Thursday, April 28, 2005

DFACs on Fox News

Last week there was a film crew here from Fox News. They were here to film a story on the two DFACs that we erected last year. I have not seen the story but we have gotten some email traffic on it. We are quite proud of these facilities. It normally takes 160 days to build one of them and we built two of them simultaneously in a 46 day period.

Monday, April 25, 2005


The only constant in life is change. As inexorable as death and taxes, change takes place. The site has turned from a Task Order site into a full blown project with a full project management team. They have moved a team from a project location that was closing and I have been reassigned as the Project Operations Manager. What this really means is that I have gone from being the Duke of the Realm to being a member of the royal court. It is much like as S-3 shop for the military. I am now responsible for information, information, information. I have been told it is a promotion and that it is another step on the path to becoming a project manager. It sure does not feel like it though. I did get a small raise so that is nice. Time rolls on.

Monday, April 18, 2005

The Tigris River at the Green Zone. Posted by Hello

It's Hajiriffic! Here are some Iraqi laborers setting up a road detour. Note which way the arrow points! this should tell you a lot about the level of education and workmanship that we deal with. Posted by Hello

Mysterious Ruins. We see these all the time but no one can tell us anything about them. We are all very curious. they are located about 5 miles NNW of the baghdad Airport. Posted by Hello

One of the nicer neighborhoods of Baghdad Posted by Hello

BLACK HAWK UP! The best shot I have taken of a Black Hawk so far. I caught this one in a remote area coming low and fast and was lucky to get my camera out in time. Posted by Hello

Bummers Happen

We got some bad news. Our home away from home is being taken away from us. Taji is being split off into its own Task Order and they are shifting an entirely new team from a base closure to take over. My team and I are being shifted down south to another location. I should be flattered that it take a full Project Management staff to replace me and mine but it still sticks in my craw as I have busted my ass for 14 months to build this place up and now some other staff comes in and grabs all the assets we have labored to build.

Life goes on and no one said it is fair.

Thursday, April 07, 2005


I have discovered the joys of the i pod. I have been using itunes on my computer to store music for some time now but have always resisted downloading it into an electronic player because of cost. One of the guys here bought a 40 Gig Ipod at the PX for $400.00 He can store DAYS of music on it. It has more memory than my laptop. I listened to it and I am sold. I getting one next month when that fat 5 week paycheck comes floating in.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Elusive Birds

UH 60 Shadow Posted by Hello

Trip over Baghdad

I took a rather long helicopter flight today and saw a lot of Baghdad from the air that I had never seen before. I get requests to post more photos so I decided to put one on that I took today. Baghdad is like any other city in that it has both good and bad. This is a shot I took while we were in a banking turn. What I really like about it is that you can see the shadow of our bird.

Friday, April 01, 2005

A year ago

I was asked by our MWR Newspaper Editor if I would write an article or message to the team. I have been thinking a lot about what happened here last year. I was scared. I told Carren I was not but I was. It was the very worst that we went through but we got through it by bonding together. It was the biggest test I have ever had as a leader and I did the best I could. I told my staff that every man wonders what it is like to be at the tip of the sword. We know now. I also know now what Vietnam vets meant when they just did not want to talk about it with anyone who had not been there. They would say, "You won't understand." That is true. I find it easier to write about it than talk about it. I have a bond with these people that I will never have with any others. I was under fire with them.

I chewed rocks with Bob Johnson in a parking lot outside the DFAC during a mortar attack. I sat in a bunker with Lou Stall where a 1st Cav trooper hit me up for a job while we had 13 rockets land within 200 yards. I drove like a madman when we took fire outside Balad in a convoy. I made Ed Bruener spill his coffee in his lap. I don't know what made more noise, the Humvee in front of me cooking of with Ma Deuce (.50 caliber) or Ed screaming from the scalding coffee. I sat on the Baath party star in our parking lot with Specialist Lakin while he calmly shot three nitwits trying to come through the fence naked. The survivor said they had seen the movie Predator and figured that is they were naked and covered with mud the guards would not pick them up with night vision. I was in the TOC when Chief Keaton called in artlillery on a mortar position and killed 6 insurgents with one round. It goes on and on. It's not all violence but the violence sticks with you.

I don't think I will have any long term problems but I know that I am not the same person I was when I got here. I have changed. My world has changed. My priorities have changed. I love life.

Anyway, here is what I wrote.

Message to Team Taji,

A year ago we went through a terrible week. We had fellow KBR employees killed and captured by insurgents in convoys right outside our gates. Taji was declared a safe haven and the truckers came pouring in. It was chaos and it took us two days to get everyone together under one roof and accounted for. The truckers were angry, scared, and confused, but they responded to the quiet leadership offered by some of the same people here today.

As there was a stop move order they were stuck here with us. Some of them had lost everything and did not even have a change of clothes. One of them had been declared dead and we were overjoyed to find he was alive. Our personnel took them in, gave them clothes, vehicles to drive, food to eat, phone and email access. Our team went the extra mile to help these wonderful men. They responded in kind. They became part of Team Taji. They helped us pick up trash, haul water and laundry, and did everything they could to assist us in our mission. They became part of our community. When they rolled out we were concerned and made sure they contacted us when they got to their home bases.

Before they left they paid us a wonderful tribute. On the wall beside the morale phones is our wall of honor. The truckers who were stranded here wrote notes of thanks and gratitude where they can still be read today. They did this with no prompting because they wanted to leave something behind that would remind us of them. Every time I see this wall my eyes well up with tears remembering that awful, wonderful week when we became a family here at Taji.

Some of these heroes are with us today. Joe Markin is here and so is Dan Randall. They were stranded here and loved it here. They came back to work specifically for Taji. They are heroes as are any person, man or woman, who has ever driven a truck outside that gate. This is the reason we go the extra mile for these people. Nothing gets here unless it is on a truck. That truck is driven or commanded by someone from back home. They are fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sons, and daughters. They are heroes, they are brave, they are Americans, and they are welcome at Taji.
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