And one of the best pieces of equipment the military has ever come up with, period.
The poncho liner.
The Army issued me a sleeping bag system that includes three different bags that you can mix and match depending on the climate and weather. It's a wonderful system. But I put it in it's stuff sack and left it in the duffel bag, because I had the poncho liner. I would just lay it out, put my neck pillow down, lay a picture of my wife next to the pillow, and that would be all I needed. They gave me an actual mattress when we were in Camp Phoenix, so I just laid it out on that.
The poncho liner can be rolled into a ball roughly the size of my two fists if you really crank down on it, and it'll unroll to it's full size without a problem. It'll keep you warm in anything above freezing temperatures, and if you throw on a layer or two it'll keep you warm when it's colder than that. I can't count the number of times I've left my sleeping back behind and just carried my poncho and poncho liner in my ruck. Lay out the poncho, lay the poncho liner on top, lay yourself in the middle and then wrap up like one big Soldier burrito. You stay warm and dry all night long.
The picture of my wife is something that she came up with years ago. You can buy iron-on transfers that you run through your home printer (another modern miracle! Anyone remember those old mimeograph machines?), and then you slap 'em on a shirt, or on whatever. Well, she printed out a picture of herself and ironed it onto a white hankerchief, and gave it to me for Operation Brightstar. If it gets crinkled you just smooth it out, you can wash it and it doesn't die, and there's no glass to break. It goes everywhere with me so that I always have my wife no matter where I go.
Speaking of Camp Phoenix, this is a picture of Patriot Square at night.
It's about 3.5MB if you want to download it. The DFAC at Phoenix has the flags of our coalition partners up in front of it. The plaques on the wall behind the flags are the unit crests of the various US Army units that have been in charge of Camp Phoenix. You can't see them in this picture, but further down the wall are plaques for the various other countries that have served with us at Phoenix. When I was there it was the Bulgarians and Romanians.
And I made sure that nobody could recognize the guy walking by the flags.
So there you are. Two photos from my mission, and another modern miracle. The Ragin' Mrs. and I are headed down to Mad Town today to see if we can't rescue a few ferrets. Updates on that later. See you tomorrow!