Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Texas Iced Tea

Nobody told me it could be so cold in Texas! I thought the Lone Star State only got snow up in the Panhandle, when those furious Prarie winters reached down from the north. But it has been bitterly cold down here in Bryan-College Station this week. This morning, there was a patch of ice right outside our motel room, which prompted SFC Burke to attempt an impromptu "ice dance moonwalk," demonstrating that not even the formidable tread of combat boots could grip a smooth blanket of ice.
Then there was the van. What I thought was a layer of dew was actually a rough surface of ice. Next to the van, SSgt. Ford commented "We don't have ice scrapers in Texas." A plastic motel room key worked just as well instead.
Yesterday, for PT, we conducted 60-120 sprints on the track at Bryan High School. Every gulp of that cold air felt like a huge gulp of ice water! The thermometer on the high school sign out front was at 31 degrees. So far, the cold weather only seems to hit on PT days. The day before this frosty plunge, it was warm enough to wear T-shirts and shorts! I thought the weather could change rapidly back in North Carolina, but Texas has Carolina beat!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

This Ford's Motor Runs On Words

• Army Staff Sgt. Peter Ford’s public affairs job matches his love of writing, foundation for life goals.
By Spc. Jon Soles
211th MPAD
Postal worker. Railroad foreman. Soldier. Staff Sgt. Peter A. Ford Jr. has worn many uniforms during his life, but it’s the Army uniform that may take him on his biggest journey yet.
The quiet Arkansas native is about to embark on a deployment to Iraq with the 211th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, based in Bryan,Texas, serving his country and becoming a part of history.
Ford said his decision to join the Army, as well as study law, can be traced back to the inspiration provided by a teacher at McGhee High School, in Ford’s hometown of McGhee, Ark.
"It all goes back to my high school teacher, Mrs. Rothchild," Ford said. "She was a social studies teacher who inspired patriotism in country. She would tell us stories about patriotic heroes like Patrick Henry and George Washington."
After graduating from high school in 1984, Ford enlisted in the Army and completed basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C. He earned his first military occupational specialty as an avionics technician and served for 10 years on active duty. In 1994, Ford got out of the Army and began working for the U.S. Postal Service in Hawaii—a job he performed for four years. Ford switched gears again and began working for Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railway, which brought him to Houston. Ford began at BNSF as a maintenance of way worker and then became a welder. He continued to move up the ladder, to elite welder and then to foreman. Ford currently works as a relief track supervisor, a job that brings good pay and benefits. "It is a good company to work for. It has a family environment," Ford said. "Sometimes it is rough and very physically demanding."
After spending about six years outside the military, Ford decided to get back in uniform and re-enlist with the Army Reserve as a tank crewman. Yet, the desire to be a lawyer guided him to Army public affairs. Ford graduated from the Defense Information School in Fort George Meade, Md., and reclassified as a print journalist.
"I chose this MOS because I wanted to go to law school and I thought this would be a good way to enhance my writing skills," Ford said.
Ford earned a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies from Kaplan University in Des Moines, Iowa. Upon returning from his upcoming deployment to Iraq, Ford said he hopes to enroll at law school.
Ford’s interest in writing goes beyond his public affairs job with the 211th MPAD. A passionate, creative writer since the age of 12, Ford said he is busy writing cinema screenplays. His latest project is based on the Korean War and is titled "May Freedom Ring.
"It is about the Korean War, a forgotten war and was a time when America was divided," Ford said. "Different races of Americans were able to put their differences aside and work for the good of the country."
Photo by Spc. Jon Soles
Staff Sgt. Peter Ford of the 211th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment takes the oath of re-enlistment at the Maj. Gen. George F. Moore Army Reserve Center in Bryan, Texas. At right is Lt. Christina Douglas administers the oath of enlistment.
As a non-commissioned officer in the Army, Ford is already a leader of Soldiers who look to him for guidance and mentoring. He has a quote he said sums up his view of living a life of service and change for the better.
"There are those that accept things they can’t change and there are those that change things they can’t accept," Ford said.
Ford has stepped up his committment to duty and country by re-enlisting for six more years in the Army Reserve.
"I enlisted because I wanted to finish what I started," Ford said. "I am proud to be an American. I love my country and I love my family."

Monday, December 8, 2008

Combat Lifesaver

I am the newest addition to the 211th MPAD. I have only been here a week, so I'm trying to catch up with the rest of the 211th's training. Even though I'm new here, I already feel at home thanks to the warm welcome I received from the entire chain of command and the Soldiers here. After 8 days, I feel like I've always been a part of the 211th.

Yesterday, we completed our Combat Lifesaver course. They saved the worst for last-administering a catheter and IV to a living Soldier. I share SSgt. Ford's fear of needles and have been known to pass out at the sight of blood, or after receiving shots. (I've done this three different times in my life.) But anyway, like 1st Sgt. Martinez said, Soldiering is "about facing fears." Fortunately, I was able to stick a needle in my class partner, SFC Burke's arms, with ease and administer the IV without letting out too much blood. I think reading the steps to administering a saline lock in our manual over and over again really helped when we had to do the real thing. And I never once felt queasy.