Pro Deo Et Patria- An Army Chaplain

I am a chaplain in the US Army, serving in Iraq. I'm keeping a blog to share my thoughts and experiences while deployed. They are my thoughts and they don't necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Army! :)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Gas Chambers and More Fun

Well, it turns out that I have today off! Wow...that was need after training that lasted until midnight last night. I could hardly see straight at the end of the day. I was wiped out, and was grateful to be able to sleep in this morning. Tomorrow is supposed to be our four days in the field- they take us out to a remote area, about 20 miles into the woods- and we train out there. However, rumor has it we might NOT be able to do it this week. I mention rumors, because rumors are always part of Army life. They are usually wrong (95% of the time). But sometimes they are true; so, the key is: Semper Gumby (always be flexible).

Last night, we did the NBC training (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical). It began with us going into the gas chambers, filled with CS gas usually. Last night, the gas burned my skin more than usual, but I assume it was still CS gas. All of my exposed skin (e.g., my neck, and, uh, the top of my head since I'm bald) started burning like a very bad sunburn right away. Then we did jumping jacks and jogging in there for a bit. After that we had to remove our gas masks for slow five count and put them back on. Then we did some more jumping jacks and jogging, and finally, before we could leave the chamber, we had to remove the masks completely. At that point, the sunburn feeling went into my nose and throat and eyes. But once you leave the gas chamber, it passes after a few minutes. Truth be told, I like going to the gas chamber.

We also finished our land navigation in the morning. We took humvees and they gave us grid coordinates (e.g. BV 9854 5567) and we needed to plot them on a map, and find our way there using the map and a GPS unit. The GPS unit makes it very easy, but our conked out. We did fine because we mapped them correctly, however.

At the top of this posting is a picture of me in the humvee during the land nav- looking goofy as my helmet is slightly cockeyed. I have the map in hand. We all took a different role- I plotted all 12 points on the map, my chaplain assistant drove, another chaplain got out and look at the spots where we went for the code we had to write down, and Staff Sergeant with us monitored the GPS.

Other things to note:
-I've been doing quite a bit of informal counseling as soldiers come up to me to talk.
-The bus shuttle schedule here is, well, not a schedule. The drivers are nice though.
-I'm getting used to the heat, and have started to feel cold in air conditioning. I wonder what I'll do if I come home for R&R in January?

Anyway, everyone have a great day. I miss all of you back home, and I'll write more when time allows.

God bless,



Anonymous Carole Hamill said...

Chris -- You are certainly missed here as well. Hopefully the daily prayers flowing from everywhere are keeping you strong and helping you to feel peaceful. Our family speaks your name often!!! We read your blog daily (maybe that makes you feel good so at least you know that when you write you know it is like you are writing "to" someone!!) It is really great to actually SEE where you are living and seeing a picture of you was really great too. I trust God faithfully that as each day passes the heat and other challanges will become easier to tolerate. Again, we miss you but am so proud of you to be apart of the reason we have freedom. God Bless You! Until next time.... Carole Hamill

12:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Chris! This is Colton Heller and i just wanted to tell you that you are dearly missed and i hope that all goes well over there. Write Back...

7:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think you look goofy in your crooked helmet. It is actually a great pic to let us know what you look like in the field. I do think it is goofy that you like the gas chamber!! Do I need to remind you that as a Scandanavian Lutheran - you are supposed to be happy with just coffee and jello??
We are all very proud of you and miss you too!

8:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wesley says you look like you have a giant head.

9:37 PM  

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