So, as some of the more astute observers may have noted, my unit's combat patch designates us as an Airborne unit. This is a designation in the Army that specifies that the unit is theoretically capable of being deployed from a plane... via parachute. I myself have never been through Army Airborne school. And to be perfectly honest, don't plan on jumping out of an airplane anytime during our upcoming deployment. (I always thought that Airborne school would be fun. But in my current job as a doc in a clinic, it's a pretty big stretch to convince my boss that it would somehow benefit the Family Medicine Clinic and let me do my job better if I left the hospital for a month, saw no patients, and learned the proper way to jump out of airplanes.) None the less, as I am now an official member of a Combat Support Hospital, I have become a member of an Airborne unit, with all of it's associated priveleges. Today was another day of death by powerpoint, but the morning's highlight was the Airborne "Beret Ceremony". In it, our unit assembled, we got a speech from the hospital commander about the history of the red beret, and then all of the newly assigned soldiers were allowed to don the red beret, which all Airborne soldiers wear, for the first time.
Having to wear a beret isn't something new to me. Due to an unfortunate decision sometime in the 1990's, everyone in the Army has to wear a beret, just for most of us it's a black one. I've always felt they were kind of silly looking hats. They're tough to maintain, they don't keep your head warm, they don't shade your eyes from the sun, and they take 2 hands to put on, which is a real pain when you're walking out the door with your hands full and have to put on your cover. None the less, the red Airborne beret has a long history, starting with British paratroopers and being passed on to American soldiers early in World War II. It's a cool honor to wear it, even if I really didn't do much to earn it.
In other news, as mentioned earlier, most of my time since my last posting has been spent either sitting getting barraged with powerpoint presentations, or getting issued even more supplies. My newest acquisitions include a sleeping pad, some rain gear, and a folding entrenching tool (shovel to us mortals). What on earth I'm going to be doing with an entrenching tool, I don't know, but somebody felt I needed it. This next week will hopefully be a little more exciting. We've still got many more powerpoints to go, but we're going to the firing range for a day or two this week, and have a few other days out in the field doing soldier-type-stuff as well.
I'm going to try to post up a few pictures soon, but my internet access has been so spotty, I haven't made much of an effort yet.