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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Letter #1 From Keith 

As a support service to family, friends and interested readers, I will post letters from my nephew Keith from time to time.

Brief background - Keith is an Army veteran who joined a suburban Chicago police department after his military service. After the September 11th attacks, he joined the Army Reserves, and was assigned to an MP unit. He and ten others from his Unit are now at an Army training base in the Southwest United States, undergoing training before deployment to Afghanistan. Because of his police background, Keith is being used as an instructor during this training. He was recently promoted to Staff Sergeant, hence the reference to his initiation.

Keith is the youngest of five boys, and is married to Kim. They have one son, Jimmy.

Hello All, 6/17/06

I know it’s only been a few days since you heard from me, but we have a free day today so I figured that I would take advantage of that. We completed the Detainee Ops phase yesterday with a day long practical exercise. It was our task to run a Detainee Camp, Camp Outlaw, for approximately 10 hours. They even fill the camp with role players who dress and act as detainees. Many of the role players were the same that participated in our riot training exercise.

Everything that could go wrong in a detainee camp went wrong throughout the day. This obviously is designed to manufacture stress, which for the Navy personnel that we have been training with, it did. They had to deal with everything from minor problems, to a full out riot that lasted over an hour. It was actually pretty funny. They were throwing sponge grenades, plastic bottles, tennis balls, water balloons, and at one point, a plastic rat. During the riot I took cover in the guard shack and ate my MRE lunch.

We, again, acted as assistant instructors for the Navy people, and were there to give them guidance if they needed it, and boy did they ever need it. But when all was said and done, they didn’t do too badly considering none of them have experience either in law enforcement or corrections.

Needless to say though, I am very glad that this phase is over. Our Brigade Commander, Brigadier General XXX and Brigade Sergeant Major, Sergeant Major XXX, were down here today. They came down to observe some of our training, and took some time to talk with each of us. Kind of a long trip to make just for the 11 of us, don’t you think? But it was a nice gesture, and they had kind words for all of us. Our next phase which starts on Monday is Urban Warfare, which should be fun. Tomorrow I have to make up Land Navigation training that I missed when I had to attend that Advocate training. I hope it isn’t too hot since this is Dismounted Land Navigation, on foot in other words.(ha-ha)

My eyes are back to normal, thank God. For those of you who didn’t know, I was having some difficulty with my vision after being hit with the OC, or pepper spray. My vision was blurry and it wasn’t getting better after 4 days, so I went to the Troop Medical Center. They think, and I agree, that it was just taking time for my eyes to recover since it is so dry down here. They gave me some drops and those really seem to help. I was a bit nervous about the blurriness since as I told the nurse, all I have is my eyesight and my sense of humor, and I’m not that funny.

I tried burning my first DVD with the laptop the other night, and it seemed to work. It contains some brief footage of the night fire M-4 qualification range, which I thought Jimmy would get a kick out of. It also contains some footage of people at the decon station after being sprayed with the OC. Finally there is some footage of my promotion and brief hazing. If you listen, not to the profanity, you can hear me doing Richard Gere from “An Officer and a Gentlemen” while I am being sprayed with the hose doing push-ups.

Well that is all for now. As always I will continue to keep you all updated on my progress and hopefully soon conclusion to this training. Again I must say how grateful I am to all who continue to keep my family in their thoughts. The support that you have shown through your actions and phone calls gives me great comfort. I hope that when I get home, it’s possible for me to properly thank all of you.

Talk to all of you soon
Love and miss you all.
Keith

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