Saturday, September 30, 2006

Empty Streets

I’m stuffed. I don’t know why I ate so much dinner but I did. That’s ok I guess. I’ll just have to work it off tomorrow. These workouts are going to be worthless if I don’t stop eating. Maybe it’s an eating disorder or something. I don’t know. It doesn’t help when all my roommate, The Big Man, does is eat. Right now he’s pushing around 280lbs. That’s what I weigh plus another 100 pounds.

Today’s mission wasn’t bad. It was a simple one. All we had to do was pick up the Captain and his Lieutenants in the IZ. They got to get a little R&R at the makeshift resort camp that’s in the IZ. I think they deserve it but I also think that we all deserve it. That’s ok though, I’m kicking it at my camp anyway.

There was another traffic curfew in Baghdad today. There were no cars on the roads. It kind of weird and kind of like watching those zombie movies where no one is on the streets. Some places of the city seemed deserted. That’s ok though. I like riding out in the city when there are no cars or people to worry about. That means there’s hardly anyone to watch on the streets. I guess I’d compare it to a cop policing a city with no cars or pedestrians on the street. It’d make for an easy day on the job. If I had my way everyday would be a curfew day, I’d ban all vehicles, and no one would be allowed out at night.

Friday, September 29, 2006

A Drill

Maybe it’s short-timers disease. I’m almost like my roommate. I don’t feel like doing anything. Even an easy mission sounds daunting at times. Well, I didn’t have to worry too much this morning. We were getting ready to go to the IZ. I had got up an hour before link up like I usually do. In the mornings when I get up I brush my teeth and shave my face. I got dressed and had some cereal from my little stash of food and snacks. I didn’t make it in time for chow this morning so I had to eat whatever I had in my room.

I got all my shit on and carried everything including my .50 cal out to the truck. It was going to be the first time we were ever going to take out the new Humvee. T-Rex still had problems setting up the new radios but he’s learning. I’ll try to see how they operate them at a later time. We were already getting set to leave when this Sergeant from the unit comes out and tells us that the mission has been canceled. It’s funny because then The Colonel started saying that it was a drill. We were too slow and we would have to do it again tomorrow.

I don’t know what happened to me this afternoon. I just felt so drowsy all of a sudden. I ended up napping all afternoon. I woke up around 1730 and felt like getting off my ass. I didn’t want to waste the day sleeping. I had to do something. I went to the gym to do a short workout and to dinner afterwards.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A New Humvee

Why I ask? I don’t know why? Why now? Am I complaining? Not really. It would’ve been nice to have one earlier but now that we’re short time it really doesn’t matter. I guess it’ll make it that much more enjoyable. We could go out on our last few missions in a brand new Humvee.

There are some differences between the new Humvee and the one we had before. For starters, everything is new. The seats inside were still wrapped in plastic and it smelled just like a new car. The paint inside was green and dark, without a mark of dirt or dust. The way the A/C is set up is a little different as well. The new truck also uses a different model of radios that we haven’t used before. The turret hasn’t changed that much and is pretty much like the normal style turrets, not the turtle shell type.

We spent this afternoon switching all our gear from our old Humvee to the new one. We’ll be taking the new truck out for a spin tomorrow. I’ll post some pictures of it soon.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Getting Ready

I feel sick. I don’t know why. It’s not too bad though. I’m just feeling a little light headed and it seems like a headache. It’s really mild. I think I’ll feel better after I have some dinner tonight.

We had a very easy mission today. Anytime we go to the IZ it’s pretty much a simple trip. It takes us longer to get everyone ready than it takes us to get to the IZ. We have to make sure we have everything and all the checks are done. We have to check our radios to make sure they work. We usually make sure we have enough fuel and all the equipment that we’re going to need for our trip. And we make sure we have plenty of Gatorades and water to drink.

We’ll stop before we leave the camp and get some ice for the ice chest. We hate to go without having cold drinks for the drive. It’s not like there’s a Circle K or 7-Eleven on every corner over here. I make sure I have everything I need like my gloves, goggles, and earplugs. It would get loud if I have to fire my weapon and I don’t want to go deaf.

The weather here is becoming nicer. It did get a little hot again earlier this week but its seemed to cool back down. Maybe there was some high pressure or something. It’s still been dry and it hasn’t rained here since April. The days are getting shorter too. I’m not sure when the sun rises since I don’t get up that early anymore. The sun usually sets around 1900 hours.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Misplaced Equipment

I thought I lost my stuff. It got really busy this afternoon. We really didn’t do anything this morning. It does feel like our time is getting short now. That’s because we’re starting to turn in some of our equipment. For example, yesterday I had to turn in my .50 cal. I don’t know why I had to turn it in because we’re not done with our missions yet. I’ll still need it. This afternoon I was told we’re turning in our chemical/biological suit. I was happy to hear that since I wanted to get rid of it. I didn’t want to be responsible for it anymore if it was lost or stolen.

Well, I just happened to misplace it. I thought it was in the job chest in my room but it wasn’t there. That’s when I got worried. I couldn’t remember where it was. I thought it was in the chest and I couldn’t think of any place it would be besides there and the Humvee. I just don’t remember putting it in the Humvee. I’m like that sometimes. I’ll put something away and then after time forget where I put it. That happens especially if I don’t see it for a while.

I started getting a little worried so I went to the supply sergeant to make sure it wasn’t turned in already. He told me that none of the chem. suits had been turned in yet. I was really getting worried and I was hoping I didn’t loose it. I’d hate to have to pay for a suit out of my pocket. I’d hate to have to spend my money on lost equipment. So then I went and checked the back of the Humvee and there it was. The whole suit was still in it’s wrapping, all covered in dust. Good! Whew! I felt relieved. I also grabbed the SAW barrel while I was in back of the Humvee. I had to turn that in too.

This late afternoon we had a formation in ACUs. That’s the new Army Combat Uniform that the Army just came out with. We had problems getting our trouser issues back home because of shortages in supply. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been getting my new uniforms ready for wear. I’ve made sure that I’ve had all the patches and rank that I need to wear on the uniform. It’s been ready to go for a couple of weeks and today it was time to show it off. I’m glad that our 1st Sergeant has been able to get us out of wearing those uniforms until we leave. We’ll all be able to go home wearing brand new uniforms, which will be nice.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Money's Worth

It was a day for busting my ass. Last night The Colonel told me that I’d be taking the truck to the motor pool to get the ‘A’ Service. That’s where they lube it all up and change all the fluids.

I gave Heavy D a hand while he went through all the checks and services. I replaced a worn tire and the air filter. He drained all the oil and placed a new filter. I filled the engine with oil. We replaced the power steering reservoir since the seal was bad and there was a leak. It was a pain in the ass getting the old one out and replacing the new one. That’s mainly because one of the bolts was hard to reach. We also replaced the gasket on the transmission since there was a leak there too. That was a pain in the ass because it got really messy. There was transmission fluid draining everywhere.

Not only was it taking me all day but also around 1530 hours I was told by T-Rex that I had to turn in my .50 cal. Great I thought. It’s just one thing after another. I wish I could’ve turned it in as is but I knew I had to clean it up. I wasn’t going to do a through clean up since I heard that armor was simply taking them in. I just wanted to wipe it down and turn it into the arms room as soon as possible. I didn’t feel like messing with it and was already tired from servicing everything on the truck already.

So, now it’s 1800 hours and I’m done. I am not going to the gym today like planned earlier. I guess the transmission and power steering service wasn’t planned either but Heavy D, the mechanic, wanted to change it since there was a leak. I’m done. I’m going to eat dinner, take a shower, and freaking relax.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Cleveland Cavalier Girls

We got back from Ramadi yesterday afternoon. I was hoping we wouldn’t have to spend the night and sleep in the transient barracks there. It’s not that I don’t mind staying there. Last time we spent the night there was just about the best time I’ve ever had in Iraq. I don’t know what it was but I had so much fun playing board games with a bunch of strangers from Louisiana.

I was tired because I couldn’t sleep at all the night before for some reason. I was tossing and turning until 0300 hours before I fell asleep. I had to get up at 0600 so I only had 3 hours of sleep. When I heard that we weren’t going to spend the night there I started making my plans. I had heard that the Cleveland Cavaliers cheerleaders were going to be in Baghdad and I didn’t want to miss it. That’s the biggest reason I didn’t want to stay in Ramadi. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see the girls.

The show didn’t start until 2000 hours. It was at the newly constructed gym that was just finished about 2 months ago. It’s a very nice gym and I was very impressed. It had wood flooring, side bleachers, and an electronic scoreboard on each end of the court. The Big Man and me grabbed a seat from some guys from second platoon. They were good seats because they were right at center court but unfortunately they weren’t at the front. We waited until 2030 before the cheerleaders came out. We were starting to wonder how long we’d have to wait.

The guys began drooling when they came out with their shiny cut off red tops and short black tights. All of the girls had huge smiles and they looked happy to perform for us. They did about 5 dance routines and in-between dances they did a little solo introduction. They would tell us a little about themselves while the rest of the cheerleaders went back to the dressing room to get dressed in another outfit. The girls had all kinds of outfits and my favorite was probably the one that plays homage to the Army. It was the classical Army WWII outfits with the pile cap, brown shirt, but they wore short shorts and tall boots. They looked very sexy.

Most of the girls were young and some were going to college. Others had interests in fields such as modeling and dance. After the performance they sat at tables to get pictures with the Joes and sign autographs. The audience was mostly filled with guys. We were all seemed happy to see them. And the line to get autographs was long.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Long Lost Friends

It’s really weird when I meet someone on this side of the world when I haven’t seen them in years. Today my team leader came knocking on my door telling me that the 1st Sergeant wanted to see me. I didn’t know whether that was a good thing or a bad thing. I couldn’t think of why he’d want to see me in his office. Just the sound of something like that doesn’t sound good. It could never be a good thing. The cool thing is the 1st SGT is a pretty cool guy. I asked my team leader if he knew what it was about and he didn’t know.

So I went to the TOC and sitting there in his office was one of my buddies I haven’t seen in a long time. That’s what it was all about. He had come by the unit to see whom he could find. I heard he was on our camp when another one of the Joes in the unit spotted him. It’s been a long time no see. I’ve been meaning to e-mail the guy and ask how he’s doing too.

Well, we spoke for a while and I got to know what he’s doing over here. He got here in July and is based out of Kuwait. He drives all the way up to Tikrit from time to time. He stops on one of the camps nearby too. We were trying to figure out where other guys we knew were. Most of the guys he knows from Arizona are here with me. That’s because he was in this unit. He didn’t see some of the guys he knew because of the fact that some of us are in Ramadi.

I took him out to dinner at Burger King and gave him a ride back to his camp where he’s staying, about a 25-minute drive from here. I had the opportunity to see another guy I haven’t seen in a long time. He’s doing fine too. All I could say is that we really lucked out with our mission here. We could be living like them, transients. He goes from camp to camp and really doesn’t have a home to go to. There home is a transient tent, like the one I sleep in at Ramadi. It was just a big tent filled with cots where a group of up to 14 guys share living space. That’s his life and that’s how he lives.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Afghanistan List

I can’t believe it. The other day they had a list going around looking for volunteers that want to go to Afghanistan. And we’re still here in Iraq. There are rumors that our unit is going to Afghanistan next year. Great, I thought. My kids will be all grown up by the time I get home. I guess I can’t complain much since I volunteered. But that’s right. Our unit is possibly getting deployed to Afghanistan next year. And what is my employer going to think? This is really going to put my career on hold. Maybe I should just go ahead and join the active duty Army. That way I don’t have to worry about my career when get home. The good thing is the pay is good. So I can’t complain there and the military benefits are among the best in the world.

I haven’t told my employer yet. I’m hoping she doesn’t get a heart attack when I do tell her. Most of the people in our unit did not list their name to go to Afghanistan. I think they feel the same way I do. I’m hoping I don’t get told because I’m not volunteering. I need to spend whatever time I have left with my boys. The cool thing about the Guard is that they’ll take volunteers before they take voluntolds. So, I’m hoping that there are a lot of volunteers back home or my stay there may be short lived. I’d like it better if they deployed me to the border. At least then I’d be in my home state of Arizona and I’d get to be with my family. I think that’s a good use of the National Guard, to guard our home country at home. That’s why it’s called the National Guard.

Sure I’d be happy to do it if I was single and didn’t have any kids. I’d be making bank over here. But my boys keep asking me when I’m coming home, the poor guys. Others have babies that were newborns when we left for this mission. They’ll miss all of those firsts before we get back home. It just goes with the job. There’s not much we could do.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Soldier Fun Night

I didn’t know until yesterday morning that we were going to spend the night in Ramadi. I knew we were going to Ramadi yesterday morning but I didn’t know we were going to spend the night there. I found out when I got to the Humvee this morning and the convoy commander said, “You know we’re going to spend the night there right?” I figured why the hell is he asking me? He should be telling me. So I told him no and that I’d have to get my sleeping bag and shaving kit.

The drive there wasn’t bad. I think I’m getting used to it. I like going there more then I like going to Balad. The road is more secluded and there seems to be hardly anyone out there. I guess it’s where most of the violence is taking place too, the Anbar Province. It wouldn’t seem that way driving out there but it doesn’t take long to look at the blast marks from IEDs past. There are bits and pieces of tires and car parts scattered along the road. The fresh marks are easy to spot by their dark black color. The older blast points have faded over time from dirt and dust.

I can’t believe how much fun I had last night. After dinner last night we settled at the MWR and transient barracks to spend the night. I wasn’t in the mood for watching a movie or football, playing video games, or reading a book. I ended up browsing the new copy of FHM in the small room library. The library is made up of a little room with a table, a couple couches back to back, and a wall lined with shelved books. On the table were a stack of magazines, mostly girl magazines, but the girl in a skimpy bikini caught my attention. That’s when I knew it had to be a men’s magazine. I flipped the pages and sure enough, it was. I was browsing through the FHM magazine when these guys from another unit walked in with a board game and seated at my table.

The set up a game of Scrabble and I began to watch. I never played before so I wanted to watch and learn how to play. It was simple and it didn’t take me long to learn how to play. It got to the point where they began to ask me if words like via and teddy were words. It was a good game and I enjoyed watching them play. I think the word that got the most points was squid. The guy that won seemed to be playing for the prize of winner. He seemed like he’d be a sore loser if he lost.

After the game the wanted to play Risk. They invited me to play but I was tempted not to. The only thing that kept me from saying no was the fact that I didn’t have to get up early in the morning. It turned out to be lots of fun and I was beginning to bond with strangers real quick. That’s the kind of guy I am sometimes. I end up making friends out of strangers real quick. There were five of us playing and we all started to gang up on this guy what was taking control of the whole game. The only way for us to beat him was to group together and attack him. He was pissed and didn’t think it was fair but we kept making the point that he was getting global domination and we couldn’t let that happen.

I was being sneaky about it though because while everyone was fighting him I was building up my Armies. It didn’t matter though because later in the game he battled all my forces and won. I ended up becoming the second player out of the game out of being one of the strongest. Oh well. It was still fun and I hope that the other guys beat him. I didn’t bother to stay and watch the outcome of the game. It was 0130 hours by the time I got knocked off and it was time for me to get to sleep.

I thanked the guys for letting me play and told them that I’d like to stay but couldn’t. There were some pretty cool guys and it reminded me of the best reasons to be in the Army, to be around some guys and just have a good time. Those memories of being together and having fun are my most memorable. The guys were active duty from Ft. Polk Louisiana.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Sleeping Giant

I’m getting a routine down at the gym. Now that I have some time I’ve been spending it getting a workout. I’d like to work harder and harder and I feel like my body is giving me that chance. There’s a 10-mile marathon coming up and I’ve thought about signing up. I’m not the best runner in the company but I’m up there with the top. Maybe if I’m motivated enough I’ll sign up. Just the thought of running 10 miles then having to go out on mission later doesn’t sound like fun. I’d like to get some sleep or rest afterwards.

I’m not sure if I mentioned this but my roommate got back the other day. He was so tired because he had been up all night. He found out at the last minute that his plane was flying out at 0200 hours. It actually didn’t leave until 0700 hours in the morning. He stayed up all night waiting to fly back here. He told me that pass wasn’t worth it. It made me feel better knowing that.

I came back from lunch yesterday to find him asleep. I figured he’d take a nap for a while. I went to the gym yesterday afternoon and came back to find him still in bed. Well, maybe it was an extended nap. I went to dinner, got him a take out just incase he woke up hungry, came back, and he was still sleeping. I thought he might wake up and be up all night. Maybe it's something like the jetlag we felt when we arrived here. Our biological clocks were all screwed up. The thing is I don’t think he left the time zone.

He ended up sleeping all night. I couldn’t believe it. He didn’t wake up until this morning when I woke up. He slept from about 1400 hours until 0730 hours. That’s about 17½ hours. Wow. I can’t even imagine doing that.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A Day Behind & A Day Ahead

It’s really weird watching football over here. I woke up this morning looking to see if my ASU Sun Devils had beat Colorado. I was happy to hear that they won. I wasn’t too surprised and I expected them to beat a struggling Buffalo team. I’m an ASU fan obviously so I have to keep up with the Sun Devils.

I saw highlights of other games like the Oregon/Oklahoma game and the Michigan/Notre Dame game over the internet. It’s really weird because I saw the end of the Oregon/Oklahoma game in the chow hall even though I new the outcome. That’s the way it seems over here. We find out who won what game before we even get to see the game. I wish I could see the future like this back home. If I did I’d be so rich from betting.

Of course the games back home are played at night. College Football games are played on Saturday night, Sunday morning. NFL games are played Sunday night, Monday Morning. There’s no thing as Monday Night Football over here. I like to call it Tuesday Morning Football.

I’d like to stay up and see some of the games but I just can’t. I usually just end up watching the replays on AFN. There is some good coming out of it. The games seem like they’re edited for time. Most of the commercials are cut out and the game seems to go at a faster pace. I could end up watching a football game over here within 90 minutes. The other day while at the gym I swear the West Virginia/Maryland game was on only for an hour.

Saturday, September 16, 2006


I wonder if we’ve gotten short timers attitude. My roommate said just the other day that we’re getting lazy. It seems like we all are getting lazy around here. No one is motivated to do anything anymore. It’s a change from when we first began this mission. Everyone seemed motivated and eager to get over here. We all trained hard and looked forward to coming overseas. Now we’re all ready to go home. I think just thinking about going home just makes it worse. Still, I can’t wait to take that flight out of here and go back to the other side of the world.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Countdown

It was another nice day today. It was hot but not like what we had to deal with during the summer heat. My roommate is probably on his second or third day of pass. So for now I still have the room to myself. Today was another maintenance day so I had to go take one of our extra Humvees to the motor pool. I washed it up and did a typical inspection of fluids like oil, transmission, power steering and brake. I inspected the tires and washed the whole truck.

We’re all looking forward to going home soon. When I first got here I never even considered counting the days. I started off by counting the months. There were some that had a day count, I wasn’t one of them. Now it’s getting down to weeks and I’m tempted to start counting down the days. It also helps with the weather getting cooler. It makes it feel as if summer is over and the season is changing. The sunrise and sunset is later and earlier in the day. The days are getting shorter and it finally seems like the end of our deployment is coming soon.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Almost a perfect day

We didn’t go out the wire so it gave me a chance to get a lot accomplished. I missed chow this morning so I ate some cereal and yogurt that was stored in my room. Afterwards I went to the MWR to get online to chat with the wife. We chatted for a little while. She was tired so we didn’t chat long. I sometimes forget that she has to get up early and get the kids ready for school.

I came back to my crib to get stuff a little organized. I organized my closet, fixed my bed, and cleaned up the room. The only thing I didn’t do is clean the carpet or sweep the floor. I left to drop off my laundry bag at the drop off. That’s about the best thing about being deployed; I don’t have to wash any clothing. Not only that, it’s free too. We just drop off our laundry and it’s ready for pickup in about 2 to 3 days. They wash, dry, and fold the clothes for me. The other great thing is the food.

I left for chow, had some chili-mac and some cucumber/tomato mix for lunch. Then I left for alterations. We’re going to wear ACUs pretty soon so I wanted to get my rank sown on my new headgear. When I got that done I came back to the crib, picked up my ACU trousers from supply, changed, and left for the gym.

I worked out for about two hours focusing on my biceps and triceps. I also did a cardio workout for 30 minutes and an abdominal workout for 30 minutes. Came back to the crib, changed, and left to chow with my buddy The Mongolian.

Besides getting a lot accomplished today it was also great because of the weather. Some might consider it hot. I considered the weather almost perfect today. I would say it was hot but after dealing with 115° degree heat, this feels like heaven.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

To Ramadi and Back

We got back from Ramadi today. We spent the night over there last night. Again, we slept in the transient barracks. The accommodations weren’t too bad; it’s just that it’s too damn cold in there. I think next time we spend the night there I’m going to look for the thermostat to turn the temperature up.

I would’ve taken some photos to post here but I let my roommate borrow my camera. He left yesterday on a pass out of the country and wanted to borrow my camera to take pictures. He has a camera himself but his battery broke. His camera is unlike mine, which takes double ‘A’ batteries. He has a unique style of rechargeable battery.

Well, while talking with the guys from the other half of my platoon I was able to get a little info on what was going on over there. Supposedly they were in a gunfight a couple of days ago. No one was hurt and I’m not sure if they got any kills. I didn’t have time to investigate the situation. I’ll try to get more details when we go back next time.

On the way back from Ramadi we ran into another cordon. This time an IED hit a local national, an Iraqi. Bombs don’t distinguish between different people. I felt sorry for this poor, innocent, bastard. He had a typical sedan that’s white with an orange hood and trunk. I heard that he died on impact and that the local IPs came to pick up his body. We had passed them on the road driving pretty fast in the opposite direction.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering 9/11

I was working the graveyard shift at the hospital that morning. It wasn’t going to be long before I got off work, about 7am. I was anticipating getting out of there and going home to get some sleep. My relief had walked in and she was getting some breakfast before she came on shift. While I was waiting around this middle aged black gentlemen comes up and tells me about a plane that crashed into a building. I didn’t think anything of it at the time. Planes crash all the time and this one just happened to crash into a building. I wonder why that happened. Did the pilot not see where he was going? I brushed it off as a freak accident and paid little attention to the man. He left to the main lobby of the hospital to view the news on the big screen television while I continued to wait for the clock to hit 7am.He then came rushing back to spread the news that another plane had hit the other World Trade Center. What? I thought. What the heck? That’s when I left my office, clocked out, and went to see the big screen in the main lobby. There it was, clouds of smoke rising from both towers of the WTC. That’s when I immediately realized it was no accident. This was a terrorist attack. Oh man, this is bad I thought. I went to tell my relief about the incident before I left home. Instead of going home I decided to go to my Mom’s house to tell her about the news. This was bad and I wanted to see if she was watching the morning news. I knew she would barely be waking up so she wouldn’t know about it until she either turned on the television or someone told her.

While driving home I listened to the news-talk radio. All plane crashes in New York were the talk of the radio. I listened as reporters described the event and try to piece together any clues as to why this had happened. I got to my Mom’s house early in the morning when they were barely getting up. My wife was at work at the time and there was no way for me to call her. When my Mom answered the door I made my way in and turned on the television. My Dad was already making breakfast but hadn’t turned on the television or radio. There were stood and watched as the twin towers of the World Trade Center topped off in smoke. The news showed people waving from the upper floors of the buildings and some jumping. People were screaming everywhere and it seemed like mass hysteria.

I called my buddy in Mesa to tell him about the news. He answered the phone and said that he was about to call me. He was watching it on television too. “Who do you think did this?” He said. “I think it was the Palestinians,” I said. That was my first guess at the time. I figured it was either the Palestinians or terrorists from Palestine. They have no love for the USA so it wouldn’t surprise me.Then came the news of another plane crash into the Pentagon. Oh yeah, we’re under attack, I thought. The news on the third plane crash was new and the information was barely coming in. The news wasn’t accurate and a little vague but they started showing live feeds of the Pentagon on fire. My parents, siblings, and myself continued to watch as reports of another plane crashed in Pennsylvania. The news reported that it crashed into a field. What the heck is going on, I thought again.

We watched as the twin towers were engulfed in fire and smoke. Then the unthinkable happened. One of the twin towers began to collapse. Oh no! This can’t be, I thought. I couldn’t believe a monumental building like that could be collapsing from a fire. I assumed that there were still people inside while it was falling. I knew it would be too late for some of them. That’s when the grief and rage began to hit me. My parents and me were all in shock. We couldn’t believe what was happening. The skyline covered in gray ash and smoke and nothing seemed visible. The news anchors and newscasters seemed to be as shocked as we were. They described the events exactly the way they unfolded.

We were all in shock when suddenly the second tower began to collapse. That’s when I realized that the New York City skyline would be forever changed. My grief was overcome with anger and rage. Whoever did this would pay for what they’ve done. I left my parents and drove home afterwards. When I got home I went into a chat room and began chatting with all sorts of people that spoke of hate, grief, rage, and assumptions. I wanted to get a feel and communicate with others about the situation. I also had to get some rest since it was already past noon at the time. I knew I would only get a few nights sleep before having to go back to work at night.

There was another sense that overcame me besides the grief and rage I felt at the time. It was something I’ve never felt before in my life. It was a powerful feeling and it just occurred as if I had just woken up from a sleep. Suddenly I started seeing colors in my head, red, white, and blue. It was a feeling of unity. Where did this come from? What the heck is this? A sense of patriotism overcame me. I’ve never felt this way before.The next day I noticed flags popping up everywhere. As the days went by we were all in grief but there was also a sense of unity and patriotism. I took part by displaying Old Glory on the corner of my garage and a newspaper photo of the flag on my window. On the newspaper insert is said, “United We Stand.” I think it was true. For once, we all seemed to put our differences aside and come together. Flags were flying from cars, hanging from freeway overpasses, and waving from everywhere. I’ve never seen Phoenix that way in my life. Although all the events occurred on the east coast we still felt the pain. Out of all the pain and terror came something good, patriotism, unity, and faith. Suddenly the words where heard and said everywhere, “God Bless America.”

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Pass

The weather is getting cooler. It’s still hot during the afternoon but bearable. The mornings and evenings are quite nice. The weather reminds me of the weather back home in Phoenix this time of year. Sure it’s still hot during the day but the evenings and mornings are more pleasant. It still hasn’t rained in months here. It’s a difference from Phoenix, which would be ending its monsoon season pretty soon. I’m just glad it hasn’t rained here. I can’t stand working in this mud. I’d rather go a whole year here without any rain whatsoever.

We went to one of the camp today that is a makeshift resort for some in the area to get away. I guess the big deal is that they have an Olympic size swimming pool there. I’ve also heard that there are private rooms as well. I don’t know what other amenities are available for the Joes. I’m sure they don’t have a casino or serve alcohol. A lot of guys like it because it just gives them a chance to get away from everyone and everything. It’s a local pass they get here in Baghdad.

There are others that get a pass to fly out of the country for a few days to an undisclosed location. I hear that the guys there get to wear civilian clothing and alcohol is served. It also sounds like a more entertaining place to be. I’ve gotten tired of hearing about people getting passes though. I especially heard it from my roommate up until now. He’s heard that he’s getting a pass out of the country. Lucky him. He used to bitch and complain about it all the time. “I don’t know why they’re getting a pass if they just got back from leave.” Or it’d be vice-versa and he’d say, “They’re getting a pass and they go on leave next month!” Well I guess now he has no right to talk since he’s getting a pass.

I was trying to fight for a pass for myself but I gave up. It doesn’t matter anymore and with us having almost no mission, I consider myself having the ‘crib pass’. Yeah I use to hit to my squad leader and inquire how people get a pass. That didn’t work. I guess he didn’t get the hint. So then I went ahead and faced the platoon sergeant about it. I told him that I’ve done the most missions in the whole platoon and I haven’t had leave since I went home in February. I could prove that I probably have the most miles ridden in the entire company because my driver has the most miles. They keep track of mileage driven for each soldier in the company. They also keep track of how many missions everyone does. I’m tempted to go to the TOC and inquire who has the most missions. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s myself. I would vouch for my driver too but he was out for 10 days back in May because of pain in his shoulder. So that gives me 10 more days then him right there.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Operation Sun Tan

I didn’t plan on going to the pool today. There’s a pool on one of the other camps that’s not too far away. I wanted to go to the gym this afternoon and get a little workout but my roommate convinced me otherwise. He wanted to go to the pool to work on his tan, and I’m sure he wanted to look at the girls too. As for myself, I needed to start getting some sun.The pool is set on one of Saddam’s little lakes he has around his palaces. It looks really scenic from where it is because the pool over looks the water from the lake. The pool doesn’t have a shallow or deep end. It’s mostly six feet deep all around and it rises a couple of feet above the ground. It was also quite full so water would be pouring out the sides and into the drains around the edge of the pool. The pool was filled with mostly guys, which didn’t surprise me. There were a few ladies there but not many. Mostly everyone was trying to get a tan. Some, like me, needed it more then others.

Friday, September 08, 2006

An Invasion of Privacy

Since it was maintenance day it was time to take the Humvee to the motor pool for inspection by the mechanics. I didn’t feel like going because to me, it’s the drivers’ job. The Colonel asked me yesterday to dispatch the truck and I agreed. I figured I might as well since T-Rex has been dispatching the truck for the past couple of weeks. I’m going to let The Colonel know that I’m not going to do it next time. If The Colonel likes to play the “it’s your job” game than since I’m not the driver, it’s not my job. They never help me clean the .50 cal anyway so I don’t care.

One of the platoons had an in-room inspection. Actually, I guess they were looking for pornography. It’s considered contraband over here and anyone caught with it will get punished. I think it’s silly and stupid that they’re going through their rooms looking for this stuff. They should be fighting the insurgents, not the soldiers. Instead they’re spending their time looking for pornography instead of looking for insurgents. Again, I think the priorities are messed up.

Not only were they looking for magazines, they were also going through the guys laptops. They were going through the guy’s computers looking for porn. I heard that if they found any they would delete it on the spot. A lot of these guys began sharing this stuff, like the music, when we began our mobilization. There was some stuff so sick that I wouldn’t even consider it porn. It was just too gross to even mention here. I found it hard to believe that someone would download the filth. And I thought I was bad.

The photo above is burned out from a VBIED (Vechicle Borne Improved Explosive Device.) It exploded right underneath the traffic sign. The damage from the flames and heat is visable.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Morning Nightmare and The Harvest Moon

We were supposed to link up until 0715 hours this morning. So I set my alarm clock for 0615 so I would have enough time to brush my teeth, shave, and get dressed. Things didn’t happened the way I had planned. It wasn’t because my alarm clock failed to go off or because I set it for the wrong time. It’s because early in the morning, around 0530 hours, I started to hear some mumbling coming from the other side of the room. It was from my roommate, The Big Man.

The random mumbling woke me up this morning. I wasn’t sure what was going on. I thought he might be groaning because of what happened yesterday. He came back from the gym last night with pain in his groin. When he came in the room last night he said, “I think I busted a Nut! Ooh! Ahhh!” I busted out laughing when he told me. He knows I felt sorry for him but it didn’t stop me from laughing at his pain. I guess he was squatting some heavy weight when he felt the pain occur in his groin. It caused him pain all night last night. He thinks he might have a hernia.

Well this morning I heard him mumble something so I hesitated to say anything. Maybe he wasn’t saying anything to me, then it got louder and louder. I didn’t want to wake him up. I figured I’d take the opportunity to see what he said, if anything. Then he began to scream. It had me confused for a minute. What the hell was going on??? It started soft but gradually became louder and louder. The funny thing was he was screaming like a girl. Then I realized that he was trapped in a nightmare and he was trying to get out. So, after I figured I’d had enough early morning entertainment, I tried to wake him up. “Eddie! Eddie! Hey! Hey! SGT R.! Wake up!!!” Finally he snapped out of it. I wanted to laugh my ass off but held back. “Man, are you ok? Are you in pain because of your balls or were you having a nightmare?” I asked. He didn’t say anything and got up. He got turned on his light, got dressed, and went out the door. I didn’t know were he left but he left his light on. It was 0530 in the morning and I wanted to get the last 45 minutes of sleep I had left. It was of no use. I couldn’t fall back asleep all morning.

On a side note, I walked out of the MWR tent tonight around 2200 hours on my way back to the crib when I looked up to check out the moon. I knew it was just a full moon last night or the night before. I'm not sure. Anyway, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me or I was going blind when I started to notice a blur on the northern tip. I thought my eyesite might be going bad but it looked too strange. Usually when the moon goes through it's phases we see the dark side from the left or right, not from the top of the moon. What's going on with the Hadji moon? So I went out to my Humvee to grab my binos and check it out. I looked up and noticed that there was a shadow on it. I thought it was strange because it was just in the full moon phase. Usually there isn't a visable terminator on the moon at this phase. I'm an astronomy enthusiast so I'm always interested and looking at the moon, the planets, the stars, and constellations. Something had to be going on so that's when I came here into the internet trailer to do a little news search on the moon. Sure enough, there's a partial lunar eclipse of the moon tonight that's visable from Africa to Australia.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Going to Train

One of our teams is leaving pretty soon. They’re leaving to train some other troops that are on their way here to Iraq. I can’t mention where they’re going but I don’t envy them. They’ll still be in the Middle East. I’d rather be here in Iraq then where they’re going. At least we get to leave the camp and go either into the city or out into the countryside. The other thing is live on the FOB is a lot more enjoyable here in Baghdad then it is over there.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Leaving an Impression

The thing that makes my day is getting to interact with kids. I don’t know why that is. Today we were at the Baghdad Police Headquarters, hanging around when these little girls were walking up to my Humvee. One appeared to be about five or six and her little sister was probably around three years old. I had no idea why they were there and they were walking all by themselves. There were some civilians on the grounds so it didn’t surprise me that much to see them. They had a bag full of those skinny Pepsi cans that looked like Red Bull cans. I figured someone else had given the Pepsi Colas to the girls. As they approached I called them over. I gave them the rest of the candy that I had left, mostly Tootsie Roll candy. It was assorted with small Tootsie Rolls and taffy.

The oldest girl then went around the Humvee and offered me the bag of Pepsi she had. I didn’t want to take it so I refused. She raised her hand with the bag again to offer it and so I decided to take it. It might be rude to refuse a gift in their culture. I told them thank you in English and Arabic and they started to walk away. That’s when I figured I’d give them some Gatorades. It would be like a trade, which is good. So I got down in the Humvee and got into the ice chest to get a Fruit Punch bottle of Gatorade. I thought that they could share amongst themselves. I got out and handed the bottle to the big girl and then jumped back into the Humvee. Then I figured I might as well give them another bottle so they each have one. So I grabbed a bottle of Lemon Lime Gatorade to give to the other girl. Both of the drinks were ice cold and I’m sure they would’ve appreciated that. The only thing I didn’t think of was if they were going to be able to open the bottles themselves. They might have to get someone to help them open them up.

The whole time this Iraqi Army soldier was watching me. At the time I started to wonder what he was thinking. What does he think of us? What does he think of Americans? What does he think of Soldiers? He saw everything I did and I didn’t do it to get attention, I did it out of the kindness of my heart. I don’t know what he thinks of us, but I hope he thinks that we are doing something meaningful and honorable here. As for me, I’m trying to leave a good impression of American Soldiers with the kids.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Labor Day

I don’t know how it happened, but we didn’t have any missions today. Maybe it’s because it’s Labor Day and they decided to give us a break. I didn’t do anything special. I wanted to go to the gym but I didn’t even do that today. They were serving mainly hot dogs and polish sausages for lunch. They also had the band playing music again in the chow hall. Doesn’t feel like a Labor Day weekend here. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because we don’t have a whole weekend off. I’ve been thinking about everyone back home and how nice it would be to have a barbecue with the family. At last the weather is finally getting peaceful. Everyday seems nicer and nicer. The hottest part of the day is between 1200 and 1600 hours. The mornings are cooling off and the nights are really pleasant. The weather is becoming perfect again and it looks like summer is finally over.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Mission or No Mission

There were so many rumors this morning whether we were going out on mission or not. I didn’t really care to go. It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s just that I’d rather spend the day as a Fobbit like a lot of other Joes do. Well, this morning I started getting ready to go out on mission. There was word that we might be standing down but we weren’t sure. The Big Man went to the latrine when he got up and got word from our squad leader that we were on standby. Too bad I was already up, dressed, and ready to go. I tried to go back to sleep but I just couldn’t.

A few minutes later, Useless comes knocking on our door. He came to get The Big Man and tell him that they were waiting for everyone at the linkup point. I told Useless that we just got word to stand by a few minutes ago. I asked him if the squad leader was out there and he said no. So, I wasn’t too concerned about going out there. The last word I got was to standby for further instructions.

So finally, after he came by a third time I had enough. I had to find out for myself what was going on. I went out and over to The Colonel’s room to see him. I told him that Useless was trying to get The Big Man and if we were actually going out. Unfortunately we were. It wasn’t too big of a deal, I was already dressed and ready to go.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A Weekend

Again, there’s not much to say about today. It was a day off and I’m glad. We didn’t go outside the wire. It doesn’t bother me too much to go out, it’s just dealing with all the leadership that I have to deal with that bothers me. Fortunately, I’m not the only one that feels this way. To me that means that it’s not just me that it bothers. At this point, I really don’t care. We only have a few months left and it’s not worth making a big deal out of. It’s why a lot of us can’t wait to get out of here and go back home.

It almost felt like a weekend today, having the day off. We haven’t had two days of in a row in a while. I think we’re all ready to get back to work and complete some missions.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Not Much

I didn’t do much today. I’m glad I didn’t. Today was supposed to be a maintenance day but our Humvee was in the shop getting the A/C fixed again. I got up this morning and ate breakfast. Afterwards I went to the MWR to get online to chat with my wife. I’m usually using Yahoo! Messenger to chat. I let her know I’m online by sending her a page to her mobile phone. I do call home from time to time and prefer calling over the internet as well. I use Skype in order to make a PC to phone call for only a few pennies a minute. It’s a lot cheaper than the 19 cents they charge per minute to make a call on the AT&T phones here.

I came back to the crib and took it easy for a while before going to chow for lunch. Then I took a little nap after chow. Fatigue was starting to get to me so I laid down to get some rest. After a little nap I got up and went to the gym to get a little work out in. I ate dinner and now I’m here, typing up this blog. It’s what I usually do on a typical day off.

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