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[Updated as information is declassified.]

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Greg’s Fifth Letter:

                                                                               Aug 20
Dear Dad & Sandy

Thank you for the B-day wishes!
I would've gotten smoked if the drill sergeants [had known]. Only like 2 people knew about my B-day until today. I don't feel any older.

We got up at 4am to do a ruck march to the grenade range. I don't know how many pounds the ruck sack is, but it was heavier then my school backpack (when I had one)  haha. But I guess the good thing is, we got to throw grenades. They were pretty sweet   haha.
The bunker we threw from had a little window so we could watch it blow up and put a hole in the ground.

Today we did a grenade throwing course and I think everyone passed so that's the end of grenades.

Monday we start American weapons. We'll get to fire a 40mm grenade launcher, a grenade launcher attached to our weapon, a saw machine gun… and an AT4 rocket launcher. That should be fun. Other then that I don't know what we're gonna be doing next week.

That sucks I had to miss the [Woodward Dream] cruise though. I miss the partying too  hahaha.

The envelope my mom got about the graduation info, they gave us 1 envelope and we put an address on it and gave it back so we have no idea what you got but we could only send 1 so we'll have to have my mom copy it or somethin.

I'm not sure whats going on after graduation, but I think once they ship me to Virginia and I check in there, they'll give me a pass to leave.

Last Sunday we didn't get phone privileges.

I'm not sure whats gonna happen tomorrow. It seems like we'll get them but yet it also seems like we won't.

The only thing that makes basic hard, is not having the things you're used to having, like phone, music, pop, candy, and bigger portions of food! If we had that, basic wouldn't be so bad.

That's about all I can think of right now. I wanna hurry up and get this letter out but it'll probably end up in sunday's mail to be shipped on monday.

I love and miss you guys, thanks for the B-day wishes  : )


Greg’s Fourth Letter:

                                                                    Mon Aug 15
                                                                    Fireguard: 0100-0200

Dad and Sandy
Last week we finished BRM (Basic Rifle Marksmanship) and we started ARM (advanced). I qualified BRM with a 30 out of 40. I’m pretty sure its still sharpshooter but its 4 shots off what I did before, but it was also very windy that day.
In ARM we shot our weapons with red dot scopes which are really cool.
With iron sights, once you have a sight picture, you can’t lift your face from the buttstock because it can throw you off. but with the red dot, you can because the [sight] moves with you. Whatever that dot is on, is where the bullet will go. It also made aiming a lot easier.

Today we would be firing at night and using tracers, but we can’t because the range is too dry.
Thursday and Friday we’re throwing grenades  : )    [-happy face]
Tomorrow we have a clothing issue. I think we get our dress blues and berets.

Drill sergeant Carroll is the combatives instructor so when we have free time, he’ll take us to the classroom to sprawl.
Today we got 3rd platoon involved, they’re “Death Dealers”. I’m up to about 150 lbs now and I went against some guy who had to be 165-175 lbs. I won by making him tap : )  It’s a pretty good way to relieve stress.

I don’t know how or why, but my platoon keeps having bad hiccups and messing up pretty bad. We’re possibly going to red phase again. White phase is much easier, the drill sergeants aren’t always around and certain leaders are assigned. But we didn’t get our phones. We lost this weeks streamers on our flag, a couple peoples bunks weren’t right so instead of flipping the mattress he threw the whole bunk frame.
We also get to pay for other drill sergeants mistakes, We were late to chow because we got carried away in combatives our drill sergeant is the ref and keeps track of time, so we realized we gotta go to the chow hall so we march there.
(We don’t need a drill sergeant for marching places in white phase) but when we got there, the battery that goes in after us was there and wouldn’t let us pass so by the time we got to eat, drill sergeant Crawford shows up and starts screamin’ at us to get back to the bay.
I had about 5 mins to eat. Chow is at 1800, and since we were late, he made us stand in formation outside until Final Call which is at 2000. Lights Out is at 2100, but instead of giving us our hour of free time, we loaded the big LMTV convoy.
I’ll find out in a few hrs if were in Red Phase again or if our punishment is done. Stuff like that happens a lot, we usually get ‘smoked’ and have to do pushups or some type of PT [physical training], but I think they’re starting to catch on that it doesn’t bother us anymore.

Saturday the 1st sergeant allowed [us to have] 30 mins on the phone, but our drill sergeants left early that day and they’re the only ones with the keys to unlock the phones  : (    [-sad face]    and yesterday we weren’t getting them with how mad they were.

-Aug 16-
Our platoon is pretty screwed right now because of a couple retards. I was a battle buddy for someone at the hospital and we saw an ambulence and I remember saying “I wouldn’t be surprised if that was going to our battalion” and we got a ride back, and guess what… it did.
Turns out a couple people were playing around and someone had a big ball of blankets and threw them at a kid on the ground and smashed [his] head into the ground. He has a seizure and was biting his tongue so hard it was bleeding and he wasn’t responsive.
He’s fine now but our guidon flag is gone.
We’re treated like Day 0’s again and I wouldn’t be surprised if I don’t get my phone for a while.
Soldier1 was the one in the ambulance and Soldier2 is the one who threw the blankets. I think Soldier2 is getting kicked out and could look at jail time.

-Aug 17-
Soldier2 and Soldier1 seem like their fine. I don’t know whats going on with Soldier2 and Soldier1 is back, and fine.
Yesterday we got our Class A uniform fitted and got berets.
Today we went to the range with our helmet and armor and fired 10 rounds in standing, kneeling, and prone from behind cover. It’s how we would fight if under fire.
Tomorrow we do IMT (individual movement training), where we move toward the targets and provide cover fire for the ones moving. I think were gonna do urban ops training too where we clear buildings.

Friday and Saturday we throw grenades  : )
I still wouldn’t expect a phone call Sunday  : P    [-tongue sticking out]
I don’t think we’ll get that until blue phase. I talked to a few girls a little bit ago, it felt good to talk to them… haven’t done that in a while. In person is different then in letters. I get paid too but other then that, nothing good is happening.
Today on my PT test, I did 65 push-ups and 64 sit-ups and ran my 2 miles in 13:50.
I’ve improved a little, but I don’t think I’ll improve much with the push-ups and sit-ups because once you get that high, [the number we do in our exercises] doesn’t really push that.
I’ll sign off now cause I’d like to get a letter back.

Love ya and miss ya lots

There’s another adjustment to the address. Can you let everyone know and post it on my fb please, it’s to help make sure the letters come to this Delta Battery and not the other ones.

[edited; some names removed  by Dad]

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Greg’s Third Letter.

                                                                                    4  Aug  2011

Dear Dad & Sandy

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  I would've sent you a gift from the shop here but we aren't allowed. They have some pretty cool stuff there.

Last Monday, we had people that work with Jostons  [A High School Class Ring Vendor]  come here and I made a ring like my class ring but for the army.

But about the gas chamber… It sucked! We went into a building that had 2 rooms. "Hot room" and "Cold room" The Hot room has the burner that cooks the capsules and makes the gas, thats why they call it the "hot room" there is no temp. change between the rooms. The cold room is a room that gas seeps into through a door way.

We went into the cold room first and formed a line around the whole room. In there we just broke the seal of the mask and "cleared & sealed" it to make sure everyone did it right. As soon as you walk in the chamber, all exposed skin started burning… pretty bad too. They made everyone leave their contacts at the barracks because the gas will fuse them to your eyes! then your in trouble. Then they took us into the "hot room" and brought 10 people to the ready line at a time. I was in the second group to go in there so I got to watch alot of people coming out and it was pretty funny. But once you were on the ready line, you had to take the mask off, keep your eyes open, and take deep breaths. It burned my eyes and skin, and breathing was horrible. I can't even really describe it. It kind of felt like you had acid in your eyes. and someone giving you constant indian rug burn when your sunburnt.  ["Indian rug burn": Grasping a persons arm with both hands next to each other; and twisting back and forth in opposing directions. -A kids 'game']  Some people paniked, some people threw up from choking so bad, a couple peoples noses started bleeding, and everyone had slobber and snot running everywhere. The good news, it cleared my cold… today I found out it's allergies…

What were the pictures that you saw of me?

We're shooting our rifles all week. Monday we zero'd them out (make the line of bore match line of sight) Tuesday, and yesterday we were target practicing. We shoot targets that are 50, 175, and 300 meters away. I shot a 34 out of 40 which qualifys as sharpshooter. Expert is better. My goal is to get it. I need 36 out of 40 to get it. Monday is the qualifying range and that'll be harder because the targets pop up in certain areas and stay up for about 3 seconds. Wish me luck.
If I make Marksman, Sharpshooter, or expert, they'll acknowledge it on graduation and I'll get a pin for my uniform.

But HEY !  You get 100º !  add a couple more to that and you'll be where I am on a daily basis  haha. The Drill Sergeants said the past few months have all been in triple digits and we're in a drought. I haven't seen lively, green grass since Michigan.

I got my phone on Sunday for a like 20 mins. It wasn't a long time, so hopefully I'll get it for a longer time next Sunday. I'm calling you guys first next time cause I called my mom last time.

I can get internet, but its kinda slow.

Our unit is one of the only ones without women. It's a good & bad thing. It's bad because we're all guys, so its a sausage fest… But its good because we don't have to worry about fraternization, or getting article 15's,  ["...being charged with a minor offense"...]  so it keeps us out of trouble.

From the bottom of the totem pole: There are 4 platoons in a Battery. (Blood Knights (Us), Ghost riders, Death dealers, and reapers) then there is 4 Batterys in a battallion (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta (Us).) then it keeps going up, I am in 4th Platoon Blood Knights, Delta Battery, in the 1/40th FA (first and 40th Field Artillery) Battallion. There are 33 of us in a platoon, minus the quitters.

     Aug 5
But our weekends are only Sundays. Mon-Sat are normal days. Sundays we get to sleep in until 7 and we go to church, then pretty much nothing else all day besides hope to get our phones, After that, the weekly routine starts all over again. Monday we should start White phase of basic training. Theres 3 weeks of red, which is supposed to be the hardest, then 3 weeks of white which is supposed to be easier, and 3 weeks of Blue. I heard blue was really easy without much to do.

I got a card from grandma & grandpa K with your letter, it's the first card I've recieved here and it's hanging in my locker. I just got back from the firing range. I was sent to another range as a battle buddy for someone to zero their weapon. I sat in the bleachers and talked to people from a different Battery. We're a few days ahead of them. They were at the zeroing range today and we were there on Monday or last Friday. But it felt good to talk to girls  haha  there aren't any in our platoon so that was something I missed.

Now that we're back, there isn't much to do besides sit around or straighten things up around here, but everything is pretty clean here so today is another day where we got alot of free time and we can't sleep. This is where long letters come in real handy.

We got a regular routine down now. You just focus on what task you have to do when you finish your current one and don't count down the days. It'll make them go by slower, but every Sunday we count down the weeks. I've been gone a month, and I got about 1 more until graduation.

I went to sick call for a cold and shin splints and they hook you up. they put me on profile which means I take my pace in runs and gave me 325mg ibeprofen and 800mg tylenol, 1200mg allergy and another 10mg allergy. I didn't pay anything and being on about 2400mg of meds can space me out if I don't eat.  haha  But I'll sign off for now. Miss ya and love you guys too


[edited by Dad.]

If you haven't seen it, Greg's first gun shoot was recorded, and is here:
...Good instruction from Grandpa Ross!