You might die trying
Dave Matthews, smart man.
Things continue to be busy and snowball. My boss is back. Not only did I have to catch him up on all the changes, attacks, and incidents in his absence, but I was also tasked with a big responsibility. We are starting to plan now for the movement back home for good. I understand why we are starting the plan now, since I have hit many obstacles in the week. We have people and equipment tasked out between three camps, and in the end, it all has to get put back where it belongs. Unfortunately, our near-sighted brigade is not seeing past Mississippi where they belong. They keep forgetting that we have another 1,600 or so miles to go back to Yankee territory. I have been trying to play nice and I have grown some fortitude when talking to senior officers about my dilemmas. Unfortunately, I have had many wakeful nights the last two weeks. Thoughts of home and the journey still ahead to get there fill my head with dreams and hopes of things to come.
We also have Katrina acting up in the Southern U.S. Realizing many of the families of the deployed soldiers here live in the areas that are now flooded, there is talk of emergency leaves flooding our units. It will affect the focus and morale as well as those of us expecting to get leave.
The Iraqis still have not reached their referendum deadlines for the constitution, which plays a big part in our security and operational timeline. We are getting pretty adept at distinguishing outgoing mortar fire, artillery, and air strikes when compared to the roadside bombs and incoming mortars.
I had the opportunity to go to Baghdad last weekend. I went there primarily to see how we are resupplied; however, it was also an opportunity to see Baghdad. We drove near the Baghdad International Airport and arrived at the camp complex that surrounds manmade lakes speckled with Saddam's old palaces. (We are actually located at a Forward Operating Base which has many fewer amenities than an actual camp, like laundry service, catered dining facility, Post Exchange, et cetera. Our camp is about a 1-star compared to the 5-star camp in Baghdad.) The problem with going to Baghdad is the number of attacks on the roads coming and going. Right now, the roads there are closed. When I went, things were uneventful and quiet. It must be the number of people praying for me. It was a good diversion to have a change of pace for the day. I was able to eat a few good meals and relax. The problem is the times we had to travel in and our were outside my sleeping schedule, and since I have not been sleeping well, I returned to our camp with a terrible headache. Then it was back to the daily routine the next day.
This week continues to be challenging. Amidst constantly changing and ever-present threats from the enemy and fighting to make sure my company is represented among the other units, one of my friends was killed recently. I have not known him but for the two months we spent here. He was not a member of my unit, but someone who I sat with and joked with at meetings. He was one of the guys here who went out of his way to make sure we Yankees felt welcomed. He died doing his job, trying to improve the conditions here, trying to make things better for the Iraqis. As sad as we were today, everyone's heads low, we still had to keep on going throughout the day. There were still missions to run.
It is hard to believe it is almost September. I was walking across the camp today thinking to myself, It is nice that it is finally getting cooler. When I looked at the thermometer after lunch, it was still reading 110. We are also catching ourselves telling "war stories" from last winter and spring. We were retelling the camel spider story and the time there were 75 of us stuck in a 50-man tent in the middle of a deluge in Kuwait. Still, we have many days to go and I have mixed feelings about the stories that are yet to come.
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