Sunday, October 29, 2006

Charles Simonyi

Is the next guy in the pipeline for going to the International Space Station. He retired from Microsoft a couple of years ago but if you don’t recognize the name, he oversaw the development of Microsoft Word and Excel. He’s a huge aircraft buff, I had the pleasure of meeting him when I was working the Aviation Medicine Department in China Lake back in the late 90’s. He had come in for a select passenger physical and had flown down in his own personal fighter jet, I think it was an F-5. He was talking to me and our IT/Optometry guy about MS Word and how he was directly responsible for that red line underneath misspelled words which probably ruined the spelling of half the world. He even sent Karl a book on Word a couple weeks later, imagine that, a billionaire who took the time to do this for a lowly HN. Very cool guy in my book.

Anyway, he’s going to be blogging about his trip like Anousheh Ansari did. Charles is a big computer nerd and probably googles his name to see what people are saying about him.

If you're reading this Charles, good luck with the training and the flight!

Knott's Berry Farm Veteran's Tribute Nov 1-23

I'm making up for some lost blogging time as you may see, one of the best military deals on the west coast. This is from their website. Check out the Silver Bullet, no, not the one I give silly, the ride at Knotts! (if you don't know what a silver bullet is, ask any Sailor or Marine)
Veteran's Tribute - Nov. 1 - 23 Knott's annual tribute to our Military, past and present. FREE admission for Veterans or current serving military personnel and one guest with proper I.D. presented at turnstile. Plus purchase up to six additional tickets for just $10.95 each! Ends November 23, 2006

And tell them thanks for the support while you're there.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

A picture worth a thousand words

Todd Heisler The Rocky Mountain NewsThe night before the burial of her husband's body, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the casket, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her, tucking in the sheets below the flag. Before she fell asleep, she opened her laptop computer and played songs that reminded her of 'Cat,' and one of the Marines asked if she wanted them to continue standing watch as she slept. "I think it would be kind of nice if you kept doing it," she said. "I think that's what he would have wanted."

Go read the rest of Final Salute.

(hat tip Bianca)

Medical needs more bodies

I’ve been watching on how the military I beefing up the numbers of people to handle the wartime workload. On paper it’s looking good, everybody but the Navy Reserve is meeting their recruiting goals (they’re 1500 down). Being at the tip of the spear and going into harms way the way, the Army and Marine Corps are staying ahead. They’re offering huge bonus’s to their service people and bonus’s for people to cross from blue to green without losing rank.

Meanwhile the Navy and Air Force are getting smaller and smaller chunks of that financial pie because we’re not on the front lines and all of our gear isn't being revamped. And since the Navy isn’t at the tip of that proverbial spear, do you know who’s suffering the most?

Navy medicine.

While the Army medics who are doing basically the same job as we do are getting huge bonuses, us corpsman aren’t getting squat (at least the Fleet Marine Force corpsman), even the Marines we go with getting good bonuses. On paper our numbers look good, in some cases we’re above what’s required but there doesn’t seem to be a change in actual numbers from no to the numbers used before the war. In reality we’re sending close to one in a half times the medical people forward per unit then they get in peace time. Where are these extra people coming from? We’re borrowing people from the hospitals and the non deployed units to fill in those deployed holes and leaving their coworkers to take up the slack. Which tasks us as individuals to be deployed forward more then the people we actually cover.

This sticks out more when you get a large group of sailors an Marines in the same room in the post deployment briefs. When the chaplain asked who had been over 3 times or more, most of the medical people raised their hands with a handful of Marines in a group of 200 or so. The Corpsman who replaced me? It’s his forth time.

Of course you could say, “Hey, why don’t you cross over and go green?”

That’s not the answer either; I’ve hung out with some of those Striker guys who have been extended. They’re not happy campers, there’s a reason why they’re getting the huge bonuses and there are some things that money can’t buy, that is if you’re smart.

What I’m saying is that there is something broke in the system that I’m working for. Navy Medicine is goes everywhere the Marines go and we’re going forward and getting shot up as much as our brothers. We’re doing a extra large workload with fewer bodies. Our piece time numbers are being used for a wartime mission and we’re hurting. When we come back to the states, we’re working harder then ever, there’s more training taskers and we’re losing corpsman who only have a few years to retire because they can’t handle the high Op tempo and having such a high work load. I’m not one of them because I actually like my job (most of the time) but I see the signs all around me. Work isn't fun anymore.

The medical department is scarred and I think there are going to have to make some huge changes before we’re back in shape.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A week out

I was driving to work the other day and it hit me that I was home. No more port-a-johns, being able to walk around the house without shower shoes or for that matter clothes and waking up to a kiss. There is so much color and movement, everything is eye candy that I’m sure will fall back into a normal tone in a couple of weeks but I’m taking advantage of the wonder that my eyes see.

Taking some leave after the Marine Corps Ball and heading back home to Arizona to let the family know that I’m alive and none the worse for wear following my Iraqi adventure. Ahh, it’s good to be home. Sorry about the boring posts but I’m enjoying life and haven’t had much time to write about it.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Back in San Diego

Made a very smooth trip out of the middle east, I must be getting used to flying around the world. I’m at home safe and sound but I can’t come out and play because I’m grounded to my room. Thanks for reading and the support, I’ll be back up for air in a couple of days. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Kuwaiting take 6

For the sixth time in my life, I am Kuwaiting, it's sort of like the Purgatory you go through before going back into real life. Just about every time I come to Kuwait, it seems like I'm going to a new base and they say the base I was at last time was closed down. This new base as usual, is just another plot of sand in the middle of vast desert. I'm not sure there is a rhyme or reason for picking most of these places or if there is, I don't know about it. I'm mildly unhappy about the endless trek across the sand just to get food at the chow hall, you couldn't go further away on this base then we are. It doesn't matter what the name of the base is but it always seems Marines always get the worst piece of real estate. Each meal is a debate on whether or not I'm feeling hungry enough to search for substance.

On the bright side, we're doing customs here in Kuwait instead of Iraq so we don't have to pack our shower gear in our carry-on (mine is full of computer gear and meds). So when I do get on the plane, I'll be somewhat fresh. And I'm glad we're allowed toiletries on the plane ride back too. At least I can brush my teeth.

In reality, these are just observations, do I really care? Not really. I'm going home to be with my wife! And to sleep in my own bed and back to the land of wireless internet! You don't know how much you're missing till it's all taken away from you. I'm thankful for each day I get to spend in the states.

And as for being sent to a war, I didn't have it bad at all, my weapon was never discharged, never had a set of crosshairs pointed at me and all of my people made it back with all of their fingers and toes. Our chow hall was vastly improved the dismay of my belt, 6 flavors of ice cream! I'm going to miss the free ice cream, that was an unexpected surprise, kudos to whoever decided ice cream would chase away some of our homesickness. I'm going to miss the extra pay but you can't really put a value on the missed birthdays, holidays and worry you have about being away from your family. And believe me, I know I had it good, I've talked to many of the Striker guys who got extended, talk about a bunch of unhappy campers. I've talked to people who's whole life is doing patrols and convoys, that fear of getting blown up daily builds up like lead poisoning. Every body has their limit on how much they can hold and I'm sure the images and actions that they've experienced are going to carry over to their return.

I've been blessed with a loving wife who wrote me an actual letter each day, who has never been too tired to answer the phone and was always sending surprising care packages filled with stuff that I'm sure no one else out here ever received. Grass jelly drinks, odd things from different import stores that she had seen me pick up, interesting food or drink that she discovered while I was gone. I couldn't have picked a better life partner, how many wives out there think correspondence is romantic or enjoy as many strange foods as I do? Not too many husbands say that they never want to be away from their wives but I do. You can't buy the support and love that she has given me. Thanks hun.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Where I stand with Google

Just a brief post about some of the search terms people used to find their way here.

"sailors deployed in iraq not calling home" I'm somehow number one, yet I call home every day.

"soldiers cheating while deployed to iraq" I'm also number one yet if you know me, I worship the ground my bride walks on.

I'm number 15 for "spider video", ok, I can see that.

"Navy Iraq" I'm number 7, wow, do you know how many Sailor's are out here? Lots.

"navy corpsman" I'm also number 7

"iraq corpsman" I'm number 5

Okay, how in the hell did I become number 10 for "asshole cleaning slave"?!?!

Sheesh! Anyhow, my time in this wasteland is almost done, looking foward to returning to the land where there are other colors besides brown and seeing the color riot of my brides hair. Being able to take a regular bath and drink a beer at the same time. Eat pizza that actually tastes good and not having to put on a stitch of clothing. If you don't see me for a while, it's because I'm busy doing other very important things. Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Monday, October 09, 2006

One of my Marines wrote this Poem

I clutch to your every resonance as though they were your last.

You continue to utter the exact words my soul desires.

I crave more, I want more!

Some instances I feel remorse. I feel more than regret.

The distance frustrates me.

I must stay focused, I tell myself.

I worry, can you handle it?

A temporary leash applied at will.

A letter size paper, 4 bold digits above.

Your voice, secluded to a telephone "hello", "hey baby".

With your every reply I fall.

The dreaded words "time is up" sounds in the back ground.

Once again my soul plummets.

A thought crosses my mind.

Something of yours.

Something to hold me over.

The arrival of dispatch, leads to an emotional frenzy.

The enclosure formal, yet so personal.

I notice the color in the characters.

I place you in an atmosphere.

As I read they hit me, one after the other.

The words, I play them throughout my head.

As I read I distinguish your tone. Your every pause.

A smile struggles through my face.

Once again my soul plummets.

A notification alerts me.
You're awake. I scurry to get the keys in order.

My fingers trying to out do each other.

Finally a period and the send button on a screen.


Another notification and my posture changes.

Anxiety overtakes me.

I begin to forget. So many things I would like to say.

An "I miss you baby", comes out and I thank my fingers.

"The forms and ways we can communicate will hold me over.

With tiny messages you bring color to my day.

A message from you, my dear, will always mean so much more.

I will call tonight".

Love me.

- Gourrick

Friday, October 06, 2006

Quarter of a million this week

I started my blog back in January of 2004 days before I left on my first trip to Iraq, I was in a different relationship and different unit.  I remember those first days in Kuwait thinking to myself, what in the world have I got myself into?  Almost everybody going forward from Kuwait had no clue, good or bad what the next 6 months to a year would hold for them or even if they would make it back.  My old SgtMaj said "Look at those Marines around you, some of them aren't going to make it back", I for one, am glad to see that he was proven wrong.  


Arriving at the same airbase that I am now, we received the welcome aboard brief where a SSgt told us, "We never get attacked her, we wear soft covers and no body armor".  Half an hour later we had one of the largest mortar attacks this base had ever seen seen and luckily only one person was killed and ironically, the guy who died was probably one of the only people on base wearing body armor because he was about to get into a tactical vehicle.  The hole in the road next to PX is a grim reminder to those who remember that night, no matter what anyone says, not to let our guard down and if your number is up, not much you're going to be able to do about it (that's my job).


It's been 2 years, 8 months and some change and Doc in the Box is about to float over that elusive quarter million mark.   That number might be pocket change to fellow bloggers like Lt Smash and Blackfive but it's a nice rounded number for me.  Blogging from the front lines isn't quite as cutting edge as it was when I first got started, there's literally hundreds of Milbloggers who have been forward not to count thousands of people with myspace.  And in reality?  My story has never been that exciting, just the story of an average midlevel Navy Corpsman's journey a dry foreign land, far from his loved ones, taking life one day at a time so he can make it back home in one piece.   I just never stopped writing the blog, over the years I've remained fairly consistent while many of my fellow Milbloggers stopped for one reason or another.


Don't expect too much excitement from my corner though, I'm slow and steady, for me to pull out my weapon and exchange fire with the bad guys would mean something was going really really wrong.   That's too exciting for my old bones!  If you're here chasing after war stories, there are plenty of Milbloggers out on the other side of the wife, kicking down doors, going on convoys and cruising the mean streets of Baghdad so many that I probably haven't read half of their stories.  Like me, they're out there doing their jobs, I just lucked out picking a somewhat safer one, well on this trip at least.


I'm proud to have given you, my readers, a glimpse into the world seen though my eyes over the last couple years, probably somewhat different from yours but not totally alien either.   I'm as human, a flawed as the next guy, my politics are delightfully murky and I do have a diabolical sense of humor.  I hold high standards of honor and trust, I don't cheat, lie or steal (not withstanding yesterdays blog post, everyone involved came out ahead, my son got his games, my friends were taken care of, AAFEES got ride of their stock that they must have been desperate to get rid of and my Marines got a product that wasn't available here at a sharply discounted price and I got my Game Cube with few games, can't fault me for using my brain!)


For reader's both old and new, thank you joining me so far on this journey and thank god, this trip out here is almost done.  

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Safe back at my home away from home

With Ramadan going on, most of the fun trips off base have been canceled and there are hordes of upset troops but not I.   I was perfectly happy staying on base, I would have liked the deep sea fishing trip but alas, I'll have to wait till some later date back in the states.  Instead I went on an orgy of surfing the internet and phone calls home.   I went around MySpace posting messages strange messages on everybody in my friends list, don't want them to think that they're long lost friend Sean had went to the other side of the earth and fallen off.   Also updated many of my blog links (whew, lots of dead links), downloaded all of the patches for the laptop and responded to mails from all over.  Being the nerd that I am, I was totally satisfied with that.  Did also use the driving range, play a couple rounds of miniature golf, played Unreal Tournament, ate at the excellent chow hall, played deathmatch Halo on an X-box 360 (very nice on big screen) and in my journeys around base, I discovered the best deal going in the Middle East.


The base PX was having a sale on X-box, PS2 and Game Cube games.  Outside they had this sign hanging that said 75 percent off video games, which would be about 10 bucks er game but I got in there and 75% of the games were priced at 4.99 which is actually 87.5% off, a big difference and no one was even browsing though them!  Huh, what were people thinking, this must be an Army base.   Almost all of the Game Cube and PS2 games were going for that price and a half of the X-box games, the other sale games were going for 7.99 to 15.99.  Dance Dance Revolution (of which I have no urge in getting for myself), normally 60 bucks was going or 15 (on of my Filipino coworkers raves about it, I think it's a Filipino thing because my nieces and nephews who are Filipino live for the game), I also got some Eye Toy games between 7 to 14 bucks including the Eye Toy.   My son who rarely reads this blog is going to get a big surprise in a week or so, wish I were around to catch his expression on film when he opens that box.   4.99 is a cheap price to pay for a bit of happiness and his box has been safely mailed off along with similar care packages to some of my other video game playing friends back in the states, most of my Christmas shopping is done!  


Being of the Dustman clan and member of the sometimes shifty eyed Corpsman group, I know a good deal when I see it.   My sea bag which was mostly empty when I arrived is now full to stretching and I now own one of the largest personal collections of video games in Iraq and I don't even own a system!   My base sells out of these titles fairly quickly and what I did pick up is barely a dent compared to what they sell.  But my guys have been looking for this stuff and I've always believed you need to take care of your shipmates.   The only profit I'm in for is to break even (and maybe purchase a game system (Game Cube, 99 bucks low end system, sorry Barb, don't want to be greedy) to use with the excess games).

Monday, October 02, 2006

The sound of sadness

I was talking on the phones at the USO to my wife and the guy next to me started sobbing uncontrollably. I didn’t say anything to her but for the final 5 minutes of our conversation, the sound of his hushed sobs were ringing in my ears, what could cause this grown man so much sadness? Earlier I heard him talking about making command decisions, (I wasn’t trying to overhear couldn’t help catching a word here and there because we were in a small room and he had a clear distinct voice), everything sounded alright till suddenly he broke down and started crying. He was older then me (gray hair) and it sounded like the floodgates of anguish just opened up and overwhelming him, maybe he was doing a telephone revival? It’s been a long time since I’ve felt anything even close to the anguish that he was going through. With all sharp emotions, your mind tends to blank the badness out so I can’t even really name that instance that I’ve felt the way he sounded. It was spooky.

Listening to him cry made me think about my self and evaluate how I was handing being out here. So I did a mental defrag on my personal processor and all I came up with is not too bad, I’ve had a sad night or two but that’s is, while I do miss my wife like mad but I am far from a basket case. I know what loneliness is like having spent years of my life in that state and I know I’m not feeling that emotion right now. I know with out a single doubt in my head my wife is right there, we communicate daily and the only why we could improve our communication is to develop telepathy.

Being the geeky boy that I am, I have developed natural loneliness coping skills. I’m not the guy who’s going to go crazy in solitary if anything I prefer the solitude to crowds but can live with either. I do like people and I like seeing friends but I have to work at being a social animal because it’s not my natural environment. You see people like me all the time, they sit in the corner of the cafeteria and read books while eating, we’re a little apart from everybody else, we’re not the popular kids and got picked on for being nerdy. Most of us are unhappy and would have given anything to be popular, as I got old I realized that popularity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. These days, the only people that I care about being popular with are the ones in my life. I’m a grown up happy geek and no one picks on me these days.

In my bride, I’ve really found a perfect kindred spirit, a fellow geek and loner, she anchors me down to earth and is the rock that keeps the turbulence of like from washing me away. Without her, that crying guy could have been me, if I had married someone who didn’t understand me from the inside, just the presence of someone like my wife has given me a shield that protects me from much of the negative emotions that come with deploying. I’m an easy going guy and there were many times in my life where it would have been easy to settle with someone else and I could have made it work. The problem is I was lonely during all of those relationships, there wasn’t a single day when I didn’t ask myself, is there more then this? Most people do that and learn to live with their mate, me? I’ve been lucky and was born to live with mine, she’s my matching odd duck, the other pea in my pod who looks at the world through the same tint in her rose colore glasses, I was lonely all of my life before I met her and she chased that lonely feeling away and I haven’t felt it since. I couldn’t have imagined a girl like her and I have a fairly fertile imagination. Thanks hun for marrying me and keeping me from being lonely and sad the rest of my life.


Some other milbloggers are talking about phone calls home too, there's no way around it, it's tough being away from home for a year.

Spouse Buzz, I love you too
Jack Army "What will we do with out you?"
Sgt Hook, The Other Man