My last night. It's Monday night here in Kuwait and we are off the airport and customs tomorrow. The plane leaves just after midnight, and we should be at home close to 1pm local time. I think we stop in Germany for gas, but it's 48 hours from now.
Thanks once again to everyone who helped make this successful deployment. It's not just my deployment, it was the whole family, so a special thanks for those who helped make Melanie and the kids' deployment go by quickly as well. We will celebrate the end of this for all four of us very soon.
God bless to all,
Another step closer.....
Well, I'm officially out of Baghdad and out of Iraq. Today, after several attempts in the last 24 hours, I landed in Kuwait. We are at a temporary one-night stop tonight and go to the final stop tomorrow morning. Then its on a plane on Wednesday.
Things are certainly more relaxed here in Kuwait - but hot. It's after 7 and I think its still about 95 outside.
Nothing quite like traveling MILAIR, about the speed of molasses...
Talk to you all again soon,
Today is the Day! Trying not to look to anxious!
I don't know when I will get to post again, the travel through Kuwait gives me limited email access. I will at least post one more note to let everyone know that I am home safe.
It's been a wild ride, but I am ready to get off.
Thank you to everyone for your support. I appreciate all the wonderful notes, emails, packages, and letters that you have all sent. The best part of this is knowing that I have such a wonderful family to come home to.
So get ready, I'm on my way!!!
32 Hours till I leave Gulf Region Division.
48 Hours till I leave Baghdad.
7 Days till I get home.
.....but who's counting.
Good Friday Morning to Everyone,
Well, one week left. I expect the new CDR to show up today or tomorrow, and I will spend a very busy week showing him the ropes, briefing him on program status, getting packed and ready to leave, and checking out. I will hopefully be getting into Kuwait sometime next Saturday (17th).
This past week has not been particularly exciting, which is a good thing. We have still had a few security incidents, but nothing major and no damage or injuries that I know of - at least none near me. I'm mostly trying to get organized with all of my programs and updating everything I need to update in order to have something to hand the new guy.
Matthew and Allison are really starting to get excited, I can tell on the phone. They are definately in countdown mode. I think they only have two links left on their paper chain. I've been working with the office back home to arrange for some leave and looking forward to having some good time off with the family. I'm sure that I will be ready to go back to work in July, but I'll gladly take the time to spend some hours at home.
I have spent some time thinking about my tour here - what have I accomplished, what have I learned, what difference I have made. It's a very complicated issue, and I am sure that I will have a chance to talk to most of you about it. In the end, I have learned some about the world, some about construction and some about me. I know that this separation is very hard, particularly on Melanie and the kids, but I appreciate that much more my time with them and the ability to be home and have such a great family and to live where I do and have the freedoms I have. I hope that I will be able to share some of that with all of you soon.
I will write at least a couple more entries - probably next week Thurs or Fri as I depart. And I will write one when I finally get home.
Love to all,
94% Complete Today!!!!!!!
I'll be on a plane going West in 2 weeks.
Good Friday Morning,
Time flies when you are....working till 9:30 every night? Yes indeed. Things are not exactly slowing down here, and they are likely to stay fast paced through my turnover. The good news is that the gentleman who will be relieving me has left Ft Jackson and should be in Kuwait as of yesterday. He has to do all that stuff there, which should take about a week, and then should be here next Friday. Then we have a week to turn over - for me to teach him everything he needs to know and finish checking out and packing and get the heck outta Dodge.
This summer should be full of relaxing time. I'm looking forward to sitting on the beach, laying by the pool, not carrying a pistol and body armor everywhere I go, never wearing brown camouflage again, and eating a wonderfully prepared Melanie dinner, and maybe a Big Mac too.
This past week hasn't been much in the way of news. We had a couple of sandstorms, which are opportunities for the bad guys because we can't fly and the visibility is limited, so they get more brave about their attacks. We had one land close that didn't explode. If it had it might have broken some windows, but we were lucky. The weather has turned nice again, and by nice I mean blue skies. It's back to near-triple digit temperatures.
There is always some anxiety in coming home, and this deployment is no different. I am curious to see how the kids will react. They are planning to meet me at the airport, which will probably be good for them - to have an official "coming home." And Melanie is planning a neighborhood party, and I bet things are back to normal (whatever that means) in a few weeks.
I have two more entries after today. I'll write my last one on the day I leave. With any luck, the next two weeks will be quiet, and I will enjoy sitting with each of you and telling you stories about my adventure. It has been eye-opening, to say the least.
God Bless to all,
Once again Saturday got here before I knew it. I have had a few more late nights this week, and ended up working on Friday morning instead of getting my morning off, so the time just snuck away. But the more time that sneaks away, the closer I get to coming home!! I am down to under three weeks in Iraq. This time three weeks from now I should be headed to Kuwait for a few days of outprocessing - turn in my gear and all that stuff. Then home close to the 21st.
This week has been more work on the MNSTC-I backlog. I had a couple of the managers from the Northern District down to participate in some meetings, and the guys from Southern District are coming this week. We also completed an award for a $15M project in Ramadi for a judges compound, and two more prisons are on the way soon. There certainly is a lot of money still coming into this infrastructure.
I also got my orders this week. When I return to DC, I will be checking out of the Aircraft Carrier office and moving across the street to an office that buys Amphibious ships - the LPD 17. This is a new class of ships that includes a flight deck and a well-deck that stores little boats inside. It is designed to carry the equipment for lots of Marines. I will work on the final pieces of getting the ship ready - from the delivery by the shipyard in Mississippi to getting established in their new homeport of Norfolk or San Diego. It should be a good job.
And boy, I'm ready to see some grey steel and blue water again. I've officially decided that brown (light brown, dark brown, tan, beige, ecru, coffee, auburn, bronze, etc) are not my colors. I'm ready for some blue and gold.
Thanks again for all the support that I have received. I look forward to hearing from you all soon, and reuniting with the real world.
Another eventful and busy week....where to begin? I spent last weekend working on a very important brief that I ended up giving on Monday afternoon. The meeting was between the US Army Corps of Engineers here (GRD) and the MNSTC-I folks from up the street. There were five generals and one admiral in the audience, and enough Captains and Colonels to fill the rest of the room. I got lots of compliments on the brief, and once again that four years of debate training came in handy (thanks, Dad!). The next two days were spent working on a Source Selection Board. We have a project that is supposed to start in May and we were evaluating four different contractors to see who could do the job the best. It can be a time consuming process to read all the paperwork and then review the pricing, and eventually pick one of the companies, but we did it. On Wed, somebody decided that the water in our bathrooms is not medically qualified to be considered "drinkable" - so now there are signs everywhere to talking about what is "potable" and what isn't. Nice of them to figure that out after I've been here for 5 months, but I haven't been drinking the tap water anyway. I woke up on Thursday morning to the worst dust storm ever. It was literally orange outside. And by the afternoon the bad guys had figured out that the helicopters were not flying and that they couldn't be seen, so we had some events all afternoon and evening. I haven't heard that anyone was hurt. Dad said that the news has been talking about car bombs. There have been a few big booms this week, mostly outside of the green zone, from what I can tell. I have not heard about anything at all near where I am.
I got some great mail, thanks to Mama Kittie for another batch of her popular muffins, and to Mama Gracie for the nuts. And Melanie's friend Bonnie sent a great package with goodies and some magazines. Speaking of mail, we have reached the point where I recommend that everyone stop sending stuff. I'm already sending home a few boxes of stuff. I am on track to leave Iraq in four weeks, so the mail might never catch up with me after that.
FOUR WEEKS!!! Sounds good, doesn't it? Even the kids have been memorizing the countdown numbers. I've been emailing my relief, who is now at Fort Jackson in South Carolina going through the training there. He should be here early May, and I should be home by the end of May.
Finally, a special thanks to Melanie who has had to deal with some short phonecalls and a very distracted husband during this past week. She has been very patient with me. Things are much calmer now, and I am starting to think about the summer, spending time with them and a vacation.
Have a great week, and see you all next Friday!!! Love, Brian
What day is today? Working 7 days a week is bad enough, but the days really start to run together when you sleep on a cot in the office. I have been very busy lately, and Melanie said its no wonder I didn't update my blog. Update my blog? on Monday? Holy time shift Batman, today is Saturday? I think I lost a few days this week, so I apologize to any religious Friday Readers who did not find an update yesterday. Here goes...
This week started with a mistake. I got up early on Sunday morning to watch some of the UNC-Kansas basketball game. Unfortunately, I got up just in time to hear the announcers talk about UNC's "greatest comeback ever" - and I was glued. By the time it was over, UNC had failed to make its great comeback, and the Jayhawks were cutting down the nets. If only I had gotten up 5 min earlier when it was 40-12, I would have rolled over and gone back to sleep.
Then Sunday the reports about potential attacks started. The recent testimony combined with the anniversary and the politics between PM Maliki and al-Sadr were getting very bad and it appeared that the week was going to be "tense." We spent three nights this past week on the cots. We had a few incidents, but not what they expected. There were military and political actions that made the week less active than expected, which was good for everyone.
In the meantime, I've been tasked to do some workload analysis. My newest responsibility with some of the Iraqi Army and Police construction is going to be huge. They have lots of money to spend in a short amount of time, and we are looking at hiring over 100 new people in order to do their work. It's been a busy week getting all the data together to make this presentation, which will be Monday. I've spent nearly all my time on that stuff these last few days.
When they make us sleep on the cots, they close everything else. The gym and all the activities are closed or stopped, and work is about all there is to do.
The weather has been a little weird, some days near 90 and some days cool. Even had about an hour of rain yesterday. But its clearly getting warmer in a hurry.
Thanks to my fans. No pictures of me on my cot this week, sorry. I've had over 1700 hits on the website, and growing. I only have 39 days left in the Army. I have two big events this week, this brief and a Source Selection Board. Once those are over I will shift my focus towards coming home!!
Check back next Friday (or Saturday). Love to all -Brian
This week things have slowed down just a little bit. We are no longer sleeping in our office, which is great. Also, the indirect fire has been reduced to about one event per day. The gym is opened back up, and the body armor is no longer mandatory. That sure makes for a more livable environment. I ended up cancelling my trip north that was planned, I may have to go later. Instead, I'm swamped with setting up a new process for getting work from a new customer into the Army Corps of Engineers. Nothing like getting a Navy guy to set up a process for the Army.
There's a lot going on, and I'm pretty busy. I've been at work till almost 9pm every night this week so far. But the days are flying by. My relief starts his training on Monday, and then should be here in about 5 weeks. I have all the paperwork to arrange my departure, now just need some time to fill it out!!!
The kids are busier than ever, Allison finishing dance and Matthew starting baseball. He seemed very excited, and he will be on the "Phillies" this year. I should be home in time to make the last few games, if everything goes OK. Melanie is also counting days, I am sure. Its down to less than 50!
Short update this week, but that's the way it is. Gotta start my day here. Love to all, Brian
Greetings all. This past week started with a great sightseeing tour. We all had a chance to get out and see some Baghdad sights, and there are some pictures posted of the parade field at the Crossed Swords and our group. Sunday, it all went downhill. Starting at about 6 am, the International Zone, or Green Zone, started taking incoming rounds. The rounds are a combination of mortars and rockets. There were events every day since then as well, sometimes 5 a day, sometimes 10 a day, sometimes for 5 minutes, sometimes for an hour. The compound where I live did take some hits, but I only know of one injury. The Embassy took a lot of hits, and there were a few injuries, one confirmed death, and one fire. I don't know much more than the news has probably said, and couldn't post it here even if I did know more. We know the area where its coming from, and there are lots of political reasons that it is going on. This morning has been quieter, but its their Holy Day.
It's been a week of wearing my body armor to walk to the dining hall or to and from work. Its been a week that has reminded everyone that this is still a war of sorts, and that it is not always safe. I know one person who decided to leave because of the incidents, and a few that were shook up from the week. But everything here works in cycles, and it will stop for a while, and something will start it up again. For now, everybody is OK and I am doing fine.
Monday we said farewell to Kim, who was the Deputy for the sector. She was like a Mom to all of us, and it was sad to see her leave but her time was up.
Don't forget to check out the pictures!!!
Love to all,
This week went so fast it's already Friday night. I didn't even get a chance to update this thing until now. I had another trip to Ramadi yesterday, we left Wednesday night late and spent the day at the Rule of Law site with the contractors that are going to bid on the project. We flew back in late last night. I missed one day of work, and have spent all day today trying to catch back up. Luckily it was our weekend day, and things were slow enough to put a pretty good dent in things. It's really starting to get warm here, days in the 90's this week and next.
The kids are on Spring Break this week, and Allen and Nancy are visiting for a few days. They are going to be there through tomorrow, which is Matthew's 8th birthday. I can't believe he's 8. I remember standing in the hospital in Monterey as the Dr. made the decision that it was time to get him out, and they wheeled Melanie away and threw me the blue paper outfit, booties and hood. And then I waited, and waited, and waited. Finally they let me in, and Matthew was out in like 10 seconds. And boy was he tiny. I spent the next day pacing back and forth between Melanie's bed and his little oxygen hood, worried about both of them. Just think Mel, another 8 years and he'll be driving!!! Happy Birthday, buddy. Daddy loves you very much. Next weekend is the Laser Tag party, and my parents are going to be there to help as well.
There's not much else going on, just work. Lots of work. I am starting to think about the redeployment process. You are supposed to start planning your flights and stuff about 45 days out, and I'm about two weeks from that.
A few new pictures - we got to do some sightseeing this evening so there are some from Saddam's parade ground. There were lots of cameras, so more next week as well.
May everyone have a very happy Easter weekend. Love to all, Brian.