My Weather

Sunday, December 31, 2006

It's all how you look at things...

When Braye and I found out that we were going to Japan, we came up with the motto of “plan for the worse and hope for the best”. That is pretty much how I viewed this tour in Iraq. When I fist got word that I was coming here, I had no idea what to expect. In fact, I went under the assumption that I would be in some remote FOB (forward Operating Base) with no running water and nothing but MREs to eat. With that assumption in mind, it is easy to see the bright side of things. All things considered, Baghdad isn’t that bad of a place to be and my job give me a lot more satisfaction that I thought it would. Sure, I miss Braye and the girls terribly, but at least I have access to phones and email (something else I wasn’t sure I would have).

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Execution of Saddam

Like many people back home. I was watching Fox news trying to learn of the fate of Saddam. After watching Hannity and Colmes, I gave up and drove to breakfast. It was in the DFAC (dining facility) that I saw on TV that he was executed. I saw a couple Iraqis that work in the kitchen peeking through the door, intently watching the TV. From what I’ve seen, the Iraqis are very stoic people—I couldn’t venture a guess what they were thinking. After breakfast, on my way to my truck, I heard the morning prayers way off in the distance and some gunfire (weather it was celebratory or something else, I have no idea). . Basically, it was your typical morning in Baghdad. Today should be interesting.

Friday, December 29, 2006

A bunch of foreigners around here...

In many respects, it is like the UN around here. Since Baghdad is the center of the collation (yes, there really is a collation here) I’ve run into all sorts of people. So far, I’ve either seen or met Japanese, Koreans, Poles, Latvians, Macedonians, Brits, Aussies, Bulgarians, Romanians and a few that I can’t figure out who there are. There are a lot of civilian contractors here as well. They are referred to as either TCNs (third country nationals) or LNs (local nationals). The TCNs are mainly from India, Philippines, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. With all those nationalities, communicating can be difficult at times. Most of the barbers understand “NOT MARINE” when you tell them how to cut your hair, so all is well.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


I think I mentioned this before, but the place I’m staying at used to join Sadam’s hunting preserve. After we invaded, the animals ran loose. Of course, the majority of those wound up in the local butcher shops. Still, I am amazed at all the various animals I have seen. So far, I have seen deer, diving ducks, coyotes, BIG fish, hyenas and a jackal. Of course, if it wasn’t for the Lion King, I would have had no idea what a hyenas look like. Speaking of local animals, I hear one will be assuming room temperature pretty soon. It should be interesting what happens in the neighborhood then.

Pink Flamingo

Yesterday, I received a pair of pink flamingos. Whoever sent them--thank you very much. It will make a fine addition to my trailer. Of course, someone had predicted the effect it would have. Strangely, the effect happened before I took it out of the box!
All is well out here--except it is cold, 40 degrees when I arrived at work.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Back to work

WIth the holidays over, we are back into full swing out here. As strange as it sounds, days off really drag on around here. Work days tend to fly by. The big news for me is that I now have TV in my .5 single wide. I was out in the dark of night splicing into cables. Now I get to watch the best of Armed Forces Television! Too bad they haven't updated the public service announcements (all the commercial are replaced with military PSAs) since we were in Japan. Braye should be in N.C. with my family by now. WIsh I was there, but a house full of screaming kids, I think it will be quieter in Baghdad.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


The Top 5 reasons why Baghdad would be a great place for a summer camp:

5. The fishing is great, and with a war going on—size doesn’t matter and forget the limit
4. Every truck, car and bus here has had the “Mad Max” makeover
3. Dirt is fun, but nothin’ beats playing in the mud
2. If your team wins playing soccer, you get to shoot in the air with your AK-47

And the number one reason why Baghdad would be a great place for a summer camp…

1. If your team loses playing soccer, you get to shoot the other team with your AK-47

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

I just called home a few minutes ago, poor MEG got a Christmas visit to the ER this morning. Apparently, she developed an allergic reaction (a rash) from some medicine she is taking. She is doing fine now, but Braye took her in just to be safe. I spoke with MEG a few minutes ago and she is in great spirits and is very excited about her presents.

Christmas was fine out here, although I miss all of you. I’m glad that this is the last Christmas I will be away from the family.


I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas day. As much as I crossed my fingers, it looks like it will be a brown Christmas here

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve

It is a quiet, beautiful day over here. I actually have the day off. Of course, I still woke up at 0500 and went for a run. I had a great workout—mainly because I had 10 pounds of mud on each shoe. After working out, I had a leisurely breakfast and then went to work to check email. Along the way, I dropped off my laundry and bought a TV that a KBR employee was selling—ok it was an impulse buy. Now I need to find out how to hook up cable (6 AFN channels only) and if the DVD player is compatible with US DVDs. Of course, I will have make an entertainment center today. I made a desk last night by stacking up several cases of water (the most common building material around here) and putting a board on top.

I look forward to talking to everyone either on Christmas Eve or Christmas day.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas is almost here

So far, I have been making out like a bandit this Christmas. I’ve gotten 2 care packages from Braye and another one from my Aunt and Uncle. I am so very grateful. To top things off, my other Uncle gave me a rifle, pistol, a HMMWV, and half a singlewide. Of course, I will have to re-gift all of those items next fall—but I do that with most of the gifts I get (except of course the ones from Braye). In all seriousness, I do appreciate all of the kindness all of you have shown my family and I.

Feels like snow...

Today is a cold and wet day here in Baghdad. If I were anywhere else in the would, I would say that it felt like it was going to snow. That would be something—a white Christmas! Things are still busy at work, but I enjoy it. I got back to my trailer around 2300 last night. I felt like a prisoner going into lock down—I sat on the bed and thought to myself “now what”—nothing but bare walls to look at. That has changed now, Braye sent be a calendar with pictures of the girls today, so my trailer feels less like a cell and a little more like home.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The fog of war

This morning, I can add another item to the “I never thought I would see that in Iraq” file—Fog. I woke up the morning and the visibility was about 1/8 of a mile. It took me twice as long to drive to work today. The next two days are going to be very busy for me, so I needed to get off to an early start
Braye and the girls drove to her parent’s house the other day. I know they are going to have a wonderful time for Christmas. I’m writing this from the internet cafe at work. Here, they play constant Christmas songs, so whenever I come here, I think of home.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

All is well

All is quiet out here in Iraq. I’m firmly established in my new job. It is a busy job, but interesting and rewarding. The only negative is that there is so much information; I spend most of my time trying to find things. Once I get a handle on where everything is, things should go more smoothly. I got my first care package from Braye last night, so I officially have no complaints.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

You never know who you'll run into

There is a war going on

As strange as it sounds, at times it is easy to forget where I am. The other day, I went for a run along a lake. The wind was dead calm and the water was smooth as glass. Way off in the distance, I could see the sun rising over a mosque. It was a very pretty sight and I wished that I had a camera with me. Just as I was reflecting as to how peaceful the world seemed—an ominous cloud of black smoke started rising. Oh well, back to reality….

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Another day down

Today is a busy day, but every day is busy out here. That is ok since 1: it is rewarding work and 2: it helps the time go buy. I burned the midnight oil last night and I finally got the pictures off of my digital camera. Sorry, if they are in no particular order.
Today, I found some boards, so I’m am going to do some creative decorating in my hooch—I think I can use the boards and some cases of bottle water to make a set of book shelves.

Monday, December 18, 2006

On my own

Today is another busy day. The guy I took over for has left the country, so I am on my own. The sun is shining and the mud is drying, so all is well.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Cold and wet

Today is a cold and wet day here in Baghdad--yes it rains here, and when it does, the moon dust that covers everything turns into a thick goo that sticks to everything. 2 inches under the mud is a sun baked clay that is as hard as concrete. Put the two together and well..., when I went running this am I was like a puppy sliding on a tile floor. I stayed on my feet, but I saw a few folks covered in mud climbing out of the ditches that run everywhere.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Christmas Spirit in Iraq

We are fully in the Christmas spirit out here, although it is somewhat subdued. Sure, there are some decorations out here (The best I’ve seen is a wreath on the front grill of a Stryker going outside of the wire) but for the most part, it is low key. I think that a lot of folks here just don’t want to think about it. In the palace where I work, they play Christmas songs a lot, and at times, it really makes me think of home. Of course, I can just imagine how excited the girls will be on Christmas morning and that makes me smile. Sure, I’ll be away from my family for Christmas, but they will always be with me.

Getting settled into a routine

I’m finally getting settled into a routine here. I typically go to work around 0700, eat lunch around noon, dinner at 1700 and wrap up work by 1900 or so. I don’t spend much time in my trailer, since it is nothing more than a room with a bed. As I move in more and add some toys and furniture, I’m sure that I’ll spend a little more time there. After work, I either go to the BX or to the MWR internet café. We have an internet café at work, but it is hard to get away for very long.

I’m still working on my turnover with the guy that I am taking over for. Talk about a fire hose of information!! I still see a lot of late nights, but I still think this will be a rewarding tour.

Because of security reasons I have to be vague at times. Today a celebrity is coming to work. Although I’m not one of the guys that will specifically meet with him, I may get to have my picture taken with him. (Something else for my “I never thought I would see that in Iraq” file). If I get any good pictures, I’ll post them.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Getting settled in

Having spent my first night in my trailer, I am loving life. I have developed an attitude where I actively look for the good things around me. That way, I develop a list of good things and all of a sudden, I’m having a good day. So for today, I checked out my neighborhood and found that the best gym and DIFAC are within a stones throw of my hooch. I also have a Laundromat nearby (run by the evil Halliburton).

Today is my second day at the office. I couldn’t be happier with the people I will be working with. My job is beyond the scope of what I trained for, but it will prove to be a very rewarding job to say the least.

The other day, I said that there was nothing that I need, well today I realized that there is something that I do need for my trailer. I am in desperate need for a pink flamingo to put in my front yard. Every trailer park back home has at least one pink flamingo and I think it will add the perfect touch.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

First day at work

Today was my first day at my new job. To say that it was overwhelming is an understatement. It is a very busy job and I’m sure that I will have a lot of late nights. It will be a rewarding job though, so it will be worth it I’m real impressed with the operation and people. I will also be able to get outside some and get my hands dirty and work directly with the troops, so that will be nice.
I guess as a palace, my office is OK with marble floors, crystal chandeliers and all sorts of other amenities.
I got my trailer today, alas, no marble floors, but it is a “wet” trailer, so I have a room to myself and I share a bathroom with another guy. So, by Iraqi standards, I live in a palace.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Things I need

Since I’ve gotten an address, I’ve gotten a lot of questions from folks back home as to weather or not I need anything. I really, really appreciate the thought, but I’m doing just fine. KBR (the subsidiary of the evil Halliburton) takes very good care of us over here. In the dining facility, we have: a main line, a speed line, a carving station, a stir fry bar, a sports bar (complete with fake beer), an Indian bar, a salad bar, a deli bar and a dessert bar. The PX has a limited selection, but everything that I need. Now if you ask me what I may want, well, let’s just say that living in a tent with 50 other guys has given me a bad case of gadget envy. Braye better hurry up and spend my tax free pay at Home Depot before I do something that she may regret. Of course, once I move into my trailer, the gadget envy may pass.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Groundhog day

Nothing major to write about today. Most of my time was spent in the classroom and in meetings. Since my schedule was packed, I decided to go running before class. Pretty scary since it is very dark around here with no street lights and the roads are in terrible shape. Like I said before, my base is a far as you can get from any danger, so the only hazard I face is breaking an ankle on one of my runs.
Today, I met my Navy boss. Tomorrow I meet my Army boss. I also move into my quarters. So, tomorrow should be interesting. Most of the guys I went through training with are flying out to their respective FOBs (forward operating bases) so I'll be alone and unafraid.

Monday, December 11, 2006


Today we received our assignments. As it turns out, I will be staying here in Baghdad. Mary Elizabeth can start bragging to her friends that her daddy works in a real palace now. Since I am staying here, I am going to start working on getting a trailer. I don’t know where it will be, but hopefully it will be close to where I work. I also have an address now:

LCDR my name
89th MP Brigade
Bldg 65 Camp Victory, Iraq
APO AE 09342

It will be so nice to stop living out of a sea bag.

Second day in Baghdad

Today was my second day in Baghdad. To start off the day, I had a meeting in the Al Faw Palace. The architecture was amazing—it is along the lines of what I saw in the Vatican. Too bad so many people had to starve to build it. While I was there, I got to sit in Saddam’s thrown. I took a picture, but it will be quite some time before I can down load the pictures from my camera. After my visit to the palace, I checked into my new command. Still no word as to where I’ll be going. All we know is that most of us will fly out of Baghdad on Wednesday.
I went for a run today and I saw something to put into my “Gee, I never thought I would see that in Iraq” file. I came across a small deer feeding on the side of the road. As it turns out, this entire area was part of Saddam’s private hunting preserve and the animals went loose after the invasion. Apparently, there are even some jackals running about. I also saw some soldiers fishing on one of the lakes. If I wind up staying here, I think I’ll ask Braye to send me my fishing rod.

The internet is extreamly slow here, so just keep in mind that if you don’t hear from me for a while it is most likely because I just can't get through.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

In Baghdad

I arrived in Baghdad a few hours ago. It was a relatively short flight from Kuwait. Shortly after we landed, we were driven to our camp. The base that I'm at is huge and very safe, so no worries there. We had the rest of the day off, so I actually went for a 5 mile run. Even after all that, I didn't see all of the base.
Landing at BIAP (Baghdad International Airport) we uneventful. I once read a reporters account of the approach into BIAP here as a “terrifying spiraling decent into hell, where the strongest of men cried out of fear...” We'll, it wasn't bad at all, maybe a little aggressive, but nothing bad at all.
The first thing I noticed about the airport was the destruction. Everywhere you look, there are bombed out bunkers and piles of rubble. It was a fairly long ride to our tent, so I got to see quite a lot. Just like Kuwait, there is a fine brown dust that covers everything. Cars, buildings, roads, everything. It reminded me of the blowing dust storms in Beijing. There are trees here that look like a cross of a sycamore and a willow, but their leaves were covered with the dust too, so you could only catch a hint of green.
I had a wonderful run today and got to see much more of the base. Thanks to the dust, my chest started hurting after a mile, but I quickly got used to it. This area is near one of Saddam's palaces and I could see it off in the distance. (The palace was built after the Gulf War with money skimmed from the Oil for Food program.) There is a fair amount of lakes and canals about, and with them what used to be very luxurious homes and boat houses. Of course, everything shows signs of neglect with crumbling sidewalks and potholed streets. You can tell however, that this used to be a nice place. In order to provide protection, the military erected huge concrete barriers, similar to the ones you see on highways, but much taller. They are everywhere. The barriers and the dust gives this place a feel of a big city construction site.
Tomorrow, I report to my new command. Hopefully, I will find out where I will wind up. I have a lot more to write, but only limited time at the computer lab. I also have been taking lots of pictures, but I have to wait until I get my laptop over here to down load the pictures.
So in closing, I am in Baghdad and it isn't bad at all (thanks to the evil Haliburton, I even had crab legs for dinner tonight). The base I am at is safe and quiet, so I have to admit I will have no good war stories when I come home.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Back from the desert

I'm back from 3 days of training in the Kuwaiti desert. The training went well and I learned some things that I'm sure I will never have to use. For some reason, the Army insists on making things as painful as possible. While we were there, we had to sleep on the floor of our classroom. The room itself was about twice the size of an average living room, yet we had close to 100 people sleeping in it. I got stepped on more than once. To make matters worse, we were not allowed to bring our ruck sacks into the tent, and of course it was one of those rare days where it poured, so our equipment got soaked.
Tomorrow, we head up to Baghdad. When we got back to base here in Kuwait, we were greeted by some of the members of the squadron we are going to. One of them told me that an Lieutenant Commander from my group will actually be working in Kuwait instead of Baghdad. There is only three of us, so we are all speculating who it will be. Either way, I just want to get going and unpack my bags.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Getting settled in

Well, I am getting settled in over here. I managed to get over my jet lag and got a full night's sleep last night. Today is a fairly light day, with the only even is that we are going out to the Udairi training range for some more training. There is no internet at all out there, so this will most likely be my last post for a couple of days. We will be there for a couple of days and then I'll be off to Baghdad. I'm looking forward to getting to my ultimate duty station and unpacking for good.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What is Kuwait is Like?

We flew in yesterday after it got dark so I didn't get to see much of Kuwait. (On a side note, we flew right over Baghdad on the way in, kinda a strange feeling flying over the city in an airliner) I can say that what I've seen, Kuwait is a dirty, dusty place. I woke up today to a cold and rainy day. I would say it was about 55 degrees today. I'm staying at a joint Army and Navy base. It is an interesting place, with no permanent buildings. Everything is located in either a tent or a trailer. I'm living in a 20 man tent right now. The heat doesn't work, but our sleeping bags work very well. Everywhere you look there are concrete barricades and boxes of bottled water stacked up. The sand here is a dark brown and is as fine as talcum powder. I can see how it gets into everything. I will send pictures as soon as I get my laptop over here.
Besides having a PX, post office and all the other places that comes with a base, there is also a Pizza Hut, Subway and McDonald's. I usually eat in the DIFAC (army talk for the dining facility) It is quite good with a lot of different kinds of food. Think of it as a typical family buffet restaurant (except there are no crying babies here and everyone is carrying a gun) My only complaint is that they only have flavored half and half and I like the plain stuff.
There are a couple of Internet cafes on the base here, but the connections are very slow at times. Hotmail especially doesn't like the connection speeds and I have a hard time sending and receiving email. SO if you don't hear from me, please bear with me.

In Kuwait

I made it to Kuwait safe and sound. I need to keep this post short--I only got 2 hours of sleep in the past 24 hours and I have a full day that starts in 4 hours. I just wanted to let everyone know that I am safe. I'm living in a tent and sleeping in a sleeping bag. The weather here is cool and so far, the food is very good. The place that I am at is very safe, so no worries there.

Monday, December 04, 2006



In Maine

We landed in Bangor, Maine a few minutes ago. Wow, what a welcome! There were over 100 people were at the gate, cheering and clapping for us--a true hero's welcome. I can't say how great it made me feel. I don't think I have ever shook that many hands at once. Going off to war is a lot eaiser knowing that so many people are behind us.

So far, the trip is going well. We are flying on an ONI charter 757. I got a seat in the first class section, so it has been a ver comfortable ride so far. Next stop--Germany. I'm not sure if I will be able to post from there or not

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Hurry up and wait…

Well, Army has done it again. Our flight leaves today at 1600, but we had to start leaving our barracks at 0630. Very generously, the Army opened up 2 class rooms so the 115 of us can sit around and wait for the next 5 hours. Unbelievable!
After today, it will be difficult for me to keep up this blog. As of right not, I am supposed to get 1 to 3 days in Kuwait to adjust to the climate. After that, I go out into the field for 3 days to learn more Army stuff. Once in the field, I will have no internet access. After the field training, I will head to Bagdad. Once in Bagdad, I should get to more reliable internet access and have get a mailing address.
So, don’t worry if you don’t hear from me for a while—all is well.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The power of Prayer

The power of Prayer

Today, my Aunt and Uncle drove down from Charlotte to take me out to lunch. With my leaving tomorrow, today was a difficult day for me, and having some family with me was just what I needed.
I have been added to a lot of prayer lists lately. Today, when she found out I was going to Iraq, the hostess at lunch today told me that she would pray for me. These prayers mean so much to me.
Recently, there were two times when prayer made a huge difference to me. Several weeks ago, Braye and I were faced with a very painful and uncertain situation. We prayed together and that gave me so much strength. Although we didn’t get what we prayed for, I think the situation would have been much more difficult without the prayers we said.
Today, as we were saying good bye, my Uncle said he wanted to pray together. I was so touched. What he said was so special and powerful to me. Good thing I was wearing sunglasses since my allergies started acting up right afterwards. I am so grateful to them.
As far as praying for me, thank you all and please don’t stop. Please pray for Braye and the girls and for me to do the best possible job over there.

Last work day at FT. Jackson

Today was our last day here at FT. Jackson. It was a long process and I’m glad that I’m finished. As soon as I get to Kuwait, my “boots on the ground” clock starts ticking. As it stands, I am supposed to be there for 7 to 9 months.
Tomorrow is a day off. I wanted to rent a car and drive to my Aunt and Uncle’s house in Charlotte, but, as they say in Boston: "you can't get there from here". Getting to a rental car agency is next to impossible since the first shuttle bus runs after the agency close.

As it turns out, my Aunt and Uncle are going to drive down here for lunch tomorrow. I hate that they have to go through all the trouble to come down here, but I will be great to see them.
I checked into the BOQ tonight for some me time. I thought it would be a good way to relax, watch some TV, take a long shower and catch up on some phone calls, As it turns out, I’m in the Army now. The building is a mini barracks, being a cinderblock building (no cell pone coverage inside) the bathroom has a communal shower down the hall (no long shower), and all the TV has is limited basic cable (no TV). It is a good thing I brought a good book.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Last Training Day at FT. Jackson

Today was our last training day here at FT. Jackson. All and all, it was interesting. In the morning, we did a land navigation course. Of course, the majority of the folks in my class are pilots and navigators, so navigating through a 400m course wasn’t so hard. This afternoon, we did a mock convoy where we were exposed to some of the threats we could expect in Iraq. It was interesting and the instructors did a good job on the simulation. Tomorrow, is an administrative day and Saturday being a day off. If they have any rooms available, I may get a room at the Bachelor Officer’s Quarter’s—just to get out of my open bay barracks. A lot of the guys are going to get a last good meal in town before we leave. I think I will stay behind. Good company makes for a great meal, and the only dinner guest I would like to spend an evening with is in Pensacola.