Thursday, March 29, 2007

Always in the Fight

Dosky, nickname KC (standing)
Where there is right and wrong, there is a fight. The best and worst are drawn to it. Some do not participate and some even taunt the heroes. Qasim Dosky has always been a fighter. This is his story:

As an adult, Dosky was part of a Kurdish band of fighters known as ephemera, who defied Saddam. Evacuated to Guam when the US pulled out of the Gulf war in the 1990s, he became a translator for soldiers. When that work was done he was offered a place in America, landing in Lincoln, Nebraska. Eventually he moved to San Diego.

In Southern California he eventually became a cab-driver. When the current Iraq conflict began, he welcomed the news
. “I was so happy. The [U.S.] government finally decided to do the right thing that they should have done in 1991,” he said.

Dosky gathered members of the Kurdish community and stage marches in support of American troops. He gave free rides to service members. But he wanted to do more.

Applying to be a translator, he found himself in Fallujah. He wore himself out there and finally ended up in the relative calm of Kirkuk, still translating in service to both Iraq and America.

If an American guy is willing to come to die in my country, I should be there next to him. I’ll be more of a help to the troops now. I’m staying here until the end, until we finish this mission,” he said.

In the upcoming days, Dosky is slated to become an American citizen. And in my book, one both he and his home country can be proud of.

He is very excited.

My adoption of a Stars and Stripes article, I like his story not only because of his unquenchable desire to fight for freedom, but I too have spent much time in San Diego, Kirkuk, and Fallujah. I too admire and serve the American Soldier. Dosky is my kind of hero.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Team

Group photo

I think Americans are absolutely awesome. Take the company I work for, for example.

I sat outside a meeting of the heads of our company here in Iraq. I listened to astute identification of hitches in our armoring process. Then a formulative meeting of the minds to solve it. Setbacks that could stop the process are absolved with no delay in the quality and quantity of our output: The newly-armored vehicles keep making it to the soldiers on or ahead of schedule. There is no company that does what we do as well as we do. And there are thousands of other American companies best in their perspective fields. And if we did fail, another would arise.

Even amongst the “lower” ranks of this company are also found the adept and self-motivated problem-solvers and solution providers. In contrast I observe the other nationalities represented on this military base….although there are brilliant exceptions, as a nation, none comes close to what we do. None takes the initiative, the expense, the risk, the leadership.

I've got more to say about Americans I admire. If this has whetted your appetite, you can read the rest at my other blog, "My America". Just click on: America Does

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Our Soldiers ARE Rockstars

From the life of a soldier: (this interview of Zeb Philpott by Sandra Jontz of the Stars and Stripes). I have selected some key phrases from the article for you to savor...

Capt. Philpott has spent 4 out of his 6 years as a Marine in Iraq and begins another.

I’d love to come back and visit,” he said in a recent interview. “This country is absolutely beautiful. Its beauty is stark, raw.” He hopes to be able to come back to a safe Iraq one day as a tourist.

“In 2003, we came in [to towns and villages] and the people were real emotional, real appreciative….In some places we went through, we were like rock stars.”

He also recalls an elderly man exiting the polls in December 2005: “He came out, inky fingers, came out and hugs one of my sergeants. It was so unexpected. He’d said in his entire life this was the first time he felt part of the country. ‘Now I left my mark on this country,’” said Philpott, repeating the man’s words.

Looking back he also says there was a point just after the push into Iraq in 2003 in which he and his crew hadn’t showered in 42 days: “One of my corporals finally lost it one day and comes on the radio: ‘Sir, you stink,’ and clicks off.”

“You get pretty ripe,” he says. “Now living at TQ [a base] one can shower 6 times a day if work schedules permit…this is my fourth time back, and it’s almost comfortable,” he says, referring to living conditions.

Things are constantly evolving, and perhaps some Iraqis have taken a negative cue from world media, and there are memories he would also rather forget. But I thought Capt. Zeb’s words were worth noting. Another interview coming soon!

Friday, March 23, 2007

A Glimmer of Glamor

You may be interested in this article (LA of celebration and hope in downtown Baghdad; click here: HOLIDAY
Find out, for example, how an Iraqi girl responds to an Iraqi boy who says, "I wish I were always in your eyes." (paragraph 7)


Thursday, March 22, 2007


Iraq can be...beautiful?
Nothing new around here, no glorious trips to the palace or whatever--just doin‘ our thing. It’s been unusually cool and rainy here in Baghdad lately; that’s nice! So here’s our Sunset after rain--and another view from our work area where we often see helicopters flying over Saddam’s old bunkers.

But keep an eye out, soon I will have stories of two or three great persons I think you will find as inspiring as I did. Until then, things are relatively quiet here…
unloading a track vehicle

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Inside Skinny...

Or…Changing Hearts:

Hilarious! A big bold headline in the Stars and Stripes dated today declared: AVERAGE WEEKLY ATTACKS HIT RECORD HIGH IN IRAQ (AP Story, March 17, 2007) Then you read the story, it refers to Jan-Feb. 4th??? Over a month ago??? And very different from this past month: Civilian deaths were down over 80%! Soldiers here scratch their heads over the Iraq they live in and the other one they read about. So do we.

I’d say the majority of Iraqis have been onboard and excited for their new freedom and country, but two die-hard areas with fanatics have remained and resisted. But even now it appears many of those Iraqis are being won over by the irresistible patience and zeal of Americans on their behalf.

The change?

The Sunnis, who thought al-Qaida might help them punish America for removing them from power have found they are targets too. Al-qaida learned that blowing up school children and market places brings them LARGE HEADLINES. Sunnis, finding their own children targeted, are deciding America makes better friends. Plus, they have decided to participate in the new political process, rather than protest, lest they be cut out of the oil profits.

It is believed that Shiite fanatics were mostly lead by Al-Sadr and supported by Iran. At the threat of the surge, Al-Sadr fled to Iran and his militia disappeared into the woodwork, perhaps hoping for coalition forces to abandon Iraq. It is believed he and his men were responsible for 50 be-headings, kidnappings, and executions a day!

Anyway. Sunnis rejecting Al-qaida. Al-Sadr away. Violence way down. It seems these particular Sunnis and Shiites are deciding that terrorism is not providing safety or jobs and they are getting tired of the lack of both.

The numbers already show huge changes. Just to name one that is representative: 1440 Iraq civilians killed the preceding month, only 256 in this first month of the “surge.” High-profile car bombings, road bombs, soldier deaths, all SHARPLY down. Awesome! I have always believed that American and Iraqi will combined could win over any foe.

Just had to set the record straight. Next month may be another story, but this has been a great month for Iraq!

Though Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish adults all see Americans in different shades of like and dislike; children are constant--regardless of background.
And what's not to like about these loyal, couragous, and boyish heroes?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Gettin' to Work

We set the place up, cleaned, shined, designed, and now we are on the case; armoring up the Bradley Track Vehicles to better withstand attack. This will be a photo essay...I'll let the pics do the talking. Actually, I really can't show you much, so just enjoy the colors...
Checkin' out the new ride:
applying secret stuff
tap and drill, what a thrillHindsight is 20-20 (we should have bought larger suits)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


My lil' sister gasped when first reading this headline at

Ernie is Dead: Web Correspondent Michael Yon Reports From Iraq

Yes, this Ernest is alright. But I've always admired and envied the author of this article, Michael Yon, and his Iraq blog--he is/was a live reporter here, riding with the troops on their missions. Great work. His site is also linked at my other blog; Ernest Goes to Iraq

Here in his article he eulogizes another great: Ernie Pyle. Please read, but know that I will still be around for a long while...I'll be OK, Mom. And thanks for the tip, Sis!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Royal Treatment

Palace at Victory
The office was in disarray: internet down! Bradley Combat Operations were faltering, tech experts had been called in and still no solution! Who ya gonna call, the mechanic? Durn right!

Seems in my spare time at Kirkuk I studied satellite broadband and wireless internet and deployed two internet hotspots for my co-workers and soldiers out of sheer boredom and a severe entrepreneurial urge I can’t seem to control.

Somehow the word of said experience got around here and I was called in to glance at our issues. Sure enough, in a few hours the office network was back online. But seriously, this melodramatic self-aggrandizing story is not what you’ll be interested in. The point is, I’m the new IT guy and... for certification they sent me to….THE Palace. (Guess who packed his camera?)

So; won’t you come with me for a tiny photo tour of… SADDAM‘s PALACE? Sure he’s gone, but the Krib of the Great Badness Hisself has been restored for, well, our enjoyment. Enjoy…(Click to enlarge)

Sparkling steps arc through spiral stairways...I call this the Ballroom:

Sheer Chandelier...a closer look at this lead-crystal monstrosity!

Can’t believe I am sitting on Saddam’s throne, that’s right! He used to sit in this chair and rule in terror. Now I sit in it and drool in error...

Things to do while at the Palace...

Friday, March 02, 2007

Sam's Story

A young man in Iraq admired greatly American soldiers when they trained the Jordanians in the 80s. He used to dream about becoming one of them--a dream that, if known, could get him killed under Saddam. When the Coalition invaded Iraq, his dream came one step closer.

He had gotten a degree as a civil engineer but became a translator for the Marines, which he soon came to love. Now he talks like them, walks the swagger, and after 3 years of helping them is highly trusted and good friends with them. He often mitigates dangerous circumstances by cluing the soldiers in on what locals mention to him (like newly abandoned cars, often used for hiding bombs).

Speaking of the Marines, he says, “I love them. How they’re brave to do whatever the mission is, to always keep fighting. I’ve seen many Marines get killed and injured for people that are not his people. Guys 18, 19 years old. They protect me.”

Isn’t that awesome? Sam, by the way, is 25 and that is not his real name. Soldiers originally gave him the name of “Al Pacino,” but he changed it to Sam, “like Uncle Sam” he says grinning. He hopes to gain a special immigration status for his service, which brings both himself, his friends, and family into great danger.

I want to be an American citizen, a Marine, have an American wife. Even my car will be American,” he says with his “trademark” enthusiasm. Asked how he envisions America, he says without hesitation: Almost heaven!

Well, isn’t that refreshing??? I stole this article, often word for word, from the Stars and Stripes newspaper over here, an interview by Megan McCloskey. Often this rag shamelessly echoes denigrating tripe that can often be heard stateside from the disconnected, but it also has these more relevant and positive articles by indigenous soldier reporters. Isn't it nice to hear a fun story? Thought I‘d share.