Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My Baghdaddy vacation...

I sit down on a metal chair, complete with bent legs and a missing back piece, curtosey of the lack of care and extra weight of men lumbering down upon it with 60+ lbs. of gear affixed to their bodies. This chair will be my throne in this tiny castle, or should I say tomb, for the next 4 hours. I look over and see my grenadier who seems so comforable in the remnants of an officer chair stacked upon layers of sandbags, just high enough to be able to see over the machine gun and out the window of our fortified guard tower. This is going to be a long 4 hours. An hour is long in these towers, 4 hours feels like an eternity sometimes.

I reach in to my cargo pocket and pull out a half smoked pack of cigarettes. I just opened this pack not too long ago. Another consequence of mind numbingly boring guard positions. I struggle to reach the lighter in my pocket, simply because the act of arching my back and snaking my arm over the magazine pouches on my vest, extended farther out thanks to the armor piercing protective ceramic plate nestled in my kevlar body armor. I finally grab a hold of it, though be it by the tips of my fingers and retrieve it for a much need cigarette. Its been forever since my last cigarette, almost 30 minutes, and I'm dying to light up. I faithfully remeber that I can no longer smoke in the guard tower, so I prop the door open and slide my beaten chair across the sandy floor until the front two legs are resting beyond the lip of the door frame, that to me is the legal barrier between inside and outside of the guard tower. I casually sit forward putting myself more than half way beyond the legal barrier I have established. They taught me to round up in math class, so I'm rounding up to this action equating to my body being outside, not inside.

The sun is slowly begining to fall towards the horizon, giving the sky that ominous, dreary look, as oranges, reds and greys splash the sky. I sit there for a minute, with the cancer stick hanging from my lips, and relish in the moment that I am living it. The sounds of, if I had to guess, I'd say 5 Mosques blare at various volumes across the city that is my temporary home, thanks to the idea that US forces should live amungst the people they are working to protect. They should say, Infantry guys who's lives already suck at times due to the nature of their profession, shall be asked to suck some more by being forced to live within the browns and tans with little of the creature comforts that the life on even a small FOB offers. Oh well, I did sign up for it right?!?

The crisp evening air swirls around me as off in the distance the sounds of bullets flying begin to fill the air. It begins as it almost always does with a short burst or a few sucessive shots. There tends to be a silence follwing this initial fury of rage, which I assume has to do with whoever is being shot at trying to figure out where it came from. Then as expected there are more shots followed by the bellowing of a machine gun in response. A firefight has begun, and the sounds which have become so sweet to me, dance around in my ears, filling my head with pictures, memories and imaginations. Go figure, theres trouble in that neightborhood again. I finally bring my lighter to the cigarette which has been begging to be smoked, flick the switch and another destructive force, this one under my control, begins to burn away at the dried tobacco leaves containing the precious nicotine my body desires. How surrel is this? The sky, the sun, the lights, the chill, the calming (i know its crazy) effect of the sounds of a firefight just right up the road, the prayers being broadcast across the city praising Allah, and my sitting in my rinky dink chair, trying to absorb it all in. Yup, this is my slice of Baghdad; my home.

So that was my attempt at some "poetic" ramblings. Figured I'd try something new for a change. So yeah, as you can see its been a little bit since I last posted, but you can thank my vaccation at the 82nd Airborne Resort I had the privledge of living in and protecting for sometime. They blocked access to blogger at the outpost, so I am forced to survive in reading comments that get forwarded to my email and watching the counter on my page rise with each visitor. Speaking of, the counter a few days ago passed 50,000! Wow, that absolutely blows my mind. I would of never through when I put that thing on my page that it would get even remotly close to that. Still crazy to think about.

This trip to the outpost was the first time I ventured out in to the city since I got back from leave. Welcome home, goodbye "home" for a while. See you soon enough, or not soon enough. We ended up doing several patrols while out there, and those tended to be while it was dark out. Sometimes I like going out when its dark, because we can see pretty well and we are able to sneak around and its kind of fun. Othertimes, the green image of the nightvision gets annoying as shit. For these patrols, we were trying some new things and new ways of doing some tactics and got a nice system down for doing random vechicle searches. The purpose of which is to hopefully get "lucky" and to find someone transporting weapons, or bombs or whatever. So far no luck, but we have a great system now that works well, and its nice to do something differnt from just walking around. The first night we did this, I stepped out in to the road to stop the first car, but for some reason he didn't notice the flashing tac-light or the green laser beaming in to his front windshield. I tried yelling, but this proved futile since he had his windows up. He wasn't stopping and I was forced to quickly move out of the middle of the road and to test my rifle to ensure it still fired, by shooting a warning shot in to the air. The car screeched to a halt. Yup, she works just fine! :)

Also durring this time at the outpost, I got together enough guys to swing by the Ministry of Agriculture and talk to someone about getting shots for Charlie, a necessary step in getting him home to the US. I'll post more on this story on the website I have up dedicated to getting him back (link in the sidebar), but basically I was able to coordinate having the guy get the shots and swing by and administer them to him. He recieved a rabies vaccine and two others which I can't remeber what they were. Next time out I have to swing by and pick up the health certificate and that will leave the last step being getting him out of Iraq! I'm stoked that we were finally able to make this happen and I'm feeling very good about getting him home.

That about covers anything, exciting, fun or new that went on this time at the outpost. Pretty mundane as usually, and I'm sure as hell to be back on the FOB. Sometimes I wish I was a fobbit. Yeah that feeling usually passes quickly. I must admit time goes by quicker I think when we are going out and doing things all the time. Shoot we even had one of the desk guys come out with us for the week and a day of patrol. He enjoyed himself, but decided that he would enjoy his desk job more. I can't blame him!

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Anonymous said...

Just to let you know
thinking of you and
thanks for letting
us know what is REALLY
happening. Be safe.

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 11/20/2007 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...

Anonymous said...

I am posting a link to this piece on my blog. Your writing continues to develop and improve. You bring people with you and that is a gift as well as very important to your efforts and those of your brothers.

Anonymous said...

My son in with the 82nd at a COP and your postings help me to better understand what he is going through. Your comments reflect his views and I assume the majority of those in your situation. Keep up the good work and know that your words provide a small amount of comfort to a father far, far away from his daily life.

Sparkel said...

I enjoyed your "poetic ramblings". Started reading, and went, hmmm is this a guest blogger, a story being told, sup?

We all have much to be thankful for in the states, and its because of young men and women like you. Thanks!

Always Safe and God Bless

A saying one of my young soldiers uses.

Anonymous said...

Happy Thanksgiving! You all are in our thoughts and prayers...
Stay safe.

Ky Woman

membrain said...

Great post. Glad to here about Charlie. Take care.

Infantry Dad said...

Happy Thanksgiving Ed.
I hope you got a little time off, and a good meal.