Armucation: Airborne vs. Air Assault

Since I got a pretty good response on the last couple posts about my little Army knowledge, I figured I would semi-regularly write about details and tidbits about the Army. It is really educational for me too, so I hope you enjoy learning a little bit more about the Army.

There are a lot of qualifiers, training, and titles that go along with the Army. It can get confusing real quick!

Two of them are Airborne and Air Assault. These are known as qualifiers.

Fort Campbell is home of the 101st Airborne, which is one of the most famous units, most recognizably for Band of Brothers.

So most people have heard of Airborne before. If you were like me though, you may have never heard of Air Assault. One would think that it has to do with fighting in the air from plane to plane-assault in the air duh!

So here is your Armucation for the day.

Air Assault and Airborne are fairly similar. They both refer to the mode of transportation that a unit specializes in getting to their mission. And both have to do with vehicles that fly.

Airborne is when a unit jumps out of an airplane with parachutes. There is a school that you must go to at Ft. Benning, GA, to become qualified. It generally lasts for about 3 weeks. I am sure it involves some jumping in the air and what not.

Air Assault is when a unit deploys out of a helicopter. This also includes sling loads, which is basically a rope that is hooked underneath the helicopter. When Tom was deployed, this is how a lot of food, mail, supplies were delivered. The school is here at Ft. Campbell and lasts for 11 days.

both pictures via

Fast Facts:

  • These are an individual qualifier not an automatic right since you in stationed within the unit.
  • A soldier can be qualified for both, and it is not just restricted to the infantry.
  • From WWII there has always been an airborne unit.
  • The 101st Screaming Eagles is the only air assault unit in the world, but this doesn’t mean that other units aren’t air assault qualified.
  • There are a few Airborne units.
  • Everyone in the Army (or even infantry) is not qualified for either. From what I can tell, a lot of it may be due to your MOS and duty assignment and what options may be available there.
  • You can have gone on deployments before being “trained” for these. Tom went through the Air Assault school a month after he returned form his deployment.

There are two other “types” of transportation besides these Air Assault and Airborne.

  • “Light” is foot infantry meaning they come in by foot. They may use other vehicles, but they are made to do foot traffic.
  • “Mec” is mechanized infantry. This is when they roll in vehicles like strykers (kind of like a tank).

The mode of transportation will be picked depending on the mission and terrain they are going into. It is all situational, and the same area may call for all four depending on what is occurring at the time.

This is part of the Air Assault training. They have to rappel off the side you see but also off the other side where there is no wall. This thing is huge and kind of daunting, but I kind of want to do the jump…
Picture from http://www.campbell.army.mil/units/Sabalauski/Pages/AirAssaultSchool.aspx

It seems like I learn things about the Army every day. If there are things that you have questions about or you would love to see a post about, just let me know! I am by no means an expert at all things Army, but I love exploring new topics and sharing what I see as a military spouse.

I am starting a list of topics, so any ideas are welcome!

Hope you enjoyed today’s Armucation.

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!

Moving in with a Caveman

“What are you doing?”

This phrase has exited my mouth several 100 times in the last few weeks. When moving in with someone, there are some growing pains. Lots of growing pains. There are a lot of things you don’t know about someone until you share a roof with them. Albeit, we have lived together before, but when you do it so sporadically, there are still things to uncover or re-uncover. It’s like we are newly-weds all over again.

It is like that episode of Boy Meets World where Cory and Topanga spend the night together for the first time. Girl in face mask and guy clipping toe nails-classic.

Now add that the person you are moving in with is an infantryman.

My husband lived in the wilderness for 6 months, then lived in a practically empty house for almost 2 months.

This is what happens when you leave an infantryman unsupervised…

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I do not claim his poor beer choices…

So on top of dealing with clothes/towels on the floor and dishes everywhere, I have to deal with Tom licking his plates after every meal and playing with knifes like he is a ninja.

And every reason resorts back to “I’m an infantryman.” (which inevitably leads to my eye roll)

Let’s just say, it has been interesting trying to get to know each other’s little quirks again. I would be lying if I said that the past month has been all rainbows and sunshines. We may have been together for the last 6 years, but there are still issues that we have to deal with. And honestly, I would be a little afraid if we didn’t have a disagreement here and there.

I may call Tom out with his primitive living, but I will admit that I have not been a perfect angel either. I am pretty set on my routines and everything having a place. As an introvert, I need my “me” time to get away from everything, so having someone around all the time has not been the easiest for me. I have had to redefine what that means for me and grab those moments when I can. Just this morning I got aggravated with him because he messed up my set aside “alone” time while I got ready for work. Really he was just trying to chat, and I was being rude and upset that I couldn’t be alone. This explains what transition I have had to go through as an introvert:  http://thoughtcatalog.com/2013/how-to-love-an-introvert/ And I have had struggles with everything that this post mentioned, which in turn makes me drink the haterade towards Tom.

As every couple before us, we have had some rough patches learning how to read each other and effectively communicate. And we both have been so used to being on our own, so we have had to work on sharing a space and not feeling invaded by the other. Compromise has been the motto of our house or we just claim do-overs and start the conversation over. Although, I am not sure I will ever lovingly look over at Tom as he leaves army/survival gadgets everywhere (and I mean they are EVERYwhere). Just as he may not look at me with adoring eyes when I have filled the DVR with all of my TV shows once they start up again in the fall-the line up does get a little ridiculous.

But this is part of growing together.  We will probably spend the rest of our lives trying to “tame” each other. I hope that every day we are able to learn more about each other. And who knows what habits of each other’s we may pick up on…only time will tell!

There have been a lot of good things too in this taming process:

  • Decorating the house
  • Making/fixing furniture-I couldn’t do this without Tom
  • Tom finally caving in and wanting to watch “The Bachelorette” with me
  •  Grocery shopping together
  • Tom teaching me how to climb a rope (Yes like the rope you climb in Gym class. I have never been able to get off the ground, and these ropes are everywhere on base for me to practice on. And we’ve stopped on our way to the Commissary to practice.)
  •  Eating dinner together every night
  •  Deciding that we are becoming Red and Kitty from “That 70’s Show”
  • Playing outside with the dog
  •  BBQ on the patio
  • Singing rap and pop songs in formal A Cappella voices (Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “I Like Big Butts” is my favorite.)

So for those of you who are about to move in with someone (significant other or not), understand that there WILL be an adjustment period. But there are a lot of laughs that can come with it if you can move past the unruliness.

***Anyone have any good stories to share after moving in with someone?***

Also with moving in to a new space there are a lot of new expenses. Since we had lived on campus, we did not have very much because most of it was provided. Luckily my parents are downsizing right now, so we inherited a kitchen table and set of chairs. You can see that they look like they were from the 80s or early 90s (the chairs, not my parents.)

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We had to strip these chairs first. This meant taking off the couple decade old cloth and cushions that were starting to disintegrate. Then I had to pull out all the staples to make it easier for the new layer to be attached.  Nasty job, but so worth it!

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After we did that, Tom put on the padding and cloth that we had gotten from Hobby Lobby.

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Grace was making it difficult for Tom to do anything because she wanted the padding to be her new bed.

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We had planned to do this part together, but we weren’t able to get it all done in one night like we had planned. The stripping took a lot longer than we thought. But, Tom surprised me one night when I came home from work and had them all completely covered. Love him!

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Basically a new chair!

Now we just need to update the table to match.

Soon we will be ready to entertain!