9.05.2003

i was listening to an ex-marine turned army staff sergeant...and an ex-abrahms tanker turned signal puke...they described the scene as a long stretch of road running through the middle of a small foreign town...fox holes and machine gun nests littering the road way...snipers plugged up in windows...the enemy dug in deep...an assault by ground forces would prove catastrophic...there were very few options that would lead to victory over these circumstances...

the good guys brought in the tanks...lined them up side by side facing down the fortified roadway...simultaneously the tanks fired two rounds down range...the rounds created enough of a vacuum that the enemy soldiers were sucked from their fortifications and into the middle of the street...where they were gunned down from a top the turret...or rolled over by tank tread...

they laughed at this story...they made sound effects...squashing and womping...and they thought it was great...i found no humor in this tale...and i'm not sure what i think about it...

no doubt this ingenuity saved soldiers lives...this technological advantage and subsequent use of it brought soldiers home...to their families...their loved ones...people are alive today because of a vacuum induced by tank rounds...

and there are many dead men...the enemy...holed up...protecting their encampments...doing their jobs...war is so crazy...it boggles me...it horrifies me...human life wasted...but there is always that greater good that i hear about...the greater good...

the u.s. military is the largest volunteer military in the world...we serve no mandatory term...and service does not "guarantee citizenship"...it was already ours in the first place...we all made a choice...some made it eagerly...while others just made it...there are those soldiers who join and spend the next few years of their lives fighting all personal change and growth that the military would force upon them...and there are those that welcome it...and need it...and yearn for it...

i listen to people talk...educated soldiers...there are others who pay attention...who have view points and it always excites me to listen to a well read soldier with differing views approach a discussion with a level head...that is how others will learn something...debate with an open mind forces others to grow as people...

i listened to the ex-marine turned staff sergeant...and he made good points...he understands that what we do isn't fair...but he makes the point that it doesn't have to be...

he has a tattoo on his forearm that says 'all gave some...some gave all'...

the world is volatile...and unpredictable...the 'liberation' of a country looks as though it may cause a civil war...i remember when we first arrived in baghdad...it seems like a life time ago...the people were still so happy to see us...they did line the streets...they waved...iraqis like to wave...i remember the taped programs my girlfriend sent me...the statues being torn down...iraqis waving american flags...pictures of saddam being beaten mercilessly with shoes...cheering...and that time is gone...it may as well of never happened...

i'm leaving...i think about it constantly...and i feel guilty...i get to go home...and start my life...it's been on pause...but then i think about my troops...fresh out of school...4 more years to go for them...and i wonder what they will see...where will they go...how many wars will they encounter that pause their lives...and force them to grow in unexpected and glorious ways...what will they learn...and see...what images will stick with them for the rest of their lives...will they think about me...

i think about riverbend...and the fact that she is home...there is no waiting loved one on the other side of the earth...or a little apartment and a truck with 20 inch rims...there isn't an escape back into a missed life for her...she is here and she will continue to be here...this is her life...in iraq...i wonder what she has already witnessed...and just how much more she will see...

9.04.2003

i'm sleeping as much as possible...every chance i get...so that my days will fly by...and they are...amazingly enough...for a while it was getting really rough...it started once i found out that i had a pretty tentative date to leave...i watched every minute of every hour...they couldn't go by fast enough...but the realization is starting to sink in...and i don't believe it...i almost can't comprehend that it is a real thing...i will get to go home...home...i can remember that place...and i've got some pictures to prove it...

it's ironic that the apartment i leased so that my girlfriend could move out to live with me has seen more of her then it has of me...i feel like i'm moving into her house now...mine's a piece of canvas and a cot...it could be anywhere...anywhere but home...

i'm feeling better about my departure after reading the news yesterday...bringing in the multinational troops is the best thing for this country...and i don't think anyone can argue with that...that decision will bring american troops home...and it should turn more power over to the iraqis...who i think have earned it...and deserve it...it is thier country for crying out loud...

but i'm scared still...i fear iraq is about to be thrown back into an internal war...a civil war...they hate each other...and they hate us...we just want every body to wrap up in a nice big group hug..."sorry guys"..."yeah...we're sorry too"...but that's not going to happen...

i feel for the multinational troops that are going to get called up and sent down here...they definitely don't deserve it...a war they didn't start...but one they will have to end...life is unfair that way...there are no rules...and a lot of people might have to swallow some pride for the betterment of this country...the iraqis are the ones that are important...they are the ones who did not ask for this...and they are the ones that are dying...in colossal amounts compared to our boys and girls in green...my fellow soldiers...we need to do what is best for them...we did 'liberate' them after all...and if i'm not mistakin' that was the reasoning behind this war...
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN,

THE E-MAIL THAT HAS BEEN SENT OUT USING OUR COMPANY'S DOMAIN NAME IS A VIRUS
THAT HAS MALICIOUSLY ATTACKED OUR WEBSITE. WE REFUTE COMPLETELY THE COMMENTS
THAT HAVE BEEN MADE AND APOLOGISE FOR ANY UPSET THAT IT MAY HAVE CAUSED.

WE THANK YOU MOST SINCERELY FOR ALERTING US TO THIS SITUATION AND ARE
PRESENTLY DOING OUR UTMOST TO RECTIFY THE DAMAGE THAT THIS ATTACK HAS
CAUSED.

THANKING YOU FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDING,


MARK & CHAPPELL LTD

(although i do thank many of you for watching my back...the death threats towards john are a bit much...the best response so far was from my bro in aussie land who was going to fax john some gay porn right to the office...very funny but not necessary...doing stuff like that won't solve a thing...and i think that a point has been made...i'm not sure what it is...but it's been made none the less...no need to torture the other good people at that company any further...if john did really exist and it was not some virus then i'm sure he's been dealt with...stay safe out there...and keep the peace)

9.03.2003

my soldiers are starting to get lackadaisical on me...i'm a pretty friendly guy...i like to joke...i like to laugh...i like to mess with them...but then they start to get to comfortable...they are both young privates...and they aren't able to distinguish the line that must be drawn within our relationship...that takes time...some n.c.o.'s never even try to relate to their soldiers...they are always hard asses...and unapproachable...i don't think that’s the best way to operate...

leadership is a tricky thing...the army thinks that it can be taught in classes...that it can be passed down like an old moldy book...with all the answers...that's so bogus...the promotions system in the army is not based on merit...it is based on numbers...it looks good when 'so many' troops were promoted in the field...troops don't get promoted because they have demonstrated a rigid leadership quality...they get promoted to fill a slot...and more often then not...they are horrible leaders...who have delusions of grandure over thier ability to lead because of their recent promotion..."why would they promote me if they didn't think i was the bomb"...

i was shoved into my first 'board'...a board is like a panel of senior n.c.o.'s that drills the perspective n.c.o. with questions relating to general army knowledge...it's a joke and it needs to be reformed...you are awarded so many 'points' for attending the board...then you are given points based on some other criteria...like military education(which you can cheat your ass off to accomplish)...civilian education...awards...and a few other things...then your points are put into a giant index with all the other soldiers...and another panel of senior n.c.o.'s says something to the affect of..."we should promote 10 sergeants this month"...then the points are changed to allow the next 10 soldiers to get promoted...the regulate the promotions from some big building...they aren't in the field...they have no idea who the soldier is or what he or she is capable of...

at my first board...i was still so green and nervous...and clearly not ready to be a leader of my own team with only 3 years in the army...but there i was any way...i made the cutoff with a score of 403 points...coincidently the points dropped to a very strange score of 402...thanks...that one was for me...

emotionally i was not ready to lead...i would have done more damage then good...i was not hungry for it...i was not capable...and i got myself in trouble...i lost all of it...my promotable status...my p.l.d.c. date (practical leadership and development course)...and all my points...i was at square one...and i wasn’t even allowed to go back to the board for a years time...so i had plenty of longs days to think about my mistakes...

i know now...at least i'm pretty confident...that i can do a good job...i was ready this time...and sometimes doing a good job means stepping out of the 'battle buddy' role...and into the angry father role...soldier number 2 decided to leave the shelter last night and head back to the tent...he walked all the way home...it probably took him about 20 minutes...a while after he left...i turned around and noticed that he had forgotten his weapon...

i'm a pretty fair sergeant...i understand that mistakes happen...i will never scream at a soldier for a simple mistake...unless...it's about a weapon...because mistakes like that get no second chances...in the past 3 weeks we have had 2 lost weapons in our company...and i will not have the third soldier be one of mine...what if he were to walk out of the chow hall and leave his weapon behind...walk all the way back to his tent change...get in the rack...and then realize..."oh shit"...to little to late...

i smoked the puke out of him...because that's what it takes...if you don't want a soldier to forget something important...well then you just make it impossible to forget...for the rest of his life he will remember when i smoked his bags in baghdad because he left his weapon in the shelter and wondered off to the cot...

i usually feel like crap after i smoke one of my soldiers...because they are motivated...and they know they screwed up...and i am very lucky to have 2 soldiers that even give a shit...because so many now a days don't...i know i didn't for a long period of time...6 years changes a person...

luckily i had those n.c.o.'s over me that taught me that the best type of leadership is the kind that creates a feeling with in your soldiers that makes them want to do a good job...not because of fear of repercussion...or to barely meet the standerd so that they won't get yelled at...but to do a good job so that they will not let their n.c.o. down...that's when you know you've created a team...when your soldier are more worried about you getting in trouble over something stupid that they've done...then they are about themselves...

i'm lucky...i don't think my soldiers will screw up again...i am worried though...because i do leave here in the next few weeks...and when i am gone it will be up to them to accomplish the mission...they are going to learn so much...but in today’s military...sometimes being tossed into the fire is the only way you'll gain the experience you'll need to step up and be a leader yourself...i can only hope that the training i have given them will be enough...only time will tell...


i don't have the patience to even respond to this guy...so why don't some of you...


From :
"John Mullen"

Reply-To :
jmullan@markandchappell.com

To :
moja_vera@hotmail.com

Subject :
web blog

Date :
Wed, 03 Sep 2003 13:04:57 +0000

I know Americans dont fully grasp irony but I refer you to what was posted in the blog 02/09/2003

it's a strange trip of fate when a white male is discriminated against...

"i felt like i was the terrorist"...

I have two points to make

1. You are the fucking terrorist
2. You are white trash

You will get so fucked up in Iraq you wont even be able to wipe your ass afterwords

Awaiting Americas destruction patiently

(an irony is when the exact opposite of what you expect to happen occurs...so here's an irony for you john...you sent me this hate mail from your work account at your office...and i get over 3,000 hits a day...most of the people who read my journal love me too...i've got their emails to back that up...as well as yours...say hi to your bosses for me [this is where i laugh diabolically])

9.01.2003

there was some kind of screaming...i'm in bed...and i'm being waken up by something other then my alarm clock and my girlfriend once more...something bad...not mortars...or explosions...or even small arms fire...but screaming...horrible pain filled sobbing...in a flash i'm up...out the door into the dark...bare foot and shirtless...there's already a crowd forming...others are walking out into the night...the moon is a sliver and barely noticeable...

in the street...i can hear the soldier...he's running...back and forth...other soldiers are starting to circle him...trying to keep him from running off into the woods...he's yelling vicious things...about being shot at...about shooting at other people...about killing his commanders family...and in between every exasperated scream there is a sob...a gut wrenching moan...tear filled...and uncontrolled...

"this soldiers freaking out"...

i've never witnessed a total collapse of a human being before...it was intimidating...and scary...the soldier was truly out of any type of control...and i felt like anything could happen...i begin to worry..."does he have a weapon"...

i'm back inside my tent...my shoes on...out in the street again...my l.t. standing next to me...everyone is trying to move in closer while keeping a safe distance...all of us out here have live ammo...this soldier wouldn't be afraid to use it in his state...he would kill who ever was threatening him...real or perceived...i'm not getting as close as the others...

i can see the short command sergeant major...someone went and woke her...i realize that there is nothing that i can do for this guy...his problems run to deep to be fixed in one night...and i need my sleep...it's 02:45...

back in my cot...i can still hear him...he's screaming to the point of voice failure...he wants to kill someone real bad...his footfalls are loud as he takes off for where ever he's trying to get to...he's so far gone that he doesn't realize that there is no place to go...back and forth...across the street...into the gravel across from the tents...sobbing...from deep within his gut...harder then i've ever cried...

maynerd james keenan once told me at a concert..."what the world needs is to just cry it's eyes out"...there is some truth in that...

his screams start to fade off...he's pulling himself together...and i wonder what started this...what tripped his wire...what set him off...will he be able to put it all back together...

at 06:00 i'm back outside for p.t....it's labor day...and we still have p.t....this war pauses for no holidays...the 1st sergeant puts out that the uniform for this 'long weekend' is p.t.'s at work today...thanks for the moral booster...but you can't ride in a HMMV around here unless you are in D.C.U.'s...and i'm not much for walking when i have a perfectly good truck at my disposal...

as i'm driving into chow...in D.C.U.'s..another 1st sergeant from another unit stops me to tell me that i'm speeding..."your an accident waiting to happen"...i was going 15 miles an hour...to myself i think "i should of worn my p.t.'s"...i'll be sure to just idle around from now on..."roger that 1st sergeant...it won't happen again"...probably because i will be leaving inside of 2 weeks...no more HMMV's for this troop…and no more insanity stricken soldiers at a quarter to 3 in the morning...let the good times roll...

8.31.2003

my soldier just returned from his r'n'r trip to doha quatar...he said it was an experience...they were allowed to leave the compound and go out into the city...they were not allowed to go to any of the hotels that serve alcohol because al quada had been testing the reaction time in which the m.p.'s could arrive on the scene...he didn't say how they had been testing...

he went to a mall...and walked around with a friend...as he walked past families...parents pulled their children closer...and little kids ran away...they were afraid of him..."i felt like a monster"...a security guard followed them as if they were going to destroy everyone within a 30 foot radius...reinforcements were called...and my soldier spent the rest of his time in the mall being tailed by 3 security guys...arabs eyeing them...scornfully...he said everyone stared him down...and the tension level of any room they went into rose upon their entrance...the record scratches to a halt...cricket...cricket...a tumbleweed blowing past the screen shot...

it's a strange trip of fate when a white male is discriminated against...

"i felt like i was the terrorist"...
while salam and river are duking it out over car bombers and the future of this here iraq...i followed some links off of his page...i ended up reading a site that is sure to bring the unhappiness of allah upon you...please take with a large grain of salt and maybe a prozac or two...ecstasy wouldn't hurt if you are among very faint of heart...

i read through the whole thing...it is blatantly strange to say the least...it's written from the perspective of fundamentalist allah...i found myself laughing out loud a few times...which i promptly felt like shit for...but it was funny...maybe i only find it humorous because i am a stupid white man...and an american 'zionist' to boot...but it was hard to call the guy ignorant of islam...because he evidently knows his stuff...

humor is the only thing that has got me through the last few months...if i didn't have that wall i could erect at a moments notice to protect that inner child who is scared shitless...i very likely would of ended up 4 socks short of a pinnacle game...in a world of perpetual political correctness we suck the earth dry of the truth and it's humor...i guess that happens when we grow daily in our attachment to others with the ease of the internet and mainstream television...your views will be heard...if you want them to be...just look at wittle ol' me...sitting here in iraq...bored out of mind daily...typing away on this key 'bored' simply because i have nothing else to do...i mean...seriously...how many times a day can i check my email...well that number is well into the 100's...trust me...

i once read that all humor is derived from suffering...think about it...what makes you laugh...you might surprise yourself with the answer...

everyone’s view point is important...and necessary...but should your views control others and theirs...should books be banned from libraries...should joe lieberman turn off your radio...should funda 'mental' ist muslims wish to attack unveiled women with snakes...

i think it all boils down to individual values...christians are notorious for imposing their views on people of the south...which is where i'm from..."WOWZERS...this jesus stuff is so good...everybody should be doing it..i'll see that they all praise you Lawd"...they are quick to forget about your view...well...because you're wrong...even here in the military...we open up every formation with a prayer...i'm not religious...in fact i'm quite the opposite...but that's a whole nother story...but some how i just feel wrong...being involved in a mass christian prayer...while in the american military...in a war...with an M-16 strapped to my back...after we just kicked the dookie out of predominantly islamic country...it's that whole 'us' vs 'them' thing again...no wonder we've been lumped into a giant 'zionist' category...i understand that religion gives people strength and i'm all for that...i believe in finding that within the world which creates a sense of meaning...but not at the expense of the ideals and beliefs of those around you...

i've had quite a few people point out to me their beliefs in why the religion of islam is experiencing so much turmoil...they say they are still in the middle of their dark ages...islam is about 600 years behind christianity...chronologically...which in the expanse of everything is nothing...but with the time period of a culture...it could be the majority factor...where were we 600 years ago..or even 300...christians were still burning people at the stake...witch craft was still a very real problem...the inquisitions...the crusades...and don't even get me started on 'excommunication'...holy crap balls...

now look at a religion that is ancient in comparison to mainstream christianity...or funda 'mental' ist islam...like shinto...or tibetian buddhism...religions that are at peace with all and everything...i'm not preaching here...but these are things that i've noticed...i'm sure that my view is quite different from yours...but then again i won't attack you with a poisonous snake because of it...(except for all those kamikazi's right...i can hear you guys saying it...so no need to email me about it)

it's all such a shame that the religions of abraham get along like rodney king and the l.a.p.d....they should be closer then everyone else...in the first 20 pages of the koran...it embraces christianity and judaism...but that's probably the part that gets forgotten...like the 'thou shalt not kill' line in the bible...easy mistakes...hard consequences...

we are just so quick to point at others and say "see..see...look how crazy your acting...don't you get it"...when in all actuality maybe we are the ones who are missing the point...people will get tired of fighting...wars will be won...cultures will grow...these things happen...they just might not happen quick enough for us...in our life of instant internet gratification...senior iraqi correspondants...and double mocha frapachinos...patience truly is a virtue...