Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Demobilizing at Shelby

As I mentioned previously, I was struck by a wall of humidity when I stepped off the plane and it never went away the 3+ days we were at Shelby. But you know what, I wasn’t wearing body armor, I wasn’t carrying any weapons and for most of the time I was in shorts and a t-shirt, so I didn’t mind as much.

There was certainly a feeling of deja vuz being back at Shelby. The senior officers and NCO’s stayed in the same place we did when we were there the first time. It would have been really weird had I gotten the exact same room but I was in a different one but I couldn’t tell when I walked in as it was the exact same layout, same furniture, same everything.

Shelby was just as beautiful. One evening I took my camera and just walked around the base. There’s a small lake on post, Walker Lake. It’s an incredibly beautiful scene, as you’ll be able to tell from the pictures. There are about 6-7 cabins around the lake that look like they would be pretty nice to stay in. That was the only thing I’d missed about Shelby was the green and beauty.

The first night in the chow hall I realized just how spoiled/blessed I had been. Food is a huge morale booster so the military does a good job of feeding their troops. You’ve already read about Friday night “surf and turf” but I don’t think I’ve mentioned just how much food was available. There were always at least two – three entres to choose from, in addition to the ever present grilled cheese sandwiches, hotdogs and hamburgers. After the entres there were vegetables, a full salad bar, a short order bar (wings, mini-pizzas, corn dogs, fries, onion rings, cheese sticks, etc.), a bar that rotated between being a potato bar, Asian food bar, Mexican, etc. and then dessert – cake, pies and usually 4-5 flavors of Baskin Robbins ice cream to chose from. Yes, the possibility of getting fat was a very real threat but of course, when faced with this kind of food every day for a year you get “tired” of it and can very easily complain. (I tried very hard not to because I knew there were guys down range eating MRE’s, cooking for themselves or eating much worse.) So, coming from all that back to Shelby was quite the shock. The choice was between left over spaghetti and smashed ham sandwiches. I surveyed the slim pickin’s and decided to have salad. I walked over to the salad bar and the only choices were iceburg lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. I opted for the leftover spaghetti. All of a sudden, I was missing the chow hall at Phoenix, not missing being there mind you, just missing the vast quantity of food and choices.

Out processing was actually quite painless. I was so grateful to have gotten my hearing test done the day before as that speeded things up quite a bit. I made the smart tactical decision to hit the nursing/records review first. There was no one in line and I got through in about 3 minutes. I then went to immunization and had them sign me off – again, I had the brilliant forethought and had all my shots updated before I left Phoenix. I then went to a couple of other stations and then noticed that the line had grown considerably at the nursing station. In fact, that proved to be the bottle neck for the rest of the day so was infinitely grateful that I had gotten it out of the way.

After medical we went to another building to finish up financial, personnel and the rest of the records review. Again, the “out processing gods” were smiling upon me as I was done by 1400. I had to skip lunch to do that but it was so worth it as some guys didn’t get finished until almost 1800 that night and a few actually didn’t get finished. Because I got done so early I was able to go to the gym and then take my photo safari around the lake.

Because the next day was used to finish all the last minute details and I was done, I was able to do what I wanted. I went to the gym that morning and ran into Aaron. He said that there was a group of guys who were going to the pool later so after I worked up a sweat on the elliptical I went over to the pool for a while.

It was there that I was informed that I wasn’t done after all. Turns out that there was a problem with one of my documents that while an inconvenience was fixed without too much problem.

The rest of the day was spent anticipating the flight home the next day. That night I went out to dinner with a bunch of other guys and had a great time. Since we had to muster at 0330 the next morning I didn’t stay up too late watching TV.

All in all, demobing proved to not be as bad as I thought it was going to be.

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