Medicine Soldier

A View from Iraq


Summer Time

Summer is right around the corner. It is time for cookouts, barbecues, and picnics. Ever had one of those baked potatoes that you throw some butter and seasoning in, wrap in foil and cook, on the grill? Well...most days I feel like that potato, wrapped in my body armor and sitting in the HMMWV.


I have been on a quest to capture in person or on film some of the critters we have around here. I'd like to thank Alison for that. After sitting for hours looking at the back yard wildlife of New England, I thought I would return the favor.

I am still trying to catch a picture of a beautiful teal bird I saw the other day, but I have managed to get some of the creepy crawlies around here. We managed to lasso a Jurassic-looking lizard with a small green head and a tan/yellow body. These little guys are running all over the place. Of course, there is our friend the camel spider who I guess is not really a true spider, non-poisonous, and does not get three feet in length. With those fangs and hairy legs, I'd prefer they stay outside the tent while I am sleeping. I also found an earwig pincher bug almost three inches long, another thing to worry about when you are sleeping. I also found a scarab beetle and a gecko-looking guy.

Salsa Night

I am very sad to report that our salsa instructors have been relocated to another camp. I don't know if it bothers me more not having something to look forward to to break up my week, or going to salsa night and not having a partner. I guess the odds are not in my favor.


As a traditional guardsman, I don't think many people understand that we have to live dual lives and the consequences. Going from a normal work week to drill weekend is not so bad, but coming back to civilian life is a bit more difficult, especially while maintaining the same standards as active duty, full-time military. The slogan is one weekend a month and two weeks a year, but I lost track of the lunch hours I had given up on my civilian job to prepare for weekends or the hours driving to and from training meetings or the extra hours at work to squeeze in a workout.

Now on active duty, we see more dualism. We still have lives and jobs to go back to and no matter how many times we (try to) call home or read e-mails, somehow our brains process things still being the same as the day we left. As if we were in a time machine or the rest of our world" is in suspended animation.

As we get closer to the halfway point, I find my thoughts are on coming home and being able to reintegrate into my former life as a civilian. I had to hand off responsibilities for paying bills and my share of assignments at work. Although it is a trade-off being a single soldier where I won't have to worry about fitting back in with immediate family or head of household or parenting, I worry about fitting back in with friends and co-workers. I also wonder how much of me has changed, and I am wondering what I will do when I don't have to work 16-20 hour days.

There is another duality here. Some days we find ourselves fighting the "kinetic war" where we have been sent to guard equipment in the open desert for extended periods of time, prepare to defend the camp against local tensions, or travel on convoys around our sector. Other days we are fighting the "popular war" talking to people downtown, handing out goodies to the kids, or assessing the conditions of the roads and schools, where we are trying to rebuild and stabilize the infrastructure of the area. Although both missions are important, it is hard to make that switch on our posture and aggression level. Considering we could get hurt in either situation, it takes attentive soldiers and leaders to know the difference. If we are too aggressive on our "peacekeeping" missions, we could upset the local sentiment and our support will backslide. If we are too complacent on our tactical missions, an attack would be devastating. The heat factor with the weather does not help; taking off our helmets or body armor for a minute to get some fresh air or when fighting the sleep monster would be detrimental not only to individuals but to the whole group.

posted by Scott | 22:31 Baghdad time | © 5.17.2005
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Feedback from readers: 3

It's people like you who make me proud to live in the U.S.A. Keep up the good work and I just want to express my thanks to you as well. I read your stuff as much as I can and it's inspiring.
I wish you well and look forward to your return to the states safely.
Abington, MA

Posted by Anonymous Katie | 6/7/05 23:50  

Howdy from Texas,
I can tell you that the Big Lizard you have is a Uromastyx, I think it is either an aegypticus (egyptian), or Loricata. I used to raise several species, they are all over the middle east and are cousins of our Chuckwalla lizards. They are 90% vegitarians, and usually get their water from the food they eat. Sure would like to have one. The one in your picture looks very healthy. They tend to not be aggrssive, seldom will bite unless they think you have food. The one you have is one of the larger species, the egyptians can get to 30 inches long.

Posted by Anonymous Butch | 5/8/05 09:38  

Hi Scott,

I agree with Butch that it is a Uromastyx. My guess is that it is an Uromastyx aegyptia.
I have a website that is about these lizards. I would like to ask you if you allow me to use the picture on the site.
And if possible, I would be very pleased with a larger picture than the one in the blog.
If you want to help me, please mail it to

Friendly greetings from the Netherlands.

Posted by Anonymous Fons | 11/11/05 05:47  

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