Saturday, May 17, 2008

Snake Eatergauze: Days 4-5

Day 4
Mission: Qualify on the M9 and M11

Driving deep into the heart of Appalachia we went to an outdoor shooting range that nobody could find even with they knew where they were going. Shooting drills were done with the M9 Beretta and the M11 SIG P229. I qualified with ease and advanced to moving drills. Having large hands I enjoyed the M9 over the M11 (the M11 also lacks a safety) while everyone else preferred the M11.

Day 5
Mission: Instinctive Driving Course

Before lunch were fun drills with driving around cones at high speed. Nothing could beat what happened next. My instructor was in the driver's seat, two classmates in back, and myself at shotgun. In the simulated downtown Baghdad all was calm. All the sudden two cars drive up next to us at full speed and fire paintballs at us. The instructor plays dead and slams on the gas. I then have to undo my seatbelt, push the teacher against his door, and drive from the middle with my left foot working the pedals. Meanwhile, the two cars chase use and try to box use into corners. We escaped but I simulated vegetable stands went flying.

Postscript
Mission: Enjoy dinner with former National Geographic interns

After a hell ride back to Washington, DC I got to a gathering of former intern friends about five minutes late (no time to change). My Iraq trip was a main topic because I was still wearing my training DCU. It was fun to catch up with everyone.

Going back to the Pentagon City metro someone yelled at me in an aggressive voice, "Hey! What's the deal with the uniform?!?" Clearly the man had issues with the symbolism the uniform carries. So, with my friends, I had several choices 1) confront him 2) try to persuade him to my point of view or 3) say "Exactly, what is the deal?" pop a stick of gum in my mouth, and walk away. I picked three. My friends were upset with the guy but I received praise from people saying how well I handled the situation.

I am going to Iraq to help out those who are oppressed, to improve the lives of Iraqis, and protect the liberties all people are entitled to. That includes the right to be a jerk.

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