Sunday, December 31, 2006


You may remember "Contractor Ron" from my previous blog "Ernest Goes to Iraq." He and are of the same religion and we shared what seems to be a prepetual "still single" status, as well as being somewhat "advanced" in years.

After Kirkuk, we went our seperate ways but both of us have found our way Back to Iraq (Hence, this blog) Anyway, here is a most amazing email from him:

I have been busy.

Not just the normal busy with flying and catching bad guy.... but something even more important.

It took 53+ years and nearly a worldwide search, and I have found her.

A few months ago, while on a desert patrol, my radiator had boiled over and I went looking for water We met at an oasis.... I needed her water, she wanted a ride... a fair trade.... took her back to her tribe .... the sheik, her father, threw a big feast..... ever eat goat?.... with the hide still on?.... not wanting to insult him (and starving from three days without food) I dove in.... this impressed him... he took me under his wing..... before I knew it (and aided by some fermented camel's milk), I was deep in negotiation for his daughter.... He initially wanted 10,000 camels with all their trappings, to include silver bells!.... in my mentally deficient state, I saw, in this, a challenge---and jumped at it..... using my Africa-developed skills, I enjoyed the moment and got him down to six --- and brass, not silver, bells..... to my great surprise, he struck the deal!...... wow! did my jaw drop!..... but a deal's a deal, and besides - his sword is sharp and his AK has plenty of bullets, soooo you all now have a new daughter/sister/aunt/friend. I am even considered throwing in an extra camel (without trappings) just to get things going on the right foot with the old sheik.

Can you believe that??? Neither can I!!! But Ron seems quite serious. And in respect to our friendship, I guess, he has informed me that his betrothed has a sister...

d d d d ddang!

Ouch! It's been cold, dropping into the 20s here at Camp Fallujah, I don't like it! The good news is, the flies seem not to like it either--hardly one to be found. And two months ago when I got here it was in the 90s and flies galore. Sheesh! This place can be so harsh.

Saddam has been executed. There was a small cheer but things were pretty much the same as usual around the base. Although I think his demise was anti-climatic in some ways--he has clearly been inert for a long time now--I have great admiration for the resolve and efficiency of the Iraqi court system! Can you imagine if Americas courts were so??? As usual, the popular media misses the real stories here.

If the rest of the new government here is as proficient as their courts, which they seem to be, the incredible speed of the country's progress here is no surprise. I wouldn't be surprised if the drop in oil prices lately has been related to the oil production coming out of Iraq. Now if I can just get a real heater for our garage!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Now Past

It's a crystal clear night, and brisk, thanks to 24 hours of rain and a cold spell recently. The stars in the desert sky are stars indeed! The moon is a waxing crescent, a killing sign for the local religous fanatics. But it has been unusally peaceful, as if Christmas has power even here. One could easily imagine following a star in the East.

The evening meal was the big one. I had sweet potatoes, steak, and a lobster tail. In DFAC #1 there were cameras flashing. I saw officers that, when one stood up, the whole table rose. I saw lots of bars and a gold star at the table next to mine, wasted perhaps on my ignorance. Yes, we had special guests here in Camp Fallujah tonight.

Other officers served their soldiers from behind the counter and little filipino females dressed in red-- like merry black-haired elves. Ourselves, Haitians, filipinos, those from India, Iraq, and elsewhere wished each other a Merry Christmas. All is not well, but well enough, tonight.

"Any Marine"

Christmas in Camp Fallujah Iraq was fairly quiet. As I have said, grateful Americans have sent boxes and boxes of fireplace-worthy stuffed socks, wetwipes, toothbrushes, the works. And my favorite, boxes filled and set around at recreational sites and chapels with Thank You/Christmas Cards addressed to "American Soldier" or "Any Marine."

A soldier I met at church said he wished Americans could see the good being done here, often against "an unseen evil," as he put it. He then added that there is really nothing in America waiting for him and he will extend his tour here after his buddies go home. Why not help save the world if you have nothing else going on?

And he is right. There is tons of good being done here. Business is really taking off--the largest Iraqi cell phone company, Iraqna, for example, is going from 300+Million dollars in business from one year to over $500 million the next.

The relatively stable government is talking about how to get oil production going up from 40 million barrels a year, if I remember the numbers correctly. You've heard the bad news, but I really doubt any force can stop the combination of Iraqi people and America from succeeding. That's good news.

Anyway, there are a few red hats and a soldiering Santa did drop off a few candy canes and the mess hall is decked out in Holiday cheer. Many soldiers got the day off and played soccer. My family saw to it I got a box Christmas Eve, bless their hearts. The Christmas Spirit is here and along with it our prayers for (someday) peace in Iraq, peace on Earth, and goodwill towards men.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A Pleasant Surprise

Wow, hit the bunker twice yesterday, about the same amount as the last two months together! Somebody's got a new rocket-launcher. But they won't be around long. And then today the rain hit. It's about time: it was getting mighty dusty around here.

Then I ordered some books from One came from a private book store in Florida. I guess the private owners, Ruben and Frida Modugno, noticed my military address. When I opened the book there was a little envelope with my name on it and a hand-written Christmas Card with some words of cheer and thanks. Isn't that sweet? I'm telling you, there are good people everywhere.

Then I noticed a link to my blog from a commentary blog. The view of things here in Iraq is often dour, mimicking the typical media barrage of coverage. Obviously things are BAD here. It's a war. But I find the idea that Iraqis aren't interested in freedom or that the Iraq country is about to fall apart, or that we are some how losing here, myopic and unsupported.

For example, 80% of Iraqis voted in each of their three elections. Seems, compared to Americans, which muster maybe 60% on a hot-topic election, the Iraqis love democracy more than we do!

Then the violence in one or two provinces is shown and people somehow think the whole country is in Chaos. That's like looking at crime and murder in Capitol of America, Washington D.C., and believing our whole country is engaged in a bloodbath.

That's just my view. The soldiers here never lose ANY battle they engage in. It's just that the extremists of the two opposing groups here are like two mafias or two fuedal lords going at it--granted; the Sunnis are backed by Syria and the Shiites by Iran--but the majority of Iraqis are not playing along. Most of Iraq is relatively civilized. And you don't hear most Iraqis whining about it, do you?

Yeah, just my opinion. But I've learned that things are often different than they seem, or are made to appear. And if you look back at the news a few years after World War Two, you will often find very pessimistic and defeatest media views of what is now considered a great victory. I give America, and Iraq, the benefit of the doubt.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Good and Bad

The Marines have suffered a greater loss of life these last two weeks. The bad guys are getting quality bombs and new sniper rifles sent in from Iran where they are now being mass-produced. In fact, sniper-related deaths versus deaths from road bombs are increasing now, one commander said. The military now has these HUGE trucks called cougars and buffalos with v-shaped armored bottoms to disperse the charge of a bomb. The HumVees are also much more armored than when I left here in March.

Fortunately also I have heard several happy stories as well. Again those "miracle saves" are plenty. One soldier had his hand on his chest, the bullet pierced the webbing between his fingers but was stopped by the armor. Another soldier the bullent missed his gun (also held across his chest), which may have sent the fragments into his face, and even finding a way through some of the armor,the bullet was stopped at last by a girly magazine he had stuffed inbetween his armor and self!

Most remarkably, the Marines seem unchanged and undaunted by it all. It seems they know they have one of the toughest jobs here in Iraq near the volatile Anbar Province and are ready to live up to the challenge and consequences.

Another cool thing is I see the American flag flying here in several different places. I guess on other bases it is politically incorrect to display the flag? But it's great to see the patriotic spirit here. I like these Marines.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Christians and Americans: My Fav

I was at the "Chaplain's Oasis" on Sunday and saw the tons of munchies, toilet articles, books, etc. that Americans send. Most often they come from Christian church congregations or groups. Love those Americans!

Now with Christmas approaching great numbers of stuffed stockings are showing up for these fighters along with packs and packs of cookies! And this is just the beginning of the season!

Another thing I am proud of is that America sends our best to protect those of any religion--many of our recent military and diplomatic efforts have been to protect Muslims like here in Iraq as well as Hindus and others elsewhere.

Lately I've read several books/stories of heroic Dutch in Holland during the Nazi invasion of WWII. Those great people, often great Christians, did their best to save their Jewish neighbors from the hateful invaders. Please, please read this most amazing story of Christian discipleship, a story about "Corrie Ten Boom" called "The Hiding Place." It also paints a clear picture of evil if left unchecked and puts this war in perspective. The true events recorded in it will change you.