Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Orders for two Marines

  Today I spent 90 minutes throwing punches, kicking, jumping on boxes, crunches, and jump rope.  It hurt so bad it was great.  It was so funny to see how uncoordinated some of my Marines are.  This was not aerobics.  We had 10 different stations that we spent 2 minutes at each station.  We call it a circuit course.  It was fun.  I’m doing it again tomorrow.  The inside of my chest hurts – not from the exercises – but from breathing so hard.  It hurts when I cough.  Hahaha.

  1stSgt Mims got the orders he’s been wanting.  He’s going to Camp Lejuene when we get back and SSgt Schneider, my Radio Chief, is going to teach at the Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School.  I sent some e-mails to the CO and some other Marines to let them know that he had a lot of knowledge, was a good Marine for young Marines to emulate, and would make a good instructor.  They gave him orders today.  I am real happy for the both of them.

  This afternoon when I was done lifting, I was putting on my pistol belt and getting ready to walk out when I saw a female Marine working out on the elliptical machine.  I didn’t know there were any females here and thought it was weird.  I finished putting on my pistol belt and looked back up and she was gone but the Bn Gunner was on the machine.  So I walked over to the Bn Gunner and as I got closer I noticed he had a towel on his machine.  I asked him if he had just had that towel on his head and he said, “Yeah.  Why?”  I just looked at him and said, “I guess I’ve been here too long.”  Hahahaha.  I think I need to come home. Haha.

 

Friday, February 23, 2007

Good report from locals

  The two Generals that came for a visit went out in town and visited with the mayor and the sheiks.  The locals told the Generals that one of the reasons they are helping the military more now than in the past was because of the way we treat them.  They said that our unit has been the most courteous to their customs and traditions than any other unit that has been here and they feel safer with us than they did with the other units.

  When we heard about that, it made us all feel real good.  I am glad that we are able to make a difference.  I think the reason why we are doing so well is because of the training that the Corps puts us through before we deploy to an area.  The Marine Corps didn’t have all the Arab customs and traditions training when the war first started and it is getting better with each evolution.  We also have men who have been out here two or three times and understand more about the culture.

  Stacey, thanks for writing and thanks for the support.  The Marines are pretty easy to please.  When you don’t have anything, you’re grateful for everything.  Linda and you have been doing an outstanding job.  We got another box today from the school.  I got the gummy lifesavers out of it and the Marines grabbed up the chips, and all the other stuff.  Any snack food is always welcome.  Mom and Mom, I got both of your boxes today.  Thank you so much.  I had to share the Cherry Hershey’s kisses with everyone (I didn’t know that they made those) because if I eat too many of them I’ll be sick.  I think the Captain ate half the bag all by himself.  He doesn’t eat much junk but really liked them.  I’m going to watch the movie “Facing the Giants” tonight.  I heard that it was really good. 

 

Mortar Attack

  Two more Generals will be in our area tomorrow morning.  They were originally scheduled to come to Al Qaim but the helicopter is land here just long enough to pick up the Colonel and then they are going to Camp Gannon to visit the boarder crossing check point that is being built.

  Yesterday, the SgtMaj got on a supply convoy with a few of my Marines to go visit COP North.  While they were on their way out, they found an IED.  It held them up about three and a half hours.  Whenever we get held up be IED’s we do a “cordon and search” of the area to check for wires, cache’s, weapons, and bad guys.  My Marines were excited because they got to go search through a neighborhood with the SgtMaj.  Once you search your surrounding area, you set up security and then it gets real boring while you sit there and wait forever.  Sometimes, EOD will show up in about 40 minutes.  Most of the time it takes about two or three hours, but it has taken as long as six hours in some cases.  It always depends on what they are doing and what else is going on.  Sometimes, EOD will be blowing up one IED and they will get called to go blow up another one that’s 50 miles away.  We only drive 30 miles per hour.  That way we can get a good look and see the different shades of dirt if someone has been digging or spot any wires from trash on the side of the road.

  I was woken up this morning at 0330 by flash bangs from the Army Special Forces.  They are training another group of Iraqi’s in their Swat School.  This is hell week for them so they get hazed the whole week and hardly get any sleep.  They somehow got some loud speakers and they were blasting heavy metal music to help confuse them.

  This afternoon, while I was in the gym working out with the SgtMaj, we got mortared at our East Entry Control Point.  Everyone had to run to their designated areas and report in.  We launched two helicopters and the Quick Reaction Force but we didn’t find anything.  Capt Bair was at the chowhall and he said the workers in there started going nuts and kicking everyone out.  He said they were shouting “Get to your bunker! Get to your bunker!”  He said he ate a few more bites and then followed the crowd outside.

  When the “all-clear” was given we headed down to the chow hall and all those workers were still in their bunker.  They have a mettle shack that has been dug into the side of a hill and reinforced with sandbags.  There must have been 50 little guys in that thing.  They just kept coming out.  It was like clowns get out of a little car.  The Marines were all waiting in line to be served and they were still messing around so the Bn XO and some other Marines jumped behind the counter and started serving chow to everyone.  Never mess with hungry Marines and their chow.

  I hope those guys come back soon and try it again.  It’s frustrating when you don’t find them.  Saturday is LCpl Escanlante’s memorial service.  They are having it at COP North (Weapons Company BP) so I will try to convoy up there with someone.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

1 KIA, 4 WIA

  We were in minimized yesterday and most of today.  I sent three Marines out to Camp Gannon to fix an encrypted radio link to their camp and about 30 minutes after they left, the COC called and said a convoy hit an IED.  The Captain and I jumped up and ran to the COC because we thought it was our guys but it wasn’t.  Weapons Company hit another IED.  Four Marines were injured and a Corporal was killed.  Two of the Marines are at Balad and one is at Al Asad.  The other one is here at Al Qaim.  They are all going to be fine.  Cpl Gray ended up losing both legs right below the knee.  They only tool his left foot at first, but then they had to go back in and take more because his blood wasn’t flowing back down the way it should.

Friday, February 16, 2007

2 WIA's

  This week has been pretty hectic.  There was always something going on.  All the Marines have been working pretty hard.  We had another General come by this morning to tour the area.  We have a Civil Affairs Group (CAG) that is out here working with us and they are responsible for helping the Iraqi’s with their infrastructure.  There are about 15 of them on the team.  They are going to try and get one of the passenger train stations operational.  The one we are at was used for working on the trains but there are two other very small stations where people boarded.  The General went out to tour the other two to see if he thought it was a good idea to put money into it.

  While he was gone, a Weapons Company convoy hit an IED.  I was the senior enlisted Marine on deck at the time so I was in the COC.  Two of our snipers were wounded.  Cpl Gray (driver) lost his right leg and his left foot and Cpl Powers (front passenger) just got his knee banged up.  The Gunner in the turret who stands between them didn’t get hit with anything.  The Marines in the back didn’t get hit either.  It’s amazing how a couple of feet can make such a big difference.  Our EOD team is assessing the site right now to figure out exactly what kind of explosive was used.  Both snipers were on their 3rd combat tour.  Cpl Gray had gotten meritoriously promoted to Corporal and his wife just had a baby.  He also reenlisted for four more years just a month ago.  This will be his second purple heart.  He got shot in Fallujah last year.

  We got a bunch of boxes from Linda today.  While we were opening the boxes, one of the Marines said, “This is just like Christmas.”  It was nice to get all the goodies.  She sent potato chips, dip, hacky sacks, and some more great magazines.  The Marines were really happy.  The boxes aren’t rolling in like they were during the holidays.  They got spoiled and thought it was going to be that way all the time.  hahaha.  I also got my box from Schellee.  She sent me some Dove chocolate for Valentines Day and all of my issues of “Sporting News” that I have been missing.  Thanks Babe.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The flock with no shepard

  We went to the range yesterday.  Everyone shot really well.  We did a lot of different drills.  At one point we had to call a cease fire on the range because a bunch of sheep came wondering into our area.  I was able to snap off some pictures of them while my Marines were running at them trying to get them to go away.  It was pretty funny.  At first, only two Marines walked toward the sheep.  They thought they would just wave their arms and the sheep would run away but the sheep just ignored them.  So more Marines had to start running all over the place and herd them away from the range.  Once they were gone, we started shooting again.  Then, about 20 minutes later some other Marines came by herding them back through.  The sheep had wondered into their tent and they were trying to take them back out to the road that leads to the Iraqi Camp that is next to us.  They bring in sheep and goat to slaughter and eat.  I guess some poor Iraqi soldier let diner get out.

  We got in some new jamming equipment to put into the Hummers.  It will help us prevent electronically detonated IED’s.  We don’t have much trouble with those around here.  Most of the IED’s we see are what we call “pressure plate” IED’s.  They are made with two strips of metal with wood or some type of material separating them at the ends and when the Hummer drives over the metal strip it presses the middle parts together and detonates.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Helo Pad

  The Captain went back out again today.  He won’t be back until Sunday.  I’m taking all the Marines out to shoot tomorrow.  It should be fun.  The helo pad is about 100 yards from my tin can.  They were in and out all night last night.  An Iraqi Policeman got injured when the car he was riding in hit an IED.  I must have woken up about six or seven times.  The First Sergeants can is the first can next to the helo pad and when they take off and land it actually shakes his room.  They have taken the barriers away because they are putting in another helo pad.  So the new helo pad will be about 40 – 50 yards from his can.  I hope they put up higher barriers to help keep the noise down.  They probably won’t.  I’m glad I live at the other end.

  I did cardio this morning but the SgtMaj told me he needed to skip the gym this afternoon.  He said he wasn’t feeling well.  So we will pick up tomorrow where we left off.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Square Winners

  We were in minimized all day today.  The 2/4 SgtMaj was killed.  It killed him and another Marine.  They had nine wounded.  They are out of Camp Pendleton.  Our SgtMaj met him just a few weeks ago when he went to Al Asad.  He had a wife and two kids in high school.

  We got some boxes from E. Ritchen School today.  We got some magazines, books, and letters from the kids.  One of the classes sent a picture of the student with every letter.  We passed them out to the Marines.  We also got a big box from Operation Care and Comfort.  It’s always nice to get boxes.

  Our SgtMaj won the third quarter in the football squares.  He got $100.  Sgt Peterson, a Supply Marine that didn’t even want to play but was talked into it by his Marines, won the first two quarters and got $200.  Sgt Carbajales (Comm Marine with the Jump Platoon) won $200 because he got the final score.

  Now that football is over, time is going pretty slow.  I’ve never watch pro basketball, and I don’t really get into college basketball until March Madness.  I would watch the Razorbacks, if they ever put them on over here.  They show mostly pro basketball and hockey.  I don’t know anything about hockey.  I don’t think I even knew that was a real sport until after I joined the Corps.  I thought they only played it during the Olympics.  Hahaha.  Kind of like Wrestling.  Since there was no high school wrestling in Arkansas I thought the only wrestling was WWF (I watched Mid-South Wrestling on Saturdays) until I joined the Corps and learned that the Marine Corps had a wrestling team and many of my fellow Marines competed in high school.  Hahaha.  Speaking of wrestling, there is going to be a wrestling match tonight in the gym.  Two Marines were talking crap to each other and now they are going to wrestle tonight.  They had the weigh in this afternoon at 1600.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Dimes

  I skipped my cardio today.  I set my alarm for 0500 but I couldn’t get up.  I was still too tired from being up the night before to watch the Super Bowl.  I didn’t roll out of bed until 0630.  So I skipped breakfast.  I went to the office and ate a snack cake and some beef jerky that someone had sent in one of the boxes.  What a great combination.

  I started working out with the SgtMaj today.  He always does “Nickels and Dimes”.  The dimes are the worst and of course, that’s what he’s doing this week.  For his workouts you take five days and do one body part each day (Chest / Shoulders / Back / Biceps & Triceps / Legs).  You pick four exercises for the specific body part.  Today was chest.  We did dumbbell press, decline bench, incline bench, and fly’s.  You do ten sets of ten.  Never change the weight.  So you have to do something that will be pretty easy at first and then it gets so hard you can barley lift it.  It’s almost embarrassing because guys come into the gym when you’re on your last set of 10 and they see that your struggling with such a light weight.  You end up doing 400 lifts total.  Nickles you only do five sets of five for the body part.  You change each week between nickels and dimes.  It’s a pretty good routine.  I have trouble keeping count of all the reps.  You have to be able to count to ten real well.  Hahaha.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Sandwich

  I got up at 0200 to watch the Super Bowl.  It was god game.  There were quite a few people packed in the chow hall.  It was real nice to sit back and relax.  We would relay the score out to the BP’s periodically to keep them informed.  I’m glad the Colts won.  I sure wish we could have seen the commercials.  American Forces Network doesn’t show any commercials.  If they did, they wouldn’t be allowed to air the game.  Of course, I didn’t win anything with my squares.  One of the Marines won the 1st and 2nd quarter.  He didn’t even want to play at first.  Some of his friends talked him into it.  I told him it wasn’t gambling.  It’s called Marine Gaming – Kinf of like what the Indians do in California.  Hahaha.  So he bought a square for $5 and won $200.  Everyone is pretty tired from staying up. 

  One of the units to our East had some of their communications equipment go down last night and they sent out an emergency message to the area stating what they needed.  We just happened to have the exact piece of gear and we were able to get it out to them on the next helo.  It felt good to be able to help someone out.  We had the same thing happen to us when I was in Balad.

  I had a sandwich tonight at the chow hall.  I’ve never been so satisfied with a sandwich before.  I had white bread with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, Swiss cheese, and roast beef.  It was real good.  I can’t remember the last time I ate a sandwich.  I think everyone enjoyed their sandwiches.  They had other condiments along with ham and salami too.

  It didn’t rain today, thank goodness.  Our living area is starting to get really muddy in spots.  I don’t remember if I ever wrote about all the rock that was brought in and placed around our living areas to cut down on the mud.  It’s been working great.  Thirty two dump trucks have been escorted to our base on four separate occasions.  Once they lay the rock, they drive over it with a heavy roller to flatten it out.  There are still some puddles.  In some places the rocks are getting beat farther and farther down into the mud as it seeps upward.  As long as it doesn’t rain for a few days, I think it will be OK.  They dumped rocks where the gas pumps are located and they have already disappeared.  So many heavy vehicles go by to get gas that they just get beat into the soft mud.  You can’t even tell they were ever put down.  They are totally gone.

  Capt Bair made it back from COP North around 1800.  The SgtMaj got in tonight also.  He was stuck in Ramadi for a few days because of the weather.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Squares

  Another slow day.  I should be thankful for these kinds of days.  The Super Bowl comes on tonight at 0230.  The Chow hall is completely decked out in green and brown.  They have little cutouts of football players taped to the walls.  They really did a good job of decorating.  They said they are going to have wings and microwave pizzas.  We did the “squares” too.  It was $5 per square.  I bought two and got stuck with the numbers 5 – 5, and 9 – 2.  Those aren’t god numbers.  I play the squares every year and I have never won anything.  Looks like I’ll be keeping my streak alive.  Well, I have to go.  I’m going to try and get to sleep early so I’m won’t be dragging my butt around tomorrow.  GO COLTS!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Mystery Blogger

  We were in minimized again all day yesterday and part of today.  Not sure what happened.  Nothing bad happened in our area.  The SgtMaj left this morning on a helo to go visit Lima Company and attend LCpl Emul’s memorial service.  Captain Bair is still out at COP North battle position.  He should be back on Monday.

  Now for my “blast from the past”.  I’m pretty sure I know who my anonymous blogger is.  She is a funny lady, she is very good with the piano, not that old, and if I would have only known how much fun I was going to have in her class, I would have taken it every year.  I’m guessing it’s Mrs. Murry from choir.  I may have spelled the name wrong.  Yes, yes, I sang in my high school choir.  It was the first time I ever had to try-out to get into a choir.  I sang Amazing Grace.  I was pretty nervous, but I think all the boys who tried out made it in.  hahaha.  We had plenty of girls.  We got all 1’s at state.  That’s the best you can do.  We got a nice plaque to hang on the choir wall.

  It’s been raining off and on for the past three days.  We have snow flurries in the forecast for tonight.  We also got the official word that the entire battalion will be home by 5 May.  A lot of people are breathing a big sigh of relief.