30 April 2007

"Shout out"

Work is pretty busy, so let me give a "shout out" to some deserving folks:

Brother Muj - thanks for following my travels...I rest easy knowing you have my back. I found this .gif file on a weblog and couldn't resist putting it on here for you.

Reminder to all the men out there: Mother's Day is just around the corner. Send your cards or if you are flowers minded, here's a 20% off coupon code for Teleflora: 7MD20

Jim and Deanne - thanks for taking our son for the day on Saturday...I am hoping you experienced the cute and charming Nikolas for the day . . . still, we owe you big!

Megan in Ms Alton's class: thanks for your wonderful letter to my family. It was a very nice, thoughtful and maturely written letter.

Birthday greetings go out to Uncle Rich...meeting the young age of 63. Good luck with seeding the crops and out-running the rain.

Aunt Joan - glad to hear the knee surgery has gone well and recovery is moving along at a good clip.

I purchased a new digital camera recently. Kudos go out to ClickforDigital - they called us to confirm the order, ensure it was our credit card, and then bumped up the shipping time for free. There will be more pictures as soon as it arrives. In the mean time, I have to get some new batteries into my current camera for more happy snaps and kodak moments.

As Gramps says, "Bye for now"

27 April 2007

Rainy Friday

As the weather bubba advertised...it is indeed raining today. First it was breezy, then it was gusty, and then we had the deluge of sand gusts to precede the rain. We now have the promise of puddles and mud as I have blogged about before.

Adding insult to precipitation injury, it was incredibly warm in our office. The AC has been on continuously for days. Closer inspection revealed the dust had caked up inside the filter and we had a slight ice issue to deal with..pictured below.

Orto wrote a very sincere and accurate depiction of the military spouse. When you get the chance, roll over to the AF EWO in Iraq (link at the right) and read on. Not to be a day late and a dollar short... Andra, my military spouse, deserves great praise as well.
Most of you have heard me refer to Andra as the Source of All Things Good in our family. Indeed she is and then some. Right now, she's home schooling & raising our children, caring for & developing our infant, getting the kids to where they need to be for Scouts and dance, active in Church and Bible study, and preparing our home for sale as we anticipate our move to Colorado Springs. Beyond the Scottish and German genes (stubborn tenacity) Andra is an exceptionally strong, competant woman whom I admire greatly. Truly my gift from God.

Combat isn't just for soldiers around here. This morning in the breakfast line, I met a contractor from KBR who has been here for 18 months working vehicle recovery. He drives this Mad Max looking humongous vehicle wrecker and goes out after our vehicles that have been blown up or disabled along the road. "There's a very distinct sound to 7.62mm bullets when they impact your cab", he told me. This poor fellow has to spend his time during attacks down by the floor boards while the military lights up the attackers. He is one of many brave Americans who are over here making great contributions to our military effort.

25 April 2007

Learned something new

Orto's Cindy told us of a cool feature she found on his weblog. Take a close look at the counter down on the right column of this blog.
Under the number is the word"Stats". You can click on that word and then have the choices to see when the most traffic on this blog occurs by hour, day, and week. You can also see what web browsers are looking at the weblog as well.

The fact there are unidentifiable entities checking my blog, I'll never reveal what my real job is over here. Instead you will have to settle with a good deal of human interest type stuff.

Some days, I feel like the kid stuck in the chair...

23 April 2007

71 of 182

Slowly creeping to the halfway point of this deployment. Of course my departure date is set in jello and can always change...one would hope for sooner as opposed to later. This is Iraq and nothing is concrete. Whenever I leave, I won't miss the smell of burning metal and fuel in the morning air like we had today. The air was incredibly thick with it.

My colleague, Ian, passed on an idea his lovely and much better half :) sent him the other day. It's called Daddy Dolls. I know there is a pretty good network of servicemen and spouses linked to our pages here so I'll put the information out for the common good.

The deployed person takes a picture of themselves from head to toe, specifies whether they wish to have a 12 in or 17in doll, and sends it in to the company. In return, the service member's children have a doll replica of their parent to take with them to the store, church, bed, etc. Great idea...pictures below. It can even work in reverse...kids send service member dolls of themselves to keep service member company while deployed.


"Yesterday, Sen. Reid said the war 'is lost.' Today, Sen. Reid has tried to back off from that egregious comment using smoke and mirrors. It's impossible to figure out where the Democrats stand and there's no telling what Sen. Reid will say tomorrow."
– White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino, 4/20/07


Sen Reid from Nevada is, in my humble opinion, a two bit political hack and quite frankly...a colossal ass.

I invite this insignificant little man to come out to Iraq, spend more than the customary Congressional 36 hours on the ground (because it's dangerous and what would happen if a member of Congress were hurt out here?!!? Oh my!!). It's okay for military members to risk their lives daily from 4 - 15 months on the ground though.

Yes, Senator Reid should take at least a month off from his political attacks to come over here and see what is really happening... how we are training the Iraqi's to fend for themselves, how the Iraqi people are rallying to the side of Coalition Forces to rid their communities of foreign fighters and Al Qaeda in Iraq, how we are returning electricity, water, phone service to communities. YOUR men and women of the United States Armed Forces are accomplishing great things while being shot at by snipers, maimed and killed by IED's, only to return the next day and keep doing great things.
There is no doubt we are in harms way...most times at the disadvantage because we follow the rules of armed conflict while the enemy does not. We are Americans and we do not accept defeat.

Off of my soap box now.

Thanks go out to Aunt Joan,Uncle Juris & Aunt Jane, Aunt Lois for your generous care packages. The Lemans candy and chocolate chip cookies are much appreciated and have been graciously consumed!

N,A,A,G & J,R> miss each of you terribly

20 April 2007

Sandstorms 'R Us

Take a good look at the picture in my last post where you can see the sky, clouds, and sun by the mosque. This picture was taken at 2 p.m. a couple of days ago. Everything had a yellow-orange glow as the sand storm made its way across the Baghdad area. It wasn't until around 10pm that all of this had blown over and we could see the stars in the night sky.

17 April 2007

Time keeps on ticking

This is the part of a deployment that can be considered as "the lull". Not a whole lot new each day as I work some big projects, keep up with trend analysis, and play Dodge'em with incoming mortars. We had four drop in while we were having breakfast. After a while, unless it's really close, you just keep doing what you are doing and go about your day.

Orto and I are working on a Friday patch for our uniforms. Something creative, tasteful, but not quite authorized. Fridays around here are normally Flightsuit Fridays so the aviator types can still feel like their wings haven't been clipped by flying a desk. I still have my ACU's with lots of velcro, so I will be able to wear my Friday patch around the squadron, but change over to official patches when go to the dining halls.

I have mentioned Victory Church before. I have included a picture below. We were bursting at the seems with standing room only for Sunday's service. The news of the 3 month extensions has hit a lot of Army soldiers hard. Our sermon was about God's plan not ours and how through Him we grow in the midst of adversity.

I have made a change to the comment system for this weblog. Registration is no longer required and you can fire at will with whatever you want to say. Hopefully, the change is a good thing...

Saw this sign on the back of a vehicle at the dining facility. It encourages the locals to report information to help Coalition Forces via telephone or a yahoo address.


14 April 2007


I need to take a moment to say thank you to a bunch of folks.

Thanks to Laura, an awesome friend, for keeping tabs on me. I had broken my consistent trail of entries and she made sure I was doing alright and still able to blog. I promise a short note for future blogs if the my workload becomes too great and I can't update the blog for a reasonable amount of time. :)

Thanks to my folks for spending 3 weeks at my home to help with the kids and make it possible for Andra to travel and see her family in Florida. Your help, love, and advice is always appreciated!

Thanks to our church for making special efforts to help my family as we prepare to move. I appreciate your love and support.

Thanks to Suz's 8th grade class for your comments and being entertained by my blog. Suz is a great teacher - you just need to come to school ready to learn and she'll take care of the rest!

Had a troubling night last night as 3 sets of convoys returned to base with sirens blaring. This is indicative of the rush to get injured soldiers to the medical facility. It's unusual to hear three sets of sirens in one night. Around 1am we had a huge blast in our vicinity that shook my trailer and then again around 8:30 this morning a couple of mortars dropped in for a real attention grabber.

This picture is from last night. We were picking up pizzas for pizza/movie night when this truck rolled over to the food court area with a jazz band on the back. The morale folks are really great about using soldiers with music talent to form bands and have them go from dining facilties to open public areas to perform. These folks started off with some Latin jazz heavy on the trumpet and it was awesome!

We drove by this one the other day and had to get a picture. The majority of our living and working areas are protected from mortar and rocket blasts with 8-10ft T walls of concrete. They either keep the shrapnel out or contain the blast within the walled areas. Anyway, one of the acronyms we use to describe car bombs is VBIED - vehicle borne improvised explosive device. Someone had this no parking sign made up and posted it on the T wall outside their place. Situational humor!!

This afternoon we went driving around a little and meandered over to Camp Slayer to check out their market. If you have seen one market, then you've seen them all. Rumor has it - the view from on top of Signal Hill at Camp Slayer is exceptional. We figured since we were there, we should check it out. We weren't disappointed in the least. We could see all of Camp Slayer, Camp Victory, Baghdad International Airport, and the surrounding Mansour District of Baghdad OUTSIDE our perimeter walls. Of course, timing is everything. Ian made the observation, "They can see us as well as we can see them. We probably shouldn't be here much longer." Snipers are a problem throughout all of Iraq. Captured by Daves running video camera, not more than 2 minutes after Ian's statement, a rifle shot rings out from the neighborhood below us. The last part of that sequence of tape is dave saying,"Yeah. It's time for us to leave." I can't say they were shooting at us since we didn't hear a hiss or doppler shift...but the timing was priceless!
1. Mansour District
2. Perfume Palace
3. Camp scenery

12 April 2007

Puddles are great, if...

...you are a duck! It rained and then rained some more. The following pictures will show the extent of the rain we just had dump on us. It started the evening before last, lightening and thundered around 3 am, and then hailed around 7:30am. Ahhh, the sound of hail on a tin roof!

Of course the insurgents have to get in on the act during rain storms and we took mortar fire at the same time. There was a round that hit not too far from us. It gave my trailer a pretty good shake when it hit. They (the insurgents we lovingly refer to as Haji - I know...so politically incorrect and insensitive of me. For those offended - you come out here and get shot at and mortared - see how you feel about it) like launching on us in the bad weather. Unfortunately, bad weather hasn't slowed down Haji's efforts at roadside bombs. Ever since al-Sadr told his Shiite minions to double their efforts at killing American forces ("their archenemy") they have done themselves proud.

Sorry, I digress...we were talking about bad weather.
puddles outside the dining hall

my feet in water up to my ankles last night walking back from the phone center.

Lastly, no rainy day is complete around here without the silt turned into pudding thick mud...

08 April 2007

Happy Easter!! I enjoyed a great message and celebrated the risen Lord this morning at the sunrise service at Al Faw Palace. The gospel choir was in great voice and there was over 100 personnel in attendance. Unfortunately, the sun was blocked by low hanging clouds. It would have been asthetically perfect to have the first rays of light shine down on our congregation. No worries, a solid message and His presence set the day right for us all.

Some additional pictures:

Our Camp Victory Post Master unit doing their impression of Australian road workers. Two fellows were packing 3 crates of outbound packages on to a truck while this group of at least 8 were watching with mild interest and amusement.

The Green Bean Coffee trailer I have mentioned before. My colleague, Tater, gets his morning MOAC (Mother Of All Coffee) from here. He has six shots of espresso in a large cup and topsit off with the house blend coffee. My recent favorite has been the Chai Espresso...Chai powder & milk mixed with an espresso shot or two.
Disclaimer: I have yet to find a coffee drink better than any served from the Holy Grounds at Mountain Home Church of the Nazarene. Not to worry, Dave, I am only settling for second best while deployed! ;)

06 April 2007

Mortars and Trailers Don't Mix

This was just the other day. We heard a mortar hit and felt a little vibration. Small diameter mortar.

Actually, small or not, any mortar is going to ruin your day if it hits close or in this case . . .
in your trailer.

Luckily, no one was home during this random mortar attack. When I has here in 2003, we used to set our watches by the attacks in the morning. Right after first prayer call, a couple of jihad waging guys would go out to their mortar tubes and launch a few our way for Allah. Meanwhile, when our alarm clocks would go off, we'd reach for our helmets and body armor...laying the armor across our chest and resting the helmets on our heads. If the first explosion was close, we would hit the floor. If not, we'd just leave everything in place until the last explosion and then set it back on the ground and reset the alarm clock. The pictures above are from an area no where near my trailer.

Next picture is unconfirmed, but popular urban legend. It is rumored ol' Saddam was housed in this complex on Lost Lake on the Victory Base compound. From the exterior, it looks quite dilapidated, but I haven't been inside to see what it looks like. I'll put that on my To Do list.

= = = = =
5 Day Forcast
FRI06APR. Cloudy High90°F/32°C Low57°F/13°C
SAT07APR. Cloudy High90°F/32°C Low63°F/17°C
SUN08APR. Cloudy High90°F/32°C Low62°F/16°C
MON09APR. Cloudy High90°F/32°C Low72°F/22°C
TUE10APR Cloudy High78°F/25°C Low69°F/20°C
= = = = =

I enjoyed a moving Good Friday service at the Victory Chapel from the entire Chaplain's staff. We recapped Christ's last few days through scripture, song, and shared communion. My small sacrifice for today is fasting. Easter sunrise service will be great on the front porch of the Al Faw Palace. The rising sun seems to add extra significance to the service and celebration. On this Good Friday, I leave you with Christ's last words, "Father, in to Your hands I commit my spirit."

05 April 2007

Prime Time

Our unit has made the cover story of the Navy League Sea Power magazine. Go to the following link and learn a little more about our mission here:


You can click on the Table of Contents tab and then select Cover Story.

I have also added 2 blog links of my colleagues serving in Iraq. You'll enjoy their view points and experiences as well.

Just had some huge explosions on base. Good segway into today's photo taking opportunity. We've been pushing hard on some projects and have a light day ahead of us. Thus, a chance to go get some pictures. If I don't, y'all will start reading the other blogs I've linked because they have better pictures. My only draw back is that I have no reason, as of this moment, to leave the base... so I won't have some of the cool pix from downtown or elsewhere.

Last night's sunset...
post dinner coffee from Green Beans, cool breeze, wispy clouds
this would be a nice place if it weren't Iraq!

04 April 2007

Living with change...

We're in to our DCU's now. The sign we are holding references Chuck Norris..."So NOT Chuck Norris...in fact Chuck weeps". For some unknown reason, Chuck Norris is a bit of a phenomena around the base. The porta-potties are graffiti filled with quotes about Chuck "counting to infinity twice", "armor is made from Chuck Norris' dry skin", etc.

Life continues on at a decent clip. The days continue to pass by and I remain very busy doing threat analysis and assessments. The folks who started this organization 1 year ago are departing for home and the entire organization has new life and fresh patience for dealing with the Army and each other.

For continued entertainment, be sure to check out the link to the right to the Land Locked Sailor. Grease Domzal has some really cool pictures and commentary. I'll be linking another 2 or 3 blogs from fellow JCCS-1 colleagues to provide their perspectives.

01 April 2007

First Signs of Spring

I had Night Watch again last night. The unit had our usual Saturday Movies and Pizza - a double feature this time: Wild Hogs with John Travolta, Tim Allen, William Macy, and Martin Lawrence (highly recommended!) and The Boontown Boys. Once we cleaned up and everyone left, I was able to watch the Nikolas Cage, Eva Mendez recent release Ghost Rider.

The other beauty of Night Watch is uninterrupted phone calls. I was able to reconnect with my college friends Mike and Michelle Haskins. They are a great and admirible couple that I'll always want to stay in touch with. Also had a chance to call home...as I do most every day.

Since I slept most of today, I have a picture of the first signs of Spring I noticed on my walk into work this afternoon. This place has the potential to be really green again.