Sunday, March 20, 2005

Palm Sunday

An absoutley beautiful day that will turn into a hot but semi comfortable afternoon. Interesting to be close to the Holy Lands on the day we celebrate the resurrection of Christ.
I get to thinking of how close I am to Babylon and what religous and world altering events took place in that great city. Some of the oldest carvings are there, one of the worlds first alphabets and beginning of keeping historical records. The place where God destroyed the temple man built to be gods themselves.
Just all the history that surrounds this place. Alexander the Great triumphed here, then marched on to Indo-China and into the areas of Siberia and Mongolia.
I only wish I were allowed to see more and that the people here understood the land they live in and how it helped to change the world.
How many times in History or Geography did you learn or read about Mesopatamia, and here I am in the cradel of civilization. Nevermind the mortar shelling and trying to bring something to help people who are completely unaware of the benifits. Just being here is life changing.
Ohh-I did not tell all of my experience one evening coming back to the office from chow. Now to stave off the thoughts that I am crazy (well I did sign up for this), for years I have watched the skies. Stars, planets and whatever exist out there always fascinated me. I have studied aircraft and aerodynamics and what it takes to fly and the limitations imposed on the technology we have. I always keep an open mind and just don't jump to conclusion.
So, there I was, Anton and I were walking behind some other soldiers from chow back to the office. I saw one of the soldiers look up and point. I looked skyward and just happened to notice a dim blue light with a blue halo around it. It was traveling from east to west at a high rate of speed. I thought at first it could be a small radio controlled aircraft we use with a chem light attached. That was until I saw the object take a ninety degree turn and shoot off then another ninety degree turn and pretty much disappear.
Anton and I went into the office talking of this and trying to find a plausable explanation. Soon we left and were still discussing this phenomonon. During our discussion I pointed to the belt of Orion and just happened to see a bright oblong shape that traveled in the same direction of the last object, as it traveled it became dimmer. Now this could have easily been a meteorite.
Anton at this time is just telling me"I didn'nt see a thing, I did'nt see a thing", you know, plausable denability. As we turn to walk toward our tents another object streaks from our left to right at a high rate of speed, could be another meteorite.
As for the first object, who knows. Lets just say that Gods reach is incrediable and nothing is impossible!!

Happy Easter all!!

P.S. There were not reported incidents of abductions or anal probes (Oh that was bad)

Have a great day my Beautiful wife, get Chan better. I Love You.

Friday, March 18, 2005

What the Shizzle?

Hello All,

Sorry so long since last post. Just another exciting day here at our little piece of paradise.
Received an email from my beautiful wife today, her Uncle who is a civilian with the Corp. of Engineers will soon be at Camp Victory. That’s about 40 miles north as the crow flies. Some of our guys make regular runs there, so I am going to get my butt in a seat and see what family I can.
Been pretty peaceful lately, rain, then mud and no electricity. The water is receding and the power is on now.
Last night we got another great dinner of lobster, crab legs, steak and shrimp. Going to get fat if I don’t watch it!!
Leaving chow tonight, the moon was out casting a ghostly glow about, fuzzy little clouds blanketing the stars. Get to my tent and smoke a square with the guys and head back to the office. Walk out of the Alaskan barriers on my way to work…BOOOOM…oh crap. Get down, screw that… to the bunker. Get inside the Alaskans….BOOOOOM. Make it to the bunker, everyone is cramming in like sardines in a can….BOOOM..BOOOM…….BOOM.

Ok quiet….BOOM…BOOOM………..BOOOM. And we wait. Eight rounds in all. Everyone’s ok, “Did you feel that?” Rocks or shrapnel from the rounds had flown over the Alaskans and peppered some guys outside. Nothing harmful, just like picking up a handful of rocks and gently tossing them. As we take accountability…BOOOOOOM…..BOOOOOM, Outgoing, mortars fire for effect. BOOOM…BOOOM. See the mortars burp firelight off the sky as they fire, the concussion beats into your chest, the round streaking angrily overhead. About 10 seconds later the horizon brightens, artificial sunlight spits away in the distance. About 15 minutes and the air stirs with the sounds of turbines coming to life. An angry monster sucking in air hungrily to come to life. You can just hear the blades as they chop through the air, trying to find grip as they continually gain speed. Then you hear the unmistakeable liftoff, the hunt begins. Angrily the beast lumber into the sky looking for the unlucky victims that have incurred their wrath. Woe is to the straggler who lingers too long.
As the minutes tick by the conversation turns to movies and games the guys were playing. Some are laughing about being caught while in the shower having to flee in nothing but a towel. Then a muffled voice comes over the loudspeaker… ALL CLEAR…ALL CLEAR.
And here I am, another day closer to home.
Work is my friend; it keeps me busy to hasten the end of the day. Some nights I end about eight, some two or three in the morning. Sometimes you cannot stop working when you’re on a roll. It passes the time.
A few of us are trying to get an MWR tent set up. We have the tent just need to clean it out and get some supplies. Hope to set up some computers for those who wish to continue their education or just earn some credit to help with promotions later. All in all, just something to keep busy. Idle hand and mind are the devils workshop.
Amazing, as many rounds as we take in this country everyday, the toll of injured or causalities toll little more in months than that of large cities in the US in a day or week.

oH, and my last post. Thanks for the comments. They were great, love to get people thinking.

Stay busy and keep safe!!


Love you babe, get Chan well and I will be calling home soon.


Friday, March 04, 2005

The Camera Dilemma now I have purchased a camera, and there is absoutley nothing to snap a pic of. Before there were sunsets and aircraft, a plethora of opportunities.

It is raining, the drops pelt the metal roof of my office and slowly ...........zzzzzzzzzzz. Oh oh ah sorry. Anywho, just another exciting day in the world of administration.

Our PX got restocked the other day, more of stuff that I do not need. The local nationals' shop has nothing I need either. Oh, I did get some Dr. Peppers. Amazing the little things you miss when your gone.

Speaking of missing, Shelle sent me this email. Appearantly it was from a formatted story email service. You know, type your name here and their name here and a story is made. I cannot tell you of the story but if you search the web I am sure you can find one if you have a frustrated soldier somewhere.

Ah well, I will take no more of your time or bytes. Take care all and have a great day..

Mom, happy birthday (Everyone thinks she is my sister when were in Town!)

Sweethart...your in trouble...Good trouble...

Love you

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Travels in Iraq

Today I was granted a temporary pardon from my cell to experience what life was beyond the wire. A little apprehensive about what lie ahead I prepared myself for the worst, (which I seem to be good at) and joined my comrades for the day’s travels.

Our mission was to first go to two FOBS’ for material and the return one of our soldiers who had come to visit us for a short time. As we left the gate I began to absorb what life spread before me. As I had said before, the land somewhat resembles the Gulf coast with its palm trees and brackish water. Most of the homes I saw were of mud brick and stucco, almost like those you would see in the southwestern United States. There were some more modern structures that were in disrepair but pretty much the same building materials. Arched entryways beckoned one to enter into seemingly innocent structures surrounded by brick walls and iron work. A plethora of shanties built from whatever was available and the traditional tents of the nomadic tribes that dot the lands as they move from one area to another to graze their sheep, goats and cattle.

The land in some areas was open plains crisscrossed with hastily dug canals to divert the water to raise crops of herbs, spinach, clover, thick stalked onions and a type of lettuce. Some areas were being prepared for the planting of corn and cotton. The water table being just a few feet underground makes it possible to grow various types of produce, yet when the standing water evaporates it leaves behind snowy patches of salt. After so much accumulation the farmers must move their fields until the salt can be removed or naturally taken away and nutrients replenish the ground.

Livestock was typically sheep, goats and cattle. They would be herded to areas of grass which grow plenty in this area between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, the cradle of civilization. Along the way I noted poultry and ducks, and even some very large turkeys. I noticed one that must have stood at least three feet tall. Thanksgiving may have some fresh bird instead of processed and canned meat by product.

As we ventured further east the palms went from patches to groves. The grass became a vibrant green between channels of water that sprouted cattails that stood over ten feet tall. The highways are somewhat traditional four lane highways that are in somewhat a state of decent repair and heavily traveled. As we move down the avenues cars pull to the sides of the road to let us pass. Those who do not are flashed with headlights and gestured to pull over. When that does not work the turret gunner usually has an ample supply of rocks to get the attention of the drivers who then promptly move aside. Due to IED’s the convoys travel down the direct center of the road to give maximum distance from the sides of the roads, pretty much road hogs.

My attention was directed to large earthen hills that were built by Saddam in the four cardinal directions surrounding Babylon. I saw one large hill that was incomplete (the East hill) and the South hill that a beautiful Palace was perched atop. Saddam was to have a palace in each direction of Babylon and connected to the ancient city by tram. I was unable to view the city in which God struck down the tower of Babel and the people were punished by talking several languages. I hope to be able to make this trip; hopefully I will have a camera by then to give you a glimpse.

Onward south we came to the city of Hilla, which I learned upon returning that a car bomb had killed over 120 people and injured several more right before we came to the city. It was a crowded and heavily traveled city with businesses in almost every crevice that afforded any room to display wares. Cars lined the sides of the roads awaiting fuel stations to open to purchase petrol for their vehicles. I was told that people will wait anywhere from three to four hours to three to four days. There has been a lack of oil products available to the civilian populace since the war. Some people sat on the sides of the roads with gasoline in various containers they had purchased the day before to sell at highly inflated prices. Think about that next time you wait for that one spot at the gas station next time. The streets were crowded with all types of conveyances from cars and trucks to buses and tractors. I was surprised to see a late 70’s model Trans Am parked at what could pass for an apartment building. Trash was strewn about everywhere, buildings were in disrepair but life goes on. People would wave at us and we would return the courtesy. Children would wave to us in hopes of candy and other sweets; unfortunately I had none and felt bad. But in order to satiate them I would have to had a very large truck completely packed with the sweet concoctions.

We arrived safely at FOB Lima and conducted our business and made our way to FOB Duke further southwest. As we drove the landscape turned from palms and grass to desert littered with small tumbleweed scrub and dotted with a hardy grass that the nomadic peoples herd their livestock to graze upon. Great stretches of road led to the horizon miles away into the sky. Tents of nomads dotted the landscape with a few mud brick structures close to clumps of small trees that had found sustenance in the arid desert. Unlike where we are stationed just a few decades of kilometers away the air was dry and warmer. The dust stirred as we whipped from asphalt to dirt roads to reach our destination. After we arrived we met out party we made to lunch. Afterward I browsed the local vendors on post. One had scores of rugs, machine and hand made. I found one beautiful tapestry I would have loved to have purchased that was handmade in Persia. It was made from cashmere and silk, the asking price was $3000. Sweetheart, I am still looking, if I had the money it would be on the way home!!!

Soon thereafter we made to our vehicles to return to our station. The sky advertised signs of rain and soon it began. First the wind whipped up the dirt reducing visibility until the rains forced it back down. The air was chilled and heavier rain started with hail. We were able to make our way out of the storm which was still in its fury lashing the parched land with lighting and thunder that rivaled artillery fire. Soon we were back in the bounty of greenery from which our journey started.

Now back in my bunk I resolve myself to the chores of the oncoming day and hopefully the promise of more peaceful travels of this strangely beautiful and deadly land in which I temporarily reside.

Remember daily what privilege you have been given and never take anything for granted. No matter how bad the day or situation seems, be brave and smile. Against the storm lies the rainbow, hope and promise is always there. Keep a full heart and a welcome smile; you never know when you may be entertaining angles.

God speed and blessings to all

Babe, have a wonderful day and thank you for being such a wonderful and loving friend.

Hello from Hell