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Here I go again...back to Kanadahar.


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#1 franko

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Posted 01 June 2008 - 1027 AM

Well for those of you who have been around here for a few years (T19, Zipperhead, Rocky, MB etc ) I was asked while in Bosnia if I could post somewhat of a diary for all to see.

Due to my job at the time I couldn't, being in BG HQ.

The last tour I did. It was titled " A Canuck in Afghanistan....the other sandbox". I was based in Camp Jullian in Kabul and we moved the entire camp, lock, stock and barrel to KAF...Kandahar Airfield.

The tour was rather long, 8 months at the time I left, and I had had enough.

Mike Steele aka Master Blaster had sent out 2 care packages at his own expense and I had passed out the contents (varying from pocket knives, batteries, beef jerky, novelty items) to my troops on Christmas Day. They appreciated the fact that someone who wasn't even a dirty Canuck took the time and effort to do such a nice thing. They had planned on doing a few posed shots with the gifts and novelty items but, unfortunately, things and timings wouldn't allow for it.

At the time I was going to publicly acknowledge him and his efforts but due to OPTEMPO at the time and my own poor time appreciation/ bad memory I had done it well after the fact. I still feel like a shyte pump for that, hence my mentioning it now. (Mike, I still have something for you BTW).


That was March 06...when the shyte hit the fan and we were taking casualties almost on a daily basis.

Now I'm going back. The good thing is my ride is a Leopard 2A6(M)...to my frau's relief. The last one was in a LAV III.

So I figured that since workup training has been on the go since last September and we're deploying sometime in the near future I'd get my arse in gear and start posting.




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The fall of '07 was an exceptionally busy time.

We've done the normal things like TMST training, twice, and gone on to taking TCCC as well. Guys have gone on course to get qualified on the Leopard C2 gunnery side of the house in anticipation of the upcoming conversion course for the Leopard 2 A6(M).

A solemn point was when we were re-patting the guys from tour. Seemed that it was every couple of weeks the guys were going to Trenton to see them off the plane. One was Maj Raymond Ruckpaul, who was a BC for my old tank squadron. We did a full funeral for him in his hometown...very sad day.

Moving on. Training had been spooled up to the point that we were going in when it was still dark and getting home when it was dark. My wife had commented to me on one ocassion late one night "Who are you again?"

Ranges have been done to the point that everyone, in my organization anyways, feels that their pers weapons are second nature. PWT levels 1-4 have been completed and we've gone past that standard. Claymore, grenade, M203 have been done as well.

By the time Christmas came around we felt more like grunts than tankers. :lol:

With that the normal Christmas festivities of sports day and the Mens Christmas Dinner was done. I had just gotten comfortable in my seat as a Master Corporal, opened a beer and started talking to one of the "Old Guard", when my name was called.

Promoted to Sargent and promptly told by the RSM to get busy serving the men their beers and meals...to which I did and had a blast.

Christmas leave was nice and quiet, spent visiting relatives and having many beers and much turkey. A few shots of Auchentoshan went "down range" as well.

The new year started off with a flurry of activity.

We got 5 Leopard C2 tanks in just over the block leave period and now we have to get them ready for the upcoming exercise in Ft. Bliss, Texas. More long days.

Also we had to somehow get in a few parades, including the stand up parade for the Task Force and some silly Battle Group run. To hell with getting the battle wagons ready was one of the comments I heard...oozing with sarcasm.

Now onto some letters to relatives and friends.....

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Well I got back from Texas a few scant days ago, leaving the mid-20s for the low minus 10s of Petawawa. I'm still sorting out my kit and doing loads of laundry, to ze frau's amazement.

The exercise was a day over a month, a very busy month at that.

I hit the ground on Feb 3rd at about 430pm in Donna Anna, New Mexico after a long drive in from Ft Bliss, El Paso, Texas. The scenery reminded me immediately of Afghanistan, minus the stench of the open septic system in Kandahar.

Right after supper we were on the tanks getting them ready for the next day's activities of going to the tank range for the following 5 days. It was non stop day and night shoots beginning at 0530 and ending at 0100 the following day.

After the gun camp was completed we deployed out to a FOB (Forward Operating Base) about 4 hours north called SHORAD. We then did some maintenance to the tanks and got ready for the upcoming 2.5 weeks of non stop live fire exercise. Bombing up with a full load of 105mm tank ammo was a new one for me as a commander, as it was for the crews. We normally only get a few rounds and reload when required after the shoots are done.

Not this time.

We departed for a small PB (Patrol Base) about 7 km north and began receiving orders for the following 4 days worth of attacks and performed rehearsals with the infantry. This went on every 4 to 5 days for the entire period. Not close to what it will be like in theater, but again, practice makes perfect.

All attacks went off with no problems and the targets didn't stand a chance...they never do. It'll be a whole lot different in 9 months time.

Funny thing about this place...because of the unique foliage in the area, mesquite grows wild all over the place like a weed. After each attack you could smell it for miles. This was due to the fact that all our tank rounds have a tracer element in the base of them so we can track the fall of shot and make corrections if the gunner misses, which is very rare.

I once remarked to the OC (Officer Commanding) of the squadron that I never thought war would smell so delicious. He nearly choked on his coffee from laughing.

The amount of training I got to do was excellent and I learned many lessons which they don't teach on the past three courses I finished last year, which I won't go into because most people who haven't been in this trade can't relate to and it will more than likely bore you to death. Ha ha.

I have completed all the necessary training required for me to be cleared to go on tour at this time. Attack as a troop with a section attached, level 3.5 as it's known; Combat team attack (19 tanks plus a full infantry company, artillery battery, engineer det, fast air with CF-18, psyop campaign, follow on agencies to tend to the local population etc) known as level 5.....and a level 5 attack done at night.

Normally everyone gets to go through the attacks only once, but everyone in the tank squadron got to go through 3 times, including myself, each time making the operation go more seamlessly than the one prior.

After the exercises were completed we made our way back to the base and had one day of R&R in El Paso, Texas. I don't know what Marty Robbins was going on about in his song about that town but it's not in the least bit a place I ever want to go back to. Dirty little place on the Mexican border....which really doesn't exist in that city.

Needless to say a few cervezas were drunk and the flight home the following day was delayed (of course) due to a malfunctioning sensor. We arrived later because of it.

The following day we had a lovely snow storm that dumped a good 15 cm....a welcome home indeed! LOL

I've included a few pictures for all of you, including one of me on a somewhat cleaner day just outside Orogrande, New Mexico.
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Well I'm home from Wainwright Alberta and Ex Maple Guardian is complete. Not as exciting as Texas as we didn't use one single round during the entire exercise.

We did, however, use a new gadget called the WES system which uses lasers and sensors to either shoot at targets and let's you know when you've been hit. I liken it to a glamorized version of laser tag.

We had been pushed out to a FOB yet again and we had to basically build it from the ground up. Not a big deal but it does take some time. The exercise consisted of every possible scenario we could go against in Afghanistan, or anywhere else for that matter.

Everything from rocket and mortar attacks to IEDs and ambushes and beyond.

I can't really get into the the nitty gritty of the training for obvious reasons, sufficed to say by the end of the exercise we were no longer treading water struggling but playing water polo.

Me and my crew went out on a few ops and again, we were put through our paces. Good training.

After the exercise we went back to Edmonton to off load the tanks and do some much needed work on them, cleaning and so on.

The troops went out for some nightlife and recreation and I went and visited some old buddies, one of which was wounded in theater. He's not the same man I knew...but every once and a while he would re-emerge to the surface. A good visit none the less.

I finally got home on the 24th....5 days early. Mrs Franko was ecstatic and so was I.

Off for a few days and we went to see a new addition to the family. A new niece...cute as a button too.

Next thing on my plate is a Regimental parade and Gala Ball. Parade is being held on Parliament Hill and should be a big "Do" for all involved. Considering we haven't been around for any of the planning of it we're pretty much relegated to spectating, which I won't complain.

We're probably going to squeeze in some more weapons training and ranges as well. Can't do enough of those these days.

Near the end of the month though we're off to Germany for conversion training....and I can't wait either.

A month of German food, drinks and panzers....life is good.
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Well that's it for now. I'll be adding in more as time goes on.

Unfortunately when I do get into KAF and points beyond OPSEC and PERSEC will be observed.

As I will be out the wire for the entire tour, my postings will be quite erratic. Please don't expect a quick reply, like the last tour the usual first thing I do is call home to ze frau and family and email everyone first...then post.

Regards
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#2 sunday

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Posted 01 June 2008 - 1616 PM

Thanks for the report. I'll remind you in my prayers.

Take care, and good hunting!

Jose
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#3 Archie Pellagio

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Posted 01 June 2008 - 2049 PM

Stay safe.
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#4 T19

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Posted 01 June 2008 - 2112 PM

Good hunting. I will pin this for you so it is easy to find. Also, if its easier to email me, send your updates to me, and I will post for you

Good Luck and Good hunting young Panzer Commander

#5 Guest_JamesG123_*

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 0728 AM

Hey now! I'm from El Paso! :P

Good luck, and stay safe. Consider yourself blessed to have a tank.

We will feel lucky to have trucks... :(
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#6 Colin

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 1243 PM

Good luck, good hunting and stay safe. We expect pictures!!!
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#7 franko

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 1311 PM

Good luck, good hunting and stay safe. We expect pictures!!!


Sure. How do you post pictures here? I've tried it in the past and the site won't allow it, possibly for me going over my 500k limit.

I can start right now as I do have some rather humorous ones.

Regards
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#8 shep854

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 1330 PM

Congrats, Sar'nt! Do you get a batman?

In your OP, you mentioned "bombing up" with 105mm. Were you training in Leo 1s, was it a typo, or am I just ignorant of Canadian nomenclature?
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#9 sunday

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 1331 PM

Sure. How do you post pictures here? I've tried it in the past and the site won't allow it, possibly for me going over my 500k limit.

I can start right now as I do have some rather humorous ones.

Regards


Any monkeys involved? :lol:
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#10 franko

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 1424 PM

Congrats, Sar'nt! Do you get a batman?

In your OP, you mentioned "bombing up" with 105mm. Were you training in Leo 1s, was it a typo, or am I just ignorant of Canadian nomenclature?


Yep...Leo 1 A5, aka Leo C2.

As for monkeys...not yet. :rolleyes:

Regards
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#11 DemolitionMan

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 1727 PM

Very interesting read so far...enjoy your stay in Germany. :) Will follow this thread for sure. As for pics, you have to upload them to a hoster like photobucket, imageshack or tinypic first and then you can put in the links here.
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#12 CV9030FIN

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 0123 AM

Good luck and stay safe. You luck bastard got to take your tank with you :)...remember to use it well!
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#13 Colin

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 1351 PM

I suspect that you will have to post pictures elsewhere and then link them, do what you must to feed the beast that is tanknet!!!!
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#14 sunday

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 1648 PM

Yep...Leo 1 A5, aka Leo C2.

As for monkeys...not yet. :rolleyes:

Regards


Sorry, man. I didn't realize the joke was past its expiration date.
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#15 shep854

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 1734 PM

Sorry, man. I didn't realize the joke was past its expiration date.



Thanks for taking the hit. :P
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#16 T19

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 2029 PM

I have posted these for Franko

Enjoy
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Firing
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Panzer Commander Franko

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SSHHHHH we are hunting Timmies

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Canadian immigration Picture taking machine

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Where is that Timmies?

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Rare Picture of a herd of Panzers

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That is not Moderator, that is a Panzer spiting out punishment at night

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Is that the last bus to Clarkestown? seen through the gunsite


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Warning to Tim's


thanks for these Franko

#17 shep854

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 0747 AM

Great pix!

Thank YOU T19!!
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#18 T19

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 0811 AM

Great pix!

Thank YOU T19!!

They are Franko's Pictures, I am just posting them for him to share

#19 sunday

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 1019 AM

Thank you both.
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#20 Sailor Lars

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 1557 PM

Big thanks for the pictures, and most importantly - Good hunting, Big F!
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