Death By Power Point

We spent three days (Oct. 25 - 27) in academic classes -- no doubt necessary for deployment, but so tedious that we started referring to them as "Death by PowerPoint." . We covered the general orders for the Army and the Central Command (CENTCOM), basic first aid, sexual harassment, etc. All said and done, we battled the sleep monster for about eight hours of straight lectures each day.

One day went to refreshing our memory on the first aid tasks the Army originally taught us in basic training. The morning was devoted to classes, the after noon to a series of practical exercises designed to test our knowledge. Hopefully, we'll never have to use what we learned.


26 Oct 05, Select members of A and B Companies take a first aid class in order to become Assistant Instructors for the first aid classes being held the next day for the rest of the members of each unit. (Bert Stover -- washingtonpost.com)
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Aside from the thrilling sessions of monotone PowerPoint slide regurgitation, time is flying by for the unit. We are constantly busy -- pilots studying aircraft emergency procedures and operational limitations, crew cheifs managing the maintenance of each individual aircraft. We are also starting to pack to depart for Yuma, Ariz., the next stop on our training schedule.

The Battalion held an officer's call at the Ft. Dix club on Tuesday, Oct. 25. Since this was the last task for the day, none of the officers were happy that we had to attend this mandatory "fun" meeting. We were required to wear civilian clothes and catch the bus down to the club. When we arrived, Lt. Col. McMillin, BN CDR, shuttled us into the large ballroom portion of the club. We all sat down and anticipated a long meeting filled with professional devlopment activities or something equally exciting.

To my surprise, Lt. Col. McMillin kept his opening speech short, lasting only long enough for the bartender to pour three pitchers of beer. He complimented the unit on it's progress, presented a couple of gag awards and then directed the officers of the unit to develop handles for each soldier.

Some of the first handles issued were:

"Eclipse": issued to CW3 Phillip Brashear for his enormous head, slang for a big ego, so large it hides the sun when he walks past you.

"Caveman": issued to a First Lieutenant for bringing and eating a Meal Ready to Eat (MRE) in the Officer's Club, a rather nasty form of nutrition compared to the Officer's Club's civilian food.

Overall, this gathering of officers was a lot better than the classes. Several more pitchers of beer arrived and disappeared before we had to catch the last bus back to the barracks. Many of us who were new to the 2/224th AVN were able to meet and get to know some of the veterans, some of whom have more than 20 years of service. It was a great ice breaker after the first week of our preparations.

By Bert Stover |  November 9, 2005; 10:00 AM ET  | Category:  Ft. Dix Mobilization
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Note all of the guys standing up in the back to keep the Z monster away. Those were the days! Another reminder why retiring was a good idea.

Posted by: cutter | November 9, 2005 01:05 PM

Reminds me of being in nursing school. Lots of times I've had to pinch myself to keep awake durning marathon powerpoint sessions. The only difference is, I'll have to use what I learn. =C)

Posted by: KJC | November 9, 2005 02:01 PM

Doesn't seem so funny, that death by Powerpoint. With our proud soldiers dying for real, I think a better term could have been used. I would hate being in your midst, having the details of everything our group did written about and mocked by some twenty-something in Starbuck withdrawal. I am sure you will sue the Army when you screw up, swearing they never taught you this or that. I hope they keep the Powerpoint slides, so your lawsuit is rendered "death by stupidity"

Posted by: Karen | November 9, 2005 02:07 PM

Karen, have you ever served in the military? Because unless you have I don't think you can quite appreciate this particular bit of military life. A lot of the information presented in these slides is presented fairly poorly. Its even worse during basic (add in lots of sleep deprivation, different diet, environment and then put you in a seat for hour upon hour). Death by Powerpoint (and the accompanying title of "Powerpoint Commandos") is a just another bit of the morbid humor that you find in the military. Remember that this man is a soldier too in a very dangerious occupation.

Love the shot with the guys in the back, the only acceptable way for military personnel to react to nearing sleep.

Posted by: Daniel | November 9, 2005 05:59 PM

Powerpoint is better then watching 20 year old movies and listing to a monotone voice for 7 hours of the day back in the 60's. OH by the way good luck and keep your butt down

Posted by: AVNMEDIC MSG | November 9, 2005 07:13 PM

Karen, you have absolutely no clue what you're talking about. Every single soldier serving anywhere in the world right now would know exactly what WO1 Stover means by "Death by Power Point" and would have their own amusing DBPP anecdote to share with you.

Posted by: Bill | November 9, 2005 08:17 PM

"Death by Powerpoint" - standard terminiology. Nothing morbid or insensetive there.

Don't try to read into this stuff so much. As matter of fact as it may be, it is just a glimpse into the military life - the life we live every day.

Posted by: CW3 Gordon J. Cimoli | November 10, 2005 06:35 AM

I have to join the bash-Karen bandwagon. While I am somewhat dubious about certain aspects of this blog, I find the description of Bert's entry as "written about and mocked by some twenty-something in Starbuck withdrawal" to be fairly stupid.

Posted by: E. Etage | November 10, 2005 08:42 AM

Amen. I remeber going through those brifeings and the Sgt. did not know how to run the presentation, I think that we went over the same slide like 6 times. Take care Mr. Stover and keep your head low and your rifle clean.

HooRa!

Posted by: PFC. Tweety | November 10, 2005 11:29 AM

Karen, Put your hot air to good use; Raise your right hand and swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. Then you can have the floor.

Posted by: CPO E | November 10, 2005 11:59 AM

All -
Please re-read Karen's comments. I believe she recognizes the severity of the situation - even citing "proud soldiers dying for real". Lacking the obvious military experience, it doesn't appear she quite understands the same humor those of us with the experience can relate. Even the most polished and professionally delivered PowerPoint Presentation is referred to as DBPPT. However, I do hope she and everyone else that may have reservations against the current situation in the Middle East can understand the sacrifice being made by those soldiers being deployed so that different opinions can be voiced.

On the eve of Veteran's Day - please be safe WO1! Thank you.

Posted by: CDR L | November 10, 2005 01:31 PM

All the best, and keep your heads down, spirts up and for gods sake, watch your back sides.

Semper Fi . . .
2064060

Posted by: x-Marine Sgt. | November 10, 2005 01:42 PM

Karen,
What a disappointment to read your comments. Unfortunately, your comments are just a sign of the times. As years pass and the draft is more of a memory, there are fewer citizens and politicians that understand the sacrifices made by someone like WO1 Stover. My guess is you are just one of the millions of people in the United States that has never served, never will, and will discourage everyone around you from protecting the Constitution. I only hope when a new crisis emerges, there are still people willing to defend the Constitution and not criticize those doing the defending.

Posted by: Joe1 | November 10, 2005 03:25 PM

PI, Class of '64: Talk about fighting the sleep monster in lectures.

We had a first aid instructor who used the words "now" and "then" multiple times in each sentence. The content was good, but the delivery, obviously pre-Power-Point, was droningly boring.

"Now, then, privates, you can see, now, that you take the bandage, then, and wrap it now, around the wrist, then and give it several turns now." Four hours of it.

The more clever of us stayed awake by counting the number of times he used those words, betting on over/unders within a minute, etc.

The less fortunate fell asleep, and suffered a surprise attack from the rear by the DI in charge. Typically, a swift glancing shot to the back of the nodding head with an open palm. Not so much painful, as painfully startling.

The only things more painful (than the lecture) in boot camp were the Dear John letter and the powdered eggs at the rifle range (which I always traded for more sausage and toast).

Still and all, Semper Fi and God bless the Marine Corps and my three DI's.

I've had a lot of education since then, and the things I learned at Parris Island were among the most valuable I've ever learned, although I had no inkling of that at the time.

Including the first aid, which I have had the occasion to use more than once.

But every time I do, I hear a voice saying, "Now, then, first you clean the wound, now..."

Posted by: Pvt. Joker, the Amtraker | November 11, 2005 09:51 AM

I question the description of anyone serving in any military action over the last 30 years as "defending the constitution".

It's disingenuous, even insulting, to question civilians who refuse to sign up with you to be the mercenary forces for political powermongers.

In fact, those of us who challenge this war are the ones really standing up for the Constitution, which says that the nation should be run honestly, not for the personal empowerment of imperial toadies.

Posted by: Antifraud | November 11, 2005 11:58 AM

Thanks for posting. It's always good to hear from those serving us both here in the States & abroad. It takes a special kind of mettle to do what you do each day; Americans are safe and secure because her armed forces are so professional.

God bless ya & keep ya. Death by PPT can be very traumatic, but after the second or third reincarnation you get used to it! lol

J

Posted by: Jon | November 11, 2005 02:33 PM

Hey Antifraud - "Defend The Constitution against enemies both foreign and domestic" is a quote from the oath that Men and Women swear to their country when they stand up and agree to sacrifice so that children such as yourself can sit by and question their intelligence and motives for doing so. You have a lot of damn nerve on Veterans Day posting that you think you're somehow noble for letting good Americans serve and sacrifice and die so that you don't have to. The only thing you've stood up for in your life is to adjust your knee pads so that you can get right back down on it in comfort. Thank God there isn't a draft so that I will never have to serve next to a loser like you.

Posted by: WO1 Chmelir | November 11, 2005 03:58 PM

"death by powerpoint" -catchy:)
I think it holds a little humor, I've sat through a few of those classes. The ones about sexual harassment and how to behave-they're are so redundant it always drove me nuts to go to YET another one.
Just to throw my 2cents in. I'm not sure it's appropritae to condesend a warrant officers view of the classes he's going through. He's the one going through them and obviously in the military-those facts alone allow him the right to pick on it as much as he likes to.

Posted by: Mrs.Malloy | November 12, 2005 08:58 AM

Geez! What got stuck in Karen's craw? Lighten up! As a professional trainer, I was interested in this article, but was dissapointed that it wasn't really about PowerPoint as much as it was about the overall class experience. I use PowerPoint, and like to think I do a better job with it than many other trainers. It can go bad in a number of ways, but it can also be fixed. Bad slides in the hands of a good trainer can be fine; good slides with someone who'd rather not be up in front of a crowd-- equally deadly. If you want to hire me, I'll fix it all up for ya!

Posted by: David | November 14, 2005 11:07 AM

I retired from civil service a couple of years ago. All the bosses and secretaries were "power point" crazy. I'll bet it did get monotonous....like you wouldn't understand a manual or something. That's funny.

Posted by: VHOU | November 14, 2005 11:33 AM

All I can say is _don't go_. I'm a Viet Nam era veteran who, by circumstances beyond my control ( well, I could have volunteered ) did not have to serve in Viet Nam. I was at Fort Dix for 8 weeks, if memory serves me. then Fort Sill for another 8 weeks, then off to Germany for 17 months. Back in the late 60s and early 70's news did not travel very fast, and truth was hard to come by. Today, we quickly knew the war in Iraq to be started for reasons other than those given at the beginning of the conflict. No WMDs, and we only had to give Hans Blix the time to prove that. It's time to get the soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq home. The people there do not want us there and most of the infrastructure that we destroyed not not up to pre-war standards. I may be true that as T.E. Lawrence said when asked, "Why do men go to war?", "Because the women are watching." I stand by Antifraud in this one. This is not a noble war fought to protect our freedoms. The danger to our freedoms are from within, from people like George Bush who lied or is simply self-delusional, and who tries to mask his cowardice that by false bravado.

I don't claim I would have made a good soldier in 1969 thru 1971 I did what I was asked to do. I took my chances wrt Viet Nam. I was lucky.

So to Bert Stover, I'd say "go if you must". Watch out for yourself and your friends. Come home safe. But, I can't support this war or our other military interventions throughout the world. You could do more good in NO, or helping the injured in Pakistan.

good luck,
k.

Posted by: koyaanisqatsi | November 14, 2005 12:06 PM

I always find it funny for servicemen to state that if you haven't served, you can't speak. You claim to be defending the Constitution and American Rights in one sentence, and dismiss another's freedom of speech in another.
I am against this farce we refer to as a war for multiple reasons, of which I will not go into. I do not think we should be there and Im saddend by each death I hear about. That being said, I *will not* hold my tongue against speaking out. To do so would be to spit on the coffins of all the soldiers who have died defending our country and 'freedom.' To shame on those who think I should. Regardless of how and where you served, this mentality hardly seems to be very patriotic and I can hardly envision you serving to protect the country and our way of life.

Posted by: Freedom | November 14, 2005 04:16 PM

"Thank God there isn't a draft so that I will never have to serve next to a loser like you. "

You're right, because I'd have the courage to refuse to be drafted to fight a war for a lie.

See, sport, there hasn't been a war fought since WW2 that has been really fought for defense of the Constitution.

Just because you got suckered into fighting for some politician's desire for empire expansion doesn't mean you "defended The Constitution against enemies both foreign and domestic".

Any soldier fighting for the US in the last 30 years has fought for politics, not to protect our nation or its constitution.

You and your pals? Haven't sacrificed anything for me. Just thrown your lives away for someone's profit.

Posted by: Antifraud | November 14, 2005 04:30 PM

Antifraud. I couldn't agree with you more, except it's more like 45 years. The problem is that you can rarely reason with an ex-Marine ( always a Marine? ). Today's Marines and U.S. soldiers in general are taught NOT to reason, question or think things through. Their purpose is to kill, and to do so mindlessly and proudly. They are taught that anyone who opposes their "cause" is a coward and a traitor... dissent ( sometimes called "free speech" ) is not allowed. I don't blame them. They are, in effect, brainwashed to believe as they do. And it's something they _need_ to believe in order to do what they do.

'When the night is cold and still,
when you thought you'd had your fill,
this is not a test, it's not a drill,
take no prisoners, only kill."

Semper Fi(delis)? Faithful to who? To the politicians and wealthy/connected whose children do not have to fight and die?

k.

Posted by: koyaanisqatsi | November 14, 2005 06:57 PM

Joe1 - I agree that its a shame not everyone is required to serve, male and female, for a period of service, but I would never recommend joining right now. Our men and women are dying for an invasion of the a sovereign nation by our beloved country with no cause. That is not defending our constitution, only some fat cats who want defense contracts and oil revenues.

Posted by: madewar | November 14, 2005 11:27 PM

King Richard (Cheney)and his loyal vassal Curious George are in charge...don't worry about a thing. And don't anyone forget that Dumbsfield et al have never served a day (including the showy National Guard service of Dubya).

Posted by: guitran | November 15, 2005 07:26 AM

Antifraud and friends- So you're saying that you would have joined the military immediately following Pearl Harbor to fight in WW2 but that you didn't join the military immediately following the 9/11 attacks to fight Al Quida? What, you would have cared more about the death of 2,000 American sailors at a territory in 1941 then you actually do care about the death of 3,000 mostly civilian Americans in America in 2001? Please forgive my skepticism of your commitment to the Constitution.

Can we all agree that if a Nuke cooked off in Washington DC that would be bad for the Constitution?

I didn't call anyone a coward. I know many people who have never served in the military who I wouldn't say are cowards. But then they don't go spouting off to veterans on Veterans Day that "those of us who challenge this war are the ones really standing up for the Constitution". I called Antifraud a Loser. When he makes statements like that, he is simply EXERCISING his Constitutional right to free speech just as significantly as if I were to blurt out to an empty room "I love playing with my belly button lint on Thursdays!" Big f***ing deal. When I contrast A-fraud's incredible act of keyboard heroism in "standing up for the constitution" with those actions of the lowliest Army office clerk and of Navy Seal Roberts in Afghanistan and all service members in between, I'm left to conclude that A-fraud is a Loser.

Posted by: WO1 Chmelir | November 16, 2005 03:26 PM

http://www.cnn.com/US/9812/16/clinton.iraq.speech/

Posted by: Willy | November 16, 2005 06:56 PM

Chmelir- I would have to argue with calling Antifraud a loser. You have no idea what he does outside of this post. Unlike some in this thread spouting personal ranks and and slapping eachothers backs, he makes no mention of his life outside of this. To make an assumption without knowing this is one based in ignorance. You do raise an interesting point, however... one that I addressed earlier. His comments were his constitutional right. Instead of asking others to waive theirs and becoming angry when one uses said right, he actually uses it to say something he believes in.
And as for the comment regarding 9/11, I agree that it can be argued that those fighting in Afghanistan were fighting to defend the country. The constitution? Not so much. The safety of our people was and is at risk. Our rights, however, were at risk only from the moment Bush started legislating for the Patriot Act and for more power. Try defending the rights and ideas our constitution sets forth when the administration is pushing to allow torture and has imprisoned people indefinately and without explanation.

Posted by: Freedom | November 17, 2005 10:46 AM

I have read this column on/off. The replies, in many ways, are sometimes more interesting in the story. Whether you believe in the war or not, we are there now and the troops deserve our full support. You have a people who think life is like dogs - cheap. They must be waited out - at a minimum. Iraq will set the tone of conflicts versus the US for the next fifty years.

I was ambilivent about the IRAQ war as I was about Kosovo (spelling butchered?) when Clinton was in charge. Once there, I shut up and gave our troops unwavering support including the benefit of the doubt when bad news was broadcast. Shouldn't we all do the same in IRAQ?

Posted by: Bystander | November 17, 2005 11:21 AM

The troops have my support. I am truly deeply sorry for all of those who were close to one who gave their lives for this cause, whether you believe it to be a good one or not. And I respect every soldiers choice to serve.
But silent complacence never helps any. Silence is often confused with consent and approval.

You state, "You have a people who think life is like dogs - cheap." I assume you are talking about the 'enemy,' but this can as easily be applied to our current administration.

Posted by: Freedom | November 17, 2005 03:21 PM

I was the most reluctant participant in the Viet Nam war. Fortunately I never heard a shot fired in anger. But I did learn that it is only by force of power that we Americans enjoy freedom. International politics is simply a world of brute force and chicannery. The free world exists because it can shelter under the tail feathers of the American Eagle. We have since won the "Cold War". It was not won by shooting it out "Texas Style". We simply bankrupted the bastards in mutual balence of nuclear terror. The war with Islamic terrorism could be won by breaking the American addiction to Petroleum. We have the technology but there is no money in it for the Bush's and Cheney's. In the meantime thank God for the remnants of American boys who will serve their country. The "Parlor Patriotism" of the Starbucks girl will dovetail with GWB's a generation from now when she is living off the military industrial complex.

Posted by: Sad but Patriotic | December 2, 2005 03:02 AM

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