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. And...man, 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.