Saturday, May 26, 2007
Friday, May 25, 2007
Thursday, May 24, 2007
The value of human life
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Iraq from the air
As I cruise above the strife, heat, danger, poverty, and misery I reflect on how fortunate I am. I am fortunate to be an American, a free man who can make the choice whether to be here or not. Those folks below me can't make that choice but I can. They can't run and I won't run. Dangerous or not, I am committed to finishing my part in this honorably and to the best of my ability.
Friday, May 18, 2007
Arabian Gulf Sunrise
The Shatt al Arab or Waterway of the Arabs is the confluence of the Tigris and Euprhates and is the primary waterborne route into Iraq. In Iran it is called the Sha' Fao as it indicates that the Fao peninsula is the primary geographical influence here.
Just east of me is a gigantic oilfield known as Marjan by the Arabs and Nowrouz by the Iranians. It is the same oilfield and is bisected by an artificial economic zone which makes for some interesting sights and conditions.
In 1986 I was on the deck of a derrick barge and watched Iraqi Super Entendards (French built of course) fly low and just above sea level around the Marjan 1 GOSP (Gas and Oil Separation Platform) as they had vectored on the radar aero racon signal. They kicked in the aferburners, gained altitude and shortly after we felt a concusion and the heard the explosions they bombed the crap out of Kharg Island. Remember those days? The Iraqis were the good guys against the Theocracy of Iran.
I was thinking of all of this the other morning as I stood on my balcony watching the sunrise over the Arabian/Persian Gulf. I saw the most beautiful golden cast upon the water and ran in to get my DSLR. I almost missed the shot and actually did not get the one I really wanted. I'll try again later.
I have so many thoughts and memories like this. I want to one day capture them on paper or digits but I have to slow down for that to happen. As it is I am really pressed to write this or even take care of routine issues like picking up my laundry or getting my hair cut. One day I will visit this part of the world with my son and tell him how his father was raised in America and spent his adult life as a wanderer of the world. I'll be able to show him why daddy is always gone and why daddy is so weird because he likes to drink cider, eat greek food and watch soccer. Daddy loves hot dogs, baseball and southern fried foods too and in this part of the world that is weird.
Oh well, the coffee was good and for a few moments I was lost in my thoughts. Just a few moments away from the Army, the war, the constant push of men and material into the maw of the beast up north. A few minutes to be a regular person, just enjoying a sunrise in an Indian built building drinking Italian coffee made in my German coffee maker shooting photos with my Japanese camera and scratching my American butt. Ain't that weird?
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
If you ain't Cav.......
All of a sudden I was back in Taji with Fritz, Bob, Lou, the 39th ECB Arkansas National Guard and three brigades of the 1st Cavalry Division. The troopers had a lot of fun tagging all the armor in the bone yard and I saw this everywhere. It says it all about the Cav attitude. "If you ain't 1st Cav, you ain't shit."
I heard fired up young stud warriors yell this at each other before they went through the gates for patrol. I heard it when they came back with no injuries or incidents but with kills. I heard it yelled between escorts during convoy runs. I heard it when they played in MWR sports with other units. I heard it from COL James J. McConville when he was addressing his Aviation troopers in front of Ted Nugent and Toby Keith. I heard it from Brigadier General Hammond when he dedicated an new PX.
This Russian made APC was tagged by proud troopers as were many other things at Taji before the PC folks made us start painting over everything so as to not upset anyone. American soldiers have been writing graffitti for 200+ years and will do so in every war but it eventually gets painted over.
Not so the mind set of the soldier who wrote it. He ran the gamut of emotion that only those who have been in a combat zone will know. He has that deeply ingrained sense of the wonderment of exisistence after having come so close to death. You can't paint over that.
He has the sense of unit pride that comes from sharing those days, weeks, months in such an environment. The guy next to you is your best friend and you will share anything with him including you last can of Dr. Pepper even though the PX ran out weeks ago. The unit is your family. The Division is your family. You can't paint over that.
Being Cav is special. Soldiers who were not Cav were delighted to find out that they could claim a Cav combat patch since they served under their command. I have seen a lot of troops come and go but whenever I see a Cav combat patch I always ask them what FOB they were at. If they were at Taji I tell them I was too and I now have a new best friend for the next few minutes. I may have never met him and may never see him again but that connection will harness us together for that moment. No matter what went down I have his back and he has mine. You can't paint over that.
I saw a friend (Newly pinned O-6 too!) the other day when he transitioned through on his way to Afghanistan. He has the new Combat Action Badge. This is a new badge issued by the Army because only Infantry can earn a CIB or Combat Infantry Badge. So many others have seen action in thie war but were not eligible so the Army issued this new badge. Butch had it on and even though he is National Guard from South Carolina he had on a Cav combat patch. I asked about it and he said,"You know, I will go all my life knowing that I served under the finest combat division in the US Army." I asked if he remembered the engagement where he earned that badge and he said he did. He also remembered that I was there too and was under the same fire as were Bob and Lou.
So here it is. Butch, Bob, Lou and I all earned our CABs that day. We also earned our combat patches from the Cav. Some may argue that we don't deserve it but anyone that was there on that hellish day would argue with you. Haji does not care what unifrom you wear, he just wants to kill you because you don't think like him. Tell you what Haji. Come at me again. Cause if you ain't Cav, you ain't shit.
Monday, May 07, 2007
Saturday, May 05, 2007
The Big Sombrero - Kuwait
I'm really looking forward to Memorial Day because we get a holiday and can take it 14 days either side of the holiday. I will take it as early as I can so I can just sleep in and do nothing for a day.
The other day I was driving to the northern end of the country on the 6th Ring Road and saw how far they have come on constructing the new Kuwaiti National Stadium. It has a fabric roof that makes it look like a sombrero. Sort of like the stadium in Tampa Bay but with a roof.
The Kuwaitis say that they are trying to promote tourism and this is one of their steps. It will take more than this, A stadium without beer stands is just not going to attract a huge influx of fans. Then again, there are constant rumors that just any day they are going to begin restricted alcohol sales but I don't see it happening. The way that Islam is becoming more and more strident I can't see the Kuwaitis loosening up on those laws.
Labels: Life in Kuwait