Fort Dix, Finally

After a long bus trip that began before sunrise in the drizzle in Richmond, we finally arrived at Fort Dix, N.J. around 14:15 on Friday, Oct. 21. The original plan was to fly up on our Black Hawks, but the weather was too nasty to risk having so many members of the unit on board.

As soon as we arrived, before we were allowed to offload, we were introduced to the active duty Army by getting briefings on Fort Dix policies and contraband amnesty.

Friday 21 OCT 05, Members of A Co 2/224th AVN ironically watch the movie 'We Were Soldiers' while riding the bus from Richmond, VA to Ft. Dix, NJ. (Bert Stover --
View More Photos

The amnesty brief outlined items we were not allowed to have like drugs, including prescriptions not in your name, alcohol, and knives over three inches long. Since pilots are issued survival knives that are least eight inches long by the Army and they're allowed to keep those, the rule against personal knives doesn't seem to make much sense. And it affected the unit the most, since many National Guard soldiers carry utility knives.

After getting the briefings, we were herded off of the buses and into the barracks. We filed down the long, narrow hallway -- standard in older barracks -- and stood in lines to be issued room keys (several soldiers per room) and to be fitted for new body armor. I wonder if the new body armor is a result of last year's controversy?

Next, we herded ourselves to the chow hall for dinner, which was served at 16:30. I am used to 20:00 or so, so it felt early.

Just after arrival at Ft. Dix, NJ, members of 2/224th AVN inprocess at their barracks, receiving room keys and being sized for body armor. (Bert Stover --
View Enlarged Photo

When we returned from dinner, the tractor trailers with all of our personal gear had arrived. Normally, in most units, there is one person that grabs his own stuff, runs to their room and starts unpacking while everyone else busts his butt to get all the gear inside.

But this crowd seemed to have bought into the team concept early. I didn't see one person seek out his own gear. Enlisted and officer, we all hauled the baggage into the barracks. Granted, this was only the fourth day of our deployment, but I think it's a sign that the unit's morale is good.

To my knowledge, there have been no instances of soldiers whining and crying and I've been impressed with the willingness and understanding of all in the unit.

Once finished with unloading the personal gear, around 18:00, we assembled for a briefing lead by the Alpha Company Commander, Capt. Heins. (The captain has asked that I not use his first name in this blog.)

Capt. Heins announced the next day's schedule, which included one particularly asinine procedure, and he didn't sugarcoat it. "We are scheduled to turn in our brand new sleeping bags, issued in the last couple of months. Later in the day, we will be issued new ones, of the same type."

The company includes several older Warrant Officers who have what we call "large dispositions," that is, they don't take any bull. When the crusty Warrants heard the sleeping bag instructions, they just laughed.

One CW4 raised his hand and asked CPT Heins if he was serious. The Captain said he wished he could make this stuff up. He then turned the meeting over to 1st Lt. Pridgen, my platoon leader, for our first company briefing about contracting scabbies, and kept us laughing with his descriptions of how the disease was contracted and its symptoms.

The brief ended after that and we were released from duty for the day. Most of us went to our rooms to unpack and get ready for the days ahead.

By Bert Stover |  October 31, 2005; 12:01 AM ET  | Category:  Ft. Dix Mobilization
Previous: The Unit Assembles | Next: Your Tax Dollars at Work


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Didnt your parents tell you to GO NAVY Hang in there Best Haley

Posted by: Ron Haley LCDR USNR | October 31, 2005 04:22 AM

I swear, it must be a tossup which movie the current Army likes more, "We Were Soldiers" or "Blackhawk Down". In my very short Army career so far (6 months Virginia Army National Guard) I have seem both about 4 times.....

Posted by: Daniel | October 31, 2005 09:15 AM

Interesting about the movie preferences. Just about everyone I've met while in the Navy could quote Blazing Saddles from memory.

Posted by: Anthony | October 31, 2005 11:37 AM

Go here to get your rotorhead blood pumping:

Posted by: Seth | October 31, 2005 11:52 AM

When I was in the Navy, the movie on my boat was "Final Countdown". I believe I can still recite most of the movie some 15 years later.

Posted by: Dwaine | October 31, 2005 12:32 PM

"When I was in the Navy, the movie on my boat was "Final Countdown". I believe I can still recite most of the movie some 15 years later."

Yeah, but the Japanese still atttacked Pearl Harbor.

Posted by: Seth | October 31, 2005 12:54 PM

NOthing has changed. When I was recalled for the Korean war, they told us to bring money as the finance dept wouldn't be able to pay usfor three months or more.I spent almost 3 years in ww2 and always got paid.

Posted by: d arthur | October 31, 2005 03:56 PM

Keep up the team work!

If yo uneed some new videos that actually pertain to the area you are heading to, check out some that I made while in Iraq -

Take care!

Hello to the "Captain!"

Posted by: CW3 Gordon Cimoli | October 31, 2005 09:52 PM

By far, our favorite movie to watch while we were in Iraq was "Old School."


Posted by: CW3 Gordon Cimoli | October 31, 2005 09:55 PM

Standing Naked, on day-one of my Air Force tour, 59 other Guys and I were Asked to " raise our hands if we wore Large, Medium or Small " Underwear. 60 Hands were raised and the NCOs then proceeded to toss out Boxer shorts to everyone in the room.

We were then told, "if the shorts don't fit...pass them on the person on your left ! " . Mine were too small for my 5'10" 160 Lb. Frame. I looked, and the Guy on my Left must have been about 6'2" weighed in excess of 250 Lb.s ! I just did as I was told !

Welcome to the U. S. Military !


Posted by: John C. | November 1, 2005 02:21 PM

One memorable event in my Navy career was seeing several hoary bosn mates & gunners singing along with various songs every time we watched "The Student Prince" for the upteenth time. They were really good on 'drink, drink'. I ran into the skipper several years later and we were laughing so hard about this that we were almost asked to leave the room.

Posted by: Charlie Brown | November 1, 2005 03:52 PM

ft. dix, wow i did AIT there. good luck and get ready for hurry up and wait. by the way they do have a good gym near there.

Posted by: sgt Turner | November 2, 2005 11:34 AM

my name is tammy im PFC LEE'S best friend im glad to know how thing are going for them we miss them all can't wait to see them in dec i know some of the guys there they are great and will get the job done our prays are with all our troops who are far from home we love you and miss you !!!! and we hope to hear more on them and how they are doing thank you from all of us !!!! TAMMY G
aka babythumper

Posted by: tammy gray | November 3, 2005 02:59 PM

Welcome to Ft. Dix. Thd gym is okay. The comissary, should you want actual food is about 4 miles give or take depending on what part of the barracks you call home. There's a high school just off base if you want to catch a game, they aren't the best but hey it's football. If you can get your hands on a radio tune into 88.9 FM it's a good station, if you like classic rock and blues, I worked there for a while. Otherwise welcome to NJ and trust me the weather isn't much different from what you left. If you can post your comments on Ft. Dix I'd be interested to hear them. Good luck and god speed.

Posted by: Military Brat | November 4, 2005 03:28 AM

Any of you there at Fort Dix having any interaction with 1018th Reserve Battalion? I was there in 1991 when bush-the elder, ran saddam out of Kuwait. dubya and his "kind" really underestimated going into Iraq and spreading democracy at the end of a gun barrell!! What's next?

Posted by: A Retiree | August 8, 2006 05:55 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company