Chapter 4 – May

May Day, Bosnia
Fri, 1 May 1998

After a lot of discussion about what could have happened today, especially with a history of riots on May Day in the past, we were glad that it was quiet.

I still made myself get up and do the exercycle this morning, going for a steady 30+ minutes and a bit more than 11 miles. Dragged self through push-ups and sit ups and managed to get changed and into the morning staff meeting on time.

I really think I must have the only staff meeting that is consistently on time. As the days go by, more and more people are prompt, suppose it would be embarrassing to miss your turn and have to come in, in front of everyone. We have taken the large office that was used by the commander of the 396th and her XO and put in the tables that were in one of the other offices
with board up at the front listing the briefing order. A few sit, most stand around the room and we can get through almost 30 folks in right around 30 minutes.

Was headed over to Tuzla Main, Eagle Base, whatever at 0930 by convoy to meet a 1030 flight from Heidelberg. Made the mistake of trying to turn in laundry first, the woman wanted to count everything twice because they were irritated at the Brown and Root inspector that was watching them. Hustled over to the convoy area and found we were not ready to leave, something about vehicle dispatches and check lists.

the second up crew from the 159th was gracious enough to give the S-3 and I a hop over and took my driver along with since she needed a quick trip out. She also had been willing when the convoy got fouled up to grab our vehicle and take over giving up a bunch of things she had planned.

The flight crew dropped us off at the MASF/PAX terminal and we went in for a visit. The Air force is now changing its crews out every 60-120 days. The new major in is a member of the Delaware National Guard, and works for HCFA in his civilian job inspecting hospitals and nursing homes. He also has been on the ground for only a couple of weeks, so we encouraged him to come over and visit, since they are the way station for our patients on the way out to Stratevac.

Met the Chief of Staff from 30th and the inbound Chief who he is taking on tour. Hauled them over to meet with the Division Surgeon, introduced them to what I think is the most crowded dining facility in theater and then stopped by the Vets to show what they do.

There are still some loose ends, we start the redeployment screening this coming Monday. The last of the extra support does not come in till Sunday, some of the equipment till Wednesday and so on. We are planning for the follow on Force, we are discussing the future location of medical assets to include the hospital and evacuation piece.

Trust me – it is all clear as mud and cast in jello.

at 1500 my fine pilots came back to pick us up, the rest of the group having finally arrived and departed by ground convoy.

at 1600 CPT LeMaster, my S-3 was promoted to MAJ. The DFAC provided some deserts and we all embarrassed him a little, he wanted a quiet, simple “pin on the rank” and instead we had almost all the folks who work on the floor plus everyone else who could jam in the conference room to see him get promoted. It truly is nice to see such a capable person recognized and rewarded with more rank and responsibility.

After this, a few briefings were in order, of course, for the visitors. The what we do, who we have to do it with, who we do it with and where etc.

Since this was the incoming BDE CofS’s first trip down, MAJ Torp and I decided that we needed him to see some of the country side and get a feel for the extent of the war. The four of us went in one of the NorMedCoy’s Mercedes’ jeep type vehicle up toward Doboj.

We went half way up route New Jersey then cut west toward the Bosna and drove along the old route “Dusty” which goes between the main rail line and the river and is actually inside the ZOS for quite a distance. Near Doboj we passed a couple of Swedish patrols, then went part way up Death Valley to give Rick the impact of road after road and hillside after hillside of destroyed buildings.

We headed back well after dark for the last of the drive and cleared the gate here at 2200. Stopping at the clearing barrel is automatic anymore, it had been my turn to be the armed member of the group and I am always happy to drop that clip of bullets back in my ammo pouch thank you very much.

The US rule is always armed and clip in weapon when outside the compound. The level of security can go up from there as required/under threat. The Norwegian rule I believe is “someone in the group must be armed”. Since I will always be the non-drinker even for toasts in the group, I think I have become the designated 9mm!

off to bed, tomorrow is most certainly another day!


2 May 1998- Grier’s Birthday

It’s much later than I intended to write. Things just sort of keep happening.

What all? Well the parade of aircraft continues. We have our UH-60’s – Black Hawk birds here. When we hear a chopper, first thought is MEDEVAC – but The Nord broadcast system normally lets us know. Next thought is VIP, lots Of time taken up by VIP’s. Tonite we had one of the division birds take off and land at the VIP pad about three times running, then leave. we are hoping it is only orientation for a new pilot, not prediction of scheduled or unscheduled events. Never did find out why the Sherpa was at Tuzla main yesterday, nor the Chinook over at Guardian. Found I have a couple of soldiers collecting aircraft sightings the way some people do bird watching. Going to try to get them out to another division area to add to their sighting list. Guess it makes as much sense as train spotting for a hobby.

Saturday is basically my day off – as much as I can make it. leg rest from the exercycle, checked the mail and wasn’t really scheduled to do much of anything till the 0900 briefing for the 30th folks. Also had visitors down from the British hospital in Sipivo. Their psychiatry chief was doing a visit there from home and came down to present to us as well. Had a good
crowd of about 40, again, essentially all the main countries participating.

His subject was Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and his take on the whole thing is quite fascinating. Don’t think there is any question on any of our parts that it exists, but there seems to be less and less acknowledgment in either the lay press or in litigation that “shit happens” and there is not always someone to blame. after that – there is a normal reaction to the
stressful event; the vast majority of people cope and very few actually wind up with long term impairment. Will not go into much more details, but he drew some good parallels to the grief process, where most people sooner or later do cope and continue their lives and only the rare person has life come to a stand still. No question from me that things happen, change happens and that people are changed by what happens to them.

Had lunch over at the barn with the group, then they went back on the road for the 6 hour drive back to their hospital, after a trip by one of them to the PX of course.

Sent the two colonels off on an air tour of a number of the base camps with the Medevac commander. Put a couple of more folks on the pax bird who had not been out yet. They had a wonderful time and are certain that this is THE place to be stationed

Another bunch went off with the civil affairs folks to the nearest refugee camp, have not yet heard from them, but expect that I will shortly.

Me? I went for a quiet afternoon, read and took a nap to tell you the truth. Not sure why I am even sitting here other than I am too lazy to carry the lap top over to my connex. my commo guy has run both a LAN drop out there and an extension off my DSN phone. the LAN is luxury, the phone means that I can turn off the radio at night, sleep well and can be called with out taking the time to send out a runner.

Went to a re-up for one of the 261st soldiers, then grabbed supper with the local mixed group of characters. Had come back here to write to you’ all and got invited to a birthday party.

Grier is one of the Norwegian soldiers, turned 30 today. By the time I got organized and wandered over, it was dark. There is a section of Norwegian connex’s and a bunker toward the back perimeter between the Medevac folks and behind the helipads. Came around the corner past the barrier material to a group of 50+ sitting out in the lovely evening, tables set up loaded with food, balloons, streamers and signs all over the place, lighting provided by
candles and chem lights. One of the group had brought out their stereo, soloud music was in order as well.

A good time was obviously being had, mixed groups of soldiers talking, eating, relaxing, and generally having a great time. Funny to think of something as normal as a birthday party out under the sky, backdrop of sandbags and barrier material and concertina wire not 20 meters behind us. I always leave early, lets folks relax without the boss watching. Honestly also, I just don’t have a whole lot of physical or otherwise tolerance for smoking, and there is a lot of it in this environment.

Off to read the incoming mail, finish my mystery and plan on getting up early. We leave at 1000 to head to the Polish BTN for a “medal parade” which actually may be an awards ceremony for the NATO medal to their departing paratroopers. more social life here in the last two weeks than I have in a year at home.

3 May 1998- Polish Constitution Day

We have agreed, MAJ Torp, the NorMedCoy commander and I, that the social schedule is quite a challenge.

I got myself up on time and beat my body into exercising, but was not fun, thrilling or willing. Grabbed some breakfast and got cleaned up in plenty of time to meet Torp and Rotmil for the drive up to Teslic and the Polish BN HQ.

We knew it was to be a Medal Parade what we didn’t realize was the it is also the “?” anniversary of the signing of the Polish Constitution. The original constitution was signed in 1791, and took Poland out of 123 years of rule. As we well know – there has not been a continuous application of this constitution since them. In 1990, the new
democratically elected Parliament resumed the 3rd of May as Constitution Day.

So there were a lot of visiting dignitaries. A Polish Ambassador, seven generals a whole flock of others and the whole Battalion in formation. in normal bdu =.

I did mention it was raining didn’t I?

So there we are, standing and watching, Torp and I had gortex, the smarter folks had waterproof jackets. The US hat may not be as sexy as all of the berets’ but my nose was not dripping water. The Battalion commander did all the formation calls, the flag went up, four sets of generals came out to pin on the medals, amazing precision on the ranks marching through each other to come up to receive their medals.

of course there was a pass and review, twice. there were speeches. Gen Ellis spoke a simple 1-2 minutes and praised them on their dedication and service. The Ambassador got up next. since he is a civilian, there was someone holding an umbrella over him. this is not necessarily good. He did three minutes of congrats and hello’s in English then pulled out five + typed pages in Polish.

I know I mentioned rain, nice big heavy fat drops plonking down on everyone, not sprinkling, this was a lovely soaking rain. That is if one is a flower or a crop. the rest of us were simply soaked.

The ambassador finished. The troops passed by again, then everyone had an opportunity to look at all sorts of toys and weapons. The reception was downstairs. As I mentioned in my first visit here – the Polish BN is located in a former resort hotel. Looking at the labels on the doors along the main hall, I think it was one of the “health spa’s” since there seemed to be
a lot of therapy rooms.

The light reception was a carnivores delight. three kinds of roast beast, roast birds, homemade “chunks in aspic” and trays of cold cuts and herring. There was a small amount of cheese, ok bread, a bit of pickles and red cabbage. For those who wanted warm food, there was split pea soup, three kinds of grilled meat, kabobs and some kind of cabbage/beast combo. My two comrades were happy, I consoled myself with the deserts. the deserts were more than fine. I have no objection to poppy seed cake, or apple pastries, or chocolate cakes or …… I do think, however that there has to be a market in the former East for coffee filters. My idea of coffee is not to throw the grounds and water into a huge maker and let it perk. I really do like coffee filtered with something other than my teeth.

We stopped and talked to the folks at the FAP and then headed back. The general who was to have come and visited us this afternoon came three hours early and was long gone before I returned around 1645.

It is about a 90 minute drive, over two Romanian bridges guarded by Danish SFOR. through bunch of towns, over narrow roads. On the way back we stopped for what we think might have been a funeral procession, horse drawn wagon with a couple of women riding and more than 50 men on foot following, with a few women and children after than. The police completely stopped traffic in both directions while they came along the main road and everyone just got out of their vehicles. They turned off the main road and the traffic started
up. None of the three of us were comfortable, though, while we waited, hoping nothing untoward was going to happen. Got the cuff and leg of the second green striped sock done and have started on the heel.

Just not doing much this afternoon, cruising the web, not much email due to friends out of town visiting family, the MD Sheep and Wool festival and other occasions. wandered over to supper late and now going to finish my mystery.


4 May 1998, Monday

Having said that – for a Monday this was not bad. Managed the full 30 minutes on the bike, finished my mystery and got to my 0730 meeting on time.

spent the Morning running around and talking to folks, checked in on a bunch of the sections, went to lunch early .

got introduced to the nice ladies working for the Norwegians who are interested in ironing uniforms. fine with me -2$ is a small price to pay to not have to do the ironing myself.

ran a security drill this afternoon, talked with the NorMedCoy commander about possible field trips and joint training for our soldiers and added a bunch more things to the schedule for the month.

Our dietitian arrived from Wuerzburg this afternoon – one of those incredible journeys that starts with a go to work at 0100, followed by a drive in the wrong direction to get a weapon, followed by a drive to Ramstein to get a flight to Bosnia, and then she took the bus to get to
us. long trip. took her to dinner and introduced her to a bunch of the folks. She will be here for a week, running nutrition and weight control classes along with individual diet counseling.

We took a ride over to Camp Oden after dinner, the Swedish camp just down Route New Jersey. the PX cruise of Bosnia – part II. Really great selection of tobacco products, beers and various alcohols. some unmentionable T-shirts, girlie mags in a couple of languages and a selection of cookies and candy. small choice of electronics – cameras. Everything, of
course, is priced in DM. NATO language is English, common currency is DM – you
figure, but it works.

There are a couple of interesting bars there – the one that looks like it was set up by the EOD folks is called “The BOMB”. the walls are literally covered with every kind of bomb, grenade, land mine that you can imagine, along with various pieces of ordinance. the TV at the end was playing The Simpsons, in english.

Bar rules there are the same as here, no hats, no weapons, no ETOH served to Americans. They think we are strange for our rules, but will do what they can to help keep some of our not so brights out of trouble.

came back – worked on a few personnel issues, now off to the barn to find one of the docs – we are working on a patient transfer and I need a little more information for the politico’s involved.

tomorrow we are off to Sarajevo for the day – to visit the German hospital there

5 May 1998- Sarajevo

up at the usual time – barely got throughout the exercise drill – my heart just was not in it –

we got the crew rounded up by 0700 and were on the road to Sarajevo shortly after that. It is ~115km and takes almost 2 1/2 hours by ground. The nine of us headed south in the Norwegian SFOR Toyota Van with Paul driving and me looking at the map. Now he has been doing this for two years, so my map reading was for my edification, not needed for navigation. We headed down route New Jersey, past Camp Oden and kept going in a southerly direction. Route 18 is what it is labeled on the map. What it is in reality is a
sort of two lane paved road that winds up into the foothills, across three mountain passes, through what were a number of small villages and exits at Sarajevo.

lots of traffic on the way out, lots of trucks, cars and construction vehicles. The animals were out today as well, saw occasional cattle, herds of naked sheep and quite a few goats, dogs, cats and chickens.

The bridge replacements on this road were done by the Hungarians. I am beginning to believe that we have either standardized bridge building, or the physical requirement of metal military bridging have resulted in the same design by most western AND former eastern militaries.

The bombed out houses we see in our area some and frequently in the NordPol BDE AOR. I have described those in the past. The impact of km’s of house bones has not decreased to me, but today brought further horrors. Since this area is mountainous – it apparently in many areas was more effective just to bomb out from above. So instead of shells, there are flatten wrecks
without three bricks standing on top of each other. Mine areas are still frequent and marked, many in places that make no sense. We saw small graveyards behind the remains of many of the houses, a few looking weathered, most looking recent.

We detoured around Sarajevo and entered from the West in order to get to Raylovic first and stop at the German Field Hospital. We were met by a very cheerful Navy Commander who had done part of his medical training in the US and served as briefer and tour guide. The German presence is about 3000 total with a recent political commitment to be in “for the duration”. The hospital itself has been in the current location for slightly more than a year now and has 224 assigned with 130 in the clinical area and 74 in support services. There is also a Troop Med unit assigned close by that has sick call, a holding capacity and ground evacuation assets.

The Field Hospital has individuals from almost 80 separate locations and all three services back in Germany. they are on a 120 day rotation policy and it sounds like just about everyone rotates at the same time. what a challenge. they have 35 physicians, including neurosurg, ENT and Urology. The commander is a surgeon originally from right outside Berlin and is now normally in Leipzig, the flight surgeon did his training at Wilford Halls aviation medicine residency. The dermatologist I met last summer in Kempten, he is normally stationed in Ulm.

We got to look at their coordination center for evacuation , have some coffee, see the entire hospital <20 surg beds, 5 ICU, 20 Med beds> all the labs, the CT scan the OR and all of the ancillary services, to include echo and ultrasound.

Had lunch and coffee then went on the PX tour followed by stopping through downtown.

Other than the photo’s I have seen of Stuttgart at the end of W.W.II, I have never seen such damage. The Sarajevo of the 1984 Olympics died in this civil war. Since the city sits down in a bowl in the mountains with peaks almost all the way around, no area was safe from mortar fire. We drove down sniper alley and saw the remains of the United Press building, the bombed and flattened shells around it. All the housing near the airport is at the minimum full of bullet holes with many of the apartments partially or wholly destroyed. The Russian plane still is sitting off the end of the runway.

We parked near the National Library. It is under reconstruction, thanks to the Austrians, but most of the collection burned in the bombings destroying priceless manuscripts along with the staff attempting to save them. A small part of the old city looks ok, but the main mosque is only partly returned to its original condition, the center portion built up with other wall
fragments still abutting the courtyard.

Saw several fabric stores on the main pedestrian zone along with one notions shop with a bit of cotton yarn, embroidery floss and crochet cotton. The stores are all on the first floor, glass fronts on the main street and stucco with wood framing on the side streets. We stopped at the market and bought cheese, soft and finished sheep cheese. answers
the question of why more sheep than cows. all the boxed milk seems to be imported. Went down the “souvenir alley”. I don’t understand the fascination with pounded metals and brass, much less designs on shell casings, but who am I to criticize? Stopped in as well at the Norwegian Aid handcraft store – socks, slippers, shawls, sweaters and embroidered things.
all extremely reasonable prices.

From there we went out to Zetra Ice Stadium, burned caved in roof and all. Hard to imagine people living anywhere near there. Above it is the cemetery, and the overflow cemetery and the three other fields that have been converted to cemeteries. Standing there seeing the dates really brings home the reality, 1992, 1992, 1992 as far as one can see. Whole families buried next to each other, all deaths within a couple of days. Father and son, same name, twenty years difference on the birthdates but a common date of death. Normally one sees markers for the very young, the very old and the occasional unlucky or stupid in between.

Here – War was an equal opportunity killer. Muslim next to Christian next to Orthodox. deaths heavily centered between 1992 ->1994. Looking at the opposite hill, I wondered how any one survived to rebuild.

We quietly got back in the van and all decided it was time to head back. Almost no traffic on the way back, made a quick latrine and coffee stop part way. . Got back around 1930 and have been trying to write this ever since, people wandering in and out, phone ringing and 38 email messages.

I didn’t take any pictures. don’t have a camera with. going to see how the other’s pictures came out. not really sure that I want pictures, the images are vivid enough in my mind, thank you.

6 May 1998- Eagle Base and back

Slept in this morning till 0630, what a concept. dug myself out from the mail, the desk, got to the laundry and ran down all the little stuff prior to the 1000 staff meeting. Pinned pix of my kids to the bulletin board on my desk, feels good to look up and see their faces.

CPT Linde – the admin officer from NorMedCoy – came and talked about the Barn, its building in one week in 1995 by the soldiers and staff out of their time and pockets. he reviewed the ground rules – it is a “war free zone” so no hats, no weapons and proper attire at all times. We can do this.

Started a phone conference with 30th MEDBDE at 1100, then met BG Bieniek, the incoming commander of NordPole BDE. A Polish paratrooper, he has studied both in Holland and at the Canadian = of our War College. Rumored to be a seriously up and coming officer in his military. He takes command in about two months. We took him through the facility, he met some of Pol BN soldiers waiting to be seen in follow up – they were happy. Showed him
around what we did and how – CT scan, lab, wards and all of that, then turned him over to the 159th Air Ambulance commander for a tour of air ops and our birds.

Ran into them at lunch, and then joined the NorMedCoy commander, the Swedish Deputy and the BG for coffee over at the Barn.

Rest of the afternoon was spent running more around, reviewing safety briefings with the 159th.

Convoyed over to Eagle Base, met with the Deputy Commander, the BG who is my boss, did the “go over the evaluation stuff” and reviewed the who I am and what I do with him. talked a bit about the future of operations and medical support in the theater. the CSM and I went to the BUB and then convoyed on home.

that is just about it – nice and short for a change!

7 May 1998- still!

Seems like it has been 7 May forever – I got woken up at 0130 by both the phone and someone at the door.

Had one of the local national workers having some problems and had to go sort out the “what to do with him”. Internist on felt he needed to be an inpatient, but we can’t keep him. Some interesting challenges in working through some craziness, medical problems and language barriers. Final result was that between the doc, civil affairs and the translator – we
Found an accepting physician down at Gradina and put together an interesting team
of a civil affairs officer who is also an RN our doc, the translator and the senior medic from Brown and Root. Did the transfer in the Brown and Root ambulance and they provided a follow on security vehicle.

Did follow up with them this morning, and verified that they admitted him. Then met with the senior paramedic to discuss some screening issues with them about medical problems that make sense not to allow in theater. We are all in agreement, but no idea what their home office is going to do.

By this time, it was time to run for some lunch, grab the battle rattle and board the helicopter for Slav Brod. Spent the time up there looking at the new aid station as we have to get off the current land and location when the lease ends. discussed staffing levels for later. While this was going on

our PT, one of the tech, Civil Affairs, Med maintenance and a translator made a site visit to a local rehab center. The purpose of the visit was ostensibly to see if some equipment worked. The folks who went were really impressed. The center cares for children, primarily those with CP. They had a chance to compare different treatment modalities and observe patient
care. fine time was had by all.

Meanwhile back at the ranch – two of the officers went out to the site of the Swedish MASCAL exercise to observe. As the hospital, we played along with NorMedCoy providing ground evacuation.

The scene was a civilian car accident caused by SFOR. For site prep – they took an old car RAN IT OVER WITH A SISU!, then cut it open so that the victims could get into place. The NordPole uses a system that involves a designated scene commander who controls where and what every one does. My folks were amazed – everything ran rapidly and smoothly, from fire fighters to security to medical, professionally with good communication and everyone doing their job. At the hospital they received five causalities and it went well.

just finishing up the last details and going to go catch up on those three hours of sleep that I missed last night.

8 May 1998- one month

This is not fun – I had today typed out – then did something dumb that locked the system well past anything fixable with the three finger salute, off switch etc. so unplugged and pulled the power pack. That works!

So any way – seems an incredibly long time since I left home, just so much has happened, so many things done. Yet, it is also the accordion of “yesterday was Pesach and I was in Budapest”

Cranked through morning staff call and grabbed a late breakfast. Eating here is both a social and business function. the DFAC is crowded enough that sitting alone is never an option during normal hours. Choices then are what you eat and who you eat with.

Spent the rest of the morning pushing paper, signing things, email and went to the motor stables then wandered around the 159. Amazing what field conditions due to a vehicle, 27k miles and we are talking breaks, bearings, shocks and that is just the rear end. 40K is an OLD vehicle.

Afternoon was more paper, we convoyed out at 1700 for Eagle Main, wandered around, then went to the BUB. Talked for a few minutes to the Chief of Staff and the CG about downsizing, medical assets in theater and reminded them that I am the hospital for the Russians and the NordPole.

Uneventful ride back, just trying to get all the folks seen and the email taken care of since then.

Had another 10 or so out doing puppets today, a couple on a NorMedCoy HumRo yesterday, my S-3 and flight ops up at NordPole for a planning meeting for next weeks MASCAL. looked at the slides for my turn at the Medical Staff Meeting.

have added things to the long term calendar, have to get out to a couple of the hilltops, need to go to Sipovo and have a theater PM meeting in June.

one of these eves I’ll get to my room early. Tomorrow is the base wide talent show, have a bunch of folks in it – so will go.

have a great weekend!

9 May 1998-

Last night was quiet and continued so today. I have people all over the place at this point, up in Croatia, over in the Brit Sector and on 6 base camps. really do need a score card.

The Slav Brod folks are going all out this weekend to clean out the old location, inventory and inspect the excess supplies and get ready for their move on the 15th. A few days after that – about five of them will be able to head home. Still have to work on the issues of ambulance coverage for the long range.

Had a chopper swap out to the Glamokra range . Put a couple of PFC’s on the flight as passengers. Neither had ever flown before, one will be broke for months getting his six rolls of films developed. It was a 45 minute down and back and the pilots briefed them ahead of time on where they were going and gave them landmarks to watch for. Happy campers! Pilots that came back were happy also, hanging out as range crew is nothing that any of them
find thrilling.

This morning saw a reasonable turn out for the medical conference. A whole van load came down from Sarajevo and the usual crew from out of the Scan units. One of the Lt’s put together the whole history of the 67th with the historical, OJE, OJG , home station in Würzburg and the kind of work load that we do. got through it without panicking too much – I really hate being up in front – even with an friendly audience.

Took this afternoon and went back to my connex. Dug out the cord for the sewing machine and found that it needs an adapter to plug into the computer – so just cleaned up some files.

did some more sewing on doll clothes and set up the embroidery attachment.

did a jump through the hoop for the division on numbers for the task force. I think we are ok – we just have to convince them that we are ok. and am not interested in volunteering to drop even one person unless forced.

going to go and do a little reading now that I am caught up – weather is staying beautiful and have a whole bunch out in the sun all day.

10 May 1998- Mother’s Day

Nice day – quiet day.

No emergencies, no crises. Called George and the kids fairly early. They were all up early in spite of a rather late night over at some friends. The kids had played in the Garden all evening and crashed when they got home. Miriam, of course, was up at 0700. The only other morning person in the family. Forgot to ask George about the music competition or whatever it was
that was the reason for the get together. Something about Gilda and the Orthopaedic Stockings.

The chaplain had arranged a Mother’s day thing. I was being uncooperative, so refused to make it mandatory. Have not yet asked how it went, likely a prayer or three some music and a cake. I was tired, was going to sleep for just a few minutes at 1100 and woke at 1500.

The bus returned safely from Zargrev from the Norwegian sponsored field trip. The soldiers who came back said it was rough duty, it would be unfair to force anyone else to travel on a decent bus, so they would sacrifice themselves to the hardship of going again. Right.

Wandered around on the web, did a small bit of work, now off to an early bedtime.

Happy Mother’s Day to the rest of the moms reading this.

11 May 1998- yep, Monday

With a quiet weekend, Monday had to be interesting. Seemed like everyone on five bases around here all needed to come in for sick call, started at 0730 and never really seemed to slow down.

Had two choppers come in – one returning from major maintenance and one the IP and safety assistance folks from the 421st. They will be around for a few days, and looking for them to ferry a few of their folks back to Central Region on return. To go to Germany via Air Force, it is a 45 minute convoy to Eagle, two hour ahead of flight show time. If the plane takes off on
time it is 45 minutes to Taszar, hour or so on the ground there, then a couple three more back to Ramstein. If you live in Wiesbaden, it is more than an hour drive home.

Now if you fly by helicopter – it is 2 1/2 hours to Linz for the refuel stop and then 2 1/2 hours home. and the end point is Wiesbaden. sounds like a better deal to me.

I spent the rest of the day working with NorMedCoy on a bunch of upcoming projects, including CHAOSEX which none of the staff seem to be able to say without laughing and the Scans just don’t see the joke. Dealing with various assorted personnel things and cleaning out files on the computer. Finished the pair of green striped socks, and gave the CSM some handkerchiefs that I had tried embroidering. always fun to make someone speechless.

The 159th is out there doing night vision goggles as we speak, it takes so long to get dark that they have to start training pretty late.

Today also saw the resolution of the patient in the Gradina hospital we Have been trying to get up to Lubjilana since last week. The Slovenian’s sent a plane after her so I didn’t get to send anyone from here.

Off to crash!

12 May 1998- nothing special

Every one seems to have settled into a routine. Have been through the first round of PT tests, weigh ins, diet counseling and all of that.

Already starting planning on replacements for some of the folks in Mid July. figure anyone would want to have at least 6 weeks notice and I think 60 days is a lot nicer.

Lots of little stuff today – the lab doing “its very own convoy” to take a legal blood sample over to Eagle Main. the post office here does not do certified/registered mail and the Airforce does not accept locked boxes on air planes, so it is 45 minutes over to the post office.

Got the slide format for the BuB done for the task force and it will be added to the briefings tomorrow, working on the training guidance for the quarter, wandered around in the motor pool.

My mailroom clerk got his photo’s back from Sat’s flight. Six rolls of film, the mountains looking beautiful in some shots, others with bombed out houses. he got pictures of all the different choppers out at the range, took more pictures of the people, from the US to the British Artillery men that were there. Apparently the 159 pilots who were out there did a country and western night on Thurs. amazing. now they are going to want to do country and western for the 4th of July.

The inspection for the 159th seems to be going ok. They finish up tomorrow.

appreciate hearing back from all of you, especially what you are interested in knowing. On my end – it is working on a daily basis, trying to take a little time for myself and generally act like I know what I am doing!

13 May 1998- Mine strikes and Medevacs

It is 2045 and the last helicopter is returning from the scheduled missions, there are still check rides and the night vision goggle training to be done. Does not seem like there has been a time today that the choppers have not been flying.

The weather today has been great, 80+ degrees, great visibility. Got up early, got myself back on the exercycle, got cleaned up, read, talked to the PM guy about the facility inspections of down town eating establishments. Wandered in right before the 1000 staff meeting, things were calm, day with a lot of scheduled activity but nothing exciting. Bird switch out at Glamoc, transport up to Sarajevo late afternoon of an OR team for surgery up there tomorrow, check rides.

Had our 1100 teleconference with the BDE. Right after that, the first 9 line call comes in and we hear the loudspeaker announce MEDEVAC, ONE PATIENT. Crew with Norwegian doc and nurse on board heads for the Polish BN. The fifth soldier in line on a foot patrol on a well traveled dirt road stepped on a mine. The system worked perfectly – they talked to the Norwegian commo point who coordinated his movement to the nearest safe landing zone
while talking to NorMedCoy and the 159th. He arrived here safely by air and wound up in the Operating Room shortly after. Long range he will be ok, likely a couple of small toes left and it will take a while for the broken bones to heal. No other serious injuries.

One of the CPT’s from the Polish BN came down and stayed with him through everything and translate. Barely after he was out of the OR, another call came in, same area, another mine strike. The Pol BN HQ caught the CPT in route back to them and sent him back to us.

Second young soldier was not quite as lucky, most of the energy of the
blast hit his heel. Again, came in the same way, surgeons took him to the OR, cleaned out his wounds, pinned his heel and sent him to the bed next to the other soldier from PoleBN. Multiple pieces on the bone, unlikely to heal without disability. The two of them spent the remainder of the afternoon talking with each other, the CPT will stay with us tonite and help with translation as needed.

there was only one mine strike on the previous six month rotation in MND (N). Don’t know yet if these are new mines or “just ones that have come up with the good weather”. If you have ever lived in a rural area and picked rocks out of the field in the spring, you know the drill. Operation Nordic Hammer, which just ended, closed down over four illegal weapons storage sites within their AOR and confiscated over 22 tons of ammunition. I shudder to think how much more is out there.

About 1700 got another 9 line – this one from Eagle Main about an “over 50” with chest pain. He got evac’d to us and is being “Ruled out”.

And then there is the service member who took a fall, did in a bunch of teeth and jaw bone.

Friday the 13th come on Wednesday? It is certainly not a full moon, but the day is not over.

The flight to Sarajevo scheduled for 1500 finally went out at 1830. Routine stuff doesn’t happen till all the emergencies are done. And this morning we had only one inpatient, and were happy that we were going to have full staff available for tomorrow’s MASCAL. The three staff members that were up at NordPole HQ working on the last of the planning for tomorrow heard the whole thing from their end.

In the middle of all of this -1700 – did a briefing for NorMedCoy and introduced the key staff members to their unit and gave them the back ground on our organization and structure.

I have just done the outbrief with the safety and IP from the 421st who were down here running an inspection of the Medevac in the middle of all of this, talked to some Norwegian Ministry of Defense staffer who needs to look at the Norwegian medical equipment that we have been loaned here since Nov 1996, and just finally finished my email.

Desk is buried under piles of papers – I have reports to read, “guidance” to publish, bills to pay. Am really glad that last night was quiet, got plenty of sleep and am trying out three different brands of embroidery thread by doing roses on handkerchiefs.

If it is quieter tomorrow, will finish the SFOR newspaper, some really interesting articles that I had planned on telling you about and the Stars and Stripes Newspaper article today that interviewed one of my OR techs.

14 May 1998- CHAOSEX

Another one of those days where I was six hours behind about seven hours after starting work. Rolled out, read a bit, cleaned up the hooch and came in on time! Meant to get to my email, but stopped downstairs and met with Diane for a while, getting through a lot of the doc issues.

At that point, the arrangements looked like they were ready and the two Polish young men were loaded into the SISU and headed over to Eagle Base to meet the flight from Poland. Dr. Elias went along in the Polish Ambulance with one of the PoleBN docs over to Eagle Main. They got there ok, then were informed that the plane was going to be late, three hours late. 30 minutes later the plane lands. At that point it is obvious that this is a small passenger jet and not set up for patients on litters. So, between the Air Force folks, the ambulance crew and the docs, they did some changes to the seats and strapped down the litters. Took off quiet late, but facing a three hour flight rather than the originally discussed 18 hours by ground evacuation.

At this point we are up to five or so patients, most of whom will be going out to Landstuhl in the morning. Not exactly the empty beds that we had hoped for before the start of the MASCAL.

I think I had lunch in there somewhere – but sometimes time slips away while we are having fun. The exercise kicked off at 1420, the participating choppers went out minutes later and the SISU’s from here rolled rapidly. I am so use to seeing these massive vehicles sitting out front that I am amazed at how large that yard really is. The accident was a bus full of soldiers with about 20 injured. The first bird out carried the Norwegian scene commander and the emergency medical team. Over the next two hours, ALL of the patients rolled in, flew in, were carried in. The people on the ground did an excellent job of marking, coaching and moulage so that was excellent training for us. Internally, we saw a definite improvement in communications and patient tracking.
Because I don’t have an XO right now, there was no one over at the Norwegian TOC and
that was a problem. Especially in an accident that would involve patients from many countries, having the patient information in both locations and LNO’s will save us headaches.
Right before 1500, the Division Surgeon came over and we had a teleconference with both HQ in Heidelberg about potential for moving of the hospital. Unfortunately, we really can’t say that it is medically dangerous, rather it is expensive. So we will put together all the information and keep pitching it so that either we
1) stay < not what the ** wants>
2) move all three units as a package deal so that we don’t loose the
connection of ground and air evacuation and with the hospital.

right at the end of the mass cal, we had a visit from about 36 planners, ops folks out of NordPole and home officers. NorMedCoy first had briefed the whole group, reviewed doctrine and done the “show ’em the SISU’s” we broke the group into thirds and rotated them between the hospital, the helicopters and the current version of the command brief. Interesting questions from them, many were interested in how we differed from a doctrinal structure
of medical support for combat, what the implications of combined and non-combined locations were and what kind of doctors and training we had. Family Practice was a new concept to most of them, so got to pitch one of my favorite subjects.

By the time we got them on their way – it was after 1900. Grabbed supper and talked with the NorMedCoy 2IC. It was interesting to hear of her previous six years of stationing up Northern Norway at the Brigade there. This is the location where NATO runs a lot of its winter training and exercises. Bit far north and too dark in the winter for my taste!

Followed up over at the 159th to discuss follow on issues, then went to the combined AAR at 2100. By the time I finished up the rest of my email – well you can see what time it is.

All in all, a very good day; we accomplished a lot, things are improving and they had fudgesicles at the DFAC

15 May 1998

Most of the day was calm and collected, spent time after morning report catching up on a bunch of paperwork, walking around talking to people, taking a short !

This afternoon LTC Pipkin who is the Environmental Science officer for The C-Support office stopped by to give me part of the overview from the “higher” level. C Support use to be located in Zargrev but is Now moved down to Sarajevo. The Surgeons office, like is standard for NATO, falls in the logistical chains. In general, that surgeon would like to directly control all the medical assets. As is normal for all countries, Title X responsibility is a national responsibility, and they are not about to let control of their medical assets off by someone else. In MND (N), I provide Role 3 for the other countries by agreement of the Government of Norway and EUCOM. Since Norway use to provide for the other countries of NordPole, by default we picked it up. Apparently the German Hospital in
Sarajevo may go under C-support control this summer, I am waiting to see.

Part of the C-Support goals are easy – from my point of view, exchanges And interoperability. The US as a whole worries more about command and who controls the US assets.

The afternoon was taken up by the convoy to the BuB, the BuB and the fun after the BuB. My log folks had spent the day transferring property book to TFE. One of the vehicles had not quite locked. The MP’s on patrol always check the vehicles. They checked this one, found unsecured gear took it back to the MP station and left them a note.

So we spent from 1900-2000 at the MP station, with them doing sworn statements from all the soldiers. I had to sign for them all to get them released. Don’t think I have to do much as follow up = except to insure that we have footlockers and locks in the vehicles so we don’t go down this road again.

Came back, took my migraine to bed. Had two MEDEVAC runs during the night by helicopter, both are doing fine.

off to breakfast, full day ahead of us.

16 May 1998- Norwegian Medal Parade

Like all Saturdays, this one starts up slowly, the excitement having died down from the two middle of the night Medevac patients. The 261st ran their “induction” of a couple of their new arrivals – to make them full members of “Jake the Snake”

I didn’t ask, the fact that it is neither dangerous nor humiliating is enough for me. At 1030, saw the start of the Multinational Physicians meeting. With the potential for riots up near Doboj and in NordPole, very few of the Scans were able to attend. The Russian commander, several of his physicians, a car load of Germans and several of the docs from the local NGO’s were able to come. Dr Rotmil showed the excellent ICRC’s film on war surgery/mine trauma. an excellent demonstration of the destruction related to mine injuries and required debridement and surgery, but not for the faint at heart.

Had a chance to talk at lunch with one of the Senior Docs up in C-support about their upcoming relocation to Sarajevo and the increased cooperation between the medical units. Other wise – he is the senior surgeon for the northern Germany district – Navy CPT.

This afternoon managed to straighten up a bit, exchange my laundry, read.

Made my appointed place on the reviewing stand by 1545 and the Awards ceremony started promptly at 1600.

Remember what I told you about the Polish ceremony a couple of weeks ago? Rain was threatening this time but held off. NorMedCoy is not large, only about 80 and a number were required to stay out on their patrols due to the civil unrest north of here. Never the less, there were two platoons in formation, platoon leaders in front of them and the 2IC serving as commander of troops. The only flag in the ceremony is the Norwegian flag. Several women of the company dressed in traditional dress and provided accompaniment on clarinet and flute and one of the men on a tuba. Live music for the presentation of the colors, singing of their national anthem.

Next came a short speech by MAJ Torp, their commander followed by turning the ceremony over to Gen Rimpi, the Finnish NordPole BDE commander who complimented them on their hard work and dedication. the comfort it gave to all in the BDE to know that “should something go wrong” that there were highly trained and dedicated people to provide assistance.

The General then went through the ranks pinning on the NATO medals. He then turned the formation back over to MAJ Torp who turned it over to the 2IC. the colors marched back across the front and out to the live music. Formation was then dismissed. They had a reception afterwards in true Norwegian Smorsbord style, lots of fish, cold cuts and cheeses along with a couple of salads. We took our plates to the Barn, ate. I decided not to stay and listen to further music or talk. Time to get a few minutes to myself.

Was able to reach George on the phone, the kids were busy and having a good time so did not interrupt them. Headed back to my room to get the bed made and crash early.

Norwegian independence day starts with the Flag going up at 0700 – and likely a cannon or so.

17 May 1998- Norwegian Independence Day

No question, the troops did kick off the celebrations this morning at 0700 with some C-4. No one hurt but loud. Several of us trucked off to an early breakfast and tried to make some more converts to the pleasures of eating maracuja fruit. and fresh papaya.

At 0800 the flag went up formally, then people dispersed for a while, getting back together with a formal speech at the Barn at 1000 by what they translated to as a Norwegian Priest. Funny, looked like every Lutheran Minnesota Minister I have ever met! By 1100 there were a significant number of local guests arriving including hordes of small children, some from
local agencies and some the offspring of workers here.

1130 saw music and traditional costumes followed by speeches, lunch and a lot of games for the kids. Like every other kids in the world – the games were fine, but getting to climb around on firefighting equipment, the SISU’s and up close to a helicopter was a much bigger treat.

I bagged it early and went a took a nap, read a couple of books. Think I am likely over peopled out. Actually surprised it has taken me this long to decided that short of an emergency, just need some time on my own.

At this point, there are a couple hundred folks from the local hospital, my units, some Swedes and NorMedCoy all out on picnic tables in the main area in front of the MWR, relaxing, enjoying a barbecue and listening to music. A bit later, the local pick up rock band is going to play. Figure this is going to go on till rather late.

This coming week looks like a reasonable challenge, have some folks up In Taszar this weekend, getting them back on Tues. The new clinic is finished in Slav Brod and drawn down in size. the remaining folks up there are happy and the four soldiers who are returning home are down here dancing in circles, they had thought they were here till fall.

Have the usual amounts of meetings, going to try and get a much needed Well woman clinic off the ground this week.

Think it is time for another nap!

18 May 1998- Monday and Meetings

The party did not wind down last night till 0200 when the Barn finally closed. There were a few sleepy heads at morning staff call who obviously were up till closing.

Otherwise, things were pretty normal around here, meetings followed by more meetings! Found the top of my desk for a couple of hours, that was after I went over to MAJ Torp’s office for a meeting and came back and found the side table totally rearranged. I have no idea why it was important to wash a window this morning, but it certainly involved taking all my carefully sorted out paperwork and putting it into a single pile – so much for not locking the door!

My afternoon was one of sorting out small things – have been here long enough that the couple of “problem children” have certainly declared themselves. 90% of time spent on 5% of people, yep, done that one before. Got to at least balance it out by signing a bunch awards and TDY orders.

grabbed dinner with some of the transient folks down here to work on the redeployment screening, then headed back to the room to sew for a while. Trying out some of the different embroidery patterns. Since hankies were 3 for $1.40, they became the target of opportunity. Did some for the three youngest and they will go in the mail tomorrow. Happily sewing and
listening to Silly Wizard. Headed back over here and got drenched going out the door –
started raining at some point and I didn’t notice. Drums and drumming on the roof blended too well I guess.

We are continuing through the routine cycle of reviewing of ops plans and con plans. There are so many of them that I get them confused without the score card. We expected perhaps some trouble today, but things were even quiet up near Brcko, even after the one Serb was shot yesterday.

Tomorrow we drop off a couple of people up at Taszar and pick up some folks who were up there on an assistance visit. I have PM and vet folks out on a daily basis. Slav Brod is running fine in their new clinic and another batch of folks ready to return to Ft Bragg after being here since last Oct. Tomorrow will also mark 4 weeks of “being in charge”. Have heard from
folks who were here and in Taszar on the last cycle and know that they got home safe and sound.

Off to make the rounds, it is really quiet when it rains.

19 May 1998- 4 weeks at Blue Factory

Got one of those – been here forever, just got here yesterday type feelings this morning. It has been raining on and off most of the day. TOA was four weeks ago. Amazing amount of stuff has happened in the last four weeks.

Have soldiers all over the map today. Have a PM team up in Slav Brod teaching field sanitation, part of 261 out at the range doing weapons quals, another part doing railhead training in combination with the Norwegians. Several soldiers up in Taszar, they went up on the weekend to assist in a couple of areas and we have to bail them out one of these first days. The civil affairs officer and one of the anesthesiologists went and spent most of the day up at the Russian BDE hospital. The idea was do to some information exchange about regional anesthetic procedures, but the patient was unable to make it today, so they will pick up my doc in the morning and take him back up there to do the procedure with them tomorrow.

The air crew was to run about three pick ups and drop offs on the way to Taszar today, but the visibility got to be lousy part way up one of the valleys, so they turned around. the two passengers scheduled to go up were quite disappointed, we hope that the weather will be a bit better tomorrow. The two pax will get to stop at Modrica and observe some combined
training with the EOD folks before finishing the flight to Taszar. Because of PCS’s and schools and all, we have a limited number of birds and crews in theater. Trying to make the most effective use of crew availability without breaking either flying limits or crew rest is becoming an interesting challenge.

Since I spend a lot of time with the Nords – I get rumors and gossip from both sides, got a run down of a drug bust last week that netted both Americans and Danes. Turns out that marijuana and hashish in small quantities are not illegal on the economy. Now distributing large quantities is, but limited possession is not. Take young, stupid soldiers and add
boredom and availability. You would think these kids would figure out that the drug dogs are really good and they have a really limited number of places to hide things since they are restricted to the camps. Career ender for all involved.

Tomorrow may be my last quiet day for a while, The German Field Hospital is hosting a medical conference on Thurs. I get to have Kathy N-W, the NSE Surgeon and TF67 commander down here for that and a day or so after, then Sat bound for Pecs to a Norwegian Medal parade, BBQ and dance – you figure – I can’t.

Off to read the last of the A J Orde mysteries on the shelf, then on to B J Oliphant

20 May 1998- and MORE rain

Yesterday it was not so bad, it rained, but there was today. Today when it rained, or worse, had a low ceiling, the helicopter flights again were canceled. So I still have folks up in Taszar needed to get home, I have people here needing to get to Taszar, and I have no idea what it will be like tomorrow.

Still have not found my desk, but have to admit I have not made much effort. five minutes would do it for organization, but then I would have to deal with the stuff under the paper or figure out a better set up for my four phones the computer, the 127 and the rest of the stuff. Of course, the MSE phone is still out – the node got crashed while signal was doing a change over and not sure how many hours/days
this 25 minute job is going to take.

As you can tell, today has not been exciting. The task force members involved in the redeployment screening have been busy, the one treatment team was out at the rail head again working out procedures with the Norwegians, several folks on the road to different base camps.

Had lunch and dinner with MAJ Torp. He survived last nights dinner with the Norwegian minister of defense and more importantly today spent time up on a couple of northern camps and got to drive a couple of tanks. Driving new things is definitely higher on my list of “what I want to do” than pushing paper.

Hopefully tomorrow will be better weather – so the helicopter flys – otherwise it is 2+ hours in the van to Sarajevo, the conference and back.


21 May 1998- Barbie Boys

I nad been meaning to tell you about the Norwegian Barbie Boys for a couple of days. Have been told that there is some song about “Barbie Girls”. Starting this weekend, a number of the guys were going to dye their hair in a Norwegian flag pattern in honor of Independence day. Apparently no luck in finding blue.

So they were singing this song, and one about blondes having more fun. The end result was some hair bleaching and some pretty awful yellow dye on a couple of men’s heads. It all would have stopped, but for the 2IC, who just about lost it. She neither liked the style, nor the option of head shaving, which was the alternative the two-three unrepentant young soldiers

The fad is spreading among them. MAJ Torp and I really think the whole thing is pretty funny, because they are obviously doing it for the reaction. It is not technically illegal – hair length with in limits and hair color “could” be considered a natural color. What else would one expect out of some bored young folks?

Otherwise – the weather did break today and the fog burned off by 10 am. Chopper did get to Taszar and picked up our folks who have been there since last weekend and the commander and ER doc as well. After a quick refuel stop here and the rest of us loading it was off to Sarajevo.

We got dropped off at the German Field Hospital, did a bit of searching around and got taken to the auditorium only about 15 minutes later. The theme of the conference was “the limits of surgery in the Field environment”. Dr Becker at least had a good sense of humor about us
being a bit later. Turned out docs were there from 14 of the participating nations and about 50 all told. The Neurosurgeon presented why having a neurosurgeon was a waste of time, the Urologist said it unfortunately made sense for him to be there. no one questioned the need for ortho and general surgery.

After the presentations, we talked around and ate. Then we went and hung out at one of their rec areas, folks who were not familiar with the hospital got a tour. Three of the docs consulted on different patients, and then we went and had dinner. A number of the docs are from the Ulm Bundeswehr Hospital and we are going to do what we can to maintain a relationship after the deployment has finished.

The Brits had come in on the Zebra bird. Still shudder when I look at that paint job. Headed back out to ours on time and had to wait until the crew was done doing the “compare the chopper” drill with the Italian crews that are stationed there.

Uneventful, but beautiful flight over the mountains on the way back. Can see new construction every trip.

time to crash – morning is going to come more than early!

22 May 1998, Friday- BuB

What should I tell you – finished a couple more mysteries, made a pot of coffee today – did some policies – nah, that is the boring stuff.

We did crank through morning staff meeting, LTC Morgan, the ER doc who is temp on loan from Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio to Taszar, came down with Kathy yesterday to go to Sarajevo and then is staying for a couple of days. He pitched right in this morning and I volunteered him to present to the international meeting tomorrow – we will be sending him back to Texas with a set of new experiences. Still have not arranged his SISU ride or chance to see some of the base camps.

Had a chance to get Kathy our command briefing, a demo of the SISU’s, a tour of the place, then gave her a chance to visit with a lot of the soldiers here.

We did the run over to Tuzla main this afternoon, with, of course, the mandatory PX stop. No dummy cords so will look at our base in the morning. We then wandered over to the Division Surgeons office and introduced her around. I went off to the BuB and came back, adding a person to the convoy.

There has been an empty dental slot in one of the units for months now. A cursed slot, one might say. The previous holders of the job have all had an exceedingly bad time of it. The new dentist in got held up in Germany for a couple of weeks waiting on STX training and at some point, her orders got changed to read 1AD rather than 2ACR. Upshot is that I brought her home with us for the weekend. We found her a place to stay and hooked her up with
The two dental officers that are here at the present. Figure the two of them Can get her oriented to the area and the equipment that is new to the operation and all. Better, hopefully, than spending the weekend by herself over on Tuzla. End assignment is likely going to be down at Camp Demi. Since the 261st has a couple of soldiers down there, have people who can get her there and get settled.

The scary thing is that all these young docs don’t look old enough to me to be let out of high school, much less done with professional school.

Grabbed late night peanut butter toast and then went over to the barn to find Torp and Rotmil. Talked about the meetings scheduled for the end of the week on future organization of medical support Norwegian/Swedish/US. Planned tomorrow’s departure to Pecs – Paul will be unable to come, as he is the doc on the second response team. There is a commitment to have two teams always available, with the doc from the third team being on leave.

Off to bed – might, just might, try getting up early.


23 May 1998, Saturday- Dancing in Pecs – long

It was a great day – the fog burned off and we were able to wheels up by
1000. Plan was as follows – drop the CSM, myself and MAJ Torp in Pecs,
LTC N-W and a couple of more folks up in Taszar, chopper to return to Blue

Since we had six pax – the crew was the pilots and crew chief – I got To hang out in the left flight medic seat AND have a head set. It is always nice to hear what is transpiring. Anyway – we took off, then got involved with a discussion about where we were going to land in Pecs – turns out there is no landing place at the SFOR base, so there is a small civilian field. But they weren’t going to be open till 1130. Well, they were open, but customs wasn’t going to be there till 1130. I still am clueless as to why Hungarian customs thought they had to be there, but the ops folks finally convinced them that we were a different chopper than the one from Zargrev, and they really didn’t want us flying around in circles for ½ an hour. Both the gliders and the remote control folks would not have liked that.

we got permission to land, got dropped off and then spent 30 minutes filling out some wonderful forms. I do think that bureaucracy is international. Poor guy, he has this Norwegian and an American and we are all communicating in German. He wants passports – we have SFOR cards, well, you get the idea.

The Finnish CPT who picked us up thought the whole thing was pretty funny, got us a ride over to Annelia to secure our battle rattle, then on to downtown where we checked in to the hotel, then walked around. Both the CSM and I felt pretty naked, weapons less after all these weeks.

The medal parade was on a main square right near downtown. Picture a U shaped building with the open end toward a park. Up near the steps going up to the buildings were a number of local folks. On the open side was a small roped off area with chairs. Between was a whole
lot of cobblestones for steps, and marching around. It seemed like the usual suspects were there – got to see Kathy N-W again – she came down with her Chief of Staff and the Vet from Taszar on the American side. On the NordPole side – this is the log support base, also all five countries represented, with the BN CDR from both Poland and Finland being present as well as senior reps out of the rest of the BTN’s. Gen Rimpi, the BDE commander was present,
having had an absolutely lousy ride up from the HQ.

The Hungarian’s provide the military band which was on the right. First to march out was the NATO color guard which went to the far left, next to it, the Hungarian colors. Lastly came the units out, and lined up facing the audience, left to right were the Danes, Fins, Norwegians, Poles and Swedes. The Senior commander first pinned the medals on the senior rep from each
nation, then they pinned the folks in their detachments. Speeches, marching out and all of that. 30 minutes start to finish.

I know, I know – you are wondering about the dancing.

We went to one of the main halls along the pedestrian zone about four blocksaway for a lovely reception, fluids, foods, fruit, munchies. We drifted around for about 1-2 hours – talking to just about everyone, meeting the folks in from Zagrev, talking to the LTC from the Norwegian contingent about how she finds the area to talking to the Brits about who can carry
swagger sticks as part of the uniform <2 Irish infantry regiments only>. Even met the “JAG” contingent who seemed to be on an eating campaign.

The three of us, plus a bunch of NorMedCoy who were either up for a weekend off, a short course or the ceremony walked back to the hotel. I tool a break, wandered about a little and rested, the guys went out for a beer, then took a nap.

At 1900, we all piled into a car headed out to the SFOR base to the BBQ and dance and the NorMedCoy S-4> tight fit but we made it. They had steaks, vegies and some decent salads. I took extra vegies, the CSM ate my steak. We have this drill worked out pretty well!

The disco DJ’s started up about 2000. There are the five of us sitting there. I have always been the basic wallflower – you know – female geek =. My husband, dear love that he is, does not rate dancing very highly on his list of “things to go and do”. First time in my life where not only are there more men than women, but these guys LIKE to dance! Torp and I went
through a bunch of the oldies, the FinBat commander and I went through a bit of the more modern disco. This was held in a converted ware house with rows of long tables set along one wall, a temp wall down the middle with storage behind it and the dance floor, cement up in front complete with LOUD speakers, flashing lights and smoke machine.

At about 2230, the CSM, and the other two decided to wander off and cruise some bars and “places” downtown, leaving Torp and I to finish out the evening. About 0030, my knees finally cried enough and headed back to the hotel. It was nice to be able to relax and not be “in the fish bowl” in front of my soldiers for the evening. LTC K told me it was the
First time he had every danced with a colonel. have to keep remembering that other militaries just do not have the number of women that we do!

Read for a while after getting back, the drunks in the hall and out in the courtyard did not quiet down until 0400

24 May 1998- back at Blue Factory

In Pecs, the street in front of the hotel was noisy by 0700 and I gave up, ran a tub and soaked for a long time. At home, showers, but there is something about being able to take a tub bath, both to soak out the aches, and because you normally don’t have one available.

Knocked on the other doors about 0900, Svein was alive and up, nothing from the CSM. So the two of us who were up went and had breakfast,, went out and walked about, went up to the park, then found cappuccino.

Went back and found the rest of the NorMedCoy gang in the lobby getting ready to head out, got the luggage, the CSM, paid our bills. Since he missed breakfast, we went out for coffee, then took a cab over to SFOR and picked up the flak vests and kevlar. Had an interesting discussion with the Hungarian cab driver who spoke no English and even less German. We
needed to go next out to the little airfield. Torp thought the guy understood – then I hear him talking on the radio – saying BUDAPEST – which is a long ways away – but is THE airport. I scrounged up one of the gate guards who did speak Hungarian. Had a disappointed cabby who would up with an 8 km trip worth about 15DM including all the stops for all three – not the gold mine he had thought.

Got to the airfield with 30 minutes to spare, and watched the glider taking off, circling and landing. Seemed like they managed about every five minutes – had two winches – so the pickup brought back the hooks every to launches.

Chopper arrived right on time – and THEN the customs guy wants us to do forms. ok, so we do forms. head back to Blue Factory. Guess we should consider our selves lucky – we had originally been told we would have to go to Taszar to leave today because customs doesn’t work on Sunday. Apparently SFOR did tell the Hungarian Customs that their working hours were there problems, and that we did not require customs. So they showed up on Sunday and we were allowed to leave .

It had been over cast in Pecs. By the time we got over Hungary and into Croatia, the sun was shining. Our route took us to Slav Brod and over the Sava. I am still chilled by the difference between the northern and southern bank. Industry intact and rebuilt on the north, kilometers of bombed out houses in the Republic of Srbska on the southern side. Flew over Modrica as
well, the Norwegian base is all nice buildings, well ordered rows of vehicles from the air, no tents.

Flew past one middle ages castle out on a promontory – going to have to see what it is near and when it was destroyed – the walls look older than the lower half of the Heidelberg castle – and it is out on the edge of a shear cliff – connected to the rest of the mountain only by a wooden foot bridge.

Got back by 1420, rounded up our weapons, dropped off gear, grabbed lunch then crashed for a while, bit of sunshine, bit of nap.

dinner about 1900 – baked potato with guacamole, salads, rolls. And of course ice cream followed by coffee over at the barn.

Time to crash – have to get up in the morning – move a few papers and decide what I want to say to the group tomorrow for Memorial Day.

25 May 1998- Memorial Day

Just what we needed today – pouring rain. Plus, of course, the other base camps had not figured out that this was supposed to be a holiday. Fair amount of folks showed up for sick all etc.

I wandered over to eat right before 0900. Found that there was a prayer breakfast going on. Tried to sit to the far back and away from all the goings on, just would have looked too strange to pack up my stuff and leave. So instead I ate all the maracuja that was left so that it would not be thrown out. Had a chance to talk to a couple of the Medevac soldiers, and
one of the young soldiers from D/261 who is interested in becoming a pilot. So have made a commitment to write him a letter of recommendation and try to figure out how to get him a DA photo done so that his packet is complete by July for the 1 Sept selection board.

Did some email, wandered around, talked with folks – management by wandering around I guess.

Right before 1500 decided that I really should get out of PT clothes and figure out what I was going to say for the 1600 formation. Never did really get anything written down. Since it was pouring, the 159th moved “stuff” out of one of the Rupp hangers and we held a mass formation inside. SSG Davis sang the Star Spangled banner – he has a wonderful voice and it is so much nicer to have live voice than canned music. Chaplain did his thing. My turn.

Managed to say about three- four minutes about
1) past history of US military service
2) why to remember
3) why we should remember that war affects more than just the military.
4) why we are in Bosnia – and the 71 killed by mortar attack in Tuzla 25 May 1995.
5) why we will continue to work with every one else and use past examples to do our best.

played taps.

then everyone moved next door for the BBQ – had all of us, almost the entire NorMedCoy and all of our local national employees participate. One of the docs is a violinist – he played several selections, had a variety of CD’s, a couple of relay races, some games and then everyone sort of wandered around.

The rain did stop right about 1700.

Went over to the Barn for a while to talk to Paul and Svein and just “sort of be seen”. Getting some ice cream from the dining facility and heading to bed. morning will come all too early.

26 May 1998, Tuesday- 0dark30

Would you believe some days just drag on forever?

This morning was fine – a chance to have some breakfast, talk to a few people. Well, then the LTC who is the RSS commander over on Guardian Base came over to see me with his agenda – most of which was related to his interpretation of the uniform policy and concerns about alcohol. He really has a problem with our folks associating with the Nords and spending
time in the Barn. Now we have had two problems since last Oct and both were off post. He has two to three a month. From my point of view – alcohol is NOT available to my folks, we watch it closely and people still get the socialization and make friends. Hoo-ah, will be really glad when they start leaving next month.

Then had to talk to some of the folks in Central Region about staffing, personnel and equipment. This wound up making me about 30 minutes late on the convoy start to Eagle Main. I honestly hate being late for stuff, but was glad that I had built the extra time into the schedule. Dropped off my S-3 with the Division surgeon to get him his TOC pass so that he is now legal in the building and I rattled around to join the CG’s BDE Commanders meeting.

I should have known something was up when there was a lunch sandwich spread in the back. I had been given a 1300-1630 for this meeting. At the 1615 break – I told the crew that convoy would not roll back till 1800. At 1900 I told them to go home.

After listening to a lot of stuff that affected me and some that did not we finally wandered over to another building for dinner. At this point I was starting to figure this for an all nighter.

It went on for a long time – like we finished at 23:30. At that point – the division C of Staff said that there was guest billeting available. I stopped up to the DivSurg to call home and found out that there was transportation arranged for me.

So, CPT Aune and one of the other Norwegians came over in a softskin and picked me up at 0030. It was heavily fogged in, and the drive was horrible.

really glad to be back, morning will come all too soon.


27 May 1998, Wednesday- Meetings and Exercises

I was barely able to crawl out of bed this morning. Have recovered fully from the weekend in Pecs and can do the stairs without pain, just was tired from not crashing till 0130 or so. And there were soooo many cheerful people at 0700 at breakfast.

By 1000 staff meeting – had made it through only 15 of the 35 email messages in the box. Did not finish the disciplinary action that I have outstanding and barely got a chance to call home.

Considering we had not done the staff drill since Friday we managed. Got through all 30+ people in less than an hour. Then had to do the phone teleconf with 30th. gave them a whole bunch of fun things that seemed to fallen through some of the cracks over the last few weeks. Got a chance then to grab lunch, get through some papers and sit down with Torp and see
how to get out of an exercise that someone “out of control” seemed to have stuck us in the middle of. Worked this one with the DivSurg and think we may have come up with a way to let folks save face while getting us out of the lead of a theater wide medical exercise that has no attached authorization or funding. I, for one, am not walking in to the CG and asking him to take the only airbase out of commission for three days. Not that stupid, no way.

Also finished out the evacuation of one of the Brown and Root employees, The trauma and surgical teams did a great job then he and his employers decided that Geneva is the way to go, so he was on his way a few hours after arrival.

In the middle of all of this fun, my deputy, XO or 2IC got back down. Rick being here will make my life much easier, may even not have to personally track suspenses, but less excuses for having paper all over the desk. maybe do long range planning – anything beyond next Tuesday!.

After supper went over to the Barn, watched the last part of the Soccer game, Norway winning 6-0. then sitting down with Torp and a number of the Norwegian planners and national reps who are in discussing the future of equipment and NorMedCoy. After about an hour outside we were all freezing and moved inside. Two of the log folks were here a couple of weeks ago, and the senior member of their NSG came down from Pecs. She stayed at the party on Saturday even longer than we did, and confirmed what I thought, in terms of it was mostly “us” after about 2300 on the dance floor.

Had folks in the unit finishing up the last of the Base camp assessments , out doing more redeployment screening, got my senior dentist back from Demi and had training in a number of locations between NordPole/NorMedCoy and us in preparation for the next round of MasCals and rail support.

lots of busy folks. now all I have to do is figure out how many are coming in this weekend for Shabbat and Shavout, make sure that we have at least “some food” and enough beds. action officer, right, I can do that

it’s late, I am tired.

28 May 1998, Thursday- Negotiations

Did get up – changed finally into summer weight uniforms – decided that a second warm day in a row was excuse enough!

Thurs is one of my “get stuff done in what ever order that I want days.” Normally no scheduled meetings. So instead I spent time with the XO, signed a bunch of stuff, went to a meeting with the Swedish and Norwegian reps about next falls rotation and medical requirements.

We broke for coffee, then finished up for lunch. Early in the afternoon we met again for a few minutes. Made a quick run over to Camp Odin, then on to Tuzla Main with the Nords to show the travel distances. Then landed at my desk since then, still under two feet of paper snow.

This afternoon we ran an unannounced exercise on the MEDEVAC and responders – on a regular basis the 159th has to exercise emergency response and fire response. So a controller declared a “problem landing” as they were running a routine practice drop off with an emergency team on board. Was really interesting – all of sudden they were doing a whole response that had not been announced. took a few minutes, but it ran fine, fire fighters,
medics, the whole bit. the AAR tomorrow ought to be really interesting.

need some sleep – having breakfast with the departing Norwegian home office people before they leave for Modrica at 0630!

29 May 1998, Friday- way too late

I have no really good idea why I am still up – or rather, I am just trying to get some stuff finished up.

I was up at 0530 to meet the two officers of the Norwegian Army at 0600 for breakfast before they left for Modrica and Zagrev.

I tried to empty out my mailbox, had the Friday morning staff meeting and then wandered around for a while, being sociable and worrying everyone. It was a day for visitors on the compound with three different generals headed over to Guardian, but we fortunately missed them all. The crew was supposed to have run motor stables, and will have to sort all of that out as not everyone managed to get over.

With the security issues still a bit high, we skipped some unnecessary convoys and sent a few folks out with the Norwegians. I headed over early to the BuB with four vehicles – let the convoy pick up Rabbi Romer for services tonight and Shavout tomorrow and head back to base. I went to the Bub, came back by chopper and had time for supper, stopped to talk to a few folks and still managed to get hooked into services. There is one of the kids in the
signal van out back and one young man came up from Dobol. few more are inbound tomorrow – housing here is not a problem, and it is easy to re-organize the conference room. Will do rematch at 1000.

Have the physicians meeting at 1030. Stars and Stripes wanting to talk to us about telemedicine in the afternoon. We have the SwedeMedUnit commander in town, seems like this may work out – but have a whole briefing for him in the afternoon.

Anyway – spent time with the crew at the barn, discovered it is harder to dance in BDU’s, boots and in the barn than in Pecs. oh well, we all still had fun, there are a few folks that are really good, out of 159th and NorMedCoy.

30 May 1998, Saturday – too many things, to little time

Tonight is better, at least I think I will make it to bed before midnight.

After being up till 0200 was back up at 0700 to have breakfast with visitors and then make sure that the whole days schedule is going to run. Found a pair of glasses from 5 years ago that for some reason came with, so I have an option on non RPG but they are not bifocals and don’t quite work as well as I would like. But I can now see well enough to tear my room apart to find the military glasses.

Normally Saturday is a decent day for me – we have the physicians meeting at 1030 with little else scheduled. Today, have the Rabbi here and +/- services at 1000 if anyone shows/ is interested. Have the Medical meeting. Have a briefing for the Swedish Medical Unit commander, have Stars and Stripes at 1400.

So anyway. Had two folks convoy in from the southern camps so that there were three of us sort of looking at this weeks Torah portion and discussing both military size of units in ancient Judah and the difficulties of being any kind of minority religion in a deployed environment. Interesting – back a couple of battalions, the Swedes had 590 Lutherans, 5 Catholics and 5 Atheists out of 600. We are a bit more diverse than that!

The medical meeting looked at small pox. Had lunch, then did the briefing for the Swedish Commander. Got the schedule straightened out for Rabbi Romer for the duration of his visit, he goes out on Patrol with the SISU’s tomorrow and up to McGovern and Colt on my PM convoy on Monday. Chance to see the countryside, meeting folks and hunt for any stragglers.

Joined the crew at the Barn for a while. The increased command presence on the part of Torp, myself and the CSM is actually increasing the participation of all the folks. 1 June is apparently another holiday – Whitsun I believe. So everyone comes back in off of Hot Spot patrols tonite and will be up late on the NorMedCoy side.


31 May 1998- quiet Sunday

Operations were rather intense in the Northern sectors today, so NorMedCoy was down to almost nothing and no one went up into NordPole who did not need to be there. The visiting chaplains stayed close to home and spent the day wandering around camp and talking to folks. Only feedback I have gotten so far is that my folks seem to be doing ok, and that they all have noticed that I don’t smile as much as I did before the deployment. Scary thought.

Have not yet heard from my doc headed back on emergency leave or the other two I have out there under similar circumstances. Rest of the crew do seem to be holding their own.

Wonderful sunshine – so have an awful lot of folks out working on their skin cancers. Have to take a look at what my civil affairs personnel are doing, both to ensure that they are working and playing well with others and following my agenda rather than theirs.

Wound up not going over to Camp Oden or around because of the graveyard visits, threatened Masses and other fun things in the north, so instead worked on the strategies with the NorMedCoy for some of the upcoming operations, with my own folks on the SFOR3/SFOR4 documents for staffing and equipment and started some long promised drills on the Norwegian Language. I finally have gotten frustrated enough about “language on the edge of awareness” that I want to be able to know whether I am understanding some of it or not. And since I have been working with a number of the folks on their English…. I find it kind of like Dutch, sounds enough like German that I think I should be able to understand it and get frustrated that I don’t. And of course, it is not like I don’t
have anything else to do – grin.

Met again with the Swedish folks, watched the round robin on volley ball, took a nap, ate supper, came back and cleared out my email. I am now headed back over to the Barn to do the last of the “command stuff”. It is the hardest part of the deployment for me, by nature I am not the worlds most social person nor do I like loud noise, lots of people or smoking. so – it is time to take the deep breath, lock my weapon up in my room and go do “the parent/commander bit.


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