Sunday, June 10, 2007


Since this job is my first non-flying job in the military, it has been somewhat a rough one. Not to mention I'm performing the job in the middle of Iraq! In some regards the travel is a welcome event...I get to fly in a helicopter most times. Sometimes, I travel in a vehicle. Not to worry, that vehicle is a well armored, "Mad-Max" type relatively safe. I've always loved flying, especially when I'm at the controls of the aircraft. Here, I'm just a passenger...but it still brings me joy, none the less. On one of my recent trips, I spent some time talking with one of the helicopter pilots and a couple of the enlisted crewmen. What a great bunch of guys. Aviation "types" are pretty much the matter what branch of service. We talked for about an hour and it was nice to have familiarity in a world that is completely "upside down". The best part is they made me an offer that I could not refuse: Come to their facility anytime I wished and they would let me jump on board with them and fly around all day if I wanted. Talk about a great deal! I haven't been able to take them up on the offer yet, but I plan to do so...very soon.

So, the Iraqi 500...the drivers here are crazy. They don't follow any general rules of the road. Speed limit: Yeah right! Lane courtesy: Not even close! Patience: Not a recommended quality! The Iraqi drivers drive very their own demise. When an American convoy is travelling on the roads, the convoy "owns" the road. The armored and heavily gunned vehicles of an American convoy use all the road...and I mean all the road. If the convoy is headed north, they will sometimes use the southbound lanes(opposite flow). If there is a "traffic jam" ahead, the convoy will either proceed into the oncoming lanes or with horns blaring, fire warning shots to ensure the Iraqis move out of the way. Now before anyone says, "See that's just driving like a jerk." Realize, in Iraq, you don't want to get stuck behind a traffic jam or get boxed in...ever. If you are just a sitting duck waiting to get attacked. So all these measures are for safety and security of our American forces.

Now sometimes the Iraqi drivers aren't too keen on our driving standards. So, randomly you'll find an Iraqi driver that decides he wants to play "chicken" or be stubborn about letting a heavily armed and armored vehicle pass by. This is where things get sticky...for the Iraqi. When this happens our guys don't know if this guy is just being a hot-head or if he intends on blowing himself and his vehicle up in an attempt to kill American forces. Trust me, it happens here more than I'd like to admit. In these cases our guys start by shooting warning shots. If no compliance, the gunners start shooting the vehicle. Drastic measures for drastic times.

The normal Iraqi hot-head usually "sobers" quickly at the first warning shots. So those aren't the folks that endure "step two" from above. The people that endure "step two" are usually the folks that a have a car packed with explosives and intend on using them. So the measures of protection work. As draconian as they may seem...they have saved numerous American lives. Everyone just remember...this is a war.

Some of my posts recently may have become somewhat "dark" in nature. I don't consciously post this way...but I think it is just the nature of the experiences. I also think that it would be completely wrong of me to not write how things actually "are". It would not be fair to NOT portray things at face value. Don't be fooled...this place is not fun or cool. With that being promise to everyone is that I will write from my mind and heart and not skew things negatively or positively. Now, don't worry...I still find humor and fun in everyday life here! So you will be able to experience those situations also.

The picture above is the typical IRAQI 500 road course. The road is a major thoroughfare in Baghdad. As you can see, they all end up being a big parking lot. Not the safest place for an American convoy to be stuck. Hey at least I was flying that day; enjoying myself with a smile on my face.

R, K and G...I miss you and will demonstrate my Iraq driving techniques when I get home...we'll rent a car first.

Saturday, June 2, 2007


Okay, so after reading my last post multiple times, I decided I was just a bit too serious and downtrodden. So actually without much effort I've found something genuinely fun to write about.

After an early morning wake-up by Haji (a slightly non-P.C. name for all locals), I started my day with good vibes on my mind. Oh, the early morning wake-up...well that was a few ill aimed mortars. No biggie...they are really bad at aiming. Anyways, I had a nice talk with my family last night and I was in a pretty good mood. So, my day went pretty well. This afternoon I decided I would treat myself. So far since I've been here, I've been without a TV ( which I could care less about) or a radio. I decided to head over to the BX and buy myself an inexpensive radio. Yes, we have radio stations over here. Not many; but we have some. One is the Armed Forces Network, which is actually pretty good about their variety of programming. There is a British feed station that is pretty good too. Of course there are quite a few Iraqi stations. Yep, you guessed it...all in Arabic...and the music sounds like someone strangling a goose. I'll be staying away from those.

So, I brought my radio home, pulled it out of the box, set it up, plugged it in and had absolutely crappy reception. I couldn't get much sound out of it at all, other than static. Talk about a buzzkill! Well, I would not stand for that "unchecked aggression". I remembered there was a roll of old remnant cable outside my trailer on the ground. It looked like a low quality version of CAT 5 cable for internet and computers. I went outside, stripped one of the ends off...and there "it" was...just what I was looking for...the beautiful grounding wire inside. YES!!! Putting my years of College education to practice and quite a few years of experience with communications equipment and "jerry rigging" many other things, I went to work. I stripped about 3 feet of insulation off the cable, pushed the grounding wire through the screen on my window and into my room, wrapped the end around the radio's antenna. I took the other end of the cable and threw it over the top of my trailer. BAMM!!! Instant music. The result: One giant antenna for my little radio and hours of entertainment for myself. Usually that last part requires women on trampolines, shiny objects or clowns...I am merely a caveman fighter pilot.

Well, the pictures show my handy work. I accomplished something over here in Iraq...and I didn't even have to shoot at anyone or anything to do it! I'm pretty happy.

R, K & G...Could you have them pump up the power on our favorite Texas radio stations...I can't quite get them tuned in. Love you guys.


It has taken me almost two weeks to muster the motivation to write. This month has been a rough month for our troops over here. I'm sure the news keeps everyone "abreast" of the situation. Unfortunately, the "news" is a money making of course you folks get to hear and see what they "want" you to hear and see. It bothers me to no end when the focus of the news is of the "carnage" over here. The fact that you and I see the reports of "May being one of the deadliest months" is appalling. I also can't stand the fact that they hang days and weeks on isolated incidents of tragedy or mistakes that our troops make. THIS IS A WAR PEOPLE. Don't get me wrong...I'm not advocating that we all turn a blind eye to our troops indiscretions...but give it a rest. One recent headline touted how a "U.S. tank kills 3 Iraqi children"...COME ON!!! How is that doing any good, by "newsing" that up. What they don't tell is how the Iraqi insurgency kills a large number of their own fellow Iraqis daily, including entire families and children. The other side of the tank issue: that tank crew is probably devastated by what happened. The troops over here are good people and are effected emotionally by devastating events too. These guys really are trying to do the "right thing" and the media, in some regards, is a bigger threat to the well being of our troops than any insurgent. I would recommend that a reporter or media venue...not come anywhere near me for a long while. I am just that upset with the whole ordeal. I would recommend that U.S. citizens not turn so much of their anger against our government but turn it against the media outlets. Their self-serving reports and constant "eye-poking" are the real reason things "are so bad" here.

I've posted a picture of a local area of Baghdad known as Sadr City. Some of you will recognize the name. This "neighborhood" is named after Moqtada Sadr. He's the Shiia cleric that recently reappeared in the media with much hoopla. Sadr City is a very large Shiia Muslim area of Baghdad that has a large number of Iranian supported militia-men. The militias are essentially gangs of punks that terrorize our troops and the citizens of the area. All this, thanks to good ole Moqtada and his anti-American rhetoric. Yet we have let him live in attempts to stabilize things. Maybe we have exhibited too much restraint here...I just don't know what this place will take to get itself fixed. Unfortunately, I think this will be a "long" summer for us.

R, K & G...I miss you and love you. You guys make my days brighter.