So what exactly does Tom do?

I have been asked by so many people what does Tom do now that he is back from deployment. He is an Infantrymen, so his job in reality is to be deployed to the front lines. So people are always curious what he does when he is at home.

A few people think that he is on vacation now and are shocked that he goes to the “office” everyday. Although he does have the next 9 Fridays off…

Anyway, he still works while he is stateside. He goes in every morning for PT then they do various trainings through the rest of the day and then round it out with some more gym time if possible.

The trainings vary depending on the time of year. These are just some of the things they could be doing:

  • land navigation-how I interpret this is like a treasure hunt. They get coordinates and have to find their way around the woods. They will do this during the day and at night to get a feel for the land in different situations.
  • range time-practice shooting
  • Company STX (situational training exercise)- go out and practice attacking things or reacting to contact. Usually they have actors, and they have a mission to accomplish. They will get a brief and then have to go in and do what they would do on deployment. Did you know the base has entire fake cities to use for training? They even have people who will speak in other languages so they can work on how to converse with various populations that cannot communicate in English.
  • live fires-this is similar to STX (if not the same thing) but with live ammo instead of blanks and more about short attacks and without the actors obviously.
  • medical training- from proper bandage techniques to dealing with a casualty
  • detainee operations
  • clearing rooms how-to
  • classroom portions of the things above
  • and as my husband says getting dirty and eating MREs–>”the things that men do best”

But every once in awhile they rotate into a special duty such as funeral detail or flag detail.

Tom had to do funeral detail back in the spring. This is exactly what it sounds like. As a veteran, you can have a full honors military funeral where soldiers will come and do the ceremonial things such as the flag over the coffin and the 21 gun salute. So the units rotate this duty and are on call to serve the area. For the funeral Tom did, they had to drive a couple hours out to perform the service.

Flag detail is here on base and Tom had it this last week. This also rotates around the units. The unit has to raise the division flag each morning and then lower it at night. And as we learned this morning in the torrential downpour, it occurs no matter the weather.

Being a history major, I knew that there are a lot of rules with flags and how they are displayed:

  • if displayed with other flags, they must either be smaller or the same size as the US flag, but none bigger
  • unless… flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags should be of approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace. The order of precedence for flags generally is National flags (US first, then others in alphabetical order in English), State (host state first, then others in the order of admission) and territories (Washington DC, Puerto Rico, etc.), Military (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard), then other.
  • has to be lit if displayed overnight otherwise it must be taken down each night
  • inappropriate for it to touch the ground
  • The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position
  • represents a living country and is itself considered a living things

There are tons more. It is actually really fascinating reading about the history and reasons for some of them.

But here are two little tidbits about the flag that I learned in the past week that I had no idea about!

One, did you know that the flag on a soldier’s uniform appears to be backwards?

I had never noticed it until Tom mentioned it this week. And here is an explanation why.

Army Regulation 670-1, “Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia,” updated most recently September 5, 2003, addresses explicitly the proper and lawful placement of the U.S. flag patch on the Army uniform.

The regulation states that when authorized for application to the proper uniform the American flag patch is to be worn, right or left shoulder, so that “the star field faces forward, or to the flag’s own right. When worn in this manner, the flag is facing to the observer’s right, and gives the effect of the flag flying in the breeze as the wearer moves forward. The appropriate replica for the right shoulder sleeve is identified as the ‘reverse side flag’.”

So it is like they are all flag bearers all the time. I love American symbolism.

And two, Tom told me a legend of things that are hidden in the flag poles themselves.

Each should have a bullet, knife, and matches so the last surviving soldier can continue fighting (with the knife), and if need be destroy the flag with matches (to prevent it from being captured), and take his own life with the bullet. Apparently, soldiers should not let the flag or themselves fall into enemy hands which ensued these dark measures hidden in the flag poles. Yikes.

Thanks for letting me geek out on some American history and symbols. I still remember trying to teach that silly red 5 block about flag history during my student teaching and getting so frustrated that they were not as excited and passionate as I was. Probably one of my worst days in teaching because I felt like a failed as a teacher and an American, and no I am not kidding. That was a bad day.

I digress.

I went and watched one of the days when Tom’s unit was lowering it. (I was never awake to watch it go up.) It is something that people can go and watch anytime, which is pretty cool. Although I felt like a creeper hanging out in the bushes with my camera. I wasn’t really in the bushes, just behind them. It just looks like it in some of my pictures. I wasn’t really sure where I could stand so I kind of lingered in the parking lot.

It was pretty cool to watch and listen to all these things you never think about. Army education-Armucation.

There are a lot of pictures so just get ready for some America.

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Tom got to shoot off the cannon, which I think made the whole 12 hour work days worth it.

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The one below is my one of favorite shots of the day.

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And there he is just staring at me, which he later told me that he was trying to tell me to move closer…ugh I can’t read lips or minds.

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It took a long time to bring the flag down and fold it, but think about how big it is and the fact that it cannot touch the ground and has to be folded in a certain way. They had to practice this a few times. I mean you don’t want to be “that guy.”

I will admit there were parts of me that wanted to race under there like you did when you had parachute day in gym class. ‘Merica.

And here is where I look like I am a lurker in the bushes.

Then there were several minutes of slow salutes and parading out.

So that is flag duty.

I am going to wean off doing a craft/home improvement every time I’m on here. Shocker, I know. Things are dying down a little for us, and I think Tom would not be happy with all my honey-do lists that come with the projects. Plus it is costly! I will still do projects pretty regularly because that is a huge stress relief, so don’t worry about the creativeness drying up! It just won’t be every entry.

Hope you had a great Monday!

4 thoughts on “So what exactly does Tom do?

  1. Hey there! Hurrah for infantry wives! I love your pictures of flag detail–I’ve always wanted to take pictures of it but whenever I take pictures of a military function I always end up in the bushes looking like a stalker!!

  2. This has to be one of the number one questions that my civilian friends ask about my husband, too! The guys really end up doing it all!

    That looks like a pretty enjoyable detail, as far as details go. Stephen has yet to do anything like that. But then again, his entire Army career has been gearing up for deployment, deployment, gearing down from deployment, moving, gearing up for deployment. Haha!

    • Yea that is the life of the Army–always gearing up for deployment. Even though they had this detail they still where doing all the other things as well. The flag detail just sandwiched a normal day.

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