Tuesday, November 28, 2006

the CDC is right-vaccinate early!

Thanks for the comments, i am working on the next installment but have been really busy. things here in Iraq are rather normal-as normal as this country can be...I am really excited for the trip home, the new pictures of my nephews make me a little homesick in a good way. I cannot wait to have the opportunity to hold them and play with them. Flu shots stink. I am suprised that i did not get sick this year. I guess that my body is already fighting enough disease that it is ready for whatever comes its way. Go Immune System!!
I miss you all-
I will try to get some more work done on the next installment.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Boots on the Ground: a Soldiers story of the War In Iraq

We were staged at FOB Warhorse waiting from the word from higher command as to when we would be departing. I knew that it would be an early morning, and that it would be at the most inconvenient time for me-thats just the way the army works. I took my time to pray and think through my actions before we departed to one of the worst areas of iraq. I knew that things were going to be different on this operation than anything i had been through so far. i took time to clean my M16 thoroughly, I knew that i was going to need it. every time that something bad happened to me, i would have a gut feeling that something was wrong before it happened. ever since i had arrived in Iraq, this sense was stronger than ever. I knew that something was going to go horribly wrong. we got word that we were going to leave in the early morning, just before sunrise. the chaplain came over from FOB Scunion and prayed with us. we prayed for safe travel and return, we prayed that God's hand would work through us in this mission, and I prayed that i would feel his presense. I had seen enough action already (i.e. the usual improvised explosive device), that i was ready for this convoy, but nothing could have prepared me for the journey ahead.
We rolled out of the north gate of FOB Warhorse just after sunrise and began the long journey south to An Najaf. We had to go out of the way of most of the cities along the quick route because unfriendly personnel were prepared for our march south. Thank you CNN. Our operation had been headline news for days. Have you ever felt like complete strangers knew more about what you were doing than you did? I was just a private. they tell me to drive, i do it. they tell me to shoot, i do it. Why do i need to know any more than that? My vehicle commander was a combat veteran. he had been a member of a tank crew, and he had seen enough action already. he knew what to do. SGT Long would be manning the only 50 caliber weapon among the support vehicles. support had sent 2 cargo HEMTT's and 2 Fuel HEMTT's. i was driving one of the cargo HEMTT's with a battle load of tank rounds and enough food and water for three days. i would have rather been on a rolling bomb than what i was carrying-hello private, i have no say in what happens to me. The ride was mostly uneventful for the first 12 hours...did i tell you that it was only supposed to take 12 hours. we were in the middle of a hostile area, and our commander was lost. thank you West Point. we had been lost for about 4 hours, switch-backed across lord only knows how many miles of iraq, and we were still no closer to An Najaf. the convoy commander had led us down the wrong road not once, not 3 times, but 4 times. did the lead vehicle have a team of monkeys working around the clock to make sure that we never got there or what?
Things progressively went downhill. by midnight, we were lost in Downtown Al Hillah. A little history lesson on Al Hillah. This city was an insurgent stronghold since the outset of the war. the people of the city had not seen an american in months. Al Hillah had been blacklisted and american troops were not to enter the city. here we are downtown in a city, at night, and we were lost. great. I saw hate in the eyes of the people on the street. if you looked long enough into their eyes, you could just picture that same individual holding a handsaw and cutting your head of for the nightly news. my gut was doing summersaults. i was going to die, and my mother was going to have to learn from CNN. I dont think i have ever felt such a suffocating feeling as i did looking into the eyes of these people on the streets of this unfriendly neighborhood. where was mr rogers when you needed him? we made it through downtown without incident, and I began to relax as we reached the outskirts of town. that's when i saw it. a white phosphorus parachute flare. this put both my TC (truck commander) and myself back on edge. we continued to drive down the road and made a left turn. there was a canal on the left side of the road and dense shubs on the right side of the road. this was not a good development. then i saw it again, another flare. we passed a marine convoy going the other direction, and that put my mind at ease. they were the ones who fired off the flares, i knew it. we made it about a mile down the road and that is when all hell broke loose. I saw the third and final flare.


The Heavy Equipment Transport (HET) 4 vehicles in front of mine was hit. time stood still. you know how in the movies, when the battle starts, everything goes into slow motion? they arent bullshiting. it felt like an eternity we were sitting there staring at the site of the explosion and wondering why the HET wouldnt move. then we started to see movement all around us. people were pouring out of a house just to the right of the site of the explosion. the track vehicles on the trailer of the HET started to fire on the people running up towards us. SGT Long fired off a string of expletives and then matched fire with his 50 cal. I was in a dream. this couldnt be happening. what was i doing here? I started to see tracer rounds coming between the vehicles from the left. I had been driving for 22 hours and i was not ready for this. I saw the vehicle in front of me start to fire in the direction of the fire, and i matched fire. Its funny that people say you never know what you will do when the rounds start coming back at you. its true. you just shut down, and, if you are lucky, you recieved good training that just takes over. the vehicle in front of me remained as motionless as it did the last time i checked, and the people coming out of the house were moving closer and closer to the vehicles in the convoy. one insurgent got about five feet from the passenger door of the truck in front of me. the medic in the passenger seat swung his shotgun out of the window and laid down great vengence and furious anger upon the man who was hell bent on killing him. the gun fire did not stop and my TC had gone through 3 ammo cans before the HET driver snapped back into reality. he pressed the pedal to the metal and we followed suit. we met up with the front part of the convoy about 3 miles down the road. we knew someone in the HET was hurt, and we were ready to provide as much aid as possible. Unfortunately, the civilian driving the truck had waited too long. A Staff Sergeant had been hit by a piece of shrapnel about the size of a California peach in his midsection. our first rate body armor is no match for a piece of metal moving that fast, and the staff was dead before the HET started moving again. we called for a medevac and a bird was enroute. 6 feet from the ground is a long way when you are moving deadweight. SGT Chase was a 5 foot something medic. Along with about 5 other medics, he stood at the base of the truck trying to figure out how to get this body out of the cab. Remember that trust that i mentioned earlier, he climbed into the cab, looped his arms under the staff's shoulders, looked back, and said catch me. he took a leap of faith, knowing that his fellow soldiers would be there to catch him. they prepared the body for pickup, and treated the driver for minor wounds.
The helicopter arrived about fifteen minutes after the call, and the casualty was loaded into the chopper. this ugly phase of our journey was over, but the night was still young. the HET platoon commander brought another person up to replace the TC and we were ready to roll. Unfortunately, no one had seen the driver. He had pulled a Keyser Soze' and he was gone. we could not leave an american in this hostile territory, even if he had run off. A group of soldiers were sent to search the surrounding area, outbuildings, and homes in an area where we were just attacked looking for this guy. 3 hours spent looking for him brought no fruit. the convoy commander callled back to the dust off and asked them to check the bird. The medic assured him that he was not in the chopper, but agreed to check just in case. When he came back on the radio, he informed us that the civilian driver had been found, curled up in the fetal possition in the back of the chopper. 6 medics, 2 pilots, and a convoy full of men had all missed him sneaking on to the chopper. that civilian punched his time card, and i am sure he was on the next flight home. 27 hours since i last slept. he wasted three hours of my time. I was mad, tired, and wanted to take a shower and wash the pain away. i would never be able to forget what i had just been through, but right now i wanted to wash all of the images out of my mind. ever since i joined the army, i wanted my chance to fight in this war, and now all i wanted was to be a little kid curled up on my mothers lap. safe from all danger. God i wish i could cry-why do i have to be a man at times like this.
we were still eight hours from our destination, we had just lost a soldier, and we all needed some rest. the convoy commander decided we would drive out as far into the desert as we could, the drivers would sleep while others took shifts on guard, and we would move out at first light. I dont know how i slept, but i found comfort in the cab of that HEMTT and i slept the best four hours of my life. when we got back on the road the next morning, we found that we were on the right track for an arrival at FOB Duke before lunch time. Insurgents had blown up every bridge leading into An Najaf the day previous-every one except the one we were headed for. I felt something jump inside me. A shower was calling my name...we continued to drive faster and faster towards our destination.
we made the last turn heading into the Marine base, and the Entry Control Point(ECP) was visible. I was so excited, we were almost there. Just before we arrived at the gate, the convoy commander made a left turn into a patch of sand. i thought this was normal. we were just going to get accountability before we rolled in the gate. boy was i wrong.
COL Dana J. H. Pittard, our Brigade Commander, wanted to name a FOB. In our brigade we were the Iron Dukes. Hence, FOB Duke. Instead of going to the Marine base-the one the had phones, showers, internet, a Dining facility, and a Post Exchange we were going to "rough it." I had not, nor had any of the other members of the team, on not having laundry facilities. this was about to get ugly.

Why is it when you are a kid all you want is to be dirty, but when you're an adult the prospect of being dirty is horrifying?

I felt like Pigpen-the cloud of dust and all...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

technical difficulties

sorry that i have not posted in a while. i have been unable to access the website to put my posts on, but you have been rewarded for your patience. here are the next two installments on the story-well worth the wait i hope. things here are much of the same. i am really excited to go home for leave. thank you leah for the package that you sent with the christmas decorations. its beginning to feel a lot like christmas, and even though you arent supposed to put up christmas decorations before thanksgiving is over i say poo-poo to that.
I miss you all very much and hope you enjoy the story half as much as i am enjoying writing it.

Boots on the Ground: A Soldiers story of the war in Iraq (part 4)

When we arrived at FOB Scunion, this alien world that I was in felt a little more like a home...it was nothing like the home I had just left, but it was getting better. I was able to call home after the first few days had passed, and I let my family know that I had arrived safely. We moved into our transient housing, which we affectionately referred to as the "chicken coops" because the windows were chicken wire and the rafters were full of pigeons. The chicken coops were home, but left much to be desired. There was no climate control, it was winter in Iraq, and I was a dumb private who packed his sleeping bag in the connex-real smart...
Scunion was a small camp; you had to run twice around the wire just to make two miles. We had names for some of the buildings; the headquarters building was called the Taj Mahal because it was a tiered building that the leadership thought looked like a temple. We had the North Forty, which was a wide open space north of the North gate but still inside the wire. then there was the trash pile. There was literally a half-football field full of scrap metal, concrete, and trash that was piled up in the center of the camp. 4th Infantry division had done the impossible by making the other buildings on the FOB livable, but it was at the cost of a gigantic trash pile that now belonged to us. The battalion Sergeant Major did not like trash. I did not like the prospect of having to clean up the trash...but there were still a few aces up the sleeves. The hearts and minds campaign was about to begin and all of our lives were about to change.
The first week in Iraq was spent in a RIP (relief in place). This meant that our leadership was sitting in the right seat while the people we were replacing were driving...this is a way the army uses to actively train the newbie’s. I spent the first week mostly doing nothing. as I was a private, I had no responsibility and, until my leaders were finished training, I was without a job. So I did what I do best-I went trash digging. The saying is right-one mans trash is another mans treasure. I found so much stuff in the junk yard that I was ready to move into my quarters and start living the good life. There were wood boxes to stack as a dresser, ammo cans to store my personal hygiene items, wood to make a permanent bed-I hate sleeping on cots, paint, and many other smaller more useless items that I felt like I absolutely needed them.
As soon as the RIP was complete, the day came to bring the trail party of 4th ID to Balad Airbase. This would be my first time driving in our sector, and, although I did not know the route yet, in the coming months I would become very familiar with the trip to Balad. I was the driver of a 5 ton truck, loaded to the max with soldiers ready to go home. I was terrified of what was out there, and this fear was beginning to affect my better judgment. The road to Balad was a dangerous route, but I was more dangerous to the soldiers in back than the route could have ever been. This trip was where it stopped being a game and started to get real. The road up to Balad is full of potholes and dips. If you have ever traveled by 5 ton you would understand how this is not a good way to travel. The suspension is very stiff, and the vehicles don’t handle bumps and dips very well. I was too scared to fall back from the vehicle in front of me, I was not making wise decisions, and I almost launched a soldier out of the vehicle because I was taking the dips too fast. I almost killed another soldier because I was too scared to risk my own for their safety.
This attitude would change, but experience was all that I needed to change. During the first few weeks in Iraq, the chaplain passed out ID tags that had a bible verse on them that quickly became my favorite. Joshua 1:9, “I will be strong and courageous, I will not be terrified or discouraged for the Lord my God is with me wherever I go.” I would always say a quiet prayer before we rolled out the gate, and this particular verse was incredibly reassuring to me. The more that I prayed, the more I accepted the fact that I had no control over my fate, and this led to the calm resulting from accepting your death. I was ready to die each time that I left FOB Scunion, and I was thankful for each day that I came back. Every day was my last. I would call home infrequently. Each time I talked to my family it was painful. I didn’t want to admit that they could lose me at any time. It was easier not to hear their voices; email is much more impersonal. I almost killed a soldier, and now I was ready to die myself.
The trip to Balad became a bi-weekly occurrence. I made the trip so often that it haunted me in my dreams. The first month flew by, and there was so much going on that it was impossible to keep track of the day of the week. An Najaf had become a problem, and we became part of the solution. A team of soldiers from 3rd Brigade, 1ID were sent down to An Najaf to assist the marines in clearing out the city. I was a member of the team.
My supervisor came to me one night in early April and informed me that I would be going to Najaf for sixty to ninety days. This trip was going to change my life. This would be the beginning of a journey that I did not know I was embarking on, and this trip would have far reaching effects to my life and my future. This would be the trip that would make me a combat veteran. This was the day I thought that I was going to die, the day that I first saw death, and the day that I began to have unwavering trust for the soldier to my right and left.

Boots on the Ground: A Soldiers story of the war in Iraq (part 3)

Kuwait was full of broken promises for the 1st Infantry Division. While we awaited our turn to depart north and join the battle, we were assured that none of our vehicles would go north of Kuwait without armor. At this point in the war, the insurgency was begining to use roadside bombs in their efforts to oppose the new order establishing itself in the Arab world. This was a deadly weapon, and this concerned a lot of troops and their families. Hearing the division commander assure us that we would not roll north without armor was calming but disconcerting. in the short amount of time that i had been in the army, i knew that this was just too good to be true. This convoy was perhaps the most frightened i had ever been for any trip in my life. I was headed into the valley of the shadow of death. I took a lot of time to pray. i was scared. its not like the kind of fear that you experience when watching a scary movie, this kind of fear is deep within your soul. it is almost painful where it touches you. i was scared for my life.
time passed, our training at the Udari Range Complex was completed and it was time. Our maintenance team had been working around the clock to fix as many of the problems with our vehicles before we hit the road. there were five serials in our convoy as we were trying to reduce the size of our convoy to a manageable amount. there were still more than forty vehicles per convoy and this is dangerous because you move too slow. I was in the last serial. we were the recovery group. if any vehicle broke down we were the ones that would pick them up. the first serials would not stop for any reason. we were briefed on the convoy two days before we rolled out. it was at this point in time that we were informed that there were not enough armor kits to accommodate all of our vehicles. we were instructed to put sandbags on the floorboards of our vehicles. all of these promises of world class equipment for our protection boiled down to a twenty-five cent sandbag. thanks a lot uncle sam...
0400 9 March 2004, we were awakened at an early hour to make the final preparations for our departure at 0700. This was it. months of preparation and training, classes, and exersizes and now we were actually going to cross the border into a combat zone. the chaplain gave us a prayer at 0600. it was still dark, so no one could see the fear on each others face. it was so palpable that you could taste it. no one was talking. we all had so much to say but no one was saying a thing. I climbed into my truck and waited. there would be a separation between each convoy, enough time for each convoy not to run up on the other. we weren't scheduled to leave until 0900, but we waited with engines running. the time flew by and we were on the road before too long. it was my first opportunity to see camels up close and not in a cage. it was like driving in america, but instead of cows you would see herds of camels. it was wierd, almost unnatural. we stopped at Norstar Convoy Support Center and fueled up two miles before the border crossing. this was the last chance to file for conscientious objector status. next stop, War.
There are signs painted on a concrete barriers just before the border, "Approaching the Iraqi border, Speedlimit, Drive it like you stole it!" This became our motto and practice, but not on this convoy. I think the fastest that we went on this trip was 35 miles per hour. the convoy was scheduled to take fourteen hours...but nothing in the army works quite as well as planned. Many of our vehicles were not as "battle ready" as they could have been and nearly forty vehicles in our battalion broke down along the trip. since we were the recovery element it was our job to pick them up. I was in a Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (or HEMTT, said hemit). The truck had just come back from a rebuild and was a "new" truck. all this meant was that it was not battle tested. any time i come to a military vehicle and it does not have at least two to three leaks on the underside, that is not a truck i will drive. this time i did not have that option. besides the fact that i was a private, i was just as much of a "cherry" as this vehicle. my vehicle broke down approximately eight miles into Iraq. Bad fuel was the cause, and the effect was having to stop in hostile territory and drain the 154 gallon fuel tank. we did not have the luxury of environmental friendly disposal, and all of us were nervous about being stopped on the side of an iraqi highway. i opened the drain plug on the tank and let it pour onto the highway. in a twisted way, i was just returning the fuel to the source...the whole operation took about 20 minutes, and then we were back on the road. this would be the last time my truck would be the cause of a stop, but this would not be the end of the nightmare on our hands.
by the time we reached the Scania CSC (convoy support center), half of the vehicles in our convoy were towing another vehicle behind them. we thought that this was the end of the breakdowns, but once again we were wrong. Scania was everything i thought a movie about a war should be. there were hundreds of trucks parked in the staging area and the living area looked like something off of the TV show MASH. there were helicopter overflights constantly and I thought any minute "charlie" was going to come out of the palm groves and ambush us. i felt like an actor in some great movie about modern warfare, but this was not a hollywood movie set, and there was an enemy out there observing me right now. sometimes i wonder what he saw. what i looked like in those early days. I must have looked like a young, scared, sub-urban kid who somehow got lost on his way to college and now was fighting a war in some country half a world away...at least that is how I felt. we took some time to fuel up, rest up, and get ready for the next leg of the trip we were only halfway to our destination, and we were already hours behind schedule. This was turning into a fiasco, and the sun was getting ready to set.
as darkness crept up, I found myself pulling security as we recovered yet another broken down vehicle. as I gazed out on the landscape, everything looked so foreign. there were palm groves all over the place, and each town that we passed looked just like the drawings of villiges in bible stories of my youth...that is except for the occasional antennae for television or radio. i never thought that i would ever have been in the middle east as a tourist let alone as a member of a liberation army. what was i doing here? what did i do in my life that ended up with me in the driver seat of a fuel truck in the middle of a combat zone? what was i thinking? these questions haunted me as i sat there staring into the wide open spaces of this foreign land, and they would continue to haunt me for most of my tour. I was looking for answers, i was looking for direction, i was looking for the person who wanted me dead.
twenty-two hours after we left kuwait, we arrived at our designated rally point. we would sleep here for the night, and in the morning our comrades would pick us up and escort us to FOB Scunion. I dont think i have ever slept so rough in my life. it is impossible to fall asleep and be comfortable inside the cab of a HEMTT. somehow i got enough rest to function come wakeup, and i was never more alert than i was on the ride to Scunion. this would be my first experience driving in traffic. the escort told us that the only way you stay alive in this country is to "drive it like you stole it." he brifed us on the route, and told us to keep up-he had no intention of stopping. it is an incredible experience driving in rush hour traffic at 55 mph...especially when you dont have to pay for the damages you cause. I took my 10 ton truck over bombed out replacement bridges, through wall to wall traffic, and finally through the gate at FOB Scunion. I never felt so alive in my life. I was hooked. Adrenaline was my new drug, and I wanted more. My oportunity would come soon, but not soon enough. For now we rested.

Welcome to hell boys...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

and the beat goes on...

things are more of the same, my leave is soon, so i am excited. I really just want to see my nephews, but i guess others can be scheduled in during nap time...jk. MO you are right, but dont put anything on the web about it BBIW...B and L and N thanks for the birthday pics, he is adorable, but i am sure that cake was everywhere...cant wait to see you all.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The fun of story telling...

Thank you all for reading my story and giving me your kind comments, I have enjoyed writing it so much that i dont think i will stop at three-why put a number out there, ill just keep on writing until i get put in jail ;)
I have been busy, but not so much that i am getting worn out. R&R is coming soon, and i am keeping my eyes on the prize. I have a headache, so there wont be a long post today. I am still working on the next installment of "boots on the ground." I will post when i have enough to put up.
MO start thinking of a day which will live in infamy! ILYIMY ill see you soon.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

boots on the ground, a soldiers story of Iraq (part 2)

In February 2004, I arrived in Kuwait headed towards a yearlong rotation in Iraq. I deployed herre with a combat battalion heading to one of the worst provinces in the country. Insurgent violence was fracturing this once prosperous, largely Sunni Muslim province. The Province was crippled by war, fear of insurgency was holding the population captive. The community was crumbling around looting and sectarian violence. Citizens had been placed under a military imposed curfew, but many were still too afraid to leave their homes. Insurgent strongholds in Fallujah, An Najaf, and the small neighborhood outside the "Green Zone" in Bahgdad (dubbed Sadr City by the soldiers) were gaining strength and numbers, digging in for a long fight. Iraq was torn by violence and the people were weary of the promise of a bright future.the dust is the worst part of it all. Kuwait, a desolate, barren, sandy hell. the thing about the dust in kuwait is that it is a finer grade of sand than what you would find on a beach in America. It gets everywhere. you will open books and find dust. your crotch, ears, nose, eyes, nothing is safe from the dust. all of your electronics are trashed. flat, neverending desert is all that you see in kuwait.
the US Military made history in 2004. for the first time since WWII, Military Sealift Command and Air Mobility Command were put to the test with a massive troop and equipment rotation. 130,000 troops were rotated in and out of theater in a matter of months. Sealift command managed the rotation of nearly as many vehicles and other pieces of mission critical equipment. This troop rotation was done in conjunction with the R&R program, and other daily operations supplying troops at the front with supplies needed to fight the battle went on without pause. A Combined Forces effort resulted in a fresh force touching ground and taking the torch from a battle hardened but fatigued force. New camps were built all over the northern desert of Kuwait to support the influx of troops being trained at the Udari Range Complex. Large patches of Kuwait sand were groomed and prepared, tents were setup, dining facilities were built, and communications networks were established. The stage was set.
Enter 1st Infantry Division
February 14th, 2004-Valentines Day-an ideal day to separate husbands and wives, was the day chosen to deploy the 2nd battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment. Wakeup was 0300. First formation was at 0400 for weapons draw. that was the day that my relationship with Janet began-this is my rifle. although there are many others like it, this is my rifle-we moved our baggage to the hilltop gym for weigh in-478 lbs with me and all of my gear. around 0900 we loaded on the busses, said our last goodbyes, shed a few tears, and departed for the Nurnburg Airport where a plane was about to arrive to pick us up. the Flight to Kuwait takes about 14 hours from Germany. by the time we arrived in Kuwait it was dark, near midnight, and was cold. Winter in Kuwait is cold. It almost felt like the Germany that we just left. We inprocessed into theater which took about 2 hours, drank water, used the facilities, then boarded busses for the non-stop ride to Camp New York. Forced Hydration had been the policy since Germany (which meant that we had formations 5 times a day to drink water-kinda like a tea-party only not fun). About 3 hours into the drive i had to go to the bathroom so bad that it hurt. we had so much equipment on and with us that only my right butt-cheek could fit on the seat and that cheek was throbbing and numb by the time we pulled into the barren wasteland known as Camp New York. This was Home for the next three or so weeks.
The first few days at Camp New York were chaos. Lines everywhere. we would wake up at 0400 just to get in line for breakfast ( the doors didnt open until 0800), then after we got done with breakfast we would walk out the door and get in line for lunch (lunch started at 1200), then we would eat lunch and get in line for dinner around 1300 ( dinner didnt start until 1730), finally after dinner we would get in line to use the phones, internet, or Post Exchange. that was an average day at Camp New York until Halliburton built us a larger dining facility (one that could serve the entire camp in 1 hour was built in, literally, 2 days). Things changed after the DFAC was expanded, we now had nothing to do. we were so used to waiting in line that we were all confused when this fun game was over. Spades became a very popular game about that time. a lot of money was either won or lost while engaging in this Army wide pasttime.
Our boat was in an accident leaving the harbor in Antwerp, Belgium. This meant that we were on the extended stay of Kuwait. we had to wait another week for our vehicles to arrive before we could do the manditory Convoy Live Fire Excersize, which ended up being more redneck than any other training i have ever participated in since i joined the army. It consisted in driving down a dusty dirt road and shooting at 55 gallon drums and a couple burnt out cars. Ma and Pa Kettle would be proud...i certainly felt more ready to fight the insurgency because of this training. No seriously, you have no idea how dangerous 55 gallon drums are in Iraq, especially in large numbers. Dispite the lack of resources, the MPRI trainers in Kuwait were worth the time spent at the ranges. the training, although lacking in the reality department, was just what we needed to augment the excersizes and other activities conducted in Germany. We were prepared to fight an enemy that up to this point had been a paper target. Now it was real. from here on in we shoot without a script. The next step was the Convoy North.

and the land speed record goes to...

things out here remain the same. it seems to me that everytime i am out of the states, life just flies by at break neck speed. it seems like just yesterday that i left the states, but so much has happened since then. i am excited to get home and see my nephews for the first time. it will be fun too be an uncle. it almost feels unreal, like it isnt really happening. i miss you all very much.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

2 years, 5 months and 8 days...

I really need a new job. they told me when i took this job that there would be a lot of travel (they didnt say that it would be to the worst possible locations imaginable), great benefits (they didnt say that it would be like pulling teeth to use them), and i would get to meet new and exotic people (they didnt say that these people would be trying to kill me...). I'm looking for something less dangerous, maybe underwater welding or ocean floor pipeline maintenance. any thoughts.

I have not had a chance to view the results of the elections, but would welcome your input in comments. let me know how things went.


Monday, November 06, 2006

how sweet it is to be...

Q-west Idol went off without a hitch. we took second place as a company, meaning one of out people took second place. we also took second place in the dodgeball tournament. what a loss. things are good here on my end. I am still waiting for pictures of my new nephew, but i suppose mother and son are doing well. no news is good news...i am continuing to write my story and i will post chunks as they get finished. i miss you all and hope all is well with you. leah, brian and noah-keep the pictures coming-patricia, jason, and cody-get the cameras out, i want some photographic proof of life :)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

2 times in one year, can one uncle be so lucky?

I am a happy Uncle once again...congradulations Jason and Patricia...I love you a lot and cannot wait to see Cody!!!

Boots on the Ground...a soldiers story of the War in Iraq

In a generation of Americans fixated with instant gratification it is no wonder why the War in Iraq leaves such a bad taste in the average citizen’s mouth. Operation Desert Storm has given the American people a false sense of reality that war is easy. An Over-confidence in the Military might of the US, although not misplaced, has generated unreal expectations for the military as a whole. It is in this attitude of Supremacy that the short comings in the war for Iraq become sharply focused and plainly evident. Understand this, we are fighting an enemy who remains a phantom menace, and remains focused on the total destruction of the western way of life. This, however, is not the average Iraqi. This enemy is not representative of a large demographic of Iraqi society. In fact, this enemy is not usually even Iraqi. What follows is the story of the Iraqi people, the truth about the battle that continues to rage on in this country and the story of what it is like to be an American living and working in this war torn country.
The average Iraqi rises before the sun, commutes to work, provides for their family, and socializes with their neighbor. They shake hands, make deals, and conduct their day to day business while a war rages on around them. The average Iraqi has a cell phone, satellite television, and just installed air-conditioning in his home. This is not a terrorist, just like you and I, these Iraqis have dreams of a bright future, memories of good days, and hope for the future that lay before them. But unlike you and I, these Iraqis also have nightmares. Fears of a government that terrorized, raped, imprisoned and held them hostage for so many years. This dark past has given the people of Iraq a drive to succeed, and it has given them hope for better days. Unlike the grim forecasts of political and military analysts tucked safely away from danger in the comfort of their newsrooms, the future of Iraq looks bright. There are many reasons why success of this Arab nation is on the horizon.
Thanksgiving 2003 was my first holiday away from home, and I was spending it in Germany, training for a yearlong rotation in Iraq. At the time is was a young soldier fresh out of basic training, and though I had not tasted war yet, I was eager to prove myself. I in-processed into US Army Europe while the unit I was assigned to was finishing a 45 day rotation at the Combat Maneuver Training Center and a 30 day rotation at the training center and ranges in Grafenwoer Germany. I spent two months in Germany preparing to deploy, partying, drinking heavily completely unaware of what lay ahead of me. Its sort of weird when you sit down by yourself and try to accept the fact that you might die. When I first found out that I was bound for Iraq, I didn’t know how to tell my family. My mother cried. I hate when decisions I make bring my mother to tears. Although the reaction was the same, these were not tears of disappointment, these were tears of fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of death. Secretly, I was sharing those same tears, but on the outside I was strong. My father started giving me advise, "Stay away from the married women," "walk worthy," "don’t do anything you would be ashamed of." I felt like I was terminally ill. Everyone was saying their last words. Honestly, I was looking on the whole thing from the outside. A bird’s eye view of my life.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

back in the saddle...

well the punishment is complete and i am back on the net. i will be putting the first part of my story on the blog tonight so stay tuned. I am alive, well, and busy as ever. i love you all and look forward to hearing from you.