Fort Benning: Another chapter down

Earlier this week my husband, two dogs (Scrappy and Eli) and I closed in on another chapter in our lives at Fort Benning. Ryan was there for the Maneuver Captain’s Career Course, and I was working as a journalist at the Bayonet & Saber newspaper in the Fort Benning Public Affairs Office. Fortunately, I can say that I was lucky enough to end my time there with one of the biggest events and stories of the year: The Lt. Gen. David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition.

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The Best Ranger Competition was the most interesting event I have covered. The competition involves 50 teams of two, who compete in a rigorous three-day, 60-hour event. It was so cool to see the kick off and the final buddy run at the end, and everything in between. I also met Capt. Kristen Griest, one of the first females to graduate Ranger School! I have now met both πŸ™‚

I had the opportunity to embrace new adventures, too! I conquered my fear of heights and stairs and climbed the Ranger tower at Victory Pond. It was so worth it for the pictures and footage we got! (See below.)

I wrote two stories on the competition: Best Ranger Competition creates new challenges and National Guard team captures Best Ranger title.

Both stories were so fun to write. Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy came for the awards ceremony, so that was so cool to hear him speak! He even retweeted a few of my tweets β€” he’s very active on social media! πŸ™‚

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Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy speaking at the Best Ranger Competition awards ceremony at Fort Benning.

I was also so excited to see Capt. Robert Killian win. His family spoke with me the first day of the competition and they knew it was his year. It was a perfect story.

Along with our team we have some amazing photographers! You can check out all their Ranger competition photos at www.fortbenningphotos.com. Some photos were featured in the ArmyTimes!

On that note, I was glad to end my time at Fort Benning writing such fun stories; however, I’m extremely sad to leave such a great team! All of my coworkers were so talented, smart and beyond funny! But I know we will all keep in touch!

Now on to the other exciting news in my life: I have officially accepted a position as a Web Specialist II with Syracuse University’s Institute of Veterans and Military Families. Working at SU was a dream of mine since I was young β€” it feels so surreal!

I’m so thankful to have had our wonderful and fun chapter at Fort Benning. I will miss all of our friends we have made β€” that is one of the hardest parts about being in the military community, you always have to leave your friends! 😦

But on a positive note,Β  I am also excited to start our new chapter in New York. It is bittersweet.

As my good friend Courtney said, “You may be going to New York, but you’ll always be a Georgia Peach!”

We are currently in Florida spending some time with family before we head up north. We are also going to New Orleans (my fourth time β€” it’s my favorite!) next week. I can’t wait!

 

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Time for an update!

So, there have been a lot of things going on lately that have been keeping me extremely busy and unable to post, and a lack of any unique weather scenarios. With that said, I thought I would bring my audience up to date on my life and let you know where I stand today. (Side note: I apologize for the strange spacing in this post. I tried fixing it, but not sure why it won’t adjust!)

Before I get into details on updates, I wanted to mention that it has now been one year since we lost our dog, Toby. He was taken from us too soon due to a rare medical condition. In lieu of March Madness approaching us, I’m sharing this photo of him in his Syracuse gear. He always had fun cheering on our favorite teams with us! We miss him every single day, and we can’t wait to see him again.

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Speaking of March Madness, Selection Sunday is today! My alma mater, St. Bonaventure, had a great basketball season β€” both men and women. The men lost to Davidson on Friday in the A10 conference tournament, but they should still be able to get a decent seed in the big dance. We found out about the women’s team on Monday. I can’t wait to watch; it’s my favorite time of the year!

Here are my updates:

  1. Surgery. Last month, right after my last blog post, I had to get sinus surgery β€” a septoturbinoplasty. This put me out of work for awhile. I’ve always had issues with my allergies and sinuses, and never really had a day in my life without sinus pressure or pain. My left nostril was completely blocked.

    Well, I can now say that I can fully breathe through my nose now β€” especially after getting my splints out. I never felt so much air! I have still been feeling a bit of sinus pressure, but that is normal for the first few months following surgery. I go back next week for a follow-up, and hopefully everything is good so I don’t need to have anything else done. I would share the hilarious and somewhat disgusting photos of my mask, splints, etc., but figured it may be too much for the blog πŸ™‚

  2. Etsy. I finally was able to dedicate time to my Etsy shop: MagicCatDesign. I offer graphic design services and various paper printables. I added some invitations and wall art, and I will be adding some more items very soon! I also created an Instagram account for the shop, and you can follow it at @MagicCatDesign. Below are some items available in the shop.

     

  3. My job. Several things have happened at my current job as a Journalist for the Bayonet & Saber newspaper on Fort Benning. First, two of our writers recently left β€” Noelle, who had been there for over a year, got a job in Savannah and Anna, who had been there about a year, just moved to Fort Drum, New York (where we are going soon!) Since they left we got two new writers, Danielle and Kellie, and they are great! So I’ve been busy with taking extra work as well as training. It is definitely exhausting, but lots of fun … I am happy to work with them! πŸ™‚

    Second, one of my stories served as the lead story on www.army.mil for a few days! This was the first time one of my stories became top news. It was very exciting! You can read the story here: British and US troops collaborate in technology experiments.
    Third, another first for me was designing the layout for the newspaper. Check it out below! It could use some work for the next time, but I’m learning!

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    Fourth, I had the pleasure of meeting Brigadier General Malcolm Frost, Chief of Public Affairs of the United States Army. Frost talked to Armor Basic Officer Leaders Course, Infantry Basic Officer Leaders Course and Maneuver Captains Career Course students about leadership and public affairs. He had a lot of great information! He explained how when sending the message of the Army to those outside the Army, it is important to talk about all the good the Army does for its Soldiers and families. He mentioned the misconceptions people have, such as it being a “last resort” for most Soldiers, and that the Army does not take care of families (but it very much does … more than any other employer, in my opinion.) He was an excellent speaker and really motivated all of us to help brand the Army. He also took some selfies with the Soldiers!

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    Fifth (last by not least), I had the opportunity to attend another Ranger School graduation. I covered a story on a fourth generation Ranger β€” very cool experience! That story will be on the www.BayonetandSaber.com website soon. Below is a slideshow of some pictures I took at the graduation. You can view more at www.fortbenningphotos.com β€” a website that is always updated with the happenings around Fort Benning. Markeith and Patrick are great photographers!

  4. Creating an animal rescue business. I unfortunately can’t give too many details on this, but my friend, Sandy, and I are working on creating an organization that raises the awareness of animals in need. We still have a little while until we go live, but I’ll be sure to post updates as they come … stay tuned!
  5. Moving. As I have mentioned in previous posts, we are soon moving to Fort Drum! Hours after work have been filled with trying to find places to live. Hopefully we find something soon!

Those are the updates on things that put a stop on my blogging lately. I hope to have more time to post with all that is going on!

In honor of Toby, always remember to keep your pets close. You never know when something can happen. I think of Toby and all my other pets every day, and the big impact they had on my life. It is a love like no other!

I hope everyone has a great Selection Sunday! Go Bonnies and Cuse!

 

 

 

 

Lightning injures Army Ranger School students and instructors

Forty Ranger school students and four Ranger school instructors were injured by a lightning strike during a lightning protection protocol training on Wednesday. Nine students and two instructors remained hospitalized overnight to ensure they were okay. Fortunately, no one suffered serious injuries.Β  All 44 soldiers returned to duty on Thursday.

The lightning struck at approximately 4:55 p.m. Central time on Wednesday at Eglin Air Force Base in northern Florida. The students were two-thirds away from completing the last phase of Ranger School, the Florida Phase (also called the Swamp Phase).

Light in dark red sky. Source: iStock The United State Army Ranger School is an extremely rough combat leadership course that lasts for 61 days. There are three phases that must be completed: Fort Benning Phase, Mountain Phase, and Florida Phase (to read more about these phases and what they include, click here). Ranger School is the Army’s most challenging course. The school is assured to test a student’s abilities to focus mentally and physically under extreme conditions. The daily fight to stay awake and go without food for long periods of time is just the beginning of the strenuous situations the students go through. Losing tremendous amounts of weight and ruck marching for almost 15-20 miles a day takes a large toll on the body. Each student, successful or not, returns to their unit as a more experienced Soldier and has become an established leader.

I had my very own experience with Ranger School as my husband, my boyfriend at the time, enrolled in this course. He left October 9, 2011 and passed each phase on the first try. He completed the school and graduated on December 9, 2011. This is also a difficult time on relationships as the only way to communicate with the Ranger is through writing letters, with the exception of quick phone calls at the end of each phase. So not only do the soldiers go through the agony of the phases above, but they also are disconnected from family and friends. As I stated above, each student who attends this course will always come back a stronger person and a great leader.

Sources: USA Today and Army Times