Monday, July 31, 2006

Got to be kidding!

Sometimes I’m trying to find stuff to post about. Some days the missions get routine and nothing really exciting happens. Well, today isn’t one of those days. This morning we came upon a group of Iraqis on the highway by some semi-trucks. It looked like a mob from the distance. As we approached I noticed what looked like a tire out in the road. There were a couple of vehicles in the area that were not moving as well. I began to think that either the truck broke down or there was an accident.

Well, I’m not really sure what happened but we sent two of our Humvees to check it out. As soon as we started to approach the crowd started dispersing. Most of the Iraqis were running off into the nearby fields. Once they started running my interests started going up. Something suspicious was going on. Our first Humvee on the scene reported on the radio that they were being looted. I knew it. It doesn’t surprise me at all. Most of these people don’t care or have any respect for others belongings so they’ll take whatever chance they could get to steal.

That first Humvee on the scene, Sergeant Hard Balls, also reported that there was us property on one of the trucks. There just happened to be two trucks that were disabled on the road and the drivers didn’t appear to be anywhere. Strange stuff like this happens all the time over here. Once Sergeant Hard Balls mentioned there was US property on one of the trucks we gained renewed interest. That was until we found out that it was just food and water and also, the trucks were not ours. Command just decided to let it go. That was fine by me. I didn’t want a riot to start over food and water. They could fight for that.

This afternoon I was reading a book while we were waiting to leave at a FOB. That’s when the Colonel says, “You can’t read in the truck.” What? I thought. What’s he talking about. “Why can’t we read in the truck,” I asked. “Because the 1st Sergeant said so. Since Doc Ock got into trouble for speeding gunners aren’t allowed to read in the truck so that they stay alert to what’s going on.” What’s he talking about??? We’re just sitting here in the Humvee, waiting for a half hour before we leave. And we’re not doing anything. It’s the little shit like this that piss me off. It’s just another way to lower troop morale.

You have to be kidding me! I can’t believe that our leadership is worried about us reading a book, or maybe listing to our MP3 players, or playing pocket video games. What ever happened to METT-TC? It’s about the situation permitting and the situation doesn’t permit me from not reading. I could understand it if we were outside of the wire on patrol maybe or in a convoy but not when we’re hanging around the FOB. I could understand if it affected the mission. In no way did it interfere with the mission at all. Most of us are adults here. I wish they would treat us that way. And they want us to be professional. They need to start looking in the mirror I say.

It made me realize one thing for sure. The regular Army guys have to go through on a day to day basis and there’s no end in sight when they go home. Thank GOD I’m in the National Guard. As soon as I’m done with this, I’m outta here!

It’s no wonder why the guys in the unit are anxious to go home. I’d just wish they’d focus on the mission and our safety and not reading when we’re sitting around, doing nothing. Help! My morale is going downhill quick! Way to lower soldier’s morale! I’ll be ready to go home!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Change of Mission

Supposedly one of our missions is supposed to be ending soon. I can’t mention when and I have my doubts if it’ll truly be ending. It’s mainly because of an event that’s taking place. I can’t mention that either, until it’s over, which is pretty soon. Needless to say, we’ll be out of a mission pretty soon. That means that we’ll be doing something else very shortly.

I’d like to go to Ramadi myself if I had the choice. I don’t know if it’s just me but it’s better than being a fobbit. Don’t get me wrong, fobbits are very important people and they have an important job to do. They’re the ones that secure us inside the wire to make sure we are safe. I’d rather be outside. I know the risks but they’re not really that bad. I’m not sure how bad Ramadi is because I’ve only been there once. I’m willing to take the risk. I just hate the fact of moving, if we do, for only a few more months.

Well, this morning I went out on missions, early. We came back to the came in the late morning, that’s when I got online for a little while to check my e-mail and chat with my wife. Afterwards I went to eat lunch, and then I went to the gym to workout for the rest of the afternoon. Then I got dressed, dropped of my laundry, at dinner, and went to the tailor to get my CAB patches sown on my uniforms. And here I am now, typing this post.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Community Day

It was that time again, time for mandatory fun. This time the event was a scavenger hunt followed by an afternoon barbeque. I think it was too hot for any of it. As far as the scavenger hunt goes, we were given a list of items. These were items that could be found anywhere around the camp. Points were awarded for each individual item and some items were more points then others. We ended up getting items like, something made in china, a whole pecan pie, and some lake water. So, this is how we spent our morning, driving everywhere around post looking for items from the list. I’m not sure how many points we came away with.

The squad that came in first place got the chance to throw pies in the Commander’s face. The second was that they got to throw buckets of water in his face to wash him up. And there was also a prize for last place. The squad that came in last place got to pick up the mess. My squad fared right in the middle so we didn’t get to do anything at all.

Afterwards we had a Company barbeque with burgers, hot dogs, sodas, and all except the beer.

I went to get a haircut this afternoon. It only costs $3 dollars to get a haircut here. It’s a really good deal. The do some pretty good cuts and they also give a massage right afterwards. It’s really worth more than $3 but I’m not complaining. I usually give the guys a $2 tip. How high can I make the tip if it only cost $3 for the cut?

This evening I played Texas Hold’em Poker with the guys. I’ve never played Texas Hold’em before and it’s been a long time since I’ve played poker. The only poker I play is the video poker at the slot machines in Las Vegas. Anyway, it looked like I was going to lose for a little while there. My chips were slowly dwindling down. There were five of us that were playing. But all of a sudden, after the antes kept going up, I started wining. They started saying that I have played before. They said that I was just messing with them, telling them that I didn’t know how to play. I think it was because of the guys that were betting big and I was just winning those bets. I ended up winning the game. Not bad for beginners luck.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Combat Action Badge

It’s about time. I mean, the incident happened in March and here we are at the end of July. Today I got awarded the Combat Action Badge, otherwise known as the CAB. It took long enough. I was beginning to wonder if they had lost the paperwork or if I was ever going to get one. There were a few of us that got awarded CABs in the platoon. The LT was with T-Rex and me when we got hit. We’re still amazed that the IED didn’t do any damage. We were right next to the thing and when it blew up the others that were behind us thought we were gone for sure. No one was able to see us since we were in a cloud of dust and smoke. Fuzzy Dice, behind us, said that he was going to hook up his video camera before we left the wire but he never did. Oh well, that would’ve been a cool video to keep for old time sake.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Sudden Onset

I got switch around with another team this morning. It happens once in a while when guys are doing other duties and with the guys that are either on leave or pass. There has to be some changes to accommodate the manifest. I happened to be going out with Chief and this new guy. Chief is pretty cool. I like him and hung out in Seattle together while we were on pass back in September of last year. The new guy is alright. He’s new so he doesn’t have much experience and its funny how he could get lost around BIAP. He doesn’t know the place like we do. I guess it’s like moving to a new city for him.

I got our intercom system hooked up last week so it’s working well, when everyone in the Humvee uses it. I love it because it gives me the ability to monitor and operate the radios. The microphone is great too because we don’t have to yell to each other to communicate. It gets frustrating yelling stuff back and forth. It’s so tiresome that I restrain myself from saying anything at all at times, and that’s not a good thing. It’s like communication stops. Well, it doesn’t have to anymore. Now I could listen to the radio again so The Colonel doesn’t have to relay everything that comes down on the radio. It also gives me the ability to monitor a different net so The Colonel doesn’t have to worry about handling radio traffic on two nets at the same time.

Well, one of the guys had a seizure this morning. I think it was sudden onset and may have been caused by some medication he was taking. I think he’s doing better now. I tried to go see him but he’s knocked out in his room, getting some rest. They air evacuated him to the CASH, Combat Area Support Hospital, to get medical treatment. When he was released we got suited up to go over there and pick him up.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Problem With Doc Ock

I don’t know what’s going on with this dude. He’s just having a bad week. He ended up losing his weapon today. Thankfully we got it back. He was really lucky. It all started this evening when we got back from mission. We had cleared our weapons at the gate and then took the 20 minute drive to get back to our pad. We were going to put our gear away and then go to the chow hall to eat dinner. Well, things didn’t go according to planned.

When we got back to the pad we started unloading our gear. I started taking the .50 cal apart when it happened. Doc Ock had the look of disbelief on his face. He was looking around in the back seat of the Humvee and I knew something was up. I had a feeling I knew what it was but I was hoping I wasn’t right. He looked upset then he called me quietly. “Sergeant Puebla, come here.” I had a feeling I knew what he was going to say. “I can’t find my weapon,” he said. “Are you serious? Did you check in the back real good? Did you freaking leave it at the clearing barrel?” I replied. “I think I did,” he responded. “Fuck! Go look for SSG C. real quick and tell him so we could go back over there.”

I was hoping that we would get lucky. I was hoping that know one picked it up and stole it. And the last thing I wanted was for it to get into the wrong hands. I didn’t want any local national to pick it up and stash it away. That’s all we need, a local or someone else running around the camp with a weapon. Ammo is very easy to find. All one has to do is go by the clearing barrels to look around for some stray rounds. I’m sure I’d be able to find enough rounds to fill a magazine myself. That was the worse case scenario. At least in another Joes hands, I know that we’d at least be safe.

So we got back into the Humvee and drove all the way back to the gate. Like I said before it was a 20 minute drive from the pad. I decided to drive since Doc had already got into trouble for speeding. I figured I’d speed over there this time and if I got pull over at least Doc wouldn’t be in trouble again.

We got to the clearing barrels and looked around. It was nowhere to be found. We didn’t have many options. Our next move was to check with the gate and hope that someone turned the weapon in to the gate guards. The Doc and I split up at that point. He went to see the guys at the gate and I went to question some guys that were sitting in their Humvee by the clearing barrels. The guys I spoke with didn’t know anything about the weapon. Even though they had been sitting at the gate for 30 minutes they were not aware of anyone finding a lost M16.

Doc just happened to get lucky. I went back to the gate to link up with Doc and there he was, talking to the guard. Luckily the guard had his M16. I guess someone had found it and left it with the guard. I told Doc he was real lucky. Well, his trouble didn’t stop there. It was reported to the Commander so we had to go see the 1st Sergeant as soon as we got back to the pad. I sensed more doom for Doc then I did for myself.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

About Speeding

We went into a village this morning to give away some toys and stuff. Most of it was toys. We do that once in a while. I’m sure the locals freak out when we show up because we hardly ever bother them. We like to keep to ourselves and do our routines. When we first got into the village a man appeared with his little girl. As soon as we brought the box of toys out of one of the Humvees I’m sure he knew what we were going to do. In fact, I think he called for his spouse or someone. Word of mouth spread and soon we had a small group of people there. We didn’t want to crowd to get so big that we wouldn’t be able to handle them. We also wanted to make sure that the toys got evenly dispersed so that everyone got something. These people were excited and happy. The smiles were growing on their faces. The women especially came out of their little huts, with face and all. I’m glad that we might have brought some sense of happiness to these people. Doc Ock was pretty depressed today. He is getting written counseling for his speeding incident yesterday. I think he’s pretty lucky. I think they should come down harder on speeders. I’m probably more likely to die in an auto accident than by hostel fire. My roommate, The Big Man, agrees. He says he’s told his driver, Grandpa, that he drives too fast but Grandpa doesn’t stop. The Big Man has finally gotten to the point, like me, where we’re just going to let them get caught speeding or get us into an accident. The Big Man said that he’s just going to say, “I told him.”

Monday, July 24, 2006


We came upon a cordon on our route today. It sucked. At least it wasn’t during the afternoon or it could’ve been worse. I knew it was going to suck because they always do. We sit around and wait forever until the area is clear. I almost had to nerve to say, I’ll go check it out. Well, this time we weren’t going to wait for the bomb squad to come to the scene. We had one of our teams send out the robot, Johnny 5. That’s when we came upon another problem. The team that takes care of Johnny 5 didn’t bother checking his batteries before we left this morning.

They sent him out to check out the suspected IED. He got there and had no problem checking it out. His camera was all over the scene. Problem was he got stuck. His batteries started dying on him. He was lucky he made it back on the pavement and off the dirt down slope. Then he started having problems making it back to the Humvee. He wasn’t going to make it. We were a little worried about him. We thought that he might blow up with the IED. Luckily the IED turned out to be nothing and the area was cleared. Finally we were able to pass and move on through.

Well, we got into trouble today. Not me personally but The Colonel and Doc Ock. Doc Ock was driving for us today. Well, supposedly some Corps Command Sergeant Major pulled over one of our Humvees behind us. They were following us back to the pad and were going about the same speed we were. Well, when he pulled him over he busted them for speeding and not wearing their seatbelts. He took SGT M.’s name tape off his uniform and told him that he could get it from his Brigade Command Sergeant Major. Since we were together he didn’t have to pull us over. We didn’t find out about it until later in the day.

The PL came up to me and asked about The Colonel. I told him, “He’s probably in his room, why?” He said, “We have to see the 1st Sergeant because we were speeding.” Anyway, he said I had to go too. I couldn’t understand why, I was just a passenger. In fact, if the 1st Sergeant even asked me anything I’d probably tell him, “I didn’t know we were going that fast 1st Sergeant. I was sitting in the back, reading.” I was in the back seat and didn’t care to see how Doc Ock was driving anyway. I just couldn’t understand how I would be in trouble. Well, when we went to the 1st Sergeant’s office the first thing he said was, “Sergeant Puebla, you could go.” I was very relieved and got the hell out of Dodge. I didn’t want any of the wraths that were to come upon them.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The A/C Problem

I’ve been trying to get our TOC (Tactical Operations Center) to get the a/c unit serviced in the internet trailer. There are two units in there and one of them is broken. There’s a list in the TOC where we report our service issues. KBR is the management company that provides maintenance services on our pad. Anyway, I reported that a/c unit broken to the TOC two weeks ago. Last week I reported it on the maintenance list. It’s still not fixed. It gets hot as heck in that trailer, especially at the end of the day. When I go in there I have to make sure I take a cold drink with me to keep me cool. I got fatigued and a headache when I was in there the other night. It’s strange, I’ll last longer out in the sun than in that trailer.

Our a/c in the Hummer went out again today too. I just had it serviced on Thursday. We had a terp riding with us today. It’s the first time we’ve had her ride with us in our truck. It wasn’t bad in the morning because our a/c unit was working just fine. But in the afternoon it quit blowing out cool air and started feeling like a blow dryer. She was in the back seat and the fan was blowing that hot air right on her. We had to put her in another Humvee because she didn’t look too good after a while. She was looking a little pale and fatigued. She kept complaining how hot it was and how our a/c didn’t work. We had to get her out and someplace cooler. When The Colonel moved her to another truck I asked him if I could move too. I was joking around.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

How will it end?

I’ve been thinking about it. Soon, a few months for now, we’ll be leaving. Our time here is coming to an end in a couple of months. It seems like the time is flying by now. We still do our missions on almost a daily basis but I think most of us are tired and worn out. We were expecting a change but that may not be happening. I could mention that later but for right now because of security concerns, I can’t.

I thought about where this blog will go. The reason I created it was to keep friends, family, and the internet community informed on what it’s like to be over here on a daily basis. This is just my perspective. This isn’t the overall perspective of all soldiers in Iraq. Other parts of the country are different than this place. It would be like any part of any other country. No place is the same as the other. These are my view from my place and observations around western and northern Baghdad, Fallujah, Ramadi, Taji, and Balad.

Where will this blog go once I leave? Unfortunately it’ll come to an end at the end of my deployment. This blog has turned into so much more for me. I’ve met people that e-mail me and tell me that they read it every day. People from all over the country and parts of the world like Finland and Holland e-mail to show their support. It’s connected me with a lot of good people out there. It’s pretty weird that I’ll probably never meet these people in person but I know them well enough.

So, in saying this, I still have some time. There is still time for people to come and visit on an occasional basis. But when I get home I’ll have no time to blog and I’m sure people don’t want to hear about me going back to my boring life with my boring 9-5 Monday through Friday job. Where's the fun, excitement, and danger in that? Where is the thrill? I’m not going to comment on my overall experience over here. I’m going to save that till then end.

I’ll go back to my daily routines when I get home. I’ll spend the time I would’ve spent blogging with my boys. I’d rather be with them and raise them to be men than anything else in the world. They are the future and they are what I leave behind. The will be the product of all of my efforts.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Humvee Repairs

It was a day to get my Humvee back in order. Without T-Rex the driver, I was the only one left to get things done. T-Rex is on leave right now and won’t be back for a while. So, it’s up to me to take care of the truck. I had a few things on my list to fix. Yesterday, besides our a/c going out our siren broke too. I didn’t have a chance to remedy the problem. That was until today since it was going to be a maintenance day.

The door latch on the rear drivers’ side also needs to get fixed. And I also had to check the transmission fluid, engine oil, coolant, serpentine belt, tires, and everything else on the truck. Oh, and I also replaced the air filter today too. One of the mechanics in the shop fixed the door for me. I checked the wiring on the siren to make sure nothing got cut. I tested the device to see if it was operational. It didn’t turn on at all. I don’t know why but it just quit. Luckily the shop had some in stock so I was able to install a new one. The wiring was already there so I didn’t have to wire the horn or batteries. Oh, and I also washed my truck.

I was too lazy to go to the gym this afternoon. Well, I wouldn’t say that I was lazy, I was just too tired. I felt I’ve done a lot for today and it was time for me to rest. I’ve been eating like a pig too so I have to cut that out as well. It’s time for me to get back into the habit.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Broken A/C

Again, it was hot. It got worse because of our a/c.

This morning wasn’t bad. We took a long trip today, through northern Baghdad on up north. It’s the same trip we took the other day but this time it didn’t seem like a holiday.

I spent yesterday afternoon installing our intercom system so we could talk to each other without yelling. It also enables me to monitor and answer the radio. It’s a pretty neat system when it works. That’s the catch, when it works. Our Humvee is capable of operating an intercom system. It’s just that the cables that they gave us are pretty bad. They have loose connections and also, one of the headsets was defective right out of the box. Well, I was happy that it works and I was talking with Spence, our driver today. There’s only one thing, it didn’t completely work. The Colonel’s headset cable had a loose connection so he kept cutting in and out. There were a few incidents on our way back. First off, the minute we left the base our a/c went out. We started cooking. It got really freaking hot in the Hummer. I was glad my head was sticking out the turret. The guys inside kept bugging me to get them some cold drinks out of the ice chest. We finally got back to the FOB we were in a hurry to take all of our gear off. Our uniforms were all wet in the spots where we had our gear on. We were drenched, our faces were red, and we were covered in sweat.
The other thing that happened is that we supposedly drove past an IED. We got reports that it detonated on other collation forces a few minutes after we had past that area. It probably exploded about five minutes after we passed by. This was just a report from what we heard on the radio from local forces and it was never confirmed.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Hot! Hot! Hot! I guess it was 115 degrees today. It was hot. I felt the heat wave this afternoon. It gets worse. Tomorrow it's supposed to be 118 and it's supposed to be 121 degrees by Monday. It doesn't look like we're going to get any relief.

I tried out my new turret today. It's pretty nice. I like it. It moves pretty easy and it handles well. The shape of it reminds me of The Tumbler from Batman Begins. It's pretty cool having to know that I'm one of the first to have it in Iraq. Everyone has been looking at it and checking it out.

Four of us from the company taped some messages this afternoon to be broadcast during the D-Backs/Dodgers baseball game tonight. We were told that it was supposed to air on the ESPN. I'm not sure if they're just going to broadcast our messages in Chase Field during the game our between commercial breaks on ESPN. So if your watching the game tonight be on the lookout for the four of us.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Late Blog

This is a late blog. I got a little occupied tonight and didn’t have the chance to type what I wanted to. I’ve been busy all day today and I have to get up early tomorrow, like always. So this is just going to be a quick post. Today was very hot, and sunny. What’s new? Still hasn’t rained. I’m sure it was up towards 115° today. Hot and dry. The missions ran pretty smooth. There was nothing really exciting or new to discuss. Well, there was one thing. They’ve just upgraded my turret and we got our Humvee back today. It’s been in the shop for the past couple of days getting the new turret installed. I can’t wait to try it out tomorrow. I won’t be able to post any photos of it here for security reasons though. I can’t go into details about it either, just to say that so far, I like what I see.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Compromising Integrity

Last night we had a meeting, the secret kind. Well, some of the people in our platoon weren’t invited. It was mostly people that weren’t with us when the events in reference occurred. The event occurred in January. I guess I could discuss the incident now that it’s out in the open. The person subject to punishment and reprimand is our own Platoon Leader, our Lieutenant.

Back in January our PL, Platoon Leader, fired a negligent discharge. A negligent discharge is mostly an accidental discharge of a round from a weapon. The Army doesn’t classify it as an accident but as negligence therefore punishable under UCMJ, Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The problem is the Lieutenant didn’t come out and report it when it occurred. He as afraid of detrimental action and asked if those that witnessed the event wouldn’t discuss the matter with anyone. I was one of those that witnessed the event. We all agreed to secrecy and promised not to let a word out to anyone.

Last night we had a meeting. The Lieutenant wanted to have a talk with the platoon. He apologized for putting the burden on us. He said that word had gotten to another platoon and eventually it didn’t take long before the command found out about the incident. It didn’t surprise me. I knew that the lie wouldn’t hold and the truth would come out eventually. That’s all he wanted to express and he left after some other comments.Afterwards some of the Sergeants said a few speeches. I started to get the impression that they were trying to conspire another cover up. They said comments such as, “If you are asked to do a witness statement and don’t know what to put come see us.” Were they trying to mislead these witnesses? I didn’t want anyone else’s integrity to get compromised. So after some of the Sergeants voiced their comments I decided to voice my opinion.

“I’d like to say something. I’m glad the LT came out and apologized to us today. I accept his apology. He’s a good Lieutenant that just made a bad decision. I’ve never said a word to anyone and I’ve held that burden for months. It was always at the back of my mind. It didn’t surprise me that word had gotten out.

If they ask me to do a witness statement, which I hope they don’t, I’m going to write exactly what I witnessed. You could put whatever you’d like on the witness statement but I suggest that you only put the truth. Don’t compromise your integrity as the LT did. I’m going to be honest and use my integrity. It’s part of the Army Values gentlemen, Honor and Integrity. Live up to them. That’s all I have to say.”

This morning a Joe, codename Spence, came up to me. He said, “I want to thank you for what you said yesterday.” I knew I had got to him last night. So then I told him, “Thanks. You know the LT lied to the Commander and now his integrity is compromised. I’ll be hard for the Commander to trust him again. What if it was something else? How’s the Commander to know if his Lieutenant isn’t lying to him? How’s he to trust him?” Spence agreed. It was nice to know that I had a follower, one that believed in me, one that would perhaps follow me.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


We should’ve taken the opportunity to get breakfast when we had the chance. Last time I was hoping we would get lucky but it didn’t turn out that way. We didn’t get to eat. This morning the opportunity came up again to get some breakfast before we went out on mission. We made the mistake and took our chances again. I think it’ll be the last time, if we’re hungry or not.

Our missions weren’t too bad today. There have been a few changes since T-Rex has gone on leave. I’m sure we’ll be getting mixed around everywhere now that he’s gone. We’ll probably have different drivers or they may move me to different teams once in a while. It’s not bad, we’re mostly compatible and it’s nice to have a change once in a while.

I finished reading ‘Path of the Assassin’ last week. I enjoyed it. I started reading ‘State of the Union’. It’s the follow up in the series. So far it’s pretty interesting. The main character, Scot Harvath, has been captured and I can’t wait to see what happens next. In ‘Path of the Assassin’ of course, Scot saves the day and keeps the world from spiraling into war.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

A Drive in the Country

It was weird. For the first time since I’ve been here it’s seemed peaceful. I don’t know why that was. We went pretty far today too. We went all the way to Balad, about 60 miles north of Baghdad. But for some reason, I started to feel at home. What I mean by that is that there wasn’t a worry on my mind. Maybe this is the complacency they talk about. But it did seem like things were relatively calm everywhere we went.

Another thing that got my mind was that most businesses were closed today. I know it’s not their holy day. The Muslim holy day is usually on Fridays. But today seemed like Christmas Day back home. Hardly anyone was out and those that were seemed pretty content. I could just sense it. I got more waves than fingers today. In fact the only finger we got was from some other unit that was flipping us off. I think it was because we took up so much of that narrow road. I thought it was funny. Fobbit and The Colonel didn’t see the guy flip us off as the patrol passed us.

The reason I titled this post ‘A Drive In The Country’ is because that’s what the Colonel said as we were leaving Balad. I think he was right. It was quiet and even though it was hot, it seemed nice. The drive was peaceful.

Friday, July 14, 2006

About Yesterday

While I was talking with the 1st Sergeant yesterday he told me to start doing some follow-ups. He told me to ask questions. I know I could but it would be easier if I knew what to ask questions about. He suggested that I let The Colonel know where I’m going just incase there was somewhere else I needed to be. He said that I should ask questions that suggest if there was anything I should know about like, “I’m going to the gym, is there anything coming up that I should know about.”

Well, today I felt like kicking myself in the butt. I was in the chow hall during lunch and I noticed something odd. There was hardly anyone from my unit in the chow hall. I thought it was weird. I ate and started seeing guys later on. As I left one of the Sergeants from the unit stopped me. He said, “Why weren’t you at the NCOPD.” That’s Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development. “When was it? Where was it at?” I asked. He told me and again, I was a little upset. I got over it quickly but it was one of those things that I had told 1st Sergeant yesterday. I think there’s a communication breakdown and I’m not getting informed.

I remembered telling him about the communication barrier that’s there. But then I remembered what he told me too, about asking questions. I actually did know about the NCOPD today because the 1st Sergeant told me yesterday when I was chatting with him. Maybe I should’ve asked The Colonel some questions since I already knew that it was today. I just didn’t know what time and where. I have to get into the habit of getting more information.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Pissed Off

Again, my team leader has pissed me off. I’m not too happy. I feel like this marriage is about to end in divorce. Just kidding! But I was angry. Last night I was here in the internet trailer when T-Rex, our driver walks in. He says, “Hey, you have to move that ammo can out of the front.” We had to clear and empty the Humvee since it’s getting an upgrade tomorrow. I had already gone out earlier and grabbed all of my gear and some of the sensitive items. I didn’t know or think that the ammo had to be taken out too. It was just one case. T-Rex had come all the way from the parking lot to tell me about the case of ammo. I was busy on the computer using the internet. The thought had come to my mind of why he just didn’t put it in the back of the Humvee himself. He had to waste his time to come all the way over here to tell me when he could’ve taken care of it himself.

So I told him, “Well, just get that case of ammo and put it in the back.” It’s not that hard to do. Five minutes later The Colonel, my team leader, walks in and says I have to go out there and move that ammo. I was a little upset. He said he wanted me to go out there and move it. So I said ok and I logged off the computer. I left the internet trailer and walked out to the lot to the Humvee. On the way I stopped The Colonel going into his room. I wanted to talk to him again and explain to him why I wanted T-Rex to do it. The Colonel started off by saying that I had an attitude. I told him, “Well, I’m trying to explain myself.” I started to explain to him that it wasn’t hard task for T-Rex to do. It was simply moving the case out of the front and putting it in the trunk of the Humvee. I didn’t see any need for me to log off the computer, go out there when T-Rex was already going out there, and moving a case of ammo. He then said it was my job. I told him that I didn’t know that the case of ammo had to be put away. I was assuming only the 5.56 ammo and not the .50 cal ammo. Besides, there was only one case.

So after getting frustrated and knowing that the conversation was going nowhere I told him alright and thanks. I wasn’t being sarcastic with the remarks. I honestly thanked him for his time but it was of no help. I was pissed off. Then, as I was walking out there, T-Rex starts driving off towards the motor pool. That made me even angrier. Now I had to walk even farther all the way down to the motor pool.

I about had it so I went to talk to the Lieutenant, the Platoon Leader. It was a good talk but it wasn’t too helpful. He listened and understood but when I left I was still frustrated. We really didn’t solve any problems. He said to wait until tomorrow and talk with him after I’ve calmed down. I knew it wouldn’t work but I was willing to give it a try.

Later that night I had a talk with my roommate. We usually have these deep discussions. I wanted to let him know what happened and get his point of view and his opinions. Immediately he said that T-Rex has to be put into check. That I have to have a counseling statement ready for him and counsel him on insubordination. He said that T-Rex knows my weakness and exploits it like a little kid does to try to get his way with things. The way T-Rex does it is when I give him a task, such as this one, he’ll run and cry to The Colonel about it. The Big Man, my roommate, also said that if the ammo is my job then Humvee maintenance and the radios aren’t my job. The Colonel, like last night came to me afterwards. I feel like my authority is being undermined and my rank is being degraded. That’s just the way I feel.

So I went to talk to The Colonel today after lunch. I didn’t want to get upset or angry during our conversation so I figured I’d take care of my stomach first. I went to his room and asked if we could talk. He invited me in and I sat down. I didn’t want to go over what happened last night because he already knew about it. So I expressed the fact that I am not happy and very pissed off. He could like it or not, I don’t care. I think he should know how I feel. When I thought about it I was thinking I sound like a spouse telling my significant other about a marriage. It’s something I guess would be said, “I’m not happy.”

I told him that I felt my authority was being undermined and that my rank was being degraded. He asked how he was undermining my authority and I explained why I thought that. I also told him that if it’s my job to take care of the ammo and the weapon then I’m not going to touch the truck or those radios because they’re not part of my responsibility. He didn’t like that but I told him if we’re going to play this game of whose job is who then I’m just doing the gun and ammo. He told me not to tell him what to do. That was fine. I didn’t know how to explain it to him without offending him. That’s the thing about the Army; they want us to use tact when speaking to superiors. If this were a job I would’ve quit already. Not because of the Army but because of who I have to work with.

So, again, after knowing I was getting nowhere and it was not a productive conversation I told him alright and that I was going to go to the 1st Sergeant. I about had enough and it was time to gripe to him. It was a last resort for me but there was no other choice. I was hoping that we could work out our differences but we couldn’t come to an agreement because he wants it his way. I think decisions should be mutual like in a marriage.

So I went to the TOC to see the 1st Sergeant. I wasn’t going to wait. I already knew beforehand that the conversation with The Colonel wasn’t going to work. Luckily the 1st Sergeant was there. Good! I’m lucky! So I know on his doorway and ask, “Can we chat 1st Sergeant?” “Sure come on in!” He says. I go in he tells me to have a seat and I sit down. We have a conversation that is very productive. I find the opportunity to let out all my gripes that have been accumulating over that past several of months. I let out all of those bad instances that have happened over time. I express my thoughts and opinions on what I thought of past situations. The 1st Sergeant listens to it all and he understands, I think. He took some notes and he came up with some suggestions. I felt better and I’m sure he’ll have a talk with The Colonel. I didn’t expect him to manage our situation, only be aware of our relationship.

It’s great how some of these senior NCOs really know how to talk and listen. I think they should be to handle problems like this. I know I’m not the only one and he told me so as well. It’s about dealing with human relations. It’s everywhere and everyone has to deal with them. Its how we deal with them that determines the outcome.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Lost Joes

We’ve lost some Joes. Not to any fatalities, Thank God. We’ve lost one in our platoon back in March. He went home because of a death in his immediate family that caused a hardship. He was taken off the mission. There were others that have been taken off mission and sent home because of hardships. It’s not easy managing a family and completing this mission over here. Hardships are common with every company and it should be expected to lose a few Joes here and there. I’m sure the Army already recognizes this. Just last week we lost another Joe that went home on emergency leave. The good thing is that he should be back to join us after things are taken care of back home.

About three weeks ago we lost a soldier because his hand got cut. He was trying to remove some straps with some kind of saw, so I heard. He sliced his hand and almost lost his finger. I heard that he was taken to the hospital here in Baghdad for surgery. He’s lucky he didn’t lose his finger but I don’t think it matters anyway. I heard he’s done some permanent nerve damage to his index finger. I hate to point the blame on him for not being more careful around that saw. Its accidents like this that causes us the most injuries. He was sent to Germany for extended medical care. From there I’m sure he was sent home. He doesn’t get to complete the mission and come back home with the rest of us.

I’ve almost had a few accidents myself. I have to be more careful when I’m on top of the Humvee. I’ve lost my balance more than once but have never fallen. There have only been two close calls that I know of. I know that if I fall it’s not going to be good, especially if I land on my back or butt. I try to be as careful as I can and remember what they told me back in Air Assault School, to make sure I have three points of contact at all times. That means I have at least both feet and on hand on the Humvee at all times.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Typical Day

There’s not much to say about today. I’m glad we didn’t have to go to the IZ this morning. I didn’t feel like riding around everywhere. I was tired and we got up real early. I wasn’t in the mood to make it a long day. Our day started before the sun got up. That’s the way it typically is in the Army.

I had a young gunner today. He’s a pretty good kid. He sure has turned around from when I first met him. We call him Sess but that’s not his actual name. He’s very fit and athletic, likes combatives, and listens and sings rap music. It’s funny because he’ll be mouthing off some rap while he’s in the turret and sometimes I think he’s saying something. It’s until I realize that he’s not trying to communicate something, he’s singing.

As for the day, it was pretty calm, there was no action, and it was hot. There was a dust storm that came through in the morning. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me or I would’ve taken some photos.

Monday, July 10, 2006


There’s not much to say about today. Everything went pretty smooth. Nothing really happened today. I guess I like it on days like this. We’re all getting into our routine and we all know what to do. We’re all working on the same sheet of music and everything works along fine. There was in the wrong place at the wrong time this morning. I don’t know why but the PL asked me to show up for T-Rex’s award ceremony. He was getting his CAB. The LT and I are still due ours.

Well, since we were already dressed and up in the morning they decided to send us out at the last minute. So I had to hurry up and get my gear and get the truck to the gate. It wasn’t what I had planned. Actually, I had planned on getting online to chat with my wife.

After that, when we got back, the LT asked me to help him tape body fat on those of us that are over weight. Great! How did I get sucked up into this shit? Well, I hope he remembers this later. We taped the guys that needed to be taped and I headed back to my room. That’s when my roommate told me that The Colonel, my squad leader, came by looking for me. He wanted me to go down to the arms room and clean and check our MK19. Do we even have one? I guess we do. I don’t know why, we never use it. I’m not even qualified to use a MK19. I don’t even know how to take the thing apart. I’ve done it before but I forgot how to do that.

Well, anyway, I avoided him all afternoon. I wasn’t in the mood to clean a weapon. I was tired, I didn’t eat lunch, and I knew that we were going back out in the afternoon. I preferred to take a nap.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Communication Problems

I don’t know if it’s just me or what. It just seems that word doesn’t get communicated around here. Well, I’m glad I had the opportunity have dinner with the Platoon Sergeant today. It gave me the opportunity to let some things out. Dinner always does seem to be the best time to chat. I don’t know why. I didn’t get to everything that was on my mind, I didn’t want to overload the table. I mainly brought up the issue with communication problems. We sometimes didn’t get orders or instructions. The other day I was supposed to order uniform patches online and wasn’t notified until the deadline.

We went to the IZ again this morning. On the way out the gate again I heard an explosion. I think it was more of a mortar round this time. It was either that or a bomb. It exploded in a village to our left as we were going out. Again, a cloud of grey smoke rose into the air. It was nothing significant and it did not interfere with any of our operations.

I was dead tired this afternoon. I got back to the crib around 1430 hours. It was an early day and I was glad. I previewed a few Hadji DVDs that I bought in the IZ. I was planning on going to the gym to do a little work out but my body was telling me to rest. My roommate was watching a movie at the time so I just laid back in my bed and took a nap. Around 1730 the Platoon Sergeant was banging on my door. He wanted me to help him with the PT (Physical Training) test records. Oh great, more work. I figured I’d help the guy out since he’s not that computer savvy.

We went to chow first and then, afterwards, I spent a good 90 minutes in his room inputting scores into his laptop. I wasn’t happy about it but I wasn’t about to voice my opinion. I’d rather be watching a movie, reading a book, or posting this blog.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

PT Test

We had to take a PT test this morning. I was in charge of coordinating and running the event. The bad thing was that I also had to do it. It wasn’t hard to run the PT test and take part in it at the same time. I actually did pretty good, scoring around 268 points. That’s not too bad. The max score is 300 and the minimum to pass is 180 with 60 points in each event. The minimum number of points in each event is 60 and the PT test is made up of push-ups, sit-ups, and a 2-mile run. The points depend on your age and gender.

I was second best of those of us that took the PT test today. There wasn’t too many of us, just six. I was a little impressed with how I performed. I did 67 push-ups, 78 sit-ups, and ran 2-miles in 14 minutes and 05 seconds. That’s not too bad for a 31, well almost 32, year-old like me.
I tried to race to the chow hall afterwards to make it in time for breakfast. I was hoping that the mess hall would still be open when we finished. All that strenuous activity caused me to get hungry. I ate a heavy breakfast, ham and cheese omelet, hash browns, bacon, and orange juice. It wasn’t what I typically eat for breakfast but I figured I’d binge after a good outcome. It was my reward. I did regret it later when my stomach was punishing me for what I ate. I knew I ate too much and too unhealthy. So I ended up skipping lunch so my stomach could digest all that greasy food.I got so tired after that PT test too. I don’t know why it happens but every time I do it I feel so relaxed and tired afterwards. I tried taking a nap until my roommate came over from lunch and started cleaning the room. I guess it was time for a GI party. We haven’t thoroughly cleaned our room since we moved in. We moved furniture, swept dust bunnies and dirt, and mopped the floor. We also cleaned out and wiped our mini-fridge and wiped the walls. The place was filthy and it was time for a good cleaning.
This evening we had a platoon barbeque. It was nothing spectacular and I really wasn’t in the mood for attending. I don’t know why. I just wasn’t in the mood. I didn’t feel like socializing or eating. Maybe I’m getting sick of these people or maybe I’m getting tired of them. Maybe it was the fact that it was a mandatory thing. Perhaps I’d join if they invited whoever wanted to show up.

Friday, July 07, 2006


I had to go sick call today because of a tooth that’s been causing pain for weeks now. I thought the pain would go away but it never did. It’s a problem with one of my molars. I get pain whenever I eat hot or cold foods. So I finally decided to have it checked out. Since today was a maintenance day I thought it was the perfect opportunity to do maintenance on my tooth.

I had to get a sick call slip from our operations center before I went over to the medical clinic. I guess I can’t just walk right in during sick call hours. Maybe they want to make sure company medics could try and fix the problem first. I knew this is nothing the company medics would be able to handle. I had to see a dentist.

When I got there I was given a number and told to have a seat. I didn’t have to wait too long, thank God. I started wishing I had brought my book to read while I waited. They were playing Star Wars Episode I on the TV and I found it boring. I’ve seen that movie many times and I’ve never liked it. It only took a few minutes before they called me. I wondered what the other people waiting before me were thinking. “How did he get in so quick?”

I was escorted to the back of the clinic and told to fill out a questionnaire. It was a typical dental questionnaire that asked if I was allergic to any medications and if I had any changes to my health recently. I didn’t have to wait long for the dentist either. In fact, I think I was his first and only patient of the day. I could tell by remarks that other medics made in the hallway, “You got one!”

They did an x-ray and I had to get my old filling taken out. He replaced it with a composite filling. It was like a quick fix and he wanted to see if the size of the filling was causing the problem. If I still have pain in a couple of weeks I’ll have to go back for a root canal.

The picture above is from the sign that’s posted outside the clinic. It’s named after Specialist Michelle Marie Witmer. She was a Guardsman, like me, from Wisconsin that was killed during a patrol here in Baghdad about two years ago. The clinic is named after her.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Again it happened. This morning we got hit by and IED. It happened in central Baghdad of all places. These insurgents are ruthless and will go to any means necessary, even if it means killing bystanders. That wasn’t too much on my mind at the time. In fact, the IED wasn’t too much on my mind either, weird. Are we becoming desensitized? Most of us acted like it was nothing. If this was our first week here we would’ve been freaking out, yelling, and loosing control.

We were heading back to base this morning when it happened. I heard a loud BOOM! At first I thought it was elsewhere in the city. I’ve here explosions all over from time to time and we just keep going about our business as if nothing happened. I turned around to look and see that there was black and grey smoke billowing from the side of the road. It was a big one. “IED! IED!” I yelled. I have noticed that we are a lot calmer now. We don’t lose control and start panicking. Everything remains in order and we seem to be in control and we also look like professionals. An IED, oh, it’s nothing. It almost seems like it nowadays. Heck, when we first got here an IED would cause gossip around the company. Now we don't even mention it.

I guess it’s like thunder and lighting when you’re a kid. When you’re little you’re scared of it and don’t know what it is. As you get older it’s just nothing new.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned what it is. I guess I’ll take the opportunity to mention what a Fobbit is. The name Fobbit partly comes from Hobbit, as in the Lord of The Rings trilogy. Hobbits were the short little men that walked barefoot everywhere. They usually kept to their little village and hardly ever went anywhere else. The other part of the word Fobbit comes from the word FOB which is an abbreviation that we use a lot around here. FOB is the abbreviation for Forward Operating Base. So when we refer to a Fobbit we mean a person, usually a soldier that never leaves the FOB.

Today was mostly sunny with lots of wind gusts. It wasn’t too bad but bad enough to blow the dust around from time to time. I really wouldn’t say that we had a dust storm today. I know what a dust storm is and what we had today was far from it. It’s nothing like this time of year in Phoenix when the Haboobs start kicking in.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Independence Day

No firework show over here. It’s just another day. I’m sure the 4th was on all of our minds though. But mainly, it was just like any other day.

I bought a soccer ball when we went to the IZ. I planned on throwing it out to the kids. I know they were asking for one because when we drive by them they yell, “Football! Football!” while make kicking motions with their hands and legs. When we drove by them I raised my hand to show them the soccer ball. They’re eyes lit up and joy filled their faces. They were eager to fight over the ball, which they did. I threw it out and it went right beside this 9 year old girl. That’s when this 11 or 12 year old boy ran over to her and tackled her. They started fighting over it. There was a little dust cloud in the air and they wrestled to the ground. I didn’t get to see who actually got the ball because we drove off but it’s a good bet the boy got it. I don’t think it matters because women aren’t allowed to play soccer over here. They’re like second class citizens.

This afternoon the PL rode with us. On the way back to or camp I played a trick on him. I thought it was funny. He was sitting in the back of our truck when I noticed that his head was tilted back. I couldn’t see his eyes since he was wearing some dark tinted shades. I figured he fell asleep so I passed my hand in front of his face. “Only two seconds!” He says. He meant that he was only closing his eyes for two seconds. Yeah right! Sure! He was knocked out. I started giggling after that.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Fourth of July Weekend

It’s doesn’t seem like a weekend over here. Every day seems the same. We don’t have weekends off. We don’t know what a Saturday or Sunday is anymore. They’re just like any other day of the week. There will be no firework display here. We won’t be at the park with our families, eating hotdogs and watching the fireworks.

Tomorrow will probably begin like any other day. We’ll go out the wire and complete our mission. Hopefully we won’t hear any bangs. For us it’ll be just like any other day. I’m sure none of us will forget what day it is.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Crazy Drivers

I hate it when we switch out drivers. It’s another drivers driving that I have to get used to. Today we had this Staff Sergeant driving that made turns that were too fast. Plus he drove really fast, which in some ways is good, but he did it on bad roads. So I ended up getting thrown around in the Humvee. Not only that, there were a few times when I thought we were going to roll over. He took turns just too sharp and fast. There was one point where I had to get down and hold on.

Another thing was that he missed a few turns. The problem was he didn’t know the route. He also thought that we were going to a different building than the one we were actually supposed to go to. I think it was a lack of communication between the SSG T and the Colonel. That’s the problem with the Colonel. He doesn’t make sure his subordinates understand the mission, what, when, where, why and how.

So, last night this terp asked me for help with his computer. Big mistake. He must think I work for HP or something. I don’t want to ask him for money and I wouldn’t accept it if he offered. I just hate the fact that I try to help him out and he keeps on being persistent. I think it’s just in his nature. It sort of makes me sorry I even opened my mouth. The problem he’s having is with his wireless card. His English isn’t that great and he’s not too computer savvy.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Middle of The Summer

Well, how can I describe the month of June? It was hot, dry, clear, and sunny. The hottest it got was somewhere around 117 degrees. I’d say the average high was around 113. We’ve all worn out, mostly because of the sun. Boy that sun really puts some wear on us. It doesn’t help with all the gear that we have on. It would be nice if we could go out with shorts and t-shirts. Then it’d really be cool.

As for the guys, they’re getting worn out. I think it’s because of the heat mostly. Our job isn’t too hard. I, myself, hate waking up early in the morning. Another thing is being out in the early afternoon. I hate dealing with the unbearable heat. The evenings are really, really pleasant. They’re almost nice. The sun usually rises around 0600 hours here and doesn’t set until about 2000 hours. So you could see it makes for a really long day.
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