Week 2 at Camp Lejeune

Another week has gone by, and I can’t believe it.  I’m now completely immersed in this life.  I’m getting more comfortable with being a company commander, and with the Marines in my charge.  I’m working twelve-hour days.  I’m dealing with personnel issues, and staffing issues, and trying to do my own predeployment training in my “spare time”.  And loving every minute.  

I know some of you may be wondering how my fitness and eating habits have fared in the chaos.  Not too badly.  I’ve gotten back to a fairly consistent workout routine.  I was thrilled to discover the base gym is open at 4 AM.  It’s hopping with activity at 4:30 AM!  What great motivation first thing in the morning.  So PT is going strong.  And my 10-minute break during the day, to get up and stretch my legs?  Instead of doing a lap or two around the Pentagon, I walk outside to the nearest pull-up bar (and they’re everywhere on this base) and knock out two sets of pull-ups.  Makes me supremely happy.

My refrigerator turned freezer is working for me now instead of against me.  I prepared some grilled chicken for the week, and put it in the “freezer”.  I usually get a salad at Subway, and throw the chicken on top.  Subway has become my new best friend since it’s the only healthy option.  I’m also glad that I’ve learned how to eat healthfully on the road, because it’s extremely handy when there’s no time to eat!  On the menu for this week?  Chicken, salmon (yippee!), quinoa and sweet potatoes.  Lots of fresh fruit – bananas, oranges, apples, mango and kiwi.

Monday was mostly spent going from one staff meeting to another.  Our internal staff meeting, and a battalion staff meeting, and then I spent some time making my way around two other commands to introduce myself and begin building relationships. 

Tuesday and Wednesday are a bit of a blur.  Many meetings, many emails, and a lot of time thinking about what needed to be done, how best to organize the Marines and the staff and get us ready to deploy in a few weeks.

Thursday I spent dealing with personnel issues, but also got a bit of training in.  We have a Marine who at first appeared to be a “trouble” Marine, but we are now discovering may be a “troubled” Marine, or perhaps both.  It always amazes me how much time just a few Marines can demand.  One of the sayings we always had was that “you’ll spend 90% of your time on 10% of your Marines”.  It’s true.  One Marine took most of my Thursday and my Friday.

Fun things about Thursday?  I got to go to a pistol class in the afternoon, as a quick refresher since I would be qualifying on Friday.  This included some time with the weapon, and a solid, obliging Staff Non-Commissioned Officer (SNCO) willing to walk me through the basics. 

Friday I woke up to a cloudy day, with rain soon to start.  By the time I got to the office, it was pouring outside.  Not the most promising start to a day on the pistol range!  Oh yes, do I need to mention that it’s an outdoor range?  All ranges are outdoor ranges!  In my enthusiasm to be on active duty again, I reminded myself of something we used to say at The Basic School (TBS): “if it ain’t raining, we ain’t training”. 

The range would start (very) late.  A lack of vehicles meant that we did not have weapons or ammunition or safety vehicle at the range until nearly 12 PM.  By that time, it had stopped raining and the sun had come out.  Unfortunately, the change in weather did not help my shooting abilities.  I did qualify, but that is all I did.  No expert this year. 

So what did I learn on Friday?  That I need to become a recreational shooter.  Evidently, I cannot just go out to a pistol range every ten years and expect to be an expert!  Who would have thought?

Today we sent 6 Marines to Kuwait to support Logistics Command.  I enjoy the opportunity to be there to send them off.   It’s good to meet the families and friends, to see the support network these Marines have and get to know them a bit better.  Today I also spent some time recovering from the hectic pace this week.  Nice long nap this afternoon, a nice run this morning, and even a bit of mindless television have gotten me fully recovered.

My favorite part to this week?  Getting to know the Marines.  I’m always fascinated by how diverse Marines are.  Now that I’m reflecting on the week, I’m seeing that I did make time to connect with at least one Marine each day.  I managed to slow myself down for a few minutes, long enough to ask a Marine about his/her family, background, interests.  There are a lot of Jeep (all Wranglers, of course) owners in my unit.  There are also a lot of family men.  There are a tremendous amount of motivated Marines, eager to deploy, but who will miss their families.  Several of them will return to new babies, or might make it home in time to see their babies born.

This week promises to be even busier than last week, if that’s possible.  Tomorrow will be my prep day.  I have vehicle egress training again on Tuesday.  Very exciting.  The bruises from the last time I did egress training only took about 5 days to heal.  😉  Physical Fitness Test (PFT) on Friday!  I have also signed up for a race (I know, I know, no surprise).  Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) is hosting a 5 mile “Mud, Sweat and Tears” race on base April 27.  Of course I will be there!

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