Saturday, June 20, 2009

No Room at the Inn

I just got an email today letting me know that the base hotels at Fort Jackson are completely booked. Awesome! (not)

There are two large hotels on the base and it appears that both of them are completely full and about 40-50 of us will be residing at hotels off base. While I'm sure this will have its perks, I'm not thrilled that I will have a 15 minute drive to get to our morning workout (PT = physical training) at 5:30am. Oh yeah, and then only an hour between PT and when we have to be back at the school.... I guess they don't want me to shower in-between.

Well at least it is a Marriott. Here is what home will look like for 7 weeks:

Friday, June 19, 2009


If you've done P90X then you know the pain I am in right now. Christina and I have been doing it for almost a week. Well that's not entirely accurate. She has done it every day. I have been building a roof (rafters, plywood, facia, soffit, felt paper and shingles) with my father-in-law and I come home exhausted every day. So this week I have done them when I have the energy, but I WILL be doing it every day next week.

The first work out does your chest and back but it also gets your arms and shoulders. My shoulders and back are still sore from day 1.

When 2009 hit, Christina and I made a New Years Resolution that we actually kept. We were going to work really hard to change our eating habits and develop an exercise routine. Since that time we have both steadily gotten healthier and gradually lost some weight. However, after 5 months of the same routine, we felt we needed a change to reinvigorate our workouts. Enter P90X.

P90X is a workout system that has you do something every day. It does Back & Chest, Shoulders & Arms, Legs & Back, Plyometrics, Martial Arts, Yoga, and Abs.

Over the past few weeks it has become more and more of a reality that I am going to be serving with one of the most elite Infantry Divisions in the entire world. 5:30am workouts every day, 15 mile road marches with 50lbs ruck sack, repelling out of helicopters.... I will be doing it all with them in only 10 weeks. Now, Chaplains have not made the best names for themselves when it comes to physical fitness. I, however, want to show my soldiers that I will always hold myself to the highest physical standards possible as to never become a liability to them on the field of battle. So over the next few weeks I am going to do whatever I can to take my physical fitness to the next level.

Hopefully, all the tough manual labor together with P90X will get me there. I guess I'll find out soon.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

4th of July Party

As the time of my departure draws nearer, Christina and I thought there would be no better time to celebrate than the 4th of July. She is calling it the "Kentucky, here we come" party.

Anyway, if you are going to be in the area for the 4th, you are invited to come by Christina's parents house in Wheaton. We will be hanging out and grilling 4th of July style. The party starts around 3pm, food will be grilled around 5 and we will take a short walk over to see the fireworks around 8.

Hope you all can make it. We would love to see you all one last time before we head out.

0N107 Evans Ave
Wheaton, IL 60187

Shoot me an email if you have any questions:

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Official Orders

The long awaited orders have finally come!  "You are ordered to active duty...."  Most of you are like "yeah, yeah you already knew that."  But what you don't know is that everything is on hold until you have official orders in hand.  

Now that I actually have orders I can have our household stuff shipped and stored at the Army's expense (not ours), and I can begin the process of applying for housing at Fort Campbell.  It also verifies that I will enter active duty with the rank of Captain.  

I report to the chaplain school at Fort Jackson, Columbia, South Carolina on July 12.  I will finish the school on August 28.  
Then I drive straight to For Campbell, KY.  I have to report there on August 31.  I still don't know what BTC or BN (Brigade Combat Team or Battalion) I'll be assigned to.  Looks like I might have to wait until I report down there to find that out.  

I talked to the housing office down there yesterday and they said for a 2-bedroom duplex the wait is 30-45 days.  We will have to navigate that issue when we get down there.  

Right now I am reading 2 books with my free time:

I'll give an update on both of these after I finish them and have some time to reflect.  War and the Soul will take a little longer to digest and evaluate.  A Table in the Presence is a little quicker and a very interesting read.  

Hope everyone has a great weekend.  Congrats to the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Lord Stanley would be proud.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Assignement Instructions

Well I just got an email that gave me some more details. I am indeed assigned to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). With that bit of information actually confirming what I was told on the phone by the Accessions Officer, I've got some more details.

Since the 101st division is an all Air Assault division, I will be going through the Air Assault course shortly after arriving. Its a 2 week course that teaches all about being transported in and exiting various types of helicopters. The best part is rappelling out a helicopter hovering at 100ft. I can't wait! After the 2 week school (provided I complete everything successfully) I will be awarded the Air Assault wings to accompany my Airborne wings: (don't worry that's not my uniform.... I wouldn't wear it unless I was awarded it)
But here was the biggest surprise of the instructions. They read: "Officer to enter Active Duty in the Grade of Captain." I've been in the Reserves for 4 years (2 years as a 2nd LT and 2 years as a 1st LT). I was told I should expect to get promoted to Captain about 6 months after entering active duty. But apparently they are giving me "grade constructive credit." This is great news considering that its a raise of more than just a few thousand dollars.

I'm looking forward to heading back to Fort Jackson, SC next month. I report July 12th. I will be able to complete the Chaplain School training with a sense of clarity and drive with my upcoming assignment in view. I then report right to Fort Campbell.

Christina and I are going to take a few days trip on June 28th - 30th down to the base to get familiar with it and hopefully get the housing situation worked out. I'm interested to see what the housing looks like.

Still no word on what battalion or even brigade I'll be with. I'm hoping that information is on my official orders. The Brigade Combat Team (BCT) that I get assigned to will determine when I get deployed. A few of the BCT have just returned from 15 month deployments to Afghanistan. When I figure out which BCT I'm assigned to I should be able to figure out an approximate timetable for my first deployment.

Christina and I are adjusting well to life in Wheaton (suburban life). It is very quiet and we get to see stars at night. Its really great to get to spend time with her family and see mine quite often as well. Hope you all are doing well.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Historic Division

As I reported in my last entry, Christina and I will be moving to Fort Campbell, KY at the end of August.  For those of you unfamiliar with Fort Campbell it is home to the 101st Airborne Division known as the "screaming eagles."  It is a division with a rich history of valor and bravery.  If you saw the HBO series "Band of Brothers" (which follows Easy Company of the 101st Airborne through WWII) you would be familiar with some of their work.  

Since today is the anniversary of D-Day, I feel a special amount of excitement and pride in having the chance to serve these fine soldiers and their families.  At the risk of being overly simplistic let me give a brief history lesson.  

Most people have heard of D-Day but fewer know about H-Hour.  H-Hour was the hour that the Airborne soldiers where to launch their assault.  The 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions and the British 6th Airborne Division jumped behind enemy lines a few hours before the D-Day invasion was scheduled to begin.  The 101st jumped and began carrying out 
their various missions.  These men displayed true courage jumping into areas (in the middle of the night!) where they would be completely surrounded by German forces.  They helped prepare for the beach landings at
 Normandy and stop the Germans from being able to reenforce the beaches after the landings.  

As you relax this weekend, take a second to remember D-Day and the bravery of the soldiers who took part in this effort to defeat
 the Nazis.  Many of them made the ultimate sacrifice so you and I could live free.  Remember them and live a life worthy of their sacrifice. 

Friday, June 5, 2009

Needs of the Army

It's Friday and I love to sleep in on Friday's.  This morning my phone rang at 8:30am.  I was still half asleep and it was an area code I didn't recognize.  When I tried to answer it, I was already too late.  It had gone to voice mail.  I waited a minute, got the voice mail, and listened eagerly.  

It was the Chaplain Accessioning Officer.  He said he wanted to talk with me about my assignment.  I sent him an email yesterday in an attempt to become a squeaky wheel that might get a little grease.  Well I got greased alright. 

I called him back and we discussed my first assignment.  He said, "Chris, I wasn't able to get you a spot at any of your top 3 choices.  (at this point I was just praying it wasn't Alaska)  The Army needs you at Fort Campbell immediately after you finish the Chaplain School."  

If you have been following the news at all you probably heard about the tragic suicide rate at Fort Campbell this year.  If not, either of these 2 stories will fill you in:

Apparently, the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Chaplains have ordered that no battalion (which is the smallest unit that has a chaplain) at Fort Campbell be without a Chaplain at any time.  That means, most of the people who where chosen with me for Chaplaincy back in May are headed to Fort Campbell.  

The Chaplain School ends on August 28th and I will be reporting to Fort Campbell around August 31st.  

Thankfully, Fort Campbell is only about a 7 1/2 hour drive from Chicago (its on the KY and TN boarder).  Thankfully it's close enough for long weekends or holidays.  It's not what Christina and I were hoping for or expecting, but I signed up to serve soldiers and there is obviously a huge need at Fort Campbell, so we will go.  

I'm sure more information will be coming but I wanted to let everyone know where Christina and I would be headed.  

Have a great weekend!