Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve

Well, its new year's eve now and I'm doing alright, finally getting off work right now and getting ready to go grab dinner before the chow hall closes, so I'll have to keep this short. Nothing planned for tomorrow, a day off. Have a football game to play in around lunch, looking forward to it. Again, not so much of a holiday as it is back home as it is downtime for soldiers to relax a little. Gives me a day to reflect on this past year and everything that has happened along the way. Lots of memories to store away. Lots of things in the future to plan for. Not planning on doing much other than clean my weapon and get some sleep tonight. Hopefully there won't be any fireworks accompanying our New Year's celebration this year... would create a lot of work for me to deal with tomorrow. Praying for a very uneventful and relaxed new year. Hope you and yours have a Happy New Year as well

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas in Iraq

Christmas in Iraq is, for lack of better description, different. Doesn't quite feel like Christmas, doesn't look much like Christmas, but its still Christmas. We make do with what we've got. It isn't easy being away from home for anyone, but I especially feel for the guys that have wives and kids back home. I can't imagine how tough it is for them. I know its really the first Christmas I've spent away from home, but I fear its the first of many missed holidays for me. For the first time since I got to Iraq, we had a whole day off today. From 0600 today until tomorrow at 0600, I'm free. With the exception of a couple of events, I haven't been "on call" like I am the rest of the week, ready to roll on a mission at a moment's notice. It has been wonderful. I was able to go to the gym and drop off my laundry unafraid of the 1/2 mile sprint back to the CHU to grab my gear and head to the truck. War doesn't wait for a time thats good for you. I'm reminded every day that there are still those in tis country that don't want us here. I have a feeling they are far outnumbered by those that appreciate what we have done and continue to do. Today was good, the guys decided to cook out, so we had bbq chicken and chips for lunch and sat around listening to music and watching movies. Several games of spades and dominos started up, a couple people gathered around with a guitar, weapons cleaning parties and the like. It has been good to see everyone have the opportunity to relax and enjoy everyone else's company. We're not exactly family, and its not exactly home, but its all we've got. The Colonel came by today with Christmas gifts for all my guys, and several cards and letters from care packages sent by the FRG and soldier's wives. Skype has made my holiday a lot more manageable, I was able to make some phone calls back home and talk longer than just a couple of minutes. As I'm sitting here, listening to "Rudolph drank the moonshine" and cleaning my M9, I'm thinking about home. I'm thinking about memories of Christmases past. I'm thinking about the lunch spread, and the foods that have become a yearly tradition that everyone looks forward to. The family has probably just finished lunch and the grandkids are gathered in the living room sorting out the gifts, while everyone else is enjoying a cup of coffee. I bet there's still snow on the ground, and I bet the tree is beautiful just like every other year. Everyone smiling, everyone laughing. It feels weird not to be there. Guess its something I'll have to get used to. Just a couple more hours until its time for work again. Time to put the harmonica away and pull the boots back on. Another day in Iraq.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A few words here and there

So I realize I'm slow at posting these things. Its only a few days until Christmas, I've been gone for over a month with only four posts to show for it. Here's the deal. I spend a good bit of my time outside the wire in sector. When I'm not outside the wire, I'm either on standby waiting to go outside the wire or training to go outside the wire. I don't get much downtime. If I do, there's no guarantee that I'll have internet access during that time. Don't get me wrong, I love my job, I could be bored behind a desk somewhere. Its a job, not much different than any other. I wake up and roll out of bed just like everyone else does. I just go to work in a four truck armored escort with 50 cal machine guns wearing an IOTV, ACH, an M9, an M4, and ridiculous amounts of ammo. I still go to meetings, just like everyone else, often in other towns. I have more than one boss, a computer, and other employees that work for me. Not much different than home. No biggie, really. Just a job. Overtime would be nice, I just got off a 30 hour shift, so I'm pretty sure I'd make bank by Tuesday every week. It hasn't been too bad so far. Some I won't talk about, maybe when I get home. Maybe. All I can say is I'm alive and well. Mail is getting here, slowly but surely. I haven't had a chance to write very many emails back, but I am receiving them, I'll try to respond when I can. I really appreciate the are packages. The thought and little things put into them make this all worthwhile. Makes it feel much more like home. We've started throwing out candy and cookies when we pass where we know there are kids living. We can't do much, but its helping the Christmas spirit. Not much music, only one tree with a couple ornaments, no lights, its cold but that's about it. Not exactly holidays at home, but Christmas is what you make it. Sorry for the delay, thats all I can do for now, gotta go. Another mission.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Deployment update

Things are coming along well though, we're almost ready to take over from our counterparts. Just got back a little while ago from a long and boring escort mission, which was uneventful at best. It is good to get out and see the areas we'll be working in for the next year though, so I'm all for it. Been here in Iraq for a little while now, gone on a few missions and have already learned a few things. Number one, whoever designed the seats in the back of an MRAP has never worn body armor and has probably never actually sat in their designed seats, especially not for six or more hours. If they had, they might have considered a cushion. Training with my crew has been fun and interesting. They are a good group of guys, and I look forward to working with them all year. We've taken the nickname "the Dogmen," based on the elite Dog Soldiers of the Cheyenne. The guys seem pretty excited, my NCO's were able to go out on a mission tonight with me for the first time. We've got a lot of training to get through, but the team meshes pretty well and they learn fast. Going to be pretty busy in the weeks ahead. More to follow when I get the chance again.