Saturday, August 25, 2007

Capstone - pt. 1

I know it has been a long time since I posted. I know I said I was going to try to do it a little more regularly, but when most of the day consists of classroom instruction staring at PowerPoint, there is not much to write about.

This past week, however, we were at Capstone. Capstone is the final field exercise we have at CH-BOLC. We go to the field for four days at a FOB they have set up here at Ft. Jackson for the purpose of training. It was a very busy four days, but I really loved it.

We endured blistering heat (two or three of the days the temps were over 100). However, it was a time when a lot of the training I have had over the last three months has finally started to come together. Many of the exercises we did required bringing several of the skills together that we have been learning. It was a period of time where things finally started to "click" for me.

The picture above is our dining facility. We got a hot breakfast and supper here each day, and we were handed MREs here at lunch time.

This picture was taken from inside one of the bunkers set up on the FOB. Over the time at Capstone, there were several simulated artillery attacks. These simulations were actually very cool. They had the high pitched whistle you would hear with an incoming round and then a thunderous boom simulating impact and detonation. They were very loud and from what I hear, the real thing is even louder.

Each night a couple of hours after we went to bed (usually enough time for all of us to have fallen asleep), they set off a volley of these attacks. Nothing gets you wide awake in a hurry like an explosion a few yards away from you.

When the attack started, you would have to jump out of bed, stuff your feet in your boots, grab your battle rattle and make it out to the bunkers. The picture above was obviously taken during the day when we had an attack. You can look and see the next bunker in the distance.

We also had training on a sand table briefing. This is where you mark out a battle plan on the ground so everyone can get an understanding of the flow of the mission.

Here is a closer look at the sand table.

It is only one more week now until I graduate and become a full fledged Army chaplain. God has taken me and my family on such an incredible journey over the last several months. All I can say is that whoever can say that the Christian walk is dull has obviously never become a Christian, and I can say that my God is an incredibly faithful and wise God!
I have more pictures from Capstone in the post under this one so be sure to look at those, too. I had several so I decided to put them in two posts instead of just one.
I am not going to make promises about how often I will post since I obviously fell on my face on that the last time, but I do plan to keep posting in the future so you can keep up with where God is leading me and my family on this little mission adventure so keep checking back.

Latest Pics - Capstone Pt. 2

One of the best activities we had was Convoy Ops. We simulated actually going on a convoy, and we had the chaplain assistants who are also in training with us so I had an assistant with me to provide for my security on this convoy.
On the convoy, we encountered a simulated IED attack, and we had to dismount the truck and take cover. I took this picture as I am laying flat on the ground a few yards into the wood line. You can make out my assistant and his M-16 as he is looking for "the bad guys."

In another training exercise, we conducted ramp ceremonies. A ramp ceremony is a brief memorial ceremony for the heroes who make the ultimate sacrifice for our country on the battle field. It is called a ramp ceremony because it is held literally on the ramp of the airplane that brings the fallen soldier's remains home. This picture is a bit sobering, but it gives a fitting reminder of the great price that is paid for our freedom. It also gives a great reminder why the role of the chaplain in our military is so necessary.

You saw a picture similar to this way back in June while I was in CIMT (the first phase of our training). This is Victory Tower. It stands about 40 feet high. We climb up and rappel down. We got to do this again this past week during Capstone, and I absolutely loved it! I would do it again in a heart beat.

Those of you who know me know that in the past I typically struggled with a pretty healthy fear of heights. What helped me conquer that you ask?

Well, for the folks back at Aydelotte, it was all that time I spent working on the new building up on that scaffold. That seriously was the time that helped me conquer that fear.

Notice to the side of the tower the large ladder. Notice also the height of the tower compared to the height of the people handling the rappelling ropes on the ground.
Dad, you always talked about rappelling being your favorite Army experience. Mine, too.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

A Great Day of Worship

I just got back from helping to lead worship with the 120th BN. It was a great morning. Sorry...I was not able to get a pic, but it was truly neat to stand before a couple hundred soldiers so recently in off the street that their heads are still broken out from the stylish Army haircut. They were so hungry for worship, and the Spirit of God moved so mightily through that service that there was not a dry eye in the house when it was done.

I played my guitar and sang with the Chaplain in charge of that battalion while he led in worship. Then there was an awesome message preached about God never leaving nor forsaking us by another chaplain here on post. God's Spirit truly moved, and His work was truly done in hearts this morning.

Afterwards, I got the privilege of praying with soldiers who had stepped forward indicating a desire to pray with someone. It was truly amazing to sit in a chair across from soldier after soldier, listen to their burdens, and then take them before the Father.

In short, today was yet another confirmation in a long list of them that God has been so faithful to supply telling me that I know I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. To God be the glory!!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

A Fine Fort Jackson Saturday Morning's Saturday morning. That means one more week is in the record books, and I am one week closer to going home...although home is a place I have never lived before (because my family got moved to Fort Riley earlier this week).

When my wife and kids got to the place we leased, even though we put the deposit down last May, they did not have it ready yet. It needed an inspection by the city. When my wife went into the office to get the key and they told her there would be a delay, she said "...okay...I'll be right back." She went out to the car got the kids...and the cat...and came back in and took up residence in the office.

Amazingly enough, it wasn't long before she had the key to our apartment. (Way to go, honey!!! - - I tell you what...she is still not quite convinced yet...but I married me one tough Army wife!!)

Back to Ft. Jackson...

I just got back from a nice run. I went out at 0700 but the humidity was still about 300%. It was a good run, though, and now I am starting my day.

I get to go help lead worship for the 120th Receiving BN again this Sunday. It is awesome to help lead those kids who are literally just days off the street and out of civilian clothes in worship. There is just such a genuine hunger for it in them. I will try to get a pic this time.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Services in the Field

For the past couple of weeks we have been going out to the field three times per week to conduct field services. We are given scenarios that describe various conditions we might encounter while deployed, and we must prepare a field worship service that will meet the needs of our soldiers.

The date of my field service does not roll around until late August, but one of my classmates asked me to help him by leading a song in his service that was this morning. Anyway...if you can imagine I am preaching instead of singing is a glimpse into what I will be doing in the not too distant future.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Chaplain's Ball

Okay...first of all...let me say that I know that I have been a bad little chaplain because it has been so long since I blogged. You know...I am not even going to offer any excuses. It is what it is.

Last night I went to the Chaplain's Regimental Ball. It commemorated the 232nd anniversary of the Chaplaincy Corps. That means that General George Washington saw the need for his soldiers in his Continental Army to have a chaplain a year before the Declaration of Independence was even signed. The chaplaincy has a long, significant history. Pray that its existence will be protected into the future so the deepest needs of soldiers can continue to be met at the times of most dire need.

Pictured with me are some of the members of my platoon. After me, that is Jenny, Brian, and Rick. Brian and Rick are both fellow Oklahomans. We had a great time, and it was really fun to have a reason to put our dress blues on for an evening.

I will try to be more regular in posting again. I am offering a refund of the subscription for any disgruntled readers.

P.S. ATTN 2LT John Cook, sorry I have not responded. Why don't you send me an email and I can try to answer your question.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Catching up

This is a catching up blog. I honestly thought I would have more time to keep up with the blog than what I have so that is why you hear about things from me about a week after they happen.

The 4th of July...

The chaplains' school had a "mandatory fun day" at a lake here on Ft. Jackson. It really was pretty fun. We played games, cooked hot dogs and hamburgers and mixed and mingled.

My platoon was asked to provide a 5 minute devotional to start the day, and I volunteered. My roomate shot some video of it. He also got some video of me doing some intense studying during a break in the classroom. Both clips might be good for a laugh. (If you click the link below, the 'intense studying' is on the post titled "Random Video" and the devotional is on a post titled "CH-BOLC Picnic".

Click this link to go there ( the way...spend some time reading other posts because this blog is by my awesome friend 2LT Dave...and it is a pretty good blog).