Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Eve 2006.....

Coming off of Saddam Hussein't execution yesterday, and the change of year tomorrow you would think I would be poised to do some serious blogging. Despite how poignant a reflection of what I was thinking at this moment could be in years to come, the bottom line is......I'm just too damn tired.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Mirror Pic for Christmas....

Well, my post a couple of days before Christmas kind of betrayed the Christmas blues that I was feeling despite the fact that I was trying to pull off the notion that I could have cared less about Christmas. I talked to my parents, my sisters, and my wife today. My kids were too engaged with Christmas presents at the time that I called, and on top of that I got pulled off the phone to take care of some things. I do feel pretty good, however.

Today was a normal day in regard to having work, having deadlines, and having the constant threat of AIF. But all in all I feel good. It is Christmas. Nobody can take that from me, no matter how far from home I may be, the celebration of Jesus' birthday is something that kind of helps me focus while I am here so far away from home.

Of course the AIF didn't take a break today, but they were a little more quiet than usual. We caught a 60mm earlier today, and I heard a few more explosions in the distance. I took a picture today just so that someday I can look back and say this is what I looked like on Christmas Day 2006 in the middle of Iraq. I took a Mirror Pic at that. Well, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....

I would have to say that the title of this post is probably one of the most mendacious statements that I have purposefully made on this blog since I started. It really doesn't look like Christmas. This place looks like Tatooine with a monsoon season. It is cold now, sometimes dipping down into the 40's with overcast skies, and a perpetual misty rain coming down. When you have sand that has the consistency of powdered sugar coupled with rain, you have a complete mess.

I went to chow the other night, and there were a bunch of Christmas decorations aroound, but I didn't get that Christmas feeling. They even had some members of the Army Band here playing Christmas songs, but I still didn't get the feeling. I feel like telling the big brass that coming up with something special for troops over in a combat zone is pointless. Just a gesture that only seeks to let us know how far from home, and how far away from a place that is filled with the Christmas spirit we are. All of this kind of feels as pointless as getting an alcohol swab across your arm before you are given a lethal injection.

I talked to my wife and kids yesterday, and I asked my kids what they were doing on their break from school and if they were excited about Christmas. That is when I felt close to home. That is when I felt full of the Christmas spirit. I felt like I had the Christmas spirit when I ordered a gift for my wife online, and when she told me about the toys she purchased for the kiddos. That is the only Christmas warmth I get. I really don't feel like Christmas right now....I think the 25th will come and go, with me acknowledging the birth of Christ. But yet, the sharing and the warmth, and yes the commercial aspect is hard to grasp here. Very hard.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Well today sucks, but at least......

....I got to talk to the wife and the kids today. But, things are very bad for me today. Not in the "war is hell, but the men are brave", sort of way. Just bad all around. I am sore from attempting to lift weights. I didn't leave the FOB today, I was stuck behind the desk doing tons of paperwork which is not my favorite thing to do, and I think I am getting a stomach bug.

And do you know what is worse than that? The theme from "Welcome Back Kotter" keeps going around and around my head for some reason. I think I have discovered a torture tactic that we could use to get detainees to spill the beans on where weapons caches and terror cells are located. Duct tape them to a chair and play the theme music from sitcoms circa 1972 to 1979.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Today seemed like any other day for a multitude of reasons. Generally on my birthday I am awakened to a warm whispering kiss on my ear from my wife. Then perhaps a rendition of Happy Birthday from my kids and maybe a dinner and a gift in the evening. None of those things are possible right now, given my present location. I am going on my 5th month of being away from all of those things that are familiar to me, and I have quite a long way to go before my life goes back to normal.

Today is a day like any other, that consists of waking, shaving throwing on a uniform that has been worn a few days too many. Grabbing a quick breakfast and heading for the TOC to see whether the night before was uneventful, or uneventful for the patrols. It involves being simultaneously happy about non contact, and feeling guilty about wishing that there were more to be done. Today is a day, just like any other that I wish I were at home doing those things that at any other time I would find to be horribly mundane. Today is a day that I wish I were at home with nothing exciting or out of the ordinary to do.

Today is a day that I would laugh about how little I cared about marking another year on this earth. (My wife has somehow managed to stay 28 for the last several years) I would go about my day just as I would any other day, but the difference would be that I would sit in the comfort of familiar surroundings, loving people, and a landscape that is much more friendly than the one I am presently viewing.

Today I will go about my day just like any other, and tonight when I close my eyes to the darkness I will thank God for what I have. I will thank God for the reason that I have this longing in my heart on my birthday. I'll thank him for the reason that I am happy to celebrate another year on His earth.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Is there hope for Iraq?

I certainly hope so, for the sake of this little guy. People think of all Iraqi's wanting to kill us and maim us, but that isn't the case. The children come up to us in droves when we are on patrol, and they want #2 pencils or chocolate, (which they pronounce shock-uh-lot-uh). This guy here says he wants to come to America.

Maybe some day he can.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


I was daydreaming earlier today...about not being seperated from my wife. Actually about her being here with me. I imagine her living in the hootch with me, and giving me a kiss as I head out the door. She always reminds me of things when I leave in the morning, whether it is something about an errand, or something we need to do together. I imagine her saying to me...

"Babe, if you patrol today, make sure and put in your Side SAPI plates, I know they're uncomfortable but it makes me feel better when you wear them. Hey! Also you need to put some fresh batteries in your night vision goggles."

Then she would hand me my coffee tumbler and give me a kiss before I headed out the door.

I thought about it so much I decided to photoshop her into my day. Check it out....Photoshop...hee hee.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Veteran's Day: I am feeling so conflicted....

This veteran's day, I am going to ask for the same thing that I asked for last year. Just a little bit of unity among the American People. Just a moment to reflect upon our military, and the great things that the military has accomplished over the years. Today is the birthday of the United States Marine Corps, and there are celebrations and memorials going on all over the country. Today I understand that a Marine Lance Corporal has been posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. That is truly a momentous day....a day for all of us to reflect, and perhaps Veteran's Day is further given it's just due because our military is currently deployed in all corners of the world.

I read today that Al Quaeda is saying that their "mission" is going much better than they anticipated, and that they were "mobilizing" 12,000 members for more evil doing. They also called President Bush the "Most stupid" American President ever. Further, they stated that they were pleased with the Republican defeat in the mid term elections. They claim that the American people have made the right choice. I really hated to hear that, as a Democrat, I don't like the nagging belief that Democrats are cowardly, or have no desire to be patriotic and defend our nation. I would be untruthful though if I said that there are parts of me that would like nothing better than to pack my gear and head home. That is where I came up with the title of this post. I am feeling very conflicted about my purpose, not in our purpose here. I sincerely hope that the Democrats will not make the mistake of saying that we need to pull out of here immediately. Regardless of the impetus for coming here, if we were to leave and allow the infrastructure to crumble, then our legacy would be greatly tainted here. So I want to leave, and I want to would seem that I am schizophrenic, wouldn't it. Perhaps I ought to expand upon the many personalities.

"Dkelsmith the Soldier"
He relishes the mission, and wants to go forward to the best of his ability to get things done ahead of schedule. He feels hamstrung and constrained by the never-ending list of policies, memoranda, procedure, and checklists. He thinks that when the military was free of the media scrutiny that things were done a lot better. He knows where he would increase the pressure, and he knows exactly what sort of pressure to apply. He thinks that there is no better place for him and his skills than right where he is.

"Dkelsmith the Leader"
He is a lot like the Soldier, but a lot more. He knows what needs to be done, but he realizes the price of what could happen if those plans ever formulate. He doesn't know if the life of even one of the Soldiers in his unit is worth anything that is going on here. More than anything he fears making a decision or action that results in the loss of life or injury. Every time everyone comes home safe and sound from missions he breathes a sigh of relief and prays that this trend will continue.

"Dkelsmith the Father"
He feels consumed with guilt about being gone so much. He thinks about the birthdays he has missed, and the birthdays that he will miss. No Thanksgiving, no Christmas, soccer games, football games, spending time....all those things that "good fathers" do. He tries to explain when his 4 year old demands to know, "Daddy where ARE you?!"

"Dkelsmith the Husband"
Feels guilt about constantly leaving his wife alone to do everything. He gets frustrated because he cannot be there to help with things. He feels left out, yet understands that it cannot be helped. While there is a satisfaction in knowing that his wife can handle things by herself, he doesn't like the fact that she can. Being needed here does pale in comparison to being needed at home.

I am all of these people rolled up into one...and yes, my mind is a confusing mess at time, but I have never wavered in what I was doing. I believe in what I am doing. I am doing the job that my father did before me. I am doing exactly what I dreamed about doing when I was 4 years old. But, Dad made all of this look so much easier. Happy Veterans' Day, Dad. Happy Veteran's Day to all of my brothers and sisters who wear, or ever wore the uniform.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Home is where the heart is.....

Somehow the realization that I am going to be away from home for an extended amount of time is just now hitting me. I am used to the long hours at this point, but every time I talk to my wife and kids or any other members of my family on the phone, I end up wanting "more". The fact that I am roughly 6700 miles away from home is kind of staggering. There are so many things that I want to do back at home, but none are possible now.

The mission is going well...nobody hurt thus far, but still I would give anything for my normal life.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

I went to Mass today....

I went to mass today in a small building that sits upon a Peninsula out on blue-green water in a lake in part of Saddam Hussein's old palace complex. Quite a mouthful, yet the sight that I saw was breathtaking. the entire back wall of the building has a huge glass where you can see the water. The sun was hitting on the water and it was one of the most beautiful scenes that I can remember for a long time.

The homily was about how we should not promote ourselves above others. We should not step into the spotlight solely for the purpose of self-promotion or self-gain. I took this to heart, and I prayed about well as prayed for the health, benefit, and welfare of my family. Luckily today was a calm day today. It is a strong contrast to how things have been for the past week. Church really made me feel a lot better today. God made me feel better today.

God knows I needed him today. He offered himself to me yesterday in the form of my daughter writing something for me on a piece of paper that my sons were discussing a football play on. This piece of paper in a way represents part of my reason for living.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Finally Here....

Well, I am finally here at my post. Not quite moved into my hootch where I will spend the next year, but I am at my post nonetheless. The facilities available are much nicer than what I was expecting, but they are not a consolation to the fact that I will not see my wife and kids for at least another five or six months. As soon as I get a camera I am going to post the pictures of my area that I am allowed to post.

I heard a couple of mortar rounds impact nearby last night, and I heard sporadic small arms fire....kind of a sobering welcome to the new area. I guess they don't call it Slayer for nothing.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

More bad news...

Well, at this point I found out that I will be in this place longer than what I expected before I head to my assigned post up North.. The moral level of those of us who have yet to muster is beginning to dip low. There is only so much chow you can eat, DVD's you can watch, and weights you can lift before you become painfully aware of the cyclical monotony that you are trapped in. On top of that, a Junior Enlisted Soldier took it upon himself to adjust the air system in our tent and completely messed it up. I was awakened from a nap today by the sound of an NCO berating him. Aside from the loud voice that he used, there was an avalanche of profane invectives being heaped upon him as well. As I emerged from my nap, I realized that there was a sticky sheen of perspiration over my entire body. I was so hot and sweaty that my socks were moist despite the fact that I had removed my combat boots before I lay down. Most of the chew out session was over when I came to, but I heard this remaining salvo from the grizzled Sergeant.

"You keep your ass away from that congtrol, you're too goddamn stupid to adjust your belt let alone a damn thermostat. It's hottern' fuck in here cause a you!"

The tent was quiet for about 10 seconds and then the snickers begain. Unfortunately that was the most remarkable thing that I witnessed today.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Smoked, Ripped and Chewed...

In the military when a person is harshly scolded, or reprimanded they call it getting chewed out, or "getting their ass ripped". The final level of this stern evaluation is getting "smoked". Generally that happens to Junior Enlisted at the hands of an angry NCO. This includes pushups, situps, or some other exercise that makes the person NEVER want to run afoul of whoever is in charge of them at that particular time. Despite being an Officer, yours truly, Dkelsmith got (verbally)Smoked, and literally ripped and chewed....its been a long time since that has happened to me, but I think I welcomed the reality check. It went like this.

I was making the long trudge from one side of this crappy Camp to the other in order to hit the chow hall before I went to the MWR. There was a group of 5 Junior Enlisted slightly to my left standing in a circle smoking. As I walked past one of them said, "Hey, what's up LT". I just said "Hey, how are you doing?" and kept walking. Suddenly I heard someone yell "Heeeeeeeeeeey" in a sharp doberman sort of way. I looked to my right and the archetypal Platoon Sergeant was standing there. An E-7 of Hispanic descent...about 5'8, thick jawed and built like an Abrams. He starts striding my way at a high rate of speed and says, "Why didn't you Soldiers salute that Officer just now?"....5 cigarettes fell to the sand simultaneously..... As he passed me he snapped up a smart salute and said, "Good evening, Sir." I saluted back and said, "That's okay Sergeant they were taking a...... "He cut back in with a modified, "Talk to the hand" pose and said. "Sir." while raising his eyebrows. I thought to myself about one of the many lessons learned in my enlisted days and in OCS, "NCO Business is NCO Business...stay out of it." I said nothing else. He continued on....."Correct me if I'm wrong, this entire FOB is a salute zone is it not?"

I have found that many generation X Soldiers don't have the same fear of NCO's that I had when I came into the service in 1990, but it was obvious that this guy was not screwing around. All of them went to Parade Rest and said, "Yes Sergeant!" in an enthusiastic unison. He then asked them.."Are you Soldiers blind, or do you have a waiver that allows you to tell the rank structure to fuck itself?" There was an uncomfortable silence, the Soldiers squirmed around without answering...

"WELL?!", he barked at them.

One of them piped up with, "We didn't see him, Sergeant, we were talking...."

"Bullshit!!! One of you chow hounds said, 'What's up LT?', and while we were on that subject what the hell is 'UP' with that shit?!" Is that how you talk to an Officer? Does he look like Ludacris to you?"

There was a resounding chorus of "No Sergeants!".

"Good, then do what the hell you are supposed to do.", he snapped. One of the Junior enlisted snapped to attention, yelled, "Group attention!", rendered a salute and said, "Good evening, Sir." I saluted back and said, "Carry on". At that point the 5 of them evaporated...

The Sergeant looked at me and said, "Why were you going to let them get away with that, Sir?" I told him. "Sergeant, they were taking a break, and there are so many people here ready to go into the chute that I end up saluting all day."

"I see", he said. Somehow that worried father always said, "I see", right before he took my words, fashioned them into a weapon and beat me over the head with them.

"So, here in theater, is anybody ever really ready to take a break? I understand the overcrowding thing, Lieutenant, but when you let them get away with that once, you have set the new standard for them....especially these Privates. Once you are in for a while, you will learn how important that little shit is to keeping good order and discipline when you are in garrison AND when you are tactical. Granted you don't salute outside the wire, but it is a reminder that there is an order and a hierarchy. "

At this point I felt myself getting a little flustered...some people say I look a lot younger than what I actually am, and sometimes this is an annoyance. Especially since I became commissioned. I said, "Sergeant, I know what you are talking about, I have been in since 1990." His eyes dropped to the rank insignia on my chest and back to my face and he was puzzled. I added in, with a high level of pride, that "I was an E-6 when I was on OCS".

Gleefully....he retorted. "Oh so you KNOW better than that, Sir."

In one second I went from the proud Mustang Officer to the kid who just got caught lying about who ate all of the cookies. He says, "What unit are you in?" I told him _ _ 9th Infantry. He said, "Hooah! I'm 11 bang all my life. You heading North from here, Sir?" I told him yes, and his demeanor changed somewhat. "Outstanding. Where are you headed?" We exchanged information about direction, distance, and time and that was that. We talked about the current SITREP and how things were going. Before we parted, he said, "Sorry to be a jackass, but lack of discipline scares me...I see it a lot more now. We have to make sure that the discipline is there, discipline keeps these kids alive." I told him that I agreed completely. He laughed and said, "I really wasn't mad at those guys, you aren't MY Lieutenant...if they had pulled that shit with my Lieutenant I would have bitten em' on the back of the fuckin' neck." I laughed, thanked him, and we saluted one another. I had to chuckle to myself as I continued on......"I just got smoked."

Saturday, October 07, 2006

My strength and my weakness...

The following Video is one that I shot right before I left MCS. It was supposed to be light-hearted, but something happened in the middle of it. So much for living up to the stereotypical hard-as-nails Soldier. But, then again, what kind of a person would not be emotional about leaving his family. Especially a family like mine.

I suppose that some may wonder what the title of my post means. When I say my Strength and my Weakness, I am specifically referring to my family. Everything that I am, everything that I aspire to be, and everything that I will ever be flows from them. I wake up in the morning with my family being my purpose for being. All of my motivation, all of my pride, all of the perseverance I can ever muster is about them. They are my strength...however, at a time like this when I don't know when I will see them again I also realize that they are my biggest weakness. Without them I don't feel complete...I realize that I am nothing without them. Though I am physically detached from them, they are still mine, and I am theirs. This time apart lets me know what I have taken for granted many times in the past. My wife makes me want to be a better man, a better listener, and a better provider. My children make me want to be a better parent, a better listener, and a better role model. My parents make me want to be the same as well as a better son. My sisters make me want to be a better brother, more dependable, more successful. I have to wonder to myself where I would be without them. They are all that I truly have in this world. My everything.

Friday, October 06, 2006

I'm Okay....

I just wanted everyone to know that I am doing okay. I am in an undisclosed location now, but I am doing well. I have limited internet access, but when I do get some I am going to post a video I shot before I left MCS Shelby. Take care everyone.


Last Beer before shipping....

We're not in Kansas anymore/it sucks here.....

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

So long, USA.....

Just a few more hours stateside....then I will be flying out. The suck Factor at MOB Center Shelby is not so bad anymore. :-) Funny how that works....suck is all relative I suppose. I am going to try and leave a voice post on here before I leave. Take care USA!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Block Leave.......

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

The above passage is a quote from Marianne Williamson who is an acclaimed lecturer and author. The passage is particularly poignant to me in regard to how I am feeling about the next mission. I went home on Block Leave for 10 days, and it was absolutely wonderful...The longer I stayed, the more I wanted to stay...inevitably the tenth day came, and I went through a myriad of emotions. More than anything I can say that the feeling was guilt...not only about leaving my family, but for looking forward to mission challenges. While I was at home, all of my family and friends were telling me about how proud they were of me for what I was about to do, and about the sacrifice I was going to make. While it does feel good to hear those assurances, it made me think about who exactly was making the sacrifice.

Not one person came up to my wife to tell her how proud they were of her for all that she was sacrificing over the next year, or how brave she was to shoulder the task of raising three children by herself for a year. Nobody told my kids that they were brave for adjusting to life without their father for the next year.

I do admit that I am doing the job that I envisioned myself doing when I was a child. I am doing the same thing that my father did before me. The source of pride in all of my accomplishments to date is based upon what I have done, as well as what I and my family have done over these years. But, for the first time in my military career I am questioning myself....not about the validity of the mission, or the moxie that I will need to show over the next few months, but the inexorable desire to be with my wife, my kids, my parents, my sisters.....

This will other major things in my way or another. But, I keep thinking about whether or not the toll that my career takes on my family is ultimately worth it. Do I do what I do for a paycheck, for God and country, for my my ego, or what? All I know for sure at this moment is that I cherish every moment that I was able to spend with my loved ones....when all of this is over, I am going to do my best to make sure that I never take them for granted again.

Monday, September 11, 2006

I feel the same way now as I did then....

Two years and counting...
Today is September 11th, 2003. Most of us realize that this is the second anniversary of those horrific attacks that killed approximately 3,000 American citizens in New York, D.C., and Pennsylvania. Since that time, American Forces have swept across the Middle East, toppling tyrannical regimes and attempting to bring peace and order to the region. "The War on Terror". That seems to be the catch phrase that everyone uses to describe what many believe is protection against radical islamic extremists. However, we are not winning the war, not on terror at least. Yes, we did beat the Taliban, we crushed Saddam's best troops, and we have begun to round up lunatic after lunatic. However, we are still terrified. So much so that we question the sincerity of our government's efforts. We are terrified about money, terrified about how thin our Army is being stretched. We fear that today there could be an attack by Al-Qaeda that could commemorate the attacks on September 11th. We are terrified of "them", of "each other", and of the "unknown". People have likened George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and John Ashcroft to Hitler (Personally I think this comparison of 3,000 Americans dying to 6 MILLION Jews dying is an insult to their memory). We worry about the Patriot Act, we eye Homeland Security warily and wonder if "Big Brother" is watching.
Through all of this terror, we have forgotten one thing. This is the United States of America....the revolution never stops. If we don't like what our government is doing, we have the gumption, the gall, and the "right" to question it. We think we can spread Western ideals throughout the rest of the world. Such radical concepts as equality, freedom, and justice. I have to be thinking. "Get off the soapbox and put the apple pie down." But I mean it.
I do wonder about Weapons of Mass Destruction...where are they? I do wonder about Osama Bin Laden. Where is he? I do wonder about our Armed Forces. How many more will have to die? I do wonder about what the war effort is costing us. 87 billion more? I do wonder how long we will have to be in Iraq and Afghanistan. How much longer? But, I have promised myself that I will no longer live in terror. That completely negates the aims of the terrorist. Much more so than simply occupying territory.
Many people ask if there is a connection between all of the things that we are involved in. Palestine, Iraq, Israel, Afghanistan, Al-quaeda, Ansar al Islam, the Peshmerga, The Fedeyenne, Hamas, the PLO. I answer yes....yes there is a connection. The fact remains that the most violent and volatile place in the world is the Middle East. Until there is peace there, there will be no peace elsewhere.
When I think of terror, I think of the people jumping from the top floors of the World Trade Center in an attempt to escape the flames, the heat, and the smoke.

That is terror...terror in its truest form. However, the terror that most Americans now those that have family the terror of our past, and our uncertainty about our futures. But, I do know that terror is alive and well. There are some places where September 11th is just another day, no different than any of the rest, simply because violence, death, and terror are commonplace.

I would hope that we will continue to remain strong in our resolve to be "above" the violent gestures of the radicals of the world. I would also hope that while we seek to protect ourselves and others from their twisted sense of justice, that we would also seek to not only have compassion for their souls, but to find what can be done to motivate change for peace.
Lastly, I just want everyone to do their part to fight terrorism. That is simply to no longer be terrified. If we can do that, then we will already have achieved victory. Have a great day everyone.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


We are in the process of completing our ARTEP at Camp Shelby. This is the last thing that we have do to do before we are validated for our deployment to Iraq. I will be home on block leave for 10 days to see my wife and kids very soon. I can't wait until Wednesday. But, one thing that bothers me is the fact that I will have to say goodbye to them....again. I was only 19 during my last combat tour, and I had no wife, no kids, and no worries....besides my own that is.

I look back on my military career, and I am content with what I have done over the course of my life, but I am cognizant of the stresses that this lifestyle has put on my wife, my kids, my marriage, and my family. Tomorrow will be five years to the day that all of this God-awful mess started. No matter what the cause for what put on this road, the point remains that there is no end in sight. I look at my OCS class, and we have people in almost every corner of the world.

Oh well, why dwell on the dark and dreary. This time on Thursday I will be at home with my sons, my daughter and my wife. My oldest son will be a Freshman in high school when I return. My middle son will be in fourth grade. And my daughter will be in Kindergarten. I will miss some things, but with modern technology I can talk to them almost every single day. But, nothing replaces being there......

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Ft. Hood, Texas.

I will be going to Ft. Hood Texas tomorrow on TDY for some additional training before I go to Iraq. I am looking forward to getting the hell out of Camp Shelby for a little while. The VOQ( Visiting Officer Quarters) are filled up, so I will be staying in Killeen. It will be nice to sleep in a nice bed with with clean sheets, central air, and running water in the room. I will only be there for three days, but that is okay, it will be enough of a break for me.

I have roughly twenty-four more days here before we get validated and I can go home on leave to see my family for the last time. I am looking forward to those nine days so I can reconnect with my wife and kids. I will also like the idea of not having a task to perform. I have not had a day off work since the 5th of July, and I am feeling the strain. More than the workload, the heat, and the ever-changing demands, the not knowing what is going to come next is the hardest part about this training. There are so many more things that we have to do because we are an Infantry Battalion as opposed to a combat support or combat service support outfit. Well, I am off for the day, so I think I am going to try and do some laundry and maybe write some letters.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Happy Birthday Alexandra!!

My daughter Alexandra is turning four today. Unfortunately I cannot be there, just like I wasn't there when she turned three, or when she turned two. Fortunately I was there the day she was born, and on her first birthday. The Army has me missing out on a lot of things. I missed my wife's birthday this year, and I will miss it the next. I will miss Alexandra's fifth birthday, I will miss Devon and Robbie's birthdays this year. But, no matter what, the fact that I am thinking about them, and they are thinking of me will make it much easier.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Missing you.....


I miss you so much, and I hate it when we argue. I am sorry for everything I did to keep the arguing going. Being without you and the kids is not easy. But, I know that you being there with the kids by yourself is very difficult, and perhaps I don't tell you that enough. I love you with all of my heart, and no matter what that will never change.
this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Resolute Drudgery.....

Today is the first day of August, I have been with the Infantry battalion since the 27th of June, and I have been at Camp Shelby since the 5th of July. I think they make the train up site for deployment suck as much as possible so we will be ready to get to Baghdad. I actually went on a predeployment site survey to Iraq for a few days, and I can tell you that I actually enjoyed it. It was hot as hell, but it was quite a lot better than being in Mississippi.

I was going to post a bunch of pictures of my trip to Iraq, but I am getting pressure from CPT Arthur who is pressuring me to let him get online to check his email. So, here is one picture.

More to come later.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Say for instance...

You are in a profession where excessive bouts of emotion are frowned upon, where crying is considered tantatmount to self-emasculation. After many years, you don't acknowledge cold, hunger, fear, or heat. You actually wish your fellow man the best, all the time cursing him for the posh and pampered lifestyle he are not weak, and you will not cry under any circumstance.....that is of course until you get a pass before you go out for unit validation, and your second grader has written you this note.....

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Thought Police: a necessary function for our safety?

Please take a look at this video and tell me what you think.

When I saw this, obviously I was shocked, but even more than that, I started trying to frame my thoughts into the context of what I do for a living. Obviously in this country people have a right to express their opinion on everything that goes on. I am happy we don't live in a police state where so many things are censored and forbidden. However, I don't think that we should overlook people like this, the "Miami 7", or any other nutcases out there that are Anti-American. I don't believe that the United States has done everything properly over the years, but I do believe in the inherent "goodness" in America as a whole.

So, should we kick the doors in of these people and haul them off to some austere prison complex for creating such a hateful and radical video? Certainly not, but I do think that they should be watched very closely, and we should be ready to make a move on them at the slightest hint that their bad taste is going to transform itself into bad action. If these people have this feeling in their hearts that "God" is punishing Soldiers by killing them, and if they rejoice in "God's success" by picketing funerals and holding up signs, then is it such a far stretch that they would jump into the fray to help punish America?

Just something to think about.
One day and one half...

I just woke up in my hotel room after a night of fun and good times with my wife at 4th Street Live. I glanced out the window, and realized that I was facing the sullen reality that I have today and tomorrow on leave, and that Tuesday means the end of my contact with my family for a great while. I have approached this time on leave with the solid intent of not concentrating on how much time I had left, but rather the quality of the time that I was using. Somehow, it just didn't work like I thought that it would.

I have noted that these past two weeks have flown by, much quicker than any other two weeks that I have experienced in my life. If deployment were to go like this, the time wouldn't seem so unbearable. But, nonetheless I suppose that I need to get myself prepared for the inevitable. The reality is that my oldest son Devon who just finished the seventh grade will be starting his Freshman year of High School once I get back. Robbie who just finished second grade will be in the fourth, and Alexandra who is a daycare toddler will be in kindergarten.

I will miss my wife's birthday this year, all of the kids birthdays, my wedding anniversary, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Kind of sobering..... All of that will be difficult, living and working in a dangerous area is going to be difficult, but there is nothing that will be more difficult than walking out my front door. Crossing my threshold knowing that I will not darken the doorstep for over a year is going to be tough. Letting go of that last hug with my children, or finishing that last kiss with my wife will be difficult. Tuesday morning will be the day I dread to wake up.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

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Happy Birthday Mommie Essie!

Today is my Grandmother's birthday. Unfortunately she passed away in November of 2004. She would have been 99. I remember so many things about those trips to visit her in Alabama. I can smell the familiar smells of her house, I never wanted to leave once I got there. Up until a certain age I would always cry when it was time to head back to Kentucky.

She made the most delicious poundcake that I have ever tasted. She was so wonderful to me, and to all of our family. I woke up this morning and looked at my watch. When I saw that it was June 24th, I thought to myself. is Mommie Essie's birthday. Kind of sad, but she lived a long and wonderful life. What more could someone ask for?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

On point....

I had to share these pictures here. This is my daughter clowning around with one of my sons toy guns. It is a tiny model M-4. Alexandra calls it an "M-Pour". Check out the stance and the finger outside of the trigger guard. Is this a daddy's girl or what?

Here is a closer shot....

What do I fear?

I have spent the last 10 days on leave enjoying the fact that I really didn't have to do a thing. Over and over, people have asked me what I felt about the mission that I am about to embark upon. Aside from not wanting to be away from my wife and children for an extended amount of time, I am somewhat ambivalent about the mission. This isn't my first one, and more than likely it will not be my last one. I do have to say that I was troubled by the guys from the 101st that were captured...the idea of being tortured is indeed frightening. I am not sure of the scope of the "desecration" that the reports indicated, but aside from the pain and the fear, I can imagine the overwhelming feeling of being alone was probably the most difficult thing. I could not imagine being in that situation...facing my own death at the hands of some torturing lunatic.

I would not want my family to know that I had suffered like that. I wouldn't want them to imagine my last moments on earth being so full of terror and pain. I felt for the family of one of the Soldier's who spoke to the news. I consider myself to be a level-headed and thoughtful individual, but I echo the sentiment of one of the family members that said we should, "make them pay".

I tucked my daughter into bed tonight, and I thought about all of the things that are going on in this world that she is pretty much oblivous to. I hope that we can fix this place so that all of the other 3 year olds out there will not inherit this mess.

I thought about my sons, who are 12 and 8 years old. In 6 years, Devon will be eligible to enter the military. Robbie will be ready in 10, what sort of things will be demanded of them if they decide to take on my occupation. I watched them in the kitchen, (this was their dish night tonight), and I thought to myself, could I watch them head out toward a dangerous part of the world?

I want to get over there, and do my little part to tie up all of the loose ends in this god awful mess. I want to get over there, do my job, and get back....home.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

My girls...

Just a few pics for no particular reason. The first picture is of Alexandra and Renee working in a coloring book. The second picture is of them standing in the kitchen, (sorry about the mess). The third picture is them on the back deck eating shrimp, (or shwimp as Alexandra pronounces it.)

Happy 231st Birthday to the U.S. Army!

Happy Birthday to the greatest military fighting force that the world has ever known. I will be toasting tonight with dinner! I'll post a picture, it is a nice evening so I may have to eat on the deck tonight. Hooah!

I am enjoying myself from now until the 27th. I am on Leave! Of course my decadence will be interrupted by having all four of my wisdom teeth pulled tomorrow. So, I may need to toast three or four times tonight. Hooah!

Jay Leno hosts Ann Coulter tonight....

Jay Leno will be hosting Ann Coulter on the Tonight Show this evening. Along with her will be comedian and raconteur George Carlin. Some people are saying that Jay will probably need referee stripes. I am sure that Carlin will draw first blood, because he is an anti-establishment sort of guy, but Coulter is no slouch. She has a scornfully derisive tone that knows no match on the right. I think she is even more harsh than Savage. Someone is probably going to get owned, but I wouldn't try and lay odds on either will be a toss up tonight.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Joga Bonito

Just some fun in the backyard.
Joga Bonito...

The performance of the United States National Team against the Czech Republic was very disappointing, but I love the game no less. There have been some great matches thus far. Here is an excerpt from a match that was "close to home" today. Damn I love being on leave.

Friday, June 09, 2006

World Cup Play...

The United States will beging World Cup competition on Monday against the Czech Republic. I think to our disadvantage, people are looking at the U.S. National Team as the 5th ranked team that made it to the quarter finals of the 2002 World Cup. I think we have a much better team, but we are in a very difficult group. It is called the "group of Death". I think that there is a very good chance that despite having a great offense built around the skills of Landon Donovan that we could very well fare worse than what we did in 2002....despite having a better team. Watch and see.......

Thursday, June 08, 2006


I just wonder it this will escalate, or downsize the insurgent movement in Iraq? The reason I ask this is because often times when there is a loosely organized movement with a figurehead in charge, as is the case with the Iraq insurgency' it is very difficult to launch a "decapitation strike" with much success. Either, it wiil have no effect because he actually didn't have the command and control he boasted about, or it will escalate because people will start doing dumb shit in the "name of Sheik Al Zarquawi" or something inane like that.

I am happy that Nick Berg has been avenged, but I wanted Zarquawi to be either shot with small arms fire, or captured. The lunatics will try and martyr him and boast about how "Soldiers could not get him, only big bombs." I mean come on, we saw the video, the guy's weapons craft sucked.

[From ABC]
Oil exports from Iraq have failed to return to pre-war level due to frequent sabotage attacks on the country's northern pipeline and deteriorating security that has prevented significant investment in aging southern oil fields.

So this is part of the reason why I am paying $3.00 plus per gallon?
Army officer from Honolulu refuses to report for Iraq duty

A fellow First Lieutenant has refused to deploy with his unit. Some people are cheering him by saying that he is refusing to take part of an "unjust" war. Other people are calling him a deserter. I simply call him a Blue Falcon. Any of you guys who are military out there will know what I am talking about.

While some people feel like they have given up some of their rights when they raise their hands and swear into the Armed Forces, others feel as if they are afforded the luxury of not having to have an opinion. This guy joined the military after the initial Iraqi campaign began and knew what sort of world events were in place. He is due to ETS on December 3rd of this year, but no doubt he will be stop lossed because of the scheduled deployment.

I am not sure if he is a deserter, or if he is anti-American, or even if he is a coward. All I do know is he is a shitty Officer. Any man who accepts a commission and refuses to go where the men he commands are going is a piece of garbage. I make no qualms about it. I don't care what reservations I had about the mission, the leadership above me, or the equipment I was given to complete the task.....I would make the most of it with my men.

I wish I could say that I have been having horrible dreams, or that there was a deep foreboding about my upcoming deployment, but there is not. On the contrary, all of the things that trouble me are here. I just have a feeling that perhaps things are not as complete as they need to be. I have been working on continutity books and the hand off of many of my duties. I worry about the people that i am in command over, as I have no idea who my replacement will be. I have those same worries that a parent has when his kid is changing schools.

Possibly there is such the feeling that nobody can do what I do, like I do it, and then again perhaps this is the way of me coming to grips with the fact that I am leaving. Perhaps I am clinging to everything here as if I am holding on for my very life. I brought a box into the office to clean out my desk about two weeks ago. During that span of time I have been unable to do much more than place a few pictures and coffee mugs into it.

As much as things at the job have been getting on my nerves as of late, I am passing each day with dread knowing that there are scant few before I am no longer assigned there. I cannot look at the bright side of a new unit, new men, new command, and new adventures without constatnly worrying about allof my interests that I have behind. I am frightened by the fact that my feeling of not going is the feeling of actually being inadequate in some measure. *sigh* This must seem like a tiresome I reread it, it even appears cryptic to me.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Fourth Street Live

Last weekend, Renee and I went to Fourth Street Live to hang out for a while. 4th Street Live is an effort that the city of Louisville has made to inject life into the downtown scene. It is located near the waterfront, and consists of several upscale bars, lounges, and restaurants all within about a 2 block area. We attended a First Friday's celebration at a club called "Felt", which is a very nice billiards room. Here is a picture of me, Renee, her friend Derita, and Renee's cousin Howard. I hope to go back at least once before I head to Iraq.

Operation Overlord: D-Day + 62 Years
"Bravery is the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death."
-Gen. Omar Bradley-

For some reason there seems to not be much press about the anniversary of the Normandy Invsion this year. I am not sure if it is because of the oh-so-scary, 6-6-06 date., the coverage of the volcanic eruptions in Indonesia, or the incessant political squabbling between the Democrats and the Republicans. If there were ever a time to honor the sacrifices of people who have been called "The Greatest Generation", then I say it is now. I say this especially given the world climate now.

Since this event happed roughly 62 years ago, it is not hard to understand why the true warriors are the only ones living. The wars are calculated by skilled tacticians with many years of experience, but the deeds are done by every day people. Young people. Junior Enlisted, Junior NCO's, and Junior Officers. If you were 18 during the Normandy Invasion you would be 80 years old today. Very telling indeed. Unfortunately we are losing these WWII veterans at an astounding rate, if you happen to see a WWII vet, tell him "Thank you."

Monday, June 05, 2006

Honor and Nail Polish....

The last few months have been quite hectic.....with all of my TDY, and my rapidly approaching deployment, my wife and I have had precious little time for ourselves. With her being in school full time as well as working, it seems as if we never get to do something just with one another. Even when I am not at Uncle Sam's beck and call, we have three children, two of which are actively engaged in sports. Generally, I don't have time to take my uniform off after I get off work because of endless errands, practices, games, and just about anything else that the typical married father of three goes through.

About two weeks ago I had traffic school. It just happened that the night that I went happened to be one of the most beautiful days of the year. My class was from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. As I sulked through my 45 minutes of downtime before I needed to depart for class, I heard my wife talking to my oldest son. It turns out that he said he needed to go to an awards banquet at school. Now, my son is all that a father could want, a great student, well-mannered, and a superior athlete, but even more than that, Devon is a social butterfly. More than once, devon had finagled his way into an outing. (at our expense) just so he could hang out with buddies. I heard my wife telling him that she had a huge test to study for, (which she did), and was he sure that he was supposed to go. (We had not heard any word of this.) He answered with, "I think so.".

Immediately my B.S. detector went off and I started grilling him. I wanted to know what kind of banquet, what awards, and what time. All he knew was 7:30. Renee sighed and said, "Okay, get your stuff together." I will preface this with the fact that I was tired, and upset about having to waste a perfectly good evening in traffic school, but I do wish I could take my actions back.

I told Devon that his mother was going to take him, but I reminded him of all of the things that we had done recently in regard to sports, and other things, and that we needed some time to take care of things. I told him to "tell me the truth" if he was really getting honored, or if he just wanted to go. At this point Dev stated that it wasn't a big deal. By this time my B.S. detector was going haywire thinking about the past attempts at just going somewhere to socialize. So I let him know in no uncertain terms that if this was the case, and he got no awards then he was going to be in trouble.

Later. After I got back from traffic school, and the kids were in bed I jumped into the shower and snuggled into bed next to Renee. She was still awake, and I said, "So, did he get an award, or was he just going to hang out with his buddies?"

She said, "He got three awards."


The next morning before I drove him and his brother to school I apologized for not believing him. I told him I was proud of him, and I told him that I was wrong to not have had complete faith in him. He just smiled and said, "That's okay." I learned a valuable lesson from that 12 year old.


My wife went shoe shopping this weekend with a couple of her girlfriends to some outlet mall. I just did a few things around the house like cutting grass, and a little straightening up. The kids were playing outside for the longest time, and I put together a simple little dinner. Later I went upstairs to the rec room and got on the computer, I surfed the web, watched some TV, and played some X-Box. When I came downstairs, Devon and Robbie were eating and watching the NBA Playoffs. I said, "Where's Alexandra". Robbie said, "I think outside."


I said, "Oh God!" I went outside and called for her and called for her, but she was not in the front or the back. I hustled inside and told the boys. "I'm going to look for Alex...she's gone." I dashed into the bedroom to grab my keys and wallet, and there sat Alex on our bed. She had spread a towel out and was sitting there painting her toenails and fingernails. I was, of course, relieved she was inside. But I noticed a huge pool of fingernail polish that was spilled on our new comforter....our new, "expensive" comforter. I started in to her about how she was not supposed to be into Mommy's things, and she had been told and blah, blah, blah. She kept on trying to say something, but I kept right on talking. Finally her three-year-old eyes began to brim with tears and she said, "I just wanted to be beautiful like Mommy." I stopped for a moment and said, "Hunny bunny you are beautiful." I gave her a hug and a kiss, wiped her tears and began removing the nail polish.(which by the way, covered a good deal of her fingers and toes along with the nails.) Then, Daddy did his best job of putting on a good coat of polish on her fingernails and toenails. After I finished and they were dry, she said, "I'm pretty!"

Note to self, "STFU and listen to your kids no matter what".

Friday, June 02, 2006

G.I. KEL, A real American Hero.....

Last night I went to Blockbuster to take a video game back for my son, and to pick up a movie. After I wandered around the store looking for something worthwhile, I headed to the counter. Like always, there was a long line and I found myself in the pleasant company of three Goth kids. As usual, I didn't feel like changing clothes after I got home so I still had my ACU's on. I noticed one of the kids, (two female, one male...although I had to study the male to discern his gender), kept looking at me and he was whispering something to this female companions. I purposely acted as if I didn't notice....

Suddenly the guy looks up and says.. "Hey man, are you in the Army?"

I said, "Yes I am."

He extended his hand and said, "Thanks man, I really appreciate it." (For a split second I felt guilty about thinking that he was up to no good.)

He then said, "Man, you are a "Real American Hero"..."You'll fight for freedom wherever there's trouble....I mean you're there."

His vampiric looking cohorts snickered again....which irritated me. Unfortunately for this guy, I was a child of the eighties, and the entire theme music from G.I. Joe went through my head, (He'll fight for freedom wherevere there's trouble...Gi. Joe is there.... G. I. Jooooooooooooeeee......A great American Hero!), and I knew he was trying to clown me. I dropped my hand from his grasp and said...

"How old are you man?"

"Eighteen." he said.

I said to him.....

"When I was eighteen I was a lot like you, except I had a decent haircut and bathed once a day. I loved to impress girls by being a witty smartass. But, most of the time I was careful of who I got smart with. Generally I would make fun of someone and my comedy would be unbeknownst to them. I grew up watching G.I. Joe, so I know the song, and I see through your feeble joke. Your friends laughed, so I am sure they are impressed. But how impressed are they going to be when I punch you in the face and you fall on the floor? How impressed are they going to be when I start choking you and you piss yourself and pass out in public? So, to make sure that they remain impressed with you, why don't you just turn around, leave me alone, and pay for your movies. I'll go my seperate way, and it'll be like we never met."

A hush fell over the people near us and the counter. We continued to wait in line, they paid for their movie and left. I paid for my movie and left. Dang I feel old.....

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

What a dream...

I'm not one of those people that believe in premonitions, tarot cards, or silly superstitions. The reason being, is that I have faith in God, and I have easily been able to recognize what he has shown me versus what has been on my mind and come forth in dreams. I had a funny dream last night that I had to get up and write about.

I was walking in a huge file of Soldiers toward a group of UH-60's (Black Hawk Helicopters) with the blades turning. We would fill them up, and once one had about 7 or 8 Soldiers in it, it would take off vertically, (which you never really see except on the movies). A panic quickly seized me, I didn't want to get on, but it was too late to turn back. I tossed my ruck up to the Crew Chief and slung my weapon across my back as I boarded. He shouted over the engine and blade noise and said, "We're fitted for cargo, all the seats have been yanked, hope you don't mind, but it'll be a quick trip." I just shrugged and got on. More Soldiers boarded and I had people pressing on the left and right of me. I scooted toward the door and put the butt stock of my rifle on the floor between my knees.

All of a sudden, someone said, "What the hell is she doing?" I looked up and Renee was walking toward the helicopter, she had on a linen dress that was blowing, but for some reason her hair was not. She walks right up to the bird and is smiling, she is standing with her chin slightly up. (I thought this was strange, because even though rotor blades are like14 feet above the deck, everyone kind of hunches as they walk.)

She comes to the door, and I reach for her. She takes my hand, and for some reason I can feel how soft her skin is even though I have on Nomex gloves. She says, "I just had to tell you goodbye again." I felt like crying, but didn't want to, I felt tears coming so I pulled her close, leaned out, and hugged her with my face buried into the side of her neck. She returned the hug for a while and then went to pull away. "She said, "Let go baby." I felt more tears running that I didn't want anyone to see, so I said, "I can't." She said, "You have have a lot of things to do, you need to go. We'll be alright."

I said, "I know but I just can't let you go right now." She pushed gently on my chest and said, "Kel..." I pulled her tightly and all of a sudden I heard her say, "Kelly, what's wrong?" I woke up and realized that she and I were in bed, and I was holding her from the back, but I was squeezing her into me, I let go at once and said, "Sorry, dreaming." I felt my face and there were no tears there. But a few came.....

Renee drifted back off to sleep almost immediately, it was at 3:13 this morning. I spoke out loud and said, "Renee, I don't want to leave you." She said, "hmmmmm?" I said again to her, "I don't want to leave."

She smiled and rolled over so she was facing me, put her head and hand on my chest. She sat there for a minute and kissed my cheek. She said, "I know you don't baby, I know you'd stay if you could." She drifted off again. But I didn't. I just listened to her breathe in and out, and I just enjoyed the feeling of her body being close to mine, the softness of the skin on her back, and the way her hair smells. It was almost as if I had never noticed it before. Perhaps I did, perhaps I didn't, I can't imagine going 16 months without her, and that made me take note of the little things all the more.

Friday, May 05, 2006

I'm just a Roamin' Soldier...

Three weeks in South Korea for a warfighter, another week stateside supporting a unit that is doing a trainup for a deployment, and finally a two week skills and evaluation session for me before I move out with the Grunts for my stint in Iraq. It seems like I am always on the go.I love what I do, and I am living my dream. I am doing the job that I wanted to do when I was a little boy. But, it does come at a price, there are so many things that I will miss.....

I must be out of my mind....

I am going TDY for yet another two weeks for a Small Arms Master Gunner Course before my deployment to Iraq. Unfortunately, the first day of this TDY trip is on Derby Day...My wife and some of her girlfriends are going out to a Derby Eve party. I took this photo in the living room. I have to hit the road early tomorrow, so I decided to stay at home, finish going over my packing list, and then I am going to hit the hay. I took a good look at my wife in this photo and thought to myself, "Man she is looking good..." And I sent her out without me. I must be nuts! :-)

I suppose it was wrong to crop her friends out of the picture, here is the full photo that I edited.

The girl in the white is named Derita and the girl in the back is named Nyra. The girl in the brown is named Renee, and she is mine!

Here is a photo that my three year old daughter took tonight.

She is actually a better photographer than her Mom.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Never mind the Homeland, is your home secure?

I hope this guy is vegan, because if he gets convicted he will have to toss salads in the big house I am sure.

Brian J. Doyle: All-American loser.

Apparently the genius pictured above is the deputy press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security. Kind of ironic that someone who works for the DHS is a severe threat to any home that happens to house pubescent girls. It seems that this genius thought it would be fun to initiate a conversation with a girl who he thought was a fourteen year old girl. Luckily for society-at-large, it was a sheriff's deputy who was baiting herself to be approached by pedophiles.

Apparently this guy is 55 years old, and a divorced father. Just like a DUI charge, you are rarely caught on your first offense. There is no telling how many other children he has approached. Well, I would say that we are about to have a new GS level job opening at DHS. I realize that he is innocent until proven guilty, but this one looks bad. Here is an excerpt of the news story.

Judd said that Doyle, in the first conversation, told the detective his job
with the department and "started immediately into pretty vulgar language. He
explained in graphic detail the sexual acts he wanted to perform with this

Incidentally, according to police he has confessed, and has waived extradition from Maryland to Florida.
Conscientious Objector buried with full military honors....

Desmond Doss died Sunday in Piedmont Albama at the age of 87. Mr. Doss was a conscientious objector, the sort of person who usually was derided as a coward during the WWII era in which he served. He stuck to his convictions though, and refused to carry a weapon, and refused to take part in killing. Those were his convictions prior to his entrance into the military, and he maintained those standards during the war. You may ask, "What is the difference between this guy and anybody else who objects to taking part in violence?" The point is, Mr. Doss was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for wartime service during WWII. This excerpt from a CNN Story encapsulates the sort of man that he was.

Medal of Honor Society records show he was among 3,442 recipients of
the nation's highest military honor.
While under fire on the island of
Okinawa, Doss carried 75 wounded soldiers to the edge of a 400-foot cliff and
lowered them to safety, according to his citation.
During a later attack, he
was seriously wounded in the legs by a grenade. According to the citation, as he
was being carried to safety, he saw a more critically injured man and crawled
off his stretcher, directing the medics to help the other man.

I have no quarrel with people who do not want to serve. As we don't have a draft, this should not be an issue in this day and time. I tend to not throw around the "draft-dodger" invective for people who did not want to fight, but were drafted. I have a problem with the sort of person who serves for years in the military, and suddenly the first time they are threatened with deployment, suddenly they have a moral awakening which tells them. "War is wrong." If you raise your hand and volunteer to join the Armed Forces, you are stating that you are willing to give up the rights and priveleges that the average American enjoys, so that you may be an instrument in which the President and Congress can use you to further the military and political aims of this country. That is the bottom line. Desmond Doss was a hero, because though he didn't want to kill anyone, he still upheld his service obligation. The man was a hero in the most true sense.
Something about Michelle Malkin.....

Do you know what I think about Michelle Malkin? Being a liberal sort of guy, my appraisal of Michelle Malkin is not much different than the average guy. I don't agree with her politics, her ideology, or her world view. I am not sure that I would be in diametric opposition to everything that she says, but we would probably disagree about a number of things. I don't think she is the scornfully derisive soul that Ann Coulter is. (Plus she has much better glamour shots on her page than Coulter.) But I tell you this much, I don't think about Michelle Malkin all of the time.

Apparently someone does though. A person tracked her flight time, as well as her post times to "prove" that someone else does her posting for her. That may or may not be true, but I have to ask. "What difference does it make?" This sort of nitpicking on minor subjects is a signature maneuver that my party makes. When he could have been devoting more time to the pressing issues that face our country, or our world, he decides to investigate the posting and flight times of a right wing political pundit. Great use of resources. Am I the pot calling the kettle black? Nope, I'm a Soldier who blogs about most everything from family to sports to politics. This is fun for me. He is a vaunted academician with a catchy website title. That is the major difference.

Friday, March 31, 2006

TDY is over...and so is Company Command....

Well, the TDY trip is over, no more smelly sewage, MRE's, or sleeping in the cold. However, this will more than likely be the last time I am at HHC, and it is the last time that I will be in command. The feeling is bittersweet, I am ceding company command, and going into a position with the BCT. Back to Iraq again...I suppose it was inevitable. Financially I feel good about everything, my wife is okay, my kids will be okay, but I am worried about how my mother will take things when I tell her about my upcoming deployment. The time here on the Peninsula is approximately 1105 HRS, and I will be heading out the door at 0400 HRS. I can't wait to get home and see my little ones. I can't wait home to see my wife either. It has been a looong 3 weeks. I know I will be jet-lagged as hell, but I can't wait to get there.

As soon as I get home and can get these pictures developed off of this cheap-ass disposable camera, I will post them. One more night on the Peninsula, and I am on that freedom bird. I can't wait, but I will miss my fellow Soldiers in HHC.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

I will pray for Abdul Rahman...

Since I have been on this mission in Korea I have had less access to the internet than what I am accustomed. I got a chance to get on line a little while ago, and I happened across an article on CNN that talked about a born-Muslim who converted to Christianity approximately 16 years ago. He lived in Germany for a time, and converted then. It seems that his family turned him over to the authorities in Afghanistan because it is against the vaunted "sharia" law. The United States, Great Britain, and even the Pope have asked that this case be dropped out of respect for religous freedom. But, the Clerics in Afghanistan have demanded for this man to be executed unless he denies Christ and reverts to Islam.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am all about respecting culture, and I do my best to not look at other customs and religions with an air of superiority, but in this instance I think it is time for Aghanistan to step out of the Dark Ages and show appreciation for what many countries, (mainly the U.S.) have done in order to secure their "freedom". The free government system that awaits them is a de facto result of the Taliban's mistake in thinking that we wouldn't come over there and topple their regime if they did not cooperate in regard to handing over Osama bin Laden. But, it seems that instead of a small minority of corrupt leaders who were enslaving a populace, it seems that there are quite a few like-minded individuals who relish the idea of killing and maiming all those who are different.

I still don't agree with the idiotic notion that all Muslims are fanatics, or even the idea that the majority of Muslims in the world are fanatics. I will, however, say that there are a large number of Muslims with radical ideas about who should live, who should die, and why. I have to say that in my belief, unlettered as it may be, there are far fewer Christians who would wish for, hope for, and assist with the death of someone for being different. Of all of the descendants of Abraham, it seems that Ishmael is the most troubled throughout the word. Answering perceived injustice with blood has never been the way to survive in the world. Especially now in the age of technology when we can actually "see" what goes on in other parts of the world in real time. No longer will the revisionist, or the students of moral and culture relativism be able to justify, rationalize, or hide their inhuman actions. We all see actions for what they are, either good or evil.

Mohammed Karzai is under a lot of pressure in this situation. Does he want to seperate himself that much farther away from the conservative base in his country, or does he want to repay all of the economic, military, and political capital given to him by the West with a blood-soaked handshake. Time will only tell. I just hope that time is on Abdul Rahman's side....I will pray for him in the meantime.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Can you smelll-l-l-l-l-l- what the ROK is cookin'?

Man, Korea stinks...and when I say stink, I mean funky. Since I stepped off the plane my olfactory senses have been assaulted with no mercy. Apparently a hot commodity in Korea is feces. When I did my initial site recon where my company will be, I noted that on the port-o-lets there was a sign that said, "Do not waste waste." No, they were not being redundant, they were simply letting us know that feces of all sorts, human, cow, pig, dog, or whatever is used as fertilizer.

Anybody that knows me, knows what a keen sense of smell I have, consequently it makes me particularly sensitive to lets say....umm...pungent odors. I was taken to a restaurant by a gentleman by the name of Young Gap You who is a DOD contractor. Young was raised in the states, is an American Citizen, but has been living back in Korea for the last 5 years for work reasons. Anyway, we went to a restaurant, which was really cool by the way. It was just like you would imagine, or like you have seen on TV. You take off your shoes at the door and sit on the floor on cushions to eat. The food was beef, rice, broth, gravy, and Kimchi. The food was good, but for some reason there was an odd smell to the place. Actually, it wasn't the place, as everything in the building was immaculate, but it was the smell of "manure" outside that seemed to permeate every square inch of the restaurant. After we ate, I learned that it is not customary to tip people in Korea after they serve you.

Well, that is all I have time to write right now, but I will try and find a net connection when we get to the training site. Ten more days before I prepare to head home..... TDY Blues.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Korea Trip....Day 3

Well, I am into Day 3 of my trip, and I still have a few more until my unit gets here. Part of the problem of being advanced party is not knowing whether it is going to be "feast or famine" once you arrive. I am in waiting status to see what needs to be done before the rest of the Soldiers arrive. I will have a little bit of work to do tomorrow, but we shall see how that turns out. There were several plan changes today. Korea time, it is now 11:10 p.m. and I am trying to see how long I can stay up so that I can finally sleep all the way through the night. I just talked to my wife and my mother a little while ago, and they seem to be doing well. I have only been able to talk to my oldest, but I haven't been able to talk to my other two children.

Got a little bad news yesterday, twice over, but all we can do is realize, react, realign, and respond as best we can. I didn't bring my digicam on this trip, because I thought that once we headed out into the woods it would get messed up. It is indeed Monsoon season here, so I am looking forward to LOTS of dampness. I may buy a disposable, and see if I can periodically get to a location where I will have scan and computer access. I want to capture as much of the essence of Korea as possible.

Well, my body is so tired now that I feel as if I am about to get nauseous. I have been up since about 1:30 this morning. Hopefully this will allow me to sleep all the way through the night, and finally get on line with the South Korean time. Well, I will post more as time permits.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

TDY South Korea.....Seoul.....

I just got to my room about 15 minutes ago, my watch, which is still set on Eastern Standard time says 8:27 a.m. In reality, it is 10:27 p.m. here. I tried to send out a few emails to my wife, but I am not sure if my VPN is working correctly or not. I am hungry, and I am not sure whether or not I should make myself go to sleep or not. I am wide awake, but I have a peculiar "hangover" feeling. The flight was only 15 hours, but the total travel time is now hitting the 27th hour. Advanced party sucks....Hopefully I will be over jet lag by the time the rest of my unit gets here. I love you, Renee....I love you Devon...I love you Robbie....I love you Alexandra. Oh yes, I almost forgot. Happy Birthday to my big Sis! Gotta go...on a quest for food.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Friday, March 10, 2006

3:47 a.m.....Why am I awake?

And I have actually been awake since acout a quarter after 2. My allergies are hammering me, and I don't feel sleepy at all. What's wrong with me?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

this is an audio post - click to play

Gordon Parks dead at 93...

Gordon Parks, who I think of as the original "Renaissance Man" is dead. A person who made his way in life, originally as a laborer, piano player, and waiter ended up making a name for himself as a professional photographer with Vogue, and Life magazine. Imagine...buying a camera for about 6 bucks, and challenging the editors of vogue magazine to give you a shot. What was even more amazing than the "good eye" that he had, was the fact that he was able to convey a social commentary in his photographs for Life Magazine. His photographs of poverty-stricken people and places is a testament to his skill, and his ability to capture the gritty rawness of city life. He will truly be missed.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Jordan legacy....continues.

I got this video from the Volokh Conspiracy and he said it best. "I didn't think that a video about Michael Jordan could give me chills anymore....I was wrong."

While I did get thrills thinking about this video, it kind of left me feeling wistful.....Jordan on the sidelines, never to fly again.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

My Inner Captain...
Get up Lieutenant!

I find that I am in need of a lot of self-motivation lately because of some of the obstacles I am facing. The best way I motivate myself is to picture myself in the position that I want to be in, and I talk to myself as if I am already there, or as if I am "that person." I know, rather strange but it helps when things seem hopeless. If I deploy with the BCT, then I could perhaps make Captain within the year, but I have a lot of correspondence and physical conditioning to do before I would even attempt to put a promotion packet in. Some mornings when I am laying there, and I feel sooooo tired, I really want to just say, "to hell with it." But, I have to call on my inner Captain....

Inner Captain: "Get up Lieutenant."

ME: "Go to hell..."

Inner Captain: "Damnit! You are talking to a Captain, Soldier!"

ME: "Go to hell...Sir?"

Inner Captain: "Wrong freaking answer, you! Get out of that rack and get moving! you have a mile to run, pushups to do, a shower to take, a uniform to prepare, kids to wake and dress, and two schools to drop them off at. GET MOVING!

ME: "*sigh*....*yawn*....alright....alright.......

Inner Captain: "And stop eating so friggin' late....your gut looks like hell......

ME: "yeah...yeah...yeah, Sir. I'm working on it.

That is what has become a daily routine for me. Not literally, of course. If I was pulling the "Many faces of Eve" thing I am sure that my wife would have had me committed, but my life is trying nonetheless. Expectations, demands, short timelines, limited resources, limited time.....I could go on and on. But I think you get the point. There are currently five facets of my life that I am concentrating on. I have a few random thoughts on each that I am still trying to sort out for myself.

On Expectations:
It has been a blessing in disguise to have so many people depending on me. However, I have reevaluated some of the expectations, the people putting them on me, and their motivations. Somebody always wants something, but what is really behind it? I have priorities in my life, and for the most part, "Me" is not on the top 10...I do a lot of things for the benefit of others. I don't mind that, but I really wonder how many people's list I am high on?

On Networking and Teamwork:
I know I am not the perfect person, the best husband/father/brother/son/friend, the best Soldier, the best Leader or anything like that, but I do put some effort into everything that I do. I am painfully aware of the people that I am dependent upon, and I try and make it known how much I appreciate them. Of course that is hard to convey sometimes. I do know that it tends to bother me when people take my efforts lightly.

On how I was forged:
I grew up in a home with a lot of love, a lot of structure, all of my needs, some of my wants, with all of the protection that I needed to keep me on the straight and narrow. I owe credit to my parents, my sisters, my friends, teachers, and even my enemies from my childhood. They made me who I am today. I owe them all because I am happy about who I am. I even owe the enemies a debt of gratitude.

On my Hero:
Dad, I wish I knew how in the hell you made everything look so damned easy. I wish I could go back and take back every day that I was a pain in the ass. I wish I could undo all of the times that I disappointed you. I wish I could go back and do a lot of things over again, but I am glad that you and Mom stuck by my side when things were really rough. I may not have liked how you said things to me, but you never told me anything that didn't have truth and substance behind it. You never told me to do anyting that was a benefit to you, it was always about me, about what would make my life better today and in the future. There are a few things I look back on now and say, "Damn if I would have only listened back there I would...:

On my New Philosophy:
Inaction is a sign of a lack of confidence in yourself. The unknown is always going to be there...but we have to do something. A lot of things we fear aren't necessarily about failure, but on how people perceive us if we do fail. If you can't switch gears and fix things on the fly, you are in a world of hurt. Sometimes things have to be done, and there is no wrong or right way. Additionally, you may know in advance that by doing the right thing, or the only thing available that you may have problems later on down the road. But, somebody has to do it. My new philosophy? When something has to be done for the greater good, and everyone else is slack-jawed and skiddish, I want to be the one to say, "Fuck it, I'll do it."