Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I’m going to the gym without a Battle-Buddy.

I don’t care. If I get caught, oh well. I need to get some exercise. I’ve seen lots of guys walking around all by themselves. I’ve been eating and eating but I haven’t been exercising. I’ve started to cut down on my eating but I can’t help eating all this junk food. It’s looking at me every day, saying eat me! Eat me! I have to get rid of all these chocolates. And the cookies, I don’t know what I’m going to do about them. The candy is an easy fix. I could just throw those out to the kids that we see every day. If I don’t give them candy they’ll just end up flipping me the bird. Those are the kids I don’t give candy to.

Well, it’s time to go. I have to get some exercise done. I’ll try to get some exercise in tomorrow as well. I’m going to have to make some sort of routine to get it done. I also have to stop eating sweets too, especially at the mess hall. I’ve been getting an ice cream bar every time I eat there and I have to stop that. I have to start exercising self discipline and control. Once I start exercising that’ll help me out.

Well, I was going to go to the gym. That plan didn’t happen. The squad leader for ‘Sexual Chocolate’ asked me if I could do him a favor. Damn, I’ve already been asked to do a favor by someone else today. Sniper was trying to find someone to go with him to DHL. It’s on another FOB. We’re not allow to drive anywhere by ourselves in the Hummers. Sniper went asking around to try and find someone to go with him. He asked me if I could do him a favor. I was getting ready to take a little nap in-between missions. This is the way I see it and maybe I’m too hard on myself. I figure that along with being an NCO is taking care of troops. I’m a true believer in that philosophy. The troops come first. So I went ahead and went with him to DHL. He was so thankful and said that he owed me.

The Sexual Chocolate SL asked me tonight if I could do him a favor for one of his Joes. I guess the guy has duties in the internet trailer but he had an early mission tomorrow. So, he asked if I would do him a favor and cover for his Joe. I thought about it but not too hard. I knew that I’d be helping him get some much needed rest for his mission tomorrow. I knew that I wouldn’t need the rest so I told him that I’d cover for his shift. The only thing I’m missing out on is going to the gym like I planned. I was already dressed in my PT uniform. I was all set to do some PT. I had to get undressed and get dressed in my DCUs again. Well, at least it’s appreciated and I hope they remember the favor. Now I’m going to be covering the internet trailer until midnight.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The bullshit runs thick.

Of course, we had to take a PT test. I don’t know why since Army standards are only every 6 months. I wouldn’t doubt it if we take another PT test next month. That’s not the only problem. We never have time to do PT. Heck, I had the day off today and I spend the whole day cleaning the rest of my ammo. Getting this rust off of the links is a pain in the ass. I wish I could just wash it off but it doesn’t work like that. Water and iron don’t mix. I’m just about done cleaning it all. I’m trying to get it cleaned as soon as I can.

Another thing that’s on my nerves is that I have to make up the PT schedules again. When are we supposed to do PT? And it’s like I have nothing else better to do. Heck, I think our platoon is busier then any other platoon in the company.

I’m not sure if I mentioned it already but we couldn’t have lucked out any better than this. I believe that we are on the best FOB in Iraq. We have everything we would need here. Well, almost everything. But this has to be without a doubt, the best FOB in Iraq.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

I could tell I’m becoming older.

It seems the older I get the more responsible I become. Not only that, it’s the slower I drive too. What I’m trying to get at is that instead of playing around with the other guys I’d rather make sure my ammo gets all cleaned up. I just passed Doc’s room and there were a group of guys in there playing Halo. Sure I’d like to play but I have to get my ammo cleaned. I also have to get my .50cal cleaned again but I’m saving that for another day. That thing gets dirty every day and it becomes a hassle cleaning it.

There have been some changes around here. Our MWR tent is now closed. I guess there’s going to be some reorganization and it’s going to be run under new management. I can’t wait until it opens back up. As for our wireless internet access, that’s up in the air. Our dealers that sell the internet cards are leaving. Our providers are still providing internet access but the dealers are soldiers that are leaving back home. I hope they work everything out soon and decide who will be selling the internet cards from now on. I’m sure our providers can’t wait either. They have to be losing money during all this mess.

The Hadji internet service is another story. For some reason, I think they changed the location of their router. Now I have problems connecting to the internet. It wasn’t great before but it worked. Now I don’t know what I’m going to do. Anyways, I’ve heard that we are going to get internet in our trailers pretty soon, for a fee that is. Hopefully it’ll be a lot better than what we have now and I hope it’s soon. I hope the prices are reasonable too. Not only that, they’re also offering television service too.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

So T-Rex got some rest.

We left him at the trailer to get some rest and recover. He was worn out from pulling duty last night in the Internet trailer and from the early missions this morning. Shoot, I could’ve used some time off the other day when we were supposed to get the day off. So we were stuck with Sergeant Bastard. He’s a really, really good guy but he can’t drive for shit! He’s no T-Rex. He was driving all over the place and for some reason he likes to drive on the right side of the road. We went through puddles that were on the side of the road. He could’ve drove in the middle of the road and missed them all! There was a point when we were driving on a trail that he went so far off to the right that I thought we were going to roll right off the road. I thought that if an IED doesn’t kill me this dude’s driving sure would.

I’ve really been looking out. Now more that I have before, well except when we first got here. Since getting hit by that IED the other day I’ve really changed my attitude towards riding on the road. Now I find myself constantly looking for IEDs. I guess you could say the same thing for America after 9/11. Before security was really laxed. Afterwards security became very tight. It took some dramatic action to cause us to react. I guess the same would go for me. Not that I wasn’t looking out before but now I’m more serious about it. I tell you, the first thought on my mind when we got hit was the feeling of disbelief. I could not believe that we had got hit. What were the chances of that? I’ve heard of IEDs on the news all the time but I didn’t see any over here. Heck, we’ve been here for over a month now and I was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to see one. Well, I guess I was asking for it.

Friday, January 27, 2006

I’ve been thinking about that IED all day.

I’ve been considering myself lucky. I’ve been considering us all lucky. Someone could have died. My pucker factor has definitely gone up. I was starting to get a little complacent. That was until yesterday. Taking fire didn’t bother me as much as that IED did. At least I know what to aim at when being fired upon. With an IED it’s totally different.

Until yesterday I haven’t seen any combat. I was starting to wonder if I would ever see anything. Now I’m beginning to wish that things were the way they were before. There were no worries and no problems. It was kind of like being an American, living in a free country. The sound of combat, gunfire is like nothing I’ve ever heard before. It was crazy. I still think about that soldier that was in the street telling me where the insurgents were. I wish we could’ve helped him at the time but it was mission first. I felt like we were disserting him, leaving him there to fight off the gunmen himself. I knew it was mission first, and I definitely wanted to get the mission accomplished. If we had the chance, I would’ve liked to go back and help him out, but it wasn’t our mission. He probably thought we were cowards. I had just wished that T-Rex or the SL would have spotted the insurgents so I could go ahead and open up with the .50cal.

The sound of the IED was loud. I definitely knew what it was when we got hit. Someone thought it was a grenade but I thought it was too loud to be a grenade. It had to be some sort of high explosive. I think I might have jinxed myself. Earlier in the day I had told Sergeant P. that I’m on that road all the time and I have yet to see anything happen on it. I guess I was asking for it.

These people live in a crazy world over here. I guess you could say that most of the action happens in the city, but I’ve seen it out in the country as well. It makes me proud to be an American, to live the way we do. Americans go on day to day without a care in the world. We live in a world of relative peace and happiness, without violence. This place is totally different. Granted, I’m sure that there are lots of Iraqis that would like to live in peace and go on with their daily lives. Then there are others, idealists, who oppose all that we do. That’s all fine with me. We can’t please everyone. But if they want to fire at me than they are risking their lives.

I respect all that the Iraqi Police and Army are doing everyday. They are fighting this battle, as well they should. They are out there day by day, risking their lives. Insurgents attack them constantly but their resolve is strong. I really honor what they stand and fight for. I think their children and their children’s’ children should too. If they want to see a free and stable country then they have to protect it. It is up to the people of Iraq to fight for what they want. I believe what they want is to live in peace and happiness but not all of them wish for a free Iraq.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Holy Shit,

as the Lieutenant would say. I’m still alive. The shit hit the fan today. It was a freaking nightmare. It all started out this morning. It was definitely my longest day in Iraq. We drove to some location, north of Baghdad. It’s about a 2-hour drive from the IZ. Boy is it crazy out there. I haven’t seen anything until today. The IZ is nothing compared to some of the freaking places we went through today. I have never felt in danger in the IZ. It’s totally different for some of the streets we were on in Baghdad. I with I could’ve taken some good photos, but I had other duties to do besides taking pictures.

Our day started at 0300 in the morning and didn’t end until 2300 hours. That just explains how long and hellacious it was. It wasn’t too bad this morning, with the exception of the traffic. I had to get all sorts of cars off the road so our Humvees could get by. It sucked mainly because the roads were packed with cars.

On our way back home is when all the action happened. This place is crazy. I haven’t seen anything, until today. We made a right on this one street. While we were driving on the street I thought I heard some gunshots. “Oh Shit! I heard a shot!” I yelled. I only heard one at that time. “There’s another one!” I got down to avoid getting hit. I started thinking about how bad that route was starting to look. We had passed the area and I thought all was clear.

Then we came upon another blockade of cars. My first thought was that it was another Iraqi Police or Army checkpoint. But it was strange. I didn’t see any blockade and I didn’t see any IPs. At first we saw a diesel truck that looked like it was burned out on the other side of the road. Maybe the problem was the disabled vehicle up ahead. As we approached we noticed an Iraqi Army soldier standing in the middle of the road. He was really anxious, as well as myself. I was curious as to what had caused the traffic to stop. I don’t know any Arabic and I was hoping that he knew some English. He knew enough to tell me what was going on. “Insurgents!” “He says there’s some insurgents ahead!” I told the Lieutenant. “Where?” I asked. He pointed in the direction. Then I heard it, the automatic gunfire. “Oh Shit! I hear it! There it is!” my head going down to get some cover. “Get some cover!” I told the Iraqi Army Solider, knowing that he probably didn’t understand a fucking word I said. Fuck! Alright, what are we going to do? “What are we going to do?” I asked the Lieutenant and the SL. It took a few seconds for my PL and SL to decide that we were going to blow through the kill zone. There were no cars in the area we would be driving through. Of course, they all either took off or stopped ahead of the gunfight. POWPOWPOWPOW!!! Oh shit! There it was again. Fuck! I wanted to see where it was coming from but I was afraid of getting my head shot. Fuck that. I’ll stay down. “What are we going to do?” I asked again. “We’re going to blow through!” they said. It was time to make a quick plan. The plan was to get from one side of the contact to the other. We were going to drive right through. Fuck, I’m going to stay down.

“T-Rex, if you see anything tell me where so I could light them up with the .50cal!” I was anxious and ready to use the weapon. I wasn’t too nervous but excited. I think it had to do with all the training I’ve had over the years. I had to make sure that I saw the target first. I didn’t want to end up killing innocent lives. Alright, let’s go. We hauled ass right through the kill zone. It was crazy but we just took off. I was hoping that T-Rex would spot something so I could end the violence. I wasn’t going to stick my head up to look. We blew straight across the kill zone to the other end. The whole squad had made it. Good. Thank God. We’d made it out of that shit. I started thinking about that Iraqi Army Solider. I felt sorry for him. He was all alone there in the street. He was the only solider I saw at the scene. He’d be screwed if help didn’t arrived soon. As much as I wanted to help him out and kill the bastards, I couldn’t. Hopefully backup would arrive soon. But in a place like this, I didn’t expect back up to arrive that quickly, especially from the Iraqi Army.

The excitement wasn’t over after we passed the kill zone. We came up to some more blocked traffic. Great, what now? I thought. Is there another IP checkpoint? We had to make our way through traffic again. We tried and tried to get the traffic to pull over so we could get though the crowd as soon as possible. We go up to another group of Iraqi Army. Something else was happening up ahead. I got the attention of the Iraqi Soldier and asked him what was happening. I knew he didn’t know English and I was hoping that he would understand what I asked. “Boom” he said, moving his arms in an upward motion. I automatically knew he meant an IED. Fucking Great! What’s next? Calm down Pete, it’s not ‘Blackhawk Down’ yet. Everyone is still alive. There was nowhere for us to go. We were stuck there and it was already getting late. We were already behind schedule and I knew that we’d be even later. It was going to be a late night. I already knew it.

So there we sat, waiting for the road to get cleared. We were on the wrong side of town and we weren’t going anywhere. Finally, the LT decided to turn us back around and take another route. So we did. We turned around and started heading on another route. After miles and miles on this route everything seemed to look better. There were no cars on the road and it looked like we wouldn’t have any more trouble. It was getting darker and Iraqis usually don’t drive on the road at night. The street lighting is already poor plus they have a curfew in effect.

So there we were, driving along, heading towards our destination. There were hardly any cars and we were out in the farmland now. BOOM!!! “IED!!!IED!!! IED!!!” I yelled. Oh shit! I couldn’t believe it! We had been hit. I wasn’t sure where it was. I had just got down and started yelling at T-Rex to haul ass. Not again I thought. How much shit can we go through in one freaking day? We were all ok in my Humvee. That’s what made me happy at the time. I heard it. It was loud. Fucking Hadji! He’s trying to kill us. Fuck! Everyone was ok. We got the hell out of dodge. Luckily, we made it to our destination with no other incidents. Everyone was safe and no one got injured. That was a good thing.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I would make this long but I really can’t.

I don’t have much time. I have to get to bed because I have to get up early tomorrow. I was supposed to get the day off today. That never happened. It started out good until I was woken from my bed at 1000 hours this morning. “We have to be at the TOC at 1030 hours” my squad leader said. “What are we doing?” I asked. “Going to the IZ.” So that’s when I thought so much for the day off. I got my gear on and got dressed. I planned on sleeping in until 1200 hours since I stayed up until 0200 the night before.

I got out to the truck when the SL asked me, “Where’s T-Rex?” “He’s on the shit detail. Don’t you remember?” I replied. “Oh, I forgot all about that.” So we had to pull another driver from another part of the company. It wasn’t too bad of a move. He adjusted just fine. We went everywhere today and didn’t finish up our mission until 1910 hours. It was just in time to make it to the chow hall before they closed. I had already missed breakfast because I slept in. Lunch was skipped because we were doing missions. I ended up eating a snack bar for lunch. And dinner was almost missed had it not been for making it here before they closed. Then it would’ve been Burger King for dinner.

It started raining again. There’s mud everywhere again too. I thought the days of rain were long gone. This is supposed to be a desert. I didn’t get wet until we got to Abu Ghraib. It was pouring over there. As much as I hated it, I knew I was going to get wet again. What could I do about it? I didn’t have much of a choice. I did have some wet weather gear but I didn’t bother putting it on. Leaving it to cover my .50cal instead. Last time my .50cal got wet it began to rust. I’m not letting that happen again. I’m going to make sure that baby is dry from now on.

I have other things to talk about but I’m too tired to right now. I have to hurry up and take a shower and get to bed. I have a very long day tomorrow. I have to get up really early. I’ll be up hours before anyone even wakes up and I’ll probably be in bed afterwards too.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I got some more packages from family.

There was some stuff I really needed too like shaving cream, razors, toothbrush, toothpaste, and some snacks and candy too. I’m probably going to give the candy to the kids when I go outside the wire. I don’t have any need for it. I still have a lot of candy and cookies from packages that I received on Christmas Day. I’m wondering how long the snacks in that box will last.

I’ve wanted to go to the gym and get some exercise but they’ve kept us so busy that by the time I get to the trailer I’ve lost all motivation. I’m really glad that they keep us busy. It helps the days go by faster. It’s waking up really early that I don’t like. Last night I only got 5 hours of sleep. I usually take naps here and there and in between missions. I usually don’t take a nap unless I haven’t had a lot of sleep. I’m usually up all day. And as for tonight, I don’t think I’ll be going to the gym. I have to post this blog, check my e-mail, take a shower, watch a movie and go to bed. I’m not sure what we’re doing tomorrow, yet. I don’t care. I’m prepared to do anything anyways. As long as they don’t tell me that we have to be ready to go at 0300 in the morning. Forget That.

There’s this little kid on our route. I don’t know his name but for some reason I’m feeling attached to the kid. I don’t know why I like him so much. Maybe it’s because he reminds me of my youngest son. He’s a cute little boy though. I’ve always called him ‘Buddy’. And every time I see him I make it a point to give him a treat. I withhold giving treats to other kids but for some reason, I’m compelled to give this kid something. I’ll have to get his picture so I could post it here. He always makes me smile too. I think it’s because of the way he smiles and begs for candy. He’s always making arm and hand gestures. I’ll just mimic whatever he does and he’ll repeat. I guess it’s our sort of way of communicating. I don’t speak his language and he doesn’t speak mine but we both understand sign language. I think I’m going to buy him some toys when I go home on leave. I don’t know why, but I feel compelled to do so.

There are a few more things I’d like to post here but I can’t. It’s mainly about the Fucked Up situations that are occurring around here. The ARMY and my unit discourage me from discussing what’s wrong. I guess it doesn’t want to set a bad image. I could understand but nothing is perfect. There are some things that bother others and me in the platoon. There are some situations that need attention and we find it hard to address them.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The days are long.

I guess I could say that we are fortunate that we are so busy. I’m kind of glad myself. On my days off I’m dying for stuff to do. There’s not much for one to do here on a day off. It’s easy to get bored here real quick. I’ve heard that others wish they were as busy as we are. I guess they’re tired of the boredom themselves. As for my platoon, there’s no time for boredom. It’s always one thing after another. We’re lucky if we get one day off a week.

Today I really got to explore another camp. This one has palaces just like the camp that I’m on. I was able to get a few pictures of palaces that were bombed during the bombing phase of the invasion. They’re posted here on the left side.

Need to hit the sack, another long day tomorrow. Just wanted to bring up one other thing. It’s an incident that happened this evening. This one Humvee that was with us didn’t bother to fill up their tank with fuel before we left. Can you guess what happened? Yep, that’s right! They ran out of fuel!!! Fuckers!!! I’m glad they’re not in our unit. I’m sure they would’ve heard about this from the commander. Well the good thing was that it took one of the teams in our platoon only 3 minutes to get it hooked up and towed. So I guess that’s the new standard to beat, 3 minutes. It’s not NASCAR, but it’s not bad either. We might have to check everyone that tags along with us to make sure they have a full tank from now on.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Our first Humvee accident.

Today was pretty smooth. We even finished the day earlier than we usually do. I was happy about having more time off this evening. That was until we were told that we were going to be doing some drivers training at night. Great! The times for the drivers training kept changing as well. First it was 1830 then it changed to 1900. Didn’t surprise me.

The course was a driver’s course that is here on the FOB. It’s a makeshift course with mud, obstacles, and all sorts of other stuff. I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to go since I’m not a driver but every driver had to have a TC, so I guess that was me. I think T-Rex and me had the advantage over the other teams since we had an intercom hook-up in our Humvee. We’re one of the fortunate few. So all I would have to do is jump up into the gunners hatch and navigate him around any obstacles from there. The field of view from inside a Humvee is terrible. You can’t see shit. I have a much better view from up top plus I’m able to view 360°.

So T-Rex and me did fine, making it through the course with no problems. Since it was dark we had to use our NODs and go tactical, without headlights or any lights for that matter. It was a little hard for me to make the terrain out but nothing like I haven’t been through before. It tested both of our skills and working together as a team. I thought we did pretty well. T-Rex drove without getting stuck in the mud or hitting any barriers like some of the other teams did. I’m pretty sure we were one of the few teams to go through without any incidents. Except for one.

This was not our fault. While waiting on a trail for a Humvee in front of us to move out, a Humvee hit us along our rear right side. We weren’t even moving. We were just parked there, waiting for the Humvee in front of us to move. Well, I guess this Humvee on our right side was backing up when it hit us. They had a ground guide out there so I can’t understand how it happened. It’s just like the guy kept backing and backing up, until we got hit. We were fine. T-Rex asked, “Did someone hit us?” That’s when I looked over to the side and noticed that the Humvee was backed up right into us. Great!

We got out and checked out the damage. There wasn’t much there so it doesn’t look too bad. That’s a good thing. At least we won’t have to do a report and we won’t hear from the commander. And T-Rex had mentioned if he would need his insurance card before we started! One of the guys had told him yeah at the time. I agreed!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

I’m starting to get excited.

I can’t mention here why I am for security concerns. But with every day that passes I get more and more excited.

It was cold today. I think part of that had to be the wind chill factor. It seemed colder only because it was really windy today. It also caused a lot of dust. I wish I had captured the moment to post a photo of it here. In fact I was going to take a picture outside our trailer but I wouldn’t be able to post it online for security reasons.

Got my M2 cleaned today. It’s about time. I’m starting to hate cleaning that thing. It was starting to get dirty again. It’s a pain in the ass to clean because I can’t get it wet. If so it’ll begin to rust. It’s made of iron and I’ve already had some rust develop when rained the other day. The only thing I could do is use a brush and a cloth to get all of the dirt off of it. Well, at least now it looks decent. As far as my ammo goes, it’s a work in progress. It’s coming along day by day. I gave up trying to get it all cleaned at once. Whenever I’m just sitting around the trailer I’ll pick up a round or link and start brushing all of the dirt and rust off of it. I was wondering how much Hadji would charge me to clean them. I bet it’s not much. It might not be a bad idea.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Found some buried treasure today!

Well, not exactly buried treasure, more like war trophies. They may be worth something on Ebay too, I don’t know. It sure was like a buried treasure to me. Early this morning, while waiting for some of our trucks, Socks and me decided to check out the ‘Tomb Of The Unknown Solider’. I would’ve taken photos but I didn’t have my camera with me. We walked up to the top of the monument where all of central Baghdad could be seen. It was a remarkable site but I’ve heard of better view that I have access to.

There were stairs at the top that lead downstairs to what looked like an empty tomb. It was sort of scary at first, being completely dark inside with no one around. I started getting worried myself. It would be a good place for a kidnapping or for us to get killed. It was dark, secluded, and there were a lot of places to hide. Once I got downstairs I had the urge to wait for Socks to finish walking downstairs. I wasn’t going to enter that chamber all alone, not into a dark place like that. I couldn’t even see inside from where I was standing outside. I had my pistol ready. I asked Socks if he had his. “Nope” he said. “No! Where did you leave it?” “In the truck.” Man, that’s just great, I thought. Fuck! What if shit happens? This doesn’t look good. What the hell are we gonna do? I’d be all alone in a gunfight. Good luck to him!

I’m really glad I bought a sheath for my Surefire the other day. I can’t believe I was second guessing on buying it. I didn’t want to spend the money when all it cost was $5. It’s come in very, very handy. I’ve hooked it up to my pistol belt and now I have it everywhere I go. It’s been there when I’ve needed it so far and it came in handy again today.

Socks didn’t have a flashlight either. What gives with this dude! I know I love the man but come on! If your going to walk around in strange places at least go prepared! I at least had a buddy and wasn’t alone. It’s just that that buddy didn’t have a weapon or a flashlight, unless you consider a knife as a weapon. But then again, I don’t think he’s an expert with a knife either. If he were I wouldn’t have a problem with it. If it came down to he would have to stab people with his knife while I shot them with my M9. What fun that would be!

So we entered the room and I had the feeling that he had a little bit of fear in him too. I sure did. I couldn’t see anything in there but I was curious to check it out. So I flashed my Surefire in the back corner as soon as we entered the room and started scanning the room from one corner to the center, to the other corner. It made me wish that he had a flash light too so I wouldn’t be the only one scanning the room, flashing my light everywhere! It would’ve been better had he been scanning one side of the room for anything suspicious while I scanned the other half.

Well, the place had an eerie feeling. There was no lighting and we were in a complete dark room with lots of hiding spots. I opened up my ears to listen for any movements that might have come from inside. Now that I go back to think about it, I wish I had my pistol drawn, in case something came down. At least then would I have been ready. But that might have shown some overreaction on my part and I didn’t want to lose any bit of respect to my comrade from my show of fear. Had shit come down, I don’t think we would’ve been ready.

Inside the huge circular room were glass caskets all around. There were some on the walls and in a circular pattern all along the floor. What made it freakier was the fact that they resembled coffins made of glass, some being open. Those zombie movies got the best of me when I started thinking of the worst. Perhaps the doors would automatically shut on us and zombies would appear everywhere out of nowhere. I had my pistol and my flashlight so I was ready. Is it like those zombie movies when you have to shot them in the head? Does that really kill them? I had these freaking thoughts of zombies attacking us in my head. I don’t know about Socks, I had my flashlight, cross, and pistol ready for a fight with the Iraqi Soldier undead. Would they come back to haunt US GIs from the dead to get their revenge?

We looked around real quick while I told Socks what I was thinking. It was too dark and creepy in there for me. He didn’t have a pistol or a flashlight and I didn’t like the idea of being in there any longer than I had to. We did our looking around and GTFO (Got The Fuck Out). It would be safer outside, where we could at least see.

We went outside the monument when we linked up with ‘Daddy’, another Sergeant, and ‘BJ’ our interpreter. I’ve changed their names to protect their identities. There was another monument nearby that got my interest as well. I asked them if they wanted to check it out and they agreed. Inside is where we found the treasure. I’m not going to mention if we got it or not. We’re not allowed to collect ‘War Trophies’. We could get into serious trouble if caught with them. It’s nothing of significant value but it was of value to us. It may not even be of value to the local Iraqis, but to us, they’re War Trophies.

There’s one other thing I’d like to post and I’ll try to keep it short. This post is starting to get awfully long. In fact, I’ll just post photos here and describe a little what happened. This Humvee was driving along side our vehicles when all of a sudden it slid in the mud right into a ditch. I saw the whole event take place. At first I was a little worried that someone may have got hurt and by the significance of the accident. After I found out that no one got hurt I was amused by what had happened. I guess the driver got too close to that ditch. We were going to toe him out but found that impossible. He eventually got a crane to get his Humvee lifted out of the ditch and onto the road. The whole thing was funny, looking back at it! Everyone was capturing photos of it. I’m sure that driver was embarrassed and will hear about it for the next week. What makes it worse is that he’s a Staff Sergeant. Rarely see Staff Sergeants make mistakes like this one! Funny!!!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Ahhh…stuffed from dinner.

It wasn’t too bad. Chicken Cordon Bleu with Rice Pilaf and Green Beans. Had some milk to keep my bones and teeth strong. Lunch was kind of shitty. I had my meal at the same hotel from yesterday. This time I got to see some of the shops, since it was later in the day, and they were open. There’s nothing happening in the IZ at 0500 in the morning, unless you want to be the only one on the street. Lunch at the hotel wasn’t as good as breakfast. I was hoping for something better.

I have some more beef for the Air Force. It seems like those guys get everything. I wonder, why is that? For instance, all the Chair Force dudes with us today had brand new Humvees. That’s not all. They also had brand new intercom headsets. Shoot, the ones we adopted were about to fall apart. T-Rex and me had to rig them back together so they were in decent condition. Well, we managed to acquire a set. Too bad our company can’t hook us up. I’m starting to feel like a thief. At least we’ll put it to good use. What the heck were they going to do with it anyways? It was sitting in the trunk of their Humvee.

For some reason, I always hear gunfire in the IZ. I hardly ever hear it on the FOB or at Abu Ghraib. It’s only when were at the IZ. I’ve been told that it from the guys at the range but I have my doubts. I have yet to see any combat here, although I’m not hoping for it. Well, maybe if I survived and no one got hurt. Just so I could say that I was in combat. I’ll have to tell everyone back home I went to a combat zone and never saw combat. It always happened somewhere else.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Went and seen a nice hotel in Baghdad today.

I don’t know who stays there and even if I did, I wouldn’t be able to say. The hotel was nice. A statue out front, marble floors and walls, and little shops inside. The color was white marble and the lighting was fitting for the place. It’s not the most elegant hotel I’ve been in, but nice for Iraqi standards. I had breakfast in the dinning hall there. Nothing fancy about that, it’s mostly the same thing I eat on the FOB.

It was another long day. We were in the streets of Baghdad before the sun even got up. There was hardly anyone on the streets. I don’t blame them. If I were an Iraqi I wouldn’t be on the streets in the early morning either. It’s too dangerous. Well, maybe not that dangerous but you never know. I just didn’t like the fact that there was hardly any traffic around. I guess you could say it’s kind of like that in the States too. The streets are pretty empty in the early morning, right before sunrise. After sunrise it was like the city woke up. There were cars on the streets and people walking everywhere, going to work and doing they’re daily activities.

I’m glad we didn’t have to do too many missions today. I was worn out from the long day yesterday and from waking up at 0330 this morning. Our day ended early and I crashed as soon as we got back to the trailers this afternoon. I wouldn’t have woke up had it not been for the Mailman knocking on the door, telling me that I had a package to pick up in the mail room.

There’s a lot of anger, frustration, and resentment going around between the team leaders. It happens when things don’t happen the way they want. I’ll get into details some other time but I’d just thought I’d bring it up since it’s starting to become a daily issue. It’s not the soldiers, mainly the NCOs. Too bad, they should know how to take care of simple problems like the ones they’re having. They’re supposed to be professionals.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

If it could go bad today, it did.

It wasn’t that bad of a day. It’s just that we had so many problems, none coming from T-Rex and myself, Thank God. We’re working well together as a team. It all began this late morning/afternoon when we were supposed to link up to leave. We were at our departure site but the other half of our team wasn’t. The problem is that there was a break down in communication. The link-up time was put out as 1130 hours. Supposedly, the other team thought the link up was supposed to be at 1230 hours. So there we were, waiting on our other half to get to the link-up site for over an hour. It totally sucked but it’s mainly because there was miscommunication between the leadership. I’m just glad that I had my book Rainbow Six to read while passing the time. It made the agony of the wait painless. In fact, I was so intrigued by the story that I was reading that I didn’t mind waiting as much. They could take their time for all I care. The only reason I did care was because the frustration of everyone else was aggravating. All the leaders were getting pissed off and upset that the other half wasn’t there at the right time. I sort of think that they should blame themselves for not making sure that the other half knew the link-up time. That’s the problem with communication. You have to make sure the other half understands and knows what you want. Sometimes these guys don’t make it clear. And another thing is that they go on assuming that the other half knows when it actually doesn’t. It’s frustrating for me too because I have to watch this happen but it’s a failure in leadership. They have to learn how to communicate better.

There’s also a lot of resentment going around the leadership due to the lack of competence. These guys get frustrated over little things when the issues are pretty simple. But, a big part of the problem is communication. If everyone knew what everyone else was doing, there wouldn’t be that many problems. We’d all be working on the same sheet of music. I make it a point to make sure that if I give a Joe an instruction or if I’m asking a question to another Joe that I make it clear and to the point. Also, I’ll use a lot of body language like mouth and hand signals to get my point across. I’ll know that if they can’t hear what I’m saying that maybe my visual signals will help. With the vehicles running, it helps when we’re about 25 to 50 meters away from each other.

The other issued we had today happened in the evening. This time T-Rex came through to save the day. One of the trucks that was with us had broken down. It wasn’t smaller then a Humvee so we couldn’t tow it with the truck that we had. We needed something bigger. This was like a semi-sized truck. The major problem at the time wasn’t that it broke down but that it broke down in the pathway and there was no way for the other trucks to get around. It was totally blocking traffic. This truck wouldn’t start and we had to get it out of the way immediately. So, T-Rex jumped on the case. He’s a mechanic in his other life so he’s a total asset to the team. It’s good to have someone with some maintenance experience. A person like that comes in very handy in the Army. It makes me wish I were more of a mechanic myself. Note to self, get some more vehicle maintenance experience and knowledge. I should know a lot more than I do, with my Dad being a mechanic himself. I just never made it a point to learn from him. I’m always sorry I never did that. I should’ve hung around him more often when he was working on trucks, around the house, when I was a teenager.

Well, T-Rex checked out the truck. It wouldn’t start. He couldn’t get it to start. So, he decided that we should tow it out of the way. I didn’t think it was a bad idea myself. Just out of the way so it wouldn’t become an obstruction. Another Sergeant thought that it was a bad idea, towing that size of a truck. We weren’t going to move it that far but I started second guessing it myself. Should we try to tow it? We might mess up the engine just trying to pull a bigger truck.  But I believed in T-Rex. I agreed that if we pulled it, it would just roll. It had wheels. It wasn’t like we were dragging it or anything. We just had to move it about 10 feet or so.

So, T-Rex was on the case, hooking it up to our Humvee and getting it out of the way. Mission successful. Now the other trucks were able to move by and carry on with the mission. Way to go T-Rex. Good Job. Way to think on your feet in a time of action. He came through when we needed. With the truck out of the way we could start working on getting it running.

Later, we found out that all it needed was fuel. Can you believe that? Part of the problem was that truck. It has two tanks. The driver used up his left tank and didn’t refuel. He decided to switch over to his right tank. Problem was that the gage might have said that it was pumping fuel from the right tank but the valve didn’t switch over from the left tank. That’s the problem GM had with some of its older trucks, T-Rex tells me.

Monday, January 16, 2006

I’m going to take today’s post to honor Martin Luther King, Jr.

In my mind, he was a great American. He stood up for what he believed in and because of that America is a better place today. I didn’t grow up in a racial society. I had lots of friends from all sorts of backgrounds. As a kid, it didn’t matter. Anyone that wanted to talk to me and play with me was my friend.

So, in the honor of Martin Luther King Jr, here is the “I Have A Dream” speech. Oh and right before that, a quote from the Declaration of Independence.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

I Have a Dream - Address at March on WashingtonAugust 28, 1963. Washington, D.C.
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. [Applause]
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.
But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.
In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Sunday, January 15, 2006

I think I’m going to have this pile of ammo here for a while.

I started cleaning some of it, getting the rust and dirt off. So far I’ve cleaned about 20 rounds. I still have 80 rounds to go and I still haven’t gone through the other cases of ammo. I also have to get back to cleaning those weapons too. Especially that .50 cal. Being out in the elements doesn’t help keep that weapon clean. I wondered how everyone else kept his or her weapons so clean and finally it came to me. They’re not outside as much as I am, and if they are they’re riding inside a vehicle not outside like me. They don’t get hit but dust and moisture.

Everything is starting to come along fine. I’m starting to feel like a veteran here. I could tell I’m not the only one because my Team Leader doesn’t knit pick on things as much as he used to. We all used to act over the edge, the driver, the Team Leader, and me. We don’t act like a bunch of newbies anymore. I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. In one way, we’re not as uptight and picky about little things. On the other hand, we may be getting a little complacent. Sure, we’re still on guard and aware of everything that’s going on but things have changed. Our attitude is different. It’s like a new cop. When he first hits the streets he might be picky about everything. He might want to write tickets left and right. After awhile on the job he’ll begin to let things go. That’s how I feel. I feel like I’m moving from the rookie stage to the veteran stage. Given a couple more months and I might start becoming complacent.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

I have to clean my .50 cal ammo.

It’s starting to build rust and dirt. I had to get it cleaned up. In fact, when I pulled the ammo out of the can, the bottom was covered in rust. Great. Good thing I decided to get it out to clean. It’s bad. I can’t imagine it going through the .50cal and getting all messed up.

I’m starting to hate these Air Force dudes. There are some that live a few trailers away. The reason I don’t like them is because they seem to get away with everything. T-Rex was telling me that they have one person to a room. Must be nice. Also, they get front row parking in the parking lot. What’s up with that? Another thing, every time I see them they’re just hanging outside, kicking it. It must be nice. Why should they get front row parking? I wonder what other perks they’re getting. I guess I should stop complaining. If I don’t like it I should transfer over to the Air Force. I couldn’t do that though. I have too much pride in the Army. It’s been part of my life.
Sure us Army folk have our differences over how the National Guard isn’t good enough for the Regular Army. And we’re always comparing ourselves to our other Army components. One component is always trying to be better than the other. But when it comes to another branch such as the Navy or Air Force we stick together. The Army is always the better then the rest. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the Guard or Reserve because then we’re all Army.

Friday, January 13, 2006

It’s Friday the 13th.

Oh, standby, we have fog. Yes, for some reason, it’s too dangerous to be on the road when there’s fog. It’s not dangerous to be out in the rain when the roads are all wet. The rain will pour down and that won’t stop us. Oh no. That’s ok. We could always operate in the rain, no matter how bad it is. But when it comes to the fog, forget it. I can’t see any problem with the fog. It’s like having natural smoke for concealment. How’s anyone supposed to see us when we’re operating in the fog? It’s a good thing. It’s almost like the rain. Who wants to be out there in the rain besides us? Not like we like the rain but since when has it stopped the ARMY.

It’s been foggy in the morning lately, especially in the fields. And the puddles make it look like it just rained yesterday. It’s hasn’t rained for like two days. You wouldn’t be able to tell if you just got here. You would think that it rained just last night. Well, because of the fog, we had to wait for like three hours to burn it up. Actually, we didn’t have to wait for that long for the sun to burn it up. It was already clear outside and we still didn’t get clearance to leave the fog. The sky was blue, the sun was out, and there was no fog anywhere.

I’m glad I took a book with me. I made the decision to get to bring a book along since the other day when we were out, hanging around for a while. There was nothing else to do. T-Rex had wished that he brought along his PSP. I wish I had brought a book. So, today I had no problem waiting around. I just got into my book, Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy. It’s pretty good so far and it’s about a counter-terrorism team. Perfect. There’s nothing better to get me in the mood than reading about a special ops units fighting terrorism. It gets me all pumped up to go out there and do some missions. I start feeling like I’m a high speed operative out on a recon mission. Got my shades, my mic and earpiece, my gear. I’m all set for our special op.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The mud won’t go away.

It doesn’t dry up at all. I guess it’s because it’s not summer time. The weather here is kind of nice actually, a little cool but not too cold. I’m trying to enjoy it while I can. I know that it will get really hot like everyone says during the summer. I’m used to the heat though, coming from Arizona. It’s more barren in Phoenix than it is here in Baghdad. It seems greener here. Almost like an oasis. All they have to do is clean up all the trash.

We had a new interpreter today. He was alright. He stunk though. I think he needed a bath. He slept a lot too. I’ve noticed that about our interpreters. They like to sleep in the Humvee a lot when we’re on missions. Especially when we stop somewhere. They have a pretty simple job. All they have to do is interpret for us when needed. They don’t have to do anything else.

Our first interpreter was telling us that a lot of the kids are learning slang from us GIs. I thought it was funny. I was wondering where they learned all their foul language. He said that his little brother was talking like he was from the hood the other day. Yo Yo Yo! Oh, but these kids learn everything from us. I’m trying to get them to do the ‘Hang Loose’ sign. I’ll make the Hawaiians that were here earlier happier. I would give them the sign on the way out the gate. It’s pretty cool seeing people from the National Guard here. They’re from all over the country and just about every state.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I had to clean my weapons.

After T-Rex drove through the puddles and got the weapons and me all dirty with muddy water. It was like a ride at Disneyland, only it wasn’t fun. Not getting dirty at least. I had the day off so I spent most of the day sleeping, playing video games on my laptop, and cleaning my weapons. I have three of them. It was time to clean my pistol, rifle, and machine gun. I have to make sure they’re clean so they don’t jam on me. I wouldn’t want to have that happen when I need them the most. Though it doesn’t help when we’re driving on dirt trails all the time.

I should’ve cleaned my weapons first instead of playing Command & Conquer on my laptop. It took up most of my time and it was already getting late. I had lost all motivation to clean my weapons. That’s what I get. I should’ve taken care of my responsibilities first and not play around. I just can’t help it. I’m addicted to that Command & Conquer game. I’m always looking forward to getting back to the trailer to play it. I ended up feeling frustrated because I knew the weapons had to be cleaned and I was already too tired to clean them.

I got some smiles from a group of women yesterday. I love it when women smile at me on the road. It makes me feel real good. It brings up my self-esteem and helps my ego feel that I still have it. I just love it when women smile or wave to me. It’s nothing new, it’s happened before. It happened to me the other day as we were driving on the FOB. The thing was that these women were Arabic. They were on the street as we were passing by. I didn’t expect it from them. Heck, I thought they didn’t even look at guys. I thought they never glanced, had conversations with, or smiled at guys for that matter. I was totally caught off guard and surprised. It brought a bigger smile to my face too. Go ego. Go self-esteem. Hello Ladies!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

We went just about everywhere today.

I’m pretty sure we got in at least 100 miles from all the driving we were doing. It all started at about 0430 and didn’t end until 1915. So that means we’ve been busy just about all day today. In fact, I’m starting to get tired right now. I hardly ever get tired this early unless it’s because I’ve been up all day. We did everything there is to think of. We even got to go to the IZ again. I like going there. There’s a lot to see there. I just wish they had more shops and restaurants. I get tired of going to the same place all the time.

There was a lot of fog on our route this morning. It was everywhere. It made it hard to see where we were going but I guess fog will do that. Later on one of our trucks had a flat so we had to do a hasty tire change. That went real well but it wasn’t NASCAR. I think it’s something to work on. We want to make sure that a tire change doesn’t take any time at all.

We were on missions all day from before the sun got up to past when it had set. It didn’t stop, one mission after another. I’m glad I went to bed early last night or I would’ve been dying today.

Monday, January 09, 2006

We went through the mean streets of Baghdad today.

The streets were packed with traffic and there were people everywhere. I was wondering where most of the markets and the people were. The traffic was another thing. People honking their horns everywhere and they drive anywhere they want. The sidewalks were crowded with people going from market to market. Traffic circles were abounding. Was it scary? Not really. Not with all those people around. Sure I was constantly looking everywhere but it wasn’t too bad. My eyes were scanning everything while I looked for possible targets. The thing that worries me the most are IEDs. I’m not really worried about anything else. Well, maybe gunfire.

We went everywhere. If the road was blocked with traffic we just made our own road and crossed the median. Then we would drive against traffic on the opposite side of the road. We were getting everyone out of the way so we could get to our destination. It didn’t matter what they were doing, they all have to yield to us. We own the roads in Baghdad.

Most of the women I’ve seen so far have been farmers up until now. I thought all the women here covered up. I guess not. Most of the women in the Baghdad market place dress like westerners. They didn’t cover up as much. That’s the only difference between the women there and where we usually operate. The men dress alike almost everywhere. They wear the usual, pants, shirt, and shoes.

Met some guys from Peru in the IZ today too. Didn’t expect to meet any Spanish speakers here. They spoke a little English so I found myself talking to them in Spanish instead. I thought it would be easier for them to understand then English. They were really cool guys. Funny too. They weren’t afraid to talk behind someone else’s back. That’s what made it funnier. As soon as a person would turn around they would make fun of them. The always found something to talk about.

I wish I could've taken a picture of the streets of Baghdad today. They were really crowded but that didn’t stop us from going wherever we wanted. T-Rex was going to pass me his camera but he didn’t want to get into trouble. See, I shouldn’t be taking pictures. I should be looking for enemy activity. Too bad. Maybe next time.

As you could see here, we piss just about anywhere. This was one of the Joes in Kuwait. LOL! :)

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The mud, it’s everywhere.

And it sticks to everything. This stuff is like glue and I hate walking in it. At least it didn’t rain today but you wouldn’t know that if you just got here. It’s been cloudy all day and there’s water everywhere. I had to walk through a puddle of water just to get in the MWR Recreation tent. I’m constantly bringing mud in my room every time I go inside. Even while I was outside I couldn’t avoid it. I gave up trying and walked right in it. The mud just won. I think it might be like this for a couple of days too. It doesn’t look like the water is going to drain anywhere and the ground doesn’t soak it up like other places I know.

I ate well last night, steak, lobster and shrimp. The steak was nice and juicy too. It tasted great. The lobster tails were alright and the shrimp was just battered shrimp. Nothing fancy. I think every Saturday night is steak and lobster night.

I gave up some guy points last night.  I couldn’t help it. While I was in the MWR tent last night our DVD player broke so we couldn’t finish watching Dracula 2000. So, we had to watch the regular satellite feed that comes into the TV. Well, they were showing Moulin Rouge. Most of the guys that were sitting around left and I was left there with the guy that operates the place. I decided to hang around since I liked that movie. A commercial was on when a guy came up to ask if there were any football games on. The operator checked the online guide real quick to see what games were playing. He asked me if I was watching the movie. “Yes” I told him. There go my guy points I thought. Lost them because I’d rather watch a chick flick than some football. Oh well. I wanted to watch the movie. I wanted to see a romance. I wanted to see a story about love. I didn’t care.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Got Soaked Today.

Really soaked. It’s the first time it’s rained since I’ve been here. It’s been pretty dry up until now. It all began this morning. It wasn’t too bad. When T-Rex and me left the trailer for the day we noticed that all the gravel outside was wet but it wasn’t raining. I guess it rained early in the morning. It was cloudy all day. During the afternoon, while we were out on mission, the rain started to come down hard. I guess the dirt doesn’t like the rain here. It doesn’t go anywhere but up. There were puddles everywhere. And the mud, that’s another story. For some reason the mud gets sticky. It sticks everywhere, to my boots, my uniform, and the Humvee.

I had to mentally prepare myself to get soaked this evening. I knew that I would get dirty and wet but not cold. It got worse when I was up in the turret. The rain felt like pebbles hitting my face. It was getting so bad it hurt! I had to turn my head away just so I wouldn’t get hit in the face. For sure there were no kids to be seen today. I wouldn’t be out in this weather if I had the chance. Again, I didn’t come prepared. I knew I should’ve got my wet weather gear before I left. I didn’t expect it to rain this bad though. This is what I get for not getting it.

Then there’s my driver. He likes to hit every wash he could see. I guess he wanted to see how many splashes he could make with the Humvee. He hit a really good one that made the water go right up over the windshield and hit me in the turret. Great! Good thing I’m already wet. Oh, and another thing, I can’t see shit with my goggles on when it rains. I had to take those things off.

These are some older pictures that I took from my film camera. I finally got the film developed. I know, it's about time. I'll be getting a digital camera pretty soon.

This is a picture of some crazy looking water towers from the outskirts of Kuwait city. You could see them on the left side. They color striped blue and white. I didn't know what they were at first. They're all over Kuwait City.

There are no rest stops in Kuwait so we had to make due for the tree-line.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Can’t win with the showers!

Nope, can’t win. The showers are kicking our ass. I went into the shower trailer. I was a little surprised since no one was there. Boy, it’s sure quiet in here I thought. Great! I have the showers all to myself. Maybe I could run around naked in here! OK. So I find my favorite shower booth and begin to undress. I ditch the shorts and then my shirt. Make sure that I put my soap dish and shampoo in there, don’t want to forget that. Oh, and there’s my washcloth. Don’t want to forget that. Alright, time to get this done so I could get to bed. Turn the facet, nothing happens. That doesn’t stop me from urinating all over the floor. It’s a bad habit of mine to urinate as soon as the water starts. Wouldn’t matter much. That’s why the guys all wear shower shoes. The urine will just get washed down the drain anyways. Nope, not with no water it won’t! What the Fuck! Damn! No water! No wonder no one is in here. Oh water, come on please. Shit, now I have to put my clothes on real quick and get out of here before anyone else sees that I’ve urinated all over the tub. Gross. I don’t want anyone to know it’s me. Boy those KBR guys are going to be pissed when they see this tomorrow. I guess they should’ve made sure that there was water in the tank. Then something like this wouldn’t happen.

So I go over to the next shower trailer. As soon as I open the door I hear the sound of showers, pouring water. Good! At least this trailer has water. So I find an open booth and claim it to myself for the short period of time that I’ll be there. Great. OK, so I undress again, hang my towel, and set up all my stuff. I step in and turn on just the hot water. I don’t need it warm. I don’t care if it burns me. Besides, it’s not that hot and adding any cool water would just make it cold, not warm. So there I was beginning to get a shower. Everything was perfect for like 30 seconds then it hit me. The hot water just started to disappear. No. Oh no. Please. This can’t be. Shit, it’s time to hurry up with that soap. I don’t think this is going to last long. A minute later, time to move that faucet out of the way. I’ll let it the wall and I’ll just get the water from there. Ahhh, that’s cold. Ahhh, cold. Alright Pete, time to cut it short. Freezing water is starting to come out. Damn I just jumped in here.

I got out and started drying myself off. SFC B. said as soon as I got out, “Boy that got cold quick!” “Heck yeah it did!” I replied. “During the summer we’ll have to wait for the water to get cold!”

Here's a photo of the gas station at Abu Ghurayb. They had Santa serving the pump.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

My room is starting to have a little bit of personality.

I have pictures of Vida Guerra everywhere. I also have a US Flag and an AZ State flag hanging in my room. I got the AZ flag from my friend CeCe at work. She is such a sweet person. The poster of Vida Guerra came from my FHM magazine. I also posted pictures of family on my locker. I’m not much of a decorator person. If there’s something that I like, I’ll just post it on the wall somewhere. I had to take down the Christmas cards that were up on the wall since the Christmas season is about over. Now I’ll have to decorate the walls with something else.

Almost broke my foot this morning. I would’ve been out for 4-6 weeks had it happen. This morning when I got up to turn the lights on I accidentally tipped over my .50 cal. I had the receiver standing on its end. Well, when I noticed that I tipped it over in the dark I quickly moved my foot as not to get smashed. I didn’t move it quick enough. It ended up hitting the very end of my right foot. Now I have a light contusion there. I’m lucky. It could’ve been a lot worse. That thing is very heavy and I can’t imagine it falling straight on the top of my foot. It could’ve broken some bones. I’m fine for now, a little sore from the accident. My foot feels fine. If I had a digital camera I’d post a photo of it here. Oh well.

Here's a photo of another one of Saddam's Old Palaces. This one is on top of a hill in the countryside.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Got bitched at by my team leader all day today.

It seemed like he was on my case all day. I was feeling a little grumpy too so I didn’t deal with it too well. Maybe that had something to do with it. I think the reason I was so grumpy today was because I didn’t get enough sleep last night. Lesson learned. Actually, I already know that if I don’t get enough sleep, I kind of act aggravated until I get some rest. I guess it could be considered stress.

It all started in the morning when I flagged a buddy. I didn’t mean to do it I just didn’t see him. He went right in front of me real quick and was past me before I knew it. A little while later T-Rex was backing up the Humvee when he came out with the remark, “Well, are you going to check the back to make sure no one is back there.” See, since I’m the gunner, I’m expected to make sure we don’t collide with other objects. A gunner has a good view of everything. I just happened to be sitting down when we were backing up. Well, my team leader was pissed off about it. I didn’t see a problem with it. If I was needed to clear an area all they have to do is ask. They expected me to know where they were going and what we were doing. So, afterwards my TL came over to me and said that I have to be alert up there. Heck I wasn’t worried about it. We were on the FOB. It was time for me to sit and relax. Mission Accomplished. We made it to our destination.  They just about want me to drive for them I guess.

This afternoon our PL got on our case because there was some trash in the Humvee. Again, I wasn’t too worried about it. For one, it’s our truck and I clean out the trash daily. Well, as goes in the Army, shit rolls downhill. The PL told T-Rex about the trash that was in the back seat where he was going to sit.  I explained to the PL that it was my trash. T-Rex usually keeps his trash up in his seat, the same with me when I’m sitting in the back of the Humvee. I told the PL that I would get it, no problem I thought. Well, the TL came to me again and said that he wanted all the trash out of there. No problem, I take out the trash daily. I just leave it in the back seat. What the heck else do they want me to do, throw it off to the side of the road? It’s not like this place has trash receptacles everywhere.

So again, I started to get a little frustrated. Damn, it’s just not my day and why do I feel like I’m constantly being picked on. I’m a Sergeant damn-it. This shit isn’t supposed to happen anymore. I thought I was supposed to be treated like a professional. Heck, for the most part, I try to act professional. I thought leadership was supposed to treat me as a professional. Not just a private or specialist. I’m an NCO and I deserve and demand respect.

Well, it didn’t end there. There was more. Next were my sappy plates. We had got issued new ones so when I changed them out I left my old ones in the truck. They had been there for a couple of days and I had planned on getting them out of there. Well, what do you know, here comes my TL again, “Whose sappy plates are these?” “Mine” I told him. “Why are they in the truck?” he said. I started thinking to myself what? What did he mean by that? He could’ve just told me, “SGT P., make sure your sappy plates get out of the truck tonight.” He never told me that it wasn’t ok to have the plates in there. What’s the problem if they were in there? Again, something else I didn’t see a problem with. If there was, all he had to do was tell me that he didn’t want the sappy plates in there. “I left them there.” I told him. Mistake. He was pissed. He thought it was a smart-ass remark. Why did I say that? Was it because I was grumpy? Damn! I didn’t mean to make it sound that bad. What should I have said? I was looking for a request and not a guess on my part on what he wanted me to do with them. Maybe I should’ve said, “I’ll have them out of there tonight.” That would’ve sounded better. Without him even telling me that he wanted them out. It’s time to play the anticipation game.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

What’s a solider to do on his day off in Iraq?

Sometimes I long for a day off and then when I get it, I just sit around and do nothing all day. What a waste. I should go to the gym but the problem with that is I have to find a Battle Buddy. Good Luck. We have to have a Battle Buddy everywhere we go. Sometimes it’s not bad, but when you want to go someplace where no one else wants to go you’re out of luck. I’m subjected to sneaking to my desired destination in the middle of the night, when it’s dark and no one will notice. For example, if I want to go to the phone center to call home I can’t do it during the day here because it’s the middle of the night there. I either have to go there at night or early in the morning. Then I have to find someone to go with on top of that. Sucks but it looks like I might be sneaking out again tonight to go to the gym. A buddy of mine is going out at 0100 hours and I don’t feel like missing midnight sleep time to go to the gym. I’m sure he’s going by himself too. He just sneaks away later than I do.

There is absolutely nothing to do here on a day off. Well, maybe there is but it’s not like being back home. There’s no fine restaurant, Movie Theater, park, kids, wife, relatives, friends, or recreational driving for that matter. Sure we have a big screen T.V. room, Internet center, makeshift library, and rec center but that stuff gets old real quick. Maybe I should socialize to pass time. That might help. It’s hard doing that too because we’re all in private room trailers. I don’t know if I’ll wake someone up, if their home, or they just don’t feel like doing anything. At least in Kuwait and back at Ft. Lewis we all lived in the same room so we all kept each other entertained. I think it was best at Ft. Lewis though because they didn’t pack too many or too little of us in the barracks. It was just right.

I didn’t even do the things I wanted to do, like clean my .50cal or my room. I’m feeling so lazy and now it’s too late to do any of that stuff. So, here I go now with a few hours left before I have to hit the sack. The race is about to begin to beat the clock. I wonder how much I could get done before it gets too late. Alright gym, clean room, shower, e-mail, read, brush teeth, shave, power my feet, lotion my body, watch a late night DVD and go to sleep. I do have to get some sleep too so I can’t stay up all night. I have to get to bed at least before Midnight.

Here's a photo of my platoon. I'm on the 1st row all the way to the right.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Apparently we got shot at today,

although no one heard or saw any gunfire. It doesn’t help with the earplugs in our ears and the loud sounds of a Humvee. We got to our destination when we were later told to check our vehicles out for any bullet holes. SUPPOSEDLY it happened on our way to Point B (an undisclosed location).

One of the vehicles that was with us, an SUV, had bullet holes in it. The passengers said that it must have happened on the way over to Point B. Scary when I think about it but I’m not totally sure if it happened or not. The incident still got reported. For some reason they didn’t hear anything in the SUV. I figured they’d at least hear something hitting them. I guess those armored SUVs are both bullet proof and sound proof. NICE!

The ARMY doesn’t have such things as accidental discharges. They’re no longer called accidental discharges. They’re now called negligent discharges. I didn’t like the idea at first because I always thought that accidents happen. I didn’t think it was because of carelessness. What’s next, negligent vehicle collisions? Boy was I wrong. Well I guess I could see the point now, after witnessing two negligent discharges, a scary thought. I wasn’t so worried about the Joes before, but I’m paranoid now. I don’t even trust myself, which I find a good thing. I’m constantly checking my pistol to see if I’ve forgot to discharge a magazine or clear my weapon. I found a solider the other day with a loaded weapon on the FOB! Now, I don’t like it as much when a Joe’s weapon flags me. Flagging is what happens when the barrel of someone else’s weapon points at another Joe. Boy, I better start watching out. I’ve heard some horror stories about Joes and the negligent discharge.
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