Thursday, July 29, 2004

flying about

Every time I get a CASEVAC mission it just seems like the powers that be wait till I've been asleep for oh say 45 minutes then rush in and bum rush me. My usual words for the first 30 seconds are "What? When? Who?" Blah. Somehow the adrenaline rush takes longer to hit each time. Think it"s a conspiracy to just interrupt my sleep. Most often my flights have nothing to do with someone actually being hurt, just some mission somewhere that there is a possibility that someone could be and having me along is better insurance then having the aircrew, who need to man the guns, trying to patch someone back together. So I wake up, gather my ton of medical gear, toss it on the back of whatever vehicle we have running around that day and stow it onto the aircraft. Most of my missions are usually just support missions that can be turned CASEVAC at a moments notice, I"m there incase someone makes that call or something goes down on the ground. I don"t do anything medical wise unless something goes wrong, I"m just added muscle and of course take pictures, I use NVG"s to take pictures at night, camera flashes when you're flying in a hostile area is bad juju. We fly around taking gear and people from one place to the next, sometimes all night long, just stopping to refuel. If we're moving more gear then people I give a hand unloading. If its just people, I just sit back and study the insides of my eyelids, flack jackets make great neck braces to lean against. Unlike the regular aircrew who are required to have 8 hours of crew rest, I don't fly on a schedule, they just grab me from whatever I'm doing and off we go, if I get there in time for the brief, I'll at least have at least a clue to why they need me on the particular mission, but there are those days when I show up and the bird is already turning and it's a mad rush to get my gear ready hoping that I didn't forget anything. We do have some interesting missions, the other day I hung out with Recon for a couple of hours while we were waiting for it to get dark and listened to their war stories. Just killing time before they needed to be taken someplace. The stuff they've been through! They show a totally different prospective then the one I have and most people that I've talked to on the ground. For one, they see action almost daily and they're not out patrolling the streets, they has specific missions that are usually a onetime deal, usually everything is planned on the strike and they execute it. They're always prepared to go in guns blazing but the job is best done if a shot is never fired. They seemed to be a pretty good crew, friendly, relaxed and didn't seem stressed out at all by being in the middle of a war or the mission that they were doing that night. They also had a combat photographer with them and we passed tips back and forth about photography and best ways to use NVG's for taking pictures and videos. That night filming with his camcorder he ended up using a spare set of our flying NVG's instead of the civilian ones that the government had bought that were made for his camcorder. I showed him how much better the quality was with video using my NVG's compared to his and he was an instant convert, heh, I showed a professional something new. Can't tell you want we actually did but it definitely kept me up and interested. I'm out of here in a couple of weeks and there are some things that I'm sure to miss.

Sunday, July 25, 2004


This comment was left a couple of days ago directed to the people from OIF One

"In late September, the "Drew Carey Comedy Tour"
performed in Iraq. I was one of the comedians on
that tour, and I am producing a documentary about
my experiences with the troops. What we're looking
for is video footage of the performances shot by
the soldiers. We will pay a significant licensing
fee if we use your footage in the film.

Here are the dates and locations of the
Baghdad Convention Center
Baghdad Int'l Airport
Al Asad Air Base

Troops in these groups or at these camps may have
seen and taped the performance

Coalition Provisional Authority
Combined Joint Task Force-7
Camp Slayer
Iraqi Survey Group
455th Chemical Brigade
Camp Dogwood
Camp Anderson
Camp Muleskinner
Victory Corps
3rd Cavalry (Red Rifles)
4ID Second Brigade Combat Team (Warhorse)
4ID Ironhorse 7
Longknife Squadron (Brave Rifles)
325th A.I.R. Falcon Brigade
US 2nd Dragoons
1AD 123D Support Battallio (OLD IRONSIDES)
1AD Bulldog Brigade (IRON SOLDIERS)
1AD Ready First Combat Team (OLD IRONSIDES)
2AD ACR Regimental Support Squadron

Thank you VERY much for your help in this matter,

Jeff Ross"

Jeff's email address is if any of you are interested.

I'm a Fool

This is no news to me of course, my favorite verse in the Bible is Matthew 5/22

The Fool Card
You are the Fool card. The Fool fearlessly begins
the journey into the unknown. To do this, he
does not regard the world he knows as firm and
fixed. He has a seemingly reckless disregard
for obstacles. In the Ryder-Waite deck, he is
seen stepping off a cliff with his gaze on the
sky, and a rainbow is there to catch him. In
order to explore and expand, one must disregard
convention and conformity. Those in the throes
of convention look at the unconventional,
non-conformist personality and think What a
fool. They lack the point of view to understand
The Fool's actions. But The Fool has roots in
tradition as one who is closest to the spirit
world. In many tribal cultures, those born with
strange and unusual character traits were held
in awe. Shamans were people who could see
visions and go on journeys that we now label
hallucinations and schizophrenia. Those with
physical differences had experience and
knowledge that the average person could not
understand. The Fool is God. The number of the
card is zero, which when drawn is a perfect
circle. This circle represents both emptiness
and infinity. The Fool is not shackled by
mountains and valleys or by his physical body.
He does not accept the appearance of cliff and
air as being distinct or real. Image from: Mary

Which Tarot Card Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Boys with their toys, projected power and fighting for peace.

If you go to the average military base back in the states, you would find them filled with buildings that aren't that unlike what you would find out in town. Official looking if drab office buildings, some made out to the lowest bidder, big warehouses, naval bases that don't look much different then the rest of the harbor other then the warships. They usually don't look that pretty except for places like Pensacola, where most of the buildings there are red brick and look like huge southern mansions. If you go inside they're old and dreary though. Most of these bases were made up in response to handle troops and offensive weaponry during one big war or another in the past all the way back to the Revolutionary War. Or they came into being because some hotshot politician was able to persuade the rest of the congress that his state would best fill the niche for this particular mission that this base would fill. So that means that a majority of the places we're staying at these days are leftovers from one military hayday or another. Days when war was dependent on how many troops you could put out in the field. We needed places to spool them up and ship them off to some far different land to fight for the what ever shape the American dream was taking at that time. We mass produced the American fighting man. It wasn't the most efficient use of life if you look at the numbers, country's gathered up army's and weapons and just threw them at each other. Countless hero's were made and died doing this. These conflicts our annual loss equaled the total amount of troops we have sent to Iraq. So far we've lost 900 as of last week. That's a big percentage of a small town, maybe you actually know someone who's died. I don't like thinking of people as numbers but it's a drop in the bucket compared to just about any military conflict that we've stuck the label "war" on since the country was founded. Why is that?

Our military is learning that people are more important, not that you would think that if you were listening to only the peaceniks back home. We are learning to step back and let our weapons do the fighting for us. We're using higher tech, higher priced, more focused weapons, it doesn't lessen that we're going out there ending human life but we're trying to use exactly the right amount of force necessary to get the job done. We have collages set up just to learn military tactics from all the battles all the way back to the dawn of language and we keep improving. Each warrior has more safety training then any other in history. The training we go through to minimize the amount of casualties is intense and based on lessons learned from prior wars from all over the world. If someone makes a big dumb mistake, don't worry it will make it to next years safety stand down. You don't want to be that idiot. Problem with a piece of gear? Complain and if it's a serious complaint, it's fixed in the next alphabetical generation of that gear. Yes of course there's still problems and human error but we're covering as bases almost as soon as they pop up. People still die but cannon fodder isn't a term that would apply to any of our people. With these new weapons that we can aim at a single spot from half way around the globe, we have a birds eye view of whatever we want. There isn't as much standing toe to toe, we see where they're at, marking the spots being as careful as we can to minimize civilian casualties. Push a few thousand red buttons and reach out and touch someone. The enemy doesn't even have a target to shoot at and within a surprisingly short period of time there's just a disorganized force waiting stuck out in the middle of a big desert with no transportation. By the time our troops get there, these guys don't want to fight anymore. If we do find pockets of resistance, if it's too big to handle by the excellent force on the ground or looks risky. We call in our bolt from the blue from around the corner or over the next hill and lo and behold it actually works.

Back to Saddam, if you go around the bases here in Iraq (most built during the mid 80's) they're covered with bunkers that are 25 to 40 feet thick, dual airlock doors, air filtration systems, dug well into the ground. Regular buildings have thick concrete walls and roofs. It looks pretty tough and would slow anybody down. Why didn't it work? Saddam couldn't get the high tech stuff so he returned to old school. Sunk all of his money into bunkers that I'd have to admit are kinda cool. I know we don't have them where I'm stationed at and I'm sure they would have done a lot of good maybe 20 years ago or maybe against Iran. We didn't even pay attention to them. He had a fixed idea in his head and no one to tell him the flaws in his defensive plans. He didn't have the people, mindset or resources to come up with a truly flexible plan. On the positive side for him, he didn't have to fight battles for more money. He just said do it and it was done, his guys didn't want to disappoint him or they found themselves out in the middle of nowhere in a shallow grave. Still with me being the peaceful guy that I am, I still think it's was a good idea to take the guy down. No matter what I said about Michael Moore's F9/11, which I did enjoy because I like looking at different viewpoints. It was still a totally one sided worldview and as such, should be taken with a grain of salt. A nice thing about America is that we have freedom of speech and even though his movie was a well directed attack on this war, he had every right to say what he wanted. He did have some good points but I wonder how those Marines he used in the movie are doing now? Are their careers ruined? Did they have any idea the can of worms that they were stepping into? And if so is he giving any of that pile of money he made back to them? It would be a nice gesture if they suffered. He paints a nice picture and knows how to get the point he's trying to make across but things aren't nearly as nicely packaged as he makes them out to be. He left out many things that affected our reasoning behind the war, the gassing of the Kurds, the mass graves littering the country side or the way he dared us to attacking. During the first Gulf War, Saddam kept sending missile over to Israel trying to provoke them into attacking, a country that supposedly has nukes, don't ask me I've never seen them. That war could have gotten very ugly if they had gotten involved, it wouldn't have stopped till there was a bunch of craters dotting the landscape. The guy threatened too many people at touchy times. He was a loose cannon and has some power to back it, who needs those kind of people around? This war was started in the paranoid time following September 11th, which changed the entire way the world looks at war. We had this wacko on the other side of the world that doesn't like us and could support a huge terrorist attacks and had reason to, mocking us. We had to put our money where our mouth is. We were like the English bobbies that people sometimes make fun of "stop or we will have to tell you to stop again". Now that we are here and won the war, we need to finish up what we started. We can't back down now because people are asking for peace or because a small minority is still taking potshots at us or else we would loose all the ground that we've fought so hard to get. (Yes it would save our money, American lives and take the burden off the military). The real reason we have to stay if because we said we could do it. If we pull out and the country goes down in flames, our nation would have to live with that burden a long time. Iraq needs to be stabilized and productive for itself, not for us. These so called freedom fighters here, do they have a plan if they win? There would be a civil war if we pulled out right now, we said we would stabilize the country and that's what we have to do. The longer we have these resistance fighters taking potshots at us the longer we're going to be around. We need to change they're way of thinking and for them to realize the best and quickest way to get us off their property is for peace. We don't want to be here any more then they do but we can't be chased off with our tails between our legs. Every time one of these guys sets off an IED, that person building a stronger base for us to be here. Stop fighting and we'll go away. I'm more for peace then that average military person is and abhor the thought of having to killing someone. Is that even going to slow me down if my life is in danger? Nope. I don't believe that a job should be left half finished, if you're nation building, build. Don't pull out because of politics, we're not fighting war any more, we're fighting for peace hoping to leave something better here then what we started. We had the choice of backing out up till the day we entered the country. With the position the US takes in the world, we are the finishers and can't afford to let someone else delegate the conditions of how this should end and we need to stand by what we are saying.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Who's out here these days

Latest updates on Milblogs out here, I've just been pointed out to this blog by Janie, MY WAR - Fear And Loathing In Iraq very nice! I'm impressed, this guy is out there seeing some serious action and writing some very eloquent posts about the hell that the ground guys go through. It'll give the rest of us a nice prospective about what people on the ground are doing. There's a slew of Corpsman blogs popping up, Beth from A Labrats Journey is heading out my way, guess I could call her my blog daughter, strange to think I have followers. Two other young Corpsman dig into the realities of Naval Hospital life stateside, sounds like they're both up for orders soon, Colin from C's Rant and Mark from Corpsman Up. Who knows? Maybe I'll run into these folk sometime, it's a small world.

On a side note my blog and fotopage were mentioned in an article on the San Diego Union Tribune, a comment on the article, I was just another photo blogger before making it out here. The 380 Marines is the amount of Marines I took care of when the two of my squadrons are together at Edwards AFB, no reserve Corpsman support. I'm out here with just one of the Squadrons so the numbers are less then half of that and I have another Corpsman and a Flight Surgeon with me. It's odd to think I have to go to war to relax but with the job I had in the rear, Iraq is a great vacation! Try being the solo medical guy for 380 Marines, not fun. Marc and Colin, if you ever get offered I+I Duty, turn them down;)

Thursday, July 15, 2004

new movie rating system developed after watching King Arthur

People are probably thinking I'm a slacker but as the old saying goes "when the corpsman is bored everybody is happy". Actually everybody is doing well right now. Nobody limping around, no great healing gashes and no one has been hurt by hostile action during our entire trip. Maybe I shouldn't say anything about that'. Considered bad luck to say the Q word about how the medical business is going.

We just got done watching King Arthur and we're developing a new rating system based on the sounds the come out of J's mouth. We have compared him to the girl in the movie Scream that the audience stabs to death, one of those people that always finds a way ruin a good movie. Trying not to talk bad about my battle buddy J but the nicest of the most common sounds from the rest of us are, "shut up!" or from me "stab him in the leg with a needle" or the classic "are you trying to piss us off?".

A while back, I walked into a room where our day crew people were sitting, mesmerized by the movie The Last Samurai and I waited till exactly the right moment and with a voice pitched just right, not to loud, directed a question at the guy on the other side of the room asking for the can opener sitting on the desk next to his hand, just loud enough that he had to concentrate on what I was saying. He looked at me startled like I had slapped him and said "what?" and I answered "ever mind", and turned to leave. Then the words sunk in to his brain and he grabbed the can opener and passed it my direction. I held it for a second, then set it down on the desktop right next to the door and walked out. Heh heh heh. Totally broke up their concentration and I didn't even use it. Anyhow, J was on duty that night and he wanted me to make sure that he wasn't missed. So it all started off with me asking myself, "hmmm, what would J do?"

Yes I'm evil when necessary, the movie had 15 minutes to go and I went over and grabbed some chow and waited for what was sure to follow. Sure enough they walked in to the chow tent ranting and raving, they must have spent a better part of the hour calling me all sorts of names, I almost choked 3 times and came close to having potato's come out of my nose. Maybe there is something to this ruining of the moment thing.

Back to the rating system, we've since found out that the less sounds that J makes the better the movie and a really strong sign of a good movie is when we all pause the movie to take a break and J almost looks hurt and doesn't want to go out. Well we only heard 30 or so words out of him in King Arthur so it gets our original 'J shut's his mouth stamp of approval".

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Received Bowling for Columbine free from Michael Moore

Sorry everybody, it must be a Michael Moore week. From the Books for Soldiers website I heard that MM was giving out free copies of either Dude, Where's My Country or a Bowling for Columbine DVD by sending an email to I'm from Arizona and in my part of the world, folk's ears perk up whenever we hear the word free. So I sent the email off and received my copy Bowling for Columbine which I have been wanting to see for a while and sorry Mike, this is two movies just this week that I've watched that you haven't received a cent for. First thing I can say this isn't a hoax, got the 2 DVD set in the mail after I believe a month and a half. The web address that you can find this offer is shows the details of how you can get your free copy if you're in Iraq currently plus how to become a Conscientious Objector, which I have no interest in, damn pansies, don't sign up to the military if you want to be a Conscientious Objector. Anyhow I'm not even though I am a non combatant (Medical folk in general are) and gives a place to share your story. Personally I was only interested in the free stuff and I'm already sharing my story, which is pretty boring compared to many out here. So we gathered again and watched it.

Myself, early 30's half thai navy guy that who owns no guns and a generally peaceful person except for the the 15 minutes after I wake up.

J, my battle buddy, a late 20's black ex Air Force brat, who is thinking about buying a pistol but I personally think he's too cheap to buy one. Currently owns no guns and is pretty laid back.

Woodchuck, an early 30's good ol boy from the south who owns somewhere in the ballpark of 30 firearms (most inherited) and a member of the NRA. Also is fairly laid back.

We watched it and would have to say we all liked it. Damn you Michael Moore and your reasonable sounding voice in the background. Not a bad show and we'd all have to say we're once again impressed. Even though we all agree that it made you look like an asshole picking on that old man but after meeting all those people that close to the incidents it's understandable. What did we pick up out of this? Maybe part of the same message we picked up out of F9/11 as far as our social system goes. We do shoot our selves in the foot as far as taking care of the poor and we tend to dig the hole deeper for those that are already at the bottom so it's almost impossible to come back into the light. There are some huge defects in our society. What is the right answer? We were comparing how we take care of the poor with suicide prevention video that we watch during every safety stand down. Some of the people in this video have done something bad due to stress, lack of money or a bad home life and have resorted to drinking, stealing or abusing their subordinates because they're pissed. The people that have done something bad have gotten caught, feel life is going to hell and now they're thinking maybe killing themselves is the best answer. The discussion everybody has after watching the video (5 times for me so far) is what they don't cover in the training. There's no happily ever after, after the fictional command in the video gets help to the person such as financial counseling, rehab for alcohol and mental counseling what happens? The person has possibly recovered, then; he's usually fried to the full extent of the law, fined, pay taken away, demoted, maybe tossed behind bars or restricted then possibly kicked out because he's a dirt bag. As J would say in his mock southern accent "Beat the po man!" Don't get me wrong, I think stealing from your shipmates or fellow Marines is one of the worst things you can do and you should fry. Once someone steps of that step with the rest of civilized society it's a downward spiral and takes a long time to get back into the light if ever, some people just aren't that strong. There's no easy answer except for teaching better values at home and better leadership or friendship skills by not letting someone fall that far? Of course a lot of these people are outcasts and don't have many friends because no one can stand them. Hmmm, what to do, what to do. People just need to start being nicer to each other so we're not wigging out, people don't steal as much from people they like and respect and people that do, back to the old fry them. Also when you're at war, being nice is a social lubricant that everybody could use. Even in the military there are oddballs, people that are different then you, some people ride them just for that reason, this is the first time away from home, there's bad people that want to shoot you and some prick won't stop screaming in your ear because you're not exactly like him. Personally I don't think it's a smart idea to scream in someone's ear who's carrying around a loaded weapon, specially not day after day, but some people call it discipline. Taking out your personal anger on some poor kid might make him feel suicidal but who's going to get it first? The prick, all of us have seen Full Metal Jacket, save your anger for someone else. There's going to be bad apples in every bunch. Still there's no nice answer.

Other points we got out of the film, we need a stronger family structure and people need to pay attention to their children and take responsibility, mean people shouldn't have guns, outcasts shouldn't have guns, crazy people shouldn't have guns, pissed off people shouldn't have guns and 6 year olds definitely shouldn't have guns. Guns should be harder to get. America is turning into a bunch of paranoid people, look at the news, something bad is happening ever second, action sells. This stuff glues people to the screen. Maybe the media should start focusing on the good that's happening for a change. Don't give the evil people the spotlight, don't hide it either just don't make a big deal out of it. Columbine was horrible stuff and a worse case scenario of what can happen. But this movie wasn't just about Columbine, more about society in general. It wasn't the one sided bashing party that much F9/11 was either; so I give it my thumbs up and think it's a much better film without much of the political leanings. I personally don't classify either of these as Documentary's even though much of this is real footage and his facts are mostly in order but I look at them more as Social Adjustment Films (yes propaganda in other words) due to this being his personal take on the world and his ability to steer people to his personal worldview. Is it bad that these are propaganda? Rush does the same thing for his viewpoint as does every talk show host. I don't think so in this case, he brings it all together pretty well and the underlining message is geared toward peace. Only time will tell if the facts are straight or sound clips are taken out of context, but I'll let someone else research that, I'm only in it for the entertainment value.

Answer to some of my comments,

Brian I did say that on purpose just to see who would react, the locals refer here refer to the other shops as hajji shops too which surprised me. Just seeing if putting that out to get a feel to who's reading my site. Hopefully not a sign of sign of either arrogant ignorance or ignorant arrogance. Sorry to have offended you, most of the folk on the ground refer to anybody not us as a hajji which I don't agree with but it seems to be the way thing are, wonder what we called the locals in Bosnia? Probably had some slang that wasn't nice, I'm half Thai and grew up in northern Arizona, the only non-white kid in my school for a while and have been through every name they called the Vietnamese in the Vietnam conflict and it wasn't nice, so believe me I don't agree with it. Besides the guy that sold F9/11 is Hindu so not technically a hajji

Laurel, we were looking for SM2 and it was sold out, so bought F 9/11.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11

Acquired the film tonight from the local hajji for 8 dollars, sorry Michael no money in you pocket. I was surprised by the interest that my Marines were showing for it. My office was full of chairs and couldn't have fit another person in. So for the next couple of hours except for smoke breaks and coffee, hardly anyone made a sound. Just watched, yes there was a lot of GW bashing, wonder if he made a response? I'm not going go into the exact details here but don't let someone that you don't even know make up you mind for you. Or someone that walked out in the first 15 minutes (I could see it happening in some company after watching the film) for the film is much more then the first 15 minutes and changes subject manner suddenly like a sharp turn in a roller coaster with lots of ups and downs. I just know it kept us riveted and I'm passing it on, by request, to another shop right now. The point Mr. Moore is trying to make, other that he doesn't like President Bush and war in general, it's still vague on the exact message. He's directing us towards something but the film doesn't offer finished answers to the many questions that he put forth. I assume that he's trying to guide us towards some goal but he's making our own minds finish the journey without actually saying it. It does an excellent job at making us ask questions though. If I was GW, I'd be worried, this is the sharpest piece of political campaigning that I've EVER seen, and he does open up on the Democratic Party too. Check it out but if you are conservative it might sully your soul so I warn you now. Whatever else it does it will keep your interest, if anything. Sorry if my watching it offends any of my readers but I'm not much into making judgments on something without first hand knowledge, I do know personally that MM does support the troops whatever his political message is. If you check out the traffic from some of the military support sites, you'd notice that much
of the renewed interest has been from his website links and F9/11. Make up your own mind for I can't make it up for you. Peace.

PS if you're following my fotopages, I'm waiting on clearance from the PAO before posting any new pictures.

Friday, July 02, 2004

The Sky didn't fall in

June 30th came and went, someone from higher up the chain pulled a quick one and passed over power early which negated much of the bad stuff that was probably planned to take place on that date. The day just ended up being another day, nothing special, flew a mission and took some pictures through the NVG's otherwise a pretty quiet night for me. I have mixed feelings about the hand over of Saddam but the news sources aren't really clear how we did it. The word changes between news sources how exactly the hand over went. Common sense says that we've done it in a manner that we're still watching very closely but we're letting the Iraqi's have all the hands on. Where ever he's at he's probably safe from both escape or something interfering with his trial.

Personal news for the 30th of June, a year ago that date was when I started my fotopage, Who could imagine where I would be at today? As an Inspector Instructor Corpsman attached to a Marine Reserve unit, I'm supposed to train the guys that are going forward, usually Reserve Corpsman or Corpsman on a fleet hospital platform. Normally it takes a lot of work to make it possible for us to go forward due to I&I Duty being considered shore duty. Bodies were short for my particular job rating and they asked me to go. The choice of letting my guys go forward with out me or staying in the rear? Well it was a bit tough but I wouldn't have felt good staying back. These were my Marines, I didn't want to hand them over to some stranger to take over for me. Glad I did, my fotopage has been a great asset for keeping in touch with the family members in the rear. With it, we're not just letters in the mail, emails, instant messages or staticy phone calls, families have a face that they can look at, see that we're doing alright and show a bit of what we're doing. If someone doesn't call home enough or needs to get a hold of a Marine, a comment can be left 24 hours a fairly large percentage of the unit and me usually tells that person to call or email home, also a nice place to leave messages of support. It's better then having mom calling congress (does happen more then you might think) telling them that she hasn't heard anything from her son/daughter in ages and worried sick that something has happened and the persons unit is trying to hide it (yes we are in a war zone and family members back home do get paranoid, it's normal). This leads said Marine to being called in front of the old man, whom is now cranky because he just got a call from someone higher then him to have that Marine call home. My way is much simpler and less painful. Just throwing some thoughts out there, thanks for reading.