Sunday, April 30, 2006
Saturday, April 29, 2006
I’m glad it’s the 11th ACR patch. I’ve always liked it. I also liked my 101st Airborne patch I used to wear during active duty at Ft. Campbell. I think we’re fortunate for a National Guard unit to be wearing an active duty patch. Sure, I take pride in the National Guard and all of the states have given up their men and woman. It’s just that I think active duty patches look better than Guard patches.
I’ll probably be getting the Combat Action Badge as well. Not now but I’m sure it’ll be pretty soon. My team will be awarded the badge for that IED we took back in February. Not everyone is awarded that badge. It is given to those who have been engaged or come in contact with enemy combatants during combat operations. For me it’s recognition that I have been evolved in direct combat.
Friday, April 28, 2006
“Are you tired?” I asked. “No, I’m just bored.” He says. I don’t see why, I always have something to do. If not, I’m finding stuff to do. I’m never just bored.
Today was a maintenance day. It was a day for me to work on my .50 cal although I never touched it. Maintenance on my .50 cal entails making sure it’s clean and lightly lubed. It never got done. That’s alright, I’ll work on it tomorrow while waiting in our staging area.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
I had the unfortunate circumstance of having him assigned to me today. I didn’t think it was bad at first. That was until he started playing with the siren in our truck. He’s honk as we were passing people by on the FOB just to scare the shit out of them. Then later today while going to chow he was told about his hat. He was wearing it up like a ball cap. I didn’t notice it, someone else in front of the chow hall told him. It was embarrassing for me because I should’ve seen his uniform.
Well, the kid was my gunner today. I’m sure he’s not a bad gunner. He just acts like a kid. I have to remind myself to watch him. I don’t want him getting any of us into trouble. I’m sure he wouldn’t shoot any innocent people but it wouldn’t surprise me if he shot some sheep or cows. That’s all I’d need to hear about.
As for everything else, I’m starting to get more responsibility. I wouldn’t doubt if pretty soon they made me commander on our missions. I’m already giving mission briefs. I don’t mind. I’m not as embarrassed as the other guys to get up in front of a crowd and give them directions. At first I didn’t feel empowered. But now, I’m starting to feel it and I like it. It gives me a sense of leadership or authority. It also helps me build confidence and self esteem. For that reason, I’m not giving excuses when given the chance to step up. I’m going to take charge and lead the way.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
We stood by for just over an hour. It sucks because we can’t do anything else but wait. I can’t read a book or listen to my Zen Micro. I can’t do anything else but make sure the area is secure. So we were succumbed to having conversations. I didn’t say much because I was busy watching other Hadjis. I was very surprised when I saw a couple of the ladies making tortillas. I couldn’t believe it. I haven’t seen anyone make tortillas since I was a little boy when my Mom used to make them.
We expected a big explosion when the IED was detonated. I barely heard it. Maybe that’s because we were so far from it when it was detonated. There also was a big plume of smoke too but again, it didn’t look too impressive from where we were. I didn’t even leave a crater like some IEDs do.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Today was a lot more peaceful than yesterday, weather wise. This huge dust storm came in yesterday but didn’t bring much rain. Thank God. It rained just enough to settle the dust and not create any mud. That’s a good thing. Today the sky is clear, partly cloudy, and the sun is out. It was really nice earlier but now it’s starting to warm up. The breeze is keeping the heat at bay. That doesn’t keep us from finding some shade whenever we can. Reminds me of Phoenix.
Monday, April 24, 2006
The Mean Streets
Was I scared? Maybe just a little. It’s a big change from the countryside we usually operate in. I guess it’s because there was so much more to look at. There was so much more to see. Baghdad is like a lot of cities in Mexico. A lot of store fronts with low quality products. Sheep hang skinned from outdoor meat markets. Sidewalks are crowded with pedestrians shopping or browsing.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
I was in for a couple of big surprises today. First off I was told that I was going to be vehicle commander. It’s not a hard feat. It’s pretty simple really. There’s not much too it and I’ve been out so much I pretty much know what to do. The other surprise was they told me that I was going to give the mission briefing too. That sucked. Not that it was bad. I did a pretty good job for my first time. It’s just the fact that it’s not something I’d like to be doing. I had to get up in front of a crowd of strangers and explain the mission and execution. There’s a whole lot to go over and I had to use some notes to make sure I didn’t miss anything.
I was surprised I wasn’t nervous. I guess those days are long gone. I displayed a lot of confidence and was very outspoken. I wasn’t bad for a new guy. I did a lot better than others did their first time. The notes helped out and I’m sure after time I won’t need them anymore. Still, I don’t feel like giving those briefs. But I’m sure that now that I’ve done some, they’ll be calling me to do some more. I understand why they’re doing all of this. They want to make sure that we’re all cross-trained and capable of handling other positions. It’s no problem for me. I’m flexible.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Some of the guys brought a football and began to play catch. There really isn’t anywhere around here to play football though. There’s no grass. Our trailers are surrounded by gravel and where there’s no gravel, there’s dirt.
After I ate and stood around a while talking to the guys I started to make my way back to my trailer. I noticed that some of the guys were on the volleyball court. I wasn’t wearing my PT uniform or a t-shirt and shorts. I figured I’d play in my uniform, what the heck. I played volleyballs for a couple of hours. We all had fun. I had a good time playing. I didn’t do too badly. I scored a couple of points and had a few assists. I was far from the worse guy playing out there today. That was Sergeant Sting.
Friday, April 21, 2006
Well since I’ve had down time I’ve been putting it to use. I’ve been going to the gym to do a little work out every day. I’ve also taken the time to clean my weapons. I still have my pistol to clean and I still have to clean and change out my mags.
My roommate is funny. He went out to the gym last night. He said he was only going to be out for an hour. So, an hour passed by and he didn’t return. I started to wonder where he might be. What’s funny is what he said when he came back. Three hours had past when he walked into the room. I had already taken a shower and was already in bed. “Where did you go?” I asked. “Oh, I’m sorry honey. I was out drinking with the guys.” I started cracking up. Did I really sound like his woman??? I guess it’s what a girl would’ve asked if her man was out for a while. I didn’t think about it when I said it but his response was funny. I know it’s gay but the other day I called him sexy. Where the hell did that come from? I had opened the door from lunch and there he was standing in his briefs. I hate it when he does that. I think he’s just looking for some girl to walk buy and catch him undressed. I just crack up because he’s crazy like that.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
So I stopped by to listen to the music and find a little entertainment. It was nice. There are some really good singers in the Army. Double D was pressuring me to get up on the stage and sing a song. After most of the people left I figured what the heck, I’ll give it a shot. I got up on the stage and sang, “Come What May” from Moulin Rouge. It actually came out pretty good. Double D said it was good. When I left outside afterwards to go to the port-a-jon another dude outside said that it was good. I was impressed. A complement. I didn’t expect that from someone else. It’s really nothing I’m looking into. I just went to have some fun and find some good American Idol entertainment.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Some of the guys I’ve spoken with don’t care and others are ok with it. Myself, I’m ok with it. I don’t mind too much. I heard that the living conditions there are a lot worse than they are here. I heard it’s like comparing it from living in a mansion right now to moving into a trailer. Now I wouldn’t say that we’re living in a mansion right now. I compare my trailer more to a house. I guess my opinions will change once I see what we’re moving into. Maybe I will take it for a mansion once I see what we’re moving into. I’ve gotten info from some of the other guys that have been there.
Some of the guys in the platoon had some action today. I guess they got shot at. Nothing bad really happened and no one got hurt, Thank God. The knife stab to my finger was a lot worse than anything that happened to them. Still, I wouldn’t want to be shot at either. It’s a dangerous world out here and it may not seem like that every day. We just have to keep our guard up and be ready for anything.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Today Dave Price from CBS’s The Early Show came down. The Charles Daniels Band is also here. Dave Price came down to do an episode of CBS The Early Show that was probably broadcast this morning in the US. The Charles Daniels Band is having a concert later tonight but I have other things to do like clean my weapon after yesterdays hail storm.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
I finished another book today, The Closers by Michael Connelly. It was pretty good. I reading enjoyed it. It's a must read for anyone interested in crime dramas or anyone interested in television dramas like CSI. It’s about a crime detective that comes out of retirement and joins the new open-unsolved unit of the LAPD. He tries to solve an unsolved murder case of a 16-year-old girl seventeen years ago.
I’m going to start on another book tomorrow, Hostile Waters by Peter Huchthausen, Igor Kurdin, and R. Alan White.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
It's getting hot in here!
I finished my CLS (Combat Lifesaver) re-certification today. The last thing I had to do was administer an IV and get stuck myself. It wasn’t too bad. I got a vein on my first stick. Actually, we all did. We have to re-certify every six months to a year. The last time I certified was last May back in Arizona so it’s been almost a year now.
I had a chance to go to the ‘Blackhawk Store’ today. It’s just a bunch of little Hadji shops that mainly sell DVDs on another camp. It’s only open on Saturdays. I was planning on buying some pirated DVDs but I found out they’re cheaper in the IZ. Last week I bought seasons 1-4 of Smallville for like $20!!! I plan on getting all the episodes of The Soprano’s next.
Gay photo isn't it? I took it by surprise while in my CLS course. I thought it was a Kodak moment and I had to capture it.
Friday, April 14, 2006
I had to go to the range today to qualify on my M-4 carbine. It’s about time. I missed qualifying at the range last time because I was on leave. It took me a while to get my weapon zeroed. I had a little bit of a problem adjusting from an M-16 to the repositioning of the trigger on the M-4. I worked a little on my fundamentals while zeroing and finally starting getting tighter shot groups.
Once I had my shot groups down and I was zeroed, I was ready to qualify. I shot a 37 out of 40. Not too bad. I needed a 26 out of 40 to qualify. I qualified as a sharpshooter. One more shot and I would’ve qualified as an expert. That would’ve been good for promotion points but I’m not up for promotion anyway. Not yet. I was close but not close enough. It might have been the rocks that were jamming into my elbows. Or maybe it was the heat that threw me off. I wish I had taken my elbow pads with me. I can’t believe I forgot them.I also had a chance to shoot a vintage Sterling Sub-Machine Gun, an H&K MP-5, and an AK-47 just for kicks. It was cool shooting the MP-5 and Sterling. I had lots of fun doing it. The AK-47 had a kick and was cool too.
One last thing. Today's Good Friday and we can't forget the crucifixion of Jesus. He died for our sins so that we may all be saved.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
It’s starting to warm up.
Here’s some vital info for those insurgents that read my blog. Our platoon sergeant can’t drive. Yesterday he ran into a barrier. That’s the second time he’s run into a barrier in the past two weeks! I thought it was funny. It’s nothing serious and the damage to the Humvee is unnoticeable. The damage he did to my Humvee on the other hand is clearly obvious.
We were in a tight driveway and he turned the Humvee too wide. He went right into the thing. He wasn’t going fast at the time. The Humvee just stopped and he had to back up and cut it harder. Last week he made a right turn that was too sharp and hit a barrier on the right side of the Humvee. I’ll have to get a photo of the damage done to post online.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
It rained again.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Maybe it was because the teams were mixed around a little bit. I wasn’t with my usually team this morning. I was on a different truck and I felt uncomfortable about it. I don’t know what it was. It just wasn’t my truck. Little things were different like the way things were set up, the way it handled. I wasn’t the only one who felt like things were not going right.
Mongo, the driver, is another story. He doesn’t know how to drive. We were parking in the IZ when I told him to park under some shade. Sure he parked in the shade but it was light shade. Within 30 minutes the sun was cooking our truck. So I had a chance to sunbathe and warm up. He’s definitely not the driver that T-Rex is. I also didn’t like the way he drove around traffic and around the IZ. It’s definitely a difference from riding with T-Rex.
Monday, April 10, 2006
The reason I say it’s weird is because the place seems deserted. It’s like the place is a ghost town. I went outside to walk to the gym, which I found was closed, and noticed that hardly anyone was out. I don’t know why really. My roommate mentioned that he wasn’t going to go anywhere. I guess everyone else felt the same way. Why bother? What’s there to do if your stuck on the camp and everything is closed? You have to suit up if you want to go anywhere and doing that is a hassle in itself. Another thing, I don’t think anyone like wearing all that body armor, especially when it’s not needed.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
My second thought was to see Doc. I knew this was more than a minor cut. I had to have him look at it. So I ran out my door, leaving it open, and ran over to his room. I didn’t even knock on the door when I got there. I knew he was awake when I heard the noise of Joes playing video games. “Doc I got cut!” “How did you do that?” “I was opening a package with my knife,” I said. He wanted to check it out there on the spot. “If I take this shirt off blood is going to run everywhere.” “Let’s go to the latrine.”
We went over to the sink in the latrine to observe the cut. The bleeding had stopped when he unwrapped the shirt. I felt a throbbing pain in my finger. It still hurt. The cut didn’t look too bad. “Will I need stitches?” “No, you shouldn’t need any.” He cleaned it up before he put some alcohol on it. Boy did the alcohol burn. It caused some pain but it wasn’t as bad as the throbbing pain that was pulsating from my finger.
He wrapped it up and told me to keep it dry. I took some aspirin to help numb the pain. My finger has felt numb all day today and I’m starting to wonder if I cut a nerve. I hope it heals quickly.
Saturday, April 08, 2006
Health and Welfare inspection.
Supposedly it was done while I was on leave. I wasn’t present when they went through my room and they still went through my stuff. They’re mostly looking for things like alcohol, pornography, unauthorized weapons and ammunition. The room inspection was surprised and unannounced like it usually is. They usually do the same things with a drug test too. They never give us advance notice.
One of the units on the next pad was having a yard sale today. I guess they’re getting ready to leave home pretty soon. I’m really not interested in buying anything. My roommate has a fridge and a TV, which I share. I was in the market for some drawers and a chair but I bought them at the PX the other day. I’d like to buy some movies but I’m sure there are none for sale. Most of the guys that are leaving sell things like TVs, microwaves, refrigerators, mobile phones, and satellite dishes. It’s basically the stuff that they can’t take home with them. My roommate is looking for a satellite dish right now. I wouldn’t mind having one myself. I’m going to help him find one.
Friday, April 07, 2006
Winning the War Chocolates.
We’re all trying to win the hearts and minds of the children here and Rico has sure helped out. I want to thank him and his buddy Rich for their support. It’s nice to know there are people like him back home that are willing to lend their hand.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
That could’ve been
I wasn’t sure what it was this morning when we were on the road. I saw the smoke from the fire from miles away. I thought it might be a house. As we approached I noticed that it was on the roadway, burning. It was a sort of semi-truck used to haul stuff. Oh well, I guess that guy’s out of a truck now.
I heard we’re supposed to be getting a new high-speed Internet service in about two weeks. I was skeptical at first but I also heard that guys that already have it on their pads say that it’s really fast and reliable. So I guess that’s good news. The only bad news is that it’ll cost $60 a month. I guess it’s worth it when compared to the Internet service we’re paying for now. The owners of this business are going to make bank! I wish I had money to invest here.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
It’s been a long and exhausting day.
So, now I think I may be getting into trouble. It’s nothing serious. We’re not allowed to put any gear on top of our vehicles. If we do we automatically get written up. Doc was riding with us today in place of T-Rex who is on extra duty. Well, while I was loading my gun Doc threw my body armor on top of the vehicle. The Captain saw that it was up there and told The Colonel about it. So The Colonel walks up to the vehicle and calls my name, “Sergeant Puebla!” I responded and he asked if that was my IBA on top of the vehicle. I told him that it was and he told me about leaving it up on top of the vehicle.
The reason the Captain doesn’t allow us to leave any equipment is because stuff kept getting left up there. Joes were losing weapons and equipment when they left it on top of the vehicles. So the commander finally got fed up with it and made it so anyone who leaves their weapons or equipment on top of vehicles will automatically get written up and counseled.
Later The Colonel told me that they were talking about writing me up. “For what?” I asked. They wanted to write me up for putting my body armor on top of the Humvee. “Well, I didn’t put it up there. Doc did.” I haven’t put any of my weapons or equipment on top of the roof since they said that we’re not allowed to.
So, I told The Colonel if they want to write me up that’s fine. It’s not going to do any good though because it doesn’t solve the problem. I wasn’t the one that did it and everyone knows. Doc will never learn if he doesn’t get approached about the problem. So this may happen again if they don’t go to the problem. I’m not worried about it. I told Doc about it and he knew that he wasn’t supposed to put any equipment on top of the vehicle.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Alright I’m getting burned out.
We had a daylight savings change the other day. So, now when I get up in the morning it’s still dark. I guess the evenings are nicer now since there’s still daylight after we’re done for the day. I’m just starting to wonder what it’s going to be like when the summer comes and it doesn’t get dark until 2000 hours. It’s 1915 hours right now and the sun just set.
We had to set our clocks one our ahead so that also means that there is now an 11 hour difference between here and Arizona. Arizona doesn’t have daylight savings time, which I’m happy about. Well, now instead of a 10-hour difference there’s an 11-hour difference. It’s worse than it was before. Now when I call home it’ll be either early in the morning or late at night.
Monday, April 03, 2006
I’ve set up outside. I bought a folding chair at the PX the other day. They had a good deal, only $5. That’s not bad when a chair like this might have cost me anywhere from $10 to $15 dollars back in the states. So now, since the weather is nice, I’ve been setting my seat outside when I type up my blogs. I’m trying to enjoy the weather while I can. I know it’ll be getting hot pretty soon.
The thunderstorms have started to go away. It was partly cloudy today with some slight rain but not much to bother me. I’m glad the rain has gone away because I can’t stand it when it gets muddy here. The good thing about it is the weather cooled off a little bit. I guess that buys us some more time from the hot weather to come.
We had a photographer riding with us today. She’s an Airman in the Air Force. I asked her if she was journalist too. She told me she doesn’t do any journalism, only photography. For some strange reason I was hoping that we would see something today. That way she could get some good photos. I guess if we really wanted to see some action we could’ve drove in the worst part of Baghdad. Than maybe we’d find ourselves in a firefight or something.
The Airman never had the opportunity to photograph any combat but we did give her the opportunity to photography the Iraqi children and the countryside. She also got some photos of us and I forgot to ask here if they might be published in the Stars and Stripes or some other publication.
Sunday, April 02, 2006
The book is good if you’re into thrillers. I didn’t go out and purchase the book myself. I borrowed it from a buddy of mine. I’m not really into thrillers but this one was pretty good. It had a surprise twist at the end like most thrillers do. I don’t want to give away too much since there may be some that haven’t read the book. It did have me wanting more and I was craving to get back into it.
I didn’t have time to post yesterday. It was a long day and we finished up our mission pretty late. Today wasn’t bad. Actually I liked it because on our travels we took an alternate route back to camp which was shorter than our usually route. I was happy about that. That just meant that our mission time would be cut down and we’d be able to get to camp back in time for us to at least enjoy some leisure time.
The only thing about our alternate route is that it takes us through parts of town I rather not be in. I guess it’s a sacrifice. Do we take the short route and go through town or the long route and go through the countryside. It doesn’t really matter to me anyways. Both routes are just as dangerous. Actually, I think our countryside route is more dangerous than going through the city. It’s just that a lot of these people give me the evil eye and others, mostly children smile and wave.