Monday, November 10, 2008

Leif in Camouflage Gear - Fall 1998

From his training at Fort Benning, Georgia, Private First Class Leif Garretson was sent to the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York, after stopping in Kansas to get his household goods packed up and transported, and his old Ford truck loaded up. He and Nikko headed for upstate New York and were assigned quarters in an off base army housing complex in Watertown, New York.

That summer and fall seemed to go fairly well for Leif. He was fit and liked being a machine gunner. He had an assistant gunner that became his close friend, James Mayo. Nikko and Jim's wife, Jaime, also became friend.

I'm not sure I have the timing all correct, but Leif's unit participated in training cadets at West Point, and then were sent to Uzbekistan for joint war games and maneuvers with other NATO troops. I posted some photos of him in Uzbekistan when I first started the blog back in April.

I haven't found any photos of Leif in full battle gear, but when he was carrying his full infantry pack, his machine gun, and body armor, he was carrying about the total of his own weight. He told me how much weight he carried several times, but I unfortunately didn't write it down, don't accurately remember it, and never dreamed I wouldn't have him there to ask if I forgot.

I can't imagine being strong enough to walk carrying that amount of weight (probably some 200 pounds), let alone being able to move swiftly for military maneuvers.

Although I am pretty sure these photos were taken in the fall of 1998, I don't know whether they were for some field exercise, when they were training the West Point cadets, or whether they were on their way to Uzbekistan. I think they spent several weeks there.

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