Monday, November 10, 2008

Music from the Ammo Can

We got the day mostly off today so I figured I better write another update. This is actually the first day we have had off since we got to Iraq so we are certainly taking advantage of it. We just got a pressure washer set up though so I took some of my time off to wash my truck. There was at least a month’s worth of dirt on it and I think she sets a little higher now that we got all that dirt off. We still have the water restrictions on base so we get ‘gray water’ from the laundry point to wash our trucks with.

It is officially the rainy season here now which means the temperatures are dropping and of course it is raining.

It is usually about 70 degrees during the day and 50 at night which I really like. Whenever we get rain here we also get flooding because the drainage is poor. We also found out that many of the windshields on our trucks leak. We came out one morning to find everything on our dash soaked with water. I thought I lost two magazines to the war but they were readable after about five days of drying out. I’m sure there are some terrorists reading this now who are logging on to and ordering Super Soakers. I hope you can still cancel your order because we got the leaks sealed up.

We are hopeful that the rain will knock down the dust on the roads though. We have had a few convoys rescheduled for dusty conditions and some that we went on anyway.

For those of you who do not have x-ray vision there is a truck in front of mine in the above picture. It’s only about 25m ahead of us but usually the only thing we can see is the tail lights.

If any of you want to come to visit, we have a pretty nice place here. Some people have compared where we live here to a trailer park through. I guess it is true that the CHU’s we live in are similar to trailers. We also recently have gotten a large collection of vehicles on blocks in our front yard.

Maybe they are on to something. We built a shed where we can work on John Deere Gators and four-wheelers to bring them back to life. I’ll give tours of the Gator farm for only $5. We also recently got a driving range and a 9-hole golf course. There is no grass on the course but they have some raised areas that are apparently greens. I guess the new base commander here must really like golf or something.

There really isn’t much news about the job we are doing here. We drive to another base, download, upload, or both, and drive back to our base. It is a good thing we don’t get paid by the mile like civilian truck drivers though. The other day we started out at 0300 and drove about 45 miles to another base. We downloaded the equipment, uploaded some other equipment, and drove back to our base again. We had to download the equipment we brought back and we got done about 2100. Slow and steady is winning the race for us out on the roads and once we get to a base the name of the game is ‘slow and really confusing.’ Most of our time is eaten up trying to figure out who wants what we brought and who has something for us to take. Maybe the Army should talk to UPS about how they manage to get things around the world overnight. I mean if we can have people in the US fly unmanned planes in Iraq it seems like we could figure out where a load of lumber goes within the country.

Following are three pictures of loaded trucks. You get one guess as to which trucks are ours and which truck is an Iraqi vehicle we saw out on the road.

Sometimes we go to a base where they have fighter jets. They take off frequently and they are really amazing to watch. All is quiet and then you hear that unmistakable sound of a jet engine and see the plane streaking into the sky with the afterburner going. Almost before you realize it, they are gone. I commented to someone that I should have been a jet pilot instead of a truck driver. I’m sure it’s a case of the grass being greener on the other side though. Those fighter pilots are probably looking down at our trucks thinking, “Man, I wish I could drive the big rigs like those guys. The Army is way better than the Air Force.”

Someone who obviously does not drive a truck decided that we shouldn’t have music in our trucks while we are driving. I guess they have some supernatural ability to stay awake for 12 hours of driving with only the sound of the engine to listen too. Of all the supernatural abilities I do have, this is not one of them so I had to have some music. My truck buddy bought a CD player and some speakers and I installed them in the truck. You might be wondering how we got away with this and I’m not at liberty to divulge that. All I’m saying is they don’t care how much ammunition we have in our truck.

The Stars and Stripes is an excellent newspaper which they have here for us. It’s free but we usually get it a few days after it comes out at our base. I love reading the paper and people often joke about the lengths I will go to in order to track down a paper. Recently they have had some front page headlines that made me wonder who does their investigative reporting. One such headline was, “Active-duty soldiers less affected by economic crisis.” I guess what they are saying is the people who have their food, housing, and paycheck provided by the government are less concerned about mortgages and unemployment. There was an election recently which you may have heard about and they also reported on that. The headline said, “War leads troops list of concerns.” We are very lucky to have the embedded reporters in this war so we can get inside the minds of troops and know what they are thinking. Seriously though, the Stars and Stripes is probably the best newspaper I have read and you can also read it. They put full electronic editions online and its setup just like the physical paper. You can go here to get the MidEast edition. Their main website also has the stories in a traditional web format.

I’m sorry this update was kind of sporadic but I just wrote things as they came up.

Crank it up to 11,


P.S. I just figured out that you can click on the pictures in these updates and see the full-size versions. Maybe some of you knew that before I did but it's probably easier too see some of them when they are larger.

You know what I think? It don’t really matter what I think. Once that first bullet goes past your head, politics and all that shit just goes right out the window.

- Black Hawk Down, the movie