I was born on 8 October 1969 in Seattle, Washington. I grew up in Lynnwood, Wa until I was about 10 when my family moved to Bellevue, Wa. Most of my memories from growing up are from that house. When I was 15 or 16 I started racing Outboard Hydroplanes. Also at that same timeframe one of my friends introduced me to the sport of Paintball playing and I have been playing ever since
I graduated from Interlake High School in June 1988. I enlisted, by way of the delayed entry program in April 1988. I wanted to finish the racing season so I shipped out for the Army in Oct 1988, 5 days after my 19th birthday. I attended Basic Training at Ft Dix, New Jersey from October to December 1988. I attended AIT at Ft Eustis, Virginia from January to February 1989. I graduated AIT as Distinguished Honor Graduate.
I was assigned to the 309th Transportation Company Ft Story, Virginia from February 1989 to June 1993. I attended Lifeguard School in March 1989 at Eustis, I had been inprocessing into 309th when the Training NCO asked for a volunteer for Lifeguard School. My first summer at Story I was a Lifeguard on the beaches of Story. It was a great life, I worked 3 days on, 3 days off and was getting paid to be at the beach and scope out the opposite sex every 3 days.
I attended Water Safety Instructor School in December 1989 at Eustis also. I was assigned to the LARC LX 16, 17, 20 and 47. I was also assigned as the Communications NCO, NBC NCO, Assistant Training NCO, Lifeguard, and 11th Battalion Water Safety Instructor. I participated in Operation Ahas Tara 1989 (Honduras), Steel Edge 1990, Radio Thrust/Dagger Thrust 1992, Ocean Venture 1992/1993, and Resolute Venture 1992/1993. I was a member of Ft Story's Funeral Detail and Color Guard in 1991. On the promotion board I received 195 points. One great thing about being at 309th was that I met several guys who played Paintball and we ended up playing about once per month. I also started surfing in Va Beach. On long weekends we would take road trips to Cape Hatteras, NC and surf all weekend.
I was assigned to the 1097th Transportation Company, Panama from July 1993 to May 1999. I was assigned as a Seaman on the LCM 8503. I was later reassigned to the J-3795. I attended PLDC at Ft Sherman, Panama in August/September 1994 and was subsequently promoted to Sergeant. SHortly after I was promoted I was reassigned to the LCM 8503 again. I attended the Combat Lifesaver Course (CLC) at Albrook Air Force Base, Panama in December 1994. During CLC I was driving my Jeep home one day and it ended up being the day of the big revolt in the Safe Haven camps. I got stopped at 9 checkpoints along the TI. The PNPs were going ballistic checking everyone. The PNPs saw my Military ID and just waved my through, but I still had to wait until I actually got to the checkpoint before I could show them that I was Army. It took 4 hours to get from Albrook to Davis. As soon as I graduated I saw the company was preparing to support Safe Haven. The had the crazy idea that they could build cages in the welldecks of two LCMs, 8502 & 8504. The company was working 24 hours a day to get the LCMs ready. I was employed by the Welding Shop because I did a great deal of welding when I was in high school. In the end the LCMs were never used for Safe Haven.
In early February 95 I wrecked my Jeep going along the TI. My parents and sister came to Panama on a vacation. I played the tour guide. I took them to all of the Spanish Ruins. I took them to El Valle, San Blas the Free Zone and a dozen other places.
While I was playing tour guide the company was starting to implement the plans for the move. I was going to be one of the last to leave Davis. Lovo Frio and I went to Sherman and acquired Bldg 30 so that we would have a place to stay at after Davis closed while we were supporting JOTB. Around April 95 Most of the Company was already on the Pacific Side. The dozen or so remaining on the Atlantic Side were either single or going to leave the unit before Davis was closed. CQ was stopped about that time too, I didn't like that because it made no challenge of trying to sneak women into the barracks. We moved out all of the stuff out of the barracks. By around mid May or early June everything was out of the barracks. I more or less moved into Bldg 30 at Sherman. I had finally gotten my $3000 insurance settlement, which was pocket money because I had already fixed my Jeep. That turned into party money. I was the best friend of everyone that hung out with me because I was not afraid to share my wealth. We would end up going down to Colon every night and pick up several women and take them back to Sherman.
Right before the 4th of July weekend I was finally ordered to move over the the Pacific Side. I had been assigned a room in the Barracks at Clayton in April and had moved a great deal of stuff there, but I had yet to sleep there. I packed some of my stuff that I had at Sherman and headed out to Clayton. I had planned on getting the rest of my stuff from Sherman during the weekend. When I returned to Sherman on the 4th of July I found that someone had broken into Bldg 30 and stolen a whole bunch of my stuff: VCR,Super Nintendo, Sega, CDs, Videos. I thought it was kind of funny that they did not steal my Discman because it was on top of my VCR which they had to move in order to get my VCR.
Things were starting to return to normal now that the unit had finally settled for the present time. Now the Panamanian Government decided to resurface the Bridge of the Americas. You ended up most of the time taking about 1 to 3 hours just to get to Rodman from Clayton. I tried as hard as I could to work at Sherman most of the time. I attended the Watercraft Operator Course, 88K20, at Eustis in October/November 1995. I graduated Distinguished Honor Graduate. After 20 School I was assigned to the LCM 8519 as the Coxswain. More or less I was working at Sherman from the time I got back from school until mid January 1996.
In the first part of January I sailed the LCM 8501 to Almirante, Bocas Del Toro. It took us just under 12 hours to get there. After arrival in Almirante I rode on the LCU 2018 back to Sherman. I was slated to replace one of the people out in Almirante in mid January, but I was told that I needed to replace someone on the LCU 2017 for a mission to the States. I tried to get out of it, who actually wanted to leave Panama, but it did not work. The Vessel Master was Mike Wichterman and the Mate was my old friend Guch. I sailed as the Leading Seaman. It was an interesting time. I did so good of a job I was made a permenant part of the crew. Even though I enjoyed sailing on a 2000, I would rather stay in Panama on an LCM.
While I was on the 2017, I sailed to the states twice, GITMO twice, Belize twice, & PR 4 times. In the 5 months I spent on the 2017 we were in Panama for maybe two weeks total. By about my third month I was made the Boswain. In June of 96 the powers that be finally heard me and returned me to Medium Boat as the Coxswain of the LCM 8519, which I remained until I left Panama in May of 99. Shortly after I returned to the 8519, Lovo Frio broached the 8501 and I broached the 8519 on Pina beach. I had been trained on the LCM by the master himself, Lovo Frio, but we were both stuck pretty good. The textbook maneuver was not working so we tried the Lovo Frio way, putting the boat stern to the beach and going forward out off the beach. I was successful but Lovo was not. I dropped the hook right out of the surf zone and sent Gee Golly to the beach with a line so that I could pull Lovo off. After the line was hooked I tried to pull Lovo off, but could not. The 8519 was desperately low on fuel and with each swell air got into the fuel system causing the engines to get closer and closer to dieing and I was taking on water in my engine room. I told Lovo that I was going to have to go to the pier at the mouth of the Chagres and walk out and call for help.
Lovo was finally pulled off the beach 4 days later by a commercial tug. After the smoke cleared nothing happened to Lovo and I but the Platoon Sergeant got relieved. Both Lovo and I tried to get the Platoon Sergeant back because there was no was she could have stopped what happened because she was at Clayton at the time of the Broaching. The Chain of Command would not hear it.
Act 3: I attended the Basic Non Commissioned Officer Course at Ft Eustis, Virginia from October 1998 to January 1999. I graduated as Distinguished Honor Graduate. My duty appointments include Unit Marine Standardization Examiner, Combat Lifesaver, and Water Safety Instructor. I have sailed in excess of 30,000 nautical miles (over 1/2 of which were in an LCM), carried in excess of 25,000 tons of cargo, and carried over 20,000 passengers. I participated or supported over 40 rotations at the Jungle Operations Training Battalion between 1993 and 1999, Numerous MEDRETE's between 1993 and 1995, Cayuca Race 1994/1995/1999, Safe Haven 1995, Fuertes Defensas 1995/1997, and Clean Sweep 1998. I was sent in December 1997, June 1998, and February 1999 as part of a four person Mobile Training Team to Puerto Rico to teach Small Boat Handling Skills to the US Border Patrol, to include: Navigation Rules, Piloting, Firefighting, Damage Control, Drownproofing, Basic Law Enforcement Techniques, And Boarding/Search Procedures. I was Non Commissioned Officer Of The Month for October 1996, Non Commissioned Officer of the Quarter for 1st Quarter FY 97, and I received 200 points on the promotion board. I was recommended as the National Defense Transportation Association Non Commissioned Officer of the Year for 1997. I was called upon by the Chain of Command for matters concerning LCM Operations, I had the unofficial title of 'Resident Mike Boat Expert'.
While I was in Panama I was burning the candle at both ends. When I got back to the States I was going to try to be an instructor at T-School but they would not take me because I was an E-5 and they only took E-6s. I tried to get a job back in the 309th, one of my friends was the First sergeant, but they were overstrength, so I settled on a nice job in the Harbormaster Tower working on the night shift. I really enjoy my job because I work 7 out of 14 days, but I do have to work each and every holiday weekend and the hours suck. I do have a great deal of time off in the day to do what I please and I also get a 3 day weekend every other weekend. I have started playing Paintball almost every other weekend. I just started a team here and we are planning on playing in tournaments in the fall when they start up again.
My relationship with my wife really petered out. We separated in May 2000 and divorced in October 2001. She's gotten on with her life and I am getting on with mine. I was promoted at the tower to Staff Sergeant on 1 July 2000. In January of 2001 I was appointed as the Operations Sergeant at the Tower. This basically meant I worked longer hours than a coal miner and had to deal with being in charge of the day to day operations in the port. If a boat moved it was because I authorized it!
I went to Cali, Colombia in July and August 2001 where I met my girlfriend Libidia Calero Gomez. After returning from Colombia I was assigned to the 331st Transportation Company (Modular Causeway System). Many people think of Causeway as the graveyard for Fort Eustis. I, on the other hand, really like the company. The unit get treated like the red headed step children of Eustis, but hey, 1097th was always treated as the red headed step children of Panamá. I have a great bunch of guys and have been working overtime to keep them under control as well as learning anything and everything about causeway, which I had no knowledge of prior to the move.
In March 2002 I realized that I needed to seek some help. I had known that I was an alcoholic for quite some time but I had really never wanted to quit drinking and do something about this. In some ways I had never gotten over my ex wife thought she had gotten of with her life without me. I guess it hurt so instead of doing something positive about it I just tried to drink my sorrows away. Most of you will know that this does not work. I have been going to AA at least once a day since and I am really finding a great life that I had forgotten. I have been working on getting Libidia up here for an extended visit and after talking to the INS I found she would be able to stay, legally, for up to 7 months on a tourist visa. I have rough date of about the end of the summer for her to come up and visit.
I was in charge of the inspection of all components of the causeway system which deadlined over half of them. During the summer of 2002 we started getting officially fielded. As it turns out we were never officially given the system and were merely testing the equipment. I oversaw the delivery of over 500 components, most of which were the size of a small house. During the late spring of 2003 about 1/3rd of the unit had been deployed to the sand box and with the remaining personnel of the unit I prepped for a deployment to Washington state. I departed on the Shelia McDivitt in early May 2003 and arrived in Washington ofer Memorial day Weekend. I was definately pretty bummed when we arrived in Panama but could not leave the ship.
Upon completion of the mission in late June I returned to Virginia via plane this time with plans fully underway for a vacation to Panama. Since I had not beeen lucky with the INS about Libidia's Visa I decided to meet her in Panama. I spend 3 glorious weeks with her in Panama. Many thing had changed but some things were the same. I returned, reluctantly, to Virginia and am currently waiting for her to send her Visa application which I will submit up her hopefully with more success. I guess that's all for now. Information as of 30 June 2004.
Libidia finally arrived in the US on 15 August 2005, yeah a full year later than I wanted but it finally happened. We have discussed it in detail and have decided to tie the knot on 15 October 2005. We are planning a small informal ceremony on the James River with a small reception at our house afterwards. I will post pics of the ceremony after we tie the knot, probably Sunday the 16th in the evening. Information as of 28 September 2005.