Friday, March 31, 2006

Made it safely to Iraq

I'm on the ground and just got done with my first breakfast in country, I've only been gone a little over a year and the entire place has got a facelift. The MWR building is finally open, there's local guards everywhere and we now have a Burger King, Subway and Pizza Hut. It's going to take a strong will to stick to my diet!

We have comfort trailors with real toilets! What is this world coming too? The dust is the same and my nose is already stopped up but as before, that will pass. I'm off to explore, take care.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Picture from the Solar Eclipse

And pictures from our trip out can be found here. Middle of the night and I tried as hard as I could to stay up all day but fell asleep right after the eclipse and woke at midnight, just in time for MIDRATS (meal that they serve around midnight). It’s a mix of breakfast and dinner foods, I had French toast, a slab of some kind of fish, wax beans and sweet tea then walked over to the phone center to call the lovely wife. Nice pleasant boring day, just how I like it (when the doc is bored, everyone is happy). Miss home and cuddling though.

Want to see a snapshot of my life 10 years ago?

Go over to Pete's post about finding me online, he tells it better then me. Oh, I plead the fifth.

Kuwaiting for a bit

For the fifth time, I’m Kuwaiting till we make our move up north, not sure where I’m going to post this yet, for I am still sitting on the bus. Flew over here in an old 767, I’m used to flying Southwest and these were smaller seats then that. I had the distinct luck to find myself sitting between two large Marines and at each stop, I had to unpeel my self from the seat and stumble about without feeling in my legs for half an hour.

I’m with the same squadron as my last trip but an entirely new medical crew. Not flying CASEVAC this trip, letting the other two corpsman take the lead will I man the Leading Petty Officer position (flying the desk), I’ve flown enough my last two trips over.

This trip has been much more subdued then the prior ones, no crowds to see us off and we didn’t stop to see the huge support crowd in Maine. More then 2/3’s of the guys in my squadron have been over here before and there are 20 or so like me on their third trip. It’s odd to think that the business of war has become routine to many of us. It’s just another deployment with occasional bits of hostile fire and having to wear heavy body armor. Not to mention the lack of time off, alcohol, color or sex.

Dreamed of my wife on the way over, cupping the side of her face in my hand it seemed so real then I woke up and was cupping my piggy travel pillow (at least it wasn’t the guy next to me). I miss you hun and I’m very happy to have you in my dreams, be safe and I love you.


Had my first meal out here, steak and lobster and it was pretty good! Conditions have improved much since the last time I was here and it seems like a ghost town compared my prior trips, shorter lines and better service.

I've also gotten here in time to see the solar eclipse that's supposed to happen in a half hour or so. I’ll see what kind of filters I can dig up for my camera and post a few pictures (if they turn out that is).

Saturday, March 25, 2006

out of the blue

It’s been a strange week, I’ve been hearing from important people in my life whom I haven’t heard from in years. Pete from the prior post and my best friend from high school, Justin. Figures this would happen right before my next Iraqi adventure, it’s been great catching up. Justin was my brother from another mother and a decade ago, we lost touch. Many bit and stories that make me the person that I am were intertwined in his life and Larry’s (my other best friend). Together, we had a blessed coming of age and some of our adventures will still be told when we’re in nursing homes.

I’m happy with the people we’ve grown up to be, Larry’s a great dad, Justin’s an RN and I’m just happy to know I have people like these in my life. Even with going to Iraq shortly, I know I have web of support of people that care about me and have stuck with me through the years.


Monday, March 20, 2006

Caught up with an old friend

It’s a small world, an old corpsman buddy of mine, HM2 Peter Gutierrez, found his way here from an old news story about me and now has a blog of his own. I've been wondering what had happened to him all of these years. If you’re interested in what’s happening in Camp Lemonier, Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, he tells a great tale. We went out on our first deployment together as young HN’s in the mid nineties. Back in the day, he was always up for joining me on any of my wacky adventures and a willing partner for all sorts in interesting trouble. Rappelling off of? Roller hockey? Cave exploring? Down hill extreme rollerblading on one lane Japanese roads? Now that I think about it, we're lucky to be alive. Many stories, some of which should stay safely buried Pete!

Look forward to catching up in person when we both come home from our separate deployments.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Started out with a good plan this morning, leave work at 11 to go up to Long Beach and pick up a moped that my mom had shipped back from Thailand. Sure, no problem mom. After a couple of calls yesterday to the shipping company, I found that I needed to clear customs first in Long Beach, then take the clearance paperwork to the shipping company in Compton and pick up the 400 pound package from Torrance. Sheesh, this is sounding like a bit of work. Oh well, I’m the good son.

So Heather and I head out and the skies open up and it’s raining cats and horses and as usual with California, traffic ground to a screaming halt. 3 hours later, I’m on the 8th floor of the customs building chatting with a couple of customs agents with the bill of landing, arrival and the packing slip in hand (which the shipping guy said was all the paperwork that I needed). The nice customs folk, after looking over this small stack of paperwork (yes they were very nice about it) said I also need the bill of sale and information on the model. So I call my mom get her to fax what she has. The 5 pages pop out and they look at it for a minute then bring it to me and say, “We can’t use this, it’s in Thai, you’ll need to get it translated, notarized and then have the moped certified by DOT before picking it up”

Good grief, what a way to spend one of my last Fridays in the states!

So, I leave defeated with my tail between my legs and we take PCH all the way back down the coast (it was much faster then the parking lot that 405 had become on a Friday afternoon). Made a stop for for Thai food at a place called Your House Restaurant on the way.

Got home and my roommate’s welcome home party was going full swing (not my going away party because I wasn't supposed to be home). We passed our greetings and went upstairs to watch the new Doctor Who in the SciFi channel. We’ll go back down afterwards.

Monday, March 13, 2006

One of my last weekends here

My roommate James has just returned from his 6 month deployment to Japan and I’m in my final days before my newest Iraqi adventure. It has been a good weekend, my new computer came in on Friday, an HP Pavilion dv5000z (MCE) with a 2.0GHZ Turion processor.

My first take, very sleek, I’ve been typing unplugged an hour and a half and it still has half of its power. Lighter then my Toshiba, screen and sound are years ahead and it has a 100 gig hard drive gives me a bit more room. My only problem so far is that it doesn’t seem to like my 250 gig Simple Tech hard drive, a after a couple of minutes of working, it develops an error in reading information. Not sure why. After I ran it through the USB hub and it worked fine, no worries I guess.

My gear is packed up and I’m dotting all of the i’s and crossing all of the t’s. Emails of support are already coming in, thanks Josh, Linda, Debbie, Vicki and Deborah. Plus the numerous other usual suspects, you know who you are. Well I’m off to bed, have a great night everyone.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Busy Pre-Deployment Life

Sorry I haven’t been updating much lately, busy trying to squeeze as much life out of my last weeks here, both at home and at work. Speaking of which, busy busy busy, many shots to give, much blood to suck out of veins and bodies to examine. We’re getting all the blocks checked in our pre-deployment lectures and work ups. Rifle ranges, smelly gas chambers, power of attorneys and wills. Glasses need to be ordered, dog tags made and all of the records accounted for.

This is my third time doing this and even though there seem to be a million moving parts, it seems to be a fair bit easier each time I have to go through this. So no sweat. I have a strong wonderful wife backing me up, I’m married to the girl that dreams are made of. I couldn’t have picked a better wife who suits me to a T. I hate going away from her but I know after we met, nothing out there could compare and I have faith in what we have.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

ABC News Story and the Zogby poll

Well written story on what happens to some of us when we get back from the war zone.

Soldiers Describe 'Emotional Roller Coaster' Upon Return From War

I'm leaving shortly to go back to Iraq for the third time but I didn't see one road side bomb, have to look at a weapon pointed in my eye or have to injure another human being. Did treat a lot of injured folk though and had rounds bounce off my aircraft but I didn't go out each day thinking that I could die at any minute. There were moments when I said Oh S#!$, like the RPG that blew up right in front of my aircraft and flying through the smoke or the first night in Iraq and we had that mortar attack on my first night in country (a first time for the base we were at).

My point is, I didn't go through what much of the ground guys did, yeah a shot here and there, some unexpect booms but my post traumatic scale has been pegged at a big fat 0 for quite a while. Not so for all the people in my shoes, many of my fellow sailors and Marines have turned into violent sleepers, see something on the side of the road and they veer across a couple of lanes of traffic and you almost feel them wanting to jump out of their skins or having a group of them have a scene like this. Their dreams act like positive reinforcement for each bad thing that happened to them or each horror that they saw and only time will tell how it will affect them for the rest of their lives.

There is a poll that was just released by Zogby International that says 72 percent of 944 troops deployed in Iraq say we should leave in 2006 (I'm not one of them), the percentage is higher for the reserves and National Guard 89 and 82 percent. While I think the number is a little high, I'm not entirely suprised at it. The numbers would probably be a bit different depending on which base you're at. This is the third trip over for some of the guys on the front line, almost getting blown up once is enough for most people, but they've had to do it daily for a year or two of their life, for a twenty one year old kid. That's 5 to 10 percent of his life spent dodging bullets, that's probably someone who's tired of coming over.

War isn't easy, specially for the us who have to fight it, but the military isn't a democracy. We go where we're told to go and try to do the best job we can. I still stand by the idea that pulling out quickly would be a bad idea.