Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Happy Birthday Johnny!

Today, Johnny turns 25! I have been celebrating his birthday all day today for him and we even had a birthday party for him this weekend! Silly it may be, but I loved every second of it and I know he will be excited to see the pictures because he LOVES birthdays - especially HIS! Maybe the Ranger Instructors gave him a special MRE or something...instead of M&M's for the "dessert portion" maybe they have one with a cupcake in it! Somehow I seriously doubt it, but that would be a nice gesture and if they did that, I would try to forgive them for not giving him his mail for weeks at a time. Oh, how that ticks me off! Maybe I'll write a letter and address it to the Ranger Instructors and tell them what I think of that....anyways...back to Johnny's Birthday...

I am particularly glad Johnny was born today because he is the most incredible man I have ever met and my life would be so empty and boring without him! I mean, how lucky am I...I get to have two titles because I married him.... Army wife & Regular Wife!! (Click on that link if you don't know what I am talking about!)

If you want to send him a letter of encouragement - all you have to do is email me (which you can access by clicking on the "View my complete profile" under the "About Me" section on the blog) or call me and I'd be happy to give you the address! Also - you can "bookmark" this website (or mark it as one of your "favorites") so you can have easy access to it every day to see if it's been updated!

Enjoy these pictures from his birthday party!

Monday, August 25, 2008

All the Way From Australia

The best distraction came last week in the form of TWO AUSTRALIANS!!!

My two very dear friends, Jess and Karlie, came over to the states on "holiday" and spent 4 days with me in Savannah! We had a blast and we were able to pick up right where we left off, even though it had been about 3 years since I last saw them. I lived with these girls and 6 others while I studied abroad in Geelong, Australia for about 6 months during college. I said good bye to them thinking I would never see them again since we were a world away from each other, but thanks to MySpace and Facebook, we've been able to stay in touch! Oh, the wonders of technology! :)

We had so much fun exploring Savannah together and we even went on a haunted pub crawl! You know, Savannah is one of the most haunted cities in the U.S.! I took them to Wal-Mart - they had no concept of what a "Wal-Mart" was, and to Outback Steakhouse - which they got a HUGE kick out of! They were laughing and taking pictures and thought a Bloomin' Onion sounded and looked like the grossest thing ever! I took them to Hunter Army Airfield to see where Johnny works (when he is not starving himself at Ranger School) and gave them a tour around the post which I loved because it made me feel like a real Army wife!

I was so excited that my "in-law" side of the family was able to come over one night for dinner to meet them. I am so lucky to have married into such a great family....and even more so...they are nearby! I don't know what I would do without them!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The G.I. Blues

My great-great-uncle on mom's dad's side, Willard Strickland, wrote this poem when he was away at war during WWII. The date on the envelope is November 5, 1944.

The G.I. Blues

Sitting on my G.I. bed,
My G.I. hat upon my head,
My G.I. pants, my G.I. shoes,
Everything free, nothing to lose.

G.I. razor, G.I. comb,
But G.I. wish that I was home.

They issue everything we need,
Paper to write on, books to read,
They issue food to make us grow,
But G.I. want a long furlough.

Everything free, nothing to buy,
Your belt, your shoes, your G.I. tie.
Eat your food from a G.I. plate,
Buy your needs at a G.I. rate.

It's G.I. this, and G.I. that,
G.I. haircut, G.I. hat.
Everything here is government issue,
But G.I. would like to be with you.

I go to sleep in a G.I. bed,
On a G.I. pillow, I rest my head.
My blankets they are G.I. too,
Then G.I. sleep and dream of you.

If I come down with G.I. ills,
They'll stuff me full of G.I. pills,
Ointments and drops are G.I. too,
But G.I.'d heal just seeing you.

Now G.I. stands for government issue,
And oh, my darling, G.I. miss you.
And G.I. wish you miss me too,
For G.I. love you, G.I. do.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Hmmm....where to begin?

Well, I did get to hear my sweet husband's voice on Friday. My cell phone literally did not leave my sight from about 6 a.m. that morning until he called at about 8:30 p.m. At that point I had slightly given up hope of hearing from him and just figured they weren't going to let them make any calls...so I could barely breathe when I picked up and it was his voice on the other end!

Friday marked the last day of Phase 2 where they received their final evaluations of their missions they planned and led and other tests they were given over the course of the Mountain Phase. This is where they were either given a "GO" or a "NO-GO." A "GO" would send them to Florida for the Swamp Phase (Phase 3) and a "NO-GO" would be a "recycle" which means they would have to start Phase 2 over from the beginning.

Johnny ended up getting "recycled" and started the Mountain Phase again this past Saturday. We knew going into this, that it was VERY, VERY common to recycle. I think they say 2 out of 3 guys recycle, and they also say to count on 2-3 recycles over the course of Ranger School. AND - to add to these statistics, 50% of the guys in Johnny's company recycled the mountain phase - which is a HUGE number compared to the other companies. Charlie Company (the company he was in) was the toughest to be in at the Mountain Phase. He said A LOT of the guys who got recycled just dropped out of the program and went home because they didn't want to give it a second chance....which means that they gave up their opportunity to get a Ranger tab because they chose to leave.

He was pretty down about it when he called Friday night and was dreading telling me, but had already decided to stay and give it a second shot unless I told him to come home....which I would NEVER do because this is such a HUGE goal of his.

I could tell by talking to him that the effects of Ranger School are definitely starting to wear him down. He talked about how he doesn't have to be sitting down to fall asleep. He hallucinates often. One time he saw a zebra (I can assure you - there are NO zebra's in the mountains of Georgia) and he said he remembers saying, "Wow, look at how pretty that zebra is." Another time he said he saw me leaning up against a tree out in the woods smiling and waving to him and he stopped to watch me but was quickly jilted because the guy behind him pushed him and yelled at him to keep moving. When they do missions, they walk for almost 24 solid hours straight up and down mountains with 80-120 pounds of gear on, while carrying a machine gun. Then they sleep for 40 min or less and do it all over again. He said he is constantly on edge and his mind is constantly working, even when he is sleeping. He said it is completely impossible for him to imagine coming home tomorrow and just hanging out and relaxing because that seems so far away and so different than the life he's been living the past two months that he can not comprehend it.

I tell you this harsh reality of his current situation so that you'll pray for him. Yes, we knew going into this, it would be tough (on both of us!) and that the purpose of Ranger School is to break you down on every level and then test you and see how you perform. Please pray for his endurance and strength - both mentally and physically. Also, for his motivation and drive to continue on, no matter what it takes, for him to get his Ranger tab.

The positive side of this recycle is that he gets a second chance to perfect mountaineering tasks and combat operations (things he has never been exposed to before this) so that he will be proficient on every level when the true test comes either in combat when he's deployed in a few months and/or when he moves to a Ranger Battalion. Everything happens for a reason. I just have to hold on to that truth because selfishly I just want him home - now. Another plus is that he changed companies and the RI leadership changed. He knows what to expect this time around and will be able to perform even better because of what he learned the first time through.

His new graduation date is September 26th. I know he will soar through these next 6 weeks and realize that it really was worth all this misery once that Ranger tab finally gets pinned on him.

Also - his birthday is a week from tomorrow. August 26th - he'll be the big 2-5! If you think about it, drop a birthday card in the mail to him...remember he won't get any packages until the end of the phase (which will be about Sept. 5/6)...but I know a card would brighten his day....he LOVES birthdays! He gave me a new address for him, but said it could change again later that day, so I'm hoping to get a postcard with the confirmed address on it in a few days. I'll let you know when I have it.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Anxious Thursday

Tomorrow will be the end of Phase 2 and hopefully Johnny will get a three hour break before they make the move South for Phase 3 - the Swamp Phase. I am SO anxious to hear from him to find out if he passed all his missions and will be moving on to Phase 3 or if he got recycled and will have to do Phase 2 all over again. I have only gotten mail from him twice during this phase and in both letters he expressed major concern and nervousness for his upcoming missions...hence my anxiety! He said they only have 6 pay phones for over 60 guys during a 3 hr. time frame....so I'm sure if we get to talk it will be short and sweet. I'll update the blog as soon as I can once I hear from him....

Friday, August 8, 2008

Mt. Yonah and Regular Wife Life Happenings

I have partly been waiting on another letter from Johnny before I updated you on his happenings, but that hasn't happened yet, so I'll tell you what I know! His letters have definitely been few and far between during this phase, so it is really teaching me a thing or two about patience and not letting my vivid imagination get the best of me. Two things I'm not very good at :)

The last letter I received from him he was on the top of this.....

Doing this....

And some of this too....

Here is a prettier shot of Mt. Yonah where Ranger Webb has spent the majority of his time thus far during Phase 2.
He got a GO! on the 1.8 mile ruck march where they ascended from about 900 ft. to over 1300 ft. He said it was very tough at some parts but when he reached the top, the view was amazing. He said it was comforting to see civilization down below. He said the terrain with 80+ lbs. of additional weight on his back is at times scary; he used trees to pull himself up, then get in front of it so he wouldn't fall down the mountain. Surprisingly, it is cold up there! I find that so odd but it could be because I don't really remember what cold feels like considering the 110 degree weather we've been having in Savannah lately! I'm not sure if it's cold just when the sun isn't up (I'd assume so), but he said he's very cold and it's super windy there. In his letters he talks a lot about eating....anything and everything! He is already starting his "lists" of things he wants to eat and do when he gets home!

After they learned climbing and mountaineering techniques, they had military training classes on other techniques. I'm assuming it was on planning and running missions, being ambushed, etc. while on a mountain because they have had 4 days this past week of student led patrols/ ambushes/raids and then 5 days of the same thing next week. I wonder if they get attacked in the middle of the night while they are in mid-climb up the mountain face and then they have to fight back....see, again with the vivid imagination. He really should just be more specific, then I wouldn't have to make up my own stories!

I really hope to get something in the mail from him soon. I hate going this long in-between letters. He still seems to be staying very positive and focusing on God throughout this testing...which I couldn't ask for anything more! And he said that I was the best Army wife/regular wife ever. haha! I love the "slash regular wife" part. haha.

Let's see, what else has been happening in my "regular wife" life?

I finished painting my downstairs half-bath....what do you think?! Isn't it FUN?! (Please excuse the toilet plunger that I've never noticed until this picture, yet am very embarrassed it's there. gross. why is it there?)

Oh yes....and THIS happened! It was Elena's FIRST BIRTHDAY! Christy and Andy threw a great party to help celebrate her big #1 complete with her own two-tier chocolate cake!

It was also me and Johnny's 6 month wedding anniversary last Saturday. I can't believe it's already been1/2 a year since that incredible day took place. I watched all 2 hours of our wedding video last night and it was pure medicine to my soul! I had been kind of down the past few days (ok, two weeks...whatever!) and it livened me right back up! I'm not sure why I didn't pop that baby in the DVD player two months ago when he first left, but I'm pretty sure I'll be watching it every night for the next 27 days until Johnny's Graduation!! If he continues to get GO's! on his missions and tests and doesn't recycle, I'll be looking at my husband's face on September 5. Oh man, I'm excited!!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Ranger Creed

Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of the Rangers.

Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster, and fight harder than any other soldier.

Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong, and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be, one hundred percent and then some.

Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well trained soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress, and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.

Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.

Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission, though I be the lone survivor.