping by, I read your fathers updates of your activity when ever he posts them, I guess that is another thing between us as parents of boy's in harms way.

I was like you with pushing the military, both my boy's decided on their own what branch and when they would join. I never pushed although, the Naval Aviation stuff was all round them.

Be safe, if you are down in either Camp Jaker or Cheroke look my boy up, tell him to call home again!!

VX, Yeah times are really different from the COM's front. They actually have a phone bank on the Carriers now that when OPS allow they connect right into the public system and they can call home right from the ship. The best we had was a MARS station, Over.

BT: Jimmy T sends.