20 August 2007

Home at Last

From the time we went into Customs lock down until I stepped off the plane to see my family waiting...it took 45 hours to finally be home. Good flights and the good company of my AF brethren, who deployed on this mission with me, helped pass the time and the miles.

JM, Gio, Foggy, Orto, and Dozer I wish you all the best of luck and continued success in your careers and endeavors! "Tail Winds and Clear Sky" my friends.

My family, neighbors and church have treated me to a hero's welcome and I am grateful. Time to focus on our move. The packers arrive in two days and then it's time for our next adventure.

Once again, thank you all for your prayers, words of encouragement, and for following my adventures.

Remain vigilant and may God continue to bless America!

06 August 2007

Last Thoughts

This will be my final posting from Iraq. As such, I will leave you with a few parting thoughts:
The personal sacrifices of your men and women of the United States Armed Forces are great and many. Long missions without sleep, no showers, an undefined adversary, sniper fire, roadside bombs, and the single unified prayer of returning to base alive and in one piece as they often find themselves fighting for their lives on the streets of Iraq. Their lives have been put on hold for 12 months and now involuntarily extended to 15 months for a mission in a hell hole defined by the gruesome reality of a fight for stability and security akin to the biblical battle of David and Goliath. Time will tell whether we are David or Goliath. Maintain positive thoughts for these kids and keep them in your prayers.
For the men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, their death is not in vain but rather in the provision of hope for the citizens of Iraq to lead a better life – one lived freely and without fear of oppression and arbitrary torture or execution by government death squads.
There are sights, sounds, and smells that define our experiences here in Iraq. There are ones we wish to remember, many we wish to forget, and some we will never escape as long as we live. Such is the reality of war. While on this mission, we gave our all...inevitably leaving a bit of ourselves behind while a part of our hearts dies within for the comrades who will never return.
Until we leave Iraq, may the Lord bless our troops. May those called home to the Lord be honored and their families comforted. To them, we will always owe our debt of freedom.
To my family, church family, and friends who have followed my mission - my sincere gratitude and thanks for your prayers and good words. They have gone far in upholding my spirit and determination.
Apart from returning home in the near future, I am now: MISSION COMPLETE.

Remain vigilant and may God continue to bless America.


30 July 2007


I have been looking at pictures of my youngest daughter who just turned 1 last Thursday. When I left for this mission, she was a little ball of flesh. Now she is nearly walking, has about 4 teeth, and is using sign language to communicate for "more" or "all done"...when she feels like it. All four children have been on fast forward development since I have been gone...most all of it good. Although I lament my seven month absense from family, I know I have less of a reason than my Army colleagues who are here for twice as long - 15 months.

This upcoming year will be one of critical decisions for the future of my family. We'll be happily moved in our new home just long enough for the Air Force to decide what it wants to do with me when the next promotion board meets in November and the results are released in Mar 08.

The Air Force has also reduced it's allotted recovery time for us from six months down to four. The flesh peddlers who sit at their desk all year and don't deploy feel 120 days at home is enough for any one to be rested before being selected for the next 180 - 365 day deployment to where ever a warm body is needed. Long story short, I'll know right around Christmas time this year if I am selected to deploy again. The fact that I have been gone for 330 days out of the last two years is only an unfortunate trivia nugget for the Air Force.

Switching topics to the US Congress. There was a recent victory in the passing of a Homeland Security bill based on most of the recommendations from the 9/11 Commission. Fortunately, we've had relative safety - enough for the ordinary American to become apathetic and complacent about terror acts in the US - for the last 5 years to get these measures identified and now signed into law by President Bush. In my opinion, the two most important features will be an upgraded and mostly state of the art communications capability and the scanning of shipping containers at sea. Any law enforcement, emergency management, explosive ordnance, and/or military professional will tell you nothing means more than the ability to clearly communicate in the fog of war and crisis. I can only hope the new law will provide for many agencies the new equipment and survivable backbone necessary to carry out their duties. Also, the sheer brute number of shipping containers entering our country daily is a harbinger of doom for port security and US safety. Any number of weapons or terrorist teams can be sneaked into the country with relative ease. You've seen it in the movies and episodes of 24...it's not far from reality. The ability to scan these containers at sea and prior to docking in a US port will be a great improvement in deterrence.

One last thought on Sen Murtha's bill to have US troops begin pulling out of Iraq in 2 months and allowing the President a.k.a the Commander-in-Chief to decide the final withdrawal dates. Based on what I have seen and experienced here in Iraq, nothing would be better than to call mission complete and pack up for a speedy return to the States. It's just not that easy.

Even though the Iraqi Parliament has done nothing to help itself and decided to break for the entire month of August in a spiteful move against President Bush, the United States of America is a super power in this world and it has the responsibility to finish what it started and not be a cut and run country. Just as we have checks and balances in our government, the United States Armed Forces provide a check and balance to this region keeping countries like Iran and Syria in line and from carrying out, to the fullest extent, their devious and nefarious plans for conquering and dividing this region.

Strangely enough, this is no longer the 1200's time period where kingdoms conquered other kingdoms just because they could. Most nations in this world are pretty happy with peaceful coexistence today. I can't place my finger on it, radical Islam or the heat baking their little brains, but there is something about this region that stopped evolving hundreds of years ago.

On top of that, you add the radical Islam plan for world domination, an Iranian leader is who is bent on bringing back the 13th Imam (lucky 13!) through fire and chaos, and you have a region creating a worldwide powder keg. For those who believe in the End Times, this may be just the beginning if we don't keep this region in check.

Enough politics and world events for today. Time keeps on ticking...(come on, sing the rest) in to the future. My time on station is shortening and the date of departure is nearing. The military calls it decompression: I am enjoying being able to sleep whenever I am tired and basking in the quiet of my trailer in between meals, working out at the gym and checking email at the morale tent. We will have packers arriving within four days of my return home. I need to out-process the base before our move. There will 5 very special people and 2 dogs battling for my attention and time as I try to make up for lost time with my family. I think this is very likely the calm before the proverbial storm!

Stay vigilant and God Bless America.

22 July 2007

Cresting the Summit

The weather is just plain hot. Orto and I were discussing the other day the best way for folks to understand the sensation of our weather. We decided you should have a friend turn a hairdryer on you full blast and then toss bits of sand and dirt in the air flow...now you're in Iraq!

I took Michael's advice, maintained focus and ensured my replacement had the full benefit of my experience and corporate knowledge. Fortunate for me, Bear is a smart man, an experienced Officer and a quick study. I have been relegated to less than part time assistance and advisory services. In this case, it's good to be excess baggage.

Since I began my work with the Squadron, I have kept track of the human cost during my mission here. According to the Stars & Stripes newspaper daily article, US Deaths in Iraq, 473 US Service men and women have paid the ultimate sacrifice and over 3,400 have been wounded in action. Unfortunately, my job included reading and knowing the details of the why's and how's for those men and women. My heart goes out to the families left behind to deal with the tragic loss of their loved ones.

Pressured by the need to show strength and progress to the International Community, Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki announced earlier this week Iraqi forces are ready and foreign troops may leave"anytime they want". As he has softened his stance, we have also heard from one of the deputy Prime Ministers lamenting the early US withdrawal would be a disaster for Iraq and the region. There is great fear in learning to go it alone without the handholding of a super power nation like the US. In my opinion, our presence here only minimizes the Iranian and Syrian efforts to undermine and adversely influence Iraqi police, military and every echelon of Iraqi government. The Shia's still thirst for revenge for the years Saddam (a Sunni) kept them oppressed. If the US removes combat troops soon, the extra judicial killings and potential ethnic cleansing will be unreal and force the country into a real civil war. This region has been governed for centuries by brute force and the "might makes right" rule. How can we expect them to know or conduct themselves any different?

I saw a picture of an Iraqi detainee weeping while being questioned by Iraqi soldiers. The other Iraqi soldiers in the immediate vicinity looked at him with a combination of curiosity and disdain. From my position it is easy to refer to every Iraqi with our slang word, Haji, and believe they are all guilty and rotten to the core. I am reminded by viewing this picture of the weeping man that it is the corps of rotten, filthy, bastard extremists and radicals who are truly the enemy here. They will force the average Iraqi - who is just trying to survive and provide for his family - to carry out acts of violence against Coalition Forces. Although he normally wouldn't do this, he has been coerced through the threat of his entire family being exterminated (while he watches) if he doesn't submit to the radicals. This example is one of many factors seated in the heart of failure for this region.

One last thought pertaining to success v. failure for Iraq. For those members of Congress trying to "help" US troops by clamouring about bringing troops home early...one phrase for you ..."Silence is golden". Actually, I mean to say "Shut your pie hole" but this is a family friendly blog. The enemy here knows there will be a critical report due to Congress in September and they are doing all they can to turn up the heat and lethality. Senator Clinton, this may be hard for you to understand from your plush office in Washington D.C., however, YES you provide aid and comfort to the forces bent on our destruction with your overt political wrangling for troop withdrawal plans. It takes more than your 36 hours on the ground in this combat zone for you to understand this fact. But then you and your husband never cared for the military anyway. We are no more than a political pawn on your chessboard of selfish gain and your worldwide taxi service.

Have a great start to your week, stay vigilant to your surroundings, and may God continue to bless our country. More posts in the days to come...

15 July 2007

Maintaining Vigilant Focus

Thanks to my family & friends for the comments on my last blog and for your emails of encouragement. With regard to the count down clock, I have been advised it is an operational security risk indicating when personnel will be moving from the area of operations. Speaking of operational security, I can no longer blog from work either and must come to the MWR tent to compose my blog. Believe me, you'll know by my blog entry the day I am headed home.

A big event in the news lately. The Dept of Homeland Defense has publicized the findings of a draft National Intelligence Estimate. "Among the key findings of the classified estimate, which is still in draft form and must be approved by all 16 U.S. Intelligence agencies:
— Al Qaeda is probably still pursuing chemical, biological or nuclear weapons and would use them if its operatives developed sufficient capability.
— The terror group has been able to restore three of the four key tools it would need to launch an attack on U.S. soil: a safe haven in Pakistan's tribal areas, operational lieutenants and senior leaders. It could not immediately be learned what the missing fourth element is.
— The group will bolster its efforts to position operatives inside U.S. borders.

In public statements, U.S. officials have expressed concern about the ease with which people can enter the United States through Europe because of a program that allows most Europeans to enter without visas.

The document also discusses increasing concern about individuals already inside the United States who are adopting an extremist brand of Islam.

National Intelligence Estimates are the most authoritative written judgments that reflect the consensus long-term thinking of senior intelligence analysts."

This report is not to be taken lightly. There is no better defense for America than an alert public willing to call the authorities about suspicious or out-of-the-ordinary activities.

The Liberal Left and ACLU will call this Profiling, but what the heck, it's our country! If you see people of Middle East appearance acting suspiciously, have a mosque in your city, or if you know of Americans who have converted to Islam...keep a watchful eye. The jackasses who carried out the Sept 11 attacks lived quietly in our neighborhoods & enjoyed our freedoms while they deliberatley planned their attacks with a money stream piped in from the Middle East.

Who staged the first World Trade Center attack? Who staged the USS Cole attack? Who blew up two US Embassies in Africa? Who crashed the jets in to the World Trade Center towers? Who are we fighting over here every day after they stream across porous borders? I am afraid the answer is not some red headed freckled face European. No. They were radical Islamists from the Middle East. In Afghanistan and here in Iraq we roll up saudis, yemenis, syrians, iranians, pakistanis, afghanis, morrocans, algerians to mention a few. Are they white and pure as apple pie? Uh, NO.

Bottom line: We all need to maintain our vigilance. The US government takes this very seriously and so should every American. Our own porous borders and inability to account for the numerous people illegally in our country only aids the enemy in their plans to bring destruction to our country. As I have mentioned before, this world is becoming polarized and the radical Islamist absolutely seethes with hatred for America. It is my belief they will attempt an attack or series of attacks to dwarf the consequences of Sept 11, 2001. We can only do our best to identify them before they strike.

10 July 2007

Transition Time

The light at the end of the tunnel has gone from the width of a pin, to the width of a pencil, and now I'm seeing light of day.

My replacement, Bear, has arrived and is currently in our progammed class for all new members of the squadron. Sunday will be a day of rest for everyone.

Effective Monday, I'll be in the teaching phase for one week and then shadow phase for the next. Lastly, I get some down time to decompress, rest, and change my sleep pattern in order to be on Mountain time when I return.

The fatigue has taken its toll and my last several posts have been from a soap box and have not been kind to the country I love. My place is not and should never be from a soap box. This is the life and duty I volunteered for and the freedoms I swore to preserve and protect. I have found the humble side of me and wish to thank you all for your continued support and prayers.

09 July 2007


Troop Rallies Held Across U.S.
Associated Press
July 09, 2007

OKLAHOMA CITY - With a son-in-law in Iraq and a son who served in Afghanistan, Kathy Johnston says she wants to make sure her five grandchildren know it's important to support U.S. troops, no matter how they feel about the war.
That's why she, her daughter and daughter-in-law took them Saturday afternoon to the Oklahoma version of Operation America Rising, a nationwide event touted as a nonpartisan way to express appreciation for the job that U.S. Soldiers are doing.
"Her husband wants to be here (at home)," Johnston said, motioning toward her daughter-in-law, Melissa Morning of Fort Bragg, N.C. "But he knows what he is doing is right.
"There is a lot of good going on over there, and we hear about it firsthand, even if the media doesn't report it," she added.
The rallies - some numbering in the hundreds, others with a handful in attendance - took place from California to Connecticut.
The Oklahoma event, held at State Capitol Park, included three speakers and six bands. All the participants offered their services for free, said Ren Schuffman, the lead singer for Oklahoma City band StoneWater and one of the event's organizers.
"It's not anti-war. It's not pro-war," Schuffman said. "It has nothing to do with war."
In New Hampshire, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and his rock band, Capitol Offense, entertained 600 to 700 people beforehand, event organizer Jennifer Horn said.
"Good people can disagree about policy and politics, but ... when we have children or neighbors or co-workers who are serving in active duty, we stand united behind them," Horn said. "We don't ever want there to be any misunderstanding that as Americans we are a united nation."
In Bristol, Conn., several hundred people milled under tents, ate picnic food and listened to bands on a school lawn. In Sacramento, Calif. about 600 people, including 16 military and veterans groups, gathered near the state Capitol, event organizers said.
Hundreds of motorcycle riders from a group of Harley-Davidson owners roared past the city hall in Dover, Del., carrying American flags.
At least 100 people gathered in Baton Rouge, La., next to the plaza where the battleship museum USS Kidd is docked. Organizer Janet Broussard described it as "speeches, music; just a good-time kind of get-together visit with our veterans."
The names of the 182 Pennsylvania service members who died fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan were read aloud to a silent crowd in Ford City, Pa. The Veterans of Foreign Wars honor guard then fired a 21-gun salute.
Speakers told the crowd that they can support the troops in tangible ways. Navy Warrant Officer Willie Grier, who served in Iraq, said troops look forward to getting packages containing everything from baby wipes and candy to paper and pens.
"Nothing goes wasted over there," Grier said. "If we do have an abundance of stuff, we'll give some of it to the Iraqis, the children. It's great for morale."
In Colorado, Douglas County sheriff's officials estimated 60 people attended a four-hour event at a park south of Denver, with musicians and speakers.
"One of best things about the event, even though it didn't turn out as big as I would've liked, is the people who were there were genuine and care more about supporting our troops and being there for others than they do about their own comforts," said Robyn Hill, 44.