7.05.2003

i spent the good part of the day getting my cheap ass digital camera working...it's all good now...i got some help and i uploaded about 30 pictures of my imaginary deployment to iraq...

i had to enlist the help of one of my old friends...we actually went to a.i.t. (army school to learn your job) together 6 years ago...i went to germany and he went to korea...we met up for a while at my new duty station but then he got sent to kuwait for a year...he showed up over here a few months ago and it's been good...we are actually cooler now then we were before...

he just got promoted to staff sergeant...he beat me pretty good...but then again he didn't have to reach a zen state of consciousness scrubbing toilets...he was always squared away...he's a good leader...i'm glad to be back working with him...they say the army is a small world...and you will always run into people...it's the truth...in the weirdest places i'll catch up with people from germany or georgia...it feels good to see them again...especially now that i've got my shit together...

we spent 9 months in a.i.t....9 months of drill sergeants...that's so long...room inspections and curfews...brown rounds and low crawling...

i've been trying to get out and talk to people more...get their take on what's going on...some of the hardest hit are the infantry pukes who stay outside my rig...they are all national guard and they are going to be here forever...they do a lot of escorting and i talk with them often...they volunteer to go out side the compound and protect the iraqis who work for us from the militants...I think they are heroes...

the iraqi's who are working for the u.s....doing what ever task we throw at them...are not to upset with us...some of them have family members in the states and they hope that someday they will be able to join them...they don't hate america at all...and they are conscious enough of what is really going on to make their own decisions...they think that we really are trying to help...they are afraid of the 'militants' because when ever the 'militants' show up and attack us in their neighborhoods we end up destroying everything...many of the guys say that they chase the 'militants' out with any weapons they have...they are just trying to get by...they fear that the 'militants' are using horrible tactics to enlist more support...they are using our retaliation against us...for every home...or car...or newsstand...or coffee shop we destroy trying to protect ourselves another 'freedom fighter' is born...

noam chomsky seems to think that this is the big plan...that they are trying to do this...to draw support by sacrificing their own people...i don't think so...i think it is just working out this way...who knows...maybe they are working their own people counter productively...they say that for every 1 american that is dying there are 10 iraqis...

some groups like CIVIC estimate that there have been upwards of 7693 iraqi civilians killed in this war...there were only 2998 people killed in the world trade center...

many of the iraqis that work for us think we are doing everything all wrong...we are trying to instill fear in the people...they say "they are to proud for that"...they will not be scared into compliance...

the animosity is growing and i'm not sure how to subdue it...the iraqi fundamentalists who praised us and danced when we took baghdad now scream for us to leave immediately...what would become of iraq then...i don't know...we have opened a can of worms...the neo con ultra right wing fascists out there would tell me to just keep blowing stuff up...because that's how they think you solve problems...just look at israel...they also tell me i'm not a real soldier and i'm unpatriotic..."you don't agree with my views so you are not a real american"...i thought america was founded on the principles and ideals of human differences...they must think something different...

they say these things from the comfort of their homes where no threat exists...and no lives are in peril...so let them...it changes nothing...it does seem funny to me though...

7.04.2003

the forth of july...the whole day was filled with 'mandatory fun' as we like to call it in the army...arnold was even supposed to be here...i didn't make it out to see him...i don't like battling lots of people...they started the day with a 5k fun run around the main lake...it was long...longer then i've ran in a while...i tried to keep a good pace...but it was futile...to long for me...it was kind of relaxing though...i haven't really been to that side of the compound to much...it really is beautiful...the view of the main palace on it's island connected to the demolished bridge...the bridge housed power and water lines for the palace and we bombed it to hell...very pinpoint accurate...extremely impressive...your tax dollars at work...on the other side of the bridge is the power plant...or what used to be the power plant...it's been hollowed out by more bombs...debris lays in about a 1/4 mile circumference around this building...g.i.'s live in it's shadow...

on the extreme far side is a palace that belonged to one of the big guys sons...we blew the shit out of that one too...but only one corner of it...the intel must of been good...soldiers are living in this one as well...they just ignore the rubble and catastrophe...you learn to ignore a lot of things...to put that which doesn't matter out of your mind...

around the bend you can see down on the far side of baghdad...down towards the airport...the huge traffic tower...multi leveled...quite nice looking actually...the terminal isn't to far off...the commercial planes are moving in so quickly...taking off with the c-5's...i've actually learned to pick out a the sound of a c-5 from other planes...they fly a lot slower and they make this weird second noise above the noise of the jets...it's a little bit more high pitched...distinctive...

the crowd of about 600 runners continues on and i can see houses and trucks...mostly vans...people going on about their day right out their past the walls and concertina wire...i'm amazed that i'm that close to them...and i worry for a split second about snipers and grenades...but that is getting old...

in the street ahead of me...i see it...is that what i think it is...yep...i'm close enough to tell now...craters in the road...we carpet bombed a watch tower and a bunker...the little alternating craters zigzagging across the street from the bunker on the left to the tower on the right...we run right over the top of them...

traffic is stopped in front of the palace...lines of hmmvs...drivers looking pissed...we're holding up the day...

we finish...not as strong as i like...but i'm getting tired...

the laundry service stopped...so now we are back to washing our own clothes with cold water and a wash basin...my p.t. shirt was about ready to run next to me on the 5k...so i decide to pick up some detergent at the p.x....

the p.x. is like a little walmart...their motto is 'we go where you go'...they certainly do too...they were in kandahar a month after us and we were part of the first wave...i was on the ground with the marines before the 101st even showed up...the marines are so hard...the didn't shower for 2 months...and some of those guys gave themselves dysentery...just from general uncleanliness and from a well that they started drinking out of...i definitely got the feeling that those guys could handle anything...they had no reserves about being there(i didn't either at the time)...and they had no problems lighting up the terrain out side the wire...60's going nuts...the sky looked like fireworks...i've met a few marines since i've been in and it is obvious they joined for the honor of being a marine...that's a different feeling that what i get from the people in the army...

the p.x. was out of detergent...so i'm in the stone age using shampoo to wash my clothes...there is actually a method that works pretty well...you let the clothes soak for most the day and the you hit with a scrub brush...almost all the stains will come out...but i usually get the feeling that i'm not really cleaning anything...i'm just making them smell good...when i got home from kandahar my tan d.c.u.'s changed two shades lighter...disgusting...but what could i do...

i also bought a digital camera....i might as well treat myself once while i'm out here...it was a good deal but i can't get it to upload pictures...hopefully by tomorrow i can hit up the photo log with about 50 pic's or so...you guys can finally see the craziness i've been talking about...

7.03.2003

i don't get out much...i work 12 hours a day...7 days a week...in a van...down by the river...which happens to be the tigris ..i don't convoy all over baghdad...i'm not chasing down militants...i'm watching from the sidelines...your watching from the t.v....just like monday night football...the game is a lot more real from this angle...i can hear the conversations from the huddle...and i can feel the impact of the tackles...

i have not fired my weapon once this war...i did not fire it during the last...not every soldier in this conflict signed up to be an infantry puke...not every soldier signed up to kill stuff...i signed up for the collage money...i signed up for a steady pay check...i signed up because i needed someplace to stay...i needed direction...motivation...and discipline...i've earned those now...

we send a detail out everyday to escort the iraqi trash collectors...they've got a big blue truck just like you would fined in any town...they wear blue overalls and mirror sunglasses...they try to sell you "saddam dollars" out the cab window and are extremely friendly...some of them speak good english...some speak none at all...but just like in afghanistan...you can get your point across with cave man gestures...they are smart...they get the point...

when the truck is full they have to go dump it...they leave the compound...we can't go with them...immediately they are followed...they are harassed...they are threatened...they come back scared...they aren't militant...they just like the steady paycheck...

they root through the trash and they find "great" things...because we are a wasteful people...we throw away things with out attempting to fix them...we give up with out putting in a good fight when a good fight is the only thing due...they take fans...and radios...flash lights...american magazines (particularly maxim and stuff, i think they really like the technology sections, and not the half naked american hotties)...they're nice guys who always smile big...

my soldier had the detail the other day...he picked up some iraqi words from them...the usual...hello...goodbye...good morning...son of a bitch...he came back and spoke of the men like they were a good hard working decent people...and i'm not going to doubt it...why should i...people are quick to point out flaws or make up things...they get scared...they don't take things on face value because face value might be worth more then they can handle...they don't want to believe that things can be so simple so far away...it's all the same...no matter where you go...

since it started heating up the dust storms are on the rise...there is zero precipitation and the moon dust is flying...i have to use q-tips inside my nose to clean them out because they are coated with a nice thin layer of dirt...all of the a/c's that we brought or acquired are starting to break down...we do our preventive maintence checks and services on them...but they are running just like me...24/7...things break...our generators...our equipment...my a/c in my van broke today so i'm writing from my tailgate...things can always get worse...i know that...i've learned it and i've lived it...

i once read that no one could possibly know how good they've got it until they realize how bad it could be...well i guess i'm one of the lucky ones...the blinders are off...

7.02.2003

people are haters...they say i don't exist...well i'll tell you...it is really freaking hot in my imagination right now...they reported that the temperature in my imagination topped out at about 110...

people are picking at every little thing i write...sorry...i'm not foxnews...i'm not "fair and balanced"...i'm real and tired...

maybe if i posted some real good intel on my situation people would believe me...like troop movements...or the shift times of the m.p.'s at the front gate...how about an 8 digit grid coordinate of my exact location...

or maybe i'll give you guys some photos...i guess i could of ripped these off the internet somehow...or maybe i stole them from a walgreens 1 hour photo developer...oh snap...i know what i did...i made them in photo shop...

7.01.2003

i woke up freezing...and needing to take a wiz...a horrible combination...but i'm not complaining...being cold is so nice...

i get up and do my business...i entertain the idea of getting back in the rack...naw...i need to run...i'm trying to lose that last 10 lbs...so i can go home and amaze my woman...i wanna be super freaky ripped...i'm almost there...2 wars in a year really help in the weight loss process...you kinda have no choice...it's great...

i got the bug to get my body in shape in afghanistan...i hit the gym hard everyday...in the beginning the gym consisted of a foot locker for a bench, some random weights my platoon sergeant brought, and an assortment of metal polls with big steel plates that could be used as weights...an occasional sand bag for curls...and lots of running...i mean lots of running

i gained mass exponentially...i ballooned up...i guess my body had always wanted to get big...i was just to fat and lazy...i left kandahar in the best shape of my life...

when i got home my body was worth showing off...and i hadn't eaten any greasy foods in so long that i literally got sick to my stomach on french fries...it was wonderful...i gained a little weight in the few months i was home...but getting deployed again kept the poundage down...

so i run about 4 to 5 times a week...it's not so bad...this is a good place for it...i like to take off around this one lake by my tent...it's huge and the road around it is covered with a canopy of trees...like the roads in florida...where i grew up...i run along a wall...it's 10 feet high...there is a barbed wire top layer...on the other side of this wall is baghdad...with all it's death...and life...and maliciousness...and civility...

i was by myself...with each step i sunk deeper into my own little world and i started recounting all the information i have found...all the articles i have read about this situation and why we are involved...i've been getting curious...why do the muslims hate us??? what did we do???

i've got the internet all night long so i look for the answers...i find websites that are trying to spread the word...i find news agencies that are putting all the intel out there...and it is so easy to find...yet so many americans know nothing about these things...

as i'm running i keep scanning this wall...i almost expect to see some crazed iraqi jumping over this wall with a giant combat knife in his teeth and the look of the death in his eyes...with out realizing it...every few hundred feet i'm scoping for good hiding places just in case i have to take cover...in that ditch...those weeds in the lake...that group of trees over to the left by that green house...

i've been reading a book by noam chomsky...it's opened my eyes...the american massive is so quick to forget these horrible things that the rest of the world could never let slip from their memories...why is this...

on my left is a building...it's shaped like the letter U...not a lying down U...but a perfectly normal...standing on its end U...a bomb went through the roof...and the structure is warped...forever...the glass in every building in a 1/2 mile around this target is broken and gone...the green house to my left...is just a green house frame...the debris and shockwave must have killed everyone...the size of that explosion would be unavoidable...i think about an article i read...the author said that "might does not make right"...we used a lot of might here...i can see it...but hardly a ripple in the water of what we are capable of using...

i think we forget so quickly because our administrations only last a max of 8 years...and the mistakes of the former are never the mistakes of the young elected...they get to make all new ones...jon stewart said america's foreign policy is simple..."we'll do what we want, and you'll do what we want"...it's funny cause it's true...

i finally circle the lake...and head home...to the tents...and i'm still thinking hard about all these things...the miles are flying by and i pick up speed...

is every human being a potential american??? is that how we think subconsciously??? it's good to love your country...and it's good to want to help others...but is helping others equal to making them just like us...

i'm in a dead sprint now...hard pumping...my shins start acting up and i ignore it...my chest is starting to heave...i've got about 300 meters...sweat rolling down my nose...a triangle down my back...i round a turn...

i finish strong...but i'm still confused...

6.30.2003

the war shrunk for me today...drastically...the world did too for that matter...

i received an email from a girl in japan...she's been reading this blog and missing her man who is also deployed some where in baghdad...she asked me to look for him in this giant mess of troops...218,000 strong...i said i would do my best...and by my best i would look for his name...craig...good luck...

out side my van their are infantry pukes...the kind that fight and die...the kind that you hear about on the news who stop bullets and destroy iraqi neighborhoods...they set up a tent to escape from the insane heat and catch a few hours of sleep between shifts...there is a palm tree out side their tent i named "petey"...he's very superficial...there's a fence around our site and i've always wondered why they picked that spot...in the dirt...because there are about a million better places...they used to throw trash in my generators and steal my chairs...i've gotten mad at them...but most of them are cool...and by cool i mean they leave me and my guys alone...everyone out here turns into "space nazis"...it's mine...it's mine...it's mine...can't you see my fence...that makes it mine...durrr...

the girl in japan told me her man was in the national guard...those guys outside my van are national guard...
she told me he was in 'such and such a unit'...and wouldn't you know that those pukes outside my van are in 'such and such a unit'...

so i walk over the 25 feet from my truck...and i ask the first guy i see..."yeah he's in second platoon"...

"the princess bride" in my head...inconceivable...

the luck of this meeting here in the middle of all this craziness amazes me...what are the chances...really...i think my little friend in japan should take her show on the road...say las vegas...she might be on a roll...

if i can put these two together...and bring them some small bit of comfort... it would forge a goodness out of this war for me...i could use some...i'm running pretty low...

when he shows up i'll put him through to her...they haven't really had a chance to talk in a long while...many months...their relationship goes back 25 years... lettersfrombaghdad.blogspot.com

she chews a japanese nicotine gum...she types like i'm sure she talks...very quick...very hyper...with style...it comes across...it makes her original...she's excited and encouraging...

everyday is weirder then the last...and some days i forget just how amazing life can be...

6.29.2003

i may be cynical...but i'm still a soldier...i know when to keep my mouth shut...i know when to follow orders...i will not hesitate when given a mission...and i will work until it's completion...but i may look back a question it later...after the fact...

that's the glory of america...i don't have to agree...and i don't have to fear...but as a soldier i do have to do...i live with that...and i don't regret it...i am proud of my service no matter what the government has me doing...the military has made me a man...and given me a sense of honor...the stories i will be able to tell my grand children...the connection with my fellow veterans...

if there is a person who wanders aimlessly through life i would recommend the service to them...and i would even allow my children to join...

i would only hope that they remain objective through out...that they keep a sense of reality and stay aware…just because you are told something does not always make it so...search for the truth...uncover your own ideas...but we all have to do things we don't like...we all have a boss...mines in the white house...and i think he makes intresting decisions...i still do not pause for second when called upon...but i may not like it very much...i will keep taking my job very seriously...and i will always put the welfare of my soldiers above my own...

the military in itself is altruistic...communism...but how else could it possible operate...selfless service...the good of the whole over the good of the one...the pay...the living conditions...think about it...soldiers are not free to make their own decisions...if they were how could anything difficult be completed...how could a platoon take a machine gun nest...or a war be won...

this is not an easy life...this heat that is unbearable...these tents that blow over...the dust that coats my lungs...but if it were an easy life would not everyone be doing it...it does take a special kind of person to do these things...no matter what his or her back ground...

more and more people are coming to my attention who feel that to not support this war is to be unpatriotic...to not support the war means that you do not support the troops...i highly disagree..."supporting the troops" could equal "bring them home"...believe me...we won't be offended...we hate it here...but as long as the government says there is a job to do...we will stay...until completion...thats what we do...

and to be unpatriotic because you do not wish to speak up against a thing that you think is inherently wrong!!!
i again disagree...the glory of america...of being patriotic lies in the people of america coming forth and taking a stand in something they strongly believe in...anything at all...no matter it's premise...no matter it's reward...because that is america...

those who sit and barely pay attention to the decisions that are made for them in the capital are the ones who are not patriotic...loving your country enough that it makes you sad and distressed when you feel it is screwing up makes you patriotic...doing your duty in war no matter your beliefs makes you patriotic...and knowing deep down that for all of your countries many colossal faults it is still one of the best nations in the world makes you patriotic as well(trust me...i've seen a lot of the others) ...

america is my home...it always will be...but that doesn't mean i can't get mad at it...