Wednesday, February 25, 2009

On the Road Again

I realize that it has been a month since my last update and I have been reminded by a few people of that fact. We have been on a few long missions and lots of shorter missions since I got back from leave with almost no downtime in between. These last few days have been a little slower so I took some time to pick out some pictures and get them up on the website.

On one mission we were gone for about ten days so we took some extra supplies with us. We took the usual repair parts and extra tires but we also brought a grill and some steaks we managed to scrounge up. We had a really good time grilling the steaks while we were waiting for out trucks to get loaded. It was also helpful because the base we were at didn't have a chow hall that could have fed our entire convoy.

The 'terrorists/insurgents/whatever we are supposed to call them this week' decided it would be a good time to lob some mortars our way. We did not agree with their assessment but we have a hard time communicating with them in words. We put our 'full-battle-rattle' on and continued grilling because the terrorists win if you burn the steak or let the grill go out.

We have to keep the grill going once we start it because as they say, "Charcoal doesn't grow on trees" and it is kind of hard to obtain here. Except in this case they are kind of wrong if you want to get technical about the actual origins of charcoal.

On a different mission we brought some ingredients for sandwiches and lots of chips and drinks. Some have been known to refer to this as "fat kid fuel" but I prefer "mission-essential supplies." This picture is of one of our soldiers making sandwiches before we leave early one morning or late one night depending on your perspective.

This picture is of our trucks all lined up before we are ready to head out. It's kind of grainy because of the amount of available light but I thought it was a pretty cool picture anyway.

We also try to find some time for recreation while we are waiting to be uploaded or downloaded. This picture below is probably not of a football being thrown to someone who is standing on top of a tank that is loaded on a trailer. That would be unsafe.

I managed to get a picture of the KBR contractor animal doing what it does best: Having much nicer trucks than us and breaking down on the road. They are attempting to fix their trucks while we pull security and wait to get rolling again.

I took the pictures that follow for an accident investigation that I was sure would be necessary. We had to load a very expensive communication satellite system at a base that didn't have any loading ramps. We had a crane available but for some reason they thought it would be more hazardous to sling-load it than to somehow drive it onto the trailer. I'm not sure that I concur with this judgment but I was not the one in charge.

We started with putting the flatbed trailer and truck that was to receive the satellite system into a ditch so that it resembled a truck that was stuck in a ditch.

Next we backed the satellite system and the Humvee that goes with it onto a Heavy Equipment Transporter trailer because it had ramps. Prior planning would have allowed us to leave it there for transport but the HET had a much heavier load that it was required for.

So we dropped the ramps from the HET trailer onto the flatbed trailer that was parked in the ditch and drove the Humvee and satellite system onto the flatbed. It was a very ingenious way to solve the problem at hand. However, it still seems as though the best option would have been to use the crane to load it.

My normal truck partner went home on leave so I have got the "opportunity" to ride with some other people on missions. Here is one of them watching out for IED's and monitoring the radio. I think.

Here is another one using the same unique method for spotting IED's and monitoring the radio.

Our Lieutenant has apparently come up with an entirely new way to watch out for IED's. Or maybe he is checking for any terrorist planes that might be flying overhead. Either way I can feel quite confident of my safety with LT riding shotgun.

We were fortunate to have IronMan join us on a recent convoy. Thankfully he did not have to use his powers as the convoy was a quiet one. I am a little confused about why IronMan needs to wear a Kevlar helmet though. I guess the Army regulations apply to everyone equally.

This is SGT Sackett after we forced him into trying on my Kevlar. You might notice the chin strap hanging at the base of his neck and conclude that it's not exactly sized for him.

I also made my first trip recently to a remote Marine base that we have been supporting for a while. They have some really neat helicopters they get to fly around in and it was cool to see them flying around the base. I'm not sure what it is about helicopters but there are only two types of people around helicopters: those who break their neck trying to see the helicopter and those who try to pretend they don't care but are still looking out of the corner of their eye.

The Marines at this base have a little different living conditions than we do though. I think the primary purpose of this mission is to make us appreciate what we have on our base. The secondary purpose would of course be bringing them food, water, and fuel.

This is the burn pit where they dispose of all the waste. I wonder what the guys did to score the job of "Trash collector and burn pit attendant."

I hope these snapshots are a worthy substitute for the lack of updates recently. It certainly makes the time go by fast when we are on the road so much but it is also nice to have a little down time. In the last few days we have been able to catch up on the maintenance of our trucks and do some extra training. There are a lot of things that are 'fine for the road' but need to be fixed once we get back on base.

Until next time,


"I don't think I'm bad for people. If I did think I was bad for people, I would go back to driving a truck, and I really mean this."

- Elvis Presley