Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Line #121

Yep, the Captain makes Major! Hope to pin on this summer pending how many get promoted each month. Sorry for the lack of updates but Facebook has won out!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Long time, no post

Well I guess if you know me and keep in touch that I made it back safely from Iraq last month. The last 2 months were just crazy as I was tasked with coordinating the trip home. We were released about a month early and as luck would have it flew out of Kuwait on December 1st. We returned to Ft Riley, Kansas on 2 December after 24 hours of traveling from Kuwait to Ireland and Bangor, Maine before landing in Topeka. After a 2 hour bus ride to Ft Riley, they processed us in briefly and then off to the Welcoming Ceremony. Only 3 wives were there to welcome back the 32 people that we came back with, luckily my wife was one of them.

We have now moved to Fort Gordon, Georgia where I will attend school from May to December. For now I have a temp job and start school in May. Thanks to all who followed this blog and apologies for not updating the past 4 months.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


It rained today, full out pouring down rain. The locals say it is unusual for rain this time of year, maybe it will start cooling down now. And ironically, we have no water in the building now. Due to construction, it was cut off.

Also, today marks the end of Ramadan and the start of Eid al Fatr, the three day feast which is like Christmas, Easter, and New Year's rolled into one.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Photo of our compound

Just realized I could post photos (duh). Here's a shot from the roof of our building overlooking some construction we're having done. Not a typical day but during the summer there were many of these brown outs. The wall you see in the background is the edge of our compound, the HMMWVs in the middle are ours. The buildings are now finished and there is more construction going on, but as of now there is no one living in them besides the engineers building them. Will post some more photos as I take them.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I received my orders moving me to Fort Gordon, Georgia. Looks like with our early departure (now somewhat confirmed but not 100% sure) we'll be getting back to Fort Riley, Kansas around the first week of December. I plan to take about a week of leave and then head down to Georgia to report in. Plan is to report in 19 December then hopefully be told to come back after the new year (should be winter break time). The plan is to move out of the Hampton, Virginia house in early January then go down to Georgia assuming our house on base is available at that time. This way we have one final Christmas at our home in Hampton.

As for leaving here, we are getting to that point of turning in stuff and sending stuff home to lighten the load coming back. I carried a backpack, 3 duffels and a ruck sack on the way over so anything we can get rid of will make the trip back easier. Plus I'll have to haul all this stuff with me to Georgia (via Virginia).

Well, been a boring past couple of weeks, nothing more to update.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Baghdad Summer

Well it has been somewhat confirmed we might be leaving early. I am skeptical, but we'll know for sure soon. Looks like they want us out of here before 1 December so they don't have to give us tax free and benefits for December. Anyway, thought I would write a little bit about the missions here (unclassified of course). Typical mission to get mail, Class I (food, drinks), and laundry goes a little like this. A Patrol Leader (PL) is named, they figure out which trucks and crews are going. We are assigned by truck crews so we nearly always travel with the same gunner, truck commander (TC) and driver. I have been driving mostly, but early on I was a gunner. Once the PL is assigned and truck crews are named, we have a patrol brief. About 15 minutes long, it details threats along the route, assigns missions to crews once on the FOB (Forward Operating Base), and just details the route and anything we need to know. We prep trucks about 30-45 minutes prior to leaving, then gear up and get in and head out. Once out the gate, we turn our counter IED devices on and load our guns (red status). We stay together and keep a good space between us but do not let vehicles get in between vehicles. Most places here can be reached in about 30-45 minutes. We follow our designated route making calls to battlespace owners informing them or our travel through their space and what our mission is (ie going to FOB Falcon). They let us know if anything is going on that we need to avoid, closed roads, incidents, etc. Once we reach our destination, we unload and turn off our crew devices. Once inside the FOB, we go to clearing barrels and clear our personal weapons (M9 and M4). Some de-gear at this point also. After our mission is complete, we turn around and do it again.

Also don't forget a couple things, it's 120 degrees, your are in a vehicle with crappy AC and a big hole in the roof (where the gunner is), you are wearing boots, pants, long sleeve shirt and oh yeah, about 45 pounds of gear. The IOTV (Improved Outer Tactical Vest) is lighter, easier to put on (goes over top of your head), and doesn't weigh on the shoulders as much. But with 6 loaded M4 magazines (30 rounds of 5.56 ammo each), and 3 M9 (15 rounds of 9mm each), bullet proof plates (1 front, 1 back, and 2 smaller side plates) it weighs you down. Sitting in the truck not so bad, but it doesn't breathe and you sweat really bad underneath (at least I do). Also note the UAH (up armored HMMWV) wasn't designed for people over 6 feet (I'm 6'4") nor is it designed for comfort. You are crammed in there on cheap foam seats that after about 30 minutes really don't do any good and you are pressing on the metal seat frame. Side to side the HMMWV is really wide but the seats are about as roomy as a Kia Rio. Oh, and somehow you have to squeeze your M4 in somewhere next to you along with your M9 that is strapped to your leg.

Well, they always say war is hell, and just driving around is a challenge. They drive the wrong way all the time (we call it counter-flow), don't really pay attention and generally are horrible drivers. There is no requirement to drive here except you have enough to buy a car.

Hope this enlightens you a little, I shall write more later.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


The other day we received another indicator that we were slated to leave early, but it was just a memo so no real word yet. It also dawned on me that I really hadn't explained what it is like to be here. So here goes. Typical day at Al Rasheed is get up around 9am, eat breakfast, shave, brush teeth. I then walk across the hall to do team work, as the S-1 (Admin) guy I take care of leaves, awards, performance reports and administrative stuff (I send a daily report to higher). At 1200, lunch is ready so I head down to our dining facility (DFAC) for lunch. Today was rice, chicken breast and beans. Our meals are mainly what they call UGR-A, or Unit Group Rations A. It's mostly boil in bag stuff but we also get fresh fruits and lettuce. After lunch, I usually go back to my room and surf internet for a bit or read. On Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays we have a team meeting at 3pm. On those days we lift weights and do cardio afterward, most days we work out at 4pm. After working out, shower, get into uniform and get ready for advising. At 6pm, dinner is served in the DFAC, usually a meat of some sort (steak/chicken/bbq brisket), veggie and rice most days. Occasionally we get crab legs or lobster tails, but without butter they don't taste so good. After dinner, we surf, chat with the family back home (it's 7 hours ahead of eastern time here), or watch TV. About 8pm, we head over to meet our counterparts; mine is a Staff Colonel who is the division's G-1 (admin/personnel). Sometimes I am there for an hour or more, and after that we come back, write up reports or just watch TV or read until time to go to bed. Most nights I am up past midnight. That's a typical day for me here.

Now, what is Iraq like? First thing is the smell. It doesn't stink everywhere, just around here because there is a sewage treatment plant. Second, there are dense neighborhoods everywhere, and the strangest thing is the mud huts that have satellite dishes on them. Third thing is in many respects, this is a beautiful country, palm trees, green fields (at least here in Baghdad). Worst thing about the beauty is it is overshadowed by the fact they think the world is a trash can and the streets are littered. They have cleaned up a bit since we've been here, but it is no where like the USA. Another aspect is the heat, yes it gets hot here and has been over a 100 since early June, but the highest I have seen it was about 120. Now it is starting to cool down, and temps are about 105 for high, in the 80s at night. Soon it will be very moderate and by the time we leave here it will get down in the 30s at night. The worst part about that is there is no heat in our building only AC, so when we got here in January, my room was usually around 60 at night. Hopefully we will be gone before it gets that cold again.

I live in an Iraqi built building, we live in large rooms subdivided into smaller rooms with plywood walls. Most of us have a door for privacy. Some use bed sheets to cover their door. Our bathrooms are mostly eastern style toilets (you have to squat to use them as they are flush to the ground) but the showers are just like home. In the summer, because our water tanks are on the roof, there is no cold water, but the water heaters here are super hot (about 73 degrees Celsius or 163 Fahrenheit) so you have to be careful when turning on the hot water. A couple guys have been burned by it. We have no laundry facilities and weekly we make runs to FOB Falcon to drop off laundry (usually pick up same day). We also pick up food on those weekly runs but recently they started pushing our food to us, though it usually isn't what we want.

All in all, life isn't bad here, except for the they try to kill us part. So far we've been lucky to not get into any trouble, and we hope to continue that trend. Also since the 30 June agreement went into effect, we can't travel during the daytime without Iraqi escorts so we mainly move at night.

Well, I hope this give you a better idea what it is like here. We are due to rotate back about mid December, and hope to be home for Christmas.