My Weather

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

End in sight

Well maybe it is a good thing that I’m heading home soon—I’m starting to run out of things to write about. Today I did more turnover with my relief and I had to turn in some more gear that I won’t be needing. I also found out that I’ll be leaving Kuwait sooner, rather than later which means the counter on the blog is right after all. I am so looking forward to coming home. Now that the end is in sight, I miss Braye and the girls more than ever.

Monday, July 30, 2007


Time is dragging by now. I have pretty much turned over with my relief and the days no longer seem to fly by. Most of my things are packed and I have completed just about everything on my “check out sheet”. I still don’t know the exact date that I’m leaving, so that adds to it. Either way, I should be home by the 17th or so. I hope it is sooner so I can have some” daddy daughter time” before school starts.
Last night, I took down all of the artwork our girls made and the family pictures that had been decorating my trailer—so now I’m back to living in a box in the desert. I’m thinking about getting an volleyball and naming it Wilson to keep me company until I head some…

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Packing my trash

Today, I’m finally starting to get excited about coming home. Of course, I don’t know if that will be on the 11th or the 15th. The navy still hasn’t made up its mind. I packed my duffel bags today. It was an easy job since 90% of all the stuff I never used while I was over here. ( I never unpacked it) Not much demand for a chemical suit, entrenching tool, or a few of the other items I lugged here from South Carolina.
We did some more turn over stuff today and did a tour of most of the base. A few more days of turnover to go and I’ll be just clock watching. I turned in my body armor and ammunition today, so it looks like I won’t be making anymore road trips. Tonight is the Asia cup soccer game, so maybe it is a good thing I still have my helmet.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

One thing I'll miss

Since I’m getting so short, I’m starting to reflect on the things that I will miss once I leave here. Yes, there are things I will miss about this place. Of course, I won’t miss the heat, the dust, mud, mortars and most of all—being away from my family.

One thing that I will truly miss is the Soldiers.
I worked closely with one a National Guard infantry company from Texas. In previous wars, they were called “GIs”, “dogfaces”, “doughboys” or “grunts”. This time around, they refer to themselves as “Joes”. Mainly they are kids, but there are some crusty old timers mixed in as well.
As a Naval Aviator, I may have had a preconception that they guys on the ground were a bunch of knuckle draggers. Nothing could be farther from the truth. They are true professionals—dedicated to their jobs and each other. Once, while I was out on a mission, one of the Corporals told me:
“Sir, I’m glad that you are coming along…we make a good team... since you’re a pilot, you’re technical and since we’re infantry, we’re testicular, so together we’ll be fine”.
Yeah, I’m going to miss these guys.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Busy day

Today was a pretty busy day-- some days are like that. I went in around 0630 and I didn’t get out of there until 2000. Even after all of these months, I still find the work interesting and rewarding. A few things popped up that had to be taken care of and I’m trying to tie up as many loose ends before I leave. Tomorrow is when we start our turnover, so it will be another busy day.
As far as going home, I won’t find out the exact date until around the first. Right now I scheduled to head home on the 15th, but it may be bumped up 4 days. I hope so. Our oldest is starting school in August and I’d sure like to get home before she does.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


A picture of what will soon be my former office.

Yesterday was the semi final match for the Asia Cup. I guess it is some type of soccer thing. To the Iraqis, it's huge. There are 11 guys on the squad--Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. Not only do they represent all of Iraq, but these guys have overcome huge odds to come this far. There are no leagues anymore, training facilities are in total disrepair and, until recently, Uday Hussein had a bad habit of killing athletes that didn’t perform. Yet these guys have excelled. I soccer were a real spot, the closest comparison would be Rocky Balboa fighting Apollo Creed.
I admit it, I’m not a fan of soccer, but I’ll be watching and rooting for them when they go to the championship next week. After overcoming the odds they have, they will be winners no matter what the outcome.
Iraqis everywhere went nuts when their team won. People were shooting in the air (every 12 year old has an AK-47 around here) , honking horns and waiving Iraqi flags to celebrate. It was as if they all put aside their differences for a few moments and were one people at peace.
It was the one thing the terrorists couldn’t allow. 2 car bombs drove into crowds for joyous fans and detonated—killing 50. A soccer stadium in Mosul was blown up. Innocent people murdered because they choose to put aside hate for a few minutes to celebrate a simple game.
This is who we are fighting over here

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

So, how's the weather?

Well that is something I haven't seen for awhile--clouds. They wontlast much past 0700 though. It has been getting hotter lately, with daytime highs around 120.
When I run at 0500, it is already 95. Yeah,yeah, it is a dry heat, but it is starting to suck just the same. StillI perfer it to a Alabama summer.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My new ride

In a few weeks I’ll be back in Pensacola. After I take some leave, I’m going to start flying the T-39 “Saberliner”. The Navy uses them to train Navy and Air Force navigators. Typically they are flown by civilian contract pilots, but there are always 2 military pilots that fly them as well. I’ll be one of those pilots. The T-39 is a good jet that has the same wing as the Korean War vintage F-86 Saber. I’ve flown it a few times before.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Relief in sight—literally

My relief flew in last night and I have to say I was happier to see him than he was to see me. I met him at BIAP (Baghdad Airport) drove him to his tent. Today, we spent a good portion of today seeing the sights and going over stuff. He has a weeklong school to go through and then we have almost 2 weeks to turnover. It is a far cry different from when I got here—we had very little training or turnover then.
Getting closer…

Sunday, July 22, 2007

How cool was that?

This is the “Perfume Palace”—according to local ledged, this was where Saddam and his buddies kept their concubines. I have no idea what it really was.

This morning, well before sunrise, I was out running when I came to the realization that I’m starting to like country music. When I left home, I took my wife’s iPod with me (along with the rest of her electronic gadgets). I was running along a canal when a Toby Keith song came on---the one where he talks about putting a boot somewhere. About halfway through the song, a flight of helicopters flew by a few hundred yards away, when one of them pickled a whole load of flares. Talk about lighting up the world like the Fourth of July. Way cool.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Gettng closer

This is the “Victory over America palace” I guess Saddam should have waited to name it until it was finished. Those cranes haven’t moved since the invasion. Like most buildings around here, they were built with “Oil for Food” money. Another one of those great programs we can than the UN for.
My relief arrives tomorrow. If all goes well, I’ll be home by the middle of the month. I have a feeling that these last few days are really going to drag on.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Through the eyes of a 4 year old...

Today, my wife sent me a present, although she may not have realized it at the time.

Recently she bought our oldest daughter an inexpensive digital camera. Today, she sent me a collection of our daughter’s handiwork. They are priceless! If I had a printer, they would be on my refrigerator right now. Sure, many are blurry and they are all taken from a height of 3 feet, but they are a window to her world. Seeing what she sees brings me so much closer to them.

This is one of the pictures she took today. Each morning, I get up around 4:30, so I can say goodnight to the girls. It really makes my day. Talking on the phone is one thing, but getting to see them is so much better. One of the most precious things any father can here is “watch me daddy!”. Even though I am on the other side of the world, I can.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Since I’m leaving soon, I figured that I needed to pick up a souvenir. Most of what is sold in the Hajji mart is either Junk or made in China.

Recently, I came across one of these “mini T-walls”--they are an exact replica of the walls that surround everything around here. The company the makes the real ones—77 Construction, also makes miniature ones. I had to have one. Unfortunately, everyone else seems to want one around here so the waiting list is huge.
Today, I had some free time, so I drove out to the concrete plant. In addition to getting a souvenir, I got a tour of a concrete plant. 77 is a Turkish company with one American employee, one Iraqi and the rest Turks. They are a great bunch guys were happy to hear how one of their barriers came in handy one night. Of course, the whole time the question kept coming to mind: “So Billy have you ever been inside a Turkish concrete plant?”

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Getting Short

Well, I’m officially getting short. I found out that they guy that was slated to relieve me, will actually be my relief. He should arrive from Kuwait. After all of the training and turnover, I should head to Kuwait in the beginning of August. If all goes well, I should be home by the middle of the month. It won’t be a moment too soon—I miss my family very much.

Besides, Iraq is starting to get to me. I can live with the mortars and the heat, but they started doing karaoke in the chow hall.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


I mailed my fly rod home the other day. With all the heat, thick clumps of weeds have overtaken the lake. As it is, the only fish that are biting are “masgoof”, which are Iraqi carp. They are pretty huge, but they are still a trash fish though—although the Iraqis love ‘em. Someone once told me that the only way to eat a carp is to filet it on a board, marinate it for 12 hours, throw the fish away and eat the board. Still, they are fun to catch, even though I’ve lowered myself to use a spinning rod and hunks of sausage for bait. In a few more weeks, I hope to take an “almost five year old’ fishing for the first time.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Getting better

I watched the news yesterday and a bunch of politicians were saying that the “surge” has failed and the war is lost. Of course, the last of the “surge” got in place less than a month ago. I guess they are so heavily invested in defeat, the refuse to see progress.

As far as being a failure:

Just the other day, the commander of collation forces in Northern Iraq stated that he can start reducing troops by January.

2 Sunni tribes in Baqouba agreed to stop fighting each other and pledged to fight Al Qaeda. Baqouba was a pretty scary place not too long ago. Things have changed a lot.

Al Anbar province was the wild, wild west not too long ago. Now, local tribes are fighting the insurgents, essential services are being restored and US casualties are way down.
Sounds like a failure to me.
The three success stories, I found after reading the paper for 5 minutes. I guess some politicians are so busy, they don’t have 5 minutes to spare.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Summer around here is hot, but not unbearably so. Typically, we have seen temperatures around 115 or so. Some days, it is pretty windy and it feels like you are standing in a giant hair dryer. Some days the dust rolls in from the desert and the visibility get less than 3 miles. Everything seems to lose all sense of color and it is pretty depressing. On other days, it is amazingly clear out. I took this picture at 0700 in the morning. It was only 90 then. In a way, it reminds me of Arizona—minus the scenery.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Flag

Some time ago, I was at the US Base in Balad, Iraq. It looks like everywhere else in Iraq—concrete barriers, dirt and a few trees. One thing that really made a difference to me though: on every flag pole on that base, the U.S. Flag was flying. I felt a touch of pride every time I saw one.
Here at my base, you may see one being raised momentarily on Flag Day or the 4th of July, but you never see one permanently flying. I guess “the powers that be” are afraid of offending someone. Funny, I think our guys getting blown up is offensive. Of course, folks a lot smarter than me come up with these things

Friday, July 13, 2007

Starting to see the light

After many months of daily blogs, I’m starting to run out of things to write about. I guess it is a good thing that I’m headed home soon. If all goes according to plan, the guy that is relieving me is on his way to Kuwait as I write this. Of course I won’t know for sure when I’m coming home until a week before I leave Iraq.

The main reason for the uncertainty is that “the powers that be” don’t take into account that some people fall out of training or are disqualified prior to coming over here. I came over here with 35 other guys. Several months ago, 35 replacements were named to relieve us—no more, no less. So, if a guy drops out of training because they discover he has allergies to sand fleas—one guy over here gets extended. Since guys drop out at all stages of training, we have no idea how many replacements are coming until they get here

I know that there are a few guys that will try anything they can to weasel out of coming over. While the weasel is my favorite animal, it not right to make a guy extend over here

Thursday, July 12, 2007


I was sitting here, trying to come up with a topic to write about. I had the TV on in the background and the President just came on and gave a speech about the Interim Iraq Progress Report. I have to say it was one of the best speeches he has given. He laid out the situation over here perfectly—very clear and concise. Could things be better over here? Sure. Is progress being made? It sure is, but you have to be willing to see it. I see it and if the country is willing, we will prevail.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Well maybe I’m getting ahead of myself or jinxing myself, but I started packing—mostly my winter stuff and things I never use. My relief heads to Kuwait on Friday. He will go through a week of training there before eh heads to Baghdad. Once he gets here, hell go through another week of training and then we will turn over. Once I pass the torch, I will head to Kuwait for 4 days of “Warrior Transition Program”—(you gotta love all these cool chest thumping names they come up with). After 4 days of that, I’ll be home. Of course all things are written in mud, so we’ll see.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Bad Guys

In Iraq, things are not black and white. Of course, we are the good guys that wear the white hats. The bad guys, that is a little more difficult.
First, you have the Al Qaeda types. Those are the worse of the worse. To them it is their way or the highway. They are the most brutal and fanatical killers. Some are Iraqi, but Iraq is like Woodstock to a Jihadist and they come from miles around.
Next you have the Shiite militias. The Shiites are in the majority and they just seem to have a ball killing people. Sunni, Al Qaeda, Americans, other Shiites—they don’t care. Even though Shiites were in the majority in Iraq, the Sunnis held all of the power. Now they have a pretty big chip on their shoulder and they are looking to settle a score. Of course, Iran is a Shiite country; I wonder what they have been up to?

Finally, you have the Sunnis. Since they were in the minority and Saddam did some pretty nasty things to the Shiites, a lot of them are scared of the prospect of ethic cleansing by the Shiites. They also target Americans because they see the US as aiding their enemy the Shiites. They honestly feel they are fighting for the survival of their people. Recently, the Sunni tribes have been taking up arms against the Al Qaeda types out in the Al Anbar province and recently, south of Baghdad. I guess Shari law doesn’t settle with them very well. I also think they are starting to realize that it will be better for them to work with the Collation than against it.

Of course to the vast majority of Iraqis are good people that just want to get on with their lives. They are the ones that are suffering and we have a moral obligation to help--why? Because we are the good guys and it is the right thing to do. Of course, many people in our country don't see it that way. I guess ours isn’t a perfect country either.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Reset the clock--again

Just one of the friendly streets of Baghdad
If you’ve noticed, I’ve reset my countdown clock—again. The latest word is that I will go home on time. Although a lot of our replacements didn’t show up for training, apparently there are enough of the “right kind” (we have different kinds of jobs over here) of replacements to take my job. A few of the guys that I came over with will be extended, but only until the next class shows—which will be about 10 days.
So, I’ve reset the clock, but I know that I won’t be done with this assignment until I am home and I’ve unplugged the phone from my wall.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

By the way, we’re the good guys

I take my camera with me everywhere, just in case a good picture presents itself. Today, I was in the motor pool when the guys were getting ready for a mission. On the hood on one truck, right in front of a Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) is a box of toys. When the guys go out on missions, they often take toys for the local kids as well as other things. There is no such thing as “Operation Toy Give-a-way” These guys give toys and other things to kids because, well…because they are kids and our guys…well that is just who they are. Sure doesn’t sound like the guys the members of the far left like to refer to as “Nazis”.
What do Michael Moore’s “freedom fighters” do for kids? Recently, a couple of them put 2 small children in a car bomb—so to not arouse suspicion while driving through a check point. Once they got through, the insurgents ran off and detonated the car bomb—with the kids still inside.

Yeah, we’re the good guys over here—make no mistake about it.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Free Time

This picture was taken at “Warrior Park”, which is a spot on base that has picnic tables, volley ball nets, horseshoes, barbeque grills and of all things—a model car race track. Every night, on my way home from work, these guys are our racing their cars.

On another part of the base, there is an outdoor stage—the same one the Toby Keith played on a few weeks ago. Last night, a bunch of Soldiers got together and put on a play. Too much culture for me—plus it was 108 degrees .

These kids are over here for 15 months now and they gotta take a break from time to time. Just about everyone picks up some sort of hobby. Fishing is another popular past time as are the gyms. I have devoured quite a few books. One private I see comes into work with blood shot eyes after playing Dungeons and Dragons until 0300—just try to call him a geek though-he carries a gun with him everywhere he goes. I can, but that is because I carry one too.

Friday, July 06, 2007

What it will take

I had a long lunch with one of the Iraqis I work with. He fled in the 90s when ole’ Saddam went on a killing spree. He made a good life for himself as an engineer in the States, but decided to come back here to work as an interpreter. He has been away from his family for over 2 years now. He is an American citizen now, but his home is Iraq and he is here trying to make it a better place. He is a very interesting person to talk to.

Today I asked him what he thought needed to be done to fix this place. His answer: Pull out of the city and let a full scale civil war break out. After a while, when the different factions have sufficiently thinned out each other’s ranks, have to collation come back in and restore order.

It might work, but seems a bit draconian to me. Innocence will always get caught in the middle. Besides, I don’t think they will ever get tired of killing each other.

Some people suggest that we partition the country into a Kurdish region, a Shiite region and a Sunni region. The only problem is that the Arab Shiites will start killing the Persian Shiites. The Al Qaeda Sunnis will keep on whacking the regular Sunnis.

What I think needs to be done is that we need to do is hunker down for the long haul—this thing used to be called “The Long War” until the powers that be said we couldn’t use that phrase. Slowly, things are getting better. Up north in the Kurdish areas and out in Al Anbar in Ramadi are two examples. Most people don’t know that there are shopping malls that are open and doing great business in parts of Iraq.

As their neighborhoods became safer and their living conditions improved, average Iraqis started to take more ownership in their condition. This ownership soon developed into a sense of pride and social responsibility that drove the fanatical elements out of their neighborhoods. It worked up north and it is working out west. Baghdad is much more complicated, but it can be done here as well.

Iraq is in a unique position. Not only do they have vast amounts of oil wealth, but they have the agricultural capacity to be breadbasket of the Middle East. With its rich archeological and religious sites, Iraq can become a travel destination. The city of Krabala, for example, has 100,000 visitors a day—right now. Just imagine how much more appealing the place would be without car bombs going off.
Iraq will get better, but it is a question of time. Time that is measure in years and not election cycles

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Well said

This was painted on one of our concrete barriers. You may have to click on it to read it. I think it says it all…

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

July 4th

For the fifth time this century, Americans are celebrating July 4th in a hostile land far away from their homes and loved ones. Out here, we will celebrate with barbeque, fried chicken, “near beer” and if we are lucky, our neighbors will treat us to a fireworks show. It will also be a day of reflection, a day for all of us to remember what we are fighting for and what our ancestors fought for.

July 4th does not commemorate the creation of our government nor does it mark the end of the Revolutionary War. It marks the day that our founding fathers declared that we were no longer the subjects of an oppressive King and that we exercising our God given rights of freedom and liberty.

July 4th 1776 was the beginning of a long and difficult struggle. The Revolutionary War would rage for another seven years. Thirteen years would pass before our founding fathers agreed on a government. Two more years would go by before the Bill of Rights would become the cornerstone of our nation. Only then were we a people at peace, united under a government by the people, for the people.

Events of today are not that far different from what happened in American 231 years ago. A fledgling democracy is struggling under extreme odds. Just as the French assisted us in our fight for freedom, we are helping the Iraqis obtain the same God given rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that we hold so dear. It is a long and difficult struggle, but the cause is just. Although he spoke these words over 40 years ago, John F. Kennedy said it best when he said:

“The path we have chosen for the present is full of hazards, as all paths are. The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it."

With the blessings of the Almighty and the prayers of all of you back home, we will prevail. God bless and have a happy 4th of July.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


As you can see, I live in an exclusive neighborhood. We don’t allow just anybody to drive through.

Evenings around here are different from those back home. By the time I head back to my trailer, the sun is just setting, but it is still well over 100 degrees. Back home, things seem to be winding down, but not here. Helicopters regularly fly overhead and convoys continually rumble by. There is a big pot hole in the road the runs in front of my place, so if a truck hits it going fast, my entire trailer shakes. Before the weather got warm, you’d see Soldiers sitting around outside cooking on grills and drinking “near beer” under the shade of camouflage netting.

Monday, July 02, 2007


Like all neighborhoods back home, mine over here has its own personality. After a while, you get used to the daily routines and everything seems “normal”. Although to the folks back home, I’m sure that this place would seem so very far from the ordinary.

Take for example mornings. Right now, it is a cool 92 degrees. The sun just came up, but you can’t see it though the haze and dust. A couple of guys just walked by on their way to work. Instead of business suits and briefcases, they are wearing body armor and carrying machine guns. Just down the row of trailers, there is a guy sitting outside in a folding chair typing on a laptop. Since it is early morning, it is evening back home. Most likely he is outside to get a better wi fi signal in order to Instant Message someone back home. The concrete T-walls wreck havoc on the signal at times. Another common sight is Soldiers talking on their cell phones outside. Since most people here have roommates, they often go outside to make phone calls so they can get a little privacy.

Just like back home, mornings are peaceful for the most part and are my favorite time of the day.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


OK, if you don’t have kids, then you haven’t seen Bob the Builder.
If you have, then your notice that the backhoe “Scoop” is now in the Army. The other day, I saw “Lofty” the crane putting concrete barriers out in town—he was all armored up as well. I haven’t seen one yet, but there are also armored cement mixers around here—no kidding, they are named “Dizzy”.
They have got to be the safest vehicles in Iraq. Not because of the armor, but because who could ever hurt any member of the gang from Sunflower Valley?…Except for that annoying Spud guy—I’d shoot him myself.

Should I tell the girls?

I saw that thing again today...maybe the girls wont care. Who knows?