Location: Milford, USA
My goodness, time flies by much more quickly at home than it did in Iraq. I can't believe I haven't posted anything in a month. I just added some misc. pics. Feeling better and eating better. Be fat again soon I'm sure. We've all been fighting off colds for the past couple weeks. Who'd a thought day care would be a germ factory, eh?
Big news, was sworn in as Ensign Hanna on Jan. 12th. Added a couple of pictures. Was a pretty good time. We went out to eat at a pretty decent resturant. Mary, Heather, and Dave from the unit were able to attend. Was hoping LTC Williams could make it, but he had to run off to England and do LTC stuff. Brandy & Katie, Mom, Dad, Sister, Grandma, and Mother and Brother in laws were able to make it down too. I'll be heading to the unit in Ohio in a month or two. Not looking forward to that, but hopefully it'll go by quickly.
Location: Selfridge, USA
Well, I'm at the base this morning to check in and no one is here. Looks like the snow chased everyone away today. This is typical of the bullshit that goes around in this place. I drove in from over 50 miles away. The roads were fine. These people will do anything to get out of work. The NOSC in Detroit is the biggest collection of useless people in the military. I'm not coming back. I'll go downstairs in a few minutes. If no one has shown up I'll leave. See them next drill weekend.
Throat still hurts. Hurts to swallow and hurts to talk. Not liking this at all. Not one of my smarter decisions. Want food. So hungry....
Location: Milford, USA
Katie came through her procedure with flying colors yesterday. She didn't like it when they took her away from Mom and was quite bitchy when she woke up. Other than that, she's pretty much back to normal.
My procedure took about 45 minutes. I can't eat and I'm not very happy about that. It hurts to swallow. Even water is painful to get down. Tired of eating ice cream and pudding.
Not sure if this will take care of the snoring. I can still tell my sinuses get backed up periodically. Funny, you wouldn't think I'd have trouble breathing through a nose as big as mine. I've been able to hack up snot out of my throat much easier lately. Not sure if that is becuase of the tonsilectomy or not. Guess only time will tell.
Still waiting for Dave to send me pics from the airport. I didn't quite get everything planned out like I wanted to. Was kind of last minute for everyone. Just have to keep checking every few days or so to see if I get new pics.
Location: Milford, USA
Wow! Where do the days go? Been home almost a week already. Been moving some stuff around in the basement and garage. Been throwing quite a bit of stuff away. Finally got everything I shipped home put away somewhere.
Katie goes in tomorrow to get tubes put in her ears. Mom says its pretty common procedure. I go in right after and get my tonsils taken out. She and the Doc seem to think it might take care of some of the snoring. The things I do for the wife. Oh well, I told her she gets what she wants when I get home. Not much of a sweet eater, but I like ice cream and pudding. We'll see how it goes.
Location: Milford, USA
Finally made it home tuesday night. Didn't plan on leaving Norfolk till Wednesday, but when they said they had a direct flight to Detroit I took it. 387 days away from home is far too long. I called Brandy and my sister and gave them my flight info. They only had about 6 hours to get everyone to the airport. Brandy rushed home and picked up Katie. One the way to the airport the road was blocked due to an accident. Brandy had to take side roads to try to get to the freeway. She wasn't able to be there when I got off the plane but we met up at the baggage claim. Not exactly how I pictured my homecomming but was happy to see them again. I've only got a few pics, I'll post more as soon as I get them. Only took Katie about 10 minutes to warm up to me before she'd let me hold her.
Location: Norfolk, USA
Just went over 4000 hits! OMG I am soooooooo bored. The Lions lost. I've seen every DVD I have at least a dozen times. This "decompression" phase they're making us go through is making things worse. Must have been some officer who thought taking 2 weeks to get home was a good idea.
Location: Norfolk, USA
Hey, did you notice I made the Top 5 list for this month? First time that's ever happened!
Location: Norfolk, USA
Finally made it stateside. Got into Baltimore yesterday afternoon. Connecting flights to Philly then to Norfolk. Staying on base for a few days. Probably fly home sometime around wednesday.
Flight from Kuwait was about a 48 hr evolution. Had to be up and out by 8 am local to get bags to the customs area. Met up with Jeff Klock there. He used to be in our unit till he transferred to the SUBGROUP a year or two ago. Now he's in Kuwait for another 4 months. Hung around the base all day doing absolutely nothing. Didn't fly out till around 5 am. Plane full of losers from the Air Force bitching and whining cuz it was cold. We stopped in Germany for a couple hours, then across the pond to Baltimore. Only slept a couple of hours through the whole trip. Was pretty cranky by the time I got to the hotel last night.
Off till monday... more wasting time.... Seeing as I didn't have a weekend off the entire year I was in Iraq you would think the Navy would make a few of these people work a weekend to get us home sooner. It would save the government money. So now we'll sit here this weekend and do nothing. Assholes!!
Maybe we'll do something fun in the next couple of days... but I doubt it...
Turned in all the gear yesterday. Two bags of crap I never used. Navy know-how, its working for America! Had the re-deployment briefs today. Head to somewhere tomorrow, not sure where, to wait to take a bus to the airport in the middle of the night. Should be wheels down in Baltimore sometime Thursday afternoon. Still looking like Tuesday, give or take a day, be back in Detroit. I'll send flight info to Brandy and Kristine. Anyone wants to show up at the airport touch base with them. I'll be flying back with Dave; he just spent the last 6 months in Afghanistan and ended up in Kuwait with us. He'll likely have a small army waiting for him at the airport.
Next update should be from stateside....
Location: Ali Al Salim, Kuwait
Made it to Kuwait. We had a show up time of noon on saturday and left around 3:30 pm on Sunday. Iraq just had to kick us in the nuts one last time. Spent the night in that God awful airport, just like the night Katie was born. Only the Air Force could screw up a simple evolution such as a regular rotating flight from Baghdad to Kuwait. Doesn't seem very difficult to comprehend. Plane is leaving on this date at this time with this many seats. Every single flight in and out of this place is always screwed up. Aim High my ass!
Gotta go... haven't showered or brushed my teeth in two days. More later...
Location: Camp Slayer, Iraq
Finally, the day has arrived!! We are leaving Baghdad tomorrow. I never thought this day would get here. So much has happened over this past year.
I dont quite know where to begin, so Ill start at the beginning again. We arrived in theater in December. Things were pretty bad out here. Police stations were getting hit by car bombs. Suicide bombers were driving into the middle of markets and mosques and killing scores of civilians almost daily. Coalition Forces were losing about 3 or 4 people a day. There were the rumblings of a political movement in western Iraq called the Al Anbar Awakening. Things were pretty grim.
Over this past year the condition of Iraq has improved significantly. The Al Anbar Awakening has grown into a viable political entity in western Iraq and it has had a ripple effect throughout the country. In March 2000 Iraqis showed up at a police station to volunteer to form neighborhood watch units in order to fight Al-Qaeda fighters just outside of Baghdad. Today those neighborhood watch units are in almost every province of Iraq and number over 50,000 volunteers. Al-Qaeda is being pushed out of the cities and into the swamps and desert. There hasnt been a car bomb at a police station in over six months. Bar graphs showing attacks against CF show a significant decline over the past 4 months and continue to drop. Security is improving throughout Iraq and economic development is close behind. This place is getting better and will continue to get better.
More importantly, insurgent leaders are coming forward willing to talk to CF. Eventually there will have to be a time when these people are given some form of amnesty. In order for there to be peace, past crimes will have to be forgiven. This is true in all wars. Yes, there were some trials of a few people, but in order for the fighting to stop, people must be willing to forgo revenge and take the next step forward.
One of my biggest fears coming out here was that I was going to waste my time. I was afraid Id spend a year stamping badges or news casting or some other mindless task. I wanted to make a difference when I came out here. I can say without a doubt my time here was well served. I was very fortunate to have worked the jobs I have. I cant imagine being in another position where I would have more knowledge of what was going on out here. I would see email chains from 2, 3, and the one 4-Star out here. My chain of command went from me, to an Army COL, to a British Major General, then General Patreus. I sat across from, and next to, insurgent leaders who were coming to the table to talk peace with CF. And I learned so much out here. I learned how the intelligence community operates. I saw first hand the obstacles which prevent important information from reaching the masses, down to the levels where it is needed most. I learned how governments function and how things can go to hell very quickly when a government is largely impotent. After observing the Iraqi government for 11 months I now have a greater appreciation for my own government and those who keep it trudging along. We may complain about red tape and bureaucracy, but I can guarantee you our government is 100 times more efficient than the Government of Iraq.
Ive been fortunate to meet dozens of truly great people, of all ranks, ages, races, and nationalities. Ive spent a great amount of time working with British and Australian people. I can say without a doubt those countries really sent the cream of the crop out here. Now if wed just share more information with them we could accomplish a lot more. I say YESFORN to my funny sounding Brothers in Arms!!! (Some of you will understand) Ive learned a lot about leadership out here. Ive seen officers who genuinely had their head in the game and really made things happen. Ive seen others who I am certain I would shoot if I ever had to work for them. Ive been fortunate to work with Soldiers from the US Army, especially my girls, SSG Rene and SPC Kira. I can honestly say I learned more about leadership from these two than I had in my 10 years of service in the Navy. For this I am truly grateful for having the opportunity to work with them. I couldnt possibly list all of the people Ive worked with out here. But I learned from every single person I worked with, and for that I am truly thankful and grateful to them. You all know who you are!!
I was lucky to be sent out here with some people from my unit; Eric, Jim, Paula, and especially Tim. While I was at Slayer Tim and I would try to go to dinner together. It was my daily Sanity Check. I am certain I would have lost my mind months ago if I didnt have Tim there to help me keep things in perspective, and more importantly, take my mind off the war. Later on we were joined by Mary, Heather, Tracy, Kate, and Critter. We didnt get to work together, but the emails and the chats helped us all take our mind off the madness at least for a little while. I still dont forgive those of you for only getting six months, but we wont talk about that ever again. I just take satisfaction in knowing you are all above me on the mob list for next time.
I also need to thank all of the people who have kept my inbox flooded with emails and messages on my blog. Again, I couldnt possibly list all of them. I met some new people, and was fortunate to get messages from people I hadnt heard from in years. Again, your support was a most welcome distraction, if only for a few minutes. It was nice seeing old friends with new families, new baby pics, etc. Although none of your kids are near as cute as Katie! Again, thank you for keeping me tuned in to what is going on in the real world. Its easy to forget out here.
So was it worth it? Yes it was. Do I want to do it again? God, I hope I never have to. There is a part of me that doesnt want to leave, because the job isnt done and there is still a lot I want to do. But at the same time I have also missed out on a great deal. Ive had the luxury of a lot of support from back home. The leadership at my reserve unit was always there when we needed them. Thankfully I didnt need them very often, but some of us did. Have to single out LTC Williams for being our POC and traffic cop for a very wide variety of issues. If he didnt know the answer, he would find out who did. He was extremely helpful to me with my DIRCOM package and subsequent exile from the unit. Just knowing he and the rest of my units leadership were there when needed was a huge burden off my mind. And the care packages from the unit were ridiculously huge, and frequent! It got to the point when we had to ask them to stop!
And the support from the family was very much appreciated too. The emails, the cards, the pictures, and especially the 2 liters of Dr Pepper and Diet Vernors! Who would have thought Diet Vernors goes so well with Coke! I really hated to miss the canoe trip this year. It was nice to see pictures of Katies first campfire, and her own little tent! They were a big hit out here too. I have the cutest baby in Iraq! But most important, it was reassuring to know they were there if I needed them. Ive never been one to ask anyone for anything, but just knowing they were there if I needed them was the important thing. Mom, Dad, and Kristine, thank you for being there for me when I needed you!
But the person I need to thank the most is the wife. We both knew I could be mobilized, but neither of us knew it would come as soon as it did, and it couldnt have come at a worse time. I vividly remember having to tell Brandy I was mobilized. I told her everything I knew, which wasnt very much at the time. Ill never forget her response. She said those two words that probably every military wife says when she learns about a pending deployment, You Suck! It was a difficult day, and it didnt get any easier. Shes been through a lot, much more than she should have ever had to endure. I wasnt able to get back in time to be there when Katie was born, but I was able to spend 2 of the best weeks of my life with them. Words cant describe how hard it was to leave them and come back here. Brandy has earned the right to complain the most about this past year. Shes been a single mom, doing much more by herself than she should. To her credit, she has rarely complained, though she more than anyone has more than enough reason to complain more than she did. With the stress I had to endure out here, the long hours, short deadlines, indirect fire, and lack of time off or sleep, I didnt need the extra stress from home. Brandy shouldered the burden by herself. Ill come out of this deployment with 4 awards and the knowledge I helped write a page in history. There is no award, no prize, no level of recognition worthy to acknowledge the sacrifices shes had to make. I could never repay her the year weve lost together, the nine months of Katies life. I cant even begin to think how Im going to try to make this up to her. But try I will. She definitely has earned whatever it is she wants. The words thank you and I love you dont nearly acknowledge what you mean to me, but itll have to do for now until Im home in a couple weeks!!
Ill have sporadic email and phone access, so I dont know when Ill be able to update again. The Road to Baghdad has been very long, very tiring, but very rewarding. Im very proud of all I was able to accomplish out here. This chapter of my life is coming to a close. Ill look back and skim through it occasionally, but will have to let it go. But I have a new chapter waiting for me to start when I get home; one with Brandy and Katie, and hopefully at least one more just like her.
Location: IZ, Iraq
Turkey Day. 2nd one in a row away from home. Went to dinner with Tim today. Wasn't too bad. Been trying to call home, phones are all screwy. I imagine everyone in Iraq is trying to call home right now. Probably won't get through today, but I'll see everyone in a couple weeks.
Location: Camp Slayer, Iraq
Just a quick note today. Made it back to Camp Slayer this afternoon. Ran into Tim about five minutes after I got here. He's ready to go too. We've got a few odds and ends to tie up, but we should be all set to go by this weekend.
Location: IZ, Iraq
Today is my last official day of work. Leaving here and heading to Slayer tomorrow afternoon. I thought today would be a very happy day. But, its just like the rest. Still a lot of running around, putting out fires. Its very overcast today. Was very cold when I woke up this morning so the day didn't start out too well, been pretty much on that steady plane all day. Planned on writing my summary of the past year today, but I'm going to need a couple days of sleep before I tackle that task. Haven't been able to relax the brain since right after Katie was born. Should be able to post that in a couple of days. Till then......