Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Powerful Punch

  I did my usual cardio this morning.  It seemed harder than normal, I hate those days.  Then, I went to chow and saw Chuck there.  He likes oatmeal.  I had a lot of stuff to do so I couldn’t hang around but my Marines got individual pictures with him.  He left around 0900.  I’ve decided that I’m not going to do any more Rocky training.  I’m doing Chuck training now.  Hahaha.  This way, I can throw in some elbows, knees, and maybe a karate chop or two.

  Tomorrow morning, I start my Chuck training.  My hands still hurt.  I have figured out that it’s not because my hands are weak.  It’s because the power I generate from throwing a punch is more than most men can stand.  It’s amazing that I haven’t broken my hand or punched a hole through the bag yet.  So tomorrow when I start my Chuck workouts, I’m going to use heavier gloves with more padding.

  Not much else is going on.  The water level has dropped enough to not have any cans in the water but the other side of the road is still about four feet deep.  They’ve been pumping the water out for a few days now.  With ours mostly gone they will probably devote their time to the other side now.  Hopefully it won’t rain in the next few days.  No other units that have been here have had this problem.  I guess the rain storm we had was very unusual.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Official Photographer

  It didn’t rain last night.  Thank goodness.  The water level hasn’t gone down any.  Since the First Sergeant failed miserably in making a drainage pond, I decided to name the little mud hole Lake Mims after him.  He doesn’t think it’s very funny, but the Marines do and now everyone is calling it Lake Mims. Hahaha.

  I did Rocky training today with the SgtMaj.  It is getting easier but my hands are still killing me.  He said, “Quit whining like a little girl.  It’s about time you get a pair of Man Hands.”  I told him, “Hey the women like my soft, smooth hands (of course I was thinking only of you Schellee). If my hands get all big and callused then I’ll probably lose some of my killer typing skills.”  Hahaha.

  Chuck Norris is here.  When I got back from chow, I stopped to visit the Radio Shop for about 45 minutes.  Then, I went to our little outdoor bathroom and Chuck Norris was in there.  So I stood next to him while I relieved myself.  I almost started laughing.  I wanted so bad to put my hand out for a hand shake when I was done. Hahaha.  Oh by the way, he’s not hung like a horse…Horses are hung like him.  Hahaha.

  Anyway, I didn’t want it to look like I was stalking him or something so I when I was done I went to the data shop.  I’m sure I’ll see him tomorrow morning or later on tonight.  I wonder if he would have round house kicked me if I would have whipped out my camera in the bathroom.  Marshall Teague is here too.  He’s an action television and movie star.  Most of the Marines don’t know who he is.

----------------------------------------------------------------

  Well, I went to go see him and I was volunteered by someone on his staff to walk around and tell all the other Marines and Soldiers what to do.  They apparently asked who had the highest rank and someone pointed me out.  So I didn’t get my picture taken with him.  Instead, I was a glorified cameraman, and shouter of orders from his publicist.  Oh well, it was pretty fun anyway and all my Marines got a group photo with him.  He didn’t take any individual photos.  There wasn’t enough time.  He has now gone to his room where he will wait until tomorrow.  Get it…because he doesn’t sleep, he waits.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Small pond

  It rained again last night and I woke up and thought I heard the sound of water dripping into a puddle.  My first thought was, “Oh no, my can is flooded!”  I jumped out of bed and me feet didn’t get wet so I immediately knew that it wasn’t the case.  I turned on my lights and opened my door and there were puddles outside but the water had actually receded a little bit.  So, I went back to bed.

  My tin can isn’t in the water anymore.  The water line is now about 20 feet away from my door.  We still have about five tin cans in the water.  When I got up and went to chow I walked along the burm to check out the other side of the road and the water dropped about two feet.  The hole that was made wasn’t big enough to drain everything.  It helped out a little, but not much.  I don’t know what they’re going to do now.  I think it’s going to take at least a week for it to dry out.

  I found out that USC got beat by Oregon State, YEEAAHHH!  Linda sent me an e-mail to let me know the good news.  Arkansas and Sheridan both won.  The Razorbacks will have a tuff game next week against CarolinaCarolina has played some tight games with some really good teams.  I haven’t heard how 29 Palms High did.  They were playing Big Bear for what will probably be the Conference Championship Game.  Big Bear was undefeated and 29 Palms had one loss.

  The SgtMaj came back last night so we hit the gym again today.  Tomorrow we start back on Rocky training.  Chuck Norris is supposed to fly in around 1900 tomorrow night.  By the way, I’ve got a few more Chuck Norris Facts…

 

1.  Chuck Norris is not hung like a horse... horses are hung like Chuck Norris.

 

2.  Chuck Norris can hit you so hard that he can actually alter your DNA. Decades from now your descendants will occasionally clutch their heads and yell, "WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?" - This is my favorite.

 

3.  Chuck Norris doesn't read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.

 

4.  There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of creatures Chuck Norris has allowed to live.

 

5.  Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.

 

6.  Chuck Norris is so fast, he can run around the world and punch himself in the back of the head.

 

7.  Chuck Norris doesn’t go hunting…Chuck Norris goes killing.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

A pond in my front yard

  It rained pretty hard last night.  It was very loud inside my tin can.  This morning when I opened my door to go PT, there was water everywhere.  There was no way to get out without stepping into a foot of water.  So I emptied out some wooden boxes that I was using to store stuff in and I threw them in the water to step on.  Well, when I threw them in, they started to float away.  So I jumped on one of them real quick and then jumped on the other one and was able to jump towards the edge of the water where it was only about three inches deep.

  Today was Captain Bair’s PT day.  He wanted to have a boots and utes (camouflage pants, boots, and t-shirt) run with rifles.  I wasn’t too excited about it because I hate running in boots and utes especially with a rifle.  He told me I didn’t have to go but I would never let the Marines do something that I wouldn’t do so I went.  We ran the standard three miles.  The Marines did very well.  The Captain and I sped up the last 500 meters and dropped all but two Marines.  Every once in a while, I like to prove to the Marines (and to myself) that I’ve still got it.  I still remember my MSgt’s that could run me into the ground.  One of my Corporals slung his rifle on his back and just let it bounce around the entire run.  I went into the Comm Shop and he had his shirt off showing the other Marines all the welts and bruises.  He said it didn’t hurt until after the run was over.  Sometimes, I wonder how they’ve made it this far in life.

  On the other side of the road from where my can is, there is a civilian construction company.  Their area is much lower than ours.  Their cans were completely flooded with waist deep water.  Lucky for them their cans were not in the lowest part of the terrain.  They had two eight foot tall generators that were completely submerged.  They lost a few million dollars worth of gear.  This afternoon, the First Sergeant got the Army Heavy Equipment Operators, Navy Construction Battalion, Marine Combat Engineer Battalion, and the Civilian construction workers together and they got every piece of Heavy Equipment on the base together and started digging a huge hole out in the desert.  The plan was to connect the new hole with all the flooded water.  I went out there about two hours before dark and watched them work.  I’m pretty good at watching people work.  It’s fun and easy too.  Anyway, the Marine Engineers always look for a reason to blow stuff up.  So they decided that it would be easier to blow up a connecting trench.  The Army used their backhoe to dig a two foot deep trench between the two holes and then the Marines placed two 15 lb and one 40 lb shaped charge in the ground.  When they went off, I was standing about 200 meters from the blast and it felt like it made my heart skip a beat.  I felt the impact jar my body before I heard the sound.  You could literally see the shockwave come at you.  Then they blew three more shaped charges off about 20 minutes later.  Then, with the holes they created from the shaped charges, they put in much bigger charges that are designed to make six foot trenches in hard rock.  I was already inside the COC, about one kilometer away, when the big one blew and it felt like a small quick earthquake.  They only told the chowhall there would be two explosions.  So when the third (and biggest) explosion went off, the chow hall cleared out.  People got up and ran for all the exits.  Some of the Indian workers started screaming.  They said it shook the entire building so bad that they thought it was coming down.  They all ran out and started taking accountability of everyone.  Our Marines ran to the COC to let us know that they were accounted for and still alive.  I guess you don’t want to be in a trailer when 500 lb’s of high explosives go off about 500 meters from your location.  Hahahahaha.

  Let’s hope the water starts draining now.

 

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Chuck Norris

  We have been in minimized for three days.  It has lifted each time for about an hour or two and then someone gets hit again.  2nd Battalion 3rd Marines out of Hawaii has had four KIA’s in the past two days.  I saw a report on the internet that said this was the deadliest month in Iraq for U.S. Troops in a year.  So far 96 American Servicemen have died and the same number died in October last year.  We still have five days left in the month.

  Chuck Norris is supposed to be coming to Al Qaim.  I thought it was a joke at first.  But everyone’s talking about it so I guess it’s true.  If I get a chance to take a picture with him, I’m going to ask him to choke me.  Hahahaha.  I figure he would do that quicker than letting me choke him for the picture.  Since I’m in a good mood today, I thought I would share some Chuck Norris FACTS with everyone.

 

1.  When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.

 

2.  Chuck Norris doesn't churn butter. He roundhouse kicks the cows and the butter comes straight out.

 

3.  Chuck Norris once bet NASA he could survive re-entry without a spacesuit. On July 19th, 1999, a naked Chuck Norris re-entered the earth's atmosphere, streaking over 14 states and reaching a temperature of 3000 degrees.  An embarrassed NASA publicly claimed it was a meteor, and still owes him a beer.

 

4.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is based on a true story: Chuck Norris once swallowed a turtle whole, and when he crapped it out, the turtle was six feet tall and had learned karate.

 

  That’s not all.  I’ve got more.  I’ll post them later.  Britni and Schellee are going to a pumpkin patch tomorrow.  Have fun Britni.  Just remember, the little ones are cute but they’re a lot harder to carve.  You have to draw on them.  Last year I carved a watermelon.  I told everyone it was a pumpkin in a watermelon costume.  I thought it was funny.  Most people thought I was stupid.

  The SgtMaj and CO are at a different base for a few days.  He was hoping that there would be bad weather and they wouldn’t be allowed to fly but they got out this morning.  I’m still going to the gym to do cardio but I’ll be safe from punching the bag for a few days.  My hands are still sore.  I’ll have muscles on my fingers when I get back.

 

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Army of One

  I got up this morning and slowly made it to the gym.  I was trying to conserve as much energy as possible.  I got on the elliptical machine and went at it for 30 minutes at a moderate pace.  Then I put on the gloves and tried to go to my happy place instead of thinking of the torture I was going through.  The Army was in the gym doing their PT.  They’re funny.  They usually come in, stretch, stretch again, stretch some more, and then ride a bicycle on the lowest setting barely moving at all for about 10 minutes and then they leave.  Sometimes they’ll do four or five sit ups.  I like to make fun of them.  Sorry dad.  Anyway, I had to put on my best show because they were sticking around and watching the SgtMaj and I go at it.  I think they worked up a sweat.  The SgtMaj’s new twist was to get a barbell and press it over your head 25 times after you work the bag for 90 seconds.  I never loved doing crunches so much.  It was the only time my shoulders got a break.  Then he broke out with, “By the time we go back, we’ll be able to do this for an hour straight.”  By the time I go back, I’m going to have a new workout partner.

  Oh yeah, the Army is coming out with a new slogan next week.  I read about it in the Stars and Stripes.  We get the newspaper about four or five days after it’s published.  It’s all top secret stuff right now.  They haven’t told anyone what it’s going to be but the Soldiers are all excited about them getting rid of “An Army of One” and coming out with something new.  I thought “Be all you can be.” was pretty good.  “We do more before nine AM than most people do all day.”  I think I was ten when that commercial ran and I still remember it.  

  I got letters today from Linda’s second grade class.  Each student wrote to a specific Marine.  I would have never guessed that the Marines would have been so happy when I started calling out their names.  They were excited.  Most of the time, I open the package and I read a few letters then pass the rest out to the Marines and they pass them around.  Today, I was going to do the same thing and when I read “Dear LCpl Jones, I am your pen pal.”  I stopped and realized what was going on.  Then the Marines started asking if I had one for them.  I put them all down and they came up and started going through all of them.  It was really nice to see that.  Linda sent us a big box of beef jerky.  Beef jerky is always a big deal but today it wasn’t as big as the letters.  Thank you Linda!

  Capt Bair found a dead rat in his desk drawer tonight.  He has been something for a few days and though it was him.  He said he even changes his cammies because he thought they were stinky.  Then he thought his vitamins that he had in his drawer were bad so he threw them out.  He found this grey lump in the back of the drawer and he poked it with his finger and it oozed black puss all over the place.  It was pretty funny…and smelly.  He’s actually relieved the smell wasn’t him.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

1 KIA 3 WIA

  Last night around 2200 one of our patrols hit an IED.  One of our corpsmen was killed.  There were also three Marines in the vehicle that were wounded.  Two are still in country, one is seriously injured and in Germany.  We’ve been in minimized all day long.

  When a vehicle gets hit, the comm shop has to get what’s left of the communications equipment once it’s recovered.  I was one of the first ones to get to the vehicle after it was unloaded from the truck and I helped take the tarp off of it.  It was worse than the last one.  The hummer was actually ripped almost in half.  There were two other Corpsmen there waiting and I was wondering what they were doing there until they started sifting through all the metal and debris.  Instead of ripping out the comm gear I waited for them to finish.  They were very professional and respectful as they recovered the Angel.  Angel is a term we use instead of human remains.  I stood there quietly and prayed for his family as they did their work.  It wasn’t as hard to watch as I thought it would be.  I knew that he wasn’t there.  It was only his old carbon shell.

  It’s hard to write about anything after that.  The show by the Air Force was great.  They sang everything from Country, Pop, Rock, Rapp, Motown, and Jazz.  It was nice to have a break for a while.  It rained off and on during the concert.  We were in a covered area so nobody got wet.  After it was over, I went to my can for the night and it started pouring down.  The lightning was pretty close and the thunder shook my can.  It was like being in Arkansas.  I love the sound of the rain on the roof with the flashes of light and hearing the thunder.  Although, I couldn’t help but think that it would be a great time to attack.  So I was also uneasy because I didn’t want to be in my can if something was happening.  I think the rain is the reason why the vehicle got hit last night.  When we’re on patrol or in a convoy, we look for different shades of dirt or trenches or something that will basically give you a clue if someone has buried an IED.  This morning when I got up, the first thing I thought when I stepped out of my can was “There’s no way you can tell if anyone has disturbed the dirt”.  Then, when I was in the gym, I found out what had happened.

  The SgtMaj told me to get plenty of sleep tonight.  He said he’s going to add a twist to our boxing workout.  I can’t wait!  Can you here the sarcasm?

Monday, October 23, 2006

ROCKY

  Oops!  I forgot.  Sorry Melanie.  I’ve been away from Arkansas for too long.  It is “Mud Drags”.  Not “Truck Pulls”.  How could I forget the name of the official state sport?  I used to go there with Aunt Wanda and Willie on Saturday nights.  Well, I still remember that the state dog is the Coon dog. Hehe.

  Yesterday I got up and went to the gym.  I did 20 minutes on the bike and then….dumm da da dumm…started training like Rocky.  Hitting the bag for 90 seconds, jumping jacks, push ups, leg raises, crunches, hit the bag…25 minutes never seemed so long.  I cheated on my push ups.  My shoulders were killing me.  Then at the evening meal the SgtMaj starts talking about, “We’ll be in awesome shape if we do that every day.”  I told him I was not doing that every day.  So then he says, “OK, every other day.”  I’m not doing that either.  I’m thinking twice a week.  My thumbs, pinky fingers and palms are sore from hitting that stupid bag.  How do the palms of your hands get sore when they didn’t touch anything?  I’ve never strained a pinky muscle before.  Hahahaha.

  An Air Force Band is here tonight to play for us.  They’re called Blue Force or something like that.  They are supposed to perform country, pop, rock, and jazz.  I feel stupid about saying this and the guys would never here me say this but I’m actually looking forward to it.  It’ll break up the monotony.

  On the way back from chow, there was a lot of lightning in the North.  I wonder if it’s coming this way.  I’m dreading the day I have to walk to work in the mud and pouring down rain.  Well, I’m going to wrap this up.  I don’t want to be late for the show.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Punching Bag

Well, this is the second time I’ve tried to post this message.  I got an error the earlier.  I hope this doesn’t post twice.

I got another box today.  Mrs. Reimell’s class sent us some goodies.  The Marines were excited to get them.  She also had a few coins from the Santa Barbara Council.  I never told her that I collected coins so it was a great surprise for me.  I’m going to hand the coins out when she lets me know who the first five Marines are that write her to thank her.  Of course, the Marines don’t know that.  I already know at least that many have asked me for her address.  We’ll see how many of them follow up.

  We had Sgt Walsh’s memorial service on Friday at 1400.  There were so many people there you couldn’t get in the chapel.  Rest in peace brother.

  We were supposed to get some thunderstorms today but it didn’t happen.  When it does, we are going to have some hard times negotiating these roads out here.  When the powder like dirt mixes with the rain water I hope I’m out in it.  I want to see that muck.  I think it’s going to be fun to be riding around in hummers in that stuff.  Like the truck pulls back home.  Right Missy? Hahaha.

  Two of our battle positions took motor fire today.  One mortar landed 10 feet from a guard post but it was on the side of the hill so no shrapnel hit the Marine.  We returned fire on one of them and last I heard a squad had left the lines to take a look and see if we had killed anyone.

  The SgtMaj is going to wear me out tomorrow morning.  We got a punching bag in the gym now.  He was the trainer for the Fight Club in 29 Palms (they were undefeated) and he’s been waiting for this thing to come in.  He asked if I was going to the gym for cardio tomorrow and then he said, “Good, we’ll work on the bag.”  He’s crazy.  I’ve went and worked out with him for boxing a few times and he keeps going until you can’t lift your arms.  I’m not really looking forward to it, but I love feeling the pain of a good workout so I’ll be happy in the end.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Personal Trainer

  I received a big box of bubble gum, tootsie roll pops, and tootsie rolls for the Iraqi children from my mom today.  They’re going to love this.  I can’t wait to pass it out to them.  I also got some Goo Goo Clusters and Log Rolls for my guys.  I’m sure they’re going to love them.  I already ate a Goo Goo Cluster.  I’ve been trying to watch what I eat but I figured if it had peanuts in it that meant it had protein in it.  Protein is good for you, so I ate one.  Hahaha.  I should be a personal trainer.  I’d make everyone feel good about cheating.  It’s like cake…It’s made with eggs, milk, flour…all that stuff is good for you.  Have it for breakfast.

  I called home today.  It was nice to talk to Britni and Schellee.  I heard the babies fussing too.  I miss them.  Schellee is sitting in on an adoption board of some sort for Laura today.  I hope everything goes well.

  The Capt is out for the night.  He left this morning with six of my guys.  He should be back some time tomorrow.  Three of the guys are staying out for four nights.  The others are coming back in with the Captain.  I’ve already heard through other Marines that he’s driving them nuts.

  The guys love being out on their own.  They are technically and tactically proficient enough to make good decisions and do things without the Captain or I being there to watch over them.  I like to see them succeed and be proud of what they accomplish by themselves.  It fosters good leadership and gives them confidence.  He gets upset when I let them go alone, but he is starting to see that they can make the correct call on tough decisions without him.  I think that scares him a little and makes him feel like he’s not as important as he thinks he is.  But I tell him that it proves that we are doing a good job.  We want our men to be able to think and act on their own.  These guys make me proud every day.  The Corps’ future is bright.

  The unit to our East is having a hard time.  They have been here a month and have already had a lot of casualties.  They have averaged a wounded or killed Marine every day since they’ve been here.  A message went out today saying that they need some radio repairmen because they lost one of theirs.  We came here short on repairmen so I couldn’t do it.  Our Battalion loaned them two squads of Marines to help them out for a while.  Hopefully thing s will settle down for them soon.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Three More WIA's

  We had three Marines from Lima Company get injured last night by an IED.  I have no idea how any of them survived.  The vehicle was totaled.  One guy got bruised up, the other two had some lacerations and some burns.  Nothing too bad though.  I took a picture of the vehicle.  A Marine from a unit to our East was killed today.  We are in minimized status again.

  I got a box from treats-for-troops.  I went to the website and registered my Marines and they sent me a box of goodies.  It had candied peanuts and hygiene gear in it.  I gave it to my Marines.  I’m trying not to eat junk food.  The Marines love it though.  As soon as I brought it in they were all around it like a pack of wolves on a lamb.

  The Battalion has been adopted by a nice lady named Tina from the Adoptaplatoon.com website.  They are making a banner for us to hang in our hallway.  They seem very nice and excited to help us.  The Marines are also excited to be supported by them.

  It’s amazing how many people in the US still support the troops.  I thought it might be a little different.  I thought it might get old.  It was easy to be patriotic when the war started.  It’s amazing to me how many people still take time out of their day to think about us and actually send us things.  No one will ever know how grateful I am for that.  I see the impact it has on my Marines on a daily basis.  The best time of the day is mail call.  Thank you to everyone who e-mails, writes, sends us anything, or prays for us.  You say you are grateful for what we do, but we are just as grateful for what you do.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Heavy Equipment Convoy

  I am so proud of Britni.  She got 1st Place in one event and 3rd place in two events.  She is improving her times and getting faster with every meet.  I can’t wait to watch her compete next year.  Way to go Britni!

  I went to COP North today.  It’s twice the size of COP South and has few hundred Marines and Soldiers.  It’s in the middle of nowhere.  It was sand as far as you could see.  We escorted an Army convoy of heavy equipment operators and their gear.  The entire time up there, I thought of Grandpa James.  Here I was in Iraq helping to escort backhoes, bulldozers, dump trucks, and a small crane and that’s exactly what he operated in the Army.  Those guys were country too.  I picked up on their accents real quick.  They only have 6 days left in Iraq.  So we made sure that we had plenty of firepower so they would all make it home.  It’s a big deal when you get to the one month mark.  Everyone pitches in and makes sure that there are no risks being taken.  Nobody ever wants to lose someone but everyone pays special attention when you get that close to going home.

  The Soldiers carried a broken satellite back to Al Qaim for me.  They put on one of their flat beds.  My guys are going to fix it up so COP North can have an internet connection.  The convoy and work up there took most of the day.  I didn’t do much else.

  I enjoyed reading about the smells.  Every time I smell burning leaves it reminds me of Grandma James’ house.  I always think of Grandma, Melanie, and I raking the leaves onto a blanket and carrying them over to the ditch to burn.  I used to love swinging on that tree swing.

 

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Packages

  I received some packages last night just before I went to my can.  I received a blanket and my battery powered alarm clock.  That was great.  Schellee sent me a big down blanket that we had in the living room.  It’s way to big for my little rack so I keep it folded in half.  It felt like home.  I was happy to get my alarm clock too.  I was always going to bed worried that I wasn’t going to get up on time.

  Missy sent me a birthday box.  It had all kinds of goodies in it.  I’m going to give most of the candy to the guy’s.  I’m keeping the big box of Nerds.  I don’t know what I’m going to do with the bubba teeth.  I’ll figure something out before I leave though.  I got a few card games that I know the guys will have fun playing with.  I also got a Sheridan Yellow jacket Nerf Football.  I had no idea they made them for schools.  Thanks Missy.

  Britni is competing this weekend at another swim meet.  She is in eight events this time.  I couldn’t imagine swimming in eight different events.  I hope she does well.

  I might be going out again tomorrow.  I have to check and see if my tech has fabricated a cable that they need in order to fix a piece of gear.  I’ll be headed to the farthest North base that we have in our area if it’s been made. It should be fun.

 

Saturday, October 14, 2006

New Tricks

  Yesterday, three of my Marines and I convoyed with three other vehicles out to COP South.  I have no idea what COP stands for but there are 11 Marines out there that are responsible for keeping an eye on the Iraqi Boarder Guards and there are 12 Marines from Lima Company that stand guard all day in the five watch towers.  The camp is 700 meters by 800 meters and was built by the Marines and used to train Iraqi Boarder Guards and Police.  It is now abandoned by everyone except those 23 guys.  It is a very boring place to be.  I went out there to look around and check out their communication gear and my Marines were supposed to run wire to each guard tower and back to the COC because their little radios don’t let them communicate with everyone.  The command center can only talk to post 3 and 4.  Post 3 can talk to post 1, 4, and the command center. Post 5 could talk to Post 4.  You get the point.  Anyway, I introduced myself to everyone and then went out to the guard towers and started talking to the Marines.  About two hours after arriving there I realized that my Marines still had not run the wire out the post were I was.  I climbed down and found them on the back side of the camp.  They had just finished wiring up two guard posts to each other and still had to wire the other 3 posts and the COC.  I took one of the Marines and put him in the vehicle.  Our Chief Warrant Officer asked if he could help.  So, I put him in the back of the truck with a spool of wire.  I ran a pole through the middle of the spool so it would spin around.  I told the driver to drive to the next post.  He looked at me and said “Master Sergeant, We’re not allowed to do that.”  I know their not, but I didn’t care – we were going to be there all night if they kept doing it by hand.  I just looked at him and said, “Drive.”  He took off and I ran along side the truck laying the wire.  We got the rest of the camp done in about 45 minutes.  My ankles are really sore today.  I was running on the top of the burm of the camp in some soft dirt.  I fell once and got covered in it.  The Warrant Officer was laughing so hard he almost dropped the spool of cable out of the truck.  When we got back, the 1stSgt and SgtMaj came up to me and said, “I hear you’re teaching the Marines some new tricks.”  So, I had to have a meeting with the Marines.  There are some things that are supposed to be kept quiet.

  I’ve been having fun the past few days.  I like to get out of the office and sweat with the Marines.  The day before yesterday, I was running lines in the old Iraqi Railroad sewer system.  It was pretty neat.  I got a little dirty and had some fun.  I also lost my sun glasses.  The Marines were going to go look for them and I told them that even if they found them, I wouldn’t wear them again.

  This morning I took all the Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO’s) on a run around the train station.  I was pretty fun.  Afterwards I sat them all down and we just talked about things that were going on.  Moral is high.  The Marines aren’t complaining at all.  They know what’s at stake and they are willing to do whatever it takes.  I love working with these guy’s.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Favorite Smell

  It sprinkled three times today.  Each time lasted for about 10 to 15 minutes.  I miss the smell of rain in the states.  Iraq has a certain smell when it rains too.  I noticed it this morning on my way back from the gym, then again this afternoon before the second shower.  It doesn’t smell the same.  It almost burns your nose.  It’s more of a chemical smell.  I wonder if there will ever be dew here.  I love the sweet smell of dew on a crisp southern day.

  Another one of my favorite smells is carbon.  I know it sounds weird but I love the way it smells on a rifle range.  I love concentrating on my target until the target is a blur and my front sights are clear.  I stop breathing at the precise moment everything lines up perfectly and then slowly squeeze the trigger and when the round goes down range you get a whiff of carbon that lingers in the air.  I’ve told Schellee that if they sold that smell in a car fragrance I would buy it.  I can remember every range I’ve been to where I smelled the dew and got to shoot early in the morning.

  Another favorite smell is Schellee.  She has “sweet pea” soap or body lotion.  I love to smell it on her neck when I hug her.

  O.K. everyone I’ve got an idea…Post your favorite smell(s) to the blog.  We’ll see how everyone else does. This should be fun.  hehehe.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Sgt Walsh

  I got word during the evening meal that Sgt Walsh, the wounded Marine from EOD, passed away at Bethesda Medical Center from complications during surgery.  I haven’t put any of the wounded Marines names on my web site but I know his family was there when it happened.

  Please pray for his family and friends.

 

Monday, October 09, 2006

New Gear?

  There’s not much going on right now.  The Captain is in Al Asad pitching an idea to the Division Communications officer on why we need more equipment.  We’ve got a solid plan.  We finished the slide show about 30 minutes before I took him to get on the helicopter.  I don’t know if we’ll get everything we’re asking for, but hopefully we’ll get some of it.

  The Marine from EOD that got injured the other night is in Bethesda.  His family and girlfriend are supposed to be there today.  I talked to the MSgt that was injured and he says he’s ready to go back out.  I don’t think they’re going to send him back out any time soon.  He’s having trouble hearing.  I think the explosion blew out an eardrum.  The Colonel said something to him today at chow and he had no idea anyone had said anything.

  Britni’s soccer team is doing well.  They are 2-1.  They lost there first game but since then I hear they look like a totally different team.  I hope everyone is doing well.  Less than 6 months left.  Time is flying by.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Razorbacks win!

  I got to watch the Razorback game last night in the gym.  They were showing it on American Forces Network.  I was the only one that showed up to watch it.  Everyone else was there to just work out.  When Mustain threw the touchdown pass to Monk in the first quarter, I jumped up and started yelling.  Everyone in the gym stopped what they were doing and started looking at me.  I quietly sat back down and one of the civilian contractors said, “Hey top, you yell all you want!  Go Razorbacks!”  So, I did.  It was pretty fun.  One by one, guys started coming over to see what the score was and before long, we had about 15 Marines and Soldiers rooting for the Razorbacks.  No one was from Arkansas; they just wanted to see Auburn get upset.  I’m glad I stayed up.  However, I’ve been dragging today.  I can’t wait to get back to my room and go to sleep.  I know Linda is happy too, her Bruins stomped Arizona.

  Not much going on today or yesterday.  All my men are back.  We completed a four day operation where we swept through an area that had been giving us trouble.  The Marines went door to door asking questions and searching homes.  We think we got some good stuff.  Hopefully, some things will work out.

  The Marines at Boxer haven’t gotten mortared since we set up our own mortar pit.  I don’t know if it’s because they know what will happen or if it’s due to the operation we just did.  It may be a little of both.  Our pit can be seen from a long way away.

 

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Correction

I need to post a correction to my blog entry last night.  Two stories were combined.  The Jamaican that was seen in an Iraqi village was not a bad guy.  He is living in the area.  The bad guy that was caught with a (pregnant) lady chained up and all the anti-US paraphernalia is possibly a big player in the local Al Queda In Iraq.  He was brought to our jail in Al Qaim.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Jamaican in Iraq

  The first few reports said the EOD Marine from yesterday had lost his eye.  This morning the medical staff said that it got pushed back into his head and the swelling from the trauma covered it up.  Today they could see his eye but they don’t know if he’ll be able to see out of it.  It will probably be a few days before all the swelling goes down and they’ll know if it can be saved or not.  The other Marine is doing fine and will be back out on patrol in a few days.

  One of our companies was out doing a raid and ran upon a Jamaican guy living on the outskirts of an Iraqi village.  They searched his house and found an Iraqi woman chained up in the basement.  He was using her as a sex slave.  He also had all kinds of anti-US fliers and other things in his house so they rounded him up and brought him to our jail here at Al Qaim.  I haven’t heard anything about the lady.  I hope she is back with her family and doing well.  Another company found a pretty big weapons cache this morning that had rockets and suicide vests.

 

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Bad Haircuts

  One of the units that deployed with us lost two Marines last night.  They hit an IED.  Then this morning two of our guys from EOD were checking an IED and it went off.  One Marine got some shrapnel wounds to the face and neck (he’s going to be fine) and the other lost most of the tissue from his jaw and one cheek.  The bone structure was intact.  I don’t know much more than that.  The SgtMaj told me that he was always in the gym working out while we were in there but I don’t remember him.  I met the other Marine when we got here and spoke to him when I saw him around camp.  Most of the Marines in the Battalion new one or both of them because we work with them all the time.  I was with them yesterday when we went on our convoy.  They were in the vehicle behind mine.

  On a happier note…I received letters from Mrs. Reimel’s class today.  The Marines are passing them around and when they are done we will post them in our internet café for everyone to read.  I also received a box from Schellee and Britni.  Thank you for the card and for the movie “Varsity Blue’s” (one of my favorites).  I will share what I have with the Marines.

  The SgtMaj was giving free haircuts this afternoon.  I went in and gave him some pointers.  He usually does a good job on one side of the persons head and then messes up the other side.  He acts like he’s real good though.  Everyone, except me, is afraid to tell him that he screws it up.  So, he thinks I’m kidding with him – I’m not.  He was cutting the Commanding Officers hair and I told him he did well but he needed to cut the top.  He had the guys hair basically shaved all the way up and then it went to about two and a half inches of hair.  He picked up a blade and was just going to run it over the top of his head and I stopped him and told him the blade was too short.  So I turned off the clippers and had him put them down to the LtCol’s head to show him what would have happened.  It would have lopped off almost all of his hair.  The LtCol thanked me but still let the SgtMaj continue to cut his hair after I found him a #5 blade to do it with.  The amazing part is people that have gotten their head messed up from the SgtMaj (and know it) continue to come back for another haircut???  As if the man is getting better.  He’s not.  It’s going to be funny when the SgtMaj goes to correct someone for having a messed up haircut and they look at him and say, “But SgtMaj, you did this.”  I hope I’m there when it happens.  Hahahaha.

 

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Vehicle Patrol #2

  Marines are still working hard.  We have a lot of things going on right now.  Over half of the platoon is outside the lines with other companies.  I went on another vehicle patrol today.  We went to the front lines of an operation to see how things were going.  We took EOD (the bomb disposal guys) with us and they went out and blew up some IED’s that were found.  It was pretty neat.  Then went to the Syrian boarder and looked around for a little while.  Nothing was there, so we came back.  I was out for about six hours.  Something about sitting in a vehicle really makes me tired.  It’s kind of like when I go to church.  I just got up a few hours before but as soon as I sit down and the preacher starts preaching, I get sleepy.  I thought my adrenalin would be pumping and I’d be all excited but it just seems like another drive.  There are times when the streets get narrow, and it gets quiet, and I start thinking, “Are they watching, or waiting for us to turn the next corner.” But nothing happens.

  We stopped by Camp Gannon and promoted one of the Sergeants to Staff Sergeant.  We also stopped at one my retransmission sites.  A retransmission site is a location where Marines set up one or more antennas and retransmit the radio signals for units that are too far from Al Qaim.  Boxer is a huge hill that has nothing on it except one bunker, two watch towers, and a few Marines.  They’ve been getting mortared at least every other day.  It always happens at night and we’ve been watching these little islands that are in the Euphrates River and we found out exactly where they are launching the mortars from.  The insurgents paddle across the river in a small boat and launch two mortars then paddle back.  It’s obvious that they are poorly trained and don’t know their equipment like they should.  Weapons Company sent me two 81mm mortar-men with some mortars so we can return fire next time.  Our guys can hit exactly where they want whenever they want.  They already have it set up ready to go.  All they need to do is drop a mortar down the tube.  So, the insurgents are going to have a big surprise next time they try to take some pot shots at my guys.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Daylight Savings Time in Iraq

  I didn’t get to bed until late last night.  We had some things going on last night and I was in the Combat Operations Center listening.  A convoy with two of my Marines in it got hit with an IED.  It didn’t do much damage.  It just took off the front passenger side fender and flattened the tire.  No one inside the Hummer was hurt.  It hit the first vehicle and my Marines were in the second one.  One of my Marines said they were taking small arms fire from the left side and wanted to return fire.  Luckily, one of my Staff Sergeants was in the vehicle with him and didn’t let him shoot.  The Lance Corporal was wearing Night Vision Goggles and mistook a flickering house light in the distance as small arms fire.  One of the other vehicle towed the broke down hummer to a nearby battle position and then they went to where they were supposed to be going.  They came back this morning.  Everyone is really joking with the Lance Corporal, “AAHHHH, a light! Quick, shoot it!”

  When my watch alarm went off at 0500, I didn’t feel like getting up to go work out and I was debating which was more important – sleep or cardio.  So I got up and went to the gym.  Then came back and went to chow.  As I was going through my morning routine I noticed there wasn’t as much activity on the base as there usually was.  I got inside the chow hall and realized that I had forgotten to turn my clock back for daylight savings time.  So, I could have had an extra hour of sleep.  I just sat in the chow hall watching the highlights of college football.  Now it is dark by 1800.

  My Lieutenant got promoted today.  He is now Capt Bair.  I also got a promotion warrant for one of my Marines to Lance Corporal.  We will promote him tomorrow.