Tuesday, July 29, 2014

This'll be interesting...

So, up jumped a monkey from a coconut grove, er, popped a proposal for a unit reunion in Tacoma.

Now, the thing with have served 20 years in a (mostly) peacetime Army is that you tend to move around, and in most MOSs you don't really get a lot of chance to put down metaphorical roots. The "career model" I had explained to me somewhere along the line is that, in a 20 year career, a soldier will serve one overseas "long tour" of three years, and one overseas "short tour" of one year. The Army being a big bureaucracy some will do two long tours and no short tour, some will do two short tours, guys are always pulling strings to get an extra short tour.

Then we have Fort Brag, NC, often called the most appropriately named installation in the US Military, to which a guy will report straight out of AIT and never leave until it's time to retire. Theoretically, he does an overseas tour in there; if he's really plugged in, it'll be with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vicenza, Italy, so he can stay on jump status. If less plugged in, he'll go to Korea for a year.  (No kidding, I knew First Sergeants and Sergeants Major who were on their first overseas tour ever.)

Now, being an MI Geek means that assignment models and  theories about career development go out the window. Especially if you're a Korean linguist, what with effectively NO overseas long tours.  The longest I was stateside was not quite two and a half years, at Ft Ord, and that was because the Seventh Infantry Division (Light) had priority to make the Light Division Concept work, or something. (As Alton Brown might say, that's another blog post.)

There were also slots in Hawaii.  Hawaii sort of counted as an overseas tour, simply because it costs so much to move someone there and back. People assigned to Hawaii often need to be removed by the US Marshals Service because, well, it's Hawaii...

So, that leaves the assignments in Korea.  Which, at the time, were all "short" and all considered "hardship." Oh, you could apply to extend, and they practically begged you to, and I am probably the only 98GxLKP SIGINT/Electronic Warfare Voice Intercept Operator - Korean1 to apply four times, on three different tours, for extension and to be turned down all four times.2

Anyway, in 20 years I had 7 overseas tours, plus various and sundry TDYs and exercises, for almost 9 years in Korea. So the idea of a "reunion" is a little odd, what with all that moving around, the confirmed list has a few people I never heard of, and a bunch I was last assigned with 20 or 30 years ago, but I always heard their names. I spent a total of maybe three years assigned to this unit.

So, anyway, if you hear of a riot in Tacoma Friday night, the creaky old MI Geeks had nothing to do with it...

1. Now 35S 35P SIGINT Linguist.  Gee, they actually improved something! {Corrected}
2. The first time the company clerk lost my paperwork.   The second time I was heading to Ft Ord and the 7<th ID, see above comments regarding Light Division workability. The third and fourth times I don't know why they did it, but it led to my meeting Mrs. Drang, so that worked out after all. The only time I was successful in getting extended was when I didn't want to, I was retiring and they kept me in Korea for an extra six months.  On flight status, collecting flight pay...  
3. No, there is no "three" above. I made a couple of minor corrections to this post, including actually publishing it; apparently, I saved it as a draft, and tried to link the draft on facebook, which doesn't work too good.


Richard Blaine said...

He was a cool MF you could tell by his cloths.

SPEMack said...

Dang, let me think, been in nine, been overseas for a cummaltive 23 months,nine of which were in Korea.

Anonymous said...

It is cool to get this run-down. I knew your career specialty but didn't know how much time you'd spent in Korea, etc. And thanks for the lessons on food names etc. recently -- I should be looking for good cookbooks/making notes.

I was in the Oregon Guard from 85-91, was on the opfor team for Celtic Cross IV, part of the "validation" of 7th ID(L). It was a bit of a disappointment, as a young and eager fan of the light-fighter concept, on the opfor team you get to see flaws. Anyway -- a place we may have been 'together.' My battalion deployed for Team Spirit '88, I've probably mentioned before. That was my whirlwind three week exposure to Korea, mostly spent wandering around the countryside. I really liked it.
Anyway, good to know a bit more!

-Erik from Seattle