04 June 2009

AT 09--Day 5

Apparently no one is actually reading this; I started doing this so that I wouldn't have to tell everyone my summer camp stories separately (which I usually don't get around to anyway) and to let people who want to know how I'm doing up here. But if no one is seeing it, I may not bother.

Anyway, yesterday was a lot like the day before: We ran the soldiers (another platoon from our sister company, the 1544th Trans) through various scenarios during their base defense/Entry Control Point training. The first time through, we posed as two innocent civilians trying to enter the base to work, and they searched us and our vehicle (a HMMWV, since nothing else is available), finding nothing since there was nothing to find. Another time, two people tried to get in, one of them female and pregnant (that was SGT Morgan). Before we could get in, there was sniper fire from the treeline. The last scenario was the car bomb again, but this time SGT Morgan rode in the back and popped it off. This worked much better, especially since one of the instructors popped a smoke grenade behind the truck when we blew it. Then the two civilians (the other two members of my team) who were protesting outside the gate dropped their signs and started shooting, and all hell broke loose.

It occurs to me that I haven't actually said where we are this year. We're somewhere we've never gone to Camp before, Marseilles Training Area, near Ottowa, Illinois--not far from Peoria. It's an Illinois National Guard training camp, and it's nice for several reasons. First, it's owned by Illinois, so coordination is easier, and there are fewer restrictions on what we can do. Secondly, it's much closer from all points in Illinois than Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, which is where we normally go. For us, this cuts out a whole day of drive time there and back. The bad part is that it's not a permanent camp of any sort, just a training Area, so the amenities are nil. There's no PX, so there's no way to buy supplies without sending someone to Walmart, there's only a little, crappy workout room, there are few training areas, etc. On the other hand, the barracks are new, they have laundry rooms, and individual showers. They're pretty nice by Army field standards, although a Coast Guard veteran thought they were unbelievably primitive with their cinderblock walls and cement floors. It's all a matter of perspective, I suppose.