Monday, May 3

We had our farewell ceremony this past Sunday. We had a lunch buffet at a club on post with all our families and VIPs and colleagues from our home states of Oklahoma and Kansas National Guards. There were of course some speeches, including one from yours truly. We also showed a 15 minute slide show of our training and other work we've done in Topeka and at Fort Riley. We presented a couple of awards to soldiers that have shined in these first two months.

Melissa planned a whole weekend of activities for the families of the soldiers and even found a way to fund their hotel rooms, a few meals, and the cost of renting the club. She worked her tail off and justly earned the Command Coins presented to her by the State Command Sergeant Major and The Adjutant General. Now I'm jealous. I don't have any Command Coins-- and I'm the one in the Army! :-)

We're leaving later this week. I can't get specific on the web. We'll be flying military air directly to Afghanistan with one or two refueling stops. Please pray with us for a safe and quick flight.

Things will be a little hectic the first few weeks and I won't have 'connectivity' during our travel, so you may not hear much from me for a while. But rest assured you will all be on my mind and I'll be maintaining my paper journal along the way so will hopefully remember the highlights to share with you later.

Here are a few more pictures from the Reflex Fire Range. This range is designed to train our reflexes in reacting to a target, aiming quickly, and squeezing off a controlled burst of fire. In the first photo we're in the bleachers waiting for the safety briefing.

In this photo you can see me next to the safety officer transitioning from the weapon 'low ready' position while walking alertly, to the point that I'm drawing a bead on the target that just popped up. Yes, the target looks close-- and definitely was too close. However, the idea is that when you're in an urban environment you might be that close when someone pops out of a doorway and you want to be quicker than him.

Here's a close-up as I'm firing at the target.

Well, it's late. Take care y'all, and keep in touch!

-- Rick

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