Saturday, September 11, 2010

Another Day in Afghanistan

I know that it is weird that I went so long without a post and now there are two in one week. Well, I am back to speak my mind.

First thing I want to talk about is the Pastor from Florida. I cannot believe that he was considering burning Qurans after knowing that doing so was going to put so many of us over here in danger. I am glad that he changed his mind, for whatever reason. There is one thing that I heard him say yesterday though that I have to agree with. Americans and Christians do not go killing people because they burn a bible or a US flag. I am not sure if that shows our lack of dedication, or we are more civilized. I will say that over all, I agree that Muslims are a peaceful people and that a handful of people ruin it for all the others. I know that as Americans it is hard to remember that after so many things negative have happened that were done in the name of Allah. I have worked with, and sat for hours and talked to Muslims. One that our ANA (Afghan National Army) counterpart stressed to me was that Muslims are peaceful people and it is a small number of people that are ruining it for the rest of them. We as Americans know how that is when it comes to racism and other sterotypes that we experience in our culture. For example, there are people that think that Soldiers are alcholic womanizers and are no good when it comes to relationships. I will not even go into the sterotyping of African-Americans. That would could get me yelled at or in trouble. We all have an opinion and are entitled to it, but we have to remember that all people are not bad if they are associated with a certain group or race. The Afghans that I work with and talk to on a daily basis are great people. They are dedicated and hard working. The dedication does not lay with the US though. I talked to a few and hard of others talking to Afghans that admitted that if the burning happens, then they would not know where they would side because they are so dedicated to their religion. Any religion that has people pray multiple times a day and there is nothing that will stop them, is something that I would take serious. I can see both sides, although I am not siding with either. I am siding with the safety of me and my brothers and sisters in the military.

I think that is enough on that for now. I can go on forever on that one. I want to complain about life here now. We had about 350 people on our FOB (Forward Operating Base) until last week. They sent about 80 more to live here for a months until they can move them to another location. That is not the bad part. The bad part is that we have limited number of computers to use and phones to use for MWR. Now, you add 80 more people to an already crowded situation, and it only gets worse. It is doable, but not fun. Now take all those people and add them to the line in the chow hall. It is already bad enough without having to add to that. But the worst, is the showers. We currently have 12 shower stalls on my side of the FOB, which is where about 70% of the people use. 12 shower stalls would work on a normal day, but are down to 6 usable showers. One building with 4 showers in it has been being renivated for over a month now. That means we cannot use it. Then there is the other building that has 4 shower stalls and only 2 work. As of this morning, we are looking at one of the two going down. You would think that some one would really make an effort to fix these issues. I am sure they are, but it is really causing a lot of mad soldiers when they have to wait 20 minutes to get a shower or there are 4 people trying to use one sink. I know this is bitching and I do not have the details, but I am sharing what is going on here.

Lets not forget the fact that we are out of space for people to live on our FOB and now we have to find space for even more Soldiers. The Army decided to send all these extras troops over here, and they have nowhere to but them. The situation in Bagram is even worse. I have heard stories of Soldiers having to find places on the floor to sleep when they are leaving for R&R and returning as well. A Soldier that returned a couple days ago informed me that she slept on the floor for 4 days. They want to up the forces here, but there was not enough planning to make it happen. Bagram has gotten insane. I am glad that I am on such a small FOB and do not have those worries.

I have complained about some things that Soldiers are complaining about all the time, but overall, this has been an easy deployment outside of the drama that I have to deal with in my office. There are some things that I do not agree with and would love to change, but I am not high enough on the totem poll to make that happen. Why make complaints to high command when it will come back down that I complained and then life only gets worse for me hear? I would rather keep my mouth shut, do my job, and hold my head high. There are some things that have happened to help keep my head high, although there are some things to make me hang my head. I do my best to do like my says and not let it show they get to me. I have found ways to vent and also found ways for my Soldiers to vent and it stays with me.

Lets jump to something else before I go on too much about that. Last night about 2am I woke up to my lips tingling and my body feeling very hot, and I was feeling really sick. I got a little worried and went to the JOC to sit so that I was around people in case I got bad or something. I was feeling bad enough that I was worried. I sat there for about 30 minutes and felt better. I went back to bed and woke up about 4am feeling the same way. I sat up in bed and waited until I felt better. I decided not to have them wake a medic to check on me, although now I know that could have been a huge mistake. I was talking to medic and found out that I was having an allergic reaction to the Amoxicillan I was given for a sinus infection. I also found out that it could have been very bad for me. So now I know that I cannot take penicilan for the rest of my life because it could possibly kill me. That is always great news when you are having a great day. I could go on about the way nothing with the convoy right today, but that will be another complaining session on here.

I am glad that there are people that are following the blog and I thank you. I am glad to have such a wonderful family.

I get to talk to Courtney some now and then, but not as much as I would like. I can't wait to get home and see her!!! She means the world to me and I have a year of spoiling to do in a short amount of time in Nov.

Thank you to everyone for the support and God bless you all. And to do not forget what happened 9 years ago today that has but so many of us over here for you!

Thanks again for all the support

SGT John L. Strader


Monday, September 6, 2010

Been A While

I am sorry that so much time has passed since the last update. I am still here in wonderful Afghanistan. There have not been many changes with the exception of several new rules on the FOB. I would go into detail and give my opinion, but you never know who will read this and make things that much harder on me.

Other than the soldiering issues that I had, things are going pretty good. I am staying pretty busy and getting a lot done. Some weird things have happened too. There was a snake in the dining facility a week or so ago. I guess it took quite some time to get the snake, a cobra, out where they could kill it and get rid of it. Of course there are still hundreds, if not more, lizards running around. They are everywhere you look. There is no getting away from them. I cannot tell you how many I have caught in my office. They are on the walls in the dining facility as well. There is a wall that I walk past at night and they are covering the wall. Last night I took the time and counted 25 on a 16 foot long wall and there were many more, to many to count. I said forget it and went on to my room.

The lizards are not the only thing there are plenty of. Mosquitoes of course, but there are these HUGE beetles that are all over as well. It gets worse when it rains, but it is bad all the time. I have never seen a bug that is this big in my life.

I was going to tell you it was boring here, and I still can. It was not there for a week or so ago, it would have been a really boring blog entry. We were directly attacked with small arms fire (guns aimed at us) and a few rockets twice in a week. The first night they hit a guard tower, which has since been rebuilt, and shot at us with machine guns. No one was hurt and the tower had to be rebuilt. That is one reason that I was waiting to write. I did not want to come here and say we have a tower that is destroyed and out defenses are weakened, attack now. That would have been crazy. A couple nights later we were hit with a couple rockets, but no real damage and no one was hurt in that either. That was the first time since this FOB was built in 2006 that it was directly and deliberately attacked. I hope it does not happen again, but I am sure it will with the elections coming up soon. Ramadan is ending soon was well. Ramadan ends and then it is time for the elections. I just with that it would cool off some here. I am over the heat and do not need any more of it.

I am not sure if in the last update I gave on my goal to lose some weight, but I am currently down 25 pounds and I have been for some time. I cannot seem to get the ball rolling to lose the last 25 and reach my goal. But one goal that I am getting closer is getting a Harley. I have been watching online and I am hoping to get a Harley VROD when I am home on leave. I have found a few that I really like on eBay, but I have not pulled the trigger yet. Hopefully it will work out for when I am on leave, speaking of which, will be in early November when I head home. I cannot wait to get home and see my wonderful daughter and get to go deer hunting in WV. Those will be the trip highlights.

Well, I hope this gets some of you up to speed on the events over here. I do have one request. We lost a friend, brother and Soldier a few days ago. This is someone that I knew personally and that makes it a little harder to accept. Please pray for his family that they have the comfort they need.

To all of you out there that support us, thank you and God bless you!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Long Overdue

I know that an update has been long overdue on here and I finally here to provide one. I am currently sitting at FOB Connolly doing the wonderful paperwork that comes with my job. I hopped a 20 minute flight over here to get some work done.
Well, there is not really much to share right now. I am sure that you heard on the news or read in the news that there was a base that was attacked here. Well, there was. It is the one that I go to on regular basis and is only a mile or so from where I stay. We have been pretty lucky that all the mortar rounds are going over us and not landing on the FOB. Makes for interesting nights when it does happen.
I have posted on my Facebook that I have lost some weight, and I have. I have been very excited about it as well. I have been working pretty hard to lose the weight and to get in shape. That means that I have been a lot pain the last month or so. My leg has not stopped hurting for several weeks, and I am not going to let it slow me down. I have fought hard to lose the 20lbs I have lost so far and plan on losing at least 30 more before I come home on leave in Nov.
I have gotten outstanding support from my family since I have been gone. They are checking on the house for me and they send me anything that I ask for. Speaking of getting what I ask for, OPERATION TROOP APPRECIATION is a great group of people that are doing a lot for Soldiers. They were pointed out to me by another unit that is on the FOB with me and they are sending some wonderful things for my Soldiers. I will not discuss what exactly they are sending right now, but I will tell you that they will take very good care you and your Soldiers. I owe them more thanks than I could ever possibly imagine. I can’t wait for the first box to arrive so that I can surprise my Soldiers.
There are really not many other things to discuss. For the most part it has been quiet on my FOB and we like it that way. Actually, yesterday, my NCOIC let us have the afternoon off so that we could relax and take care of personal things. It was nice to have that time because I was able to get a lot of things done that I needed too. To include a nice long nap.
Unfortunately my unit has lost two Soldiers, but we are still driving on. I have held off for a while mentioning that because I wanted to give the family time. It was a sad loss for us and we pray that there are no more losses for us while we are here.
Well, I know that this did not really tell you much, but I had to at least let you know that I am still out here and sweating to death. It is staying about 115-120 during the day here. It gets to a point that you are used to it, but it is still hot and hard to deal with at times. A couple weeks while I was out, I drank over two gallons of water in about 8 hours and still never peed. I know that you wanted to know that I did not pee, but that should give you an idea of how hot it is and how much I was sweating. It also makes it easier to lose some weight. I have been drinking more water than I ever imagined I would here. I am doing PT twice a day here and evening running on a treadmill or elliptical trainer, I am still soaking wet in less than 20 minutes.
I am not sure how many people out there are still reading this, or coming across it in searches, but I encourage everyone that reads to leave some kind of comment so that we know who is following us.
I know that I am all over the place today, but it gives something to do while I am sitting here. I guess I am going to close this for now and hope that my day remains quiet and easy going. Thanks to everyone out there for the support.
A special thanks to mom, dad, Jeremy, and Leslie. You guys have really been behind me all the way and Jeremy, when I get home on leave, we will fish. I don’t care if the lake is frozen over. We WILL fish and we WILL ride bikes. I miss you all and can’t wait to see you again!!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bombs, Mice and Stupitity OH My!!

Well, the bombs I cannot really talk about...I don't think. Lets just say that the other night, it was interesting here in Afghanistan in my area. I was almost asleep and then......and then.....all clear.

Now the mice, I can tell you all about, but you better not be too queasy when you read this. Two days ago it was all calm in the office and then a call came in. Some one needed to jump on a helicopter and head to another base to take the Battalion colors and US flag for a Fallen Hero ceremony. Well, the lucky one was me. I ran to my room and started emptying my backpack to take with me when...out of nowhere...well out of my bag...came a freaking mouse. I was pissed seeing that my bag was hanging on the wall on a nail. The guy in the next room said that it had to been there a long time. I know that I completely cleaned out my bag weeks prior so I know that it got in there while it was here. Well, I started dumping my bag out and out fell 6...thats right mice. I was even madder. So to say the least when I got back from that trip, I started cleaning and looking my room for more. None were to be found, until 3am when I heard one a box. I grabbed the box and shook it VERY hard and knocked the little bastard out. He went flying across the road. I hope he enjoyed his time in my room, because he won't be coming back any time soon.

That trip was a long one. I flew from here to three other bases that day. I got a lot of good pictures, some of which are up on Facebook. You should stop by and check them out. IF you are not on my list, ask and you will be approved.

Life here at Finley-Shields has not been too bad as long as I keep my head out of my ass. I keep messing up little things that keep snow balling into bigger things. It is also not that easy being the only guy in an office. I am having to learn alot and thankfully I have an NCO that is over me that is willing to help me and not just say "change your ways". It is challenging for us both, but I know that I will come out on top as long as I stay focused and dedicated.

As far as the rest of Finley-Shields, it is getting old. Thank God that I get off the FOB on a regular basis. The food is the same all the time so now it is getting to where I do not want to eat. That does not mean send me junk food from home, that is the last thing I need right now.

Well, it is Sat night and that means that I get to sleep in a little tomorrow. Boy am I glad too. I need it!!

I have also been lucky to have been found on Facebook by an old friend. I am very thankful for that and glad it happened.

Thank you to everyone for the great support and thanks to my parent, brother and Leslie for all that you are doing for me. Oh and I cannot forget Jay who will be here soon and Steven who is here, but on the other side of the country.

In hot as hell Afghanistan,
SGT John Strader

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Another Update

Well, it has been a little while since I wrote anything that was worth reading. Now I am going to see if I can keep your attention for a little while.

Tomorrow is Courtney’s birthday and she will be six. SIX!!! My little girl is six. Where in the hell did time go? Oh wait…that’s right…I spent a year of that in Afghanistan and now another one. Being a father and in the military is not easy. You miss a lot and it hurts at times. Oh and she is graduating Kindergarten today as well. I am so proud of her and wish her mom would answer the phone for once so I could tell her. It drives me crazy.

Life here isn’t too bad. I have been doing the best I can, but of course I keep screwing up. It is little stuff that is adding up. OK, one was very important. But I fixed it. My room is pretty crappy. It is not as nice as Bagram but the only thing I do there is sleep. The rest of the day I am in the office. Hopefully it will get better. Oh and I get my first day off is tomorrow as well. I was not expecting one, but I got one. I plan on running a lot and getting caught up on some sleep. I am really starting to feel it now and when I get tired, it is not good. Mom says I get grouchy, but in this environment, it is different.

Mom and dad are doing good. It is weird for me to be gone like this and Jeremy at home. Last time we were gone together. He just better not leave when I get home. I will kick his ass!!

We are starting our R&R in Jul and I hope that I do not get stuck going so early. Mainly because I have not saved for a bike yet and I have been dropping all my money on bills and not ready to go on leave. It was not be too much fun to get stuck this early either. Only time will tell.

People ask about life here. Well, we have the biggest and nastiest beehives I have ever seen in my life right outside our door. There is also a small garden out here too. Not much, but enough to drive the sinuses insane. The heat…oh man the heat…its crazy. At 9am today it was 97 and the high was 107. Pretty sure it was well past that today. The food is not that bad but the Afghan Kitchen is pretty good. For $2 you get a lot of food and it is good. I ate it once, but I want to eat it more. With it being cash only here, I have to conserve my cash. We have no ATM or “Eagle Cash Card” systems here. Finance comes once a month and we can get cash then. The outgoing mail is only once a month as well. We do get mail every day but Wed though. Overall, I would rather be here than Bagram. Like I said it is not too bad here. The hardest part is getting used to the air here. I am trying really hard to get a PT Test score though. I need it so that I can get ready for the board and hopefully get promoted. I am trying to get to SSG before Jeremy does, but I doubt that will happen.

Once I get the PT test done, I will be able to start planning my reenlistment. I am not sure how long for this time, but my plans are another 16 years on Active Duty. I want that retirement. I am praying a lot about how to reenlist. I can choose to stay at Fort Campbell, choose a reclass into another job and hope I get Fort Campbell again, pick a location (out of the question because I want to stay at Fort Campbell for now). If I take the chance of reclassing, I would not know where I am going until I finish the school. The job I want, with computers, is about 6-8 months long at Fort Gordon, GA. The Army will send me where they need me. If that happens, I will have to put my house up for sale and not sure how that would turn out. So many things to decide on. I wish this decision was easier.

Oh, I cannot forget the mosquitos here. Holy crap are they bad. I have never seen like it before. We are required to take malaria pills here because risk is so high. The last unit that was here had 3 cases. One was actually taking the medication.

I typed this up on the computer at work and emailed it to myself so that I could copy and paste onto the blog quickly when I got a chance. Well, I have plenty of time and I added to some things.

Well, I am calling it a night and headed off to my room. God Bless you all and thank you for the support.

SGT John Strader

PS: Not sure if I posted my address or not, but here it is:

John Strader
APO AE 09310

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Find me on Facebook. I am sorry the posts are limited on here, but I don't have time to get on here. I will work on an update soon. It is VERY hot here and the local food is pretty good too.

SGT John Strader

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Short and Sweet

Well, nothing sweet about it. We are in a HOT dry climate that is killing us. Not literally....yet. I ran about 2.5 miles this morning and thought I was gonna die because I pushed it too hard and ended up puking all over my self and almost my soldiers. It was rough one this morning.

I am writing to tell you and I am finally in a long term spot and can start receiving mail. I will give you my address and a few things we know we need. We do not have a PX to speak of and rely on a convoy to take us down the road or a heli flight to another FOB. The PX we do have is only open for 2 hours a day. I have yet to make it in there to see what they have. I have no desire actually at this point. I am pretty set except for a things. I already made one trip to FOB Fenty to take care of a few things and pick a little bit of stuff I needed.

I will make a short list of things we could use. I could put the things I want, but will wait for Christmas on those things.

John Strader
FOB Finley-Shields
APO AE 09310

Here are some things we could use:

clorox wipes or something to wipe toilet seats with
pre sweetened or sugar free drink mixes
Tobacco-only if you know some one will donate it. Smokeless is so hard to get it is limited to one can a day when they have it.
small junk food items-beef jerky or nuts or something halfway healthy
Other than that, the normal stuff you send soldiers.

I am sorry this is so short, but I have a chance to catch some sleep and I am going too!!

Thank you again for the support.

Oh and pray that Courtney's mom will answer the phone for once so I can talk to my daughter.

Out here in middle of nowhere.....
SGT John Strader

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Another Deployment, Another Year of Fun

On 26 April another deployment to Afghanistan began. We were supposed to leave on 20Apr, but due to weather, and over things out of our control, we played the game of showing up every morning thinking we were about to leave, until the day arrived that we finally did leave.

Before that wonderful trip to Manas to start the trip, I had to enjoy life to the fullest. A few weeks before departing, I took some leave to lay my grandmother to rest in Akron, OH. She had been sick for quite some time, and it was a matter of time. I went to OH to say my goodbyes in December and then again in Apr for the final goodbye.

After spending my time in OH with family, some that I had not seen in years, I decided I needed a real vacation, something I had not had in several years. Sonya, my roommate, invited me to Destin, FL with her family for a week, and I took her up on the offer. Being my first trip to Destin, I was very impressed and a great time, not to mention that I met Russell from the current and last season of Survivor at a local bar. The beaches were beautiful along with the water being clear. We had some rough seas to begin with, but the last few days it calmed down and was great. It has to the best trip I have ever had to a beach. I cannot wait to do it again. Oh and of course I went deep sea fishing where we caught some Amber Jack. Talk about some good eating fish!! I also hunted sea shells for two, trying to some to impress Courtney, and boy did I!!

Speaking of Courtney, my last week that I was home, I got to spend it with Courtney. I did have to work a little while she was there, but it was still great to spend so much time with her before leaving for so long. After talking to her teacher, it seems that going to the parks on post were the highlight for her and the most fun. That over the zoo and going horse back riding. It was great getting to see so many smiles on her face for a week. I was also blessed with mom, dad, and Jeremy and his new fiancé, Leslie coming for a visit. Courtney was glad to have them there as well. She rode back home with Jeremy and Leslie and I was told that she was a perfect angel. Well, its hard to be bad when you are sleeping the whole way. That week was over way to fast and there were so many more things to do. Hopefully when I get home I will be able to make up some of that time, granted that Christina grows a heart and is willing to let me see her.

Well, on to the trip here. We left Fort Campbell, and of course there were going to be stops on the way. The first stop was in Shannon, Ireland, where we were delayed for 6 hours. That was a lot of fun. Sitting around with nothing to do. We had the terminal to roam around in, but there was still not that much to do. After we finally left there, the next stop was in Romania. That was good place to stop. I have never seen so many gorgeous women in one place. That country is blessed with beauty. Of course we were delayed again. We sat in a very small terminal for about 5 hours this time. After that, we were finally on our way again to Mana, Kyrgyzstan.

We arrived in Manas on 27Apr. The stay in Manas was better than my previous two times. Mainly because we were not stuck in the huge tents and put in small ones, but we will pay for that later.

After a few days of Manas, were on our way to Bagram, Afghanistan. Once we arrived in Bagram, we got the payback for having nice accommodations in Manas and stuck in a huge overflow tent. The rest of unit left within a few days, I was there for over a week until I got a B hut last night and finally moved into my current room. Now I just have to get it set up like I want it.

I have been very busy since I got here receiving soldiers from my battalion and sending them on to their final locations. There have been several 24 hour days so far and many more to come. Last night was one and I was lucky that I got about 3 hours of sleep this morning. Now I have to get settled in and start working out and getting back in shape.

I know that this all short and sweet, but I had a lot to cover. I don’t want to bore everyone to death yet with details. Mom mentioned that I really needed to get on posting and she is right. Hopefully I will find out in a week or so if I staying here or if I am moving on to another FOB. When I know, I will pass it on.

Thanks to everyone for the support!!

SGT John Strader

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Well, life is changing for my family as we speak. For the last several months my grandma, mom's mom, has been sick and in and out of the hospital with serious problems. The time came last week for her to enter the hospital one last time. Right now my mom and her siblings are at my grandma's side with her while we wait on God to take her home. It has been a difficult time for all of us. I am about to face a year long deployment to Afghanistan and was afraid this day would come after I left. Now it appears she will be headed "home" any moment now. I am glad that I will be here for this bitter sweet moment. We all wish the suffering she is going through would come to an end so she can be at peace. I said my goodbyes to her in Dec when we thought that was it. I have not been able to get back to see her, but I will be there for the final farewell. My family is in need of your prayers.

As I am preparing for these multiple changes, I welcomes more changes to my life. Sonya, a very good friend, is going to live in my house for me while I am gone and has started moving in. I am glad that I have a friend I can trust and is willing to do this for me.

I am also taking my first real vacation in years. I am going to Destin, FL for the first in my life for a week and looking forward to it. Can't wait to sit on the beach, go deep sea fishing, and finally relax before there is nonstop work in Afghanistan.

We were informed last week we are not going to the safest place in Afghan. They went as far as to tell us that everyone will not come home. It is a sad truth and we all know the reality of it. We know that we will be in a dangerous place, but we all know what we signed up for. I love my job and there is not another job I would be doing. It is never the same thing for long. People thank me all the time. Well the thank yous go to those that support us and the wonderful people out there that realize what we do. I don't do this for attention, I do it for my family and my country.

My brain is all the place right now. So many things that are going on in life right now and so many things to share, but I am focused on my family right now and the situation with my grandma.

You expect to see a lot more posts on here starting in the next couple months. There will be a lot of "I can tell you, but I will have to kill you" stories. Expect a lot good stories though. The reality of the deployment is starting to hit and I am ready to go. My bags are pack, a month early.

Thanks again to all those that follow us on here. God bless you all!!

SGT John Strader

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Those were the words that I was looking for today in the court room as I was defending my innocence. You see, about a week and a half ago I was getting ready to leave work and I was called back into the office. I go inside and get told to go back outside and wait for my NCO to come out and talk to me. Well, she did. She told me that she was escorted to the sheriff's department to get issued an order of protection. I had no clue as to why or who would do this. Well, once to the sheriff's department I found out. Tessa had issued it. That left me confused, worried and not knowing what to do and a court date for today. So I get on the phone immediately calling family and friends trying to figure it out. After not knowing why she would do it, I called an attorney. After talking to the attorney and not knowing what surprise to expect, I coughed up the money to pay for one day in court.

Skip to today. Dad came up this morning to be there in case I need a witness to the events of last Easter. We go and talk to the attorney again before court and still have no clue what to expect.

Now it is our turn in front of the judge. Tessa takes the stand and pleads her case saying that she is scared. She admits to the judge that I had not threatened her and when asked the last time she saw me.....9Jul09. The look on the judge's face was priceless. The judge had to ask again to ensure she heard right. Then when asked for more proof, Tessa produced a blog entry that the world as able to read that was posted on 13Feb. The judge asked her how I knew she was married and she said that I was stalking her. The judge asked her if she knew that people talked. It was a great time for me. She squirmed and did not have a leg to stand on.

My attorney asked some questions but I will not go into what she said, but it did not help her. Then it was my turn on the stand. My side was not needed it seemed. My attorney asked a few questions to get some things on the record to protect me in the future. Don't want to give it away just yet.

I barely made it to my seat and the judge said there was not enough evidence and it was dismissed. I was pretty stoked over that. I am willing to bet that you can expect this to be the last time that you hear about her on here. I am glad that my freedom of speech was upheld and I can still talk about what has happened to me because of her.

On to some exciting news. Courtney lost her first tooth over the weekend while she was with me. It was very exciting. You should have seen her when woke to realize the Tooth Fairy had been there. Courtney was convinced that the Tooth Fairy was going to make a copy her mommy. Well, I sent her home without the tooth, because the Tooth Fairy had it. Once she got home, her mommy insisted that I send the tooth and I refused. Her daddy deserves one thing that is a first in her life. Well, Christina is so selfish and unwilling to let me have something that she told Courtney I had it and would not give it to her. Christina was able to get Courtney mad at me and now she will not talk to me. I am still in shock and awe over this. If you knew it all and I felt like typing it all, you would be too.

The deployment...well my dates go moved a few days so that gives me a few more days here. I would just assume to go and get it over with. But on a good note, Sonya, my old friend, is going to house sit for a year. She is preparing to move in and I am going to start moving my things around to make room for her stuff. I am glad that i will not have an empty house sitting here for some one to steal all my things. I will really owe her for this.

Well, you can tell there have been some things going on, but I still seem to come out on top thanks to God for answering my prayers.

Once again, thanks for all the support and God bless you all!!

SGT John Strader

Monday, March 1, 2010

On the road again...

Just can't wait to get on the road again...whatever...well, no really wait...I'm having a blast! Oh wait, thank you to all of those that continue to show your support to my brother and I. We really appreciate it. SO where am I now???

On the road again...that's where I am. In the beautiful state of Texas. The state where death row has an express lane. Where everything's bigger...I guess. One thing that is bigger is my hotel room. I've got a sweet/suite place to stay. Like one guy said this morning, I need a taxi to get from the bathroom toilet to the shower. It's cool. Something new. Whatever. So yes. I'm in Texas. The wonderful United States Army has sent me to get educated in the ways of medicine...and I don't mind. It's food for the brain...and hopefully will help me better save someone's life one day. Hopefully. Seriously, I'm looking forward to what this training has to offer. it should be good, really good. If I said anything else...yep, you know...I'd have to kill you. ;-)

So what else is going on in my crazy life??? Well, a LOT. Kinda. It's tough because the things I want to write about, I can't. It's mostly to do with Leslie and how wonderful she is and how much I love her and I how I can't stand being away from her and all the wonderful things coming up in our lives. I will say I was just on the phone with her, and she said the sweetest thing to me. "I miss us praying together." See, about a week ago I started praying with her before we go to sleep at night. With all that's going on in our lives, and this and that...I just felt the desire to pray with her before bed. So we did. And tonight, we did too. It was great. I love being with Leslie, I love holding her, I love talking about the future, and I love this and that, this and that, and I love praying with her. It's something I've never done before and I love it! This woman is my everything. And soon, I'll be able to share all things that are going on in our lives. If you could say a prayer for us, it would be much appreciated. You see, there are a few uncertainties (sp) in our lives right now with the possibility of my going to Afghanistan or back to Iraq. It's tough living in the "I don't know stage". It's hard to plan things when a phone call tomorrow could change all of those plans. And on the same note, if I never get that phone call, it will affect a lot of things between now and then just the same. We're in a time of unknown. Our daily prayers are for God's will to be shown to us so together we can make the decisions he will bless. God's perfect timing and perfect will will be revealed in time...we just pray that we'll be able to see his will when he shows us.

My bro is going through a little bit of a crappy situation. Sorry bro. I think the next woman in your life will be better than the previous two. Well, I say that because I'm not sure how you can possibly get any worse. WOW! Love you bro! :-) Ahh, I just thought of something..but I won't put it on here. Well, whatever. sucks that you're being kicked in the shin right now...but that's about all it really is. A little annoying pain that will go away as quick as it came.

NEXT subject please! Ok, so here pretty soon i'll be able to write about what I'm so excited about. Till then...sorry. Keep checking back to see what's up.

OH yeah!! BTW I'm selling my motorcycle. Yep, selling my baby. My 2005 Ninja 636 is officially up for sale. It's listed on ebay. The item #320495087982 is where you'll find the listing. I love this bike. I really do. But like Leslie said about two weeks ago, "you're almost 30, you don't really need a sport bike" and yeah, I agreed. But don't get it twisted. I'm not selling my baby for her. She's actually asked me several times if I was sure i wanted to sell it. And I am. She's right. I'm getting too old for that thing. Plus everytime I ride it...I just wanna see how far I can ride a wheelie on it. Keeping that thing on two wheels is a challenge for me. Every straight stretch of road is an opportunity for me to "have fun". Plus I have the Honda. And the more I ride the Honda, the more I like it. And she likes is too. I took her on her first bike ride Christmas Day. And she liked it. It's a phase of my life. That bike stood for a lot of crazy times. The Lord watched over me more times than I can count while i was on that thing. From the Autobans in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy, to the back roads of east and that bike have shared a lot of great memories. But, it's time to let go. I hope I sell it to someone that will have as much fun with it as I did....well maybe a little less but I hope to sell it none the less.

Well, it's time to go to bed. Another day gone. Another day passed. Something just came to mind. Friday morning before meeting up with Leslie, I met with my Bible study group. Two other guys that I absolutely love to spend time with studying what the God has written for you and me. Jon, our leader, always has the best verse. God has a way of laying on him what we need to know, hear, and study each time we met. This time, it was
Jeremiah 29 - 11-13 ("For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.")

What amazing words of encouragement as Leslie and I have so many questions about our future and what we are to do next. Trust God. Trust Him with everything you have and He will bless you.

That's all for now....way past my bed time. Thank you all again for your support.

Out here,
SGT Wormy

History Repeating Itself

Did not have a good title today so I used what I was thinking about, but unable to talk about it for fear that some one out there might use it against in court to get what they are after, although I am not too sure what it is.

Life has been treating me pretty good. My unit is still a lot of fun and I really like the people that I work with. They finally decided that I am redneck. Evidently they were on the fence whether I am or not. Some one said, you drive a truck, listen to country music, and sound like you are from the south. Some one then said, "I bet you wear RealTree on the weekends." I told them I tried to get some Real Tree sheets at Bass Pro but they were out of them. That was the nail in the coffin they were looking for. Now they know I am redneck and the jokes never end. I am glad they are getting a kick out of it.

Courtney has been doing good too. I got to take her to the first birthday party that she was invited to from school. It was a pool party and she had a blast, as did I. Amazing what you can learn from other parents about her mom. Didn't even have to ask. I would share it here, but I will hold that card for a while. You never know when you might need it.....

I know that Courtney knows that I am leaving again and I worried about her and how she will handle it. I will get to spend my last week here with her and I am glad. It all has to do with finally getting more time with her. Andy Farmer had a big hand in that I really owe him!!!

Now I have to get it together and get in shape and lose some weight for my PT test that is coming up. It is the last one before I take off for Afghan. Speaking of which, I am glad that I am going to have a house sitter while I am gone. I was really worried about it and now I don't have to worry. Between Sonya and Jay, my house will be in good hands while I am gone.

Well, there is not much in life that I can really talk about right now. I cannot talk some soldiering issues or some legal issues that I got pulled into until it is all over. Oh, I am not in trouble, just have to prove my innocence. Once again, lawyers fees that I cannot afford.

Oh, I did get a new tattoo. This time it is a cross made from nails on my forearm opposite of the wall I got a while back. I hope to finish my arm before I leave for Afghan. I already know what I am getting, just have to wait and see happens in the next week or so.

As always, thanks to everyone for your support.

SGT Strader, John

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Long January, Longer February

Well, I have been back about two weeks now and finally getting back into the swing of things. So many things happened while I was gone. The large amount of snow to hit Clarksville and Fort Campbell was one thing I really wished I would have been here for. But it has snowed plenty since with more to come this weekend. While I was in JRTC I kept notes on things to comment about in case there is some one there that is headed to training there and would like to know what to expect. Remember though, I am in a battalion S-1, not a ground pounder.

The day that we left it was cold and snowing. When I say cold, I mean single digits. All I could think about was that I am in the Bastogne Brigade and here we are standing outside in the freezing weather and remember the guy in WWII that were actually in Bastogne. We were outside for a few hours and those guys were out in it for days without the comfort of heat. At the moment of realization, I was thankful for those heroes!!

After freezing every inch of our body, we were piled into some tour buses to enjoy a 14+ luxury ride to Louisiana. Well, as luxurious as a bus can be. It was not too bad of a ride though. We stopped every couple of hours to stretch our legs so it was not too bad.

The food was typical field chow. Cold and nasty. There was only a couple times that the food was pretty good. We had "hot" cold breakfast and dinner each day with MRE for lunch.

Well, I was going to write a lot more about being there, but I will say that the training was great. I learned a lot, especially seeing that I got to the unit on Monday and left for Louisiana on Thur in the same week.

There was a small PX, that was actually a 40ft trailer. It had the essentials and not much else. There were chips and a few other things. Not soft drinks though. That was killing people. We dealt with it though. It was a good thing on the limited food and drinks for me though. I was able to lose about 18 pounds in the month I was there. Actually only 3 weeks. I was very excited when I got home and stepped on a scale and saw that I lost that much. I have to keep working on it and losing as much as I can.

Well, here it is Feb and now I am packing for the long trip over the ocean. I am not leaving for a few months, but that does not mean there is not a lot of work to be done. We are packing our containers that are leaving soon for Afghan. That means we have had and will have long work days getting that piece complete. Once that is done, there will be something else that needs to get done. It is a never ending cycle.

I am making arrangements for my house while I am gone and I am hoping that my friend is still willing to live here while I am gone. I am counting on her to take care of things for me. I have not a decision on whether Buck will stay here with her or if he will go back to parents house to be with the other dogs. So much to think about and so much to do.

This is a long weekend for us with President's Day on Mon and I should have went to OH to see my grandma who is still kicking, but I have too much to do to go anywhere. Looks like I will be working on my time on Mon or Tue so that I will not have to work late every night this week. And hopefully my soldiers will not screw up so I will not have to work late either. Well, just one of them. That's a long story for another blog.

On another note and some great news, my new parenting plan has been filed in court and that means that I am getting more time with Courtney and pretty much got what I wanted. I am very excited that now I get to see more of her. I know that she is happy too. When I explained it all to her, she was very excited. This last weekend when I went home and saw her, she would not let go of me. She missed me so much that she clung to me like it had been a lot longer since she saw me. It really made feel great.

Found out this morning that the wonderful Tessa (hint of sarcasm there, well a lot of sarcasm) is now married again. 3 marriages in 2.5 years. Its only been 9 months since she left me and 7 since our divorce. Not sure how some one can do that. I guess you really have to be without a heart and soul to move around like that. From my understanding, she is still in TX and hope she never comes back this way. OK, enough of that.

Well, life is still treating me good. Although I am still alone, and lonely most of the time, life is good. Actually debating if I am going out to have a few drinks tonight. Need to save the money, but get bored sitting around all the time.

Until next time.....

SGT John Strader

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Traveling to and fro....

Well hello again! First as all thank you to all of those that continue to show support to my brother and I by checking out our blog. We really appreciate it. And as we come to a time of leaving and going here and there, we want to express that the comments posted on here and the words of encouragement are always welcomed, appreciated, and make us feel better. Thank you!

Traveling to and fro...well her I sit all broken hearted, tried to... ok seriously, I won't go there. If you know the rest of that, cool. If not...look it up. The best place to find the end of that little rhyme is in an Army porta potty. So anyway, here I sit in an airport waiting to leave....well, I'm pretty excited because I'm going home. Home to see my honey that I love very very much. It's really completely different when there's someone at home waiting patiently for your return. It's nice, really nice. Anywho, so I'm sitting here in an airport that I've only been in once, and that was the other day when I got here. It's not a bad place. It's a little rainy. Little chilly. A little depressing...but just a little. I needed a little sunshine today to help me feel better, but that wasn't in the forcast. But I guess it's snowing back home. That sounds like fun. I'd much rather take the snow over the rain and blah that comes with it.

So, I wonder...I wonder how many people follow this blog and where they live. ?? Now, I know my folks take a look once in a while, and my family in WV or Ohio look once in a while, but I'm curious as to who else follows this and where they live. I remember one time while I was in Iraq we got a comment from a guy in IN that was super cool. I think he even emailed me once or twice. He invited me up to IN if I was ever that direction to come ride motorcycles and hang out in his neck of the woods. Pretty cool. I think it would be really cool if you're reading this, click on the comment tab and just put a nickname or your name if want, and your location. That'd be pretty cool. I guess it brings it down a little more to a personal level. I also remember getting this card from a 6 year old while in Iraq...I carried that card in my chest pocket the rest of the time I was there. If I ever needed a smile, I knew one was close. Now a days, I know a smile is always close, no matter where, when, or what is going on...her name is Leslie. But any who...if you don't mind, post a comment. Name and location. THANKS!

Well, I think that's about all I've got on my mind for now. I think I'll watch the basketball game that's on the tv, have a beer, and relax before my 4 1/2 hour flight. Again, thank you for your support!!

Out here,
SGT Wormy


What's going on??

Well hello again. As always, first I want to thank everyone that keeps up with us on this blog. It's been a lot of fun and it was about to get interesting...REALLY interesting once again....

What's going on....well as you guessed John is preparing for another trip to Afghanistan, and well, I am too. I volunteered long before John got word he was going so we didn't do this again on purpose...Mom, dad...I'm sorry. So we'll be over there again together. Only this time we'll be in the same country. We'll be going at almost the same time so we should get back at the same time. It should be a good time! At least I'm hoping it will be.

I've already gotten to go some places I've never been. Last weekend I got to go to CA for my first time and I must say that I never knew there were parts of CA that are that pretty. It was nice. Now, I'm in Seattle, WA...well Ft Lewis anyway. I leave tonight though. It's not so bad up here either. At the end of the month, I get to go back to one of my favorite places...San Antonio, TX. I'm sure I'll enjoy that as well. All this in preparation for Afghanistan.

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned Leslie on here before...if not, I've been with the woman of my dreams for the last 4 months or so. I don't want to start sounding like my bro and write a love story on here...hmmmm....what ten words can sum up how much I love this woman and can't wait to spend the rest of my life with her....I just can't explain it. Ten words, 100 words, not even a 1,000 words would do it. She's everything I prayed for, hoped for, and wished for. She's a dream come true, and she's making my dreams come true. Ok, enough of that. So she'e also what's been going on in my life. It sucks really really bad I have to leave her, but she knew my intentions on our first date.

Ok, so now I've got you thinking...dang these boys are crazy! BOTH going to be in a combat zone again! Well, for now you can ease yourself a just a mission was cancelled...for now. So, in reality I believe it's just a delay of the inevitable, but for now, it's back to dang O'Charley' civilian job that I just absolutely really I do. I do plan on eventually going over, it's just a matter of time.

Ok, I have to get ready for training. Hope you have a great day and till next time, keep your head up and remember, we're exactly where we are supposed to be at every second. God has you right here, right now for a perfect reason.

Out here,
SGT Strader

Monday, January 18, 2010

JRTC, Just the beginning

Well here I am at Fort Polk, LA in the "box" at FOB Sword. This is really an adventure in training I have never seen. I wanted to jump on and give a quick hello to everyone out there. I know that there are some of you out there that are keeping up with us. Well it is time for it to get exciting again!! Not much longer and I am out of Fort Polk and headed back to Fort Campbell to prepare for the deployment. I have had a lot of offers for house sitters and I think I found the perfect one. Some one that needs some where to live and some one that I can trust. At least my house will not be empty and lonely.

I am working the night shift here and this was my first night. Don't really have much time left to say much, but I can say that I am ready to head home for what little time I have left. I am keeping notes of my adventures here and will post a detailed blog about it all later once I am home.

Thanks again to everyone out the and go to Taco Bell and pig out for me please!!

SGT John Strader

Oh and Jeremy, I know what you are instore for. And its not fun!!! This place is a shithole!! Even main post and boring and empty. Afghanistan is better than this bro!!

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year, New Adventures

First of all, Happy New Year to everyone!! Last night was a fun one, that is for sure. Which also resulted in laying in bed until noon and waiting on the headache to go away. It finally did and now mom and dad are on their way here i guess. They wanted to come for a visit before the adventures of the new year get under way. Yep, it is starting already.

Most of you know that I was working on a special assignment for Garrison Public Affairs with a great job doing tours on post. Well, there are people that promised they would get out of that job as soon as they could, mainly because they do not like me, and they held true to their promise. I will not go into the detail of how it all happened, but I will give a quicky on it. I was in OH seeing my Grandma as Jeremy wrote about in his last post (which we got a Christmas miracle and she is doing really good now) when I got the flu and was in the bed, and I mean only leaving to run for the bathroom, for over 36 hours. On Mon I was finally up and moving around when I got a call that I needed to get back to Fort Campbell to see the Sergeant Major on Wed. So, I took off and came back. Evidently, I was transferred to another unit on post and no one told me. I was supposed to report on 15Dec, but guess what, no one knew where I was working and no one knew how to contact me. Well, they would have if they asked the right person!! I finally got it cleared up and explained how I ended up in the tasking to Garrison and I was basically told that was over to get to my unit. I got signed in on Mon, and was informed to start packing bags. I am off to Louisiana for 30 days for some training, and then on the to desert shortly after that. So, my year is starting out great. I am preparing for a deployment, trying to find some one to watch the house, and working on a storage unit so there is nothing in the house to be stolen. Wait, maybe I shouldn't tell the world I am leaving for so long. Oh, but my neighbor will be here everyday and will be keeping a good eye on my house. And there is always insurance. Plus, not many of you know where I live.

Well, the adventure of the new year will starting very quickly but I am ready for them!!!

SGT John Strader