Sunday, March 30, 2008

Finally Moved In

Well, I finally got internet in my room. I moved into my new room on Friday. It is pretty small, but it is my own room.

I barely have room for a desk, shelf and bed. It leaves me enough room to stand in the center and spin in a circle. All the furniture is homemade.

I had to make the desk and shelves, so be proud of my handy work.

As you can see, my place is small, but I am proud of the work that I did so that I could be comfortable.

Here is the Platoon Sergeant, SSG Cundiff. He has done a lot to take care of us. We are glad he is here with us.

Here is the group hanging out outside before bed trying to wind down. We usually sit around laughing pretty hard while making fun of each other. We are having a lot of fun here so far and I really hope that it continues.

I am really missing everyone. I have been thinking a lot about Jeremy and worrying about him. I really wish that it would have worked out for us to be together, but this is how it ended up. I did get to talk to him a little yesterday. It was great to hear from him and found out how is doing. I know that he glad to be in Tennessee for a few days. He was very excited about surprising Mom and Dad, although they were a little disappointed because they thought they were going to Texas to see him. It was hard to keep lie a secret for so long from so many people. I know that if Mom was listening and paid attention she would have heard me and Johnny slip up on more than one occasion in her house. I know that Jitka caught us a few times.

I hope that Lucas is doing good. I know that he is growing like a weed. He will be walking and into to everything by the time I see him again.

I talked to Courtney for a short minute last night. She is still not very talkative on the phone and it is really hard on me. I know that she still does not understand, but I wish she would realize how much I miss her. I try to talk to her all that I can, but due to the time difference, it is hard to catch her awake.

I have been working pretty hard trying to learn a job about things that I know nothing about. I have learned a lot in a few short days, and I know that I will be learning until I leave. It has been fun, long days that will continue to be very long for quite some time.

I can’t wait to get some more pictures of the mountain up soon. I am waiting on a clear day so that I can get some good pictures. I am turning my request for some awards so that I can get to Kabul soon. I am ready to see more of the country and need to do it soon before the Taliban and insurgents get more active in the warm weather. I get to see a lot of picture while doing awards for Combat Action Badges and Purple Hearts and it really makes me worry about Jeremy, myself and all the guys that are out there keeping us safe. I wish that I could tell you some stories of things that are happening, but due to level secrecy, I can’t talk about it. I will tell you that there are some really brave souls out there doing some great things.

SSG Butler and I have decided that we are going to reenlist around October. We have started making the request to do it in a Chinook (double bladed, huge helicopter) with the mountains in the background with the back door open. We really hope that we can make it happen. I am having to think about if I want to stay at Fort Campbell or move on to another location like Fort Knox.

Mom and others keep asking what I am wanting and needing here. I told mom some cookies, peanut butter and chocolate chip, orange mint lifesavers, slim jims (hot and regular, the guys eat them like crazy), single use packets of Kool-aid, Gatorade, and other drinks that are NOT sugar free to add to our bottles of water. We can get sugar free here and we do not like them.

It is getting late and I have to get up early and run my two miles in the morning at 0530 and it is 10pm now. I really miss you all and wish I was there, but don’t worry, I will be there soon riding the bike everywhere.

Please don’t forget about my brother and all our brothers and sisters in the armed forces across the world. There are several countries here on post with us helping out, to include: Canada, Egypt, France Poland and many others.

There are pictures missing because the internet sucks so bad. I gave up and I am going to bed. Forget this crap. I am paying a lot of money for this and it barely works!!!

Until next time, AIR ASSAULT!!!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!!

Well, another day is gone, and it was a long one. It started with PT this morning at 530am. I am used to doing PT on the mornings, but not at this altitude. Today was the first day that we ran since I got here. The air is definitely thinner here. I had a real hard time breathing. We ran a short route so that we could see how it felt, and it was pretty hard on all of us. Tomorrow we are going to do it again. They told us that we got home, we will be running very fast because it will be easier to breathe.

I found out today that I am working the night shift in the Awards section. I have a guy that I am learning from that is very smart and has more to show me than there is time. After I learn it (in less than 5 days), I have to train my soldiers. It is going to be a long few weeks. The guy training me told me that I am going to have to work at least 14 hours a day for a while to learn it all before he leaves. I slid out early today because I am so tired.

I also found out today that part of my job is going to Kabul to get supplies for Awards. This means that I will get to leave the "wire" and actually see some of the country. It is about 1-2 hours to get there. I am excited about going and can't wait. More than likely I will have to go every time and take one other soldier from my section with me. They have to have a familiar face going every time.

We took a look at our "b huts" yesterday to see what we need to do them. I am going to have to build some shelfs and raise my bed off the ground so that I have room for my things. I have found the lumber to do it a few times, but I can't get anyone to go and pick it up for me. I am doing this all of them, but they are not moving on it when they should and are loosing out. Other people are taking the stuff, and leaving us at square one again.

The stress and drama from the soldiers is starting already. They are having bad attitudes and really pushing my buttons. They have been 4 or 5 days and trying to sign up for classes that would cause them to miss work and they have not even started working to see it they can even handle it. I am getting a little irritated, but it happens and I have to deal with it. For a lot them, it the first deployment so they have a lot to learn and experience. Some have never under the stress that this can cause and are learning quick. I am trying to help them the best I can, but they will not listen.

I talked to Courtney today for a short minute. She still does not understand that I am very far away. I try to get her to talk to me, but she is not interested most of the time and it is really getting to me. We had a meeting tonight at dinner and a lot of said the same thing, that we were going to talk to our kids then bury our heads in our pillows and cry like little babies. Hell, I am fighting it back sitting here talking about it, mostly because I am so freaking tired.

Well, I am going to get off here again. Happy Easter to everyone and I miss you all. You know, some good homemade cookies sounds good right about now. Too bad I don't have any.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Picture Time

First of all, I need to tell you the CORRECT address again. I was told yesterday that we were given the wrong address again.

SGT Strader, John
CJTF-101, CJ-1
APO AE 09354

Well, I came down to the "Pat Tillman" USO center to use the free internet so that I can post some pictures for you all to see.

The one above was taken by mom at the building where I work on Fort Campbell. It was great having mom and dad to there to help me and spend time with them. I can't wait to see them again. I know that I cannot thank them enough for what they have done for Jeremy and me.

Here is a few pictures of the plan ride from Manas, Krygyzstan to Afghanistan. As you can see, it was not a normal civilian plane ride. We were cramped in there tighter than you can imagine. Like I said before, my big butt would not fit in the seat and I was not the only one that had problem. We were delayed over 4 hours leaving there and it put us in here early in the morning after the sun was up. As you can see from the pictures I took out of the window of the plan, we are in some serious mountains.

Here are some pictures from outside and some inside of the building of where I am living right now. We are moving soon to some other buildings. The idiot in the picture is PFC Jesse McCollough.

But we are moving to buildings like this pretty soon. There is not insulation or heat in theses, but I will have my own room. I am actually looking forward to moving to these soon.

Here is the infamous SGT Alex Howard talking on the phone that he bought last night. He ruined my section for over here. He got some one pregnant and she was not able to deploy, so I will be giving him hell for the entire deployment.

Here are a few pictures of outside of the building. The mountains are huge and gorgeous.

The weather here is pretty nice right now. I am in T shirt and long PT pants and I am confortable all except for the fact that I have a head cold. That is really sucking right now. I also slept for about 16 hours last night. We all fell asleep pretty early and slept till 7am today.

The reality of the deployment has not set in yet. I am dreading the day that is happens. I know that will happen soon and hopefully I will be strong enough to handle it.

Overall, it is not that bad. I have some good friends here, and I will make many more. I have been in a lot worse conditions and a little better. I am pretty excited about being here. I know that will be in a great shape by the time that I leave here. We are walking everywhere we go, but the base is only 8 miles around. We have not walked all the way around, but we have found all the important stuff. I will be buying a cell phone later on today so that I can call and wake up people in the middle of the night. I am going to keep trying to get the picture up here so that you all know what is going and see it. It is taking a long to get the pictures up. I wrote this whole thing in the time that two uploaded. It is killing me. I will get what I can up and edit it later.

I love you all and miss you all. I hope that I here from some of you soon.

Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan

Well, I am here. It is not all that is cracked up to be. It still does not feel like I am gone. It just feels like another day in the Army for me. I guess that is because there are not alarms going off all the time like they did in Kuwait when I got there.

The food is a lot better here, and there are a lot more people here. The living conditions at this point are not bad, but are going to get worse. We will be in "B huts" with no heat soon. That is going to be a real thing in the winter. The mountains in that background here look too good to be real. It looks like a backdrop for a movie. I will take some pix as soon as I can and get them up in a week or two. I have a lot of pix from the plane ride to here, but no way to post them. That had to worst plane ever!! I have never been so crowded in my life. My ass literally would not fit in the seat. The weather is not that bad so far. It is actually a little hot. I was expecting it be all green and lush here, but it dusty like Kuwait. That part really sucks!!! It is killing my sinuses and allergies.

I visited the office where I will be working and it is going to be a little crowded in there too. I am ready to get to work and get this over with so that I can home again. Overall, I think that I will have some fun and enjoy myself. I really miss everyone and hope to hear from you soon. I have to go for now so that I can send some personal emails.

SGT John Strader

Monday, March 17, 2008

Manas, Kyrgyzstan

Try and say that one. Well, I got here about 4pm EST on Mon after leaving Fort Campbell at 9pm EST on Sun night. That was a long trip. The time difference here is 11 hours, so that is really messing us up on sleep. Most people are sleeping right now seeing that we are headed on to Afghanistan later on.

It is not that bad here. It was drizzling when we got here, turned to snow for a few hours and now it is raining and cold. They said that a bas snow is on its way here, but it is in the 70s in Afghanistan. I am ready for the warm weather.

The living conditions could be a lot better. The TENT that we are in is leaking in the corners and that is where we are, in the corner. It is a huge then with over 300 people in it. The food is OK. It is bad to Army standard though, and terrible to normal food.

I am having hard time typing on this computer. I am in an internet cafe on post, and everything in Russian. It is all weird, but I am managing.

The trip here was not that bad. We stopped in Germany and was able to get off the plane for an hour. After that is was another 7 hours of flying to here and we got here at 1am local time. By the time we got to the tent and found our bags, it was 4am. We had formation at 8am and now we have nothing until we leave later on.

I am not sure when the next time will be that I am at a computer. I will try to keep everyone updated the best that I can. I miss you all and hope all is going well.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

It's a new look....

Hey so I had to just get on here and post a pic of me....I'm cool, I know. Just kidding...well kinda. I think every Soldier takes this kind of pic of himself or herself....the only thing I'm missing is my weapon. Well, this is a short one....BUT.... I talked to John for a few minutes today. He seemed to be in good spirits considering the very near future...very near. I love you brother! Be safe, and we'll be back home soon drinking a cold one on the back porch before we know it. I love you man!

SGT Wormy

Friday, March 14, 2008

My big bro is leaving.....for a while

Well, I finally got time and access to get on here. I hope everyone is doing fine. I am doing just great. My nose is feeling better....little sore, but not too bad. Althought the other night while sleeping I smacked myself in the face. WOW! What a wake-up!! Well, as most of you all can put two and two together....John is leaving REALLY soon and I won't get to see him before he gets on the silver jet to the wonderful mountains of a distant land. Bro, I wish you the best and I love you and I'm so glad that we've put all the bull-shit behind us and I'm even happier that we are a family again. I hope you take care over there....behind your out for those sharp's all fun and games till someone looses an eye. I'm proud of you bro. You jumped to Active Duty and seem to have been enjoying it ever since. Come home safe so we can continue to make memories and be a family for many years to come. Maybe one day we can go over there together. That way you can keep an eye on me....cause I don't get to sit behind a desk and I'll need someone to keep my happy ass out of trouble.

Training here in New Mexico / Texas has been pretty fun. At times pretty stupid and pointless. It just goes to show that there are people that sit at desks and develope training and protocols for everyone...including the Army. I've learned a lot since I've been here....I haven't learned much Spanish....the Puerto Ricans talk too fast. But I'm trying. I have some pretty good people here. There is even one guy from my unit in Kingsport. I'm getting used to wearing my gear. It's pretty heavy but it only starts hurting after I've had it on for about 6 hours or's getting better. I went to the Doc the other day for my ear. He said I'm good to go, no tumors, no hidden reasons for my hearing loss....just significant loss in my left ear. Basically, it comes down to my left ear ringing almost ALL the time. It's annoying, but I'm not deaf, and I still get to go to Iraq with no issues or tumors or crap from the Docs. (I learned that tumors can be a hidden reason for hearing loss)

Well, I will do my best to get back on here as soon as possible to do write another update. As for me leaving the looks like it will be around the Fool's Day time frame. It will probably change though. It always does. I hope everyone is doing well. I would prefer that people email my yahoo account for now.... instead of the Army least for now. I miss everyone and hope that everyone is well. I hope to hear from everyone soon.

Take care,

SGT Wormy

Jeremy Strader

Crunch Time

It is closer to time to leave. It is REAL close to that time. Mom and Dad are coming here tonight to spend what of the weekend I am here, with me (that should be a hint that I will not be here on Monday morning). I am pretty excited because that they are coming here, but I was supposed to have more cleaning done than I have. I did get most of the heavy stuff out of here, but I was not getting rid of the bed. I was not sleeping the couch for a week, and I was not getting rid of the couch and sitting in the floor for a week.

Although Mom and Dad are coming tonight, it is our last night out. I am meeting up with a bunch friends that are going with us tonight and we are going to make the most of it, and try to stay out of trouble. I have been laying on the couch most of the day trying to get some rest because I now that tonight will be a VERY late night. I also know that Mom will have me up very early in the morning making me get this place cleaned up and packed the rest of the way. That means I will not be worth a crap at the end of the day tomorrow. Small price to pay for little bit of fun.

I have packed over and over again to make sure I have everything that I need, and I know that I will forget something. There is no doubt in my mind. I have made so many lists, that I can't keep up with which one is the current one. I am truly ready to get out of here. I am ready to get this deployment started and over with. I just want to be able to go home on the weekends and see Courtney again. Being that far away, it is not that easy to do that.

CPT Woodruff, my commander in the 721st in Oak Ridge, TN when I was in the reserves was asking me if I still had the Ranger that I have had for years. The answer is yes. I still have that piece of crap. It has close to 200,000 miles on it and it still runs pretty good. I was getting worried that the transmission getting ready to go out and I bought a new car in December. It was my Christmas to myself. I plan on keeping the truck. Actually, it is in storage on post so that I have something as soon as I get home. This car is going to stay Mom and Dad's house. I decided on a Dodge only because of the lifetime warranty. I wanted a Charger, but could not afford fully loaded with leather, GPS, Satelite radio, and all that crap, but I could afford this one like that. I love this car. I have put over 8,000 miles on it since December. That should tell you have much I love it.

It is looking like this will be my last post for a few weeks. I will be getting on a plane this weekend and do not plan on having the time post on here again. I will post again once I have internet, or I will email Mom or Johnny and have them do the post for me. I really hope that you all check back here often and leave comments or send an email. I told you the email address for Jeremy and I in the first post when I started this. Please look at the bottom and add the addresses to your address book (Fiore, post this on the bulletin board at work).

I want to thank every one for the support and the emails that I have been getting. It means more than you know. Well, I am off for now. The next you hear from me, I should be on the other side of the world.

Oh, can't forget, Courtney, I love you more than anything in the world. I know that you do not talk on the phone to me long enough, but I really miss you and will miss you more than you know. I hope that your mommy will read this to you and let you know that I am doing this for you and everyone else we know. My friends will be with me in the mountains and they help keep me safe. They will help make sure that I get to come home from my long trip to see you again. One day when you are older, I really hope that you will understand why I am doing this. Courtney, this is hard for me do with you in my life, but it is something that has to be done to keep the world a better place for you and all your little friends. Mommy is going to give you a big hug and kiss from me everyday. I miss you sweetheart and can't wait to see you again.

To all my "Computer Geek" friends at EBDA and Sparta (if you have to ask, you don't want to know), thank you for all the fun and keep the games going. I will be back soon enough to kick your butts.

To everyone else, thank you again!!!!!!

SGT John L Strader


Strader, John

CJTF-101, G1
AE 09354

SGT Jeremy Strader

Still no address for him

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Address Change

Well, I found out today that my address is changed. It will be below.

Today was another fun day in the army. I had to give a briefing on Sexual Assault today. That was a lot of fun. I bored to people to death with that one. Tomorrow I get do bore them to death with Drinking and Driving Awareness.

I talked to Jeremy again today and he did his H.E.A.T. training yesterday. That training is where you are put into a Humvee that is on a machine and they rotate it like a barrel roll. When it stops, it is upside down and you have to get out. He said it was fun. I am just glad that it went better for him than it did for me. I got stuck and my IOTV (bulletproof vest) came down on my neck and I could not breathe and they had to stop the exercise and get me out. It scared the crap out of me.

Well, I really don't have any other info to share, other than the address change and that I am finally packed and ready to go. Time is approaching FAST.

Here is the address:

Strader, John

CJTF-101, G1

APO AE 09354

Monday, March 10, 2008

Extra Time

The Aquarium

Well, I had a little extra time to head home this past weekend and see Courtney. I took her to the Rilpley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, TN. We had a great time. In the picture right here, I was taking her picture and then she noticed the large sting ray and it scared her to death. We all had a good laugh.

This is one of my favorite exhibits at the aquarium. These are spider crabs and are found on the bottom of the deepest oceans. Courtney really enjoyed these too.

Sea dragons. These are very funny to watch. I am determined to have an aquarium in my house one day with these in there.

Courtney really enjoyed the jelly fish. I took several pictures of her looking at them, but due to the low light, I did not get very many good ones. I had a hard time getting her to stand still so that she would not blur.

This is one of the first exhibits in the aquarium. There are several fish in there to include Pacu and several types of catfish.

We had a lot of fun at the aquarium. When I picked her, the first thing that she wanted to do was go there and see the "fishies". Mom took half a day off so that she would be able to spend as much time as possible with us. Mom and dad went with me to pick her up and we had a great day. I took everyone to Texas Roadhouse and we a great time there too. It was supposed to snow on Saturday and we were all hoping that it snow enough for Courtney to play in it, but it just flurried all day. Courtney was really disappointed as were the rest of us.

I know that in a previous post I told you all that mom and dad were going to come to Clarksville to see me and help me get moved this past weekend. Well, the day that I leave got changed and I was able to come home for a few days and mom and dad are waiting to next weekend to come up here and see me.

I came on Saturday night so that I could spend Sunday and Monday packing and moving my stuff to storage. On the way home from Sevierville, I got pulled over. 89 in a 70 is not a good thing. That is what I get for not paying attention to how fast I was going and being a hurry to get home.

Sunday I was able to pack, repack, and repack my bags for Afghanistan. I am worried that I will forget something. That is something that I do not want to do.

Today I had to disconnect my computer and move my dresser and computer desk to storage. I am trying to make it so that there is not much to do while mom and dad are here. I am getting down to the last days and trying to most of them here. I have been packing and cleaning so much, that I hope that I never move again. It is too much of a hassle, but I chose the life and I know that it will happen several more times in my career.

I got to spend some time with Johnny, Jitka and Lucas while I was at mom and dads. I even got to talk to Jeremy a few times. It was really great to see them all. I am glad that Johnny and Jitka are living in Jeremy's house. That way it is not sitting empty all the time. I am glad that Jeremy has great friends that he can count on.


In talking to Jeremy, I found out he had his MRI on his ear and it is looking good for him. He does have some hearing loss, but that should be all. But that is not all the problems he has had.

The Nose

He was doing Comabatives, training that we both to go through, and had a guy in an arm bar. The guy was trying to get out of it and slammed Jeremy and broke Jeremy's nose. Jeremy called me that night and told me about it. He said there was blood everywhere, and he was hurting pretty bad. He a very long ride to the hospital that night. He kept telling that is felt funny when he would feel it. He as laughing while he was telling me about it, so it must not have been that bad.

He called me again last night and I talked to him for quite a while. He is making some really good friends and is getting excited about going to Iraq. He told me that he got all his equipment issued. In talking to him, I told him that he was lucky that he did not issued the cold weather gear that I got issued. That crap takes up a lot of room, but I guess in the desert you do not need that stuff, unlike the mountains where I am going where it gets below zero in the winter.

I really hope that he is safe and realizes that there are a lot people worried about him, praying for him, and waiting for his safe return to Tennessee. I hope that one day we will be able to deploy together. That way we can harass each other on a daily basis. He is going to try to email me pictures and anything that he wanted posted here. I will try to keep you all posted as often as I can on him. I hoping that I will be able to continue to post here once I get overseas. This is going to be our way of keeping in contact with everyone while we are gone. We look forward to any comments that you will leave for us. All you have to do is click on the comments link under each post, and follow the directions. If my mom can figure it out, anyone can. Sorry mom.

Well it is time to get off of here and get to packing again. I am waiting on a buddy to show up so that I can move the computer desk and then I am done for now.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Time to Ride

Fort Donelson, TN

Bison Range in the Land Between the Lakes National Park

Of Course my ride for today.

I was lucky to have nice weather this weekend. I have not had many of those. Many of you know that I have been here since Oct. Since then, I have not had my bike out very much due to weather. It was always raining, I had to go to the store, had to haul gear, or something that just kept me from riding. Today was not the case. I was able to get online last night and plot out a path that I wanted to take today. The thing that I did not take into consideration was wind speeds today. I started on my trek to Land Between the Lakes National Park at about 1pm. Over 100 miles and three and a half hours later, I was back home.

The ride getting there was nice. It was mostly 2 lane highways with little traffic with the exception of several other bikes that had the same idea I did. On the way there I came across Fort Donelson, a Civil War battleground. I took the time to stop there and check a few things out. It had a short loop to ride around and stop to read and learn a little about the area. I only stopped a few times for a few minutes. The pictures above are on the river where a defense was set up for ships and boats that would come towards Fort Donelson.

I continued on after that to the National Park. The ride was really nice with a lot country to see. I came up on the Bison and had to take some pictures for my daughter. Of course I also had to take a picture of my bike with the Bison in the background.

The wind was blowing pretty hard today and it was not much of a problem until the ride back. I was on a lot of highways with open fields on either side so the wind was able to really blow me around. Once I made it to the interstate (remember I made a circle so that I did not see the same thing twice), the wind was even worse. I was worried for a little while due to the wind.

Riding for that long with no radio and only the wind blowing on you gives you a lot of time to think about the things going on in your life and gives you time to think about the future. I was able to think about missing my daughter, Christina, and mom and dad. I also got to think about Jeremy and how things are going for him.

I realized that I really need to get my rear in gear and start packing my bags and apartment. I am glad that Mom and Dad are coming for my last weekend. Not only to help me, but to also spend that last little bit of time together. I wanted to go home and see my daughter and Christina and friends, but I decided that I can't do the goodbyes again. I know that mom and dad want to come up here again. They have not been since they helped me move in Oct or Nov.

I am hoping that they give me time Friday off to spend with them. I just wish that there was time for me to go home again. I keep wanting to go home one more time, but I have came to grips with the fact that I am gone and going home and saying goodbye again would just make it hurt worse.

I did talk to Jeremy again on Friday night. I feel bad because he has some pretty bad hearing loss in one of his ears due to me. I stopped him one day while I he was trying to leave work and made him shoot my new gun. We were in a hurry and did not use hearing protection, and he is paying for it. He is hearing loss is so bad that it is causing him issues with the Army. I really hope that he is OK because this partially my fault.

Another weekend is almost over and I have not completed anything. I guess next weekend while Mom, Dad, and Johnny are here I will be working my butt off packing this place up and packing my bags. I have been making a list of things to do and things I need to go buy and it keeps getting longer and not shorter.

I ask that you all keep Jeremy and I in your prayers while we face new challenges in our life. Please also keep Mom and Dad in your prayers because both sons will be gone and in harms way. Oh, and stop asking my parents how it feels to have both sons gone. How would you feel? Think about it. She is proud, but it also not easy. She tells me all the time that people keep asking how she is. It is a no-brainer. You could email mom and dad and just let them know that you are thinking about them. Mom: and Dad: This does not mean that you can add them to your junk mail list.

This is enough for now. I miss everyone.

One more thing, if you read this, please some comments for Jeremy and I. I know that he is not on here much, but that is because his internet time is so limited that he does not have time to be on here. Leave a comment and he will get it. When I talk to him, I try to update you all on everything that I know.