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:

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Camp Slayer and...the Flintstones?

Internet Cafe for Soldiers

Whew! We moved from one of the many cracking husks of a building that dot the Iraqi landscape into some nice new trailers. Including key systems in communications; I have been buried in ethernet lines, fiber cable, digging trenches, and whatnot!

Starting to catch up, I was favored by the gods (upper management) and got a hour or two to splunk around a bit. And what did I discover? Camp Slayer. Camp Slayer is beautiful. And I forgot my camera AGAIN! Fortuitously, (the coincidence uncanny) the main DA civilian that helped us do "coms" has his office right there and I borrowed his cam. Not quite as proficient as mine, it nonetheless saved the day.


Because, I’m telling you, Camp Slayer is BEAUTIFUL! Palm trees, lakes, villas, palaces, a partially sunken boat house….what’s that doing there? Anyway, it’s like stepping into a tropical paradise. Loosely speaking. But compared to the rest of this place…

Anyway, if you drive past the first building bombed in the war, turn right at the Perfume Palace, and go around the lake to the Unfinished Palace, guess, you’ll never guess where, you end up? At the Flintstone Castle.

That’s right! Now, you can’t believe everything you hear over here but word has it Saddam really had a thing for the Flintstones. Yeah, the cartoon. The AMERICAN…well anyway. Or actually, his grandkids did so he built them the Flintstone Castle here.

And I like it! It’s kinda like something you’d find at Disneyland or 6 flags, but even better because there are NO LINES and NO RULES!


It’s big, it’s fun, it’s falling apart but--I guess I’ll be a kid forever--I jumped all over it. I wandered and wondered through the rooms, ran along the passages, leaped from faux rock to façade stone, and wished the elevator still worked. Oh yeah, there are multiple floors, levels, and corridors to discover.

Iraq. Who would have guessed?

This is THE first building bombed at the beginning of "shock and awe." A Baathist Party building, it was a bad time to have a corner office with a view...

A nice little Villa, no? Si!

The Unfinished Palace. Flintstone Castle off to the left

Flintstone Castle

Take a video look-around from Flintstone Castle here--> Ernest Views Flintstone

A View of Flinstone Castle and Camp Slayer:
I could be happy here.Perfume Palace in the distance behind me.

Why, there’s Fred Flintstone now…or is that my boss?
It was dark in the interior rooms and I didn't bring a flashlight, but shot this in the dark. Looks like the Flintstone living room, don't you think?