Friday, July 27, 2007

I Think It's Over

Why We Came:Two choices in this world: Glad to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Well my friends, I tried to leave Atlanta but my flight was delayed...AGAIN. Then the plane we were to get on had a defect in the door so they delayed THAT flight and got us another plane.

But I made it! Yes I'm home. For a few days, anyway.

Getting on the plane I met a nice kid from Switzerland. He decided to visit the West side of America so I offered to show him around San Diego. See us with twin skateboards in the picture:

That's right, back to business! Oh, and no need to worry, I got my hair cut back down to "normal" (read: boring) since then.

However, I think my exciting days in the Middle East are over for now. Time for a new career, time to enjoy the paradise I live in and my homeland. I'm proud of who we are, what we do, and the souls we served.

Thank you so much for joining me on my adventures and who knows, maybe we'll see you around...

God Bless America!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

A Strange Trip Indeed

This is not IraqA park in Auburn, Alabama.

Hey! At least I made it to America! The trip back has been delayed repeatedly from Iraq, Kuwait, and now Georgia. Therefore, I enjoyed a few days in Kuwait, checked out a few malls, walked along the beach, started working on my tan, and most importantly…enjoyed a few days off, finally!! Yeah, they had me working up until my last day, until the first flight Iraq.

But when I got to the Eastern seaboard of the U.S. to finish up some business there, my luggage was lost. That’s right, airlines fault. I should have been on the beach in San Diego by now. But like I say, I’m enjoying it anyway.

I visited Alabama, no less, waiting for my luggage to be returned. Beautiful place, actually. So GREEN after the Middle East. The keep it very clean too. And there are flags and patriotic displays everywhere. And churches dot the landscape instead of mosques. And the temperature is a about 25 degrees cooler.

Yes, I think I will like it back in the US…if I can only can get all the way home.

Freedom Towers, KuwaitThese towers commemorate the freedom won for the people of Kuwait by us....Americans!

A room with a viewSweet digs in Kuwait, view of the ocean thru the huge picture window. Did I mention the pool? Yeah, if you are stranded, it's not always a bad thing.

Can you miss a T-wall?

My favorite place...
On American bases and other places, T-walls are cement barriers that fit together to form blast-resistant walls. They are placed around anything important. I like to climb them. It helps break the monotony of things, but would never be allowed in a safe place like...America, land of the free, strangely enough. I will miss them.Lest you thing I am a lone lunatic, I was able thrice to entice people to join me on the wall to install satellite gear. My friend Jason joined me of his own free will and choice.

Friday, June 15, 2007

That Was Quick

Well friends, my work on this short contract is about up. I will take a break in America before finding another contract. Or maybe I’ll stay home for awhile, but right now I need a rest to see the loved ones and all that good stuff.

On the fun side, I had to take another trip into the Grey Zone. (Sorry, Maureen) Some really funny stuff happened, but I can’t tell you about it. Part of it was running into these guys. We couldn’t really speak each other’s language, but they were nice enough. Plus, they had no guns, a real bonus.

The rest of the story will have to wait, for now.

If anything interesting happens on the way home, you will know.
These guys are funny...

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Slowin' it Down

The majority of our contract here in Baghdad has been filled. We are moving people to other sites, mostly back in the US. Anyway, a new group is coming in here to armor up some Tanks soon.

Not to much new and exciting for me, although I did get to drive outside the wire to the grey zone. It’s not out in the red zone but there are no US soldiers there, only Iraqi Army. Kind of interesting.

Met a nice Iraqi girl and guy, both grew up in Baghdad. They say it is better and worse now. Before it was more peaceful but they were very very poor. Now they can make good money but the terrorists are out there.

Now, you may remember that I got to fly on a Blackhawk but forgot my camera. A friend went for a flight over Baghdad and here are two shots from his camera instead. Pretend it was me. The one above, Saddam’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the great Iraqi war with Iran. The other, proof of how hard it is to take a shot from a vibrating helicopter…

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Is This a Practical Joke?

Here at our great Armor Operation, I have worn many hats. I keep the computers and network up and running, track down special part-orders, and solve some on-the-spot hang-ups. This morning for example, I righted a porta-potty that had blown over last night. Yeah, nice, I know.

I hang armor and keep the MWR fridge stocked with cold water for the crew.

This morning I was mopping, no less, when our austere-seeming Site Lead popped in the door for a second. He is usually quick to point out what you can do better, but this morning he said to me, “I want you to know we really do appreciate the things and the work you do for us.”

I thought, “wow, he’s taken to sarcasm.” But he handed me this little medallion. Well, practically threw it at me and ran. But I think he was sincere. And if I don’t say so myself, I have tried to be a valuable asset to the program. After all, they do pay me well.

It says “In Recognition of Excellence” on it. Now I’ve learned from a Great Man of God that sometimes people will think evil of you, and sometimes they give you accolades, and to believe none of it! But sometimes it is nice to receive some recognition, especially if it is in the form of a nifty and memorable golden coin. Here it is for your perusal:



Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hot or Not

Australian pool at Victory
So temps hit 105 for awhile and then cool rain came in for 3 days, was that nice! But the temps have been crawling back up. Today we hit 110 and tomorrow 115 is forecast for a high. Yippee!

The good news? Well, the boys here have been chasing the little group that shot down all the helicopters back in January and got in a fight. Guess who lost? That’s right, the bad guys. The bonus? The leader of the group (now no more) was a highly wanted insurgent.

Also in Afghanistan a particularly powerful terrorist apparently master-minded an ambush on American troops. Though pinned down, the good guys held their tenuous position and when backup many hours later, the ambush was reversed. The big bad boy tried slipping away in the night but was cut down by the good guys who only noticed moving targets. The troops will receive honors for their heroic effort.

One more: in Ramadi, a formerly hot place, militarily speaking, great progress has been made. I believe they dropped from over a hundred bombs a week one month to about 7/week recently. Only 7 bombings a week--I guess that is good.

Meanwhile, it gets hotter and hotter…

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Rule Breaker

(remember, click to enlarge pictures)
No, I'm not talking about me this time. I guess there is some kind of rule over here that you shouldn’t fly the American Flag. It might offend someone? Already fulfilled is the scriptural reference to the last days which says “and they shall make a man an offender for a word.” And the flag stands for freedom, bravery, and sacrifice. Those are very offensive words now-a-days! Especially to Al-Qaeda.

Well, one thing to say for my company is that rule is proudly, eh, overlooked, if a rule it is. Up went the American Flag on a shiny pole. Flags are coming in from around the States saying they would be proud to have their flag hoisted over our command center.

So the flag is posted where it flitters fitfully in the dust-filled breeze, and I take a picture to be sent back with the flag.

It does my soul good to see Old Glory--guess I’m old fashioned. I remember being in Fallujah and bless those Marines, there were many flags flying there. I remember the British too proudly displayed their colors. And now I am proud to show our Blessed Banner flying here.

Your photographer never is in the group shots because he is the one shooting the shot. So here is his day: