Before the Army

Here I was very high up in a tree, conducting some acrobatics. I was probably preparing for the annual Halloween; I operated a haunted house with three of my friends, and this location in the tree in our front yard was my post. photo1.jpg (6793 bytes)
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Aside from my Army stuff, I also had ninja gear.

And of course, we went camping every year. I love camping!

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We camped in numerous places in the Sierras.

Basic Training


I only have this picture of my buddy Chuck from Basic Training. They didn't allow us to have any of our civilian possessions during this time, so I wasn't able to have my camera to take pictures. This photo is one of the standard photos they take of all new troops.

Fort Ord / Fort Hunter Ligget
Field Problems, etc.


The endless marches...

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Here I am in my room, being all American next to my great grandfather's flag that has only 48 stars because it's so old.


On the left, I am in my fox hole, ready to defend our position. At least that's how I look.


James Calder, who we just called Jim. Here is the man that was one of my best friends, and the Dungeon Master of our small D&D group. He was a SAW (M-249) gunner for a little while in his platoon, then they switched him to be the platoon Radio Operator (RTO). Take note of the excessive dirt; we were digging our fox holes on this day.


And here's me, emerging from the forest with a few weapons on hand. Again, take note of the dirty top hanging in the tree there, grimed up from digging fox holes.


Schmitkey, really funny guy.


Here I am cleaning my weapon. Take note of the cryptic candle holders on my right, especially the dark looking head with glass eyes sitting next to the clip board. Also sitting there are a few led figurines, and an old wizard-type lamp made from a refinished log, and my glowing electricity ball. These items and many others are part of what labeled me with my wizardly ways.


It was always nice to see a chopper coming. I loved chopper rides, at least when the pilots appeared to know how to fly them.


Playing Spades while waiting for the trucks to come pick us up. From left to right going clockwise, there's Paul, Flavor, Willis, Murray, Joey, Dickenson, and Ferdinand, who was from Trinidad. Ferdinand was a great guy - he always loved to sing the Beatles song "Shout" for cadence.

Operations Nimrod Dancer & Just Cause


Fort Sherman, Panama.


Green Hell - the obstacle course behind Fort Sherman. I'm standing in front of the low-crawl area where barbed wire is strung across the ground over a muddy pit that troops had to crawl through. When we went through this course on our own for fun, we all decided to pass on this part.


But we certainly didn't skip the giant net hanging over the cliff leading down to the Caribbean Sea.


Victor's last name was Islas, but we usually called him Slas for short. He was also part of my Dungeons & Dragons group. It looks like he's about to fall, right along with me. I estimate that net was about fifty feet high.



And on the left, here I am with the Caribbean Sea behind me, standing at the bottom of the net. What's that behind my head, a UFO? I never noticed it before.


Panama had pretty sunsets, when your vision wasn't obscured by a mosquito stuck to your eyeballs.



I didn't fare so well on the log.

Green Hell had a number of interesting challenges.


We saw this sign which says "Danger Live Explosives Stay on Road," but I don't know if it was real or not, sense we all went off the road a number of times. Perhaps we were just lucky?



Here I am, the jungle king.



There is a large panther sitting on top of that table. This was one of the specimens collected from the Jungle behind Fort Sherman, and locked up in the zoo, which was also behind the base.



Here's the lemur I talked about in Soldier of Misfortune, which almost bit Jim.



Here I am in one of the windows of an abandoned bunker behind Fort Sherman. Not too far from here was the old bunker that had the tunnel filled with bats.




This is inside the bunker - it was just a single room.



Here I am leaping off a building. Now that I'm nearing 40 years old, stunts like this are finally beginning to catch up to me.




When the HUM-V got stuck, I was ordered to get under the tire to provide traction. (Just kidding)...



Here, we are receiving the Explanation, Demonstration, and Practical Application of ... something, I'm not sure what. The Special Forces were giving us a class this day.



Here's the Special Forces working with us on a live fire exercise.



Here on  the left was when we started doing our convoys. Behind me is Howard AFB, with the incredible chow hall.



To the right, Thomas Weber, who we just called Tom. He was part of my Dungeons & Dragons group.



To the right, one of the many rivers we crossed during our convoys in Panama.



Jim Calder, once again.



Me and Tom - I'm not sure what this little pose signifies; perhaps brothers in arms or something.


This is what I had to deal with every day - people yelling at me. He's probably saying "Put that *&%^ing camera away!" I don't even remember this Corporal's name, but I do recall that he had an amazing ability to fart at will. At any given time, if you asked him to fart, he could rip one out.



More of the convoys. Probably not too far from this location was a group of kids waiting for us. They'd throw mangos onto the truck, and prayed that one of us would toss over an MRE.



Here's another shot of Howard AFB.



Flavor and Jordan



And here I am, with my cherished M-60, AKA the pig. I don't know why they called it the pig; perhaps because it was the heaviest weapon carried in the Light Infantry, at 23 pounds. It was a love-hate relationship I guess you could say...




Howard AFB. Those radar dishes were extremely impressive - much larger than our five ton trucks that we were riding on. The big one there was bigger than an average sized house.



And here on the right is the Panama Canal. We're crossing the bridge where the channel is, with the water about 20 feet higher on one side than the other, because one side of the canal leads to the Atlantic (which is higher), while the other leads to the Pacific. It always confused me that one ocean's water would be higher than the other ocean. Just doesn't seem to make much sense, since they're both technically the same body of water!



More of the Panama Canal. It's hard to believe that this thing was man made.



Here's Edward on the left, and Velasco on the right.


Here I am doing my Forest Gump impression.



In this picture, we were stationed at the club with the TV in it that they wouldn't let us watch. This picture was one of the few that I managed to snap before Sergeant Manfrey approached me. So far, he didn't say anything, because he didn't notice yet.



Ah, but then I pulled out my rounds of ammunition and draped them around my neck, and a few seconds after this picture was taken, Sergeant Manfrey went postal on me. If I look tired in this picture, it's because I was TIRED when this picture was taken. We had only about three or four hours of sleep per day for several weeks in a row.

The bunk on the right is the one I almost knocked over when I passed out and rolled under it, and then panicked.



During the time when we would normally be sleeping, they thought up things for us to do to interrupt our sleep, such as this equipment inventory you see on the right.



Then of course they made us clean our weapons over and over again.



On the outside of the club was a nice view. This was where I was having one of my low points, with no sleep, and dealing with extreme depression.



Here's the dog that befriended me. I think she was an angel in disguise; she'd always show up during my shift to keep my company and listen to what I had to say. She looks like a pretty serious GUARD DOG in this picture. You've seen signs say, "Forget the dog, beware of owner," but now you can add this one to the list: "Beware of dog who is also armed to the hilt."

South Korea
Life in the Barracks



This is Lieutenant Rock, who I think is a Lieutenant Colonel now. He was a real hard charger - great guy, always had my back. I was his RTO for almost a year in South Korea.

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To the left is someone being promoted. Whenever we had a promotion ceremony, they would punch the rank pins into the collars, sticking them into the skin to bleed. Then they would drop the person for pushups, shovel dirt on his back and hose the person down with a water hose to get good and muddy. After that, they would squirt shaving cream, tooth paste, cheese whiz and whatever else they could find all over the person's head and body. Promotions are a mess in the Army.

In the Air National Guard, they just punch us in the arm with the rank, and then yell "Donuts," for the person to buy donuts.



More promotion ceremony stuff...



Here's Flavor. Heck if I could remember his real name!



And of course here I am, trying to escape my existence. I bought this Astral Projection workbook and was trying to leave my body to get away from everyone. Ahhh!



Here's the village right outside our base.

South Korea
Life in the Field


This was one of the guys that liked to fall out of runs and marches. Here he is whimpering over getting an IV.



Shortly after being assigned to First Squad, I started to lose my mind! They made me a SAW (M-249) gunner for a few weeks, until they changed their mind and made me the field radio operator (RTO) to tag along with the Platoon Leader.





Lots of guys would get sick from Hepatitis A, B, and C in South Korea, and this is one of the reasons why. Helicopters would fly in and kick up tons of dirt and dust. Mixed in with that dust was dried up rat crap, which was filled with the Hepatitis virus.



Jordan, Willis, Ford, and me.



Here I am once again, this time calmed down a little.



You see us coming...



You see us going...



And going, and going, and going...



Here I am again, entrenched, deep in thought. WHY am I here? WHY do I exist? WHAT is my purpose in life?



In my hooch, mulling over the same questions.



Extremely tired after digging my fox hole.



Here's Jim, pretending like he's got some drugs in his hand.



Thumbs up dude!


And here we are eating our grub around a grave yard. These "Happy Mounds" as they called them were everywhere.

South Korea
Bunker Hill in the DMZ


On top of Bunker Hill.



View of the DMZ from Bunker Hill.



Here I am inside my bunker.



Here's Paul finishing up his jog.



Finally we're done with Bunker Hill, and they're driving us all off.



But before we leave, one last game of Mario Brothers.

South Korea
Tent City


Tent City - swell. Watch out for the chow hall in this place!



And here he is again, Victor, AKA Slas.



Here we are about to go on a DMZ patrol.



Sergeant Bittle is giving a briefing about the route we're going to take.



Here I am sitting next to Crank, who we also called "Chin," because his chin rivaled Jay Leno's. Crank was "U-G" for those who read Soldier of Misfortune.



Here I am with Tom.



Here I am eating what I felt was my daily allotment of food and beverage.



AND HERE HE IS - the quintessential Soldier of Misfortune, the one and only, Frankie Joe Carducci.



Here I am sitting on the top of the pull up bar.





And once again not doing my knees any favors by leaping off this telephone pole about fifteen feet in the air.



Frank couldn't take it; he's trying to smash down the Constantine lined fence with a pole attached to a concrete block, but to no avail.



Ford - what a complete nut. He had "Satanist" put on his dog tags. He wasn't a satanist, but thought it would be funny to have it on his tags.



Here I am experimenting with a more extreme method to initiate an out of body experience.



Longoria - cool dude this man was.




Is it cold out here, or what?






More acrobatics; yes, I'm actually balancing on the pull up bar there, though my right foot is on top of a 3" X 3" post, so I was cheating a little.



And oh yea - it gets cold in South Korea, in case I didn't say that already.




You talkin to me?



Forth Squad preparing for a patrol.



Here I am at my guard tower along the DMZ.

And Last but not Least
The one and only, Soldier of Misfortune
Frankie Joe Carducci - standing with his sister

Me at the Senior NCO Academy ― May, 2005

Here I earned the Commandant Award out of a class of 72
students, and the Distinguished Graduate award as well.
Shortly afterward, I obtained the rank of Master Sergeant.