Tuesday, April 26, 2005


Well I am finally getting around to posting some more pictures and finishing captions on the others. I have been busy lately and even now it is past midnight. All is as well here as can be expected. We had a bad dust storm the other day followed by rain. It knocked the power out for a while here yesterday so I could not update anything last night. Still playing catch-up. At least things cooled off here for a little while. I am getting to the point where older posts are going into the archives or "Recent Posts" section so be sure to check those if you have not been on for a while. As always, click the thumbnails for a bigger picture and if you want a higher quality picture than you get here, ask me. I will email it to you. - Jeff

Our Satellite Dish

This is the dish that we use to get internet. It is strictly a private venture. 30 people get together and buy the equipment and then pay for the service. Equipment breaks down to $270 apiece and you can sell your share to someone when you leave. Service is about $40 a month. It is dial-up slow during the peak usage times, but most times it is pretty good. Better than nothing. At first the army wanted to prohibit these in the housing areas but so many people complained that it became a morale issue and they let is stay. Besides, they knew that the MWR facilites here are already inadequate and packed with people and it would only get worse. Sorry for the white spots on the picture. It has been very dusty here lately and the lens is dirty. This row is right next to mine, they have sandbags, I don't. I don't know why.

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Computer Desk

I finally got a room with a real desk instead of that red picnic table. The desk is small though. This room is bigger than my last one too. It is designed for two people to share, so I have two wardrobes, two garbage cans etc. No bookshelf though. The other bed is broken down behind the wardrobe. I brought the Christmas lights from my other room.

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All Secure

I keep all the valuables locked in these black boxes. They are chained to my bed. Crime really is not a problem here. Customs looks through everything when you leave so it would be hard to get stolen things out, but I keep it locked down anyway.

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Another View

Just another view. The red teddy bear is the one Kim sent me for Valentine's Day. He used to be on the credenza behind my desk, but I do not have a desk now. I have a prayer mat now (the red mat, it came with the room), it now points towards the Mighty 1st COSCOM headquarters where I work.

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Inside my new hooch

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Antoher cool Deck

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Another Day Away from Balad

I got another chance to get out and see the country this week. I am getting tired of being a Fobbit. Most of the bases here are called Forward Operating Bases or FOBs. Those of us that live on them and do not go outside the wire are derisively known and Fobbits, Fob Dwellers or Fob Goblins by those who go out on patrols every day. I have met several young soldiers here who volunteer for missions outside the wire, looking for excitement and some who have to do it because it is their job. I have heard no real complaints yet.

Earlier this week I met an 18 year old Private on the bus. The backs of his hands from about 3 inches above the wrist all the way to his fingertips were covered with second degree burns. They were still bright red, blistered and runny. His face looked like is was recovering from a sunburn, red and peeling. He told me that he was manning a machine gun in the turret of a HMMWV when the vehicle ahead of his got hit by an IED. He got flash burns on his exposed skin. All he remembers is the concussion and being surrounded by flames as they drove through. I asked him if he was wearing his Nomex gloves (all soldiers here are issued Nomex gloves, balaclavas and shatter-resistant sunglasses for that reason). He told me no, he wasn't wearing them but he sure will be the next time (he was already talking about "the next time"). He said he was on his way to the hospital here on Balad, and then he was on his way back home. I asked him where he was from and he said FOB Freedom, north of Baghdad. You are going back to your unit like that, I asked. "Hooah Sir" was all he said. Wow, and here I thought maybe he was talking about going back home to Kansas or something. Gotta love being 18 years old and bulletproof.

I meet kids like him all the time and I love talking to them. They always want to talk to me about flying, but I want to find out what they do. A helicopter will fly over and they say "man, that must be great" and I say something like, "Oh yea, we are out there flying around and the kids run out of their houses and wave at us as we fly over (which they do) and then turn the subject back to them. I don't have the heart to tell them that I really don't fly because I can't reliably get out of the office to make a scheduled flight or that the closest the war has come to affecting me over here is the one time when I was riding the bus to work and there was a mortar attack on the other side of post. The bus stopped and we all got out and went to a bunker until it was all clear. Anyway, now I was late for my first meeting now and did not have time to stop by the coffee shop and get a cafe mocha. I was the only one there without a cup of coffee. Man that sucked! I looked like a fool. Or, hey I had to move to a new trailer a while back and I did not have internet for almost 3 weeks. I don't think any of them would feel my pain.

Actually the Commanding General has encouraged all of us staff pukes to get out on a convoy to get an idea of what the soldiers we are supporting are living through. Kind of a recharge to remind us why we are here. I have asked. So far my boss hasn't let me. Not out any particular concern for my safety, mind you but he does not want to "give you a day off to go play around, I need you here working." Actually he said he would let me go do one of those goodwill building missions where you go out to a school and give the kids clean drinking water and pencils and stuff. That would be OK. But not as good as getting the chance to shoot at some ragheads.

So now I am rambling again, got two threads going. One is that I finally got out, the other is that there are other people out there, writing blogs like I am, but with far more interesting stories. I read an article about it titled Blogs of War or Band of Bloggers or something really maudlin like that. Anyway, there are some really good blogs out there. Very talented writers. Some of these guys have thousands of readers, sell advertising on their sites and are cutting book deals for when they come home. I included some of the links mentioned in the article in the "real soldier blogs" section of my links. Look at some of these if you want to know what is going on out there. I also included a link that points to some blogs written by Iraqi citizens. I read a lot of those around the time of the Iraqi elections and there were some very good stories.

So, I did convince my boss to let me out for a day. There is a unit moving into theater and a bunch of us had to fly up and recon the FOBs they will be occupying to ensure it was adequate and recommend improvements. I told him that I had to go look at the runway and hangars. Then I grabbed my Air Force buddy here and told him that he had to help me look at the runway to make sure a C-130 could land there (he is a C-130 Pilot). Anyway, it was a good excuse to get out and we actually got a lot done, meeting with some of the unit reps up there and seeing what they needed. It was a beautiful day and I took about 240 pictures, some of the best ones I put up here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Riding in Back Sucks

Pat and me in a self-portrait. Pat is a C130 pilot in the Air Force. We hang out because we are the only two people on the staff in flight suits. Everybody asks me Air Force questions because they think he works for me or something.

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Water Tower

Water tower decorated with unit insignia. I took this picture through a dirty window.

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Saddam's Ex-Palace

One of Saddam's Baghdad palaces. It is now used as the US HQ in Iraq. We went there first to pick some guys from Corps. One day I am going to go back to visit and look around, This one has the bathrooms with 150 square foot stalls and gold toilets that you hear about. I figure everybody should use one at least once in their life.

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fly high

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Iraqi Riviera

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Arizona Blackhawk

The UH60 we flew in. Belongs to the Arizona National Guard. Note the AZ flag on the tail.

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Command Bunker

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Nice Day

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Well, not really mountains. I just thought it was some interesting landscape.

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Iraqi Motorpool

Some Iraqi junk left over from the war. Actually may be from Desert Storm. They are pretty rusty, like they have been there for a while. There is about 1/2 acre of this at the north end of the runway at Balad. We walked over there after the helicopters dropped us off.

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My New Hooch

My new hooch. Looks like the old one, just no sandbags. I am in the middle left, with the chair out front.

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A picture some soldier took of me right after I left command. Kim is getting on me because she says it looks like I am losing weight. I eat ice cream with every meal, it is just that I only eat about once a day.

One Crying, One Too Cool

Mom bought them sunglasses. Kady thinks they are really cool but Kylie want them gone. This picture was taken around Easter.

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Pics of the Twins

Hey, I have some pictures of the twins here. I will post them as Kim sends them to me. I am thinking of starting a new blog just for pictures and news of them. What do you think? Pictures of the girls don't belong on a site with pictures of soldiers, helicopters and Iraq. They should have balloons, baby ducks and girly stuff. Anyway there will be more to follow. Kim says they are really keeping her busy. She is trying to train them to cry and wet their diapers at the same time because now they take turns. We are both delighted to have them in the family and I can't wait to get home to see them. They are beginning to roll over and sit up. I think they will be walking by the time I get home.

Kylie Smiling

A big, gummy grin for Mom. Happy baby.

Sticking out Tongue at Mom

I love this picture. She is sticking her tongue out at Mom.

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Can You Tell Them Apart?

Twins together on the bed. No they do not have red eyes, Cady's are blue and Kylies are green. Cady on the left, Kylie on the right. Kylie is the low-maintenance baby. No real worries. She must take after me :-)

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Cady Smiling

Cady in her car seat. I thought this was Kylie when I posted it. Hey, they are twins I cannot tell them apart. Kim says they look different but since I have never seen them I can't tell. Next time I will include more of Kylie to make up for it. Kylie is the high-maintenance baby, always wanting attention.

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Cady With Cow

Cady in her crib studying her farm animals. Is this a spoiled baby or what. They share a crib now but that won't last long. They are already crawling all over each other. I think they probably like being together but they wake each other up in the night. I hear Cady likes to kick her little sister in the head. Cady was born 1 December, shortly before midnight. Kylie was born a few minutes later on 2 December, so even though they are twins, they have different birthdays.

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