Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Still Here and a Pink Bicycle

I hope to God that this belongs to a girl. I saw this bicycle on base yesterday and took a quick snap of it. It is a very interesting piece here in Kuwait. First off, you don't see a lot of bicycles because it is A: Too dangerous because of the crazy drivers and B: Too damn hot to ride 6 months out of the year.
Not posting much but I am writing a hell of a lot of procedures, documents, emails, PowerPoints, etc. The Kuwaiti authorities are making rules changes as we go along and that just adds to the entire complex and layered effort of trying to operate on a war footing in a country that does not consider itself at war.

We are in a RIP/TOA (Rotation In Place - Transfer Of Authority) with several units at the same time this surge is here and I am still being pummled with requests for time. Our SPO (Support Officer) is on R&R and I am shouldering his duties along with mine so I get slammed every day by my own time managment. I just don't have enough of it. I am 13 days and a wake up from R&R myself but I'm not counting. 13 days, 21 hours, 14 minutes and 3 seconds from my bird going wheels up for London-Chicago-Austin.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Long days, short nights

Dammit I'm tired. I have been at it since 07:00 and it is now 22:00. I am just writing to vent a little. I have to be back at 07:00 to do it again. Grind, grind, grind. The things that keep me going are coffee, knowing that someone up the line is affected by what I do, and the fact that I get R&R in 23 days; not that I am counting or anything!

This will all be over one day and I will look back with pride at what we did but right now I just want to run away for a while and chill out. A beer, the warmth of my dog at my feet, and just nothing to do sounds so damn good tonight.

Here is something fun that was sent to me by Mighty Fine Dodge. There are 233 of me in the USA. How many of you are there?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Sid's Passing

In Newport Beach, California there is a place known only by locals that offers steaks as good as anything at Morton's, a Scotch selection you can't find West of NYC, and live Jazz. You won't ever find it no matter how hard you look because it is in a semi industrial area, on a side street accessable only from a neighborhood, and has no sign.
Sid's. The name alone invokes memories of lazy Sunday afternoons and evenings sipping Scotch and smoking cigars in lawn chairs by the chain link fence next to the boat yard. Friday's with popping Jazz and some of the most beautiful women in the world posing and posturing for the weel heeled men who loved this place. Saturday's when the younger crowd showed up wearing baggy pants and slammed a few brews before heading off to wherever they go these days. Weeknights when you could actually find a miss matched chair at a table with one leg shorter than the others or get one of the few bar stools and look back at everyone from the mirror behind it. I was there often but never enough. I loved this place and am forever grateful to Mighty Fine Dodge for introducing me to it.
Not everyone got the vibe or understood what Sid's was all about. If you called for directions they would not give them to you. Since you did not know already you didn't need to know. Sid had enough customers and id not need anymore. If you asked for salt and pepper Sid would come out and ask what was wrong with the food. Once he was gone that fell on his staff and they followed his orders from Las Vegas. You just did not question Sid or his staff. It was Sid's way or no way and that was OK by me.
Sid was an iconoclast and one of the last of the truly free spirit Californians out there. Sid harangued the Costa Mesa city council, was an activist for unpopular causes, and then ran to Nevada because he had a bench warrant out for his arrest. Had he been incarcerated it would have made for great court TV.
I have not thought much about Sid's for the past few years. The war has all my attention these days, attention I try to parcel to my loved ones. I don't have a lot of time for reminiscing. I was jolted back to those days in California by an email from MFD today. Those days when I was with friends, making bank, and loving life. My family could not understand why I stayed after my divorce and just lived the life I wanted. They didn't until they came to visit. I took them to Ducks games, Disneyland, San Diego, Hollywood, Tijuana, and Big Bear. Then I took them to Sid's. Now they understood.

Those days will come no more. I left California for a more stable future and Sid passed away. No, let me rephrase this because Sid did nothing half way. Sid probably died kicking and screaming. He most likely arrived at the pearly gates and announced that St. Peter was under arrest for making false promises to people. He is probably trying to run Heaven's DFAC and if anyone asks for ketchup he will run out in his food stained, was white at one time, tee shirt and yell, "What's wrong with it? I made it perfect. After all this is heaven and everything is perfect."
RIP Sid. The Golden State is a little tarnished today because you are gone.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Making a Difference

It's been a while since I posted anything. You have all read or heard about the troop surge for OIF by now. This is causing me a lot of long hours and late nights. I generally report for duty around 06:30 and leave around 22:00. I have been burning up the roads between all the posts in Kuwait also. My staff is tired and so am I. I envy those whose R&R paperwork I endorse no matter where they go. I am overdue again and get one in March but that seems like such a long time from now.

On the flip side though, some of the people I beagn recruiting several months ago have started to arrive. It helps to have the people you know you can count on around you. People you trust make a difference. It is so tough sometimes that you wonder if you are making a difference. I have so many crappy days working issues that it just grinds on me. I wonder, "When will I have a good day?"

Last night I was at an airbase watching a chalk of personnel assembling to go to the flight line. The chalk was 1st Cav Troopers so I went over to talk with them. There was a very young PFC who was standing there and I asked him how he was. He looked at me and said, "I'm tired of this crap sir. I'm tired of being deployed. I miss my dog." I told him that I miss my dog too, and my wife, and my son. I told him that I spent three years in Iraq and that what we do is for all those we left behind including his dog. I told him it was OK to feel sad and that it was OK to want to be home but that it was more important to face his duty head on and do what he was trained to do. He smiled a little and said, "Thank you sir, most people don't say that it's OK to be sad. They think that because we are soldiers we can't feel that way." I asked him if he lived in Killeen and he told me he lived in Belton. I tossed some names at him and he does know some NCOs that I also know. This cheered him up a bit. I made small talk until they were called forward. I watched until he started up the steps of the bus. He turned and gave me a wave and a big smile before he went up the last step.

Like all the other Troopers on that bird last night he was going into a year of hell. I know he has good leaders, great equipment, sound battle plans, and all the support he needs. I hope he makes it back OK. I didn't look at his name tag and that was an omission I did on purpose. He is just like all the others. Nothing special and yet special in so many ways. The last time he was in a safe area was when he was talking with me. I will worry about this kid. He is young enough to be my son and indeed he is some one else's son.

As we left my battle buddy (It is our third deployment together and second war zone) was walking beside me and we made small talk. He told me that he was listening while I was talking with this young lion. He told me that I made the boy feel better about being a soldier and being there. He told me that my talk made a difference in that young man. You know what? That makes it worth it and that made it a good day.
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