Friday, June 30, 2006

Dealing With Adversity

I spent this morning trying to study for the NCO of the Quarter board. Half of me didn’t want to go because it would be just too embarrassing. I needed a haircut, I don’t have a pressed uniform, and I haven’t studied one bit. How in the heck am I supposed to even look presentable? I’ll just embarrass myself by showing up. I’ll look like a fool. It does help a little that I went to a promotion board over a year ago but I’ve forgot a lot of the stuff I studied.

Nothing went right. I tried to get a haircut this morning but the barber was closed because the shop had no electricity. I was already frustrated because I had little time to study. Fortunately I had a study guide saved on my laptop. I studied stuff like current events, the chain of command, and basic specs for my M2 and M4. I tried to stick to studying stuff I thought they would ask. Luckily this was just a company NCO board so I wouldn’t embarrass the Battalion or Brigade as well.

I did my best and that was as good as I could do. I don’t feel too bad about it. I did alright for not having enough time to study and prepare. Do I feel bad about it? A little but it doesn’t bother me too much.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

What a joke!!!

I got written up earlier this week. Well, today I got informed that tomorrow I’m going to the NCO of the Quarter board. Wow! Thanks for the short notice. Note the bit of sarcasm. Yep, you heard it right. I was told today that tomorrow I’m going to the NCO of the Quarter board. Wait a minute. How can I, who just got written up for my behavior, get sent to a board recognizing those with outstanding leadership? Who the heck is running this show??? And another thing, why do we have review boards out here anyway??? We’re in a combat zone. Besides doing my job on a day-to-day basis I have to take time to study for a board? That stuff should be left for people back home in garrison.

Well, at least I have less then 24 hours to study instead of a few weeks. That gives me less time to study. I don’t expect to make a good impression there anyway and if I do I’ll be completely surprised.

So now I’m off to go and study for the board tomorrow. I’m sure they’ll ask questions on current events, my chain of command, and some stuff on basic soldier skills. I’m not going to study too hard. What could they expect? I was given a short notice. Do they expect me to win the board and go on to the Brigade level soldier of the quarter board?

I know it may sound like I have a bad attitude but really; I’m just trying to be realistic.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Postal Service

I’m not going to post much since it’s already getting late and I still have to take a shower and get to bed. I have to get up early in the morning, like always. I just got finished playing with our radios and making sure they’re up for tomorrow. Our driver has left to Balad so it’s up to me to do some of his duties.

I just wanted to give a quick kudos out to the USPS for their really fast delivery. It’s amazing how fast we get mail and packages here. I usually get mail and packages within a week. Sometimes it takes only 5 or 6 days. Amazing! It doesn’t take long at all for mail or parcels to travel around to the other side of the world. Cool. I’m glad that the postal service is so proficient and I also want to thank all of those Army Post Office workers for doing such a great job keeping our stuff coming in a timely manner.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Pissed Off and Feeling Better

So I was pretty pissed off this afternoon when I got written up. I mean, who would be? I never had a chance to talk to my Platoon Sergeant about it. I tried to see him last night once we got back from mission. He was tied up with my Squad Leader and another Sergeant. I should’ve waited. I told him I’d come back later. When I went back he wasn’t there. I went by this place this morning and again he wasn’t there. I went by this afternoon and his roommate told me he was at the gym. I was going to go there anyway so I changed and headed that way.

I got to the gym and spotted him. I headed over to him and asked, “Do you have time to talk?” “I’m at the gym,” he says. “Alright, I’ll try to see you later.” I say. It kind of pissed me off even more. First of all, I have a problem and I’m pissed off that I got written up for some bullshit. I wanted to talk to him and tell him my side of the story and tell him what I thought about it. I would post what was on that statement here but I wasn’t given a copy, even though I asked for one.

So there I was in the gym doing my work out, pissed off as hell. I was thinking to myself when your subordinates come to you and ask if you have time to talk maybe you should say, “Yeah, sure, what’s up?” That’s just what I think. The same goes with my kids. If they ever come to me and say, “Hey Dad, can we talk?” I’d say, “Sure Son, what’s up?” Hopefully that’s what I’d do and hopefully I’d do the same for my troops. When they want to talk, then hopefully I don’t forget to listen. So I was even more pissed off because he we were, in the gym, a perfect place to have a good conversation. It was a good opportunity and I had to wait till later. So I tried to remain calm, gather some patience, and try and workout.

Afterwards I left the gym and went to his room. Fortunately he was there. Good! About time I have a chance to chat with this guy. I told him everything that happened and he listened to everything I had to say. He listened unlike my Squad Leader who says that I’m just coming up with excuses. The Platoon Daddy understood and realized the situation and agreed with me. I felt a lot better. At least now I have someone that understands and might support me. I have a supporter that has some rank, an advocate. He said that he would talk to the other gunners, see what they have to say, and then have a talk with the Colonel. I think it was a very good idea. I’m sure all the gunners will agree. The Platoon Daddy sure did.

So I feel a lot better now. Sure, I was insubordinate but it was because I was protecting my personal safety. I don’t feel bad about it.

The photos above are from someone that got pulled over on the FOB. See, even out here we can't escape the police.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Written Up

Well, I guess I’m going to get written up but I think it’s a joke. Seriously, it’s not a joke though, I’m just kidding. I just mean that I don’t think the situation holds water. Let me explain what happened. For one let me tell you that our driver T-Rex is a big instigator. Everyone knows that already. Well, we just happened to be pulling rear security on our morning mission. Well on the way back T-Rex mentioned to the Colonel that I wasn’t looking to our rear. That was true. I’ll go ahead and mention why I do that here because I don’t think it’s too much of a security risk. Well maybe but it’s just my own Tactic, Technique, and Procedure. When I stand up I like to stand to the side and look at oncoming and rearward traffic. I don’t want to just look to our rear because I’ve always been trained to watch my six. I don’t want to pass some dude in his car with his window down when he could just pull out a gun while we’re driving by and shoot me in the back of the head. That’s why I like to see what’s coming.

The Colonel, that’s not his rank actually but just a nickname, yells, “Are you watching our back?” “Yeah” I reply. When we got back to the clearing barrels at the FOB I wanted to explain to him the reasoning behind why I look forward. I explained it to him but he really didn’t want to listen. I could tell. He said that it was just an excuse. I come up with those from time to time and he thinks they’re just excuses. So I told him fine but if I could only look to our rear I’m going to get down. He didn’t say anything.

This afternoon when we went back out I did as I said I was going to do. I got down in the turret. I’m sure that upset him because when we got to a different FOB he said, “SGT. Puebla, come here, we need to talk.” I knew what he was going to talk about, me sitting down. I don’t see what the problem is with it because lots and lots of other units do it. I just think he likes to micro-manage. Not only that but he gets instigated from T-Rex.

“You need to stand up in the turret.” He says. I told him, “Well, I’m not going to sacrifice getting shot in the back of the head for standing up.” “Then you’re going to get written up”, “Fine.” He didn’t say anything more then that he didn’t want to discuss it any further.

Well, upon leaving the FOB, I wasn’t going to go back on my word so I stayed down in the turret. It does not at all deter me from doing my job. It’s just that I’m not as vigilant and ready sitting on my ass as much as standing up. So once we leave the FOB he yells, “Stand Up! Stand Up Pete! Stand Up!” So then I tell him, “I thought you were going to write me up?” “I will!” He replies. “Then I’d rather get written up.” He doesn’t say anything more and I know I’ve disobeyed him but there really was no reason for me to get up other then for his own pleasure. You could ask other gunners out there and they’ll say that some of them are down all the time.

We get back to the FOB and he doesn’t say anything more. Good. I’m glad we settled it. I’m going to get written up, fine. I’m still going to explain the situation to the Platoon Daddy. I mean, even if he sides with the Colonel at least he’ll hear my two cents. Well this is just my side of the story so take it for what it’s worth. There’s always two sides to every story.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Gunfire and Smoke

Let’s see, drove by a gunfight but that’s not all. We also came close to a motor impact. This afternoon we were driving in Baghdad when I began to hear some gunshots. They were very distinctive. At first I heard one and thought it was nothing. We were still driving down the road when I heard more and more. Oh boy, those are real. There is gunfire. I didn’t know where it was coming from though. It hard to tell what direction the fire is coming from sometimes.We came on the scene pretty quick. It happens when we’re driving pretty fast. There it was on the right, the gunfire. There were not troops but like guys in civilian clothing and tactical gear. I wasn’t sure whether they were contracted security or not. That’s the problem with contracted security out here. They don’t wear any type of uniform, more like an elite Special Forces unit. They were in the grass, approaching the location of the gunfire.

We couldn’t do anything to help but drive by. It sucked. I wanted to join the fight but I knew it wasn’t part of our mission. We had VIPs with us and it was not our mission to get involved. It reminded me of the movie The Terminator. His sole mission was to protect and save John Connor regardless of what happens. I felt like the Terminator. There it was and we couldn’t help out because it’s not part of our mission. I’m sure we may have joined the fight if it were American troops on the other hand. We always protect each other.One final event happened tonight. It was right after sundown and we were getting ready to head back out. We were right inside the wall when we heard a loud BOOM!!! The guys asked, “What was that???” It didn’t take me too hard to guess what it was. It was so loud it sounded like an Artillery impact but it was more of a Mortar impact. When we went past the gate, outside the wire, there was the smoke. It started rising from 400 meters away. Close, but no dice. The pictures are posted here.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The guys go crazy

I don’t know what it is with some of these guys. I don’t have much time to post since it’s already getting late. It’s hard to explain in so little time. It’s just that there are some bad kids that like to throw rocks. They really don’t throw rocks at us, usually commercial trucks. It’s fine to go after these kids sometimes and get them to stop but man, some of us in the platoon act like they’re the terror of the world.

Friday, June 23, 2006


It surprises me how well The Big Man and I get along. I guess it’s best that we do. We do have to live together so it may as well be good. Our relationship is pretty good though, as gay as it may sound. We don’t fight and we don’t argue. We have a lot in common even though we’re both different. Not to say that we’re the best of buddies and love to hang around each other. There are others that seem to be more like that. We just get along pretty good.

I didn’t feel like doing anything today even though I did quite a bit. We didn’t go outside the wire so I had the opportunity to sleep in. I didn’t take advantage of it. I still work up early, though not early enough to make it in time for breakfast. I went down to the MWR to get online and try to chat with my wife. She was already asleep. Bummer. So I came back to my crib and started cleaning my weapons. Part of me wanted to go to the gym, the other part just wanted to rest. So I never did go to the gym. I’m taking it easy today.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Onlookers

I think it’s funny. One of the guys in an automated gun truck or ours was kicking it in his Humvee. I can’t explain much about the truck for security reasons. I’ll just mention that there’s a camera mounted on the gun in the turret. Well, I caught him misusing government property. It was plainly obvious and he didn’t care. He was using the camera to spy on the girls walking in and out of the PX! LOL! Oh my goodness. I asked him, “aren’t you afraid you’re gonna get caught?” He didn’t care. He said he’d been here so long nothing mattered anymore. I just can’t imagine the turret moving, following the girls, as they walk by the Hummer. He’s so desperate he’ll do just about anything now.

We were cleaning up and reorganizing the company supply this afternoon. I can’t believe how much stuff we have. The worst of it is that there was plenty of stuff we could’ve used that was just locked away. It’s been seven months over here already and we could’ve used some of the stuff. For instance, I could’ve used the stash of magazines they had. The ones I’ve been using haven’t been changed out forever and that’s bad. The spring loses its strength after being compressed for so long. So I acquired some more for myself. I’ll be sure to change out the magazines tomorrow. They had all kinds of stuff. There was also odd stuff like baseball gloves, board games, and dartboards. All brand new. There were also plenty of other supplies like pens, notepads, and other office supply stuff.

I heard that we are going to give the stuff we don’t need or want to the Iraqi Army. That’s good. I think it’s mostly stuff we’d throw away anyway. They’ll be happy to have it. The amount of stuff that we do have and don’t even use is amazing. Sure, it might come in handy in a different situation, if we weren’t on an established camp the way we are now. We might use the things like tents and stoves. I doubt any of the stuff is getting sent back to the states. It’ll either stay on a permanent base over here in Iraq or given to the Iraqi Army. It would cost too much to send the junk back home and it would just be a waste of money.

I just finished reading Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell by David Michaels. It was ok. I liked the sequel Operation Barracuda better. I’ve started reading Path of The Assassin by Brad Thor. I’ll post about it when I finish reading the book.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Summer Solstice

I guess today is supposed to be the longest day of the year. I could tell. I’m starting to hate the sun. It came out real early and I’m sure it’ll set pretty late. It’s nothing new. It’s been clear and sunny like I’ve said before. Summer is definitely here.

I got some letters today. I don’t remember signing up for Soldiers Angels. I think someone else signed me up. I don’t mind. I am starting to get flooded with e-mails though. I try to answer all the e-mails but sometimes it takes time. I never get any letters though. I do from time to time get care packages from grateful people out there. I hardly ever get any letters though.
Well, today I got two letters and I think it was because of Soldiers Angels. I bet the other guys in the platoon were jealous. If they do I’ll send them right over to Soldiers Angels. It’s so nice getting a letter though. Sure I like getting e-mails but it’s not the same as getting a letter. A letter is more physical. I could actually touch and feel the letter and envelope. I know that someone has sat down and wrote something out on a piece of paper, put it in an envelope, and mailed it to the post office. It’s a lot more than just sitting at a computer and typing away.

I don’t mind typing e-mails. I’m a faster typist than I am a writer. But it’s really nice to get a letter once in a while. I’ll have to write these people back and let them know how thankful I am to hear from them. It’s so nice to have pen pals.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A Few More Months

One of my buddies mentioned how much longer we have here. I couldn’t believe it. He was right. Our time is getting short. It’s not that short but it's getting there. We’re over half way done with our tour. We still have to go through the summer.

The Big Man must have been really tired today. He had the day off and ended up sleeping till 1230 hours this morning. When he woke up he thought it was 0900. He said he didn’t plan on sleeping in so late. I think he’s always tired because he stays up late. He has a bad habit of doing it. So he spends most of his time sleeping during the day.

As for myself, I was glad I had the day off. Yesterday just about killed me. The heat is unbearable. I went to the gym and got in a workout this morning. Ate lunch at noon. When I came back to the crib I was completely tired. I took a nap for a few hours until about 1800 hours. I didn’t plan on sleeping that much. I think I was worn out from the strenuous workout.

I still have to clean my weapons. I think I’m just going to give them a quick wipe down. It’s pretty easy for me to clean the M9 and M4. The .50cal is easy as well but it’s a pain in the but taking that thing apart and putting it back together.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Heat is Killing Us!!!

I never thought it would make us wish we didn’t have to go outside, but it does. To top it off we have all this gear we have to wear. It just makes matters worse. It’s so intense. I’m sure it’s over 100° degrees by 1000 hours. I think the high today was 116°.

It does make it unbearable. We can’t get over it and we’re all looking forward to our next day off. Luckily we have enough teams to rotate everyone out so we could get a day off. Some of the fortunate guys in the platoon are given four-day passes. I was thinking of asking for one of those. I’m burning out too. They take a plane trip out of here to a nearby location. I can’t mention where they go but it’s nothing spectacular. There are places around here that I’d rather visit like Egypt or maybe even Turkey.

The picture above is of the Abu Ghraib Fire Department. Sometimes they'll come out before we leave the prison and salute us goodbye.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father’s Day

Tiger Woods’ Father just passed away a couple of months ago. He always pushed Tiger as a child at golf. Not only that but to be a good person too. He was there, mentoring Tiger every step of the way. Earl was there everywhere Tiger went. I remember something that Tiger said at the time of his Father’s death, “Without my Father I would not be where I am today.” It makes me think about my Dad. He’s from a little town in Michoacan Mexico. He immigrated to the US long ago when he was young. Anyway, I think he tried his best to raise us and be a good Father. His English was never that great but instantly improved while we grew up. Now he’s bilingual. He speaks, writes, and reads in English more now than he does in his native Spanish.

He’s worked labor jobs his whole life. He’s spent most of it doing diesel maintenance. He worked long hours for little wages. There were times when he had to work graveyard shifts. There were other times when he worked swing shifts. I hardly ever got to see him then because he was always working. When he was home he spent his time relaxing, mostly either reading the Bible or some technical book.

Sometimes I regret that my Dad never spent more time with us. I think he’s spent more time with my younger siblings than me. It was hard when he started out, especially making a living in a foreign country. But he’s done it.

I know that he’s worked real hard in life. I don’t have to be selfish and wish that he‘d taken me to soccer practice or on school field trips. I understand that he was trying to raise a family to give us everything we need. I think he’s done a fine job. We’re all grown up now. My sister, the youngest sibling, is now an adult. Now I think my Dad could take it easy and focus on his retirement.

I wanted the opportunity to take this post and recognize my Dad. I appreciate everything he’s done over the years to this day. Now it’s more advise than anything else. But I know that he is there and he will always be there. Like Tiger Woods said, “Without my Dad, I would not be where I am today.” Happy Father’s Day Dad.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


That was the high today. It’s typical of the temperature this time of year. The hottest it’s been is 116° I think. It’s been hot and dry almost daily. There’s no break. I can’t remember the last day it rained. I think the whole unit is used to this weather though. It’s nothing new for us coming from Arizona. The only thing is dealing with the heat while wearing all of this gear. It only makes things worse. It would be nice if we could go out with shorts and a t-shirt.

I don’t see how these people do it but they do. How do they put up with living in this heat? They go through it daily without the amenities of A/C. The only things most of them have to cool off their houses are swamp coolers. And a lot of their cars don’t even have working A/C.

They don’t know any other whether. I doubt they’ve been anywhere else besides the Middle East. At times I find them packed on buses heading somewhere. I wonder where they’re going sometimes. Sometimes I think they’re traveling to neighboring countries like Syria, Iran, Turkey, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. Where else do they go? I know they’re going somewhere because the buses they travel on don’t look like local city buses, more like travel buses.

How else do these people get around? I’m sure the wealthy and more fortunate ones fly from the airport here. Sometimes I wonder where they’re going too. Saudi Arabia comes to my mind. Why not? It’s the centralized location of all Muslim religion, Mecca.

All I know is that it would suck to not experience a different climate in a lifetime. All they know is desert, this dryness and heat. At least in the States we could go from one climate to a completely different one.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Barber Shop

I don’t know what it is about the barber shops here but I like them. Except for the terrible body odor that comes off these people at time. They’re not Americans and I don’t think they shower daily. Let me explain why I like it though. It’s almost the same as why I like doing my laundry over here too. All I have to do is take my laundry bag over there to drop it off and pick up a new one.

For starters, the cuts only cost $3. That’s it. Sure, they’re not great cuts but at least they’re super cheap. But after the cut there’s the massage. Now, I’m not too fond of having a guy give me a massage but boy. When they start putting rubbing alcohol on their hands and rubbing the back of my neck and head, wow does it feel good. I just wish there were places to get massages here besides the barber shop.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

There’s not much to say today.

I guess everything is starting to become routine. I’m happy to say that we haven’t seen any action for a while. That’s good. Today the Company Commander awarded some CABs (Combat Action Badges) today. He mentioned that he hopes he doesn’t have to award any more. I guess if he does it means that someone was in danger.

We haven’t seen any action for a while, certainly not any small arms fire that’s for sure. I guess that’s a good thing. The only thing I see happening over here are the small sporadic events that might be found on the news once in a while. Most of that stuff happens in urban areas. Just like any other typical location, most of the crime happens within the city. Sure the countryside is dangerous too but it’s not the same.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

What is it with the weather?

Well, it’s been hot, that’s for sure. I think we’re all getting used to the heat though. I notice it when the Joes comment and say, “It’s not that bad today.” Or, “It’s doesn’t feel that hot.” It’s been mostly clear daily, except for the blowing dust. A lot like home this time of year. I’ve gotten used to it. It’s not bad, going from the a/c crib, to the a/c Humvee.

Well, I guess the President was here yesterday but as fast as he was here he was gone. Oh well. I’m sure he has to move around a lot, especially in a foreign country. I still think it was pretty cool though. I also noticed on the news some people that I knew at the Embassy, greeting him. Thought that was pretty cool as well.

Well, there are some changes coming up. I can’t mention them but they’ve come up before. I guess things are always changing around here. I’ll post about it some other time. I have mixed feelings about it. The reason I have a hard time with it is because I enjoy the mission that we have at hand. It’s not a bad one. It’ll be sad to see it end soon.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The President is here! The President is here!

I just found out about it while eating dinner at the chow hall. It was on the news screens, “President Bush in Baghdad.” It didn’t surprise me much. I figured he come over and find out first hand how events are unfolding over here. I would too if I were President.

Who knows, maybe I’ll get to see him. Tomorrow we’re going to a location where he’s most likely to be. In fact, I’m sure he might be staying not to far from where I am. Maybe he’ll end up surprising us in the chow hall or something. I’ll have to keep my camera on me just in case.

I got an e-mail from a Mr. Brown at Atria Books the other day. Here’s an excerpt:

I just read your blog and noticed that you just finished and enjoyed Lions of Lucerne.

I would love to send you the next four of Brad Thor’s books, including the one that just came out last week.

So I was completely excited when I opened the package he sent. It had five of Brad Thor’s books, The Lions of Lucerne, Path of The Assassin, State of The Union, Blowback, and the newly released Takedown. I can’t wait to get started.

Monday, June 12, 2006

No Brakes

The Lieutenant said, “I’m sure SGT Puebla is alive and ready for some action!” T-Rex looked back from the driver’s seat to find me passed out. I looked like I was dead.

I hate it when we come upon a cordon, especially when the commander decides to turn around and take another route. I think it takes longer to drive around than to just sit around and wait. Our mission ended up taking longer than usual because of the cordon and turn around we had to make.

I’m tired and now I have to get up really, really early tomorrow. I probably won’t get enough sleep but oh well. It won’t be the first time.I don’t know what it is about the heat. I guess either I’m getting used to it or it wasn’t that hot today. If felt like 104 and not 113. It didn’t feel bad and I was able to bare the sunshine. On other days I’m trying to hide and find some shade.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

About Time

I was beginning to wonder when I was going to have a day off. It’s been a while now. Well, not really but it feels like it. Between that long trip to Fallujah and Ramadi and going to our other locations yesterday it makes for a long two days. They said I had the day off but I knew I had to dispatch the Humvee. I don’t agree with it but they want me to start dispatching the Humvee so I could start getting some miles recorded. I think it’s stupid because I won’t be driving the thing anyway.

So I took the Humvee down to the motorpool to find out that they wouldn’t dispatch it. Reason being was because it had dried up tar all over the undercarriage. They wouldn’t inspect it until I washed it out first. So I had to take it to the wash rack and wash off all the dirt and tar from the ball joints, hood, and parts of the engine. They finally accepted it and inspected it. I got my dispatch and was on my way.

Didn’t do anything this afternoon. I wanted to go to the gym but I was too tired so I took a little nap. I’m not motivated to do much else today. I guess I want to take advantage of this day off. I’ll probably just go to the MWR tent and upload this post, check my e-mail, then come back and watch a movie. As for reading, I mostly do it when we’re out on the road. I hardly ever read back here at the crib. If I do it’s usually magazines or newspapers. I still crave reading those action novels that I pick up from time to time. I leave my book out in the Humvee to read on the following day.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


I was tired from yesterday. We didn’t get back from our Ramadi and Fallaujah trip until 2200 ours last night. After we got back the Commander wanted to have a little chat with the company. I didn’t get to bed until about 2300 hours. I wasn’t that upset about it until I found out later we would be leaving again at 0645 this morning. Damn, do we get a break?

It just happened that we couldn’t because the guys that weren’t going out were getting their Humvees upgraded. So we had no choice, we were going out regardless.

As for the field, I don’t know, I’m feeling either braver or complacent. I’m not worried about going out as much. Maybe that’s because we haven’t been hit in a while. It just takes one hit for us to get defensive again. We haven’t let down our guard and didn’t stop doing what we’re doing. I think our attitudes are changing just like our mission. We seem to be changing modes. I guess anyone would have to adapt to the situation at hand.
I just finished another book yesterday. I had plenty of time to finish it yesterday since we sat all day at Ramadi before we left. The book was based of that Fox Television Series 24. The name of the book is 24 Declassified: Operation Hell Gate by Marc Cerasini. It was pretty good and I enjoyed it. I’ve tried watching the TV show before but I just couldn’t get into it. I don’t know why. Well, anyway, I’m sure I’ll pick up the next book in the series when I find it.

Oh, and one last thing. I had to remove a few comments today. Mainly because they don’t reflect the reason I created this blog. The person that posted the original comment sent me this reply:

> From: "Willy" <>
> To:
> Subject: Howdy
> Date: Sat, 10 Jun 2006 02:20:54 -0700 (PDT)
> Too much of a coward to allow free speech on your
> blog, huh? Doesn't surprise me.

So, I sent him this reply:

No, it's not about being a coward. My blog is not a stage to set your
political views. There are other blogs for that. It changes the point
of my blog. The point of my blog is to show people what we do over
here and what we have to go through. What you say changes my blog
into a political showcase which I'm not interested in hosting. Thank
you very much.



Friday, June 09, 2006

Fallujah or Ramadi?

Well, I could say now that I’ve been to both. Today we went as far west as Ramadi. It’s the first time I’ve ever been there. We also crossed the Euphrates River. So now I could also say that I have seen both major rivers in Iraq too, the Tigris and the Euphrates. It was a pretty big river, wider than the Tigris from the point we crossed. The pictures are posted here to see.

What were we doing in Fallujah and Ramadi? I can’t say. I’ll mostly describe the terrain there though. The farther west we went the more desolate the climate became. Here in Baghdad where we conduct most of our operations, there are crops and lots of vegetation. It’s real weird because not too far, once outside the city a little ways, we began to hit arid desert land. It began to remind me of Kuwait where there was nothing but sand and dirt. Even the dirt began to look familiar, the white powdery stuff.There was less traffic, obviously. We really didn’t go into the towns though. We were just outside of them. There was something different about the people there too. There were more nice cars on the road and not all the people looked like homeless peasants.

I heard the good news yesterday that we took out Al-Zarqawi. Hopefully those that lost loved ones during 9/11 will feel some sort of justice. We’ve hurt them real bad. The al-Qaida leader in Iraq no longer exists. We still have a lot of work to do and the fight is not over. Hopefully we’ll find all of those responsible or connected and bring them all to justice. I’m sure if Al-Zarqawi was alive in the US he’d plot a plan do terrorize millions of people back home. Well, he can no longer do that and the US is now a safer country because of it.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Ethics Training

“May the Lord God be with you. I think you are cool. Thank you for being a soldier for us. You are a mighty soldier.”- Unknown

“Thank you for serving our country.” –Nick

“God love you so much. May the Lord be with you.” –Kaleigh

“Thank you soldiers!!!” –Danielle

“I hope you win.” –Unknown

I think we already have. Won that is. It’s just a matter of time before the mission is accomplished and we all get to come home. These are just a few quotes I took from some thank you cards. The class of 1st graders at Horizon Christian School made the cards. I’m going to hand them out to the platoon but I couldn’t stop reading through all of them first. I’m sure they’ll make all of the guys feel proud about what they’re doing. As I’m sure everyone has heard before, it’s the thought that counts.

I received a box full of candy and books from Paul in Greenfield Indiana. He’s the same person that sent me a box full of Beanie Babies yesterday. There’s no way I’ll be able to read all of these books, so I just pulled out the ones that I want to read and left the others for the rest of the readers in the company. I only picked a few books for myself and was excited to find Splinter Cell in there. I was about to order that book online because I couldn’t find it. I’ve already read Splinter Cell: Operation Barracuda. Since I skipped the original I’ve wanted to go back and read the original adventures of Sam Fisher.We had some ethical training today. Don’t have to wonder too hard why that is. It doesn’t surprise me either. Not with everything that’s happened west of here. It just takes a few guys to ruin it for everyone. I mentioned the incident yesterday but I can’t release any details. Anyway, the class was nothing spectacular. It was just ordinary instruction on ethics, doing what’s right and wrong. We’ve had it before during mobilization, just not this specific.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Classified Information

I found out some news today. I have some sources that are pretty high up the officer chain. No, they’re not Generals. I won’t mention their rank either. I’ll just say that I’m sure the stuff I’ve overheard them say is pretty true, especially coming from the positions that they work in. I can’t say much. All I can really say is that it is very upsetting news. It’s enough to make one sick and disgusted. It only takes a few people to ruin it for everyone.

I’m sure everyone will here about it once word gets out and people will exploit it as well. All I have to say is that I’m proud that the Army has stuck to its values that are characterized by hundreds of soldiers out here. We do our duty daily with loyalty, honor, courage, and integrity.

I’ve finished reading The Lions of Lucerne by Brad Thor the other day. It was a really good book! I really enjoyed it. I’m now motivated to join the secret service when I get back home. The book was full of action, adventure, and suspense. I was left wanting more. I think it’s going to be part of a series. I hope so. I can’t wait to read some more adventures of Scott Harvath. Hopefully Claudia Muller will be included in the other books as well.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Beanie Baby Heaven

It’s incredible, the number of Beanie Babies I’ve received today. I was totally surprised when I opened the box. It was full of Beanie Babies. I only expected a few not so many. It was so cool! I know it’s gay but I had to keep a few for myself. I’m going to hand the rest of them out. I’m sure the little girls will love them. So I’d like to thank Paul and Danielle from Greenfield Indiana for donating so many Beanie Babies. I can’t imagine how much they must have been worth.

I also want to give another shot out to Dennis of Port Washington WI for the care package he and his local VFW put together. The guys were begging for some of those batteries that you sent. They’re like gold over here. I received that package more then a week ago but I’ve been so busy lately, I’ve been unable to give you thanks.

I also got a package from Operation Gratitude and the California Army National Guard, 746th QM BN. I signed up for care package on their website a while back and finally received it in the mail. It was cool. It had some foot cream and power, which is dearly needed. They also packed a music CD, some snacks, and a few letters. There’s one I’d like to share here. A Ben Stein wrote it.

Dear Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, National Guardsmen and Reservists in Iraq, the Middle East theater, in Afghanistan, in the area near Afghanistan, in any base anywhere in the world, and your families:

Let me tell you about why you guys own about 90 percent of the cojones in the whole world right now and should be damned happy with yourselves and damned proud of who you are. It was a dazzlingly hot day here in Rancho Mirage today. I did small errands like going to the bank to pay my mortgage, finding a new bed at a price I can afford, practicing driving with my new 5 wood, paying bills for about two hours.

I spoke for a long time to a woman who is going through a nasty child custody fight. I got e-mails from a woman who was fired today from her job for not paying attention. I read about multi-billion-dollar mergers in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. I noticed how overweight I am, for the millionth time.

In other words, I did a lot of nothing. Like every other American who is not in the armed forces family, I basically just rearranged the deck chairs on the Titanic in my trivial, self-important, meaningless way.

Above all, I talked to a friend of more than forty-three years who told me he thought his life had no meaning because all he did was count his money.

And, friends in the armed forces, this is the story of all of America today. We are doing nothing but treading water while you guys carry on the life or death struggle against worldwide militant Islamic terrorism. Our lives are about nothing: paying bills, going to humdrum jobs, waiting until we can go to sleep and then do it all again. Our most vivid issues are trivia compared with what you do every day, every minute, every second.

Oprah Winfrey talks a lot about “meaning” in life. For her, “meaning” is dieting and then having her photo on the cover of her magazine every single month (surely a new world record for egomania). This is not “meaning”.

Meaning is doing for others. Meaning is risking your life for others. Meaning is putting your bodies and families’ peace of mind on the line to defeat some of the most evil, sick killers the world has ever known. Meaning is leaving the comfort of home to fight to make sure that there still will be a home for your family and for your nation and for free men and women everywhere.

Look, soldiers and Marines and sailors and airmen and Cost Guardsmen, there are eight billion people in this world. The whole fate of this world turns on what you people, 1.4 million, more or less, do every day. The fate of mankind depends on what about 2/100 of one percent of the people in this world do every day – and you are those people. And joining you is every policeman, fireman, and EMT in the country, also holding back the tide of chaos.

Do you know how important you are? Do you know how indispensable you are Do you know how humbly grateful any of us who has a head on his shoulders is to you?

Do you know that if you never do another thing in your lives, you will always still be heroes? That we could life without Hollywood or Wall Street or the NFL, but we cannot live for a week without you.

We are on our knees to you and we bless and pray for you every moment.

And Oprah Winfrey, if she were a size two, would not have one millionth of your importance and all of the Wall Street billionaires will never mean what the least of you do, and if Barry Bonds hit ninety home runs it would not mean as much as you going on one patrol or driving one truck to the Baghdad airport.

You are everything to us, as we go through our little days, and you are in the prayers of the nation and of every decent man and woman on the planet.

That’s who you are and what you mean. I hope you know that.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Heat Wave

I guess it’s that time of the month, when it’s going to be the hottest part of the year. Well, as we say in Phoenix, at least it’s the dry heat. It’s been hot every freaking day. I don’t see how these people pick crops out in the fields during the day. There isn’t a whole lot of machinery so most of the Iraqis pick crops by hand. I’m also amazed by the amount of fields that are over there. I guess it’s how most of them make a living. I didn’t expect to see so much farmland. There is definitely more farmland here than there is in the Phoenix Area.

The heat hasn’t got to me too much though. I’m glad. I try to stay out of the sun as much as I can. Thank God these Humvees have a/c. It’s about time they’ve installed these things with them. Some of them mostly work. The only problem is that it’s so hot that it takes a while to cool the interior of the Humvee off. That’s partly why I’m glad I got my windows tinted. I have noticed a slight difference. It’s also cool because they don’t know if we have people in the back or not. I like to stay out of sight in the back seat myself. I hardly ever come out unless I’m needed. As for when we’re on the road, I have no choice. I have to take the blast of heat which feels like a hair dryer blowing in my face.

I can’t believe how much I drink. It’s crazy! Let’s see, today I’ve drunk a little more than 5 quarts of water. And that’s just water, not counting the Gatorade I’ve sucked down as well. I’ve been sucking it all up. I’ve also been sweating it all out. I take my body armor off and find that my uniform is soaked right where my body armor used to be. It leaves like an imprint on my uniform. When I take my DCU shirt off my t-shirt is usually all wet. It feels good once I get all that stuff off and let my shirt dry out.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

My Little Asian Boy

He was in our ride today. We’ve had substitutes ever since T-Rex was put on the disabled list. I don’t think there’s really anything wrong with him. It’s not like he was injured or something. Well, he’s been put off the disabled list and will be back with us tomorrow.

As for Doc Ock, it was alright having him along. He’s a combat medic although he hasn’t see that much combat. We’ve mainly been using him to drive or educate us in first aid medical treatment. He usually makes sure that we are healthy and we have all the medical supplies we need. He’s the one that treated my stab wound when it occurred. I think he did a fine job. At least it didn’t get affected.

It’s funny because most of the other guys mess around with him. They tease him with gay jokes just because the way he looks. Poor dude is always getting picked on. They’ll come out with homosexual jokes towards him to imply that they somehow abused him. He has a thin and short stature but is very athletic. He’s also very young. He’s only like 20 years old. So he’s one of the younger guys in our platoon.

He went to Vegas on R&R and couldn’t even gamble or drink because he wasn’t 21. It must have sucked. He had plenty of other adventures while he was there. I’m sure he didn’t miss out on the gambling and drinking. He was telling me about it and to him, Vegas is a figment of his imagination.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Power Outage

I do not know what is up with the power here. I heard that there’s a broken transformer but they have yet to replace it. Again, like yesterday, it’s been going out. But today, unlike yesterday, it’s been off for most of the day. It didn’t affect me too much since I took this morning at the gym and was out on missions this afternoon.

It’s really starting to cook here. The highs have been in the lower 110’s. The only thing now is that I’m not going from my A/C crib to my A/C Hummer since the power is out. No, now I have to take the heat.

I’ve been drinking like crazy too. Unfortunately, I have been drinking too many Gatorades. I have to cut back and start drinking some more water. Usually I alternate drinking between a quart of water and a 20oz Gatorade bottle. I’m so glad I don’t have to buy these things. I guess it’s one of the perks of being in the Army. I get to drink all the Gatorade I want until I get sick.

As for the power, everyone’s been doing about the same thing. As soon as it comes on they turn their A/C units up maximum cooling and the fans on high. I did the same thing. I figured if the power went back out at least the room would be cool for a little while. I almost thought about sleeping outside last night if the power didn’t come back on. Either that or go out to the Humvee, turn the engine and A/C on, and sleep in the Humvee all night. My chances were dim.

It’s funny because most of the guys went to either the Gym or MWR recreation center. Both are open 24 hours. I’m sure the staff was wondering why it was so crowded all of a sudden. There was nowhere else to go to cool off. At least in the rec center I could watch a movie in the makeshift theater or browse the internet. There was even a DJ and some R&B music to listen too from the dance that was happening in the ballroom. I went in there but not too many people were dancing. There were more people mingling, playing billiards, or ping-pong other than dancing.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Power On, Power Off

It’s been like that all day. The power went out right before I woke up this morning. It didn’t bother me at the time because I wasn’t using it. The weather wasn’t hot yet so we didn’t need the A/C unit. It was still early. I got dressed and headed to the motor pool to do some maintenance. When I got back from the motor pool the electricity was back on. Then it went off again right before I went to the gym. Again, it didn’t bother me since I didn’t need it.

I came back and ate the take out dinner that I grabbed during lunch. Just as I got back, the power went out again. What the heck? It was about 1800 hours when it went out. The Big Man and me had nothing to do. We were bored. We hung out in the room but I knew it wouldn’t last. Eventually it would begin to get hot. Sure enough, we had to open the window, and then the door. We were looking for something interesting to do. It’s amazing how much electricity affects us. If it turns off we suddenly find ourselves lost. But it also gave us the opportunity to go outside. We have neighbors? There are people outside? Yep, sure enough, people started coming out of their little huts. It got so hot that they had to go outside to cool off.

It was pretty nice actually. Some guys started playing their guitars. Others would play board game or socialize with others in groups. I found some time to play some catch football. I was going to read a book but it was too hard to pass up some competitive sport.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


It amazes me at how many guys are depressed. Well, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. What surprises me even more is that I’m not. Not saying that I’m totally happy but I’m not sad either. I’m not dying to go home. Maybe I’m crazy, I don’t know. My roommate only talks about how much he’s ready to get out of here and go back home. He says he’s had enough.

Sometimes I’ll ask other Joes from the company how they’re doing. I wouldn’t say that all of them say the same thing. I asked this one Joe how he was doing. He told me he was doing fine. I asked him how he liked it here. He said he’s ready to never come back. He’s not the only one I hear it from. I hear it a lot, “I hate Iraq.” It never comes from me though. I’d never display such attitude in front of my subordinates if I felt that way.

Do I get tired of hearing it? Only when it comes from within my own team. It shows a lack of motivation and interest. It’s hard to try to motivate someone, especially when it’s coming from a young leader. Is the motivation there? I would say that the motivation to accomplish the mission is there. We are like typical Americans. We like to get the job done. We like to finish what we started. We do as we’re told.
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