Sunday, February 25, 2007

The 5-ton taxi

I have received both praise and prejudice about my journal. Some say I am saying too much, some say not enough. I know I cannot please everyone, so know that when you read my journal, it is not for you as much as it is for me. I have elected to open a little piece of my life to you as I experience things here, in my perspective and from my point of view. If you don't like it or agree with it, that's great, I'm okay with that.

So, with that out of the way, the past week has been busy now that everyone is here. I have been playing tour guide and helping run people around in a huge 5-ton truck with no shocks. It takes as long to get that monster from one place to another as it does to just walk most of the time. But, it keeps me from walking all the time. We have finally gotten all the personal gear passed out and everyone is excited to be in trailers instead of tents. It is as close to "home" as we will have for quite some time. We are quickly realizing how secluded we are when we go to buy little "niceties" and find we can't buy them here. We are finally receiving mail, so if you have had letters or packages returned, you can send them back to us now.

Sometimes, as you run about on your daily business upon the post, you forget where you are. Yesterday, we were out moving gear and took a short break enjoying the sight of the Ziggurat of Ur when a loud boom thundered through the area. A large plume of smoke rose to the distant east as an IED was triggered. Now, this was nowhere close to us, but it is an unfortunate reality of where we are. Several IEDs have detonated along our main route. They have been close enough that we can hear them from our office. I always have to stop and listen. Was that an IED, or the beginning of a rocket or mortar attack? Every time I hear a boom or a thud, even a door slamming, I flinch. It drives me crazy being so paranoid.

One thing you must know up front is that you will never hear of my soldiers being hurt or of the tragedies of war that I and my brothers see from this journal. I will only give a small glimpse into the dangers we face. Please don't ask if people were hurt or killed because I would never want my friends or family to find out about me through some random online journal. I will continue to respect the privacy and dignity of my fellow soldiers, so please don't take offense if I don't tell you everything you want to hear.

I was told not to include the dangers in here because it makes families worry more. I was told to only include the fun, good times. But, that is not the truth of the war we are in. That is not the truth of the life we live in this place. So please don't read my journal so you will worry more. You have a hard enough time as it is and I never want to be the one to add more to your plate than you already have.
Take my journal with an open mind and never look to me to be the ultimate, all inclusive and immediate gratification to all your concerns or to confirm some horrible rumor. Some of my fellow soldiers here do not like my journal being so "truthful". They don't want you to know of all that we go through. I respect their opinions, but I will continue to tell my story as I want it told. As I have said before, this is my journal, about my life and I'm not ashamed to dance with my curtains open.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Where are my pants?

While settling in after a long day getting things ready for the rest of my unit to arrive, the LT and I were preparing for movie night. As I was "slipping into something more comfortable", the LT who stays in the room next to mine knocked his wall locker over. There was a very loud boom, the floor shook, dust drifted from my light cover and my smoke alarm cover fell to the floor. I kind of chuckled and hopped out onto the steps in time to see LT do the same. I asked what the hell he was doing over there and he exclaimed we were taking rounds. I chuckled and was about to say something witty... at that moment the sirens around base started blaring and the second round hit with a thunderous boom. I can't really explain what goes through your mind the first time you realize you are under attack, but it is a lot. We both jumped back inside and I scrambled for my gear. "Where's my armor?" "Where's my helmet" "Where the hell are my pants?" The next several hours were spent hunkered down in a bunker waiting on the all clear.

Having only been here two days, I am new to all this. The convoys go back and forth all the time. The men and women wave heading out the gate as they go into harm’s way. It is still so hard to fathom that I am in a place where people want to kill me, yet the evidence is so powerful when the trucks roll in from their missions with bullet holes and charred metal from roadside bombs and Rocket Propelled Grenades. In the next day or two, I too will be rolling outside the wire on my first mission. While meeting some of the soldiers from the unit we are replacing, I had the honor of being included in their pre-mission prayer as they mounted up and headed out the gate.

I thought hard about not including the events of last night, but I feel I need to say it. I am at war and this is all so new to me! To my family and friends, I'm sorry, but I will tell my story as it unfolds.

I feel the Lord is with me and I have no fear, for I find peace in Him. I don't pray to be kept safe; I don't pray to go home soon. When I pray, I pray that I please Him and honor Him and if He needs another soldier for His army; I pray He lets me take a couple of those bastards with me.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Charlie Battery hits Kuwait

Well, not much has been going on this past week, but today the rest of Charlie Battery joined us in Kuwait. As relaxing as it's been, it's good to be with all my friends and "get on with the show". This base seems to have more than tripled from what it was just a few short days ago. You can definitely see the increase in troops the president talked about sending to this country. It seems like they are all coming through here. The lines for everything have grown exponentially! A couple days ago I was able to walk over and get on the phone with little or no wait. Tonight I waited for an hour and a half and my kids weren't even home when I called. The lines to get on the internet were just as long, so I didn't even attempt the internet tonight.

I have moved out of the plush, secluded tents the ADVON (Advanced Party) was staying in and moved down with the rest of the guys. We now have 2 tents for 150 guys. The cots are so close together, you can touch both your neighbors with your elbows. As a "late arrival" to the big tents, I am sleeping in the isle.

Today was spent running everyone around base in one of two 25 person vans we have. I am one of two drivers, so I played tour guide today. Oh, we also had to change a flat tire on the other bus. I'm ready to go north and start doing what we came here to do. The only way to finish and go home is to get it started.

Monday, February 5, 2007

My trip to Kuwait

Today I am again reminded of the fact that we are at war. Here in Kuwait, things are not as edgy as up north in Iraq where I am going in a few short weeks. However, we are at war here as well.

After spending a couple days with my little brother at the Naval Base, we headed back to our training base a couple hours north. While enroute, we pulled over to relieve our bladders, stretch our legs, enjoy the scenery (that's the joke) and take some pictures with friends. We do this not thinking of our actions as hostile or suspicious, yet quickly learn otherwise. As we meander about talking and joking, a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) is alerted and dispatched to our location.

As we start walking back to the vehicle to leave, we quickly notice the fast approaching HUMVEEs with gunners perched, watching our every move. The crew-serve weapons (really big guns mounted to the top of the vehicle) pointing in our direction was unnerving. We were well within the "Kill Zone" before we even knew they were coming. We waited and watched as they cautiously approached. I admired their professionalism. Circling the van in a leap frog pattern, providing safety for each other at all times, they advanced.

As the cloud of dust settled, the Convoy Commander dismounted and addressed us. You see, in this part of the world it can take a mere sixty seconds or less to stage an explosive device on the side of the road which they use to kill American and coalition forces. We were checked and advised (ordered) to continue our mission (Charlie Mike)… we did so.

Friday, February 2, 2007

My strong, patriotic background

Once again I am proud to have come from such a strong family. I LOVE what I am doing and though my job will place me into more dangers than I ever imagined, I have faith and comfort that God is with me no matter what happens here. I fully support our president and the increase in troops. For me it means more boots on the ground to watch my back as I watch theirs. It means more guns in the fight and more eyes on the field. It means more down time between missions to clear my head and refocus after seeing the horrors of battle.

I want my family and friends to always believe in me and don't think for a moment that I don't want to be here. It is hard to explain the feeling in my gut that tells me I am supposed to be here. It is yet another intricate detail in God's plan for me. When I see mothers and families of fallen soldiers bashing the president and this war, it shames me. I sometimes fear that if I fall, I too may be used as a tool against the country I so proudly serve. The hard truth of life is I will die. Here or there, today or in a hundred years, by a bomb or a lifetime of bad diets! I have accepted this. I have accepted Christ as my savior and I willingly fight for my country and our way of life!