Tuesday, August 31, 2004


I'm back, sort of, using dial up, sigh. Another week for DSL to get hooked up. That's not that big of a deal if I only had this blog but it makes posting pictures on the fotopage a huge time eating task. Oh well a job is never done.

I wanted to say a few words about CB from My War's blog going down following the story that NPR did on him. He had written in one of his earlier posts that he had started reading blogs just months prior to starting his own blog which translates into having not read the warbloggers that came out of OIF I. Those guys did everything possible to keep their identities secret, I knew Sean's full name from turningtables because he had left a comment on Salam Pax's fotopage. Not sure what he's doing these days though, he was my favorite warblogger out there in the early days of the war, pickings were slim, there was only a dozen or so out there at that time. Not one of the earlier milbloggers used his real name in association with is blog. Chief Wiggles had his name blurted out by the President on national TV, guess that counts as approval from the highest sources.

You could tell they were all paranoid about OPSEC. They talked about daily interactions with people, how things sucked in different ways, made fun of other bloggers camps, people in their stories were given descriptive names, pretty much a light hearted look at it all. Most of the very early milblogs were bright shinny people of somewhat higher rank then the average Joe. That gave an upbeat look at the war, mostly because they didn't have it as bad as some of the people that were directly in the front lines who didn't have an internet connection. Not that it was easy for them but they had different experiences. Enjoyable but not a full meal, you knew something was still missing.

Then Turningtables showed up, lower ranking Army Sergeant, not happy about being called away from his job and sent to war on the other side of the world (he wasn't in the front lines either). He was the disgruntled guy and people loved him, not a bad writer either, got a lot of people hooked on milblogs. We would sit around and read of his daily angst and be happy that we weren't him (note, my trip wasn't that bad at all and I think of it in a positive way). See, its easy believing someone's writing if he's miserable and has a good way with words. He was also the first milblogger to open up a comments section in Iraq. The fans from both sides of the spectrum flocked to his comments started interacting. Soon, it became a war zone which I think finally stopped him from blogging in the end. His words were raw, real and stuck. Finally I think he burned out from all the attention.

Back to CB, his writing was raw and right to the point; he barely had a censor in his own mind. He has the making of a great reporter, good eye for detail and you could visualize actually what he was going through by his words. Unlike the most of us, we're out here writing online textbooks, it's interesting but we haven't captured the soul of what's actually happening on the streets. Not that I actually experienced any interesting streets from the back of a 46. More of a different view of the battle field. My travels in Iraq were basically boring compared to his day to day life. He painted a picture that you couldn't forget but his pictures were too good and attracted more attention then any milblogger wants. I hope he pulls out of this alright and doesn't stop writing. After everything is said and done and he does sell a book, I'll be in line.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

a week of just chilling back

Almost a week without phone or internet! Sorry everyone, I'm still alive but haven't been able to get online because our phone isn't going to be turned on till Tuesday and our DSL isn't going up for another week. Other then that everything is going alright, moved into the new place and most of our gear is stowed away where it's supposed to go. Today we're doing 10 or so loads of laundry and I'm getting ready to go back to work tomorrow. Slightly hung over from a welcome home party that I went to last night. I have turned into a cheap drunk in the last seven months which I would say is a good thing, didn't take much to knock me out.

It doesn't seem like that much has changed since I left, every time I go out of the country I expect to come back to some great sweeping change but it never happens. There was some cool electronic gear that came out while I was gone and the rent has gone up on most of the housing off base. But not much else, I missed friends and they missed me and when we got together it was like I had never left. I'm glad to be back and will return to regular posting soon.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

I made NPR

Made NPR'S Day to Day

UPDATE, due to the above show, CB's blog has been taken down, sigh! Damn it NPR, I'm a fan of you guys and you let the cat out of the bag, that sucks.

Last leg home

The Next leg of the flight was pretty non eventful. The average load on a 747, movies and food that was actually good, the flight crew of United Airlines did an excellent job of taking care of us except they didn't have beer, sigh. Landed in Germany while they changed crews, I wandered around the airport for a while and answered some emails at the internet cafe. Taking off, the captain introduced himself as Scott something or other and half of the Marines automatically sang "Scotty doesn't know!" from the movie Eurotrip, probably the most watched movie by the military in Iraq. The rest of the flight, slept some and watched A Date with Todd Hamilton and Calendar Girls. Captured the Marines reactions when we landed in Mira Mar and took pictures the crowds that welcomed all the other Marines home. I'll post those as soon as my DSL gets back on line, this weekend hopefully. Some of the family members of my Marines were waiting in San Diego for their Marines so we hung out with them and they brought us our first beer back in the states, thanks!

All the families and Marines stationed there left and we waited on the taxiway for 2 hours for the C-130 that was to take us to Edwards, an hour and a half flight. We loaded up all of our gear and were air born. Slept some more on the flight and with anther cheer we were there.

The rest of the families and some local press were waiting there, found out the next day that they ran a front page story on my fotopage. Cool. Glad to be home.

Other news I found a nicer, larger apartment, should have all of my services hooked up this weekend. Plan on taking a road trip to my family reunion next weekend to Arizona. Currently just relaxing and enjoying being here. Take care everyone.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004


Kuwait was 28 hours of hurry up and wait with a really really hot sun added in (it's hotter in Kuwait then Iraq, all the sand probably). Game plan for this part of our trip? Load on one bus, take it to another base that does the out processing, where they stop all the special pays, take our carry on gear through customs and load on another bus to take us to an airport.

This is actually what happened. We got off the C-130 and were bused to the base that handles the out processing debriefing, it was dark out so the bus dropped us off at a holding tent with our carryon baggage. It was 8:30 PM and across the way was a Subway and a Hardies. Mmmm… So everyone rushes out, while I am hungry because I didn't eat I had a blog entry to write plus I know how the food trip is going to go. First thing military people do after getting off a ship or getting back from a trip is to go out and get what they were missing, in this case Subway or Hardies. Of course they'll get more then they can eat and they'll be back, so I site quietly hungry and 45 minutes later people come in that had bought something crazy like 2 foot longs. They pig out for a couple of minutes and I find myself the owner of three 6 inch subs that people couldn't finish. Why not take advantage of human nature? Heh heh.

Believe me I do plan on going out but after I'm done typing, for out there is also an internet cafe just waiting for me to plug in my laptop. By the time I finish typing the first half of the trip it's 11PM and I head on over. Ended up staying for 2 and a half hours. Nice no lines but you have to pay 5 bucks per hour.

It would have been nice before we came out here to know that we would be spending the night I would have brought some shower shoes, more clothes, towel and my pillow that I left behind. If you have the huge noggin that I have, pillows take up a large part of your thoughts around bedtime, I made do with my back pack and fell right asleep.

We had a formation at 10:30 the next morning, I woke up at a comfortable 9:30, time enough to eat, turn in my ammo and clean up.

We form up out side with all the other units, it's blazing hot and we stand there till the unit that forgot to turn in their ammo that morning turns in all of their ammo, yawn. I' sure everyone doesn't want to smell my sweat on the plane.

From there we load up on the bus and sat for another ten minutes, idling with the A/C on. Some of the guys figured we would be on the buses for a while, might as well get comfortable and took off their blouses and boots. The bus started moving, went 50 yards up the street, took a left went another 300 yards and parked and we were asked to leave. Figures, glad I didn't get comfortable. We waited till everybody was dressed (to stay in the A/C longer) then followed them out.

A brief inside of a circus tent about customs and what we were and weren't allowed to take out of the country then off to customs where they take apart our carryon bags and pat us down then to a holding tent where we're planning on staying for the next 8 or so hours. We're there for an hour and a half when the generator goes out and we're back in the briefing tent where I catch a nap sitting up on a bench. I've found sleeping in uncomfortable places doesn't bother me as much as not getting to sleep in an uncomfortable place.

After 2 hours we load on a bus and are taken to the Airport where we have another 5 hours of waiting. It was well into night when they gathered us all up by rank and we started loading on the 747, lower rank to the rear highest ranks in 1st class. After 20 minutes more of delays we took off.

I remember Sean from Turningtables writing about this when he flew our, the unreality of actually leaving. Me? It was just another takeoff, nice to be going but I would be lying if I said it was a horrible deployment. Then again it wasn't my first deployment. It's all what you make of it. I had a good time most of the time I was over but I'm a dork and have a good time most places you could send me, I'm not a heavy drinker so I didn't miss alcohol, never watched much tv, so I didn't miss that much either and I read a lot and there were plenty of books. My judgment probably isn't the best.

Next stop Germany.

better then sex

Before I do my post on the rest of my trip, I've been doing what I enjoy most in the whole wide world, more then good food, more then sex! Shopping for hi tech gadgets! I've spent the last 6 months dreaming and looking at new gear. The chains have been undone.

So far I have gone through Costco and Best Buy and about 700 dollars. If you are going to Iraq, I have a few more suggestions with prices.

First, the biggest way to save money on a trip to Iraq is to have a quality battery charger, Costco has a great deal on a Panasonic charger that comes with 6 AA and 2 AAA's for 19.99 that works at voltages from 100-240 (in non nerd terms, you need no converter to use it anywhere in the world). The other thing that's good about rechargeable batteries is that they last 3 times as long as regular batteries in electronic gear. So it's a good buy even if you don't go to Iraq.

Second is a memory stick, I also found at Costco a 512 Mb Memory stick that uses USB 2.0 for 64 bucks, a 256 was 39, lots of data for a low cost.

If you do have a laptop, check to see if it is USB 2.0 or not, USB 2.0 is 40 times faster then USB 1.2 so it does come in handy, if your laptop doesn't have 2.0 then buy a 2.0 Card that you plug in the side of your computer, they run around 30 bucks.

Don't forget a led head light (10.99 at Costco), on 3 AAA batteries mine would last 4-6 per night for 2 weeks at least before starting to go dim, compared to regular bulb that would go dead in 1 or 2 nights of heavy use, take the plunge.

I'm home safe and sound

House hunting right now but will do a regular post soon, take care everybody!

Saturday, August 21, 2004

first leg out, see I was busy while flying about

Woke this morning to the sounds of rounds incoming, sounded like rockets not mortars (rockets are louder), but don't quote me on that. First time in for us in 3 months or so, I'm beginning to think someone has it in for me personally out here. An hour after I had arrived at this base and right after I went through the welcome aboard brief where the speaker said and I quote "we never get hit here." The base was mortared for the first time. I was out back behind one of the tents smoking with one of the MAL's guys that had been here for a while and asked him. "What was that?" He didn't reply, just took off running with a panicked look on his face, great, I had just arrived at a war zone, it's the middle of the night, somebody had just turned out all the lights and my home was a tent. I'm gonna die. Alas I didn't.

This morning by the time the last one fell, I had mustered with the duty, glanced at the window (notice I didn't say look out, refer to my duck when you hear a boom should also include don't look out windows) and went straight back to bed, I think I missed the last one or two. Told the duty to wake me if I was dead or needed to patch someone up. Yawn!

Word was passed that we needed to have our bags staged in front of the barracks by 10 so I woke up at 9:30 grabbed a quick shower and donned a clean uniform. It's 9:50 and my bags are ready to go so I take them outside.

"What the hell?"

The 7 ton that we're loading our bags on is driving away, I yell and the driver stops, he's yelling something back but I couldn't understand what he was saying so I just run over in a mad rush and toss all of my bags in the back. Whew! Everyone is laughing at me, yeah it was funny but not that funny, they tell me that the truck is coming right back, it's just running over to the barracks to pick up some bags over there. Guess what the driver said was don't worry. Oh.

1030 comes around and we board a bus that takes us to the ingoing/outgoing processing terminal, I use terminal in the loosest terms, just a collection of temporary buildings, that does customs and gives us a place to hang out until we leave. Everything is ply board and cement floors. The first thing on the agenda is off loading out baggage and going through customs. This involves finding a spot on the cement in this warehouse like building, opening our bags that we have packed so well with clean clothes and turning it upside down then spreading it out. The floor looks like it hasn't been swept since the last sandstorm. They're looking for explosives like grenades, unexploded ordnance and Iraqi small arms and porn which wouldn't be a problem if we were flying straight to the states but we're leaving out of Kuwait, which has big anti porn laws being an Islamic country. Iraq's I've met all offer money for it which I find a bit odd. They also look for the other obvious things like fruit, drugs, animals, insects, etc. Once we were done getting inspected we were told to shove everything back in our bags and load it on a pallet.

10 O'clock and our scheduled departure is 4:30, so I crash out.

Woken up at 4 to load onto the C-130, it's around 115 degrees out, we stop 200 yards away from the plane until the prior passengers are unloaded. We get waved towards the back of the plane and the exhaust trail goes back a 100 yards, inside of it ,it's like a furnace, you can almost feel it blistering your face. We run up to the plane to stop the pain and one of the crew chiefs stops the lead guy at the bottom of the ramp.

"What the *#@# "

There are 50 of us out there standing in the exhaust, it feels like the skin if being burned off our bodies and we have no clue what's happening all we know is that we're standing in hell. We were out there for 5 minutes, everybody is covering their faces. What in the hell were these numbskulls thinking? Finally we're waved back to the edge of he taxi way and after 2 minutes we're waved back into the plane. 4:26 we're in the air. Next stop Kuwait!

Thursday, August 19, 2004

lessons learned

Bring an external hard drive, I have a Seagate 160 gig and have backed up most of the music in the unit. Who needs to surf? Even if you don't own a computer, you probably have one at work. I now own more music then I know what to do which, 11 thousand or so songs and music videos. Not to mention some of the other cool stuff that I've copied. It's worth more then it's weight in gold.

Nothing is as important in life as a good pillow.

Write and call home often, you're afraid that people might forget you, well it might happen if you never call.

If you like writing, start a blog, like taking pictures, start a photo page, there are a lot of people that enjoy this stuff, families back home will love you.

If you get packages, share them, don't be a hog.

Be nice to everyone, remember everyone is armed, if someone wigs out and goes postal, the asshole is a better target.

Every vehicle out here has a tape player and not many English radio stations, bring a converter or some blank tapes because no one sells them.

Baby wipes can be used for anything, dusting, wiping down toilet seats, cleaning weapons, throwing at people, etc It's also a common item in care packages so don't bring more then a box or two with you.

LED headlights are the bomb, forget everything else, they last 10 times as long on the same batteries and don't burn out, you'll probably get better deals in the states then you will out here.

Always have a leatherman and a flip knife.

If you hear something go BOOM it's always best to duck and look foolish then have the second mortar take off your head.

You know you're used to the heat when it's 110 outside and you think it's a cool day.

It's always best to have more gear then too little unless you have to hump it, then it's the other way around.

If it's important to you, put it in a ziplock.

If your tents start on fire, no matter what anyone says, unless you're about to be burned to death, grab at least one uniform, your computer and weapon before leaving, most everything in a tent fire is history.

DON'T send all of your uniforms at once to the laundry mat

If you have a something wrong, get seen by medical, it's free.

This trip is as bad as you make it, whatever your situation, someone out here has it worse.

Don't shoot people that piss you off.

Clean your weapon daily.

Check the power requirements before you plug anything in, remember most of the power out here is 220 while in the states it's 110, plug something 110 into a 220 plug and it's toast. Almost all laptops, external hard drives, portable DVD players and chargers for cameras and camcorders can take both but check it first. Power converters don't work that well so it's best to buy something that can take both before coming out here.

Sleep while you can, but don't sleep when you're needed.

If you feel like you're about to wig out or really mad, give your weapon to somebody else to hold, sometimes having a loaded weapon isn't the best thing to have when you think the world is out to get you. Step back and remember the most important thing about being out here, getting home.

Sign up to some of these find support sites on my sidebar, you won't regret it unless you or someone else signs you up to all of them and you have to write back a hundred people and that takes all of your time.

That's all I can think of right now. Take care everybody, soon going back to being a regular blogger instead of a warblogger, thanks for all the support and visits. I've made some great friends doing this and look forward to meeting some of you all when I get back. Peace.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

A good day

After a week of being MIA, I came to work and my laundry was waiting at my office, kick ass! I step further in and I find out that I’m still leaving on time, pure bliss! This night is starting out just fine. Now the only issues I have are waiting at home, getting my suburban out of the shop and find a new apartment, two problems down, it's a start. Now just let the rest of the stars line up and everything should be good.

After reading my comments I realized that Hitchhiker fever never really dies down, it's like a yawn, all it takes is one person to start it and it spreads around the room. Out of the blue all the memories of the subject that we haven't drudged up in years come flowing to the surface. It's a personal state of mind that only a member of the HG2G Nerd crowd knows about, to the rest of the world thinks that Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is just a novel but to the faithful its really a religious text. No matter how far you've gone on in life it's something that you can always ground out the craziness on. When did you discover the little green guy?. Reading the comments from last nights post made me happy just to know I'm in a world where there are so many people that appreciate Douglas Adams and even more happy to know that they read my blog. True believers, they have movie in the works to be released June 3rd 2005, now where am I going to be on that date? (hopefully not in Iraq)

Answer to a few questions, I have read the Dirk Gently novels but haven't read Salmon of Doubt or Last Chance to See, they're on my reading list. Since I actually have a bit of work to do tonight, I'll leave you with a few of my favorite HG2G quotes. Take care!

"The knack of flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss."

"One of the things Ford Prefect had always found hardest to understand about humans was their habit of continuously stating and repeating the very very obvious, as in It's a nice day, or You're very tall, or Oh dear you seem to have fallen down a thirty-foot well, are you all right?"

"My doctor says that I have a malformed public-duty gland and a natural deficiency in moral fiber and that I am therefore excused from saving universes."

"You barbarians! I'll sue the council for every penny it's got! I'l have you hung, drawn, and quartered! And whipped! And boiled...until...until...until you've had enough. And then I will do it again! And when I've finished I will take all the little bits, and I will JUMP on them! And I will carry on jumping on them until I get blisters, or I can think of anything even more unpleasant to do... "

"A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have"

"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools"

"You can't dodge your responsibilities by saying they don't exist!"

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

another night in the desert

I woke up after dreaming of a mission I flew last week, not the mission itself, it was just another standby, ya know, flying to another base and sitting for a long time. I didn't mention that we must have seen a falling star every five minutes. Come to find out there was a meteor shower that night. Meteor showers are different things when viewed though NVG's. Through the NVG's you can see 10 times the stars that you can with the naked eye making meteors unbelievably bright, it was pretty cool, glad I was there for it.

Feeling much better today even though it took a couple cups of coffee to wake up. I slept for 14 hours, which might have been over doing it, oh well. Every time I woke up, I willed myself back to sleep. Nothing like a good sleep to improve your out look on life. Still haven't really started packing but I've sent most of my bulky items home so theoretically I should be able to fit all of my crap in two sea bags, I'm leaving all of the cooking stuff I bought out here for our replacement crew. I don't see where I'm going to be using the 220 volt cook ware back in the rear. I do wish my laundry would show up and the power plug for my 160 gig external hard drive, sigh.

Will find out tomorrow weather I'm leaving sooner or later, fingers crossed!


The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide by Douglas Adams

This is a series I've read over and over since I was 12, it's just like falling back onto a familiar stomping grounds. The cadence of the words is remarkably like John Irving's. Which wasn't something I had ever compared till today, John definitely has more depth in his characters but Douglas's are more polished? Two totally different fields yet they both tell the story of lost souls with humor and humanity.

The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guild contained 6 books, the entire misnamed trilogy,
The Hitchhiker's Guild to the Galaxy,
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe,
Life, The Universe and Everything,
So Long and Thanks for all the Fish ,
Mostly Harmless,
It also includes a short story of Zaphod that doesn't make any sense but that's okay, I don't think it was ment to.

The main character, Arthur Dent, gets snatched off of the Earth by a friend and researcher to the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Ford Perfect. Ford has been bumming around the neighborhood for the last 15 years acting like an out of work actor. Over the next couple of chapters the rest of band falls into place consisting of Marvin, a robot with one of greatest intellects in the universe who's enormous depression has infected and taken down civilizations, Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two headed ex president of the galaxy who doesn't have a clue, Trillian, the ex earth babe news anchor and Zaphod's girlfriend, that is smarter then the air head she acts like.

Their adventures will lead them to the ends of time and space, saving existence a time or two in the process. Don't expect this to have anything to do with reality, when you read this series reality needs to be checked in at the door. This is a joyous look at life and all the craziness that could happen. There is humor in every word of the series and the main characters don't even like each other. Weather separately and together, the improbable and the impossible are bound to happen to this bunch. The underlying theme to the series is that everything happens for a reason and there is a higher being that does have a hand in everything. He or she is probably laughing their ass off most of the time. Personally I can't recommend these books enough, they're classics in any sense of the word.

Douglas died in May of 2001 at the age of 49, I remembered hearing it on NPR on the way to work and the wave of sadness that came over me. It still bums me out to think that someone that made so many people laugh had to die at such a young age. I hope he's in a better place.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Day off and I'm doing constructive stuff, sleeping

Went over twentyfive thousand on my counter today, not in the ball park of the big guns like Hook or Smash, but I'm glad that the blog didn't run away like ...turningtables... did, his comments section turned into a political battleground and finally he got fed up and shut it down. I've had a few rude people but nothing near the forum that he had. I'm just a regular guy out here doing my job that happens to have a blog. I'm glad that there's quite a few mil bloggers to choose from this time around, the OIF II generation is holding it's own, CB's posts are amazing and there's actually been some support from the command elements for some of the blogs but there are others that were shut down early. Just a quick post while I'm over here at the internet cafe, I usually write my posts on my laptop but slept most of today (we have a day off!!) Anyhow I'm heading back to the barracks to get some more sleep. Take care.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

....and a wake up....

I've started a new category to people that have started blogs because of me, cheers me up to think that I've started other people down this path, there might be more people but I just don't know about them. Could use the cheering up, quitting smoking has been the hardest thing I've done since I've been out here, but it is about time that I did. I think that the majority of my readers are smokers, I just get that feeling except for that smoking Nazi, Josh. I'm going to miss the fellowship that goes with smoking and of course reading and smoking, sigh, I've become a quitter.

Received a letter from Dr P, he's a retired cardiologist that that had worked with corpsman during Vietnam. Out of all the people that I wanted to write back to his was at the top of my list and somewhere in one of my moves I had lost it, he had sent me a second letter making sure the first one had came my way. And I wrote him. Just reading what he wrote reminded me why I'm out here as a corpsman, I'm here to save lives and take care of my Marines and he had a few words on smoking about the empty feeling and the crabbiness that I'm going through. He's been there a few times, so I'm not feeling so alone in this. I didn't actually stop for any real reason, no one I'm trying to impress right now, just something changed internally and I said that's it, it's time. Doesn't make it any easier though.

On the upside, I do think I'm still on the advanced party list, which will be leaving VERY shortly, if I don't answer emails or blog for a day or two, that will be why. It could mean that I'm on a plane ride back to the states. Whoopee! Now I just have to find a new place to live till December, if it comes to it, I'll sleep in my suburban and after some of the beds I've slept in out here, I'll be real happy just doing that. Of course I do miss my suburban and might do that anyway.

We'll just have to see what kind of surprises life has in store for me the next couple of months. Thanks for all the support everyone.

I'm going to try adding a few words on what I'm reading to every post from now in.

Currently Reading

The Cider House Rules
By John Irving

I've always thought John Irving was an old man because of his antique wording and the mindset that seems so authentic in his characters, his period pieces of the early twentieth century seem so real that you would have had to actually have been there to experience that much. Well it goes to show you what thinking gets you for tonight I finally read his bio. That liar had me thinking that he was an old man all of this time and he's the same age as my dad, well 3 years older, born 1942. I had this concept of him being old stuck in my head for years, expecting each book to be his last and come to find out he probably won't be stopping for a while. Oh well.

I've always enjoyed his work, his characters come to life and you feel their pain, and in some sense you become them, each one of them has some gem inside that reflects back part of you. The melancholy grays of the background with the tender heartaches that abound in the book seem to suit my mood just fine.

Saturday, August 14, 2004


Nothing of interest has happened today. Went over to the laundry mat to file a claim on my missing bag, said they'd get back with me in two days. Hitched a ride back to the barracks and dropped off my gear then went to the internet cafe to post a few pictures on the fotopage. Returned to the barracks and headed out to the courtyard to read and discovered that reading sucks out there if you're not smoking. Blah. Headed inside and and crashed out, woke up around 5, took a shower and back into work. Chow was ground mystery meat patties, broccoli and rice, blah too. The excess energy from quitting smoking has apparently slipped away and I'm in that dangerous stage in the battle where I'm crabby and snappish. At least I'm writing it down this time to remind myself that I don't want to go through this all again. It would all go better on the world if I were in a nice little cave or bunker all by my self today because I'm sure to step on a few toes. So excuse me for the lack of a quality post tonight while I search for a spot of sand to stick my head in.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Real news....

Don't believe me? Check out Tammi at http://www.roadwarriorsurvival.com/ she's blogging ten minutes from the eye of hurricane Charley. Go check her out.

on Reserves

I have orders to San Diego in January, it's going to be strange seeing other Navy people around after being the sole squid stationed at Edwards AFB. Theoretically, with my job title as inspector instructor corpsman, I'm not supposed to be able to deploy at war because I&I Duty is considered shore duty, our main job is to train the reserve corpsman when they come in on weekends and their two weeks of drill. Somehow it didn’t work out that way, partially because we weren't able to find enough reserve corpsman to fill the billets.

Being a Marine Reservist isn't a bad deal as far as reserve duty goes, unlike the other services, you know what to expect because they actually tell you. We usually have a game plan on deployments and a schedule of when our relief is coming in. Our leaders have this thing about actually keeping their word, unlike some other services we haven't been extended in a war zone. I'm still shocked about seeing so many National Guard troops out here specially the older ones, do they have the same standards as regular army soldiers? When I was in Kuwait I saw more then 20 E-3's and E-4's in their 50's. What do these people do for a living in the rear? I do know when I'm 50 I don't plan on making that little for a living, I wonder what their story is? I have never worked with the National Guard before coming out here, I always associated them with natural disasters, riots and such, soldiers had the same ranking system that the regular army had but didn't deploy out of the country, I'm glad I didn't listen to that recruiter! I'm sure I'm not the only one that thought these thoughts.

Since I'm in the Navy, might as well put a few words in about our reserve program. Of which I only have experience with the medical aspect. Each time one of my two Marine units gets called up they're supposed to receive a couple of reserve corpsman and a reserve flight surgeon. I have yet to receive one that was not surprised by this, meaning they were yanked out of their lives with no notice, having no clue that somewhere it said that they belonged to a Marine Reserve unit at Edwards AFB. There was one girl that our head quarters gave me the name of 2 years ago that was supposed to be drilling with me. Each month I usually spend a couple of idle hours searching by phone and internet out of curiosity for her when I remembered that was. Never found her and I'm good at finding people in the military, called everywhere, the computer kept saying that she was drilling with me. Comes to find out she was drilling with a hospital unit up in Washington, even went off to war with them in OIF I. The entire time thinking that she belonged there with them, she gets back and 6 months later she gets pulled to go off to war with me.

So you can understand why I don't have to much faith in reserve policy unless it's written by Marines. We don't have the biggest budget or the coolest new toys, we're using aircraft that still have bondo from the Vietnam war. We do have a plan and we take care of our own. I haven't seen Marine unit's extended out here like numberous Army units were, we have replacements waiting to take our place when our times up. I'm sure our leaders fought for this and kept their word to us the troops even in time of war. Being a reserve you expect to get the short end of the stick but you can do much worse then being with the Marines.

There's a lot of fun to be had with a reserve Marine Air Wing squadron, much more then if you were attached to a ground pounder unit, our basic mission is to transport people to hard to reach places. Having these abilities to offer makes us extremely marketable to certain circles. Missions that could used well trained pilots with a support staff that will fly almost anyplace for basic operating expenses. It's a good deal for them money wise and it keeps up our flight hours, we never seem to have enough money for flight hours and we're always fighting a battle for a bigger budget that usually gets kicked back. So we volunteer ourselves for these missions that the active duty squadrons don't have time to do because they're using up their big budgets on flying around doing training. All of the flight hours go towards the same goal, keeping pilots and aircrew in flight shape. It doesn't hurt that most of these missions we "volunteer" for are "cool" missions that the active guys wish they could get.

The war on drugs is something that I don't totally agree with, well at least the part against marijuana, I don't recall a great number of pot heads O.D.ing, robbing people to get more smoke or going to rehab. I do know it's not for everybody, I didn't like it back in the day because I would forget what I read and it took away my motivation, all I wanted to do was chill back. I've done worse things then chilling back happen when drinking but I'll let those stories just remain legends the I nether confirm or deny. Personally I think we should legalize marijuana and go after the hard core drug folk. There's enough violence in the world and most pot smokers just want to get along, which I think is a reasonable goal. Even without strong having any conviction for the mission, as a whole we still have a blast going on them.

Our job as hired help is to transport observers from various agencies, we don't land next to marijuana fields or take part in any of the more dangerous law enforcement aspects. We just fly around over a different grid each day, if somebody sees something odd or note worthy we slow down, write the number shown on a GPS and the observer writes a brief description and we move on. We got to stay in nice hotels in non military towns and some of the sights I've seen while flying still boggle my mind. Wish I had some of the cool camera equipment I have now. I was still using film, sigh.

One Det we flew all over southern Utah. People would have paid good money for the quality of flying we had, Bryce Canyon was beautiful but what stick in my mind were the canyons southeast of Moab, they were beyond breath taking, if someone wanted to grow drugs out there, I thought he was welcome to it. I'm a rock climber and I couldn't imagine how someone could get around, the place was insane. There were no signs of human contact. No trails, cars, people, trash. We would fly for hours over vertical landscapes , cliffs and canyons as far as eye could see. Even out here in the middle of the desert, no houses for 50 miles in all directions, there's 4X4 tracks everywhere. Utah was untouched.

Not much happening with me, just getting ready to head home. The advanced party for the replacement unit has arrived and getting settled, sorry if I hadn't responded to any emails in the last two days, the powers that be shut down the internet and phones if something happens. If you're wondering what it was, do a search on google news for CH-53 to see what I'm talking about, kinda hits close to home. Is it a wonder that I’m nervous flying sometimes? I might have some bad news about me coming home advanced party, a situation that is out of my control. Way bigger then me. Will let you know as soon as I do.

Take care

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Butterfly flaps its wings

When I arrived out here I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of laundry service, after seeing pictures of people washing their clothes in 5 gallon buckets. Each unit had different days assigned to turning in their laundry. You would bring your laundry bag over to a central location at the unit, the S4 (logistics) people, pick it up and take it to the laundry mat and the next morning it comes back, nicely folded and socks matched. I don't even do that at home. If need a bag done on an off day, just bring it down in person. I only had to do it once, went down and turned in a bag. The people were friendly, cheery and quick. I hung out for a while and talked, seemed like a good bunch of people. They were Turkish sub contractors that had won the bid through KBR, just ordinary people that were doing a job. They took pride in what they were doing and made the best of it.

A while back, I can't give you the exact dates because our internet is down but that's not important. Here's the story, insurgents in another part of Iraq captured and tortured some Turkish contractors, warning everybody from Turkey leave the country or else. Soon afterwards our happy bunch of laundry people quit the laundry mat and KBR had to bring in people from the states.

Suddenly our laundry was messy, sometimes still wet or we would get back bags that were unwashed, one week we got back all of our laundry unwashed, not sure what was up with that. Today a load of laundry came back and there were bags missing. I had turned in two bags, one had my sheets and a few tee, socks and underwear. I got that bag back but the other bag with a set of cammies, flight suit and the rest of my tee shirts, socks and underwear didn't show up. So I'm stuck with what's on my back till it shows up. Well I'm almost out of here so it's not that bad but it still sucks. On the bright side at least my bags won't be that heavy.

I did get a bit pissed off and wanted rant and rave, but I didn't and I didn't smoke. So that's good. Other then my laundry turning up on the MIA list not much else is happing to me personally, some other units are seeing quite a bit of action but you'll have to check out the news to see that, I'm not going to tell the stories third hand. I'm looking forward to going home.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Another Safe Return

These last few flights I've actually been nervous, could be because of that post I did a while back about all the bad things that happen I the last month of the deployment. Or those stories you hear about "that poor guy" who was supposed to go home in a couple of days but catches a bullet. I don't want to be him! It didn't bother me months ago when I had a bunch of missions ahead of me. I'm just being superstitious, seems to be in the air lately.

Just got back from a CASEVAC standby a couple of hours ago, we do that standbys when somebody on the ground is doing some sort of high risk operation and they need someone to come and get them real quick in case something goes wrong, I'm there to handle the injured. Unless something goes wrong, our job is to just sit and wait till we get the call. We gear up and fly to a forward operating base to get closer to the action. It was a peaceful flight out there, flew over one of the lakes and it was so calm that you could see the stars reflected in the water. We landed and topped off the tanks and picked up a few packs (people that are flying that aren’t crew) and flew to another smaller base to wait. The helicopter I fly in is a CH 46's and if you wonder what you what they look like check out my fotopage, there must be hundreds of pictures scattered around. They're known for being somewhat rough in the flying department, meaning they vibrate more then other helicopters. I've been flying in them so long that in the air, unless something is broken, I don't even notice. The only time that it bothers me is when we ground turn or taxi. On the ground the aircraft sitting still the aircraft the interior of the aircraft is doing fast little 3 inch circles, shaking and rattling and wallowing in a cloud of hot exhaust. Sure it's safer being on the ground waiting, no body shooting at you and no injured people in the back. But the bird is shaking so much that it's hard to do anything except make noises like you do when someone is tapping your chest, not that anyone would hear you due to the noise. Reading becomes a chore which I try anyway, you have to use both hand and anchor your elbows to your ribcage, note, not your belly, to keep the movement of the book in time with the movement of your head. If you mess up you get motion sickness, some people do anyway. I've never thrown up from it but do get nauseated and feel like crap for a couple of hours. Each 46 is different, the oldest is 40 years old as of a couple of months ago, some don't shake that much on the ground while others feel like a bully holding you up by your shirt and shaking you, he didn't get my lunch money last night but it was a close thing. I'm famous for being able to fall asleep anywhere but last night I fell asleep for a half hour and my mouth and jaw were sore from my teeth bashing together. Should have wore my mouth guard from martial arts. We were only ground turning for 3 hours and I've done it for twice that time and it didn't bother me this much, I sure was glad when we took off and went home.

Monday, August 09, 2004

My buddy, Won

Won and I met 6 years ago when she was out from California for a visit and I was still in the Navy. Just a quick hi, how are you, you're cool and I love your mom's Pad Thai. Then hardly saw each other for the next couple of years. I got out of the Navy and was attending school at Arizona Automotive Institute and received an associate of occupational science in Autotronic's and moved up to Prescott Arizona and started working the field. Around this same time, Won who was living in San Fran was going through some serious life changes and decided to relocate to the same town where my mom and her parents live with a population of 2000 people. Meanwhile I was working at a garage and hanging out with my best friend Larry. I had left the service with a bad taste in my mouth, my ex-wife was sleeping with one of my coworkers who was married with 4 kids and my command was taking her side trying to saying it was my fault. It was the highest stressed part of my life, I was slowly going crazy and went to work every day wanting to end somebody. So I did the proper thing and ran away. Took on a new mantle that had nothing to do with my prior life. By the time I arrived in Prescott I had been out of the Navy for a year and a half and did all the things that are not associated with being in the Navy, you know grow your hair long and such. My best friend Larry and I were attending weekly open mic poetry readings at one of the local watering holes. It's kind of like blogging in front of a crowd with a beer in your hand. Some of the best times of my life and I met some really good people who didn't believe I was ever in the military. Well I was out at my mom's house one weekend and ran into this dislocated and disoriented girl that looked to be going through some shell shock from her transplant from San Francisco (I think our parents were trying to get us to hook up). She seemed bit lost and depressed. This is a totally understandable reaction for having just moved to Seligman. The town has to be absorbed in steps, on Route 66 with it's odd characters and all the tackiness implied with that. She was a fish out of water so being the knightly figure that I imagined myself being, I placed her under my wing and took it upon myself to introduce her to the dark side of Prescott night life which included our Thursday night jaunts to the poetry reading. All she need was a finger to point her in the right direction and she was off, when she read people sat up and listened. Needless to say she's way smarter then I and after the first time she read there, she owned the place. Soon we were all hanging out all the time and just passing time. Then 9/11 happened and it made me take a hard look at my life, where was I going, I had a talent for helping people and nothing I was doing at that point in my life was helping anybody. I was coasting and when you're coasting, you're going downhill. So I made a visit to our local recruiter and signed back up. And our last weekly trip together to the Poetry reading, Won wrote this poem for me and after she was done reading it there wasn't a dry eye in the house. (I took this off her blog)

I say that he is joining in Navy
Or that he is moving away
Or that I'm helping him pack
I avoid saying
That he is going to war
And that I am scared
I avoid saying
That my heart is breaking
A thousand times all over again
I avoid saying
I can not take one more
Of my friends dying
I avoid screaming at God
How come you can't
Just leave me alone for a awhile
I try to put on my happy face
But I fail
I am proud of him
I love him
He is no longer sensitive ponytail man
He has been shorn into a beautiful
Monk, ready to sacrifice
Ready to jump to help the helpless
I admire him, but I still don't want him to go
I avoid telling him that may heart is breaking
A thousand times all over again
I am learning to pray ceaselessly to a deity
I'm not sure I really believe in
Keep him safe keep him safe keep him safe

I left her and Larry behind, our friendship hasn't lessened but that chapter of our life was over, don't worry Won, it's not the end of the story, love you.

Lack of smoking has caused my brain to boil

The Internet cafe is open again after the powers that be shut it down for a week for someone stealing or misplacing one of the Gateway laptops that's used there. The cafe was shut down as punishment to everybody for the dork that did this deed. After what these computers have gone through the guy who took it is an idiot and I hope they catch the rat, we have no room for thieves and idiots out here. Personally I don't think these computers are worth even the weight of just carrying them home but I'm somewhat snobbish about my computer equipment. Every one of these computers has been operating in the temperatures of over a 120 degrees daily, not joke, for months at a time, about a third of them are fried, most like from all of that heat, it's amazing that the rest are still running. Posting pictures on my fotopage hasn't been the most comfortable thing, daily I sweat at least a bottle of water out just sitting in there during these summer months and the computers are slow and lock up all the time. Five years ago having an internet cafe and cheap phone calls wasn't possible. I have a few beefs with the people that run the place, not bitching about the service, it's great, just local powers that control it. The things I'm complaining about are all easy fixes that any single person in the chain of command that run the place could take care of in a couple of lunch break but they seem to be dense mules that don't want to step out of their nice air conditioned offices. What happened with customer service? It's a service they offer and you're supposed to take care of the people you're serving. Guess they weren't brought up with good work ethic. I'm actually being nice in my wording in case they actually read this and shut the place down because someone complained about it or bar me from going there. The service is better then anyone should expect being in a war zone but our local delivery blows.

Here's what's on my beatdown(tm) list:

1) Our internet cafe has one A/C that doesn't seem to blow out cold air at all, we have A/C units sitting all over base and it wouldn't be hard to request one. Considering how bad heat is for computer equipment and how pissed off they get over one piece of lost gear, wouldn't they want to protect it better? Not to mention make it more comfortable for us, it's hotter inside the tent with the A/C on then outside.
FIX: requisition one, once piece of paper with maybe 6 lines filled out and within a week a new A/C unit is sitting out back.

2) The administrator is too lazy to install updates to instant messengers so none of them have worked in months, that means webcams don't work either. They were shut down for a week, couldn't somebody stop by there and do the updates during this time?
FIX: Sign in as administrator for an hour, have the internet duty people help you download and install messengers on all the computers

3) Over the past two to three months, a bout a chair a week breaks, instead of getting replacement chairs, they had about half of the people either on their knees or sitting on broken chairs that are ready to break at any second, how ghetto is that? Chairs are cheep and plentiful, even out here. This should have been considered a quality of life issue but no one seemed to care.
FIX: Take a truck around base an pick up all the lawn furniture sitting around, cost price of gas.

4) How come we're the only base out here that won't let you plug your personal laptop in? Well I'm not sure if we're the only base. With the cooling problems I'm not even sure if I would want plug mine in anyway. This is a slacker issue is with the administrator.
FIX: Write up a one page SOP (Standard operating procedure) to place in the internet duty binder for proper procedure of setting up IP addresses on personal computers, doing a virus scan with a software disk and making sure user turns off P2P software that might be running. Cost nothing and shorter lines

Do I even have room to bitch? Sure I do, I just quit smoking, got to do something with those excessive creative energies. Besides, I'm leaving soon and all of the above should be common sense, but I know that's not issued. These are all easy fixes and I have talked to the guy that runs the place about them and he gave me a remarkable show of indifference just a couple of months ago. I don't like being made into a non-entity so for that alone it gives me reason enough to write this and added to the fact that they shut the place down for a week for somebody stealing or misplacing a computer that was likely fried in the first place takes the cake. Why didn't they send it in to get fixed, they're only a year old and probably still under warranty? Instead they break and just sit there taking up a slot at the internet cafe, occasionally the slacker computer "guru" with much complaining, gets one up and running but the broken ones just stay there and collect dust. Okay that was my bitch for the day and now stepping down from my rant.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Old habits die hard

I would like to say that I'm doing something interesting with my life out here but I will have to say nothing of interest is happening unlike some of the other bloggers out here. ordering supplies for our replacements, gathering up records and just hanging out. My partners in crime our here have lately taken to calling me names because I've become a quitter. Yes I'm now an ex-smoker and they're giving me hell trying to break through my quitting attitude, every time they walk out "Want a cigarette?", I'm holding out though. Yeah I know, I'm the medical guy and supposed to know better and I do but knowing and doing are two different things. A couple of weeks ago I was stressing out and decided I needed to do some changes in my life. So I dropped the smoking habit and now trying to find ways to fill the time that I wasted smoking. The biggest problem I've found is that I miss smoking and reading. My daily staple, I've noticed that my reading has slowed down a bit, another habit that could use some trimming, yes there is such a thing as reading too much. At least my blogging has increased.

I've also fallen into the world of The Soprano', I'm not much of a TV watcher but this series has dug in like a bad herion habit, at least I'm not alone in this. The entire squadron can't stop watching it. All the shops are on a different DVD in the series, we finish one and pass it to the next shop and pick up the next DVD from the shop before us, as a unit we're going to be finished with the series in a week. It's actually a good deal for the entertainment offered for 65 bucks a pop, I'm letting somebody else pay for my fix this time though. If my unit ran with the innate organization that we're using in watching The Soprano's, our unit would be one smooth running machine. I hate the thought of thinking of my self as a slacker but we're about to start season four, so take it easy.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

on reading

Okay if you know me then you know I'm a reading fool. It's almost a sickness that on some days I wish I was without but it does give me almost endless entertainment no matter where I go. Thanks to the people at Books for Soldiers, Amazon.com and the libraries of books left behind in almost every building out here, I haven't even come close to running out of books to read. With my job you could say I'm in reader heaven.

After you get into the thousands of books read, reading becomes a search for those touchstone books, books that sink into your head like a stone. The words printed on the page whisper a cadence into your subconscious mind. These books come back like friends years after you've read them and you have no problem returning to the world the author imagined for you. The search for these books is addictive but once found you gather them up and infect your normally not reading friends with them. Those innocent lines, "read this for a day and tell me what you think". My favorite book to pass on this way is a masterpiece by Robert McCammon called Boy's Life. Remember when you were a child and the world was still a big and magical place, what happened? You grew up and lost that spark. Well if you want it back, this is the book for you. After passing out countless copies, I would have to say it's changed more lives then any one thing I've done. I've started my own private little church of Boy's Life converts that are out there spreading the word.

After guiding these people to the light, I usually step back like a good drug dealer would and wait. I don't expect any body to start reading the amount of books that I do, such people only come around once in a blue moon, they are out there but I they don't usually advertise to the world the freaks that we are. I'm happy to have friends that read one book for every fifty that I've read. In reality I'm satisfied with people that have read a few from my collection of books I call my heavy books. This gives me a common ground to stand on and I'm sure deep down inside I use it as a test to discover who's human around me.

A week to a month later they come back to me, "Got any good books?" Hook, line and sinker. Then comes my second stage books, all people aren't interested in the same thing or have the same personalities. I'm still guiding them at this point, things that fit in here are books such as Ken Grimwood's Replay, Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, Charles De Lint's Trader or a new book I've just discovered, Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife.

A few words about The Time Traveler's Wife because it's new to my "heavy" book list. Henry has a problem with time, he involuntary slips out of it and finds himself naked somewhere else, usually in his past where he has to deal with the problem of finding himself clothes and just making due until he's dragged back into his present. Most of his travels back in time are spent trying to survive, he's paranoid about driving, he runs all the time in his present because he has to run away from things so often on his jaunts. He's become expert the basic tools of time traveling, picking pockets, locks and hand to hand fighting. Just because he time travels doesn't mean he can actually change anything, seems time is already written and everything he does happens because it's supposed to. The first time he travels is when he's 5 and he goes to a museum that he visited with his parents that day. There his older 24 year old self is waiting for him to explain about time traveling. Clare first meets Henry when she's 6 and he's 36 in a field behind her house and he befriends her and gives her the date of his next visit before disappearing back into the future where they're married. His next trip out he gets her to write down all the dates that he's going to appear and so the story starts. Niffenegger takes this unusual idea and brings it into this world with grace. As with the rest of my "heavy" books every word here has its place, weight and meaning. She knows where she wants to take you and she does it well. That's what makes a good book.

Reasons for getting people to read these books? These books change peoples worldviews and I believe give them better tools to cope. Hopefully it moves them towards being a better person. My other reason is selfish I guess, maybe I'm using it as a litmus test to uncover kindred spirits that enjoy the same things that I do. They might enjoy reading but they haven't been exposed to the spark that will set them ablaze and touched them to the core, somewhere out there they're just waiting to be uncovered, can you hear me?

Friday, August 06, 2004

the best Milblogger out here.

If you are curious about what's really happening in Mosul, you need to check out MY WAR - Fear And Loathing In Iraq , CB is the man on the ground and doesn't beat around the bush. I am in Awe of this guy's writing. He's telling the true story of what's happening on the ground and going more into the story then I would ever dream of. He deserves your attention, check him out.

PS This is a new site that I've found and think I'm going to be a regular at The Questing Cat which is one of the first group milblogs I've seen, the story that caught my interest though is when he writes about a visit to one of his friends in the hospital, it hits pretty close to home for me. Thanks for the leading me to the water Beth.

twilight of the deployment

I'm so close to coming home that I can almost taste it. My trip out here has been both good and bad, miss my loved ones back home but on the other hand I like the peace of not worrying about some of the drudgeries of everyday life (commuting, fast pace world, making decisions, etc). Coming home is going to be a good thing but it's going to take a little adjustment just to fit back in to society once more.

I'm in the twilight of my deployment this is one of the most dangerous times for a unit like ours. We lose focus and get distracted by the thoughts of home coming. There is definite increase in assorted mishaps, people get complacent and forget to take all the necessary steps. This is also the time where we get the most Dear John letters, relationships that were going great throughout the whole deployment suddenly fell apart or relationships that have been going sour for years seem to like to end at about this time to save having to do it face to face. I hear of the horror stories too, bank accounts cleaned out, checks written to the limit of the overdraft protection and all the service members possessions taken or busted up, sometimes all of this is topped off with a restraining order. I wish these types of things were urban legends but they seem to happen more often then I would believe possible and of course creeps me out to no end. It hasn't happened to any of my guys yet this time around with my unit (as far as I know, but it has happened to some of them before) and I hope it doesn't. We were doing great till a couple of weeks ago and the first wave of Dear John letters (or emails) was passed out. Suddenly there were people walking around looking like their dog was ran over, even the normally good relationship with my girlfriend is having some turbulence. My case I think it was mostly a case of some of the worse luck I've seen, it's still piling up for her and I hope some of it gets fixed before I get home. But it's looking bleak and I'm reassessing what I'm looking for in a relationship. We have more communication then most couples except for the phone hog guy (you know who you are if you read this!) who spends at least 3 hours at the phone daily but all the communication in the world won't replace love.

I belong to a spouse military message board, made up of mostly girlfriends and wives of service members (yes I'm an outsider and it is sort of odd because I'm the only active duty guy on there). It's a different window on my world. The big thing to making a relationship work from long distance is communication. It's hard to be supportive to someone that only writes home twice in 6 months, hardly ever calls and never emails (I'm a horrid letter writer, thank god for email). Yes there are those sort of people out here and they wonder why they get Dear John Letters, write dumbass! Support from back home is strong for the first couple of months then fades with the rigors of day to day life. The person left behind or the person out here sometimes ends up being a different person then they were at the beginning of the deployment. They like the life they've slipped into, for some of the younger spouses this is the first time they've been on their own, others are lonely and have turned to others for comfort or realized being a military spouse is all that it's cracked up to be and now seems like the perfect time to break it off. This strikes them like a bolt from the blue when they realize that they're not happy and might have to go through all of this again. The person that is being broken up with doesn't have a clue because the other has been hiding it from them hoping all of this time that maybe they would recover some of the love that they felt or would stop feeling the way that they're feeling. Then it's only a month to go and it hasn't stopped so it's time to spill the beans.

My advice to the service member who gets one of these D.J. letters, emails or phone calls is first off is stop and think about what you're about to say to your significant other before you scream it out. As long whatever mean words you want to say stay in your head they can be called back. It's hard to take back harsh words that have exploded out of your mouth in anger. Before those words are spoken there is a higher chance to make things right down the line. You might be able to cuss and scream and yell and make her feel really bad or scared for the twenty minutes you have at the phone center. Just remember, this person that you've yelled into submission and that is now pissed off and wants to damage something, has all of your prized worldly possessions sitting right there to let their anger out on and likely a direct line to your bank account, remember my horror story earlier?

To the spouse back home my advice is to wait. You could be talking to one of the highest strung stressed out people in the world. Being it a war is no joke and this is a stressful time for both of you. All this does is wind that stress to a snapping point. You might think it's easier this way but have you though about how many suicides are caused in direct response to a receiving a Dear John Letter? Wait till they get home and talk it though like adults and not sending a break up notes like you did in junior high school. It's no fun for the rest of us either having to deal with this person either, he's like a plague of depression that goes around and is catching. He's stressed and wanting to damage something or somebody which is bad considering we walk around with a weapon and ammo at all times. So please wait till you get home!

Something that sometimes rears it's head prior to the Dear John is the green eyed monster, jealousy. This doesn't do anybody one bit of good, period. If there was a way to get rid of one emotion this is the one I would get rid of first. You need to get your mind off of your home problems while you're out here, stressing on your undeserving coworkers isn't the way to go or getting depressed and wanting to knock yourself off. Killing yourself because you think you wife is sleeping around is a dumb way to die no matter how good it sounds at the time. Yeah, it seems like the end of the world but it's not worth ending it all because the psychological pain you're in. Ever have vertigo? It's when you're standing on a high object and feel like it's sucking you off the edge. This kind of pain is like that, depression is the big wall you're standing on and you feel yourself being sucked off the edge and a part of you wants that because it will end that feeling, don't give in. You need to find your way off this pedestal of pain that you've placed yourself on. People go through this kind of crap all the time and you're probably working with some of the best resources of being dumped long distance in the world. I know my unit has a bunch of them, they made it, talk to them and they can help you find safe ground to stand on. Yes even us medical folk are willing to lend a hand (or have been there). Don't turn this speed bump of life into head on collision with a Mac truck. Just move on, at least for now, let time sand off the edges, acting crazy eventually makes you crazy, get off the band wagon. Remember there's no honor in ending your life over a girl.

Only weeks to go, keep it together!