Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Dust or Mud?

For the last two days we have had weather in Iraq similar to what you might experience in Nebraska in late March where it's been raining and cloudy all day. That's enough to make it a dreary day, but here you can add mud to the whole combination. For most of our deployment we were able to forget about the mud we had to deal with when we first got to Anaconda. Along with settling in and learning our new job system and working environment, we also had to deal with rain and mud which we never thought would happen in the desert. However, summer came quickly and mud was no longer an issue, but dust was always there. It was hard to believe that the soil here would skip completely past being sand and just go straight to dust when broken down, but that's just the way it is in this part of the country. You could sweep as much as you wanted and still pick up more dust. Dust would settle on anything that wasn't moving or wasn't a vertical surface. Now the mud is back and it's hard to escape. You try and find a path on gravel or maybe take pavement all the way to your destination, but inevitably you get mud on your boots. Once that happens, nothing is safe. All I can do is wait for the mud to dry on the floor of my room and just sweep it up which is an evening event for the last couple days. Maybe I'm just making a big deal about nothing, but most of us just don't feel like dealing with much since the end is so near.

I've finally gotten myself to the point where I'm used to getting up early in the morning. The last two days I've gotten up at 5:30 do go lift weights at the gym. Today was my day off from lifting which was probably good because my muscles are sore all over. I will lift again tomorrow and the next day closing out the first week of my lifting program. I was on a role this summer until I tried to squat too much and my back gave out. That put me out of commission for a good while and I just wasn't quite able to get back into it again. I want to turn that around and get a good habit going through to the end.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Why I joined the Army

I had an experience yesterday that I haven't had in a long time. I went out with the logistics guys to go turn in munitions that we most likely wouldn't be using before we left like rocket launchers, mortars, Mk-19 grenades, hand grenades, smoke grenades, flash-bangs and other odd ball munitions. To move all of it we had to use the PLS since it was all in a conex, but we had to strap it down first with cargo nets and straps. Taking it over to the ASP we accounted for everything and turned it over to the personnel at the ASP. I started to have flash backs of Annual Training and moving ammo around from one range or another for all the line units doing weapons training. I started to remember why I joined the Army in the first place: to do something I can't do anywhere else and to do it while I'm still young. I know my family is grateful that I don't need to go outside the wire working in the human resources section, but I was never meant to work behind a desk, especially in the Army. It is very disheartning to see civilians doing the same job I am and they get to wear normal clothes and they don't have to haul around a weapon. It makes me wonder why I am even here. Some people might say 'you should be grateful you don't have to work to exhaustion everyday' or something like that, but what does it matter if you don't get any satisfaction out of your job. I have learned many things in the S-1 that will be useful in the future, but of all the things I've learned on this deployment the one skill that I would consider most valuable is learning how to operate a three ton forklift.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


So, talk about a busy month.

Hopefully with Christmas done and past the mail will settle down. We were getting twice as much as we normally do every single day. We had to pump our mail process with steroids and bring in the big truck to help facilitate the process which SGT Kane has so pain stakingly published on his blog. It kept us very busy to say the least.

Christmas was a good day here on Camp Anaconda. We got the mail handed out early in the day because we had gone the night before at 2200 hours (10:00 PM for you civilians) to pick up mail in case we had another plane come in for Christmas day. Luckily the Santa run was the only mail that came in and we were able to go to lunch with our section and have free time the rest of the day. The sun was out and it got up to about 60 degrees I think. I took some time to clean out my room since I had some care packages still half full with goodies that I hadn't quite put away yet. Benes also did the same so there was a whole bunch of open floor space that we hadn't had for a while.

Things are actually pretty busy in the office as well. The big project right now is getting all the end of tour awards done and up to our higher eschelon so they can continue processing so all the soldiers in the brigade receive their awards before we go home.

It's hard to believe the new year is only six days away. I remember last year when we returned to Camp Shelby and I marked off January 3 on a new calendar. It felt like such a long time before the deployment would be over knowing that I would have to start a whole new calendar before I would be going home for good. Now that calendar is nearing the end and so is our deployment and just like anything else I wonder where the time has gone.

I hope everybody had a merry Christmas and wish you a happy new year.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

By the Numbers

I just felt like putting together some statistics for comparison. You can draw your own conclusions.

The number killed on September 11, 2001: 2,996

The war in Iraq began in March, 2003. We are still there.

As of mid-November 2006, there were approximately 152,000 US troops deployed to Iraq.

2882 US casualties in Iraq

Current US population: 300,305,463

US citizens killed on the nation’s highways in 2005: 43,200

US citizens killed in alcohol related incidents in 2005: 16, 885

US lightning fatalities in 2005: 43

US tornado fatalities in 2005: 39

Babies born in US in 2005: approximately 4.1 million

US began fighting in WWII in August, 1945

US casualties in WWII: 292,131

US occupation of post-WWII Europe and Japan: 1945-present

US involvement in Korea from June, 1950 to July, 1953

US casualties in Korea: 33,686

US occupation of post-war Korea: 1953-present

Thursday, November 23, 2006

This Is Very Interesting-Happy Thanksgiving

I was intrigued while reading this and I think many of you will also be interested in reading it.


I just returned from eating Thanksgiving lunch with my section at Chow Hall 3. I have to say I am stuffed more than a normal day here in Iraq. People have been saying 'happy Thanksgiving' all day long, but it never really felt like Thanksgiving till we got to che chow hall. Even then it wasn't that it felt like Thanksgiving, but it reminded me that I'm away from home on a day that we traditionally do the same thing every year. The food was good and all, but I really missed home a lot more than normal. I started to think if it would be more beneficial to pretend that today was just like any other day and the holiday wasn't really upon us. Despite what I'm missing I think that maybe I should focus more on what the holiday is really about and remember everything that I'm thankful for. So if you're reading this today, remember the true meaning of the holiday.

I should also mention that today I got a letter in the mail from Michelle that smells reall really really good.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

I Should've Been in a Better Mood

I'm sorry that Thursday's post was so disheartening, but I had to get it out there. It was something I wanted everybody to know. Putting the whole day together I should've been in a much better mood. We actually had a celebrity stop by on Thursday. I'm sure none of you will know the name, but CW4 Phillip Brashear came to visit us on his tour around Iraq. He is a warrant officer and flies Blackhawk helicopters. This in itself is impressive, but not enough to launch somebody to celebrity status. However, he is the son of Retired Master Chief Petty Officer who recently passed away this summer. If that still doesn't have you then you may recall a movie called Men of Honor starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Robert DeNiro about the life of the Navy's first African-American Master Diver. I'm sure not all of you have seen the movie, but you should. If you have, then you know how excited I was to meet this guy since he grew up in the household of a man who is one of the most driven and unbeatable people I have ever heard of. If the world had more people like Carl Brashear in it then I am positive all of the world's problems would be solved. I Had so many questions I wanted to ask CW4 Brashear, but his time was short and he had more important people to visit with. I was able to get his autograph and helped him navigate around the immediate area of our building. When I mentioned to my boss that he was here, my boss went to go talk to him since they had gone to Warrant Officer school together. Talk about a driven classmate.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Fear In My Heart

In this years mid-term election, the American people showed that they wish the Democratic party to control congress. Now, there are many factors that contribute to the results of every election and the votes that each individual person makes, but for one reason or another, republicans were taken out of the majority. More and more each day it becomes clear to me that the leaders of the Democratic party want to 'cut and run' from Iraq, withdrawing US troops as they do so. I know full well just as I'm sure the rest of you know, that withdrawing before the job is done would be disastrous. Either these leaders don't believe this or don't care.

I am able to breathe a small sigh of relief that most military 'experts' as well as commanders in the Armed Forces all agree that an early withdrawl would be a very bad idea, especially within the next four to six months (ah hem, Carl Levin). My very own commander, Gen. John Abizaid, in charge of US Central Command stated in Washington that we essentially need to stay the course and allow the Iraqi people to stand up for themselves. It is might hope that despite anything the Democratic party promised the American people or wish to pry some kind of control on Iraq policy, that the job will be completed and the mission successful.

A dark shadow is cast on my small glimmer of hope and I feel that the world is turning a blind eye to what is plainly visible in Iran. Many times the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has expresed how Iran will wipe Israel and its Western ally off the face of the Earth. To this point the mainstream media has dismissed any serious threats coming from this man. They have even gone so far as to interview him along with his visit to the US and the UN council taking these two instances as his true feelings to the rest of the world. Yet nobody has shown us what he tells his own people on a regular basis, until now. While listening to Rush Limbaugh (mp3 files) today, he had Glenn Beck, from CNN Headline news, join him on the radio. Beck was explaining to Rush that they would be running a segment on the kind of propaganda that is run throughout the Middle East on state run media channels. I was only able to find the transcript of the segment on the CNN website, but it was enough to back up some other things that have come to my attention. To sum it all up: Iran is developing nuclear weapons under the guise of nuclear power. They don't need nuclear power, they have oil up the wazu. From Ahmadinejad's own mouth we have heard him talk about destroying Israel along with the rest of its allies, he plans to do this with nuclear weapons. There is a bigger picture to all this death and destruction, however. It is the hope of Iranians as well as other extremist groups in the Middle East, that this man made apocalypse will bring the 12th Imam of Islam to Earth and wipe the world clean of Jews and Christians, bringing about the rise of a world wide Islamic regime. I'm fairly confident that any amount of nuclear explosions will not bring any sort of spiritual beings to Earth, but I'm not so sure Ahmadinejad thinks as logically as I do, and I'm not comfortable just sitting here waiting to find out what his next move will be. The lack of media attention to this is very concerning and I hope despite what kind of politics may be happening in Washington DC that somebody is keeping a close eye on this and is not about to let it get worse.

I urge you all to maintain some kind of awareness on what is going on in the world today. It is all our resposibility to keep our family and friends safe from our enemies.