Many of the Air Force planes have logos painted on the sides. This is on the side of a Russian helicopter. As the story goes, it’s there because when in use many years ago, the pilots wondered, “Where are they sending us? And what are we supposed to do when we get there?”
We were privledged to witness a full-scale training exercise involving simulated surface-to-air missles, planes dropping real 105mm cannon bullets (the shell alone is about 4″ in length), troops, enemies and a plane called the Osprey, which is an amazing cross between an airplane and a helicopter. This is the start of the airstrikes.
After the enemy forces had been defeated, the soldiers were exfiltrated. This is the Osprey of which I spoke previously. Vertical liftoffs and landings, but flies much faster than a traditional helicopter to get soldiers in/out.
General Kurt Cichowski, a fabulous soldier and a wonderful person, told us a great line that was told from one member of the Taliban to another. “Beware of the bearded Americans,” he said. “They have the power for they have the airplanes.” After Thursday’s demonstrations, I wholeheartedly believe this.
When new recruits arrive at Parris Island, they are greeted by these Yellow Footprints immediately after being ordered off the bus. (I think the quote from our drill instructor was “Get off my bus. NOW.”)
The instructors tried to teach us how to march. I’m not sure we could have looked any more pathetic. The last person in line gets to run up to the front at intersections and be “Road Guard.” Basically, you’re putting yourself between the group and the traffic. I got the distinction the first very first time we stepped out at 5AM. Having just done it, though, at the American Odessey Relay, it really was no problem. Well, to be truthful, there really isn’t much traffic on Parris Island at 5AM.
This is our senior drill instructor. Doesn’t he look fearsome? One of my biggest takeaways from this week, though, is how much the drill instructors seem to care about their recruits. They genuinely want them to succeed and master the process of becoming Marines. In fact, many of these tough guys told us stories about graduating recruits from Basic Training - stories that brought tears to their eyes - and mine.
At the airport. So long my new friends for life. Thank you DoD for affording me this amazing opportunity. I will use it wisely. I am proud to be a JCOC alumnae. And very proud of our U.S. Special Operations.
I plan to continue posting to this blog daily for the next few weeks. There will be lots of photos. The return of “top 10 quotes.” And a great video given to me by the crew of our C17.
But first, a nap.
Dear General Chichowski:
I want to thank you for a truly incredibly day experiencing the Air Force. My best friends Kyrah and Jon Varoli are former and current Air Force, respectively. To me they represent the best of the Air Force and I wasn’t quite sure anything or anyone could match them. But you graciously opened your doors to this civilian and showed me that your people - the people of Special Operations - are all like Jon and Kyrah. Special. Unique. Inclusive. You should be (and I know you are) very, very proud of them.
Having said that, I must break the hard news to you. I’m going to give the Air Force 1B in rank. Army Day was the best day of the program. Even though you had one of the Time 100 “People of the Year,” the “no helicopter” thing did worked against you. As did the magic that Army Master Sgt. Christine Thompson worked. (She is, without doubt, the best JCOC 79 team captain.) And of course, I am 100% loyal to LTG Whitcomb of the Army. But your effort was valiant and noticed.
Tonight you told us, “If the enemy masses, we will destroy them.” And, “The enemy cannot run and cannot hide. We will destroy them.” I believe you, sir. Your airmen/women are well-trained. And really good people. We, the civilians of the United States, are lucky to have you and your troops fighting for us.
Thank you for a wonderful day and an amazing conclusion to this immersion program. If/when you are in the Washington, DC area, I expect you to call upon me for some sort of meal. In fact, that’s not a request. It’s an order from a tax-paying American who is very proud of her military.
I look forward to seeing you at breakfast tomorrow. And I will get in touch with Sarah Nagelmann as you suggested. She does have “Mann” in her last name, so she must be good!
I couldn’t let this week go by without at least one Jack Bauer quote. To Maxwell, my dining seatmate from yesterday’s Army day, quotes of the day will be back and you made it! I’m just running out of time. After yesterday’s precision scheduling, I cannot be late starting today. Look for it later. And thank you again for doing such a super job hosting us.
Apologies Navy. I really am sorry Coast Guard. I know you’ll give it your best shot, Marines and Air Force. But you simply can’t beat the Army. Not today. Not this week.
Let’s cut to the chase. Today was Army Day. And here’s what we did once we got to Ft. Bragg (North Carolina):
The best way to summarize is to quote General Mulholland: “You’ll hear me say ‘the world’s finest’ [in reference to Army Special Forces] a lot, but it is not hyperbole. It is gospel truth.”
I, for one, am a beliver.
Vote for the better biceps. On the left, you have Coast Guardsman Blake Grisham. On the right, P90X founder Tony Horton. You make the call.
We experienced a jam-packed day today with a lot of ‘hurry up and wait’. Folks seem to think that’s military terminology but I’ve heard it (and been the cause of it) often enough in the private sector.
This will be a shorter-than-usual post for several reasons, one of which is so that I can upload photos. A picture sometimes really does speak a thousand words.
I’ll impart one written story, though, since photography wasn’t allowed at this point for safety/classified reasons. When we were watching a strike team demonnstration, we were given the opportunity to use the restrooms…both of which were labeled “Men” and “Men.” The three women in my group were then instructed that the ladies’ room was the left Men’s room. I don’t have it in my notes, so I’m going off memory, but I believe it’s because there aren’t any female Navy SEALS or Special Warfare Combatant Crews. Not a big deal, though, especially since I was more interested in playing with the Humvee machine gun and seeing how well I fit into the driver’s seat. NASCAR, watch out!
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