An Army Wife's Life

Once upon a time I was a college student, then I was a teacher, and now I'm a mother. Technically, I'm currently a freelance writer... but really I am an ARMY WIFE. Expect to find... funny (at least to me) anecdotes, thoughts about la vida military, hopes, anxieties, dreams, commentaries on current events.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Waiting Game & OCS Begins

Poor DH was stuck doing nothing for about a month and a half. After the rush to get DH down to basic, they told him that his OCS class was canceled. So, he had to wait a month and a half.

Each individual commander can decide how to treat the soldiers in the HHC (Headquarters and Headquarters Company) who are either waiting for OCS to start or have been "recycled" (are waiting for another try) because of injury or other issues.

This particular commander decided to treat the soldiers like Basic Phase Officer Candidates--meaning they had NO privileges.

I understand when I have to be separated from my husband because the mission requires it. I also am willing to accept that I may not always understand the mission or its requirements. In cases like these, however, I can't help but wonder if this is really necessary.

Thanksgiving and Christmas were also part of this month and a half and I kept waiting for words as to whether or not I would be able to spend these holidays with my husband.

When DH was finally able to call, he could not say if he would have time off for Thanksgiving. He did say that I would at least be able to share a meal with him in the DFAC (Dining Facility). So, with high hopes, I booked a plane ticket.

As it turned out, DH had CQ duty the day before Thanksgiving. That means that he had 24-hour duty manning a desk. In this case, it was 0900 (9 a.m.) on Wendnesday to 0900 on Thursday.

As late as that Tuesday, I still did not know whether or not DH would be allowed to leave post. Others with family in the area had been given passes to see them, but there was little provision for wives flying in.

As it turns out, I had the privilege of spending Thanksgiving with a very sleepy DH and then a wonderful Friday and Saturday with him, as well. He was not allowed to leave the Ft. Benning / Columbus, GA area but he was allowed to stay overnight with me.

Even better, he had received tentative permission to take Christmas Exodus (two weeks of December vacation).

Of course, nothing goes off without a hitch. Shortly after we booked tickets to Spain, HHC tried to change the travel dates. An announcement was made that anyone who could not produce tickets by the close of business would not be allowed to leave on the day originally chosen.

Given the restrictions, however, DH had no access to e-mail, a cell phone, or a fax machine. He offered to give his password to a sergeant but the sergeant said, "That's just a trap. If I do that, you'll get me into trouble for identity theft. I don't need your identity. I have my own."

Yeah. Uh huh. Hmmm...

Finally, they relented somewhat. DH was able to call me and I could e-mail the necessary documentation to him. He would be allowed to check in a couple of days and, if the reservations had the correct dates, our trip would be approved.

Too easy.

In fact, shortly before he was to leave to meet me in New York, he found out through the grapevine that no one was allowed to leave the country without a safety briefing on terrorism.

No one had informed him of this and he and several others ran around post, trying to get this briefing. Everyone told then it was too late, they couldn't fit in.

The day before they left, they finally got their briefing--a fifteen minute videotape.

Two magnificent weeks with my husband! After spending the holidays with Marc’s family, we flew to Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. We traveled by train and bus throughout Andalucia, practicing our Spanish, visiting cathedrals and mosques, and sampling tapas. From the friendly Barbary apes of Gibraltar, to the pedestrian-friendly streets of Seville, and the beautiful views of Granada, we had a spectacular vacation.

We spend New Year's Eve in the town square of granada, sipping champagne and eating the traditional New Year's grapes. There was a band and fireworks and an appearance from the town mayor.

On Saturday, January 10, I received DH's first letters from OCS. He reported that the beginning of OCS was even more exhausting than the beginning of Basic. There is no free time in this beginning phase. They are not allowed to stay up past lights out and they only have two or three minutes to consume each meal. Officer Candidate School also requires a degree of memorization that even my DH called “intense.” DH's time was also taken up with additional responsibilities as first squad leader. Throughout OCS, the candidates rotate leadership responsibilities.

Although they were not yet plugged into the demerit system of OCS, candidates began dropping early. Several came back from “Christmas Exodus” with injuries and will be “recycled” into a later class. Another four of DH’s platoon of 30 did not survive the first PT test.

The TAC (Teach, Advise, Counsel -- the OCS equivalent of drill sergeants) staff managed to create enough stress that one female candidate fainted at a morning formation.

Although DH was already 27, he fared well on his first PT test! DH led his squad to beat all the other squads in his platoon on the obstacle course. His wall-jumping ability also began to improve. His squad faced off against the champions from other platoons and won, earning the name “Warrior Squad.” As leader of the Warrior Squad, DH was called upon to make a brief speech in front of the company.

So, as usual, I had much cause to be proud of my Dearest Husband.

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