Brothers

Brothers
E Plurubus Unum, Rex Montis

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

It's Christmas morning. I am now "that" dad who tries to sleep and the kid comes in bouncing off the walls because it's Christmas morning. I was slowly pursuaded out of bed.

Finals are over and I have a nice break before spring semester.
This sure beats last Christmas hands down. Christmas in the desert sucks and is rather depressing. I made a decision not to be depressed last Christmas. I did it, but it was tough. I found a little itty bitty Christmas tree in the trash and set it up. A couple people had sent me little wrapped presents that I put under my little tree. Unfortunately I spent Christmas laying in a sniper hide out in the desert. It's hard top put those emotions into words at all.
I volunteered to be there...yet I hated being so far away on a day that means so much to me.

Now I'm back and loving life. I am home with my family this Christmas. However, I still have a tinge of sadness, as my little brother is over there right now, just as miserable as I was, if not more so. Every time I think about him I get a little choked up.

So, to all of my brothers reading this, and all my brothers that can't, have a very merry Christmas...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Semesters end

The semester is almost over, finals are upon us. Too bad we have a 4 day guard drill right before finals week. I can only hope to bring some books along and find some down time to study.

It will be so nice to have a month without studying. 21 credits to go. Can't quite manage that much in a semester, so it looks like I'll be going back to school next fall for a class or two before I get my AA. Then who knows? On to a bachelor degree in....? Biology? Environmental science? Geography? Who knows. We'll see, I have plenty of time to decide.

I entered a writing competition...we'll see if this last ENG class helped at all. No prize, just a publishement of your material in a newspaper, which is reward enough.

Our new 3 year old black lab is snoozing away on my arm chair as I avoid finishing my term paper. I am just not feeling it tonight. I shall forge ahead with vigor nonetheless!

That's all, just an update really...not a day goes by that I don't think about Iraq, or dream it and I wish it would stop already. 4 months later and I just want to be home in every sense of the word.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

We are who we are

I was watching the trailer from Ironman (because I am a nerd that way) and came accross this picture. The caption on a different picture said, "You think this letter on my head stands for France?!" I couldn't stop laughing. Then I thought of a very simlar person I know who recieved the name "Sergeant America" again, I couldn't stop laughing, this picture is dedicated to YOU Tickettosser!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Who what where

I haven’t had much worth writing lately. I’m still just enjoying being home, and though it’s been 4 months…still getting used to it.

I decided I would start recounting some of my Iraq journeys. For the most part, I’d rather not think about that place at all. But honestly, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Iraq. Not a day goes by that I don’t look at my memorial bracelets and reflect that all of us didn’t get to come home…
Then think about the freedoms we take for granted every day, and look down our nose at the fact that we are in a country that some say we don’t have a “right” to be in. This wasn’t the direction I was going, but I’ll go with it. I spoke to a middle school age group the other day, in uniform, for Veterans Day. I explained what Veterans Day is supposed to be about. The children asked “What the deal is in Iraq, and why we are there?” In a lengthy response I summed it up in as simple a term as I could. “If you were walking home from school and saw someone getting beat up would you help or at least get help?” (End speech at school, on to thoughts) On that thought, would someone say that a kid helping out against bullies would be guilty of sticking his nose in someone else’s business? Would we say that the helper didn’t “belong there?” Food for thought anyway. Granted I pretty much hate Iraq, and after seeing the majority of the way people act and are over there I would just as soon drop a couple H-bombs on the place. But that’s not my call.

I have many thoughts about that crusty dirt hole, but I’ll not express them all just now.

The reason I was posting today was to start jotting down the stories that pop into my head from time to time, as I might want to remember them one day, even if I think that’s silly now.

Fallujah. Spring 2007 Every mission we hope is our last. The night is cool, 90 degrees. A long night of raiding near the Euphrates. Back and forth all night long, driving, running, kicking doors, shooting. Watching the strobes through my night vision set my stomach to roiling. That, combined with 36 hours of no sleep took its toll. I eventually slammed on the breaks and emptied my guts on the side of the road. Anyone who has witnessed this knows the sound to be violent in nature. Some wandering Marines appeared and asked if I needed a Corpman. “No” my gunner answered, “It’s just Zeke puking” as if that should explain everything.

Night turned to day and my stomach settled. Only to be turned again when we later pulled some guys out of a torture house. Men who were being burned, gutted and broken for no other reason than the other Muslim sect didn’t like them.
That was a good feeling escorting them to safety…yet, when people can harm another like that, and take pleasure from it…well that just makes me sick, and think all the more of A-bombs.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Event Center

As the heat over the local event center rises, I find incredible irony. Students at the college aren't paying land taxes, yet they get to vote on the issue and will most likely be gone in a matter of years. Yet, residents outside the city limits, who pay taxes, don't get to vote on the issue, a quandary to be sure.

I went to a city meeting on Wednesday, and it looks as though the citizens of Bemidji will be dragged along on this road whether they like it or not.
I have heard much rhetoric about how wonderful this place will be for the citizens, but in my searches I have yet to see proof of anything more than a lavish expenditure of a poor city trying to do something “big.” The only thing that this center will be, at first, is a hockey rink, with many grand ideas to follow.

This whole scenario reminds me of an adolescent wanting something, the parent saying no, and the child doing “it” for no better reason than because they want to. However, unlike the adolescent scenario, I think there is more going on behind the scenes than we were originally led to believe. This will end up being nothing but a drain on the taxpayers. We will have to pay a fee to enter this facility. Despite the claims of flowers and sunshine being blown up unmentionable places, I don’t foresee this unbased monstrosity as anything more than a big black hole that will do anything but help citizens or make money.

If I’m completely wrong, that’s all well and good, but if I’m right…an “I told you so” just won’t cut it.
It’s not like we the people don’t pay enough taxes as it is. The base portion taken is 15%, make above minimum and it’s looking more like 30%...heaven forbid you work for yourself and it gets cranked to 45-50%! After that you still get nailed with 7% local tax on every dollar you spend of your already taxed money (I won't even get into capital gains tax). So, it may only be a couple hundred extra a year out of my pocket in taxes for this thing, but I can guarantee you that people who actually work for a living want to keep that hundo right where it is. I could invest that money in my Roth IRA instead of an "event center."

Exhale…now I feel better, a little bit. Oh ya, the vote passed by 44 college students. To bad the 100 or so of us that could have tipped the scales were off fighting in Iraq. No big deal.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Save us Al Gore!

One of my buddies has a word he bestows on a person when they are being particularly rude, asinine, or unnervingly annoying. You would think it to be something vile. But in fact, it is a simple one syllable word that, when used correctly, sounds especially vile without sounding uneducated or “dirty.” Using this word in a sentence goes something like this. “You know, you’re a real jerk.” A simple word, used to great effect I think.
Now, the reason for this play on words; I need a word that describes hypocrite better.
This thought popped into my head when trying to come up with a word for Al Gore after he received the Nobel Peace Prize. How about, “Are you kidding me!!!?”
Granted, I haven’t seen his movie, and I have read only parts of his book, but I figure if people can make assumptions about Iraq without ever talking to a soldier, or talked to anyone besides a biased news media….well then, I feel I can comment on Al Gore.

I only have a few for now. Again, are you kidding me!!!? No proof, no facts, only assumptions, tentative theories…and they give him the Nobel Peace Prize.
To quote from his book…”…human actions are at the center of solutions as well as the problem…” Well Mr. Gore, how about your actions of flying in a private jet to the summit to get said award? That must have been a few hundred barrels of oil. To say nothing of your house! You could light a small town with the electricity and heat used for your house!
I’m just going to leave it at that for now. Just something I wanted to get off my chest.
Deep breath.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Honesty


Note to the army buddies. Squeek has been known post Shelby to be quite the tanacious guy in many different ways. Grey said they can't go to lunch at work until Squeek has told him to, go do something physically impossible to himself at least 4 times. A recent story I heard about squeek tells me that he still has found the most profound way of honestly expressing his feelings toward someone in two explicit words. (Laughs loudly). This will confuse some, but a select few are laughing right now.


I went grouse hunting with two buddies early early this morning. No grouse, but we did manage to reduce the red squirrel and "Porky-pig" population. It was great fun...only half way through the hunt did we realize we were rotating rear security...because.....um....you never know when a man eating rabbit is going to try and sneak up behind you...!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Fight or flight?


Why don’t we let our kids fight? I was pondering this on the way back from school. Why is it a taboo in our society for children to fight? Adults do it enough. Are we trying to teach them that it isn’t right, and then we go and do it both at the social level and the world wide level?
Whoever said that nothing is solved by fighting was wrong. I disagree completely. I honestly think it's human nature. Everything is solved by fighting one way or another. It would be nice to believe the fantasy that if we all just sat down together and talked we would see what we have in common and just get along!
I say, Billy hit’s Jonny. Jonny hits Billy. Make them shake hands at the end and call it good. Children have been fighting since time began. I don’t ever expect it to change. Today we have, Billy Hit’s Jonny…hopefully Jonny defends himself. Then (if they are at school) one or both gets suspended. They are then told that fighting solves nothing. I laugh. Funny, its okay if you give one guy a ball and a bunch of guys pummel him while he runs away. Some broken bones might come about as well as torn ligaments. Yet, that’s ok, because it’s a game.
A thought. If puppy’s or polar bears fight, is it bad? Should we try to stop them?
You know the funniest part about all this? I’m not even writing about anything. Nothing set me onto this. I was literally driving down the road and this popped into my head. I guess I’m trying to get some discussion rolling or something. What do you think people? Should we try to control everything and teach our kids “never” to fight? Should we teach them never to start a fight but if he/she is in one, to finish it? Or is it a right of passage to be accepted…maybe even encouraged? Maybe if it was open season on anyone who looked at you funny, and instead of repressing feelings, and they were allowed to let them out, we wouldn’t have school shootings? Now that’s a wild thought, and perhaps way off target. Maybe I should save that one for a post on family values. But it’s there so I’ll leave it.
Conclusion? Beware the sleep deprived Zeke at 11:45pm after a class on Victims Rights. (Maybe “that” is where it came from, but I honestly don’t think so, even in spite of the class title). Good night already!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Silly squirrels

Squirrel nesting. This was the room 12 of us were crammed into during our last days in Iraq. We didn’t mind at all. We were going home! We all had a wide variety of things to do, and a very small space to do it in.
Well, we’ve been back home for over 8 weeks now. Everyone has had their relax time and it was a long time coming. Anyhow, we just had our first reintegration thingy in Fargo. The beginning was a little messed up as is standard military procedure. It just pissed me off that my wife had to get dragged through the military “machine” too. I wish I could have given her a better experience. That aside, the rest of it was enjoyable. After the liquid grain started flowing, my wife and sister in-law did their best to teach me how to dance. I actually learned a “little.”
There were several highlights of the evening. One of the funniest was presented in the form of my buddy Ray. Ray doesn’t drink, but you sure could be fooled. Various brass had been getting announced in their horse and pony show and getting applauded or “booed” accordingly. During a break in the “show” Ray walked by my table to talk to one of the higher ranked NCO’s. The conversation went something like, “…this is all fine and dandy, but there should be cake…!” (voice crescendos to a thunderous roar) “…yellow cake WITH CHOCOLATE FROSTING THAT IS DELICIOUS AND I WAND IT NOW!!!” As soon as Ray finished this loud statement the room of 1,000 + people burst into applause…. It was great. It had nothing to do with Ray’s proclamation of loving cake, but another brass had been announced on stage. The timing was perfect and we were all belly laughing.
Our good friend Tim Pawlenty was there. He gave a wonderful heartfelt speech that received a standing ovation. That says a lot coming from us. He’s a guy that I know has my back. He’s also one to have a beer with the guys, and has on several occasions.

It was good to see everyone together again. People that got on your nerves don’t anymore. Old grudges are forgotten in the joy of being home. That and you don’t have to live each other in close CLOSE quarters anymore. Silly squirrel nesting.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

nothing special

Life continues on in a Frenzy of activity. School full time keeps me busy enough. Then there is the “honey do” list that, strangely, I made for myself.
I find that I cannot sit still for very long at all. I feel like I have to be “doing.” It was hard enough to sit down and write this post. However, I have felt the need to write lately, just to write.
The way the VA, friends and family have been helping us returning soldiers has been great. There is no end to the support we have felt and seen. I only feel bad that our country hasn’t always been like that, and not all soldiers have had the welcome and help we have had. But it is because of soldiers that weren’t helped before that we have help now.
Despite how much studying I have backed up or assignments looming, I have found that I have to force myself to take a break.
Oh the never ending list of “things” to do. One little job at a time.

Closing random thought, “I’m glad I’m not a dentist.”

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Brain melting


No specific reason I posted this picture, just one of the guys on the deployment showing his torn finger-nail.
My schedule has been very busy of late. I haven't even had time to "bleed the valve" lately. The main reason for my busy self, is of course, the start of school.
I thought 12 credits would be a very light load this year. Yet, I wanted to keep the transition easy and smooth. Thankfully I listened to my wife and didn’t add “just one more class.” This is by far the most painful 12 credits I have undertaken. 3 classes in Law enforcement, no more were available. I am also taking Writing English II for fun. (I like to write what can I say?).
The three Law enforcement classes are killing me. Well, not really, they are just mind numbing at times. Criminal code and statutes, traffic law, victims rights. Wow. My teachers are excellent at trying to keep classes as energized as possible, but what can I say, code after code numbs the brain. I am going over code right now and my brain is melting. 609.106 Heinous crimes. 609.185 murder in the first degree. Or was it the other way around? 609.1095 subdivision 4- Increased sentence for offender who commits sixth felony…um… 6th FELONY!? Gee, I would hope they wouldn’t be able to get out to commit a 6th felony! Ok, I’ll stop now before I melt YOUR brains.

I LOVE the fall weather. It has that sharp bite of frost in the air. The smell of leaves on the ground. I love it! Opening grouse and bow hunting today, and here I sit, inside trying desperately to get caught up in school. I doubt I’ll make it out today…sigh.
We are going to try to do a hayride somewhere this fall. I didn’t get to go on any when I was younger and I want to get out and try one!

Reintegration has it’s bumps, but I’d say I’m getting along just fine. Well, back to the grind!

Friday, August 31, 2007

relaxing still

I just got back from a week at a resort south of town. It was a wonderfull time for me, my wife and son. As a token of appreciation to Minnesota veterans, the owners let us stay for free. What a wonderful gesture. We had a wonderful stay. We spent our time at various activities; biking, paddle boating, touring, sleeping, and a general time of relaxing.
We spent a lot of time just sitting around the cabin.
Near the end of our stay, we hooked up with a fellow soldier from my unit who lives in that town. We had a nice double date with my son being the fun fifth wheel. Most of the conversation kept turning to my friend and me reminiscing over our time in the sand, our time back home, and our plans for the future. It felt very good to see old friends again.
The conversation gave me food for thought, as I realized I still have some unresolved issues that need dealing with. A lot of anger that I thought would leave after I got home.

I am taking an additional writing course this fall semester just for fun. I needed one more class to top off my workload, and nothing else remained that was “degree specific.” We’ll see how that goes. I would like to do something in writing “professionally” down the road, and I might as well get a start now. This blog has been, and continues to be, a great source of free writing and expression. I have gathered material, as time allowed, throughout the deployment to Iraq. I plan on using posts from this blog and my personal journal to write a book detailing my full experiences leading up to, during, and returning home from a near two year deployment. I have no timelines or expectations yet. Only a thought in my mind and the scribbling of a young soldier. We’ll see what comes of it.

Friday, August 24, 2007

relax

Staring out my living room window, I wondered if technology had indeed empowered us or hindered us in the pursuit of happiness. I am a fairly happy guy, but watching traffic go by and people bustling too and fro, I wondered why everyone is always in such a rush. I suddenly became very claustrophobic and had to get outside. I told my wife I’d be back, and jumped on my [pedal] bike and headed down the street. No destination in mind, just a need…

I rounded a corner by the edge of some woods and saw a path I hadn’t noticed before. As this was a random bike ride anyway, I turned onto it. After hopping several logs I realized I was completely out of town. I was heading down a tunnel of green vegetation. Leaves brushed my shoulders. Ducking my head to avoid a low limb I felt a thrill of excitement. I was outside feeling transported to a different world in the blink of an eye. Up and down small hills I went, passing flowers and shrubs. No bombs to watch for, no snipers to hide from, just trees and birds and green. I gained speed as the as the hill dropped away. Coasting towards the bottom I was forced to stop as I came upon a small creek. I surmised that it was a man-made river of sorts as it was perfectly straight.

I got off my bike and walked over the single log bridge…I turned upstream and enjoyed the sun on my face and the wind in my ears. Complete solitude. Complete peace. What a moment in time. I paused a minute more and then headed home.
Looking forward to my next adventure.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Freedoms slipping, you can help

Friends, family and readers, there is a bill before the senate right now; S. 1105 the "Hate crimes" bill. It classes homosexuals as a special class of people and gives them special "rights." Homosexuals would become a protected class where hetrosexuals are not. A clear violation of the 14th amendment section 1. "...nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." It also conflicts with the First amendment; "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech..."

This bill S. 1105 is in no way equal. This bill implies "thought crimes." So now "they" are going to try to tell me what I can and can't think? I've lost enough freedoms already thank you.
I would urge any persons reading this to go to the link below, find your representatives and give them a call. Our freedoms are slowly eroding. If you have ever read the book
"Nineteen Eighty-Four (or 1984)" or watched the movie, you will be suprised at the similarities.

I have made my phone calls and was shocked that one of my representatives is in full support of this bill. Her assistant saying it gives law enforcement and prosecutors "tools to prosecute and help..." Before I write more I need to take some time to cool down and think objectively... this bill should be voted on today, so I ask that you make the call right away.

http://www3.capwiz.com/afanet/callalert/index.tt?alertid=10009606&type=CO

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A hint of dew

Being home is wonderfull. Yet, just when I think I am finding "normal" I get a new curv ball or bumpy road. My son knows exactly who I am and loves me. For that I am ever gratefull. Yet, we are still getting used to each other. I don't understand everything he tries to say and after several tries he screams his frustration at me. We're learning.
My wife has been a God-send. We are both working on our communication. I have learned that she has done this for almost two years without me, and I am the one in need of lessons in home living. Some things I have figured out for myself...like beer :)

I decided to return to school this fall semester and get done with my degree already. It will be good to be doing something. Though, I have kept busy getting back into the swing of things...I have a long way to go...but I feel willing and able to get a start on things! In the meantime it has been nice to be able to do my manly duties again. Fixing the car, organizing my man room (garage), catching up with friends and family...it's a journey that has been ongoing for three weeks now....THREE WEEKS ALREADY!!! It seems like yesterday I was rolling in Wisconsin grass! Not much has changed, I still love the grass. Last night my son looked up, pointed and proclaimed, "Clouds!" I appreciate the little things in life, and my son seems to be able to find those best. So we laid down in our yard on the grass and cloud watched for all of 10 seconds, at which time he was off and running to find something else of interest.

I hope all the other soldiers and families are doing well. I'm still getting used to things and I think it will be months yet before I am used to being home. Looking forward to those curv balls straightening out, and those bumps seeming not so big......but life seems to be good at throwing those at you no matter what walk of life...

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Home and NEVER leaving!

Reality check happened when I killed a small bird the other day. Such a tiny little thing, but it kept trying to bite me! I smacked it, which left it stunned, then pounded it again when it started moving. It was the most unusual specimen I'd ever seen....until my wife informed me I had not killed a bird at all, that it was a common mistake....I had in fact slain a mosquito!

Being home is such a strange and wonderfull feeling. I get a shock or a jump here and there....large crowds, loud noises...but I'm adjusting fast.

The best site to see when we first got off the bus, and my most fond memory upon first arriving, was my wife's beautiful face lit up like a Christmas tree, holding an equaly sparkling young son. My wife put him down and he ran across the floor to me yelling, "Daddy daddy!" The entire way. He has taken to me right away, never a moment of confusion as to who I was. I have my lovely wife to thank for that. What a moment I had when they were both in my arms.

I have been eating in restaraunts, consuming beer, BBQing and much much more! There is so much to do, so many people to catch up with, and so much to see. I'll keep you up to date.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

...and then we were home

If home is where your heart is, then I finally caught up with mine; we're back! We arrived in B-town last Sunday (22nd). Many miles and many months have passed. Many hardships have been overcome. We've bled and we've cried. "All gave some, some gave all." I never want to "put it all behind" I've learned a lot about myself in the past 22 months, and a lot about my fellow man. I imagine I'll never look at life the same again, and I hope most of it will be for the better. Some things I wish hadn't happened, but we don't always get what we wished for. Time to step out of the uniform and sand, and into green grass and vacation clothes.

I had the honor of serving over-sea's with Minnesota's finest. I had the pleasure of being greeted and welcomed on our return by more of the same. Another shout out to my brothers and sisters in the Patriot Guard Riders. A protester had apparently showed up to protest us on our return to Minnesota. This indivdual said it was "His right to protest." He was then told he wasn't the only one with "rights," and that they weren't afraid to go to jail....he decided it would be healthier to take his opinion else-where.
We had riders from the time we entered Minnesota, all the way to our release in B-town!
A moment of silence as I remember a fellow soldier, retired, and patriot guard rider; now one of the fallen. I went to his funeral the day after our return. My heart goes out to his family. He commented on this blog as "Old Sarge" we'll remember him always.

It is SO good to be HOME!!! 6 days have come and gone already. I feel in certain ways I am adapting, but it is painfully clear in others that it will take time. Someone lit a fire-cracker off down my street. On the outside I merely flinched and my head whipped around...on the inside I was all turmoil: my hand clenching and unclenching...perhaps for the comfort and familiar feel of the pistol grip on my rifle. There will be no going "back" to normal, only moving forward.

Minnesota showed her colors proudly as her citizens turned out with shouts, flags and salutes. It brought a tear to my eye to see all the towns and rural areas turning out with all the cheers and support they could muster. Then the greeting we recieved at our own town....it was a site to behold, and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. It was a hero's welcome.
Not too long ago in another unpopular war troops returned home from a different war and weren't recieved warmly at all. At least we learned a bit from history...I was proud to see many of these soldiers turn out to welcome us home, ensuring that never again would an American soldier come back to anything short of a hero's welcome...thank you. Thank you all and God bless.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Almost home

How can I explain the joy of seeing my homeland once again? We're so close to home right now. A thunderous roar was heard from our company as we crossed into American air-space. We're not quite home yet, it will be days. But I'm in the land of the free and the home of the brave, and it feels so good.

I forgot what so much grass looked like! One of the first things I did was flop down in some grass by the air field and just lay there. No dust in my eyes, no sweat soaking through my clothes...clean, fresh air. Humidity! Trees everywhere. LAKES!!! What a site to behold. I never want to leave again.
It was raining this morning. It's been so long since I've seen rain...a bunch of us went for a walk in it. I never thought I'd thoroughly enjoy a walk in the rain, but I did!
I don't think re-integrating will take as long as we've been told. I may be naive (sp?), but I think it will be ok.
Sure I'm still scanning roads and crowds of people...that may stay with me forever...but it is not something associated with fear so much as habit.
We got a wonderfull warm welcome from the VFW vetarans and wives and people at the airports. Thank you to any and all of you that we clasped hands with.
I'll post more later when I have time. For now, we're on American soil. We're back and we're safe!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Radio

For those of you interested, a friend and I recently did a radio interview via telephone, with Mix 103.7FM. It will be airing in B-town inbetween 8:30am tomorrow, Wednesday 4th of July.

On that note, HAPPY 4th of JULY everyone! I sure wish I could be home to celebrate...but it looks like I'll spend another in Iraq. To all those who have put in time, and all those that have been there supporting them. To my fellow brothers who went too Nam and didn't get the hero's welcome they deserved...here's to freedom!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Patriot Guard

The Patriot Guard has long been on my mind. They are the epitome of what it is to be a friend and an American. They are, in my minds eye, what a soldier must be in others eyes.
There are a lot of thoughts about this war in Iraq. There are opinions that people have. There are people who say it is their “right” to protest at a soldier’s funeral. What is the meaning of the word “right?” People talk about their rights all the time; the right to a fair trial, the right to life, the right to happiness…as well as many others. These are rights that every human being is entitled to. But when does a person who never did anything for their country, have the “right” to disrupt the family and friends of the fallen at a funeral? Some think they have the right to protest. I say nay. Yet the laws of the land say otherwise. Thank God for fellow Americans, neighbors, friends, brothers and sisters who honor and defend the defenders . Thank you Patriot Guard for defending our family and friends…our fallen brethren, from those that would seek to dishonor them.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A witch hunt...86% sure

This is an attempt at expressing myself through a short story. I don't expect many of you to understand it, or even be entertained. However, it is mostly for my own uses and records. That much being said here I go...


There once was a man named George. George was a simple man who lived in a simple house. He got up every morning and did his job. George was a manager. It was his responsibility to coordinate the daily schedule, itinerary, board meeting and luncheon for the day. Not to mention the general management of his subordinates. There were ups and downs to this job, not the least of which was determining waste around his department. This due, in part, to budget cuts, and his bosses upstairs demanding detailed scrutiny of the slightest infraction.
George had a secretary named Jessica. She was a bright girl, passionate about her job. Always helpful; getting his coffee, taking notes, scheduling his day and taking phone calls. He would be truly lost without her.
George was in charge of two staff groups in his company. Of these two groups there were two special people; Stanly and Bob. Bob was clean cut, well groomed and neat; both in appearance and in job performance. Stanly, top in the company for job performance, wasn’t always so clean cut or well groomed. Stanly just didn’t strike George as being the perfect person for his particular job position. Stanly always got his job done. He got it done well and in a timely manner. But there was a flippantness in his efficiency. It was almost as if he didn’t care about his job. Or perhaps his job was too easy...

One day a report came into George’s office of the misuse of the company’s computer system. George didn’t think much of this. These types of things happened. Why, just last month, someone in the corporation had stolen a different company’s motto! They had tried to blame George’s company, but never caught the culprit.
The solution now was to simply check the computer network for recent activity, and cross-reference it with any employee work codes. Jessica came in and attempted to give him a message, but he was busy. Like most problems, it wasn’t to be easily solved. Apparently, after using the computer, the employee had simply deleted the log directory. It would be nearly impossible to backtrack now!
George thought and thought. His bosses were asking questions. It wasn’t that any harm had been done; it was the fact that they had been made to look like fools by not having complete control over their staff. Jessica came in and asked if he had a moment, he didn’t. They had to save face, someone had to be guilty.

George had always been the problem solver, he always had an answer. But this time, it seemed an answer was not forth coming. His bosses kept calling; he had to come up with something. And so, he made a decision.
He called a staff meeting. No one wanted to tell him anything. George quickly became angry. How dare they? If they weren’t going to help him, then he certainly wasn’t going to help them. He was fairly confidant that someone in Stanley’s group had something to do with all this trouble. After all, Stanly didn’t always seem to care about his job, and might be just the one to set a bad example for those under him. In fact, perhaps Stanly himself was the one guilty of misusing the computer! Whisperings from Bob’s group only added to George’s suspicions that Stanly was in fact the guilty party. According to his notes, George was 86% sure of it. He would get to the bottom of this and prove himself right once and for all. If no one wanted to come forward willingly, then he would make them. George made up a new work schedule, so that, effective immediately, all the “less than savory jobs” would fall to Stanly and Stanly’s staff. TPS reports, data entry and extra time on survey’s. Not exactly punishment, but not very nice either. Sooner or later someone would squeal. If they didn’t, he would continue with more of the same until they did!
This went on for some time. George grew more and more frustrated. Why wasn’t it working? Why wasn’t anyone coming to him to explain the error of their ways? This wouldn’t look good if he couldn’t get the answer he wanted.
In his frustration he yelled aloud, “I’ll see the computer user burn!”
Little did he know that Jessica was at his office door yet again, in an attempt to give him the message she had been trying to bring to his attention. But she was so stunned at his dire outburst that all thoughts of delivering the simple message flew from her, and with lowered head she went back to her desk. She didn’t dare touch her computer. If fact, she didn’t touch anything on her desk. One could get in such trouble for doing just about anythingg these days. Better to just sit there and let the day pass by. It was safer that way.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Pass



As some of you remember I went on pass several weeks ago to the military green zone for a short 4 day R&R. It was glorious.

#1 Enjoying a beer at "Millarky's"
#2 Golfing at famous Doha Golf Course
#3 Swimming in the Gulf (wow was it SALTY!)

The beer and relaxation was awesome. Golfing was relaxing and a complete blast, even if I can't drive worth anything. Swimming was different. My first time in salt water....I couldn't get visions of Jaws out of my head...:)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sneak peak



My next couple posts will include recent pictures of a day in the life of us. Right now from top to bottom: #1 The "HESCO" lawns everyone keeps talking about.
#2 A scorpion we have raised for months
#3 One of the guys and some chem lights

I have noticed my picture taking has tapered off to almost nothing in the past few months, so I thought I would limber up my camera once again and see what I can do about giving all of you a glimps of what we do when we have down time. (days of which are too few and far between).

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Mail Call

Attention all you wonderfull package and letter senders. We have been told to ask senders of mail to stop sending any items after the 15th of June. I would say you will probably be good up until the 20th. At this point in the deployment, we are pretty well stocked up on good stuff from home. If there are any last minute letters you have been meaning to get out to your soldier in my unit, now is the time to do it. Thank you all for your prayers and support. I'll try to get an updated post with something to say in the near future.
Looking forward to getting out of here, but it's not over yet.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Unfortunate


Unfortunately, I find myself back on patrols. I thought I would get to finish my Iraq tour on gate guard, but it appears fate had other plans. Stupid fate. My first day back on patrol we found an IED waiting for us. Joy. Will it ever end? Soon…
Just when I have set my eyes on being done “rolling the dice” I have to go to the craps table once more and see if I can win…again.
But, hey, that’s my job, what can you do? Sweat, that’s what I do. “Sweat” will also be an answer a lot of people will hear from me when they ask what I did over here. That or I’ll give them a link to this site.
It was 125 yesterday and I can feel the lack of water in my body today. I could stare out across the desert and watch the sweat go drip-drip-drip off of my eyebrows. Faster than a second hand on a clock. Streams of sweat running down my legs and back. A virtual river of salty fluid. My boots were soaked from the inside out. I forgot how HOT it gets out here! Still, I think it’s better than last summer. We’re about as “used” to this as we’ll ever get. Even though sunglasses are a constant, I think I have a permanent squint going on from the bright sun

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Change, and the homebound soldier

I was talking with some friends last night about what we have done over here, comparing to other wars, other branches of service, other jobs (MOS's) and other parts of the coutry in Iraq. We mostly concluded that we have it pretty easy compared to a lot of others. We also concluded that many others do the exact same job we do regardless of job title. We've had some rough patches, but the conversation ended with us all going back to our air-conditioned can's and personal internet. Not too bad at all. We've had our share of hardships, night ops, multiple days living in the hummers or a hole in the ground in the desert.....and the ultimate sacrafices...
This whole conversation spawned from some people that apparently got their feelings hurt (or something) from one of my earlier posts. I had a lot of thoughts on this, but I'll just say the one that stood out the most in my mind. - Laugh about it, comment about it, talk to me about it, but mostly "Grow up."

Now the homebound soldier.
I have written a lot about my thought's on going home and what it will be like. I haven't given nearly as much thought though as to what our families and spouses might be going through. This post is dedicated to the spouses of soldiers.
Continued from "Back in Action."

What are your question's wives? I'll answer to the best of my abilities, and I'm sure my brother will help out as well concidering he is home now and can see both sides a little more clearly.
"Expectations lead to dissapointments"...that is a hard one, but very true. Don't have high lofty expectations, you will only be dissapointed. I have my own expectations and I know everyone does. Just don't try to put each other into the role you think they should fit in.
Unfortunately the military has this problem, they like to, "Prepare you for the worst case scenerio." I say, leave my family alone and don't scare them. If wives believe half of what the military is telling them, then they will be led to believe that their soldier will come home as an untouchable, unemotional, abusive drunk with PTSD. NOT TRUE!!! We can't spend our lives looking at things in "worst case scenerio" mode.

Wives
-don't expect your husband to fall right into the role he left
-give him time to adjust
-be flexible
-arguments are NOT a bad thing

Husbands (soldiers)
-be a guest in your own house. Your wife has taken care of everything while you were gone, don't expect to jump right back into the role of "head of the house" or suffer some consequences.
-you have experienced some things that no one will ever understand. However, your wife is your life mate, and if she doesn't understand some of it, what does that say for your marriage?
-talk, you don't have to be a talker or in touch with your feelings, but you NEED to talk

Both of you. You fell in love once, you can fall in love again. Love is an action and not always an emotional thing. I would HIGHLY recommend a book titled "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman (check Amazon.com) doesn't sound like a thriller title I know, but I would recommend it for both parties involved. Better yet, read it together. Don't have time guys? Not a reader? Give me a break. It's worth $10 and a couple hours of your time.

I wish everyone the best of luck and God Bless in all your coming home endeavors. May it be everything you hoped for.

Now, everyone, feel free to comment and question away!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Back in action




I haven't thrown up any pictures in a while, so here are a few. None are terribly recent, but anyhow, top to bottom; some of my guys playing chicken, me and guys hanging on the hummer, some buds keeping entertained.
I just got back from a nice R&R pass to a military green zone. It was heaven on earth, and a much deserved, much needed break from "the front." I enjoyed golf, pizza, beer, swimming and complete relaxation. We got to wear "real" clothing again! It feels so different to not be in uniform after almost two years! I actually started to feel like a person again. Not a number.
Military life has a way of making you create your own little shell. A place where you only have to make your mental state function on the barest of information. No higher thinking is usually required. Survival. Not "of the fittest" type. But the essentials. Food, drink, hygiene, job. Of course there is more to it; communication home... Simple joys of mail or growing your own "lawn." But most of life consists of getting your job done, then keeping entertained. No room for higher thinking (hence my blog and journals). Mostly, it is the lack of interaction with non-military and non-military life that creates this wall of emotion, or lack thereof. It was nice to see that I am still me to an extent. The real test will be the months ahead and the mountains to be climbed at home. Regardless, it is a mountain I'm ready to take on!
Well, back to the grind and counting down of these last days...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Issues

Bear with me folks, this is a long one. This topic has long been a favorite of mine and I was waiting for the perfect opportunity. Well it has arrived. My home town paper printed this article.

Having owned guns and been an active hunter for over 60 years, I feel qualified to speak on the subject of guns. Why do I own a gun in the first place? I can think of only three possible reasons: To go hunting, to use for target practice or for self defense. I can’t think of any other reason — can you?
That being the case, why do we gun owners need an assault weapon? Is it just for kicks? Isn’t it time we stepped up and told NRA to take the lead in calling for a ban on the manufacture of all assault weapons?
During World War II, a manufacturer had to have a D.O. (Defense Order) to produce anything for use by the armed forces. If we reissued such a requirement we could put an end to the manufacture or importation of these “toys” and put an end to multiple slayings like Virginia Tech and Columbine. NRA could expand its membership and win over many anti-gun folks by taking this lethal bull by the horns.
-John P. Hansel-

My lengthy response.

I am a soldier from Bemidji, writing from Iraq. This subject is a passionate one for me.
To the author of this article-owning guns and having been an avid hunter does not qualify you to speak on the subject of guns as you yourself have proven. “Assault weapons” have been around for years. Only recently have we seen this kind of violence in our home streets. Perhaps a lack of family values and a degenerate society could be blamed instead of assault rifles. Or we could accept the fact that in life, bad things will happen to good people. Do you really think that the availability of a certain type of firearm has ANYTHING to do with the crime? Need I cite the columbine massacre?
Need I cite the deaths of my friends and fellow soldiers killed here in Iraq? Would banning of home cleaning products used in the building of bombs bring back or prevent deaths? Is there any difference in the terrorists in Iraq or Timothy McVeigh?
“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” This isn’t a new argument. Knee jerk reactions to mass violence are becoming more commonplace. It may sooth people who are looking for a quick fix, but on the contrary, will do more harm than good. There are many arguments here that don’t need to be re-stated. However, I will say that making laws doesn’t reduce crime and can in fact enhance it.
Australia banned all firearms and in the FIRST YEAR ALONE violent crime rates soared upwards of 312%
Are we talking about a full ban on guns? No. But it is an erosion of gun rights that will soon wash them all away. What will be left to future generations if every so often a few rights are taken?
Criminals do not obey laws. “When guns are outlawed, only the outlaws have guns.”
Gun related homicides count for very few deaths in America. Buckets (of water) kill more children than guns ever have. Blunt objects and knives are used in many more murders than guns. Should we ban and register those too?
All the deaths in the Vietnam War combined do not equal the total number of deaths related to drunk driving annually in the U.S. Should we then ban alcohol? We tried that, it didn’t work out so well. I suppose we could ban cars since they are the tools of so much destruction. Maybe if we started enforcing existing laws and exacting penalties on law breakers instead of punishing the masses for the wrongs of a few we would be further along.
Since when have we started treating guns as more than the tools of a crime? Hostile intent creates hostile action. If there is intent, laws or no laws, guns or no guns, there will be a hostile action.
This clip was wonderful, and well worth re-posting
http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=3149487
Thank you all who stand up for our rights and God help those that don’t. “The things we do here today, echo in eternity.” As the proverbial little Dutch boy plugging holes in the dam, be it Iraq or America, I hope people will continue to be part of the solution instead of the problem.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

One of "those" days

119 degrees...SO hot. Body soaked in sweat, eyes burning, breath ragged. Drag body armor from truck to can (room). Sit down, let the sweat flow....thank God for AC. Boom boom boom! "Might have 'that' mission tomorrow" "Ya?" "Ya" "Anything else?" Nope, standing by.
Doing paperwork, minding own business. Hear gaggle outside, peek out to see. Mistake, more paperwork... (grunts hate paperwork). Doing paperwork, told to "find vehicle." Where? Who knows. Vehicle found, needs work, must fix it, stock it, fix it, fix it. Oops, out of time, close to done. Meeting. 11pm....oops, mission 4 hours earlier than expected, doh! Get to bed! 4 hours of sleep, get up, finish vehicle. Not fast enough. Mass confusion. Stress building.
Mission starts. Hit IED....BOOOM! What was that? Vehicle behind me. Slight damage. No one hurt. Drive on with mission. Mission is on. Unpredictably shorter than expected. Got some bad guys. Finally.
Get back, vehicles and equipment to turn in. More paperwork! 8pm, finally, things have slowed down. I have taken a shower and washed 2days dirt and stress from my body. Deep breath....typing....relax......

What will tomorrow bring?

Monday, April 30, 2007

Victory is mine!

The call was heard up and down the row...."Chooooow?" Someone sending out an invitation to any would-be-chow-goers, who usually respond with the same answer that is the question, "Chooow!!!"

Off to chow we go, a merry group of merry men. We get to chow and have a "good" time. Commenting on the low-grade horse meat, throwing jello at each other, you know..."chow!"

Then comes desert. I found some delightfull cheese cake and brought it back to the table with me. I got several comments of, "Hey, you gonna eat that?" and "You should give that to me"
Next thing I know, Grey and Jonny Rooke are both attacking me from left and right trying to steal "my precious!" I fought them off valiantly.....though it wasn't nearly as heroic as the ice battle, it was fierce nonetheless. Something worth having is worth defending, and nothing worth having is easy to get, or easily kept. This applies to more than just cheese cake....
For the time being, cheese cake is delicious, and......VICTORY IS MINE!!!

Hello to Cheryl! I understand you are a fan?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Cubed

Goodmorning Americans. Today in the news, Ray attacked Zeke in the Humvee with a large ice cube!

In a suprizing turn of events, The Zeke was outflanked by the passenger (Ray) behind him while out on patrol. Zeke had only let his guard down for a second. Ray only needed that much time to stuff a sizable chunk of ice from the cooler down our hero's neck. The ginormous block of ice became wedged behind his shoulder blade and body armor. Zeke hopped out and started doing a crazy dance to get said ice out of body armor. It was a sight to behold folks; legs dancing, arms flailing, body convulsing. At long last he managed to removed the lethal ice shard from his person.
He then turned on his would be assasin with a flourish, sending hands deep into the cooler to retrieve much cold ammo with witch to vanquish his assailant. Upon obtaining enough ice, The Zeke dove over the... seat and.....MISSED his intended target! His foe was quick to return fire, but not quick enough. Zeke dumped water from the cooler all over Ray, fatefully ending the fight between good and evil. For once, we triumph!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

On the road again

I have one knee in the dirt; I’m behind a Bradley Fighting vehicle and what protection it offers. We haven’t taken any fire yet, but that can all change in a split second. Snipers can be anywhere…a fly buzzes near my head. I don’t even attempt to swat at it. A stream of sweat drips into my eye. It burns, but I have something else on my mind. Something that has my attention so firmly in it's grasp that I don’t even bother to rub the salty fluid away. My rifle is near at hand, but at the moment I’m not even too concerned with that. Then, that which I dread, but that which has happened 8 times already, happens again. I double over and empty my stomach into the dirt…not much left in there. Two dry heaves after that I’m face down in the dirt, almost in my own body fluids. Too weak to get up this time. My buddies come drag me off the road and doc sticks a needle in my arm, starting my first of several IV’s flowing. My body is forced to take the liquid that it is desperately trying to lose in ANY way possible.

Flashback 8 hours

Another hour of our mission comes and goes. We hold our position in one of the “not so nice” area’s of Iraq. We’re back in Fallujah country, again.
We are over-watching a small village in the outskirts.

I’m standing near a road in sector, going on 30+ hours of no sleep. Lost in that dazed, zombie-like state of being, that only sleep deprivation and lack of physical activity can bring. I’m watching the road, watching the village, watching the fields….ever watching.
Sometimes my eyes glaze over and I’m not seeing much of anything. BOOM! An explosion, not so far away, jerks me out of my haze. The radio crackles to life with fragments of …..”…impact....anyone observed…?…crackle crackle…”

Hours pass. Conversations between me and Maddog are random; First thing we will do when we get back home. The infinite universe. The multi-verse…time travel. Army policy on “safety.” What Kyle would look like with a wig on….etc.
Then Duece yells, “Blue bongo approaching!” We look up. Indeed, yet another vehicle is coming down the road. The road they are not supposed to be on. Silly Iraqi’s, you’d think this was “their” road. We do nothing. The bongo approaches. “700 meters!” yells Duece. We start to get out of our Humvee and wave at the guy to turn around with a big orange flag. “500 meters!” wow, what a jerk, we’re tense enough with explosions and threats of suicide bombers without this guy pushing his limits. But then again, he probably lives around here and is just trying to get home. But that’s not my problem, not today. “400 meters!” That’s it. I open my M203 grenade tube and swap out a High Explosive round for a star cluster. “This should get his attention” I say as I snap the breach closed. “Wait a second,” Maddog says. He pulls out an Anti-tank rocket, holds it up in the air and yells, “Behold my boomstick!!!” The guy can’t hear or understand Maddog from that far away, but “sign language” has done wonders for his comprehension of the English language. The vehicle comes to a quick stop. He exits the vehicle. Via interpreter, we explain what he is NOT going to do, then tell him what he IS going to do. He wants to argue. So we tell him what WE are going to do. He leaves.

Flash forward 9 hours. Doc is giving me yet another IV and pronouncing that I have food poisoning. NICE!!! Rotten dirty military MRE’s…..and the fact that I probably got something nasty on my hands out here, despite gloves and hand sanitizer…sometimes you just can’t win.
Doc puts something into my IV. I haven’t been able to hold down any water or oral medicine, so it’s a needle in the bag and lights out for me. I wake up hours later rolling back into base. It takes the night and next day to get back to “normal.” But the mission is over, a success with no injuries. It’s been an interesting week and a looong 48 hours.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Entertainment

So, I shaved my eyebrows off. I couldn't think of a better introduction. Some guys put some money together ($100 total) and said that it was mine if I shaved my eyebrows off completely! Well, no one here to impress, months before I get home. Those brows were off before you could blink!

I look pretty crazy. I was thinking about enclosing a picture but thought twice about it. You will all have to use your imagination.
Many a strange look have I received. But it is all worth it. Smiles are good to see.
The double take has been observed many times.

I still look in the mirror and jump back. It's pretty crazy.

Take care all, don't do anything I wouldn't do!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Pondering

Time. We have so much left over here, yet I feel I have too little of it to accomplish anything. Not that I don't mind being busy. Time goes a little faster that way. With more troops on the ground and our unit still here, all the services on base are being maxed out, ie internet, bathrooms, water, food, phones etc.
I want to keep this post upbeat, but it is so hard in the face of certain adversities.
If stupidity took on a substantial form, I would have to wear a snorkel all the time just to make it from my room to the chow hall without drowning. Even though I would love to, I can't and won't elaborate at this time.

You can almost see the anger and rage building in the faces of my fellow soldiers. I can't deny that the "anger sharks" have been swimming around me of late either. There is only so much you can ask someone to swallow before they have had enough. Any attempt at force-feeding beyond that point is dangerous...to everyone and anyone.

Oh the sweet sweet sound that will ring in my ears when I hear the engine's start and the final boarding call is sounded. Calling us to mount up, and get our tired bodies home.
As was stated in our hometown paper, "...when the B-town boys get home, it will be like a tsunami hitting town..." or something to that extent.

That is all for now, my valve has been bled for the day. Thanks all for stopping by.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

For the fallen...

It doesn't hit home until it is one of your own.
He was not the first of our own on this deployment to leave us forever, but I hope he is the last.
He wasn't just another name on a list of thousands...he wasn't a number or a resource...he was a son to a proud mother and father, a brother to several sisters and brothers...a fiance' to one he loved...a fellow soldier and friend to us all. He brought a smile to our faces and was quick to laugh. I was proud to call him a fellow soldier, I was prouder still to have called him friend. My heart and deepest regrets go out to those that knew him.
I am trying with everything that is in me to not regret that our time together is over, but to be happy for the time that we had. Words are easier than reality. I miss him to no end. The dull ache in my chest won't leave. I still can't write his name. It doesn't feel right, not yet...
I give a nod of my head to those that were wounded in the attack. I pray God speed and a quick recovery.
There is an old saying that "All gave some, some gave all." This has never been truer. To all of the families that have been forced upon the ultimate sacrafice, I cannot know the pain you feel. But while I weather any storm life has to offer, know that I will never forget, I will never let go, of the memory of the man that touched us all with the warmth he offered in life, and the bittersweet touch he leaves on us all in death...may you never be forgotton.
In loving memory.....see you one day in eternity my friend, save me a seat.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

zzzzzzzzz

I am fighting a battle with insomnia and I'm not sure if I'm winning. I hate not being able to sleep. It doesn't happen very often, I usually fall asleep shortly after my head hits the pillow. Maybe it's because my sleep schedule got messed up a few days ago and it's been hard to re-correct. Maybe it's because I've had a lot on my mind. Maybe it's because this deployment is just taking its toll on me, and my mind and body don't know what to do anymore.
Sometimes I feel like a rat in a box...move left, get electric shock, move right, electric shock, lay down, shock, get up, shock...no matter what you do there is the shock/electricity/Iraq.
I don't even know if I'm making any sense. I feel like a "bla." That is, if "bla" is a noun.

Even when I'm not fighting insomnia or some other evil villain, I don't think I ever really truely feel "rested." I get enough sleep, eat "all right" and get plenty of excercise...but the feeling of infinaty without end won't go away...
Will this deployment never end?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Up and Running

Thank you all for your time and patience. All systems go...stand by for launch (whenever that may be...I'll post something as soon as I'm inspired). Hope you all like the new look. Thanks all for stopping bye.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Under Repair

This site will be under repair for an unknown amount of time, certain prior posts may or may not be available. Thanks for visiting!

Monday, March 12, 2007

SURGING!!!


We are part of the "troop surge" ordered by President Bush. Here I thought that meant more troops in Iraq....like, more...aditional...troops. Well, there are some, but our unit is part of that "surge." Yes, hence the extention. So when asked by a fellow soldier what I'm doing, the proper response of course is, "SURGING!"
Not much going on here right now. I'm on gate guard for the time being until it's time for patrols again. I just feel obligated to write something because I haven't posted in weeks.
The rocket and mortar attacks have increased along with spring. We've had 4 attacks in the past two weeks. I don't even step out to look anymore. A year of attacks becomes the norm after a while. It is fun to watch the new guys running around though!
This picture is a pose of the norm for watching an attack.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A walk in the park, er...Iraq

Grey, "Hey zeke where you headed?" Self "Shower, you?" Grey, "Me too!" Self darling self, "Then where?" Grey, "Chow" Self, "Me too! See you in a few."
Shower done, chow walk begins. We pick up a few fellows with similar lunch-time urges. One of the opportunities to eat in the chow hall, a grunt is lucky to eat there occasionally......wait a minute...lucky? Marine chow hall? Er, maybe I'll go vomit and see how that tastes....actually you'd be suprised at the similarity in texture.......oh ya, sorry.

So, several of us Army types are headed for the chow hall, with Marines flocking about. Then we hear a couple "Booms" nothing big, "Outgoing someone mutters" (That's our outgoing artillary battery for those of you not in the know). "Um...I don't think so..." someone mutters back. Then something big....two somethings BOOM BOOM! Not so far ahead two major explosions on base. Suprise, we just got mortared...again.
Marines running everywhere...we're still walking and chit chatting. New Marines are spazzing out, Grey yells "Touch down!!!" They don't get it. Silly Marines are running out of the chow hall...the only fortified place on base! Silly Marines, they're new though, what can you expect. 11 months in country and mulitple attacks have showed us that once there is an explosion, the danger is over. The attack is done and the threat long gone. They have to be, or they won't escape the counter battery about to drop 155's on their sorry heads.

We continue into the chow hall while Marines continue to run out. Some marine tries to stop us from going in saying, "I have to get everyone out." Someone says, "Get everyone out? This is the safest place around!?" (Besides, grunts gotta eat!). We move past the flustered Marine and start to feed our faces and watch the entertaining show of Marines running too and fro'....but it's ok. Now the Marines have decided that everyone should stay in the chow hall and won't let anyone leave. They have saved us all...from...ya, I'm lost too.
We finish a relaxing meal while high profile officers gather around a single radio and decide "what to do"....as if there is anything to do. I'm reminded of the Seagulls on "Finding Nemo" all saying, "Mine mine mine mine!"
The new Marines have survived their very first attack, now they have been to War! But for us, it's just another walk in the park...in Iraq

Monday, February 12, 2007

Iraq scramble


Local kids in our sector flock to a squad truck to take part in the bounty being thrown to them.
We get more candy and toys sent to us than we can give out.
Unfortunately at times I feel we are supporting a welfare mentality. Why work when you can get stuff for free? That seems to be the predominating thought process in this country.
The solution is to get these people to take responsibility for themselves, for their own sanitation and well-being. While they might not have the resources for such things as medecine. They do have time of their hands. Time that could be used for sanitation. This country is filthy. Open sewage and garbage litter the streets. If basic principles can be instilled in the children, there might be a chance. It's too late for the current generation, they are too set in their ways.

Monday, January 29, 2007

J-E-L-L-O

The guys and I are at the chow hall, shoveling in our slop. Of all the dead animal flesh that I eat, I think I prefer dead swine the best.
Our slop consumed we are almost ready to roll out. The mood is chow-hall like. Playing jokes on POG's, without them knowing it...giving each other "extention" looks...you get the picture.
Almost ready to stand up and my buddy Grey has a "bright" idea....."Hey zeke, wouldn't it be funny if someone went to the salad bar and proclaimed his love for jello? I'm serious, if you go to the salad bar and say that you love jello, I'll give you a whole dollar!" Now, I smirked and started to leave, but then I thought, that would be pretty funny, and you know what I could buy with a WHOLE dollar? Balloons, toothpicks, water...the options are practically limitless.....I'LL DO IT!

I silently stand up and approach the salad bar all the way accross the chow hall. The quest for my dollar stipulated that Grey had to hear it on the other side. I approach my target. Damn, there's a Marine by the jello, he must move, cannot abort mission. Flanking manuver, jello in site. I grab a plate. I plant my feet and yell in the most piercing zeke-like voice I can muster, "JELLO! I LOOOOOOVE JELLO!!!" The Marine next to me stares straight ahead like he didn't hear anything, but with the look on his face that screams, "I'm not with him, really!" I scoop up my treasure and scurry back for my money....I am one dollar richer. But the best thing is, I got jello (and had 10 minutes of belly laughing on the way back to my can)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Update

The extention has set in now, and we are plowing through to the objective.

We just got back from a mission in Fallujia. I cought it on the news when I got back, which was pretty cool. It was a resounding success. No losses from our unit. We rescued three men from a torture house. One had to be carried out he was so messed up. We found blow torches, knives, chains etc. Not fun stuff at all. The guys were pretty messed up, but happy to see us arrive.
We found several caches and one car with a big bomb rigged to it. Hit an IED and found several more. Many more details that I am not going to post. Light enemy engagement here and there.
We are all back and safe and that's the important thing.

Patrols continue in our sector. Moral is waning, but still there. I know I am still trying to deal with this reality that is an extention.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

No End in Sight

I would like to extend my thanks and gratitude for all the support of Americans back home. I have seen more and more appreciation. It certainly outweighs all the negative things the media holds so dear.
Thank you all for calling the Gov. and Sent. and for your prayers.
As of a couple days ago, we are officially getting extended. Our unit has been away from home since 4 October 05. We were roughly 2 months away from getting out of here. But we had a suprise that no one wanted the other day. We got our official notice of an extention here in Iraq. No exact amount of time, but those in the know estimate 100-125 days, or 3-4 months extra. So if that is accurate, we won't see home until late July or early August 07. Which means another long summer in the sand. Extention possibilities range from 2-6 months extra.

Our address is still the same for those that have been sending us little pieces of home via care packages and letters. I'll update you all if there are any changes.

We will finish out our original time frame here, and then who knows. We may stay, or we may move to another part of Iraq. I personally hope we stay here vs moving. Don't want to move!
The mood is what is to be expected. Dissbelief, depression, anger, betrayal.....yet we still manage to joke about it all. There is nothing that can really be done, so we might as well grin and bear it. Keep the prayers coming. Thanks again for all your support. This is toughest on our families. Soldiers have loved ones who are extremely dissapointed that their loved ones won't be coming home for a while yet. I am blessed with a wife who understands the ways of the military. She is taking this quite well, and is my support when I don't have any left for myself.