Saturday, December 31, 2005

Going to have my picture in Tactical Equipment Review.

I think. We’ve been working with this guy from Tactical Equipment Review on occasion. He’s the one that gave us that Revision Eyewear. I still think that it was cool of him to give us some free eyewear. I also understand that it’s probably so he could get our feedback and see how the equipment works. I don’t care. I love free equipment. I hope other companies send us their stuff to try out as well. I’ll gladly write back and send them feedback on it. I don’t mind being a guinea pig.

Well, anyways, the TER guy had a photo shoot with us at Abu Ghraib. I can’t mention his name here for security reasons but I’ll just say that he could be found on the Internet. I’m sure he wants to protect his identity too. Well, he was telling us that the photos he took would be in published in the May issue of TER. That would be so cool. I can’t wait. I might have to subscribe now so I could get a copy of the issue.
This is a photo of some of Saddam's old palaces here on the FOB.

Friday, December 30, 2005

1,000 Visitors!!!

Whoopee!!! It took a while but the feat has finally been accomplished. Thanks to all of you who have come to visit my site. Without you I wouldn’t have an audience to share my adventures with. Thanks.

Wow, I got a Shout Out. I’m impressed. Army Girl sent one out to me for Christmas and the New Year. That was cool of her. I feel like I’m starting to become part of an Internet blog community. Weird.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Alright, I’m filthy dirty.

That’s the way I come home every day. I refused to take a box of wipes from T-Rex the other day but now I’m finding out that they’re coming in handy. I come home every night and wipe my face just to find the wipes covered in dirt. Nasty! Can you believe that I go to chow like this? At least I look like I’m doing something everyday compared to those other Joes in the mess hall who look like they’ve just got out of the shower. And I was thinking of getting my clothes pressed. What was I thinking? Forget it Pete, you don’t need to, for what? It’s just going to get dirty.

I was a little worried when we left the gate today. It’s mainly because I thought my bolt on my .50cal was set to right-handed feed. We had our bolts checked earlier for serviceability and status. When I put mine back together I didn’t bother to check what side the bolt was set to. I didn’t expect too check since I didn’t change anything. See, the .50cal could be set to either feed on the left or right side of the receiver. I got psyched out when we went to load our weapons at the gate. For some reason, I thought my weapon was set to right-handed feed.  I don’t know why I thought that. Maybe it was because Socks was fooling around with his weapon right before we SP’d. He had some problems when he assembled it.

I didn’t want to say anything because I thought it was too late. I was worried about it at the time. I thought, what would my chief say? We were all ready to leave. I didn’t want to hold up the movement on my part. It was too late for this. I should’ve checked something like this before. I had plenty of time. I didn’t want to give him something else to worry about. He already had enough on his plate. I just went with it. Forget it, I’m going out like this. I just hopped that nothing would happen. This would be the day. It’s Murphy’s Law.

Well, I found out later, when we got to our destination, that there was nothing wrong with the setting on the bolt. I took a good look at it and it was set for left-sided feed, which was right. Whew! That’s good. Nothing wrong. There was nothing to worry about. You’re getting too excited Pete.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Got some free eyewear today.

It’s not about the pay, it’s about the perks. Well, anyways, this KBR dude called a few of us over to his truck. One of my buddies, Sniper, told me to go over a see the dude. I was told that he had something to give me. I wasn’t interested at the time. I thought it might be some more candy or goodies to give to the kids. Well it wasn’t that. All the other Joes were standing around him with big grins and eyes on their faces. I knew just then it had to be something else. Everyone seemed excited. He had a big box that he was reaching to get stuff out of. I started getting excited myself. I was wondering what this was all about. Then he starts grabbing pairs of black cases out of these boxes. What was it? What’s in them? I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss out even though I had no idea what it was at the time. Oh shit, it’s Eye Pro. Cool! I hope I won’t miss out because I’m wearing my ESS glasses. I hope not.

He was reaching in his box and grabbing a hard and a soft shell case for everyone there. We were all like little kids at Christmas. Eye Pro, nice! Now I won’t have to buy some more when my pairs get all scratched up and the elastic bands get worn out. I’ll have another pair to turn to. I wondered where he got the boxes with all those glasses. Why was he giving them away for free? Did he find them somewhere? I’m sure he didn’t pay for them himself. It would’ve been too expensive to do that.

I was asking T-Rex about it and he told me that maybe he got them from the company that built them to help build a reputation. I was thinking the same thing. It’s not the first time I’ve seen that happen around here. We met this Joe a while back that had a bad ass CVC helmet. T-Rex told me that it cost $400 for it and that the company that built it gave it to the dude for free. I can’t go into details about the features of the thing but I will say that it was BADASS. Well, here’s some free exposure and attention for REVISION. I’ve never heard of that brand before. I’m going to try out the glasses and goggles and if they work I’m sure I’ll let everyone know. I’m pretty sure REVISION wouldn’t mind getting the exposure and a nice contract with the military too.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Handed out lots of candy and goodies to the kids today.

I’m pretty sure they thought this was a lucky catch. We got the goodies from this KBR dude. I guess he was feeling part of the Christmas sprit of giving. He gave us a bunch of candy and snacks to throw out to the kids. I thought that was nice of him. We threw out Hershey bars, Beef Jerky, and all sorts of other stuff.

Got to go to the IZ again today. I love going to the IZ. It’s always a chance to see something different. There isn’t much there but cool buildings and statues to check out. They’re starting to clean up downtown Baghdad too. I think that’s a good thing. They sure have a lot of cleaning up to do. I’m glad we had some missions today too. I get bored of staying here all day. It’s really boring when there’s nothing different to see. I like it when we have something to do. It beats hanging around the trailer all day, doing nothing. It’s time for us to get back to work. I hope they just don’t forget to give us a day off after a while.

We got a survey from our command staff yesterday. I guess they wanted to get our thoughts and concerns about the mission. I filled it out and put my input of what I though was right and wrong. Overall I’m pretty satisfied with the way things are going. There is always room for improvement. There are some things that I like and dislike. But there are likes and dislikes with everything. I’m glad they’re taking the survey at least. It shows that they want to listen to the troops to find out what’s on our minds. Maybe something good will come out of it, hopefully.

Monday, December 26, 2005

It’s getting colder here.

I have to dress up before I go outside. I’m going to hate these early missions when I have to be outside before the sun gets up. It was cold all day today. I guess I should enjoy the cold weather while I can.

Well, I have so many goodies I don’t know what to do with them. That’s ok though, they’ll come in handy. I’ve been eating so much I’m starting to feel compelled to go to the gym and work out. I have to work all this food of somehow. I think I’ve had enough time off for now too. I’m ready to get back to work. There isn’t much to do around here so I could get bored real quick. It’s hard to do anything because we always have to find a battle buddy to do anything around here.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A little girl is in line to see Santa.

When it's her turn, she climbs up on Santa's lap. Santa asks, "What would you like Santa to bring you for Christmas?" The little girl replies, "I want a Barbie and G.I. Joe." Santa looks at the little girl for a moment and says, "I thought Barbie comes with Ken." "No", says the little girl. "She comes with G.I. Joe, she fakes it with Ken!"

I saw that joke on another blog and thought it was funny enough to post it here. It’s beginning to feel like Christmas here because hardly anything is happening on the camp, people like me are not doing any missions today, and I just got four boxes of stuff in one day.

I went to use the MCI phone center today to call home and tell everyone Merry Christmas. I spoke to the whole family and they were asking me about some boxes that they sent me. I told them that I didn’t receive them but I’d let them know when they arrived.

Christmas lunch was awesome. They went all out to make us a good meal. I had smoked turkey, corn on the cob, sweat potatoes, macaroni & cheese, cocktail shrimp, hot chocolate, and eggnog. Now I’m full and I have to find some way to work this food off. I think I might go to the gym later for a little work out. All I’ll have to do is find a battle buddy to go with.

I got four packages today. I’d like to thank everyone for everything they sent. I’d like to give a shot out to my work peeps Catherine, Chaplin, my boss Joan, my partner in crime Brenda, Captain Security Terry & CEO Mr. Howell, Mary, and my friend CeCe. Thanks to all of you for everything.

I’d also like to thank my Tias Juana and Barb for all the goodies they sent. Are you guys trying to make me fatter? I’ll have my roommate help me eat this stuff. And last but not least I’d like to thank my Mom and sister Rachel for the stuff that they sent me too.

I thought about all the stuff I got and how lucky I was to get it. What about the Joe who doesn’t have any friends or family? What about the Joe who doesn’t have a wife or girlfriend to receive gifts or packages from? I hope you’ll be thinking of these guys and I’ll be thinking of them as well. I always thought the best thing in the world is friends and family. Without them I wouldn’t feel loved. It gives me a sense of belonging besides being a solider. Thanks to All of You. Merry Christmas and God Bless.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

It’s Christmas Eve.

It really doesn’t seem like Christmas here. Maybe it’s because the weather is not cold enough, but that’s a different story tonight. Maybe it’s because there aren’t too many Christmas lights around. Maybe it’s because we don’t hear that much Christmas music. It’s come all of a sudden and it’s already here, just about.

We did a mission this morning. It went pretty well. No problems. I didn’t have to shoot anyone. That’s always a good thing. Almost everything went smooth, except for or intercom headsets that we thought we fixed last night. For some reason they stopped working right before we left the camp. I hate when that shit happens. It worked right up until when we really needed it. That’s not the only problem we had today. We had a major problem in the afternoon.

I was taking an afternoon nap when T-Rex came in the room with the .50 cal. “We have to get everything out of the truck.” He said. “What? Why?” “Because it’s leaking power steering fluid everywhere” “Was it making any noises? How’s the control?” I asked. “It’s making some loud noises and I had to fill it up twice with fluid just to make it back.” Oh that’s just great, I thought. Now our vehicle is deadlined. That means that it is not operational and we cannot operate it in the condition it’s in until repairs are made. I liked that Hummer too. That sucks. And I thought we wouldn’t have any problems with the truck since our driver is a mechanic himself. But he said that the guys we took the truck from didn’t maintain it. That means that everything that could happen will happen to you guessed it, us. It looks like this may be the beginning of things to come.

One last thing, lets not forget the true meaning of Christmas. It’s not about the Christmas lights, or the music, or the weather. It’s about the birth of Christ. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and spends memorable moments with all their friends and family. God Bless everyone and God Bless America.

Friday, December 23, 2005

I heard the impacts this morning.

I wasn’t too sure what it was. I lay in my bed, hearing it again, “BOOM!” It wasn’t too loud, almost faint. The walls of my trailer shook. What the hell is that? A few minutes went by, “BOOM!” Alright there it was again? What could it be? I’ve been an FO almost my whole entire military career so I should know if it’s an impact. It sounds like one but I can’t really tell. They were happening every few minutes and the last one sounded close. Maybe I should go outside and check it out. So, I get out of my bed, put on my flip-flops, and go around back. No one outside was wearing any Kevlar. Maybe it’s nothing. I waited for a few minutes; I knew another one would have to come. I just hoped that it didn’t happen too close. Nothing. Nothing happened. So I went back inside and got dressed.

Today was supposed to be our day off. Well, guess what? It never happened. It wasn’t too bad. The only thing we had to do today was go through inventory. We were missing a few things, but nothing too important. It also gave me a chance to go through our vehicle and see what we had in there. We cleaned out and organized everything. I guess it’s better to do it now than in the summer when it’s going to be hot.

We did manage to hook up the intercom system in our vehicle. When we were handed the HMMWV our headsets were in fair condition. The driver’s headset had problems with the elastic headband, it was worn out. My headset was fine, except for the fact that it disappeared the other day when we had a passenger. So, it sucked for a few days when I couldn’t communicate with the other crewmembers. The third headset was completely broken. The microphone didn’t work at all. Well, T-Rex hooked it up. He bought a cellular phone earpiece and spliced the wires to connect them together. It worked. He rigged it.

So he gave me his headset and I switched out the elastic band that was worn out on that thing with some that we found on the ground the other day. It worked fine for me. My headset was rigged and ready to go. I can’t wait to test it out. I managed to make a few modifications too.

Well, I found out what that sound was this morning. I heard that it was mortar fire. It’s didn’t surprise me. I’ve heard that sound before, I should’ve known. At least it wasn’t too close. I’ve had too close before and it wasn’t enemy.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

My first shot in a combat zone.

It’s the first time I’ve ever shot at anyone in my entire life. It’s time to mark the day Pete, December 22, 2005. So there I was, telling Hadji to stop his vehicle. I waved my arm and hand to get his attention. I started yelling, “PULL OVER!!! PULL OVER!!! STOP!!!” I tried to motion him with my hands. I didn’t see any weapons but I had to assume he was dangerous. For all I knew he could’ve been driving a VBIED. “STOP! STOP! STOP!” I yelled three times. I, in an instant moment, realized that either he was in a VBIED or just plain stupid and not paying any attention. Alright dude, don’t make me do this, weapon going down. I always carried my weapon up in the air and ready to bring it down and aim on a moments notice. OK Pete, this is what you’ve trained for, get ready, he’s not stopping. I lowered my weapon and pointed it towards him, switching selector switch from SAFE to SEMI. I already tried to warn him with my hand and arm. It’s time. Alright, trigger squeeze, here it goes, this is it. I warned the dude. FIRE! One shot. Bang! The tracer hit the dirt and burned out. Hadji slammed on his brakes. Scared Shitless. I scared the Fuck out of him. I thing he pissed his pants too. That got him to stop. Now he wants to listen.

The car stopped on a moments noticed. Oh, I see how it is, you want to stop now huh? Fuckker! He put his hands up in the air and opened his door. “I TOLD YOU TO FUCKING STOP! STOP!” I yelled at him with my weapon pointed in his direction. One more false move and the dude would’ve been dead. I would’ve killed him. I was ready to take him out. The first shot was a warning shot. The second would’ve been to disable his vehicle if he didn’t stop but he did. If he tried anything stupid he would’ve met his maker. I think he just fucked up though. Stupid Hadji, not paying attention. At that moment I think he was thanking GOD he was still alive and I was thanking GOD that I didn’t kill him. He did what I ordered and didn’t appear to be dangerous besides driving aggressively and putting our lives in danger. I was the one responsible for our safety and I couldn’t compromise that. I had to take him out if he got too close. It’s something I’d just have to do. Alright, stay Hadji, stay. Don’t do anything stupid and we’ll both get away from this ok.

I got the following e-mail from a friend. I’ve seen it before and thought that I should post it here for all to see:

Written by an Australian Dentist... To Kill an American
You probably missed it in the rush of news last week, but there was actually a report that someone in Pakistan had published in a newspaper an offer of a reward to anyone who killed an American, any American. So an Australian dentist wrote an editorial the following day to let everyone know what an American is so they would know when they found one. “An American is English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek. An American may also be Canadian, Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Australian, Iranian, Asian, or Arab, or Pakistani or Afghan. An American may also be a Comanche, Cherokee, Osage, Blackfoot, Navaho, Apache, Seminole or one of the many other tribes known as native Americans. An American is Christian, or he could be Jewish, Hindu, or Buddhist, or Muslim. In fact, there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan. The only difference is that in America they are free to worship as each of them chooses. An American is also free to believe in no religion. For that he will answer only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God. An American lives in the most prosperous land in the history of the world. The root of that prosperity can be found in the Declaration of Independence, which recognizes the God given right of each person to the pursuit of happiness. An American is generous. Americans have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need, never asking a thing in return. When Afghanistan was over-run by the Soviet army 20 years ago, Americans came with arms and supplies to enable the people to win back their country! As of the morning of September 11, Americans had given more than any other nation to the poor in Afghanistan. Americans welcome the best of everything...the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best services. But they also welcome the least. The national symbol of America, The Statue of Liberty, welcomes your tired and your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores, the homeless, tempest tossed. These in fact are the people who built America. Some of them were working in the Twin Towers the morning of September 11, 2001 earning a better life for their families. It's been told that the World Trade Center victims were from at least 30 different countries, cultures, and first languages, including those that aided and abetted the terrorists. So you can try to kill an American if you must. Hitler did. So did General Tojo, and Stalin, and Mao Tse-Tung, and other bloodthirsty tyrants in the world. But, in doing so you would just be killing yourself because Americans are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, is an American.”

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Thanks MCI for supporting the troops.

That’s keeping it real! They set up a phone centers all over for the troops to call home for the holidays for FREE. That’s right, FREE. I made a call to my family tonight and the quality of the call was excellent. There was no lag time whatsoever. We could call as much as we want, as long as we want, as long as we’re considerate to other troops. So, I thought I’d start off first by giving a BIG THANK YOU to MCI. I sure won’t forget this. I’m going to write the corporate office a letter to express my gratitude as well. I’ll sure be a supporter of MCI after this. It beats getting ripped off by that monopoly that is AT&T. I’ll explain the AT&T situation some other time. It would be cool if AT&T followed MCI’s example.

What music am I listening to right now? Well, my current favorites are the new X&Y album by Coldplay and I’m also listening to the U2 How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb album. I just bought the Vertigo 2005//U2 Life From Chicago DVD at the PX. It’s a pretty cool video. I never been to a U2 concert but I’d like to check one out some day. I had an older U2 video, Rattle and Hum which was recorded at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe Arizona. It looked like a badass concert. I really like the Coldplay X&Y album. I’ve been playing it all the time.

I had to buy a new pair of shades today. My old Oakley’s that I got issued before we deployed are already all scratched up. I guess I could’ve spent $50 to buy just some new lenses to replace it but I decided to try the ESS eyewear out instead. It only costs $40 and I get three lenses, a frame, and a case. I thought it was a better deal. I already have some ESS goggles that were issued and I think that they’re pretty good plus I like their logo. I’m willing to give ESS a try. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

You know I’d like to be on the Top 100 of It’s not a hard feat right now since there isn’t too much competition. It would get my site more attention and more hits, which would be pretty cool. So, I’m asking you to go ahead and go over to and register. After registering you’ll have to sign in, and click on “Add to Favorites” while viewing the milblog on You’ll be able to find my listing at Remember, just scroll to the bottom of the page and click add to favorites. It should be easy for me to make the Top 100 for now. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I won an X-Box 360!!!

Well, not exactly. Since the X-Box 360s are in limited supply and the PX is only getting a limited number of them they had a drawing. The winners would be able to be the first ones to purchase the X-Box 360 at the PX when it gets here.

I was out at my truck, putting stuff away when a few of they guys started yelling my name, “SGT Puebla! SGT Puebla!” I wondered what it was all about. Don’t tell me it’s another shit detail. Fuck that. Maybe I should go hide somewhere. I’m tired and ready to enjoy whatever time I have left for the rest of the night. I knew for sure it wasn’t another urgent mission because the tone of their voices was different. If it was a mission they wouldn’t sound so excited. “You won an X-Box!!! You won an X-Box!!!” They were like excited children, Treraz and Frenchie. (That isn’t really their names but nicknames.)

I guess they found out when they saw my name on a banner in the PX. It had a list of the winners and my name was on it. I won that drawing I entered, to be one of the first ones to purchase an X-Box. Cool! $400, that’s all I would need to buy it. I really wasn’t interested in getting the X-Box in the first place. I didn’t think I’d win. I should’ve known though, I’ve always had good luck with drawings. I win stuff all the time. Maybe I should enter to win a vacation to Hawaii and win a trip to Oahu and Maui just like my Dad did back in ’83.

I didn’t enter to win the X-Box in the first place. No, I did it because I knew that some Joe in my unit would like one. I was thinking about Joe at the time. It wasn’t for me. Sure I’d like to have one but I don’t have $400 to blow on a video game console. That’s too much money for me to afford and I have bills to pay. I have a family to feed back home. I have other things I’d like to get like a digital camera and an MP3 player too. Forget it Pete. Don’t even think about it. I don’t want one anyways.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The following story has been changed a little bit to protect the identities and lives of those involved.

It’s been a long day, very long. We had a mission early in the morning so I had to get up at like 0300 hours and get ready. It’s a shame I didn’t get to bed early like I planned. I have a problem with going to bed early. Anyways, we woke up, got dressed and got ready to begin the duty day. Everything was running smoothly. The mission went well, better than planned. No problems. No incidents. No news is good news. Got back to camp and I was hoping to hit the sack to catch a few ZZZ’s before the next mission. I had it all planed out. I’d sleep until lunchtime and then wake up and get ready for the next mission, whenever that was. Well, it didn’t work out as planned. When does it ever? There I was, lying in my bed when I heard that infamous knock on the door. I think I’m going to start hiding somewhere else. “Hey. We’ve got another mission. Get your stuff on and get ready.” Ahhh! When am I going to get some sleep??? This is beginning to feel like Lewis.I’m glad to get the few hours of rest I did. I feel like a fireman getting call. It happens every time too. I guess I should start getting used to it. The afternoon mess was a mess but I can’t go into details about what happened for security reasons. Nothing bad, well, except for the fact that we missed afternoon chow. That’s the worse. There’s nothing worse that could happen than to miss afternoon chow. At least we had MRE’s. Yuck! And me, going unprepared like always, forgot to bring some pogey-bait and chow. What kind of soldier am I? So I had to starve and I had nothing to give to the kids. Poor kids probably thought I was beginning to become an asshole. I’ll get them something later. They’re always coming out of their houses and fields to see us. I guess we’re like ice crème men to them. Except we give our goodies for free. I do have to stop tossing out the sugar though and give them more healthy food like fruits. I’m pretty sure they’re eating all organic food telling from all the farmland out here. They pick everything by hand. Most of the time I see the women working in the field while the men are just standing around. It’s almost a reverse of what we see in America.

There’s a lot of stuff I’d like to talk about but I can’t for security reasons. I have to keep everything generalized and I can’t get into detail about some of the stuff. I’d like to mention what we’re going to do tomorrow but that would just compromise our mission. I’ll just blog about that tomorrow, if I can.

Oh, and one last thing like always. I’d like to thank Alyssa Milano for supporting the troops.I can’t say how much I love her. I grew up watching her on Who’s The Boss in the 80’s and I’ve had a crush on her ever since. She is an absolute babe. Well, I found some pics on the Internet on a USO tour she did here in Iraq. This is just another reason why I love her so much. Alyssa Milano, if you’re listening, please come back to Iraq to see the troops. I would love to see you!

Oh and here’s another last thing. Go to and type in French Military Victories then hit the I’m Feeling Lucky button. See what happens. Actually, this is what you’ll get.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Alright, I’m in Hell.

It’s not because my life is in danger. Oh no, it’s not that. It’s because the Internet sucks. I’m talking about the Internet we pay $5.00 for 10 hours worth. It’s a rip off because it takes forever to download anything. And sometimes I can’t even connect. The unit says that it’s going to get us Internet service in January for like $50 a month. I’ll be willing to pay it if it works. I’m not keeping my hopes up though. I like to take the wait and see approach. I don’t believe things until I see them. That’s what I’ve learned from being in the ARMY so far.

For some reason the days seem to go by so quick here. They never went by this fast at Lewis or in Kuwait. The days seemed to go by forever there and it seemed like we were never going to get to Iraq. I don’t know what it is about this place. Is it because we’re constantly busy? Is it because I always have something I have to do? Is it because I’m not waiting to go anywhere? It’s alright with me though. I surely don’t mind if the days go by. The guys we’re replacing told me that it’d all go by quick. I didn’t believe them at first but now I’m starting too.

Christmas is around the corner and it really doesn’t feel like it here. I mentioned it to my Comrades today. They thought it was because we don’t see many Christmas lights, decorations, and the music that’s played around the holidays. I agree. It’s also not cold enough here to feel like wintertime, not that I don’t like this weather. I heard that it gets really cold here but I’m finding that hard to believe.

Well, I have to get to sleep. It looks like I’m going to have another long day tomorrow. It’s weird, here I am talking about the days going by fast and I’m usually up from 0400 hours till 2200 hours. It makes for long days that go by quick.

Oh, and one last thing. I wanted to thank the FRG (Family Readiness Group) for all the goodies they sent to all the troops in the company. We all appreciate your thoughts and goodies! Have a Merry Christmas to you all!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Why we call them Hadji.

If you’ve ever grown up in the 60’s or 70’s you may remember an old cartoon called Johnny Quest. It was the adventures of Johnny with his pals, Hadji, Bandit, Dr. Benton Quest, and Race Bannon. The one friend of his, Hadji, was a middle easterner. Well, Joe, in all his infinite wisdom has come up with a name to stereotype all of the Arab people, hence force they are called Hadji. I’ve heard that some Muslims may take offence to that. Reason being, Hadji is one who makes the pilgrimage to Mecca just as the Mohammed did. For Muslims it is a very honorable thing to accomplish. So that’s the short story behind the whole Hadji thing so if you hear me speak of a Hadji, it’s just Joe slang for either Iraqi or Arab.

Ok, that’s enough about The Adventures of Johnny Quest, on to my little adventures. Well, there wasn’t much to say about today except the behavior of some of these kids. I’ll go on to explain what happened. I was giving out some candy and goodies to kids but I didn’t have enough for everyone so I was being a little frugal. I had to pick and choose whom I felt like giving goodies and candy to. Some of the kids would wave their hands and beg for candy or something for me to give them. Well, there’s this one kid who I didn’t give anything to. He waved hello and I waved hello back but I didn’t have anything to give him. I was running low on supplies. So I decided to pass him by. Anyways, as soon as I passed him I turned around to see him flipping me off!!! The nerve of that little punk! I’ll remember you next time. Don’t ask me for anything. Sure some of the kids are like that here. They know all the obscene gestures and foul language.

Oh, and one last thing. I can’t believe how hard it was to take a mid-morning/afternoon nap. We’d get people knocking on our door constantly while we were trying to sleep. The minute I started dreaming about the Wonderland someone would knock on the door. Wake up! Don’t fall asleep! And not lightly, mind you. They would bang on the door as if there were no one home. I just had to say how frustrating it is to get a little sleep around here during the day.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Ok, I’ve had a recovery day and I’m still tired.

I think I need another one. Boy I sure do miss weekends. At least then we’d have two days off in a row. I didn’t get everything that I wanted to accomplish today but when does that ever happen. Now it’s getting late again. It’ll soon be time for me to take a shower and go to bed. The one thing I do miss around here is television. Heck, we don’t even have a radio. At least there’s a radio station that we could listen to. It’s an AFN (Armed Forces Network) radio station. The DJ’s are here in Iraq somewhere. They mostly play like the top 40 and they chat a little about the news and events around Baghdad.

Got this photo from a buddy of mine that has been here for a while. These signs are everywhere.

I could see why one of the guys that have been here said that we’d get sick of movies. There’s nothing much else to watch. Heck, I’m already starting to build a collection. I’m sure I’ll have a big movie collection by the time my deployment is over. I just wish that the PX had a bigger selection. I was thinking of joining a movie club like Columbia House but I’m not sure if they ship packages to my address. I’m getting tired of movies too. I’ll have to start looking for television shows like The Simpsons, Star Trek, or X-Files for me to start watching. The only thing that sucks is AAFES, the ones that run the PX, are ripping us off with the high prices. And we really can’t shop anywhere else. Well, I guess we could but there really aren’t any stores around here with quality merchandise.

One last thing, I thought this was a nice poem. Especially around Christmas time. Got it sent to me in an e-mail. I hope you enjoy it.

I swept him up into my arms and held him oh so near And
kissed him on the forehead as I whispered in his ear.

"There's nothing wrong, my little son, for safe we sleep
Our heroes stand on foreign land to give us all the right,

To worry on the things in life that mean nothing at all,
Instead of wondering if we will be the next to fall."

He looked at me as children do and said, "It's always
To thank the ones who help us and perhaps that we should

And so we pushed aside the bills and sat to draft a note,
To thank the many far from home and this is what we wrote:

"God bless you all and keep you safe and speed your way
back home.
Remember that we love you so, and that you're not alone.

The gift you give you share with all, a present every
day, You give the gift of liberty and that we can't

Michael Marks: "I freely submit this poem for reprint
without reservation--this is an open and grateful tribute
to the men and women who serve every day to keep our
nation safe.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Election Day

I’m very happy for the people of Iraq. Today they elected a new government. Unfortunately I didn’t leave the camp today. I would’ve liked to seen the polling stations. Today is a very special day for the people of Iraq and I hope that they are proud and ready to move forward in the rebuilding of their country.I don’t have much else to blog about today. I spent my day recovering from the past couple of days of doing missions. I was up until 0400 hours this morning so I slept most of the day. So, for some reason, I feel like I’ve almost skipped a day. Tomorrow will be another recovery day but I have things to do like clean my weapons and organize my equipment. I have to start inspecting and preparing my gear for these missions. I also have to get some equipment that’s needed before I go out again.I might decorate my room a little more tomorrow too. It needs a little touch up to make it feel a little more personal. I want it to feel like a little home. Somewhere I feel relaxed after missions.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Everyone is burning trash.

We slept in all morning today. It’s kind of weird now because it’s almost 0200 hours and I’m not even tired. We had most of the morning off, so I took advantage of it to catch up on some sleep. It ok, it’s not like we had the day off. We had some missions that we had to do in the afternoon that would run until the late evening. That’s part of the reason I’m up at this hour.

I guess I should say a little something about the Iraqi people since I’m starting to see them more and more. From what I’ve seen so far, most are very friendly and respectful. Most of them do smile and wave and say “Hi!” I’m also amazed at how much English some of them know. They know more English than I know Arabic. “Hello, How are you!”I’ll also say something about the towns. I guess you could say that my first experience outside the gate was a pretty good one. It didn’t look all that bad here to me. I heard stories that there was trash everywhere, houses were little shacks, and the roads sucked. My first experience was on some dirt road in some farmland. Most of the area wasn’t urban and didn’t have dwellings. Well, I’m finally starting to experience more of urban area Baghdad and it’s not that that pretty. We drove through a town today that had trash everywhere. It seems that most people just take their trash to the edge of the street and start burning it. There’s trash burning everywhere. That’s a big reason why the sky is so polluted here. Everyone’s burning the trash.There are dead animals everywhere too, especially in streams. That’s where I tend to find them the most. They’re mainly cows but I’ve seen chickens too. Some of the towns’ and villages look like ghettos. There are all types of different houses. The roads are in terrible condition with potholes everywhere. The street signs all over the highway are either torn or shot up. Some of the houses have bullet holes and the cars are all beat down. This would be a nice place if it weren’t so dirty. I’ve heard that it looks a lot better up north. This place looks more like a third world country. We don’t know how lucky we have it back in the states. I’m glad I’m here to appreciate the luxuries that we have at home. Hopefully when I get home I’ll appreciate it more and won’t forget about it.

Driving through one of the villages, I smiled an elderly lady. She was doing some labor on the street in front of her house. She smiled back at me. The kids were going crazy. They were everywhere. They were so excited because they were hoping that we would throw out treats. They always get big smiles on their faces, happiness in their voices, and waves of their hands in the air. If we want to win the hearts of minds of the people of Iraq I guess the children would be a good place to start. I figure they’ll have good memories of soldiers handing out treats as they pass by. They'll have something to remember for a lifetime, something good to remember about us. I didn’t take enough treats with me. I’m never prepared for these missions. I’m always forgetting something.

I would wave. Say hi. I was discouraged with myself. I didn’t come more prepared. Oh well, there’s always next time. “Hello! Hi!” I would say while waving my hand. They seemed happy to see us. They all had smiles on their faces. There were boys, girls, young and a little old. “Sorry, I don’t have anymore.” They would make gestures with their hands. I find it’s the best way for us to communicate myself. I don’t understand their language and they don’t understand much of my language but we do understand hand, arm, and facial expressions. I’ve found another way to communicate. Sometimes I wonder what some of the gestures that they make mean.

The IP’s are another friendly group. When we pass them they’re always waving as well. Soldiers do it when they pass one another. We give a wave when we’re riding in a vehicle as a friendly gesture to say hello. It’s like we’re all on the same team and in a way, we are. Sure lots of the IP’s have weapons but I have to trust them. Friendship always beings with trust.

Soccer is another story but I’ll blog more about that more tomorrow. It’s 0224 hours and I have to get some sleep even though tomorrow is more of a recovery day. That’s means it’s a day off but we don’t call it that in the Army. We work everyday of the year and twice on Sundays. So this is your tax dollars at work.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The highlight of my day…

I’ll get to that a little bit later. Today was a long day. We woke up really early, like at 0300 hours. It sucked because I should’ve went to sleep earlier than I did. I ended up with like 5 hours of sleep. It’s a good thing those Red Bulls kicked in this morning.
We went to the IZ today. That stands for International Zone. It used to be called the Green Zone. It was exciting because that’s mainly like downtown Baghdad. It’s where Saddam had his Baathist Party headquarters were located. I saw a few buildings that wear bombed out during the first phase of OIF. That was pretty cool. It was hard getting a picture of some of the buildings though because photography was not allowed in some of the areas. There were lots of monuments around the city that were built to show off Saddam’s military power.

Well, as far as the highlight of my day, it wasn’t going to the IZ but talking with an IP there. IP is an abbreviation for Iraqi Police. We stopped at Saddam’s old Parade Field where he used to parade his troops in a show of force. It’s a really amazing site. There are these hands that extend from the ground with sabers crossed up above. They’re on both sides of the field with Saddam’s grandstand in the center. There are also stadium lights extended on poles all around the place. Well, we did a little sight seeing and thought we’d check it out.

At the base of one of those hands was a vendor that was selling all sorts of Iraqi souvenirs. Joes sure do love their souvenirs. Well anyways, some of the guys and me were checking out what they had to sell. An IP asked us if we wanted to go up into the hand of the statue to check it out. I would’ve done it but I figured that he’d want a tip and I was low on cash at the time. PFC Holzer wanted to check it out so I told him to go ahead and I’d wait at the bottom and take his picture.

Well, while I was waiting for him to get up there the IP and me started to have a little conversation. I guess you could say that I initiated it. I told him that I was from Arizona and it was a desert kind of like this one. I’m not sure if he knew where Arizona was from the expression on his face and I wasn’t sure if he understood me. I then told him that he spoke pretty good English. At least I thought he did. It wasn’t broken and he knew a few words. He didn’t agree with me but I insisted that he did. He asked me if I wanted to buy something from the vendor and I told him that I didn’t have any cash. I would’ve liked to but I didn’t bring any money with me. Sorry but no thanks I said with a smile. I explained to him that next time I’d bring money so I could get something.

Well, we waited as Holzer was being escorted by another IP up the statue. I walked off a bit to what seemed to be a little station. It was just a plastic round table with a few chairs outside of a checkpoint. He told me to have a seat. I told him no thanks. He told me again to have a seat and I thought it might be rude if I didn’t take up his offer. I was hoping that he wouldn’t offer me food because it would be rude to refuse that too. So I sat down and had a seat. “My name is Ali. What is your name?” he said. “Pete, Peter” I said. I go by Pete but I always figured that Peter was a more common and biblical name and he might know it. “Nice to meet you Peter” he said with a big smile and a friendly gesture. He was friendly, very friendly and for some reason I saw him as a friend. I shook his hand all the while thinking that I should’ve taken off my glove. How rude of me. “It’s nice to meet you too.” I sincerely said with a smile on my face and goodwill in my heart. I saw him as a friend too even thought I’ve never met the guy. I think we both had a common goal. I know how dangerous it is to be an IP; they risk their lives everyday. They’re constantly targets for insurgents. I wanted to tell him that I thought he was doing something good for his country and he should be proud. With the hope and promise that someday maybe our two countries would be united with a common goal. That maybe someday, my children and my children’s children will live in a better world. Sure we risk our lives but I think it’s for the greater good. It’s for the hope and promise of a world free of tyranny, oppression, and terrorism. It’s so maybe someday, people will look back and hopefully remember the sacrifices of those who gave their life for freedom.

The highlight of my day was meeting someone that wanted to be my friend.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Internet here sucks!

I guess I’m expecting too much huh? Well, I don’t care I’m going to expect better than what we have. At least the MWR Internet trailer is right behind me and that’s free. Problem is it’s not that fast either. We do have wireless Internet here but it’s $10 for 5 hours. What a rip off. And it’s not even that great either. It’s not super slow but it’s not fast either. The big problem is we always get disconnected from the system and sometimes we can’t get connected at all. Yesterday I had to go to the Internet tent to hook my laptop up directly to get online to download music and get online. I hope some big Internet company is listening. They could make a ton of money from the Joes if they put in a good network here.

Well, that’s not the only problem here. We also have a problem with the water pressure in the showers. Sometimes I’ll be taking a shower and either the water pressure will decrease and it’ll start pouring out cold or hot water. That’s when I have to dodge the water and mess with the faucets. Then the other day, I guess a water main broke so we had to walk all the way down to the other pad to take a shower. My roommate told me before I left to pack a lunch. That’s when he told me about it.

Well, my last complaint will be about the phones here. It would be nice if we had some phones around here. If I want to use the phones I first have to find a battle buddy that wants to do the same. Then I have to sign out and walk ¾ of a mile down the road to get to the phone center. And I also have to take into consideration that we’re 10 hours ahead of Phoenix too. It sucks. And they’re trying to make life better for the Joes. I guess I shouldn’t complain. At least we have Internet, toilets with water, and phones. I guess it could be worse. But what I don’t see is that the DOD is paying these contractors big bucks to establish the facilities here and we’re still having problems.

Oh and one last thing but I guess I’ll save it for tomorrow since I have to get up early. It’s getting late and I have to take a shower and get to bed. Well, from Baghdad Iraq, goodnight.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

It looked like those early Iraq war videos

with all the tracer rounds being shot into the night sky. It was crazy. It all started around 2200 hours. I was sitting in the entertainment tent, browsing the internet. Then, all of a sudden I heard gunfire go off to the north. My first thought was that some stupid unit is doing night-fire on the range. It was weird though; the shots weren’t coordinated. Usually when a unit is on the range the firing is coordinated and it all stops about the same time. This was gunfire after gunfire, after gunfire. Holzer then came into the tent yelling, “SGT Puebla, you have to come check this out!” I was thinking to myself, what’s there to check out, but the gunfire seemed to come from everywhere. Were we being attacked? I guess it would be kind of crazy and funny since everyone is required to carry a weapon and ammo at all times anyways. Shoot, I wouldn’t want to walk into someone’s home when everyone inside was carrying a weapon and I didn’t know the layout of the place. It’s just calling for suicide. No way could we be getting attacked so I got that thought out of my head.

I went ahead and got up to go outside. To my amazement I saw tracer rounds fired up into the night sky. The fire was coming from all directions. It was everywhere and I was assuming that it was just at the borders of the camp. Is the military testing its air defenses? What the heck was that? I knew they were tracer rounds and I was assuming there were ball rounds too but where was it coming from? It was all around the camp. One guy had mentioned that they usually fire their guns up into the air during a wedding. Who got married? This gunfire was coming from everywhere. I figured it had to be something big to be happening. Were the people happy because of the elections? Was it something about Saddam that I didn’t know about? Everyone was outside checking out the fireworks show. Groups of soldiers would get together and start discussing all sorts of stuff and ideas for reasoning. It sure brought us together, out in the night to start socializing with each other.

Finally, a Joe came up with a reason that made some sort of sense. I assumed that he was right too. It sounded like a good answer. He told us that Iraq had just won some soccer game against Syria. Boy, people go crazy for their soccer here. I had to get back indoors because I didn’t want to get hit by some falling lead. If I had a time elapse camera I would’ve been able to capture the moment. Oh well. It was an amazing site to see. It’s also crazy to see that there are a lot of Iraqis that have guns out here.

I guess you could check this lady’s website out too, While Away. I presume she’s somewhere in Iraq and must have seen the same thing. Actually I think she’s in the International Zone.

This was at the nightfire range back at Yakima. I'll have some photos from Iraq pretty soon.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Everything comes with experience. Every situation is different.

He was right. No matter how much they train us we they never could predict what will happen. It’s different every time. Today was my first day outside of the gate. I didn’t think it was going to be that bad. In fact, these guys made it worse than it seems. Maybe they were over reacting. Maybe I was under reacting. I definitely figured something out. I have to change my attitude when it comes to riding on the road. Like I’ve heard before, “We own the roads.” Sure I got that, and I figured that they’d get out of the way if they saw us coming. I didn’t expect us to drive the people off the road. In some ways it’s kind of cool but in others I think, how are we supposed to win the “Hearts and Minds” of these people if we control them. I guess I don’t realize how dangerous it is until something happens. But to me, everything seemed ok.

The landscape reminded me of Peoria, Arizona or West Phoenix before all of the development. There is a lot of farmland out here. Actually, I didn’t see any desert at all. It was kind of weird because it doesn’t look that bad in some areas. I think they’ve cleaned it up a little. Sure the roads aren’t the best but the landscape was kind of pretty after looking at it for a while. There are palm trees, reeds, big and small houses, farmland, sheep, cattle, and no camels to be seen. I could see how this area, Babylon, was once the Garden of Eden. It’s a lot greener here than it was in Kuwait. There was nothing in Kuwait but sand. When I have a chance I’ll take a photo of the landscape to post on the blog here. Maybe I could get a photo of the people too.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Alright, the Army got the chow right.

Let’s sustain that. Now it’s time to work on the internet access. Well, I guess I shouldn’t complain, at least I have internet access. It’s better than nothing at all.

Actually, I’m pretty glad to be on this rotation during this time of Iraq Freedom. That’s what I’m going to call it from now on. I’m not going to call it a war. To me it’s about liberating Iraq and making it a free country like the one we live in. Now it’s time to root the insurgents out of their little holes that they’re hiding in. Come on, bring on the fight, I dare you. We’re ready, are you? Let’s PLAY BALL! I want to shoot my gun at least once. The Army didn’t train me for nothing. I don’t know what they’re fighting for anyways. Shoot, the more I think of it, the more I think they should give up hope. They’ve just about lost the fight and we’re about to win. We are about to bring peace and democracy to this once, unstable land. It’s time to finish the fight. I’m glad I’m here to finish the mission. At least I’ll have stories to tell my children and grandchildren about. Maybe to them I’ll be a hero.

How do I watch movies? Well, we mainly watch movies on our laptops. That’s why I am very thankful to my brother David for buying a laptop for me before I was deployed. I cannot thank him enough. Talk about supporting your troops. He should be proud.

Some of the guys bought televisions, stereos, bikes, and all sorts of other stuff from the guys that are leaving here. It’s pretty cool because we could barter with a lot of the guys for stuff they can’t take with them back to the states. For that reason, I don’t advise any of the Joes to buy anything at the PX that they can’t get from another Joe that’s selling his stuff. I plan on buying a bike myself. I’m tired of this walking around everywhere sort of stuff. Everything on the camp is spaced out so there’s a 15-minute walk to just about anywhere I want to go. There are a few exceptions though. I got lucked out with the internet café, it’s right behind my trailer. And so are the entertainment center and a little gym. It’s nice having this entertainment right here. I don’t have to walk far, just outside my trailer and around to the back.

The entertainment center has two big screen TVs, some computers, and a couple of weights. They occasionally play a movie and mainly display the news on those TVs. One of the TVs has a PS2 so we could get together to play some video games.

Here’s another picture of a few camels from Kuwait.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Let me talk about the food

If the Army is trying to keep soldiers in the service this is the best way to do it. This has got to be the best Army chow, and food in general that I have ever, ever eaten in my entire existence. Who would of thought that going to Iraq, I’d find myself in heaven. The dining facility here is off the hook!!! The Army has finally done something right. They have everything, even during midnight chow. At my first dinner, which was midnight chow, I had steak, shrimp, a baked potato, milk, a dinner roll, corn on the cob, some salad, and a Coke. THIS WAS MIDNIGHT CHOW!

I regret that I’ve missed breakfast twice already. What a shame. The fruit and salad bar are awesome. For some reason, the fruit taste really good here. I don’t know where they’re getting this food from but it’s really, really good. I heard that the food in Kuwait wasn’t that good compared to the food here in Iraq and let me tell you, the food in Kuwait wasn’t that bad either. I’m craving some grapes just talking about this stuff.

Here's a picture of a heard of camels out somewhere in the Kuwait desert. As you could see there's nothing really to see out there but camels.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Hello from Baghdad Iraq

It’s about time. It’s finally come down to this. If you’re wondering why I haven’t blogged in a while it’s because the internet service in Kuwait sucks. That’s right, Kuwait. That’s were we’ve been stuck for the past couple of weeks. It would’ve been nicer if they could’ve just flown us straight over here. To top it off the phone systems were down too so I couldn’t make any phone calls.

Well, as for Kuwait, it’s a real barren land, hardly any vegetation. It’s mostly flat and made up of sand. I did see camels while I was there. It’s the very first time I’ve seen camels in the wild before. That was pretty neat. One of the sergeants in my platoon wanted to hop on one to get a picture. Too bad we didn’t have a chance to do that.

As for Baghdad, I haven’t seen much of it yet. I haven’t been off of the camp yet. To me it seems like I’m on some Army base in the States somewhere in Arizona. In fact, this place reminds me a lot of Arizona, especially Phoenix. So, in some way, I still feel at home. I’m sure I’ll realize that I’m in a different country once I leave the camp. Maybe I don’t feel like I’m in a different country because everyone that I interact with is an American. We all speak English, some with accents. We’re all able to relate to each other no matter what part of the country we come from. We all have something in common and were all Americans. We all feel a common brotherhood. Even a person from another state feels like a neighbor just down the street.

I really can’t get into details about what our mission is here. It’s all for the security of our troops and the unit. For that reason, I can’t say where we are or where we are going. I can’t discuss what our mission is or how we’re going to be doing it. I also have to watch the photos I post. That’s another thing, it may be a little while before I’m able to post any photos here. I have to buy another digital camera since my old one got wet and broke. So, I’ll be waiting until payday before I get another one.

Well, that’s all I’m going to post for right now. I’ll have a chance to post some more stuff tomorrow. I have a lot to post about.

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