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Sunday, August 05, 2007

My last post?

This could very well be my last post. Tomorrow, I’m “wheels in the well” and on my way to Kuwait. I don’t know if I will be able to keep up with this blog from there on not (the military is cracking down on bloggers and quite often, the websites are restricted).

My original intent in writing this blog was to keep my family and a few close friends informed as to what I was up to while I was over here. I purposely tried to stay anonymous by avoiding using certain key words—words like JCCS-1, RFF-611, EWO and a few others. But, I guess Google was smarter than me. From time to time, other Navy guys would say: ‘hey I know you, you write ‘My Desert Adventure’ ”. Well so much for anonymity! I guess it is a good thing—I was forced to keep all of my war stories closer to reality.

I had no idea what Iraq would be like when the “IA fairy” touched me last fall. It truly has been a fascinating adventure, one where I learned a lot and saw many things. I tried to write about as many as I could; from the mundane (like the fact they use old tank treads as speed bumps) to the downright asinine (like having to fill sandbags in order to eat lunch) to the political (just who is who over here).

I enjoyed writing this blog—it gave me an opportunity to reflect on the world around me, share what I was experiencing and get to read some really wonderful comments that helped so much to close the miles.

This picture was taken at my farewell ceremony last night. This may have been a relatively short chapter in my life, but a significant one nonetheless. At times it was difficult and frustrating, but in the end, it a very rewarding experience. I hope that I made a difference.
One thing that I know for certain: all that I accomplished over here, I couldn’t have done without the tremendous and loving support of my wife, Braye. She bore the real burden of this deployment. It is because of her hard work, dedication and love; I could focus all my efforts into my job. For her I am so very grateful. She made all the difference.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


For the past nine months, I’ve been serving with a Military Police Brigade in Baghdad. “Oh great”, I thought when I first got assigned here, “I’ll be working with a bunch of Cops writing tickets and checking ID cards.”
Nothing could be farther from the truth! To have a functioning democracy, an effective police force is essential. It is also something that is fairly uncommon over here. Saddam, the Shah, and other leaders used their Army to control the populace. The collation has been busy building the Iraqi Police into a functioning force. That is where our MPs come into play. They provide much of the training and logistical support to the IPs (Iraqi Police) It is a difficult job on so many levels. Our guys are outside of the wire every day, visiting local stations, conducting joint patrols and providing security throughout the country.
It is tough work. On the street level, some of these police stations are located in some of the worse areas of the country and Baghdad. We have taken a lot of casualties as a result. One guy I work with was hit by IEDs two days in a row. Sometimes, the local police are loyal to the insurgents. On the national level, inefficiency, politics and corruption make this a very difficult mission.
I have 18 years in the Navy and I have to say that this is one of the best organizations I have ever worked with. All the way from the Commander, down to the lowest “Joe”, these guys are professional, dedicated and very very good in what they do.
One thing that demonstrates what kind of leather their saddles are made of is the fact that they are re-enlisting. Since 9-11, there has been a huge demand for law enforcement professionals across the US. Any one of these guys can get a job in their home town, making 3 times what they are making now. Why don’t they? Well, there are many reasons, some stay for patriotism, some because of the strong bonds of camaraderie, but most of all, it is simply who they are.
Some members on congress say the Army is broken—I sure don’t see it. Of course, what do I know; I’m just a guy on the ground.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Curse of the Flamingos

I’ve learned a couple of things while I was here in Iraq. One of which—Flamingos are pure evil. Just ask any trailer park resident in “Tornado Alley”. The other thing I learned was that wives are often more right than I ever realized.

Last fall, my wife gave me a pair of pink flamingos to decorate my trailer. On the day they arrived, I spoke with Braye on the phone and told her that I was going to put one in front of my trailer that night when I got “home” from work. She relied “OK, but are you sure someone won’t use it as an aiming point?” At the time I thought “Well… someone has been watching the History Channel without me” and told her something along the lines: “I’m in Iraq, what could possible go wrong?”

Well a few hours after the Flamingo went into the ground, a rocket landed about 30 feet from my trailer. No big deal really since it was just a baby rocket. I was just glad that rocket missed my cable. At the time I didn’t suspect the flamingo of any wrongdoing.

A few days later, the flamingo was stolen. I was very upset (I had no idea that I was for my own good). Luckily, I had a spare flamingo (doesn’t everybody?) I proudly put that one on top of the concrete barriers surrounding my trailer. More visible than on the ground. Pleased with my rebellious display of individuality, I went to bed. Just before I entered REM sleep, a bullet hit my trailer! Had they only waited 10 minutes, I would have slept though the whole thing.
“Himm?” I thought “no way could the appearance of a flamingo have something to do with my sleep being interrupted?” I quickly put the thought aside. Things from then on stayed relatively quiet, but of course that flamingo was also stolen the next day.

Several quite weeks went by and one of my guys found my flamingos! Once again, I displayed my free spirit side and I put them on top of my extra tall concreted barriers (for some reason, the group of trailers that I’m in was the first to get the extra tall barriers). Sure enough, a little while later, a big ole’ rocket landed just across the street. Definitely not a baby that time!

The third time was the charm and both flamingos went into my closet. Things have been quiet ever since. Since I’m leaving soon, I decided to put the flamingos someplace where they can do no harm…. Both found new homes near my office—one on the island and the other on an old fountain. I pity to poor guy that decides to swim out there and steal one—he won’t have any idea what he is getting into.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Hey look a crab (no its not a sand crab!). I never thought I would see a crab in Iraq. As it turns out, they live in the lake. Had I known, I would have asked my wife to send me some Old Bay. Himm… I wonder what they’ve been eating over the years?

OK, I know that I’m going home and I shouldn’t complain, but the military really need to stick with things it understands—things like shooting people and blowing up things.

The military doesn’t send the “Freedom Bird” to a hub like Atlanta or Dallas, but rather Baltimore. Why Baltimore? Well, I guess people a lot smarter than me came up with that one. No airline uses Baltimore as a hub and not too many flights fly out of there late at night.
We are due to arrive at 8:00 pm. Since it is so late, we will either have to stay in the terminal until 0600 the next morning, get a hotel room, or try to catch a 3-stop flight that takes over 14 hours to get to P-cola. As painful as it is going to be, it will be more than worth it to get to see the 3 G girls.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


One of the many Army acronyms I’ve learned is RIP/TOA which stands for Relief in Place/Transfer of Authority. In the Navy, we just call is a turnover. Today, I am officially out of a job. My relief is fully up to speed and to coin another navy saying, “he has the conn”. Between now and Monday, I will finish packing and mailing stuff back home.
This is a picture of me and my relief. I am the one with the faded uniform and happy expression.