Archive for the Fort Riley Category


Posted in Fort Riley on April 6, 2007 by brendanbourdage

honorable 3 the honorable three…

“Mine honour is my life, both grow in one.”  this quote from Shakespeare’s Richard II gives important insight into the iraqi culture.  a man’s facial hair, specifically his mustache, is a sign of honor, dignity, and wisdom.  hence, the intrepid members of team 19 have embarked upon a quest to “grow honor”, and our varying and sometimes downright comical attempts are hereby documented.  Magnum, P.I., eat your heart out. 

 first, the standard:      darby     note the fullness of SFC Darby’s honor, and the knowing smirk on his face, acknowledging the depth of his dignity and wisdom.

and now, as a tribute to the greatest spaghetti western of all time, the good, the bad, and the ugly, i present:

the good (as modeled by CPT Ritchie):

  ritchie day 3 this is after only two days of growth.  noteworthy only because of the short time period.

 ritchie-day-4.jpg on day four, the honor is clearly outlined, and, more importantly, shows great potential for exponential increase in honor.

ritchie-final-1.jpg the endstate of mustache #1, showing clear definition, careful tapering to the edge of the mouth, and the dazed, sleepy look that has become the standard classroom facial expression. 

the bad (as modeled by MSG Merrell):

merrell day 1 to be fair, this picture was taken after only two days of not shaving, although it would turn out to be prophetic…

merrell day 4 after four days of growth, MSG Merrell remained the “least honorable” of our group, and things would only go downhill from there.

merrell-final.jpg final picture of MSG Merrell, before he entered a cycle of shaving his honor whenever he became discouraged by it, despite assurances from the other team members that he looked “tough” and “hard-core”.  which assurances would have been more convincing if they had not been (very thinly) disguising outright laughter.

and finally,

the ugly (as modeled by me)

bourdage day 3  me on day 2, with fairly significant shading already apparent, but this would prove to be my most impressive growth period, and my increases in honor would approach 0 quickly as the days wore on.

bourdage day 1 day four and, while the angle of the sunlight and lack of resolution of the camera used would be cited as mitigating factors in the relative invisibility of my honor, i am a realist, and must own up to my relative lack of wisdom (although i still blew MSG Merrell out of the water).

bourdage-silly.jpg  me attempting to fill out my honor on day 7 with artful blowing up of cheeks.  which only had the (highly undesirable) effect of making my honor look that much more insignificant by comparison.  lesson learned. 


CPT Ritchie soon found the growing of normal honor tiresome, and has since moved to mustache #2, to be displayed soon on these pages.

MSG Merrell remains in the vicious cycle of shaving and growing, in a desperate attempt to stimulate follicle growth.  i will continue to post pictures, but any picture of MSG Merrell from age 12 on would probably serve the same purpose. 

I am undeterred by the apparent plateau i have reached, and press grimly onward.  any comments about the 13 or 14 year old you saw at the mall with a better mustache are unwelcome, and will be deleted immediately without being displayed. 



PFC Sassy

Posted in Fort Riley on April 5, 2007 by brendanbourdage

crowley.jpgCPT Crowley with pickle

bus-driver.jpgross.jpgon-the-bus.jpghummwv.jpgso i guess now is as good a time as any to let you all know that i've been cheating on you.  but don't feel bad, because i'm not cheating with any run-of-the-mill gherkin here, but a true, dixieland original hot mama sassy pickle-in-a-bag.  now, setting aside the obvious question (why the hell would you ever put a pickle in a bag of brine and sell it at the shoppette), i can tell you all that PFC (private first class) Sassy has now been with us for about a month or so, and has dutifully attended all mandatory training, with a smile on her briney, ever-murkier face.  not to be confused with the Pickelhaube, a Prussian helmet popular in the 19th century, Sassy is a high-heel wearin', purse-carryin', earring-sportin', lipstick smearin' taste of the south. (her lipstick, not mine). now, pickles in other countries can be packaged with cauliflower, onions, and other dilutions, but PFC Sassy is 100% pure-bred, grown naturally in the verdant hills of northeastern west virginia.  PFC Sassy traces her proud heritage back 4400 years to the Mesopotamians, who first epiphanized that a cucumber could be pickled. BFT training sassy at BFT (blue force tracker) and CLS (combat lifesaver)cls.jpg

 having Sassy around has definitely raised a few eyebrows, but most have accepted her as one of us, and as long as no one makes her an after-lunch snack during a long day of powerpoint slide presentations (a prospect that becomes more remote in direct proportion with the ever-increasing murkiness of the brine), she will accept them as well. 

 we did survive a bit of a scare early in our relationship with Sassy, as she didn't seem to be handling the more rigorous training events with the grace and dignity we expected from a cucumber of her pedigree.  fortunately, a roll of 100 mph tape was close at hand, and after some careful reinforcement, Sassy was ready for Ft. Riley, and, dare i say it, Iraq. 

 stay tuned for more stories of five men and their pickle, and the love that threatens to tear them apart.  coming to a theater near you. 

marHaba (hello…and other things)

Posted in Fort Riley on March 14, 2007 by brendanbourdage

so it’s been a little while since my last post, and, rest assured, there is a good reason…(you all probably thought i was going to wax poetic about the reason at this point, but i fooled you.  haha.). 

actually, we’ve just been pretty busy, and most nights all i want to do is drink a beer, (i apologize to all of you who expect a more significant daily degradation of my liver), read a few pages of highly erudite literature (read: Calvin and Hobbes), and drift of to sleep to the soothing sounds of the wind whistling across the barren plains of Kansas. to paraphrase for all of you who are already tiring of my attempt to entertain myself with nonsensical sentences, i am tired most nights, and want to sleep.

but given the high quality of the pictures taken by CPT Glen Dare now in my possession (and a few less-than-gentle proddings from the same) i must relate a few events from the past week or so. (is it ok to end a sentence with “so”? i’m sure my mother will let me know…)

the first few pictures are from the obstacle course/confidence course, which delivered us from the evils of power point presentations for a few hours, and made us feel more like soldiers, and less like we were back in high school classes, than anything we have done so far.

the team picture shows us all (Team 19) before embarking on the obstacle course, with our bodies and dignity still (mostly) intact.  things went downhill from there, and i am not referring to the terrain.  the next couple pictures show us on various obstacles, negotiating them in a way that would make any participant in stock-footage-of-Al-Qaeda-terrorist-camp-training video insanely jealous.  bottom line: we can low crawl and monkey-bar (yes, it’s a verb) like nobody’s business.  second bottom line: Team 19 is an elite bunch of obstacle-conquering dudes.


the next week included the pistol range, where our resident pistol expert, MSG Merrell,


set the standard, and carried us on his (rather broad) shoulders.  in other news, this was the first day after a few team members received their personal army-issue prescription eyewear, carefully calibrated to bring objects into better focus, and to simultaneously repel all members of the opposite sex.  of course, we all had to test their effectiveness by wearing them.  lo and behold, no females ventured within 30 feet of us for the 5 minutes we were thus begoggled.  (please refrain from questions about how many females had approached us in the 5 hours preceding this event).


those of you whose attention has not wandered previously, have now certainly found something to do more interesting than listening to me ramble.  if you are anything like the girls i asked out in college, this includes, but is not limited to, a pressing need to wash your hair, iron your favorite shirt, or catch up on your “Cheers” reruns.  i am very understanding, as i was then, and will leave you in peace to attend to your personal business. 

more to follow on subsequent training and “team building” events…in the near future you may look forward to discussion of the fine dining facility fare, the growing of “honor”, calendar-quality spreads from the M240 machine-gun range, and general tough-guy pictures from all venues. 


some pictures

Posted in Fort Riley on March 1, 2007 by brendanbourdage

me in cool army gearall armied uptoken koreanflying wedgestaplewound.jpg

for those of you who are curious what it looks like when the army gives you 43 pieces of gear and tells you to wear it all at the same time, check out the first three pictures.  the first two are me (notice prominently displayed “bourdage” on vest) and the third is CPT Glen Dare, who is the token minority on our team, and embraces the role. 

the fourth picture is part of the team walking back from class one day, which seemed like a good before we left, but only ended up saving us approximately 10 minutes.  but at least we looked tough as we were crying on the inside.

and the final picture, for those of you who have been waiting with bated breath for a picture of my hard-core army haircut (self-inflicted, i might add) is me displaying a grievous staple wound, suffered while attempting to separate the pages in a packet during class.  very traumatic.  also of note in the background is the look of concern (which soon became one of derisive scorn) on Master Sergeant Merrell’s face.

more intense training picture will soon be posted…all reasonable requests for particular photos will be debated by the team. 

middle earth? no, just Kansas.

Posted in Fort Riley on March 1, 2007 by brendanbourdage

i have decided that ft. riley, KS may be this week’s sign that the apocalypse is upon us.  now before you say, “how are you, brendan bourdage, qualified to make that statement, allow me to present my evidence.

exhibit A: at 2200 (10 at night for those of you living in the confusing world of AM and PM) last night, the temperature was about 40 degrees fahrenheit, and we were conducting our night driver’s training.  (tips for not starting your HUMMWV on fire by driving with the parking brake on to follow shortly) concurrently, our area of Kansas was under blizzard and tornado warnings (tips for surviving simultaneous blizzard and tornado also to follow).  so far, so good.  i wake this morning to 2-3 inches of snow, and gusting winds, go to a briefing, come out at about 11 AM, and find the temperature is now around 45 degrees, 90% of the snow has melted, and the forecast is for low 60s this afternoon.  i am undaunted, however, in the face of the imminent end of the world (wherein Kansas has apparently been designated ground zero) and will henceforth be wearing every piece of army clothing i own at all times, to be prepared for any eventuality.  those of you living on the great plains (read: the middle of nowhere) may be well-advised to follow my example.

i’m off to do some sunbathing, as the temperature is supposed to reach 85 by this evening.  that was a joke.

one week down

Posted in Fort Riley on February 25, 2007 by brendanbourdage

we finished our first week of training yesterday, just in time for a nice little blizzard and a severe drop in temperatures.  temperature today is around 25 degrees, which is a nasty turn from the balmy 40s and 50s we were enjoying last week. 

 i still don’t know if my offer to forgo the training of the Iraqi police and spend 12 months as the goalkeeper trainer for the Iraqi national team has been accepted, so more to follow on that…

one other noteworthy event from the week that was – one of our soldiers decided to hang an item of clothing from the fire sprinkler in his closet yesterday.  now, on the surface, this may seem like a fairly innocuous action.  but rest assured, the consequences were far-reaching, i.e. as i sit here writing, two floors directly below the site of what i will heretofore be calling “the incident” (short for “the incident that has put thoughts of bloody murder and mayhem into my mind regularly for the lat 24 hours”) there are two new pieces of furniture in my room. 

one, in the back corner of the room, is a bright orange industrial strength fan, which has been emitting a constant drone for the last day, and by the door a small refrigerator-sized dehumidifier, draining the water from the air in my room into a bucket.  and there is an alarming amount of waer being pulled out of the air. 

the biggest inconvenience is not the noise, however (which has become a surprisingly soothing cacophony) but the various contortions and olympic-floor-exercise gymnastics maneuvers that i must perform just to reach any part of my room from any other part. 

(for those of you who did not trace my comments on the effects of hanging clothing from the sprinkler in one’s room back to the cause, it turns out that when said person who hung said clothing on said sprinkler went to pull down said clothing, said sprinkler began to sprinkle.  which, after wading into my room soon thereafter, brings into question the moniker of sprinkler for a device that, from the slightest provocation, spews 50 gallons of water everywhere.) 

fortunately the equipment (mentioned before the diatribe within a diatribe) should be removed later today, and i can replace the drone of the fan with the normal drone of the icy wind sweeping ‘cross the plains.  (any other Oklahoma fans out there? just me?)

 anyways, that was pretty much the most exciting event of the month i’ve been here so far, doesn’t bode well for the next two months.  but our team of 11 is getting into a good rhythm, and i really like the guys i work with.  we’ll see what another 60 days does to the warm fuzzy i have about our team chemistry.

 well, i promised idle ramblings, and i guess i can chalk one up in the ‘incoherent diatribe’ column for this week.  talk to you all soon.

wouldn’t you know it

Posted in Fort Riley on February 20, 2007 by brendanbourdage

the day we start wearing our body armor, which is actually fairly warm, the weather has decided to spike into the 50s.  we should even be seeing 60s by the end of the week.  someone has a sick sense of humor.  gotta go — meeting time.