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Archive for June, 2004

When Not To Run Outside, and Candlelit Dinners

Monday, June 28th, 2004

The other day we were in the operations office. There was a bang outside Shocked, and myself and two other sensible people went to the floor while Hans the Blind Turkish Guy runs like hell outside for the bunker at the combat lightning speed. Good reflexes, because he was the first to react, but a bad decision. In this case however, he got lucky, since there was only the one noise…which upon further investigation, since it just sounded wrong somehow, ended up being an exploding tire, not an exploding rocket or mortar shell. You don’t want to go running outside, since maybe there’s more than one on the way. We have sandbags about 5 or 6 feet high outside the containers, so on the floor you are relatively safe as long as one doesn’t come through the roof. Basically, there’s nothing you can do about the first one since it’s random, but in case of several rounds or secondaries, you can be flat. Then, if there’s a break, you can run for the bunker. I don’t really see the point in that, since mostly we aren’t seeing any sustained barrages anyway.

Anyway, it’s weird since there’s all sorts of thumping noises. You just have to learn to filter it out. It boils down to the fact that the not-very-loud dull noises don’t matter. It if isn’t a container or vehicle door closing and thumping from pressure, it could be an actual explosion. However, if it isn’t painfully and scarily loud, it’s too far away to hurt you, and you don’t really need to worry about it. Even the really loud ones can be far away, but given that it could be a close RPG, not as close mortar round, not to far away big mortar, safely ranged BF Rocket, or quite far away car bomb you really can’t tell, so making friends with the floor or your favorite concrete barrier isn’t a bad idea. Our camp is up on top of a hill, so it’s better, because anything not impacting the top of the hill isn’t much of a concern. There was an IED and a couple of secondaries down on the road yesterday morning at about 5:10 AM. I could tell it was downhill somewhere, so I merely prepared to unass the bed. It stopped, and I turned on the radio, but no one called for accountability, so I went back to sleep after a while, in time of course for the other guy’s watch alarm to go off. He sleeps through the first iteration, and wakes up at the end of the second. Can’t wait to get my own container, a room of my own, my own chitter and chower!

They did something odd in the DFac last night. I think their hearts were in the right place, but their brains had not joined the party. It was a candlelit dinner night. Most of the lights were off, and candles had been placed on the tables and lit. On some speakers, smooth jazzy R&B music was playing. You know, the stuff that makes you think of your beloved, or beliked, and how much you miss them and want to be up close and personal with them? WTF? That’s just horrible. Hey, it’s Think of Your Special One 8000 Miles Away Night! It’s ok, don’t cry, you’ll be together again soon…schmucks. Rolling Eyes

PS – they caught a couple of “Got Mortar?” jackasses. Go team! Only one of the two had fired, and luckily it was a dud. For some reason they arrested them instead of smearing them all over the nearest convenient backstop.

Some Mosul Pix From The Other Day

Sunday, June 27th, 2004

Here are a few pics from the other day in Mosul, same day as all the fun stuff was going on.

These folks are with the MPs. They had set up a new position on our roof for observation during the evenings. They have a SAW in front of them that you can’t see. I talked to them for a while. One guy in their unit had been killed in the morning with the car bombing of the police station, a couple critically wounded, and some others wounded also.

The area between the building at the horizon and the tower is where one of the car bombs went off.

I’m not sure what this one is, but something is obviously burning. I don’t recall hearing anything that evening though. Usually pretty much anything going off can be heard if you are not asleep, and depending on the size and distance, that might not be a factor. Smile

A later shot where you can see the smoke better. There was a whole lot more in the morning. I didn’t go up on the roof then. When they gave the all clear, there was some small arms fire not too far the other side of the wall, but it wasn’t very motivated. Still, rooftop not a good place to be at that time.

Hitchin’ A Ride

Friday, June 25th, 2004

So finally I made it down to Mosul Palace. It was a fairly short flight, of about 10 minutes. I was in a great spot for viewing, but in a bad spot to sit. I’d never flown a passenger-setup Black Hawk before. The wind really beat the crap out of me. As we sped along, not really nap o’ the earth, but certainly not at altitude (prolly 50m altitude or so) I notice many farming type areas, and grazing flocks. Just about everyone I see waves to us. As to whether or not it was a friendly wave, or I simply couldn’t see the finger and hear “hey you’re scaring away the sheep!” I can not be sure. I think it was more the former than the latter, though. It was quite fun popping up over the power lines and quickly dropping back down. When I flew on the other Black Hawks it was always much more sedate, flying racetracks in the sky, except for the single occurrence when the pilots decided to practice missile drills — that was a ride! Other than that, all the low level dodging around stuff was in Hueys, which are slower and less maneuverable.

We passed over some buildings that had been right blowed up, though when exactly I could not say. There are several Palaces in this particular cluster, 5 or 6 I think. As the bird landed, I grabbed my stuff and hopped out. We didn’t shoot at anybody, nobody shot at us, we didn’t crash, and nothing went flying outside the bird in impromptu fashion. It was a good flight.

This FOB is in a much hillier area than the airbase, which is flat. I see a lot more combat troops and vehicles than on the airbase. I start out in a tent, because they are short on living containers. Could be worse, but we are sleeping in the MWR Palace for the next week or so because it is a hard building, and because the military is doing that for their guys as well. Yaay! Floor! Rolling Eyes Everyone expects an interesting time through several days / a week after the changeover, but you never know when you might experience a Y2K-like ho-hum instead.

I don’t expect to have much to do here, so maybe I’ll write more often. I still have some pics to bring up of the airbase, that I took yesterday evening. I have not taken anything here yet.

Mosul Airfield, In Pictures

Friday, June 25th, 2004

Here are some random pictures from Mosul Airfield.

They’re international!

Couple of views of the airport, from the other side…

Here’s the prison. It probably sucks to be there.

Here are some…bunkers. Ahem. (Riiiight…)

I can’t control my fear of a The Mister Tom Flood…

…but I do my best.

Tommy and I worked together at K2 in Uzbekistan, like many other guys who are in Mosul now. A majority of guys are at the camp across the street from the airfield. I’ve somehow been veered off to the Palace site.

The view from KBR HQ…

The local mosque across from HQ…

Some friends of ours, never mind the bird poop…

The Trip to Mosul

Thursday, June 24th, 2004

Outward Bound

I finally get all the approvals to go. This involves me short-circuiting the process and going straight to the people I need to get things done. Going through the proper HR chain involves about 8 different layers of obfuscation. I get all the pieces collected, and tell travel when I am going. I make this decision on my own, but no one questions me. It’s a relief to get this all in process since not only am I trying to get out of here, I am trying to get out of here on a specific schedule so that I can visit with that special someone on the way out. (more…)

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