Saturday, November 25, 2006

Hogs Lose

  I watched the Razorbacks last night.  LSU looked good.   If they would have passed more often they could have scored more points.  I hope we win the SEC Championship and maybe get three teams in the BCS.  Arkansas – Sugar, FloridaOrange, LSU – Rose if Ohio State and Michigan play a rematch.  They are going to show the SC vs. Notre Dame game tomorrow morning at 0400.  I think I’ll catch some sleep and watch the second half of that game.  I didn’t get much sleep last night and I haven’t felt 100% today.  My stomach was a little upset (nothing too big) and I don’t have an appetite at all.  I forced myself to eat lunch and dinner.

  My guys were up on the roof all day today rerunning cables, and doing maintenance for all the radios.  It’s going to look good after they get done.  I’ve got a crew going out to a BP tomorrow to set up some new Comm equipment.  It’ll probably only take them one day.  I plan on them being back tomorrow night.

  We are in minimized because two Marines died today.  One Marine was killed and one injured when they went to inspect a vehicle and it blew up when they approached.  Then another Marine standing guard duty on his post was shot by an insurgent sniper.  One Marine was with 2/3 from Hawaii and the other was with 3/2 from Camp Lejuene, North Carolina.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Razorback game tonight

  We had steak and baked potatoes tonight.  It tasted better than usual.  The turkey dinner last night was not that good but having all the Marines at one table was fantastic.  It was like sitting down with your family.  Everyone was laughing and having a good time.  That basically means we were sitting around making fun of each other.

  Sounds like everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I wish I could have been at everyone’s house to enjoy it with you.  There’s nothing like stuffing yourself silly with great food at a table full of people you love and then sitting around in the living room and watching football or taking a nap – most of the time it’s both.

  I’m looking forward to watching the Razorback game tonight.  It’s a good thing they’re doing so well or I wouldn’t be able to see any of their games.  I’m going to try to go to sleep around 8:30 PM and then get up at 10:15 and watch the game.  We have some important gear flying in at 12:30 AM, so I have to be down at the helicopter pad to sign for it when it arrives.  Hopefully, I won’t miss much.  Well, it’s already 8:00 PM so I’ve got to make my rounds around the work sections and try to get to my tin can to catch some sleep.  Go HOGS!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

  Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.  I hope it was pleasant.  It was a very slow day today.  Nothing was really going on.  I’m eating Thanksgiving Dinner with my Marines tonight and then I’m going to watch House.  One of my Marines had the first and second seasons of House and let me borrow it.  I’d only seen the show one time before he gave me the series.  I’m hooked.  I watch one show every night.  The great thing is, it took me a month to watch the first season and now I’m on the second season which has 24 episodes.  So it’ll be another month before I’m done watching it.  Another one of my Marines has two seasons of Lost.  I have never seen that show but everyone says it’s good.  So when I’m done with House, I think I’ll start watching the two seasons of Lost.

  Pa is doing better and he’s at home now.  I knew he would get better, he always does.  He’s very strong.  He needs to be at home with Nonnie and Bonnie.  Those two ladies like taking care of him and I think he gets stronger when they’re with him.

  We got flu shots for Thanksgiving.  It was wonderful.  I always tell the docs that I’m allergic to two things; sharp objects and anything metallic.  It never works.  I am thankful for all of you, and thinking of you often.

 

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

NBC Training

  We’ve been in minimized all day.  Three Marines from 2/3 were killed today.  I don’t know any specifics.

  I volunteered to be on the first responder team for any biological or chemical attacks and we started training today.  We’re going to train for an hour and a half every day for two weeks.    Today’s training was very basic stuff.  It was just a refresher course for everyone involved.  I volunteered because I’ve already been through the training and actually taught a lot of it when I was on MSG Duty.  So the classes are kind of boring.  Nothing has changed in the past few years.  No worries, as far as we know there aren’t any chemical or biological threats that we have to worry about.  It’s just a precaution.

  We get to see the LSU at Arkansas game.  It comes on at 10:30 P.M. in the gym on Friday night.  There will be five days in a row of football, college on Friday and Saturday and pro on Thursday, Sunday, and Monday.  Yeeeaaahhhh!!!  I love this time of year.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Pa

  I found out today that my Pa is in the hospital.  He’s my step-grandfather but I love him like he was my real grandpa.  He’s a wonderful man.  He’s got congestive heart failure, pneumonia, and a hot gall bladder.  He’s doing better this morning and I’m sure he’ll pull through.  He’s a pretty tough guy.  Pa helped me make the decision to join the service.  We talked about it in his backyard on an old porch swing while he whittled a piece of wood.  He served in the Army in WWII.  Please pray for him.

  Linda, I got a letter from you today that you sent on October 1.  It’s funny how the mail works sometimes.  I’ve gotten mail as quick as 10 days and now as slow as 41 days.  I bet it was terrible waiting for mail back in WWII and the Vietnam War.  I don’t know what they did without e-mail.  I wonder how they’ll be communicating 20 years from now.  They’ll probably have world-wide video phones that fit in your pocket and you can just call anyone at anytime from anywhere.

 

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Muscle Soreness?

  Not much happened today.  We had three Marines injured last night from an IED.  They are all doing fine.  There were three different firefights at three different locations in a four span last night too.  Then, tonight one of our bases got attacked and the Marines repelled them.  I wrote four letters today.  Three of the letters went to people who had sent my platoon a box from books for soldiers and one letter for my dad.  I keep track of all the addresses and names of people who send my platoon things.  I have written all of them back except one.  I couldn’t figure out how to spell the name of the city and I couldn’t distinguish the zip code due to sloppy handwriting.  I hate that, because I want them to know that we got it and that we appreciate it.

  I took the NCO’s on a short PT run today.  I only ran them a mile and then we did a circuit course in the gym.  I had them do dips, crunches, push ups, leg raises, side straddle hops (jumping jacks), and jump on 18” boxes.  We did each station for a minute then switched to the next station.  We went around four times.  It was pretty fun.  Different than what I usually do.  It gets a sweat going and keeps the heart rate up.  This afternoon I did a leg workout and their still burning.  I’m going to feel it in later.  Have you noticed that as you get older it longer to get sore?  When I was in high school I would work out real hard and be sore the next morning.  Then about five years later it took at least 24 – 36 hours before I felt sore.  Now it takes at least 48 hours after a workout before I get sore.  Hey Melanie, how long does it take you to get sore?  You’re getting up there and you still work out.  Just kidding.  Hahaha.  I guess that’s why paw gets a bruise and can’t remember how he got it.  He actually did the damage a week before he got the bruise.

  It’s really cool in the mornings.  I started seeing my breath last week.  It’s real nice in the middle of the day.  It makes me think of fall and football every time I go outside and feel the sun with a cool breeze.  It’s cold in the shade.  All that’s missing is the smell of fresh cut grass.

  I wrote Schellee an e-mail this morning and asked her how Britni did.  She wrote me back and said

 “…Just wanted to check my mail real quick before we left.  It's funny...I wrote you last night about her 500 free and this morning your message was asking how she did.  Must take a while to get messages back and forth…”

  And that was it.  I didn’t get any e-mail from her with results.  So now I still don’t know how she did.  I guess we were in minimized because of the injuries last night and her message didn’t get through to me.  Hahaha.  When I find out how she did, I’ll let everyone know.

  Go Hogs, Go Cal, and Go UCLA.  I’m also hoping Michigan blows out Ohio State.  I’m getting tired of all the hype.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Al Qaim Fashion

  I got two packages from mom last night.  They were filled with Goo-Goo Clusters.  I walked around the camp and handed them out to each person I saw.  Then, I put the other box in our COC and they were all gone in about two hours.  Good news travels fast.  My dad wrote me a letter.  I didn’t open it until I got back to my room.  I’m glad he wrote me.  We also got some watercolor painting from the school.  They were really nice.  We put them up in the internet café.

  I was awarded a Navy Commendation Medal today.  The medal is from my old unit, Marine Corps Communication – Electronics School.

  Britni is feeling better.  I’m glad she’s not sick anymore.  Her meet this weekend will last three days.  She swims the 500 Meter Freestyle on Friday, and then has four events on Saturday, and three events on Sunday.  This meet is in Palm Springs so at least they won’t be driving two to four hours to get there.  I think she’ll do well in the 500 Free even though it’s her first time.  She’s good at long distance things.  Last year she was real good at running long distances.  She took third place in her age group in a 5K race in Yucca Valley.

  Today at Chuck training, the SgtMaj and I were joined by LCpl Natividad.  He is one of my radio Marines who was a golden gloves boxer and wants to try out for the Marine Corps Boxing team.  He’s about 130 pounds and hits like he’s 180.  He’s fast and powerful.  I think he’ll make the team when we get back.  It’s neat to watch him on the speed bag.  I don’t think I’ve seen anyone do it any better.  Marines and Soldiers are always in the gym hitting the speed bag.  The SgtMaj calls it the show-off bag.  That’s because he can’t do it that well.  Hahaha.

  Melanie, I almost forgot to answer your fashion question.  Here at Al Qaim the Soldiers wear a digital pattern uniform made up of a lovely green, grey, and tan.  They wear a tan under-armor style t-shirt underneath.  They also have brown boots.  Sometimes they wear tan flight suits.  For PT, they have a light grey t-shirt that says ARMY on the front in black letters and they wear black shorts.  The Special Forces sometimes wear jeans and a t-shirt.  They’re special.  The Marines at Al Qaim wear a beautiful dessert digital combat uniform made of dark brown, light brown, tan, and khaki (I bet you thought that I thought that tan and khaki were the same).  We wear a cotton green t-shirt underneath.  We are not authorized to wear under-armor because it will melt to your skin if you get burned.  We have matching brown boots that have an Eagle Globe and Anchor branded on the heel so none of the Army pukes can wear them.  Oops, did I type that?  Anyway, we wear a tan Nomex (fire resistant) flight suit with green or tan fighter pilot gloves when we go outside the wire.  For PT, we were green shorts and a green t-shirt.  The Soldiers and Marines top off their outfits with lovely matching hats with a 3’ wide floppy brim that goes all the way around to help keep the sun off of melanin challenged people like me.  We are not authorized to wear anything else.  I only have brown, green, and black things for my wardrobe (except for my unmentionables) but I have become very savvy at mixing and matching to come up with a cornucopia of brilliantly designed outfits.  Hahaha.  I love you Melanie.  That was a good question.  I enjoyed answering it.  You know, the Army can wear the same uniform in the desert or woods.  We have two different ones.  I hear the Air Force gets to wear whatever they want.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Phones

  We were in minimized again.  Two units to our east got some Marines injured.  No KIA’s though.  We killed two more insurgents.  Our phone switch crashed hard on us yesterday and we were without telephone service for the entire day.  Our telephones are not regular civilian telephones.  They are big green boxes with a handset, some black buttons, a few toggle switches, some lights, and two knobs.  They have four copper wires running to them.  Anyway, the wire shop got them back up for about an hour and then they crashed again.  We had them in a configuration called “stack”.  It means that they were all joined together to function like one big unit.  The only way to get them back up now is to “unstack” them.  So now two thirds of the base has new phone numbers.  Military phones have a 4-3 number combination.  Civilian phones have a 3-4 combination.  Only one of the switchboards could keep the original first four numbers.  So, the rest of the base got new ones.  This has caused a lot of problems.  Not everyone has clued in on the concept that if someone doesn’t have the same first four digits as you; you have to dial the entire seven digit number.  It’s a simple enough concept right?  The same thing goes for civilian phones in the states.

  Linda, LCpl Farrell just completed his first operation.  He was out for three days.  I wanted to tell you when we were making the plans, but of course, I couldn’t.  He was pretty excited when he left.  I hear that he did a really good job.  He should be back in tomorrow morning.  He’s resting at one of our battle positions tonight.

  About two months ago we were promised some gear that we needed.  The time line kept getting pushed farther and farther back.  Then, we were told we wouldn’t be able to get everything we needed and we would have to settle for a portion of it.  Today, we found out we’re not getting any of it.  It sucks when you put a lot of hard work and time into a plan that never happens.  I kind of thought that it would happen like this because of who we were dealing with and they way they were acting.  The Captain is really disappointed.  I started making jokes and tried to loosen him up a bit but it only works for a few minutes before he starts thinking about it again.  He wanted it to happen so bad.  We’ll be fine.  We can still get our mission accomplished without the gear – which is exactly why I thought we wouldn’t get it – it’ll just be harder and take more planning and time to do it now.

  Britni was sick last night.  I’m sure it was a sleepless night for Schellee.  I hope she is feeling better now and I hope they both get some sleep tonight.  I love you both.  I’m thinking about you and praying for you.

Monday, November 13, 2006

BCS Predictions

  I got up at 0345 on Sunday morning to watch the Razorback game and boy am I glad I did.  It was nice to see the Razorbacks stomp Tennessee.  Most of it happened in the first half and I would have missed it if I wouldn’t have gotten up as early as I did. 

  O.K, Here’s what I think (hope) will happen with the BCS.  Cal or UCLA will upset USC.  USC will beat Notre Dame.  West Virginia will beat RutgersArkansas will beat LSU.  The Michigan vs. Ohio State game will be a blowout and send the loser back five/six spaces in the BCS.  That leaves 1. Ohio State or Michigan, 2. Florida, 3. Arkansas.  The winner of Arkansas vs. Florida will play for the National Championship.

  We gained control of a new building on the base that is right behind the COC.  My wiremen are going to move all their stuff into it.  All my NCO’s are going to live in it too.  There’s more space and they won’t have to live in the same room that they work in.  It’s going to take a while to move the wire shop.  We will have to rerun every phone line on the camp.  It’s a lot of work, but it will be done right this time.  The wire guys are actually looking forward to it.

  Four more of my guys got into combat today.  Nobody got hurt.  I don’t think any bad guys got hurt either.  They got away and we didn’t find any bodies.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Happy Veterans Day

  Happy Veterans Day to Dad, Pa, Grandpa James, and everyone else who has served our great nation.  Thank you for making our nation what it is today.  I am proud to carry on the tradition.

  The Marine Corps Birthday Ceremony went very well yesterday.  The Narrator was awesome.  Hahaha.  All the Marines got two beers each.  They were happy.  You should have seen them clear out of the gym when we told them that the beer was outside.  We had enough people that didn’t drink (including me, just in case you’re wondering) to give two beers each to the Soldiers and civilians that came.

  The chow hall made steak, shrimp, cake, and ice cream for the birthday meal.  All the workers were telling us happy birthday.  It was pretty neat.  They have everything decorated in red, white, and blue.  It looks like the fourth of July in there.

  Our unclassified network (the one I’m using now) has had some problems lately.  We got everything worked out and then one of our fiber-optic lines snapped.  So now we are routing it through a different device and it’s only able to go half as fast as it was going.  Things were slow before, now it’s hard to get anything done.

  I got a box from Operation Care and Comfort yesterday.  Each Marine got a zip-lock bag full of goodies.  There were words of encouragement from a nursing home and drawings from a Girl Scout Troop in San Jose, California.  They also sent some Girl Scout Cookies.  I ate an entire package – half a box – of Thin Mints last night before I went to bed.  I know that’s bad but I couldn’t put them down once I started.  I figured it was my birthday desert since I didn’t have any cake.  I’m glad I didn’t have the entire box with me.  I wrote them a letter thanking them for their support.  I wish I could visit everyone that sends me stuff.  It was really nice getting the letters from the nursing home.  They put their ages next to their names.  One lady said she was single and looking for a husband.  She withheld her age.  Watch out Schellee!  You better be nice to me.

  We got some more insurgents today.  I don’t know what it is about this week but we a racking up the kills.  We’re hoping that it’s due to us always being out in the villages and now we know who belongs and who doesn’t.

  They’re going to show the Tennessee at Arkansas game at 0300.  I probably won’t get up to watch it until about 0430.  I did see that College Gameday was in Fayetteville.  That’s great that we’re finally getting some recognition.  I hope we do well.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Phone Service

  A company that makes boxing equipment sent the SgtMaj some new gear.  He gave me a set of 16 oz gloves and I get to try them out tomorrow morning.  I must be sick.  I’m actually excited about Chuck training.

  All of our phones on the entire base went out today.  They are still out right now.  The Marines have been pulling their hair out trying to figure out the problem.  We have been working our equipment to the breaking point and it might have just broke.  They are doing their best to fix it.  Pray that they get it up.  We -----Unbelievable.  No Lie!  I was typing this up and my phone just rang.  It’s my Marines calling to tell me that the phone lines are back up.  Yeeeaaahhhh!!!  I knew they would get it up.  Hmmm…Right after I typed “Pray that they get it up”.

  I’ll have to go find out what the problem was and then I guess I’ll go to the birthday ball rehearsal.  Melanie, the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps are all older than the U.S. because we had to make those services in order to defeat the British and them become the U.S.  The Marine Corps is the only service that was born in a Bar (Tun Tavern) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The Army is the oldest and senior Service the Navy is next.  Then Marines are next and then, of course, the Air Force.  When I first joined the Marine Corps, I wondered why it was older than the U.S. too.

  I haven’t been to chow yet.  I think I’ll go late and then go straight to my tin can.  I’ve been up watching some live video feed of one of the companies out doing a patrol.  They received some small arms fire but the guy got away.  No one was hurt.  These guys are terrible shots.  I had two more Marines from my shop get into combat last night.  They were pretty stoked when they got back.  We got some more bad guys.  We’ve been doing very well this week.

  Oh, I almost forgot.  I have a pair of sunglasses now.  Supply got in a big shipment and one of my Marines went down and got me a pair.  He walked into the office and threw a box at me and said “Hey top, I know you need these so I picked them up for you.”  Mom, and Melanie,  I can only wear solid black sunglasses.  They are supposed to be ballistic but I don’t think anyone will care what I wear around the base.  When I go out, I will have to wear the Oakleys I just got.  This makes the third pair and the third different brand.  Oakley, ESS, and WileyX are what the Marine Corps and Army buys.  I would never buy them - they are too expensive.  I like the $5.00 rack at Wal-Mart.  Hahahaha.

 

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Beer for the Birthday

  I got to call home last night.  It was nice to hear Britni and Schellee’s voice.  Britni didn’t do as well as she wanted at the swim meet but she still did well against the competition. 

  Today at Chuck training the SgtMaj and I had a guest.  He brought…uhh..err..drug along a LCpl that somehow got on the SgtMaj’s bad side the other day.  We destroyed this kid.  I almost felt bad for him.  He was making noises and grunting like something awful was going on.  It was kind of funny.  He was soaking wet with sweat and when we were done with him he would have ran out of the gym if he had the strength to do it.  Then this afternoon, about three or four of the Cpl’s approached me and said that they heard the SgtMaj and I killed some poor LCpl in the gym this morning.  So the word has gotten around.  Don’t make the SgtMaj mad or you’ll be forced to work out with him.  Hahaha.

  I went up on the roof of our building today and helped the Marines fix some problems.  It’s so much fun being a MSgt.  I can pick and choose what I want to do and when I want to do it.  The Marines think it’s cool that they’ve got an old guy up there working with them.  I even figured out a problem that they couldn’t fix.  Although, I didn’t have my smartest guy’s up there.

  I also volunteered to be the Narrator at the 231st Marine Corps Birthday Ceremony this year.  It will be fun.  I always had fun on MSG duty doing it.  After the ceremony is over each Marines gets two beers.  They are actually bringing in real beer for the Marine Corps Birthday.  One of the companies wasn’t going to let their Marines have any but the SgtMaj squashed that idea real quick.  I don’t drink at all but I know it will be a good moral boost for the men to have just two.  These are grown men.  The Marines on watch don’t get any until they get off of post and no one can drink eight hours prior to standing watch.  All Marines know this.  It’s just something we are taught from day one.  The Marine Corps Birthday also marks our 1/3 mark.  We will be 33% done with the deployment.  Ooh-Rah!

  We had catfish at the chowhall today and they had lemon slices on one of the tables.  So it was great.  Then I had Baskin Robins Cookies and Cream Ice Cream.  I usually don’t get the ice cream but I justified it to myself today because I had two hard workouts in the gym and I helped out on the roof.

   Two of our companies got into a few more firefights today.  No injuries for us.  We’ve seen an increase in insurgent activity but our guys are doing a good job of taking care of them.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Good Day

  Today was a great day for 3rd Bn 4th Marines.  We killed a lot of insurgents and didn’t have any Marines or Civilians get hurt.  In one instance a group of insurgents were doing something and we just happened to have a cobra helicopter in the area and we were able to redirect it and kill them.  It seemed to happen like that all day long.  Things were just falling into place for us.

  I got a lot of things accomplished today.  I met with all the 1stSgt’s and coordinated some things to get done.  I was told that I probably wouldn’t be able to do it because the companies wouldn’t have the time or the resources but again, everything happened to fall into place for me and we were able to get everything done.  I wish every day was like today.

  I also got some boxes.  I got some movies, peanuts, and lots of candy from mom (Bonnie).  I’m looking forward to watching the movies.  I haven’t seen any of them and my Marines were telling me that they were all good movies.  I got some boxes and letters from Emilie Ritchen School.  They keep sending great stuff.  The Marines love it when I get a box or a manila package of letters from them.  They will keep calling my office until I get over there and open it up for them.  I also got a box from two other people that got my name off of a web site.  They sent some magazines, books, and hygiene gear.  Someone sent some Godiva Chocolates.  I couldn’t believe it.  I don’t even buy that for me; it’s too expensive.  Everyone that was there when I opened the box got one piece.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bar-B-Q Pork Chops

  Arkansas won again.  Wow, I hope they can keep it up.  My Marines are trying to get MWR to put on a Madden Tournament for all the Marines and Soldiers.  There are two big screen TV’s now and everyone is dying to hook up video games to them.  One of my SNCO’s bought a Playstation II last week and the last unit that was here sold us the one they had so now we have two of them.  I don’t know when they’re going to all have the chance to play.  It may have to be done over a weeks time.

  We’ve been keeping busy by doing maintenance on Al Qaim.  The Marines have been rerunning wire, retipping cables, cleaning antennas and other equipment, and reorganizing things.  We had some pretty high winds yesterday and the antennas on the building stayed up there because we had just tightened them up the day before.  Nobody likes to mess with stuff that’s already working (including me) but it will pay off in the long run.

  Yesterday was pretty windy.  There was a lot of sand in the air.  I had to walk to chow with my cover (hat) pulled down over my eyes and my eyes had to stay closed most of the time.  I could go get some sun glasses from supply at anytime but I’ve already lost two pair since I’ve been here.

  We were in minimized for three days.  Last year, 3/4 was in minimized for 22 days in a row because a Marine died in a vehicle accident and when they went to notify his mom she had gotten married (nobody knew her new last name) and gone on a cruise to South America.  That makes it even harder to find you.  Eventually, they were able to track her down.  She was told about her son 22 days after his death.  I have no idea what the hold up was but I have stressed to my Marines the importance of knowing where your family is and to make sure their info is correct.  I think it would be terrible to find out so late after it happened.

  Saddam will be hanged for his crimes.  Ooh, that was a tough one to call.  I’m glad they didn’t have their version of an O.J. trial.  So far, there are no protests or riots going on in any of our towns.  I think they are indifferent.

  I had Bar-B-Q Pork Chops for dinner.  It wasn’t very good.  I wouldn’t recommend combining those two things.  It was pretty salty.  I think they fried the pork chops and then dumped Bar-B-Q sauce on it.  We have some form of pork at least five days a week.  I guess no one else in this country is eating it so they feed it to us.

  We got to watch the Mayweather vs. Baldomir fight at chow tonight.  I already knew who won but it was cool to watch an HBO Pay Per View fight that was replayed for the troops.  I’d like to see someone knock out Mayweather.  I can’t stand people who are full of themselves.  I guess when you’re the World Welterweight Champion at 37 wins, 0 losses and you’re making 8 million dollars a fight; it’s hard to not tell people how great you are.

 

Thursday, November 02, 2006

New Army slogan is released

  I wrote about the new Army slogan a week or so ago so I thought I would update everyone on it.  The new slogan for the Army is “Army Strong”.  There will be a huge advertising campaign for it that starts on November 9.  The Air Force changed their slogan last month from “Into the Blue” to “Do Something Amazing”.  Again, I thought “Aim High” said a lot with few words.

  My Chuck workout yesterday wasn’t too bad.  I think I’m getting the hang of it, and getting used to it.  I guess my shoulders are getting in better shape.  We didn’t do our evening workout because the SgtMaj had too much work to do.  We did it this morning instead.  Tomorrow is supposed to be a Chuck workout but I’m just going to do cardio instead.

  Last night I went to the Army Special Forces Camp.  They’re called ODA.  I can’t remember what it stands for “Hey dad, maybe you can help me out.”  They’re green berets.  They invited the four senior enlisted guys over for a promotion ceremony.  One of their Sergeant First Class’s got promoted to Master Sergeant.  The Army gives a $150,000 cash bonus to any Special Forces member who, at 18 years, will reenlist for 7 years to put them at 25 years in the Army.  That’s a lot of money.  It’s probably money well spent by the government to have someone with that much experience stay in.  They are having problems keeping guys after 20 because civilian companies are offering a lot of money for security guys in Iraq.  We work real well with those guy’s.  We’ve been doing a lot of joint operations in the area and sharing a lot of intelligence between us.  It was pretty cool to go over to their house and hang out for a while.  They come over here to ours a lot.

  We are suddenly having some problems with some of our equipment and I had to send a team out this morning to check it out.  They’ve been to two different Battle Positions and already fixed all the problems.

  We also turned over one of our positions to the Iraqi’s last night.  That’s good news.  The more we can turn over to them, the faster we’ll be able to bring everyone back.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to turn over a few more before we leave.  The last recruiting effort last month got well over what their goal was.

  We have a civilian visiting us right now.  He’s teaching my guys and two people from each camp how to set up the satellite and all the gear for the MWR’s (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) internet Café’s.  My Marines already know most of it so it’s pretty boring to them but the other guys are learning – I hope.  We’re going to try to eventually get about three computers at each battle position (BP) that has internet access.  The only Marines that have it at the BP’s are the Commanding Officer, Executive Officer, and the 1stSgt.  We are also trying to hook up internet phones so they can call back to the states and talk to their families.