Saturday, May 19, 2007


So, in an attempt to find some levity in a generally shitty situation, I'm always on the lookout for some interesting and comical photo opportunities. In my own perverse sense of humor...these two pictures top my list, for now. The first picture was taken on one of my most recent trips to one of the oasis spots in Iraq that I frequent. Note the sarcasm in the word "oasis". This young soldier was the left-side "door-gunner" on the helicopter I was riding in. He was diligent in his observation duties when I snapped his photo. The lower face shield is a new addition to the Army helicopter crew equipment. It serves as protection to the gunner's face and neck areas. What I found entertaining was the "personalized" art work he had placed on the face guard. The hand-painted zipper was a great touch. Funny in a disturbing kinda way. Reminded me of the cover of an 80's speed metal album. By the way, this particular Soldier was about 6 1/2 feet tall...with this helmet on, he was a very ominous sight. I personally wouldn't want to make him angry. Not only did he look like this....but remember he's manning a machine gun. Yet, I still laugh when I see this picture.

The second picture was a lucky shot with the camera. I was leaning out the door area of the helicopter when I noticed a large building up ahead. We were flying along in east-central Baghdad at the time. I steadied my camera and snapped the picture as we passed this building. I didn't realize what it was until I looked at it as we passed. It may be hard to read in the picture...but it says, "ISHTAR SHERATON". Insert laughter here! Wow, I can't imagine anyone jumping on the Sheraton hotel website and reserving a room here. The building looked in relatively good shape with no observable battle damage. I can hear it now..."Honey, I got a great deal on an all-inclusive resort vacation. The website said there are peaceful rooms with never-ending excitement near by. It also said that there are exotic locals who love to interact with tourists and foreigners., you can't even believe the great deal I got!"

Kinda reminds me of a verse in the song "Hotel California"...You can check out, but you can never leave. Yep, it's official...I've lost my mind. I still think this stuff is funny. Your "funny threshold" takes awkward downward spiral in Iraq.

So things are trudging along here. I will ask for everyone to keep the Soldiers from one of my units and their families in your prayers. The Soldiers that were killed and abducted recently are from one of my units. This is a horrible and cowardly form of terrorism. A Serviceman can more easily deal with the death of a comrade than with the abduction and hostage-holding that has befallen our brethren. The news quoted Gen Petraeus as saying, "We know who took them...and they will pay." You better f&*^ing believe they will pay.

R,K & G...I love you guys...miss you and can't wait to see you again.

Monday, May 14, 2007


Well, I made a serious error in judgement...I didn't post anything on Mother's Day! After being scolded by my Mom today, I post tonight with my tail between my legs. Actually, my Mom is enjoying herself in Dauphin Island, Alabama right now. Not too shabby!! And...I actually DID remember her on Mother's Day. I sent her a nice bunch of flowers in a very nice vase. I hope she loves the flowers.

I also remembered to honor the other Mom in my wife. She asked that I didn't send her I didn't. But, I definitely hope she had a great Mom's Day too. HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to both of you!!!

Alot has been happening around here lately, as I'm sure the news is broadcasting all about it. I've been traveling quite abit. The picture above is from one of my recent trips. The picture is of one of the main roads in Baghdad. As you can see Baghdad is a large, sprawling city with alot of hustle and bustle. A very difficult place to operate in and around. As you leave the city confines you immediately fly over wide open desert and in some cases, lush palm groves. Very much a place of extreme more ways than geography. The people are as diverse as the scenery and often as extreme in beliefs too. Neighborhoods are divided along religious lines and tribal lines, established many, many years ago. And unfortunately these folks don't like each other at all. So for all you "armchair soldiers" and "couch sitting strategist"....shut it! Until you are here on a daily basis and "see" what the U.S. military is dealing with, you can't possibly have and idea of how to rectify or control the situation.

Summer has made it to the desert...It is hot as hell here. It smells bad too. Some smells are easily identifiable, some are not. But they will leave a lasting impression on me. The sights, sounds and smells of this place will stay with every servicemember forever. In some regards this is a good thing. It would be a shame to tuck away every memory of this place to be forgotten. On the other side of the coin, some sights, sounds and smells should be forever left here to never be spoken of again. I guess this issue is what many servicemembers struggle with the rest of their lives. The one thing to remember...none of us are alone. We are all here for each other and will forever be linked to this place.

Brothers in eternally true statement.

R, K and G...I love and miss you more and more every day!

Thursday, May 3, 2007


I just returned from a work related trip to another FOB (Forward Operating Base). Said FOB is located south of Baghdad and is called "Kalsu". When I first heard that name, I kept wondering to myself where I had heard it before. Once I arrived, there was a large rock at the FOB with the genesis of its name.

1LT Bob Kalsu: The only professional football player to be killed during the Vietnam War. Bob was born in Oklahoma City, OK and raised in Del City, OK. He was an All-American lineman at the University of Oklahoma. He was an 8th round draft pick by the Buffalo Bills and started every game for the Bills in 1968. Bob was sent to Vietnam the following year as an Artillery Officer, fulfilling his ROTC obligation from college. In 1970 Bob Kalsu was killed during a mortar attack at his operating base near the A Shau Valley.

Where is the connection to me? I was raised in Midwest City, OK, a suburb of OKC. Midwest City's town boundary "butts up" next to Del City, OK. Del City was our "rival" school in most all sporting events. My wife of 17 years is actually from Del City and attended the same high school as Bob Kalsu. In fact, Del City's football stadium is named "Kalsu Stadium" in honor of Bob.

Many of you know about Pat Tillman and his death in Afghanistan. From a historical standpoint, many "celebrities" and public figures have served our country and have given their lives in its defense. Aside from the public recognition of these individuals...they are the same as every other servicemember who has served in war. With that being said, every servicemember who gives their lives in the service of our nation and its principles....should be honored with as much zeal and fervor as any celebrity soldier.

My trip went well and I am still pondering the interesting connection that presented itself. On a separate note; Kalsu was very warm compared to Baghdad. I posted a picture of a thermometer outside one of the buildings at FOB Kalsu.'s only May. Wait until August.

R, K and G...I miss and love you. Oklahomans are great people!