November 2004 Dubai Trip Part I

Wednesday, November 24th, 2004

Hey Man, It’s Like A War or Something!

Mosul Palace

Woohoo! Time to get out for a bit again, and go to Dubai for a few days. It’s been in planning for many weeks now. As it turns out, my timing has put it into a very busy time. Oops. It will be nice, since things have been rather active here since the start of Ramadan, whereas before you’d get an attack just at the end of the call to prayer as if to punctuate it with a concussive and shrapnel filled “amen.” I’d comment on the etymology of “amen” but that would be digressing even farther than usual for me. Also, I may have used the word describing the study of bugs instead of word origins there. I don’t feel like looking it up though. Where was I?

Oh yes, anyways, during Ramadan we got hit several times a day. Before, it was just harassment fire. Then I think they started trying to kill people. Very ill-mannered of them.

And then Fallujah kicked off. (more…)

Anatomy Of An Attempted Elvising

Monday, November 8th, 2004

Anatomy of an Attempted Elvising!

The next day around 2 PM I am feeling decidedly unwell after being poisoned at the DFAC, and think to myself I need to take care of some bathroom business, and I better go ahead since we should get attacked in another hour or two, and you never know how long that will take. I’m going, I’ve got time. (This is what’s known as foreshadowing.)

So there I was, conducting business and reading my intermediate Russian storybook. I’m getting much better. A few words are defined at the bottom of the page, around half of which I already know. Most everything else I pick up from context and thinking really hard about the words. The prefixes and suffixes convey a lot of meaning, and if you know them it makes it much easier, though not at all a sure thing, of course.

I’m reading a true story about this family who has a polar bear. It’s all very touching and cutesy, having a polar bear and all. The ending well and truly sucks, but I guess that’s life. I don’t much POP! damn!WHOOOgottago!!OOOOOOOOOOstupidpants!OOOSH! BANG! That was a rocket! The book goes somewhere, I zip up, avoiding unfriendly entanglements, hope #2 (the other one) doesn’t show up too soon, and bolt for the bunker. There is one right outside my hooch, so I’m pretty well covered getting to it. Really, I’m not too badly protected inside the container too, as it is fairly well surrounded by sandbags or HESCOs. As long as it’s not an airburst or a direct hit, I’d be okay. But still, it’s horrifying to think of following in Elvis’ footsteps, much less in a much messier way. I’d hope that the responsible parties would have the good taste to give the appropriate lies on that. “Didn’t feel a thing” and of course “No, did not die on the shitter…why do you ask?”

Anyways, I tucked in my shirt and buckled my belt out in the bunker. They didn’t throw anything else at us. These guys are blowing the pattern off left and right. No consistency. Later that evening, I am wasting time hanging around. I’d rather go ahead and get the evening attack over with, though sometimes they don’t do it, or decide to bother the airfield instead, and some random place in town. I don’t want to go into my hooch and get comfortable, flop off the shoes, and then have to put them back on and rush out into the night. I don’t like to be bothered once I have lain back for the day. I don’t sleep, but it’s nice to just lie down and stretch at the end of the day. Finally we figure they must be taking the night off. I am just reaching out to unlock my door, trying to find the key slot in the dark BOOM! There they go! I holler into the night “Ha ha, you mother fuckers! I hadn’t even got in the room yet!!!” Another one goes off. I think they were IEDs, but in either case they weren’t on the FOB.

We had some more random stuff today, but it’s not real interesting. One more week before I starting transiting down to Dubai for a short bit of time off. Something like 6 days down there, and then when I get back I have a little less than 6 weeks before heading out for good, after 25 months out. Gonna take a nice, long vacation.

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.

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