Friday, November 26, 2004

With our German friends, the Shultz family Posted by Hello

Me and Jim Posted by Hello

The Bird Posted by Hello

Maeve, Carey, and Pam Posted by Hello

Doris and Pam Posted by Hello

Celbrating Stephen's and Gerd's birthdays after Thanksgiving dinner. Posted by Hello

Pam, Maeve, Katie, and Yukiko Posted by Hello

Happy Thanksgiving from Brian and Pam Posted by Hello
This Thanksgiving, we celebrated a true multi cultural event with my Friend Jim and his Japanese wife, Yukiko; our German landlords, Doris and Gerd Shultz; our Irish friend Katie, her mother Maeve, brother Stephen and American boyfriend Carey.

My Thanksgiving toast.

We do this every year, it's the price you pay for having Thanksgiving in the Delaplane house. We go around the table and everyone has to say what they are thankful for over the past year. Some years this means more than others, and this is one of those years when it means a great deal. This has been a year during which it's been easier to focus on the things we wish for rather than the things we are thankful for. So, I would like to tell you some of things I am thankful for.

First, I am thankful for this full house. Fourteen months ago when we arrived in Germany, we knew no one, not a soul, and over the last year, each of you has opened not only your homes but your hearts to us. I am thankful to call each of you a friend.

I am thankful for the courage that I have seen my wife demonstrate, not only over this past year, but through some very difficult times over the past several years. I am thankful for the strength that she has shared with me in the face of the difficult times that lay ahead of us. I couldn't do it without her.

Lastly, I am thankful for the hope and faith the I see here at our table. We have four different countries represented here today. Sixty years ago, these four countries were evenly divided in a bitter conflict. The idea of each of us giving thanks and sharing a meal together would have been unthinkable. Sixty years ago our own country was so bitterly divided in it's own prejudice and bigotry that I would never have sat at the same table and shared a meal with Jim, this person that I am thankful today to call one of my very dear friends.

I am thankful for the faith that all of you give me in mankind; faith that good and decent people truly yearn for peace and friendship, regardless of our birthplace, the language we speak, or the color of our skin.

I am thankful for the hope that this gives me that each of our children and grand-children may not have to face the same challenges that we do now.

So, I would like to raise my glass and say to each of you: Prost, Kum Pai, Slainte, and Cheers.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

The Changing Remains the Same

I guess the only thing we can count on to reamin the same is that everything will keep changing. Looks like the dates are changing for pushing out of here, later rather than sooner, which I guess is better, but it throws a kink in things here. Not sure whether Pam will come back here with me after Christmas, or if she will just stay with Mollie and Max.

On one hand, we don't won't to make a 12 month separation any longer than it has to be, but we also don't want to be spending a lot of money on tickets for a short period of time during which I will probably be working a great deal. So...more to follow.

Got tagged as an Article 32 investigating officer for a an incident that happened in one of our unit's barracks a week ago. Interesting assignment, but it's taking me away from a lot of other things that need to be getting done.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Back to the Real World

Well, not that the election is over, I guess we can get back to discussing reality as it exists for us at the lower level of the food chain.

I spent the last week in training exercises at Grafenwoeher, a lovely Bavarian resort area about 50k from the Czech Republic border. Of course that's only if your idea of a resort is an open bay barracks with 30 or 40 snoring soldiers and a common bathroom 150 yards from the front door, heat and eat meals made for a thousand with the consistency of rubber and Elmer's glue. Other than that, very much like any other resort.

I remember growing up in the army and listening to the stories of all the guys that had come from our heavy units in Germany and their training exercises in Graf. I always had this mental image of some cold, desolate, God-forsaken place where it always rained and snowed. Turns out I had that one spot-on.

We did get to spend 12 hours a day in secured buildings working through a command post exercise which gave us a pretty good look at hour our staff works and interacts with the staffs of our sister and higher units.

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to go through a live fire convoy exercise. This is something that has been mandated recently for all of our troops going downrange. It riding in a convoy down a designated course and firing all of the unit's weapons systems, 50 cal, M249s, M16s, and M9s, at pop upu targets from both the halt and while moving. 16 years in the Army, I've never done something like this, so I know none of the other troops in the unit had either. Aside from the 20 degree weather and constant snow throughout the day, I guess it's as close as we're going to get to the downrange experience without acatually being there.

In any case, i was supposed to be going to Afghanistan today for about a week for an assesment, but that trip was cancelled, so we may go later, or we may just end up going in blind when we deploy.