Monday, November 27, 2006

Dear (deity of your choice) what have I put in my mouth?

Ah, Army food. One of those long running cliche's which holds so much truth that it may never die. Now don't read too much into this, the chow halls over here are first rate. Well prepared, recognizable food, hot without being overcooked. But due to our scheduling and lack of proximity to the chow hall we almost never are able to eat there. So our one 'hot' meal per day is usually served to us at midnight out of mermites (insulated plastic food containers kind of like a portable steam table), and with little choice of items.

Tonight was salisbury steak, onion rings, succotash, and fried bits of some darkish meat substance. Originally we took it to be overcooked chicken nuggets, so very few of us selected them. But of course there are a couple guys who just can't stomach salisbury steak, or have a perverse fondness for chicken nuggets. Keep in mind that the entry control point isn't lighted at all, so you're seeing your dinner with a flashlight as you serve it up, and are often times eating in the dark finding your mouth by luck and instinct (silverware just isn't used).

My buddy who shares my check point with me had passed on dinner and I elected for salisbury steak so I was unsuspecting. I was just nibbling onion rings when I heard a coughing choking sound that for once wasn't our generator dying. Then over the radio I heard "Oh dear god, what IS that!" there was a pause, heavy with anticipation, then "Oh my god it's LIVER!"

"Last calling station did you say it was liver?"

"Affirmative, affirmative, some bastard breaded and fried little chunks of liver!"

"Are you OK? Do you need help?"

It was quickly established that those who had attempted to eat the liver were not in any immediate danger, but all agreed it was a dirty trick for the KBR guys at the chow hall to have played on us.

Most of the chow hall workers are foreign nationals, Pakistanis, Phillipinos, Indians and normally supervised by a few US Soldiers. We agreed that it was foolish of them to have done such a thing as we are all heavily armed and somewhat frustrated at our lack of opportunity to shoot people. Serving us breaded fried liver chunks seemed an almost suicidal breech of dining hall etiquette.

At the end of our shift it was agreed that we would meet again to plan some sort of counter liver mission. It's doubtful you'll hear any more on this subject from me in order to protect those who should be presumed innocent until proven otherwise.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Not another holiday

It's almost 4am on Wednesday morning as I write this. I just got off duty about an hour ago and I'm still in the process of warming up. There's something about using a port-a-john when it's 40 degrees outside and you're wearing gloves, long underwear, body armor and two weapons that just makes the process somehow unpleasant. I'm here to tell ya', it's not the temperature, it's the length of exposure that gets ya'.

So tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Another holiday over here. We were at Camp Shelby last year for what I'm going to list as the worst thanksgiving dinner I've ever had. At least this year I'll have the option of treating myself to a pizza before I go on duty.

Here's the thing about holidays in a combat zone. You just go on with your regular duties and activities and in general try and pretend it's just another day. At least that's the way I handle it. If I focus too hard on what I usually do back home it just makes it harder.

So far in Iraq I've had Memorial Day, the 4th of July, a Labor Day that turned out to be the worst day I think I've ever experienced (go look up the blog entries), Veteran's Day, and now Thanksgiving. On the plus side it looks like I'll be home for Christmas on leave, but I'll just be getting on the plane around New Year's Eve.

Missing New Year's is NOT a big deal though. New Year's of 04-05 was my first official date with Cori (the latest ex). That was the first successful New Year's date I think I'd had since I was a senior in high school (gotta find Charlotte Doeschot one of these days).

Now of course my second favorite holiday (first is of course Christmas) is St. Patty's Day. And we celebrated that one in style on the French Quarter in New Orleans. No one parties like a bunch of soldiers heading off to war, so there may be some romanticism clouding my memories of that event, but my buddy Nick and I have vowed that we're going to do St Patty's day in New Orleans every year from here onward. Of course this coming St Patty's day we'll either still be here, at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin outprocessing, or Camp Ashland, Nebraska going to BNCOC. But St Patty's day '08 we'll be hanging off a bar in the French Quarter again tossing beads at coeds like the dirty old men we are.

So to sum up. Thanksgiving this year, stuffed crust pepperoni pizza. This past Labor Day, one I'd just as soon forget, Christmas will be at home with my family and with any luck an adult beverage or two. New Year's, probably on a plane somewhere heading back here, but fortunately not for much longer.

With any luck I won't have too many more holidays in combat zones.


Friday, November 17, 2006


This word gets tossed around pretty frequently. Please don't apply it to me. I'm just a man trying to do what I see as my duty, nothing more. Heroism is mostly a matter of circumstance. Audie Murphy, Alvin York, Joshua Chamberlain, Leonidas etc. are all men who were in bad places at difficult times. Their inate quality allowed them to succeed and (but for Leonidas and his valiant 300) survive. Certainly many of us here and elsewhere are brave, but few of us are heroes. I'm not one of them.

Things have been continually dull here for the past month. I'm counting down days on the calendar 'til I go home on leave, and unfortunately this makes time seem to drag even more slowly.

Seems like the housing market in Lincoln is set up for buyers right now. I've got two townhomes picked out. here, and here.

All I have to do now is get my down payment together, get my financing approved, and get ready to move. I notice both deals say that closing costs will be paid. Does any one know what this means? I'm not sure how much money this will save me, or exactly what closing costs they mean.

Those interested in learning more about heroism and it's nature and mythos are encouraged to read 'The Hero with a Thousand Faces' by Joseph Campbell and 'Why Courage Matters' by one of my personal heroes Senator John McCain.

Less than a month and I'll be home with a black and tan in hand and a big smile on my face. See you all then!


(oh, and someone with our family support group make sure they're playing 'Throne Room Finale' from the Star Wars soundtrack when we have our welcome home ceremony)

Monday, November 13, 2006

I'm a TV star!

This will be old news to all my family members that read this, but here's the text and video from the interview I did last week.

You can view the video by clicking on the link at the top of the story. This oughta be good for a few free beers while I'm home on leave!

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Quick Update

Well, I finally got my leave date. I'm supposed to be flying out of here on the 13th. No idea yet how long the trip's going to take, but generally it takes a day or two to get back to the states from here. I'm planning to fly into Lincoln, and probably going to sleep for sixteen hours straight once I get back.

The interview went pretty well. Pretty softball questions, and they brought my mom into the studio so I got to talk to her for a few minutes after the interview was over. The TV station should have the video online by Tuesday morning so I'll try to get a link up to it that day.

My mom took a couple photos during the interview and put them on her webpage. You can see them here.

We're getting some additional duties that are going to make our days a little longer, so I won't have as much time to myspace and e-mail, but I'll try to at least keep my blog updated. Don't be all pissed if I don't have a chance to answer every e-mail I get, taking care of my soldiers and accomplishing my mission still has to come first.

Be well, and I'll see everyone in about five weeks.


Saturday, November 4, 2006

I'm still not exactly a movie star, but...

Our public affairs office does these profiles of Soldiers and then let's us be interviewed by a TV station back in Lincoln (KLIN channel 10).

I went out to work early yesterday and shot a bunch of what they call 'B roll' which was just some guy following me around with a camera while I pretended to work. It would have been better of course if they could have come out while I was actually there with my guys, but I work the night shift and obviously lighting is a problem.

On Tuesday I go in for the 'live to tape' interview. I was told it'll be about two minutes or so worth of questions that should be pretty softball, like what I do, where I've been before, what do I miss the most. It should air next Saturday (Veteran's Day) or Sunday on channel 10 in Lincoln. If I can find a web link to it I'll post it here in my blog.

Morty the muj has been getting a little more daring lately, but nothing too serious. I still wish they'd sack up and actually try something against a fixed defensive position (i.e. mine). But then again most military persons know that's a losing proposition from minute one. The muj is not an amazing soldier, but he's not completely stupid either.

Sorry, still no leave date. The Sergeant who handles all of our paperwork (and that's a hell of a job let me tell ya') said he wouldn't know for sure 'til the 11th. I hope this doesn't inconvenience too many of my friends/family. I can tell ya' though that it looks like it should be mid-December, so there's a pretty good chance I'll be home for Christmas and possibly New Year's.

Well, I'm going over to the big PX on the east side to spend a little combat pay. Be well everyone.