Saturday, 11 September, 2004
An Introduction to the Introduction to this EditionMISSOURI
SFC* Hunter, a combat engineer (MOS*: 12B) was the only person in uniform at the James S. McDonnell USO in the Lambert Airport in St. Louis. He took us (the former soldiers involuntarily orderd to active duty in support of OIF*) to get our bus tickets. We were told we would be reimbursed for the $26.00 cash that each of us spent on the bus tickets (we were not reimbursed, of course, otherwise it would not be worth mentioning). One smiling former soldier, sent home happily a few days later for failing an aspect of the medical deployment standards (he told me that he told the doctor that he was on Paxil), offered to break each of our ankles as we stood in formation waiting to follow SFC Hunter to the bus. Under the Nuremberg Principles, I had an obligation not to follow the orders of leaders who were preparing crimes against peace. Of course, due to my own disinterest and ignorance, it was not until after I had fulfilled my military obligations that I learned that crimes were going to be committed. By then I did not wear any uniforms. I no longer received any pay from the military. I did not expect to receive any orders ever again.
*SFC: Sergeant First Class. A picture of the insignia for this rank is here.
*MOS: Military Occupational Specialty. 12B is the designation for a Combat Engineer.
*OIF: Operation Iraqi Freedom. Participation by the Armed Forces of the United States in the invasion (in March 2003) and occupation of Iraq was and is illegal (illegal according to Article VI, paragraph 2 of the United States Constitution which states "all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land" because the Department of Defense adopted the Nuremberg Principles in 1953, 50 years before 2003, and the United States is also bound by the United Nations Charter). One with knowledge of illegal activity and an opportunity to do something about it is a potential criminal under international law unless the person takes affirmative measures to prevent commission of the crimes.
posted by G on 9/11/2004 at 04:02 PM
Introduction to this EditionST. LOUIS
The bus for FLWMO* left at 18:45 (Central Time). Nearly all of the between one hundred and two hundred former soldiers were truck drivers (MOS*: 88M). We were told that almost two hundred former soldiers had come in around ten days ago. We were also told that we would be issued green uniforms (we were thinking that if we were issued tan uniforms, we might find ourselves participating in an illegal war in Iraq in only a few more days). I remember what Senator Daniel Inouye (Hawaii) said about following orders in 1987: "The uniform code makes it abundantly clear that it must be the lawful orders of a superior officer. In fact it says, 'Members of the military have an obligation to disobey unlawful orders.' This principle was considered so important that we -- we, the government of the United States, proposed that it be internationally applied in the Nuremberg trails."
*FLWMO: Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri
*MOS: Military Occupational Specialty. 88M is the designation for a Motor Transport Operator.
posted by G on 9/11/2004 at 06:45 PM
I watched my first Missouri sunset in many years.
We got off of the Greyhound bus. Another bus took us to FLWMO. We were taken to the 43rd AG Bn* and given some papers. It took hours for the drill sergeants to read us the instructions so that we could receive the papers from them. I think we became United States Army Soldiers again at some point near the beginning of the paperwork. I even started getting paid by the military again a few weeks later. We were brought to our barracks very late in the night and given, extremely slowly, and with receipts, our bedding, by SGT* Strong. I went to sleep after I locked my wall-locker and made my bed and I did not get up until the next morning.
*AG Bn: Adjutant General Battalion (Reception). This is where new enlistees spend the first weeks before they begin Basic Combat Training. They receive their first haircuts (which are not free), their uniforms (most of which are free), and some paperwork. They also have to meet a minimum fitness standard before they can be allowed to join a cycle of Basic. Since I had my Basic Training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, I had never been to the 43rd AG Bn before.
*SGT: Sergeant. The nickname given to SGT Strong was "Sergeant Snacks." I think it was just because he was fat. I think he was a Chemical Operations Specialist.
Sunday, 12 September, 2004
At Last, We Get a Few Answers.
On Sunday morning we met our new 1SG*. 1SG Ficcaglia told us he had an open-door policy. I think that what he should have said, since it would have been more accurate, is that although he might leave the door to his office ajar, despite the fact that we were not told and did not know the location of the building in which his office was (I did find it out a week later), we had still better not bother him for any reason, ever. Later he told me a bunch of innacurate information that he advanced as facts about my situation that he might have created after overhearing some words that might have been understood by but still frightening to him, such as "fill out" and "form."
Another member of the staff had us fill out a form and told us that none of us could be conscientious objectors and asked if anybody had a situation with the Lautenberg Amendment.
Also on Sunday the Battalion Commander, LTC* Cole, gave a presentation. He also said that he had an open-door policy, and he even said that one of us could, through our chain of command, schedule a time to talk to him. LTC Cole told us about the former soldiers who were at FLWMO and the ones who were coming. He said from 31 August 2004 through 27 October 2004, he was supposed to receive, equip, train, and deploy 765 involuntarily recalled soldiers.
He told us that 267 truck drivers (MOS: 88M) were supposed to have arrived on 31 August.
He said that 40 combat engineers and chemical operations specialists (MOS: 21B and 74D) were supposed to have arrived between 04 Septmber and 09 September.
He said that 318 truck drivers and crane operators (MOS: 88M and 21F) were supposed to have arrived on 11 September.
He said that 74 cavalry scouts, tankers, and mechanics (MOS: 19D, 19K, and 62B) were supposed to arrive betwen 19 September and 30 September.
He said that 38 electricians and mechanics (MOS: 21R and 62B) were supposed to arrive on 06 October.
He said that 28 electricians (MOS: 21R) were supposed to arrive on 27 October.
He even told us what we would be doing. He said that we would do SRP* until the 15th, and then have CTT* until the 22nd, and then we would be separated for MOS training until 07 October. After that we would move on to the new units that were missing soldiers in our specialties to train with them for a couple of months before they departed for Iraq (or, hopefully, somewhere chillier). He said all troops would depart FLWMO on 10 October 2004 and that we were 95% likely to go to Iraq.
He told us that although he had been told to receive 318 former soldiers on 11 September, he had only made contact with and expected "about 288," and that only "about 116" were present. So I asked if their would be any consequences for the balance of the 318 former soldiers. He said that it was a good question and that he would probably have someone send the names to St. Louis (I believe there has been, and I am glad, no negative consequences for any former soldier who ignored his orders to return to active duty involuntarily in support of OIF).
Someone else asked if we could receive mail. We were told that we could but we were not told the address to use.
Someone asked what the Lautenberg Amendment was. We were told that it is a felony for a person convicted of domestic violence crimes to receive firearms or ammunition. This was the case for some of the soldiers in the room.
After the briefings we had breakfast. Then we were split up to go through various stations for inprocessing. Just before lunch we were given our haircuts. After lunch I was sent to the dentist and the optometrist. Then we had dinner. So far I had only gotten closer to going to Iraq, not farther. At some point, perhaps during the following day, I asked to see the chaplain.
*1SG: First Sergeant. 1SG Ficcaglia seemed pretty dim compared to the previous First Sergeants I had. At least he put a lot of effort into looking busy. When I was waiting for someone else once, I watched him walk back and forth, with a very determined expression on his face and carrying a briefcase, up and down a hallway and into and out of empty offices at each end of the hallway. If one of his superiors had happened upon him during this performance, they might have concluded that he was on his way to do something important, which I think was what he wanted his superiors to think. Unfortunately I think it was when he had taken a bathroom break from his walking that one of his superiors showed up, so nobody but me and the other private waiting with me got to see how determined the 1SG had been to become busy with important things.
*LTC: Lieutenant Colonel. This is an officer rank. Unlike enlisted men, officers can resign their commissions, which is like resigning from their jobs as soldiers. Enlisted men cannot quit, although under some circumstances they can be discharged at the date their contracts end.
*SRP: Soldier Readiness Processing (paperwork and processing stuff).
*CTT: Common Task Training (like reservists do when they go out to the field). This includes BRM* and NBC* training and all of the other skills that are not specific to one MOS. LTC Cole told us that we would have BRM and do fitness training, but that we would not have to take any fitness tests.
*BRM: Basic Rifle Marksmanship. The main part of this training involves shooting bullets from rifles at paper targets or sillhouettes.
*NBC: Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical. For most soldiers this involves wearing protective masks to thwart poison gas.
Monday, 13 September, 2004
The Great Escape Begins
We had a formation on Monday morning. We marched to breakfast in formation. There were cattle trucks waiting for us near the dining facility to take us to the hopital. We sat for a couple of hours outside the hospital. Finally, we started our medical processing. We were given hearing tests, shots (including an anthrax vaccine, after which one is not supposed to attempt to have children for at least a year), and had blood taken. We also were split up to talk to three doctors. Two of the doctors were white men. One was a black man. It seemed to me that almost every soldier who talked to the black doctor failed to meet medical deployment standards and was released from active duty and able to return home. It seemed that our number decreased by about a third that day.
We took a bus to have lunch at the dining facility for the 35th Engineer Brigade. I had not been there for many years. The television in the dining facility was on the Fox News Channel. After lunch a bus took us back to finish our medical processing. We walked to the dental section of the hospital to complete our dental processing. We rode in a van to get our identity cards. To get our identity cards we had to give our left and right index finger prints. The waiting room for the identity cards had a television in it on the Fox News Channel.
We had a finance briefing in the same building. A drill sergeant called me out of the briefing in the middle. In the hallway, SFC Hunter (not the same SFC Hunter who was at the St. Louis Airport and had us by the Greyhound bus tickets, but one of our drill sergeants) asked if I wanted to go home. I told him that of course I was there involuntarily and I would like to go home, but I was going to try to go about achieving that dream in a tidy fashion. He said that he had asked because he had found out that I had asked to meet the chaplain. It seemed that he and some of the rest of the cadre had not really understood the circumstances: that all of us who had arrived that Saturday were involuntarily ordered to active duty in suppport of OIF. I think he had been under the impression that we were Reservists and National Guardsmen who had been drilling every month until we had met him. He let me return to the finance briefing. We learned about entitlements including the
cost of living allowance,
foreign language proficiency pay,
hardship duty pay,
and hostile fire/imminent danger pay.
We also learned that our pay is nontaxable in combat zones.
After the briefing we had dinner at the dining facility for the 169th Engineer Battalion. I had not been there for many years.
Monday, 20 June, 2005
Welcome Home Warrior Citizen Award
I checked my E-mail Monday night and found a new message. It started like this:
"From: email@example.comThere was a link to a web page at the end of the message. On that page I found the following:
"The Chief, Army Reserve established the Army Reserve Welcome Home Warrior Citizen Award Program on 10 December 2004. The "Warrior Citizen" award recognizes all Army Reserve Citizen-Soldiers who excelled in the performance of their duty while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) or Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). The Warrior Citizen Award ensures that Soldiers receive tangible recognition for acts of heroism, exceptional performance of duty, and achievement acts involving combat and non-combat service.I was surprised. I already had my honorable discharge. What more could I want? I even had the award certificate (DD Form No. 256A) to put next to my diplomas on the wall of my office. Was I really going to receive another award? I decided not to send anything to the E-mail address or physical mailing address in the message and not to call the phone number.
One of the last items on the informational web page was that "the RRC/DRC G1 Office nearest the Soldier's home of record will contact the IRR/IMA Soldier to arrange for an appropriate award presentation ceremony." I remember the award presentation ceremony after Golden Sword. My sergeant got a medal and I got a certificate of appreciation. I like the award I got the first time I was at Fort Leonard Wood, just before I went home. The ribbon was rainbow-colored.
I later read a news article about how some officers had received their Welcome Home Warrior Citizen Awards in a ceremony.
Sunday, 31 July, 2005
I am happy not to be in the Army.
I do not think I would enjoy 130 degree weather.
There are many causes for which it is admirable to die, but
I think there is no cause for which it is admirable to kill other men and women.
I agree with recommendation 8* of the Declaration of the Jury of Conscience World Tribunal on Iraq.
*recommendation 8: "8. That young people and soldiers act on conscientious objection and refuse to enlist and participate in an illegal war. Also, that countries provide conscientious objectors with political asylum."