Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Since I don't have television over here, I spend my "freetime" reading quite extensively. It's not that I can't get a TV or that the service doesn't exist...because I could and it does. I just really haven't had the desire. When some of my peers find out that I've shunned the modern marvel that is the "talking head", they usually ask, "What are you a caveman or something?". Well, no...wait...maybe...hell, I don't know. Actually I just don't have an overwhelming desire to watch the tube. Now radio is a different animal...I love it. We get the Armed Forces Network and the British Forces Broadcasting Network. Both are very good. Anyways, back to the reading part of this.

I recently borrowed a book from a good friend of mine. He served on an IA with the SEALs in Afghanistan before he volunteered for another stint in Iraq. Anyways, he loaned me a book called LONE SURVIVOR. The book was written by a former Navy SEAL named Marcus Luttrell. Marcus was part of a 4 man SEAL team that was tasked with a mission in the mountainous and rugged northeastern frontier of Afghanistan. He ended up being the only survivor of an attack by Taliban forces. The book really brings his feelings about his fellow SEALS to the forefront and incidentally raises some bigger questions about the Rules of Engagement that we, the military, must abide by. Without giving away the details...any of you that are interested in recent military literature and events should get yourself a copy right away. It is a very good read!

Coincidentally, the friend that I borrowed the book from was serving with this SEAL team and knew the people and incidents involved.

Now...on to the "literary un-genius" part. I read an article in a very popular men's magazine. No...not that type! I only read those for the articles anyways. No really...the magazine was a health/fashion/dude-stuff magazine. The article was an interview with a popular actor that seems to always have something political to talk about. Unfortunately, it seems the U.S. is preoccupied with Hollywood's input into the war. I just can't understand what makes people think that an actor or actress is somehow qualified to give any sort of political discourse or expertise into "how to solve the Iraq problem".

My personal take on this: "Look, Mr. Actor or Ms. Actress, I pay to see your movies for entertainment...much like I pay to see the animals at the circus perform. I don't want to hear your uneducated and unwarranted drivel about this war. Now, if you feel like you need to spout off at the mouth about the "going-ons" in Iraq...bring your ass over here and spend some time with our infantrymen. You know, maybe a year or so...then you'll really have the experience to speak as a expert. Until then...just shut your pie-hole!"

Anyways...that's my rant for today. On a side-note; my relief is in country now. In fact I had a nice long talk with him today. I can't begin to tell you how nice it is to know that I'll be leaving here...very, very, very shortly.

K & G, I love and miss you guys terribly...I can't wait to come home...and end this "absent father" episode.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Well everyone...I am back at the keyboard! First, I need to apologize to anyone who worried about my safety during my long hiatus in writing. I am safe and sound...still in Iraq. My last post was in June; right after that time, I went on two weeks of leave. When I returned from leave, I found that the military had decided a huge "crackdown" was in order on bloggers. So that made my ability to write somewhat more difficult. Now that was a small part in my lack of writing...a larger part was that I'd become completely unmotivated to write. There were various reasons...but I think I owe it to everyone to put "words to print".

The last few months have been quite a blur. As everyone is aware, situations in Iraq continue to evolve or pick! The good news...I will be leaving very soon. No specific dates will be posted here...but it is soon. The bad news...I am fairly disenchanted with things here. I obviously don't have the "big picture"...but I know how I feel about things.

To illustrate this point: I recently spent nearly a week at a remote Forward Operating Base, living in a tent, covered in good ole Iraqi moon dust (sand) and watching the day to day operations of our ground troops. For me, it was like being on vacation. I was actually with the troops that are making a difference over here and not dealing with a bunch of "staff clowns" who seem to have lost touch with what is actually important over know, things like THE WAR!!! The inefficiency and staffing process for everything, I mean everything, is so makes me wretch. The knowledge you gain while actually BEING involved in this war is quite the "eye-opener". The rest of my diatribe is better left unspoken...or I may find myself with cuffs on my wrists. that I've "wanked" sufficiently.........

Now the good stuff: I've stuck with my exercise and gym routine. My workout partner (the other Hornet pilot that I work with) has been great. We take turns kicking each other in the ass at the gym. It has worked! I've lost about 20 pounds and am seeing significant change in muscular development. I've gotten to the point that I can't stand missing a day at the gym...I even feel guilty if I do. So at least I've got that going for me.

My family is doing well in Texas. School has started for the children and everyone seems to be adjusting well. Even with that...I can tell they've had their "fill" of this deployment and are ready for it to be over. I can fully understand that. It will be awesome to be home soon. Leave was great...but to know that you are home for immensely better!

Well, I won't attempt to fill in the blanks on the last few months...but I may bring in some scenarios from that time. I hope everyone understands. Again sorry for the long delay...thanks for sticking around.

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.

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!