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Brian Metcalf's Deployment Diary

Welcome. This site has been set up to record my adventures and share information with friends and family during my Individual Augment deployment to Iraq. I hope you enjoy the site and keep in touch.

Diary Entries

Monday, 19 May 2008

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,


Saturday, 17 May 2008

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,

Thursday, 15 May 2008

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!!!


Wednesday, 14 May 2008

32 Hours till I leave Gulf Region Division.

48 Hours till I leave Baghdad.

7 Days till I get home.

.....but who's counting.

Friday, 09 May 2008

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,

Wednesday, 07 May 2008

94% Complete Today!!!!!!!

I'll be on a plane going West in 2 weeks.


Friday, 02 May 2008

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,


Saturday, 26 April 2008

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.


Friday, 18 April 2008

Hello Everybody,

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

Saturday, 12 April 2008

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

Friday, 04 April 2008

Hello All,

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

Friday, 28 March 2008

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,

Friday, 21 March 2008

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.

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Recent Messages

From Mike Breslin
Looking forward to your return at the gym and on the street running. Thanks for all you've been doing over there. The US couldn't have asked for a better role model than you to represent us. See you when you're back.
Response: Can't wait to get back in the saddle. I should be around first couple of weeks of June, and then permanently in July. See you then!!
From Dawn Clark
I am getting all teary eyed! I know the anticipation and sheer excitement waiting for daddy to come home. I am so very happy for you all to be together again!
Allison- the coolest thing about dads... they ALWAYS have enough kisses to go around!
Matthew- Have a wonderful time with your dad at camp! BOY TIME IS BACK!! (Limit the burps and farts, ok?) :)
Mel- stop getting the house together, he doesn't care!

I can't wait to see you guys soon!!
Response: Thanks Dawn. We know that you guys are getting ready for some very exciting days at your house too. We look forward to catching up with you all later this summer, for sure. - Brian
From Mel
I'm not sure when this neck up stuff started! That girl is too funny. The kids are getting almost stir crazy in counting the days. They know how many days are left and announce it every morning. Our chain link isn't much of a chain now with 2 links on it. (YEAH!) I know that I"ll feel better once I know you're safely home. We miss you! It is hard to believe that you're at the 94% done mark (although some days it feels like it is 120% done!) Just a few more now!
Response: Two links - today marks the under 2 week mark. I don't know who is more stir crazy, the kids or ME!!!
From Matthew
I hope I can see you in a few days. It has been a long time. I hope you come in May or it will be 24 more days. I love you and Allison doesn't get you from the neck up! Bye Bye!
Response: Hey Buddy!!! Don't worry, Dad will be home soon and I will share with everybody. We can play baseball, wrestle in the floor (you didn't get too big did you?) and ride bikes. And we have Cub Scout Camp soon, too. I'll be there as fast as I can. -Dad
From Allison
I love you. There is 14 more days. I get to kiss you first and I get from the neck up (she may have a fight on her hands:) My birthday is going to be at Chucke Cheese's so you can come and ride with me on the rides (oh yes. . .already planning a birthday that isn't until Dec.!!)
Can't wait until you're home!
Response: Hi sweetheart. I promise to save you one of the first kisses when I get off the plane. I know you will be waiting for me. I can't wait to come home and be with you too. I love you. Daddy
From Beccy
94%?!! Yea!!!! I'm so glad you'll be back soon. It's one thing to worry in the abstract about all our men and women in harms way. It's another to know some of them personally. I'm looking forward to having you back. I believe we'll be in the same building now (197?) so let's plan a lunch in the wonderful NAVSEA cafeteria and catch up! Take care and I'll see you soon.

Response: Once I get in and start my move, I will look you up for sure. Probably first week of June time frame. Thanks for checking on me, and we'll see you soon. B
From Nancy
We're counting down the days too for you to land on US soil again! I hope your last days go smoothly and uneventful but I feel sure every day there is an event of some sort. We share Mel and the grandkids excitement talking about your return and Allison wanting the top of you so she can kiss you...that was special to hear. It will be an awesome meeting at the airport for them to see you once again and I would love to see the kids response. Looking forward to getting the call saying you're in Woodbridge safe and sound. love, Nancy
Response: Thanks. Days are really moving fast now, my relief should be here in a couple of days and the turnover will start in earnest. I am counting as fast as I can.
From Allen
I will try to remember to NOT wear anything but blue/gold for our 1st golf outing when you return. I expect you could be a sand shot expert before your tour is up.
Heading down to the little tykes this a.m. and entertain and spoil.............
Response: All balls that end up in Sand Traps will just have to stay there this summer. I'll take the drop and the stroke penalty. Enjoy the weekend. -B
From Paul Fisher
Sounds like you are short too...We finally mastered the 1st PRB with no problems....Capt. showed up and was very pleased...I guess we will see you if you come back to the Navy Yard for a brief visit... good luck and stay safe...
Response: Thanks Paul. I should be showing my face around early June. I look forward to seeing everybody.

From Megan
you're coming home soon!!!! yay!!!! so awesome!! just like me! i'm going to be home on May 7th. I have decided that teaching at Beechwood school was totally not worth it and told them i was leaving. Thats right..i've quit from my very first real job! but it's all good. I'm going to Madrid soon with my lax team to play in a tournament which will be sweeet. Glad to hear that things are going well in green zone (apart from the bombing and all that). So happy you're coming home soon! we'll have to throw you a party :) take care Brian and i'll see you soon!!! woo hoo!!!!! -Megan
Response: Its too bad that you had to quit, but it sounds like it was the right decision. I think you will end up happy. Enjoy Spain, watch out for those latin lovers. See you soon!!!
From Mama Gracie
So good to hear from you, You have been so faithful to us to let us here from you every week and I for one have failed, seems like this has been a hard winter but I am sure yours has been no picnic either. Thank you for doing your part. Take care, Love you.
Response: This BLOG has been a lot of fun, actually, and serves a great purpose of keeping people up to date. Nobody has failed, in fact, its been a great success. I'm definately in countdown mode, though. We love you all very much, and hope to see you soon. You just take care of yourself and that knee!!!

From Lori
4 weeks !! YEA !!!

As someone who responds to RFPs I often wonder if the solicitor actually reads all that "stuff". It's nice to know that you did ... or at least said you did ... for your project.

Things are going well here - we are trying to make plans for Kaitlyn's summer break and my new projects at work are keeping me very busy.

Stay safe, and we look forward to seeing you SOON !!

Love ya !! ~~~ Lori
Response: I'll admit that "read" is a relative term. I read it enough to make a decision, lets put it that way. If you do it enough, you know what to look for, and we had some specific criteria. A lot of what we do is photographs and drawings, too, so that helped. See ya soon!!!

From Mel
Appreciate the "thanks". It has been a stressful week here. We had friends over on Tues. night. Their daughter and Allison were being very quiet. After a lot of searching, we found them in the bathroom in the basement with the door closed. They had Allison's 3 tea sets out and most of the cups/bowls full of water. They were having a ball! Wish I took a picture of it. Matthew's cubscouts had a magician come on Wed. night. . . .yes a live rabbit came out of a hat! That thrilled the kids. We have a second practice tonight for baseball, and Matthew has his first Little league game on Sat. "Go Phillies!" We're definitely counting down. You'll be proud to know that when Mama Kittie asked Allison how many days, she answered promptly "34!". Mama Kittie was impressed! Love & Hugs from us.
Response: I was telling Melanie that all kids have a cute mess story like that - Winnie and I had the baby powder. And yes, that girl knows exactly when her Daddy is coming home. Matthew has his first real game today, so I am sending him big prayers for good hits! I got some pictures up too, so check them out.

From Greg & Eileen West
Hello Brian,
Good to see the pics and read a bit. God is doing wonderful things here; we're trying to keep up. There is of course tremendous brokenness in the midst of God's goodness, but we're seeing some binding up of the broken hearted and captives being set free. I look forward to your return - 38 days I'm told. In Christ, Greg

Response: Thanks Greg. I hope that things are going well for you, and I am glad that you are there making a difference. I am counting the days, for sure. Perhaps we can get together later this year after my return. I'll look forward to it. -Brian
From Dawn Clark
BRUTAL!!! Ya'll are tough- I really do have a CD of the brain MRI- it's there TE!

It was great seeing Lori, Iris and TE today. We chatted about you so if your ears were burning that's why. Just us sending love
Response: And Love is All you Need. -B
From Dad
Isn't this a great place to keep in touch. You get to hear from a BLONDE cousin who has a foot problem requiring a brain scan with no results delivered. The one liners available from that are endless. No results because there was no brain to scan?

Mom and I can take a hint. We'll start cleaning up for the cousin reunion that seems to be in the planning stages. Just let us know when it will happen and we'll tell you where the keys to the house are. I think we have out-of-town plans for that timeframe - whenever it might be. Yea, right. Like Mom would miss THAT event!

News reports being received here remind us of the Chicken Little story - the sky is falling.....the sky is falling. Keep your head down, stay safe, enjoy the Korean War-era cot - think of it as Boy Scout Leadership training - and everything will be fine. What is it now, 45 days and counting????

We love you.

Mom and Dad
Response: Thanks. Yes, I couldn't resist NOT replying to the brain scan stuff. If she is going to set it up so nicely, ....? Melanie reminded me that yesterday was Friday, so I am going to write a new entry and catch everybody up!
From Dawn Clark
haahaa- It's actually many civilian drs! Short version: had migraines since I was a teenager- they've been getting progressively worse and more frequent- so they are finally doing something about it.

The foot thing has been going on since Dec (my PCM said it was my running shoes!) after more whinning he sent me to a podiatrist and that dr sent me to PT, but I kept saying this really hurts! Something is wrong! The MRI on the foot told them torn ligaments- so the secretary from the poditrist office Drove To My House with a cast that night!!! talk about service. They said how have you been walking on this? Hello McFly?

The MRI on the head??? I have yet to see the neurologist- he is going to wait until after the EEG to give me the "news"
Like sands through the hour glass....
Thanks for Pete's kudos I'll pass them along. No episodes with a 9mm ok? you'd win the pity party contest
Love ya! I'll keep you upto date with the soap opera digest :)
Response: Thanks. Melanie would be interested in hearing your story about the foot. She has delivered crutches, wheelchairs, and other stuff to patients as well. I'm sure she'd love to hear from you. Take care, B
From Dawn Clark
I just looked at the recent pixs! JEDI training center?! That is awesome. When their gift shop gets up and running would you pick up a couple of t shirts for Liam & Evan :)

Things are going here in VA... I'm on crutches & an air cast because I tore ligaments in my foot- (doing who knows what) probably running or working out so all my friends say it really is harmful to my health.
The other latest drama is my head... TE save the jokes please! I've had an MRI on my brain on Fri (Yes, it's there TE) and an EEG is scheduled for the 14th (lots of wires and sticky things on my head like the cool show House) - The Doctors are concerned that I might be having seizures... Great - seizures on crutches this should be funny.
Pete's Warrent Officer promotion is coming up and then it's off on a patrol for a months or so... I have a feeling we might be down in VaBeach a lot this summer keeping TE and Iris busy ;) if they'll have us. Maybe we can have another cousin adventure! I know Liam would love to see Matthew and Evan will follow Alli around, again :)

Keep safe and know you are in our thoughts Love ya,
Dawn and the Clark boys
Response: Hey There!!! Well, turns out there isn't any money yet to build JEDIs, so it won't happen while I am here. We'll have to stick to the George Lucas version for a while. Let me get this straight - you tore ligaments in your foot and they decided to do an MRI on your head? You must be seeing a military doctor. Pete, your mission is to get a picture of Dawn during the EEG, crutches and all. I'll make it worth your while. Nothing like posting family photos on the web for the world to see! And based on what I've seen over here, seizures might not be too abnormal. I've wanted to have a couple myself, and you think its bad with crutches, try having one with a 9mm strapped to your leg. Whatever might be ailing you, I hope it isn't too serious. And please make sure that you know how proud we are for Pete. The promotion will be an important one. We will certainly find some time to get the cousins together this summer, maybe organize a day at the beach or something. I know a great place we can stay. :) Thanks for writing, and I'll be home soon!!! - Brian
From Allen
We had a grand and noisy visit with the grandkids as well as with your parents/sister et al.
Everyone seemed to have a good time and like all visits everything went by all to quickly and life is back to 'normal'. I expect normal is something you might be looking forward towards!
Response: Normal, eh? We are back to normal too, no longer sleeping in cots or wearing body armor. Just your normal dust storms, 90 deg days, humvees and living in a trailer. But yes, normal in Woodbridge will be a GREAT change. I'm down to less than 50 days, and counting.
From Paul Fisher
I noticed a picture of CAPT Brovarone, I worked with him when he was at SUBPAC and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard... small world. As for risk, we have streamlined the process and we now just present the risk cubes for each sub group and the consoildated risk cube from each area. Additionally, we just talk to risks that are high or changed, this seems to help us get through the meeting without too much pain....keep safe
Response: Paul, I will mention your name to CAPT B, he's actually getting short, maybe leaving by end of April. At least you are still talking about Risk - thanks for keeping the torch! Take care, Brian
From Karen

You're constantly in our prayers, be safe.

Karen and David
Response: Thanks. I'm using them this week for sure.

From CAPT Mike Zabel
Been a while since I wrote that original post about going into Iraq.

Glad to hear everything is going well, Do not let Redployment creep into the forefront of yoru thoughts. I know that creeps in, but try and keep it from the front of your thinking. Remain aware and more importantly Situationally Aware! Save that redeployment thinking for Kuwait, outside of the normal checklists you need tom complete, get out of Iraq letters (yes you really do need one of those) etc. Of course you may need a trip to the Al-Rashid for a rug or two:)

Keep your mind on business and keeping you and your people safe and the Redeployment will come, before you know it you will be home thinking what ever happened for one year of your life. Yep, it will come.

Make sure you take loads of pictures because you will want to compile a scrapbook, so make sure you get everyones names. I know because I finally got around to putting all 600 plus photos into two large albums:)

You may be thinking about investing in some of those rolling Gorilla footlockers you see at the PX. Definetly invest in some and start sending stuff home now. You can sorta see how you start to accumulate stuff. I have about 5 lockers and they are great for storing stuff around the house like Christmas decorations. Don't wait to ship some stuff till the last minute because its always harried the closer you get to that final C-130 tour of the kingdom.
Start collecting those email addresses of the crew you work with because you will want to organize a reunion. My team and I had one in January and it was a fantastic party in Atlanta.

Well stay safe, NAVSEA is still here and we wish you a safe journey home.

Vr, Mike
Response: Sir, thanks for the reminders. I'm still able to keep my head down and get the work done. Thanks for the tips.

From Winnie
So impressed not only by all you are doing but also by your blogging. Since Kevin's civil service job is on the homefront, my heart goes out to Melanie & the kids, too.

Hope you all have a blessed Easter. My kids got their holiday warm-up today at an egg hunt. Hope you, Melanie, and your kids find similar joys.
Response: Great to hear from you Winnie. Easter is a bit different over here, that's for sure. I did have a chocolate bunny from home, and a Reese's egg on my desk this morning. Everybody is doing great at home, but counting as fast as they can. Thanks for checking in, and Happy Easter to you and your family as well. Brian
From Mama Greacie
Happy Easter
Hope tyou are doing o k . I really have enjoyed you mail ,I print it and take to Mama kittie and daddy earl.
Things have been a bit more calm here thank goodness.
Take care of yourself . Love you
Response: Happy Easter!!!

Hope the Easter Bunny was good to all of you.

From Susan C.
Great pictures, Brian. Esp. very cute screen saver (ok loved you in the gas mask, too) Happy Easter. We are now out of our house - I'm officially in the apartment with Terry, Ashley and two cats. It's getting smaller by the day. House hunting starts soon. miss you, love Susan
Response: Wow, what a big change. I wish you the best of luck with the househunting. And Happy Easter. Tell those girls that they owe me pictures - I've asked them both! Have a great weekend, and stay in touch. Thanks, Brian