Thursday, June 25, 2009

Where We Live

We have been doing a lot of classes recently in between missions. Someone plans the missions for the nights and the classes for the days though. I think you can guess how the classes end up.

We still get our rest out on mission though.

We have moved to some new barracks now where we don't have the Internet and TV. We also have 30 room mates instead of one so it's been a little adjustment.

The above picture is of moving day. I'm sure you can hear the voices now, "Mine's the green bag. Have you seen it?" "Yeah, it's right next to the camouflage one."

The picture below is our new building taken from the bunker out front. It's an old Iraqi barracks and it has four rooms connected by two courtyards.

It's not really too bad of place to live and the reason we are living there is because our time is getting short. We had to move out of the CHU's so our replacements could move into them.

And of course we did a little exploring of our bunker out front. I was sure we would find some weapons of mass destruction but we didn't. We did find a lot of bird poop though. I suppose that could eventually be made into a WMD.

So we are close to coming home but I don't know any dates yet. And if you haven't already, stop sending mail. They are telling us we probably won't get it now that we have moved to our new barracks.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What I Carry

I heard about a book called 'The Things They Carried' about the Vietnam war. I thought it would be really interesting until I learned it was a work of fiction, or partially fiction, or maybe not fiction at all. I guess that doesn't preclude it from being interesting but it sort of turned me off to the book.

I thought it might be interesting to know what I carry on a daily basis. Our uniforms have twelve pockets on them and a few other places to stash things. The top has four pockets on it and a place to put some pens. I always carry at least two pens in my left sleeve but I don't use any of the other pockets on the top. Our body armor covers them anyway so it doesn't really make sense to me to put things in there.

On the pants we have a belt of course where I keep my Gerber Multi-tool and a lighter on a leash. We are supposed to still keep our uniforms neat and string-free. A lighter is the best way to do that but it is a little more difficult now that we have flame retardant uniforms. I have had many Gerber Multi-tools over the years and this is one they issued me for this tour. It is amazing how many times a day I use it for different things.

In my back right pocket I have my wallet. Unless I'm driving then it goes in a cargo pocket. Must be all that money I have stuffed in there. Or the horrible roads in Iraq.

My right, top pocket is probably the most crowded. I have the Blistex, the nail clippers, the Swiss Army "cute" knife, and a memory stick. We aren't technically allowed to us a memory stick anywhere in Iraq so I really don't have one. I also have a Gerber knife clipped onto my pocket. This particular one is a Gerber Applegate-Fairbairn Combat Knife. I just call it "knife" for short.

In my right cargo pocket I have my MP3 player in some type of camo pouch/armband. It's also good for holding my ID and keys when I go to the gym. I have various snacks like gum and LifeSavers Wintergreen. People tell me I am addicted to the later but I can quit whenever I want. I also have an LED headlamp that I got from Harbor Freight. That means it doesn't work all the time but it didn't cost much. And also an Olympus Stylus 850SW digital camera. It's waterproof which also means it doesn't get mad and stop working because of dust like my other camera did.

My right calf pocket is required to have a Combat Action Tourniquet (CAT) in it. That is much better than being required to have an actual cat in it because the pocket is quite small. And if you are my mom I have no idea why they make me carry this.

My left top pocket has the keys to my CHU and my truck and a flash light. The Pelican MityLite flashlight is really nice and their customer service is top notch also.

My left cargo pocket has some reading material for any surprise downtime. Reader's Digest is the perfect size even if it does make me an old man to read it. I also have a notepad in a camo holder. I'm not really worried about the enemy seeing my notebook when I pull it out but it helps me organize a lot of little papers I have to carry with me. The toothbrush is for corn-on-the-cob night at the chow hall. Actually, its for a quick dust off of my weapon when I get the chance.

In my left calf pocket I have a SureFire flashlight and a reflective belt. The reflective belt is to make it a little more fair for the insurgents I think. I'm not really sure why we have to wear that in a combat zone. The SureFire works well for finding people who are wearing a reflective belt from a long way away.

That is the stuff I carry with me all the time. Yes, I know. Three knives and three flashlights. You never know.

When we go out on mission of course I wear my body armor. (Or Improved Outer Tactical Vest if you want to be technical.) I have all kinds of junk clipped onto my IOTV.

From left to right I have a magazine pouch, magazine pouch, grenade pouch, magazine pouch, and first aid kit. Sadly, they don't actually let us have grenades. But considering some of the people I work with that is probably the reason I am still here today. The pouch works great for holding sunglasses, er, eye protection though.
I also have a couple of miscellaneous clips and a strap cutter near the top of my vest.
I don't know what the vest weighs with all this stuff on it but I do know it makes it hard to get in and out of a semi truck.