Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Kuwait Stinks!

Seriously. It smells terrible. Hard to describe other than reporting the need to breathe through the mouth.

Anyway, today we got a visit from some former football players. It was quite the motley crew. The group seemed to be comprised mostly of great college players that somewhat flopped in the NFL. The tour is officially called The Tostitos Salute to the Troops Bowl tour.

They were split of in groups of 2-3. I set out to get some autographs and maybe a couple pictures. I was wearing my Eagles t-shirt.

The first table I came to was Brain "The Boz" Bosworth and Tony Casillas. Tony, from the Cowboys, immediately began to blast on me for the Eagles shirt, and spoke of how Dallas was going to smash the Eagles next weekend. The Boz seemed kind of weird. He was talking about "we" gotta get paybacks for last year. I thought he only played for the Seahawks, but I might be wrong, so I just nodded and smiled. He was pretty intimidating sitting down with a smile, so I can just imagine how he was on the field. The guy behind me in line had 3 pictures of The Boz getting trucked by Bo Jackson, he wanted him to sign. If you know the circumstances of that, you'd know why I didn't hang around to see how it went.

The next table was Tommy Bowden and Bruce Smith. They were both pretty quiet, didn't say a whole lot. Little bit of small talk. Bruce Smith, by far the best NFl'er there, was sure to remind everybody that he was the odd man out in this crew by wearing his Canton Ohio polo shirt.

The third table was Joe Washington and Barry Switzer. Joe Washington played with the Skins, and Switzer coached the Cowboys, so again, I caught a bunch of crap from those two. Coach Switzer just looked at me, and then turned to Joe and said "God I hated the Vet". Joe agreed and talked about how one time he saw the Redskins mascot get beat up by Philly fans. He also asked if it was true about the judge in the basement. Switzer said it was the most intimidating place he ever went. Joe said he was living in Baltimore now and asked where I lived. I told him Delaware, and he asked me if I had ever heard of W.L. Gore. I told him that my Mom worked there. He talked about how impressed he was with the company as he had done some work with them in the past. He also noted that they made him the best pair of football spikes he had ever played in.

The last table was Tee Martin, Rocket Ismail and Ty Detmer. Ty, the lone Eagles fan out of the group welcomed me with open arms. He quarterbacked for the Eagles for a few years, and for the most part did pretty well. I told him about the crap I was catching from the other players, and so he told me to ask coach Switzer about the 1996 game when the Eagles beat the Cowboys, ending a 5 years drought vs. the Cowboys. Switzer was fired the next season. Switzer didn't hear us, but it was fun anyway. Ty said he loves watching the tape of the interception at the end of the game that Troy Vincent ran back for a touchdown. He said he loves when they pan to Jerry Jones. He said the look on his face is priceless.

The Rocket and Tee Martin didn't really say much, but were both pleasant.

Overall it was pretty cool. As I guess most experience when meeting celebrities, I wish I was able to hang around and talk to them a little more, but it was good just to see they were taking the time out to come here for a visit.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The lone rogue post

Yes, this has what the blog has evolved into. Lone rogue posts. Whether it be lack of motivation or excitement, I just haven't had much to write about I guess. Things here are good. We are now considering ourselves on the "home stretch" as we near the last 70-80 days left here. The consensus around here, for the most part, has been "can't wait to get out of here". Believe it or not, there is actually a waiting list of guys who came out here with me, who would like to stay another year. I think the economy plays a part in most of those guys decision to extend another year. Maybe they don't have a job to go back to, or this one pays a little more, either way, to each his own I guess. Not this guy though. Actually, I'm the only guy on this mission that didn't volunteer for it. I guess technically, by joining the Navy I did, but everyone else said, "Please send me on this mission", while I was the recipient of "You are hereby ordered". So yeah, no extensions for me.

The weather continues to be the same over the last month and a half. Low 50's with the occasional shower. It may dip into the 40's before I leaves here, and I'm sure we'll get some more rain as well. I'm sure none of you in the states feel bad considering the snow and what not.

College is going. I have 2 research papers due next week. 5-8 pages each. One is on Learning Environments, and the other on the Tokyo Sarin gas attacks a few years back. I can't procrastinate on those like I have on most of my other assignments. Overall the classes are going great though. Once those papers are in the classes will be done. I haven't looked into next semester yet.

I got to talk to my Mom on Skype the other day. It seemed like she enjoyed it. She happened to stop by my house while I was talking to Christina. You know I snapped a picture right:



I'm pretty sure my Mom wont be as "excited" as Christina was about me posting her picture on the blog, but at least I didn't put it next to some creepy guy like I did Christina's.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Updates!

Once again I find myself apologizing for the sporatic posts. It's just that boring out here, that there isn't much to report. I will take this oppurtunity to update some of my previous posts. More or less answer the questions my Mom asks when I call home.

Dave and Brian
Brian's funeral was last Saturday. There was quite a bit of local news coverage in the Scranton area. Using google you can find articles and newscasts if you wish to read more. He was buried next to his Mother who coincidentally died in auto accident at the same age as Brian, 37.

Dave has been in Bethesda since the Sunday after the accident. His parents have been there since then as well. A few days ago he was finally taken off life support and is now breathing on his own. Family reports he has attempted to squeeze their hands. While these are good signs, he is still unconscious and the nuerologist cautions not to get too excited as full recovery from his type of brain injury will take a miracle. A group on facebook has been started called "Voices of Dave Morgan". The woman who started it is a family friend who has been taking care of Daves 4 year old daughter while he was here. The group is a place for people to leave messages for Dave, and she in turn reads them to him when she visits.

College
The online courses have been moving along. It's more work than I hoped it would be. I have a research paper due this week, and two more 3 weeks later. Hopefully I can find the motivation to crank them out for a decent grade. Other than that, nothing really exciting about school.

Losing weight
Not a whole lot has changed in this category either. I'm down to 185lbs from the 220lbs when I left Delaware. The last month and a half / last 5-10lbs are being quite difficult. I have 3 months left out here, so I guess I need to kick it in to high gear down the home stretch if I want to reach my goal.

That about wraps this installment up. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgivng!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rough Week

I had been asleep for about an hour last Thursday when one of my guys woke me up and said he heard a rumor that one of our vehicles was in an accident. While I assumed it was minor, I got in uniform and went into work to see what was going on. The office was eerily empty. The only person in the office, our dispatcher, sat in silence. He didn't have to say anything, I knew it wasn't good. I told him if any calls came for this base, Camp Buehring, I would handle them until everyone got back from the accident, so they could concentrate on what was going on there. I then called my supervisor to let him know I was holding things down here. He then gave me the news I was denying. While traveling to Camp Virginia for a routine patrol, a car passing a convoy on the wrong side of the road, came through a blind hill and struck their vehicle head on. MA2 Brian Patton had been killed and MA2 Dave Morgan was in the fight of his life. I rounded up what troops were left here to give them the news. Unfortunately, work still had to be done, I ended up working from 9am that morning until 8am the next. It's been a long week.

U.S. Navy Reserve Petty Officer 2nd Class Brian M. Patton called his wife from Kuwait on Wednesday night and told her he missed her. It was their wedding anniversary, and they talked about a trip to Hawaii they planned to take when his deployment was complete.

Within an hour, Petty Officer Patton was dead.

The 37-year-old Nanticoke man was killed just after midnight Thursday in a head-on crash with a civilian vehicle near a military base in Kuwait, his family said Friday.

Petty Officer Patton was traveling in an SUV when a civilian contractor in a pickup truck crashed into his vehicle while trying to pass a military convoy, according to his wife, Amy Hynoski Patton.

She said her husband called about 11:45 p.m. Wednesday, their ninth wedding anniversary, and the two spoke about buying plane tickets for an upcoming trip to Hawaii with their son.

"When he was hanging up, he said, 'I miss you.' I said, 'Good, I'm glad," she said.
-Times-Tribune


Yesterday a memorial service was held for Brian. It was a great one. Standing room only. Brian was one of those people who always let it be known he was in the room. Loud and boisterous, tell it how it is. Never held back punches, was quick witted, and always made you laugh. Things wont be the same without him here. Quick story, I didn't spend much time with Brian and Dave in Ft. Lewis, but when we came back to Ft. Lewis from our week home before going to Kuwait, I was sitting in the airport by myself, when Brian, Dave and two other shipmates came up to me and invited me to go tour downtown Seattle with them. I was really excited that they asked me. I saw them, and knew they were going. I didn't want to impose, so I played as if I didn't know they were there. I even forced them to rent a larger car. Since I came they needed more space. Not once did they think twice about me joining them, and we ended up having a great time.



As for Dave, the news hasn't been the best either. It took two hours to get Dave out of the vehicle and to a hospital for medical attention. Among a plethora of injuries, Dave had a punctured and a collapsed lung. How he made it this far only God knows. He was flown to Germany later that night, and then to Bethesda on Sunday. There they found Dave suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury, with Mid-Brain damage. His right pupil is dilated and unresponsive. Today they will be putting in a trachea tube and a peg tube. Here is what the doctor told his parents yesterday:

Davids condition with his head injury the recovery doesn't usually happen. He very well could be in a vegetative state but miracles have happened and there is no reason to give up hope. Dave has made some strides toward the positive side. they stopped his meds that keep him in a coma to see what would happen and he started moving his right side. then they put it back on. he has been coughing and his eyelids flicker. he moves his left foot in pain when they pull out his dressing.

I think miracles have gotten Dave this far along, so I have no reason to not believe they wont continue to happen. Please keep Dave, his family, and Brian's family in your thoughts and prayers. Dave is by far, one of the hardest working and generous human beings I have never met. No matter how big or small, Dave put everyone and everything before himself. I don't think he took a day off since we've been here, and not once has he ever complained. Actually, he does it all with the biggest smile you could imagine. Again, please keep him in your prayers.

Dave and his Daughter


Luzerne County News:
 


Brain, Dave and I

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Same old

My apologies for not updating this as of late. Really hasn't been much excitement going on to report. Still trying to get back into a groove after my time spent on R&R I guess. The base has been fairly quiet and we haven't been getting many calls (knock on wood). I started taking a few online college classes this week. I'm taking them with the American Military University. My major is in Homeland Security. It seemed like a great idea when I signed up for them, but now that they have started, I'm realizing I forgot how much work is involved. I assumed online classes were easier and required less time, but so far I have been getting a healthy amount of assignments. I'm taking two classes, one is just an introduction to online learning, which I thought was going to be the least work, but is the most, and the other is entitled "Weapons of Mass Destruction Incident Command". Overall, they seem to be interesting classes. The college accepted most of the credits I earned prior to joining the Navy, so I have about two years left to get my degree if I stick to it after I get off deployment.

In other news, my roommate moved out. No, not because I smell funny, because he was able to score his own personal trailer. My roommate is the criminal investigator here, which is an E-7 position and E-7's get their own trailer. Although he is an E-6, since he holds an E-7 position, he gets the room. So I was pretty pumped because this meant I would have my own room, right? Wrong. I had my own room for about 3 days before someone realized I was living by myself. There was another room that had three guys in it, so they moved one of those guys in with me. He is my assistant watch commander, so I know the guy pretty well, and so far he has been a pretty good roommate, so not that bad. My own room would have been sweet though.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Qatar Pics

Few more pics from Qatar I got from the guy I went with.


C-130 Flight on the way back up north.


My battle buddy and I on the C-130 flight back to Camp.


Smoking Sheesha from a Hookah at a restaurant in the Old Souq.


Me sleeping in our 10 man room while on R&R.


Sleeping on the C-130 on our way to Qatar.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Nearly halfway

My time in Kuwait is near halfway complete. I keep this chart to remind me. You can click on it to make it bigger.



Monday, October 19, 2009

Back to the grind

We had to report for an outbrief at 9am. The brief was about 30 minutes. We waited about an hour or so after the brief to take a bus over to the flight terminal. We were placed on a flight according to space available (stand-by) and in Alphabetical order. I missed 4 flights before my name came up. Didn't make it back to my room until 4am. Talk about a long day. They have to come up with a better way to get people places than to have them sit in a room for hours and hours waiting for a flight. Overall the trip was ok. It did the job it was supposed to do, but I thought it could have been better though. Maybe a slight increase on the 3 beer limit. I would recommend it to anyone over here who is interested.

R & R day 5

Last day. Took it easy. Watched movies. Mailed home the watches I bought in the Souq. Watched the Phillies, they lost.

Friday, October 16, 2009

R&R day 4

On day 4 I signed up to go to the Museum of Islamic Art and the Old Souq. I went back to the Old Souq for two reasons 1) It was free and 2) I wanted to see it in the daylight. The day before when I went it was dark. The reason I went on the free trips was not to save money, but because the trips you have to pay for, they only accept this thing called the Eagle Cash Card. The cash card is what it looks like the military is moving to to stop the flow of American Dollars into these other countries. I'm not sure if there is an economic reason or if it's expensive to move the money back and forth or what. Regardless, they were really pushing it in Kuwait, and here in Qatar it is the only way. The problem for me is that it is all done through direct deposit so you need all your bank account info. I didn't bring it with me, so I'm stuck on the free trips.

The museum was pretty interesting. There was pottery, carpets, tiles, paintings, etc., from all over this region, most dating back to the 7th century and up. I was rushed through the exhibits a little bit because the King of Swaziland was there along with members of the Qatari Royal Family. I guess they didn't want anyone outside that group to be in the same rooms as them, so they kept asking me to move to the next room.

After the museum we headed over to the Old Souq. It definitely looked different during the day. Most of it was closed unfotunately. I guess most of the stores don't open until the evening. They were fliming a movie while we were there which was pretty cool to watch. One of the guys on the trip with me got to be an extra.

While in the Old Souq we ate at am Italian restauant called La Dolce Vita. They also had a Gelateria(Homemade Italian Ice Cream) next door. The meal and the gelato was awesome. If I'm ever back here, I will be sure to visit that place.

After we got back from our trip, I checked my email and as usual made my way to the bar area for my 3 beers ;)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

R & R day 3

Went to the pool again today. Ordered some Chili's poolside too. I went on a tour of the Gold Souq and the Old Souq. The Gold Souq is blocks and blocks of nothing but jewelry stores. The main things they sell are gold and pearls. Both are a bit cheaper than they would be stateside. I'm not really into jewelry, especially gold and pearls, but I did buy a couple watches. They did deny my debit card there. When I got back, I called my bank. They put a freeze on my account because they saw the out of country purchases. I told them I was going to the middle east before I left so this wouldn't happen, but apparently it wasn't passed on. The Old Souq is something like a flea market I guess. It's as close as you can get to the old traditional market places of the old days in Arabia. They also have a few modern places and restaurants there. We ate at a place called The Fish Market. It was pretty good. A little pricey. We finished the meal by trying Shisha. Shisha is a tobacco soaked in fruit. It is smoked from a Hookah. I didn't particularly care for it. I asked for apple flavored and it tasted like black licorice. I hate black licorice. Not sure if they gave me the wrong flavor, or that's just how it tastes. Either way, don't think I'll be trying it again. I'm glad I did try it though seeing as it is such a cultural icon out here. We got back around 10pm. I made a beeline to the Irish pub for my 3 beers. I enjoyed those while playing the arcade game Golden Tee. Went to bed around midnight.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

R&R day 2

After that rough day, I decided to take it easy and lay out by the pool most of the day. The have a Chili's attached to the pool, so I had some lunch delivered to me poolside. After I left the pool and showered, I signed up for a trip to the Vilaggio mall. It was the nicest mall I've ever been too. The parking lot was full of Mercedes, Lexus, Lambo, etc. Every store there was top of the line. D&G, Luis Vuitton, Prada etc. Needless to say, I didn't do any shopping. The also had a car for sale there that was priced at a little over a million dollars. They had a venice like river going throughout the mall which you could get gondola rides on. The cieling was painted like clouds. If you've been to the Venitian in vegas, picture that. I had dinner at the Macaroni Grill. Wasn't anything near as good as the states. Once I got back from the mall trip, I got right into consuming my 3 beers. I was in bed by midnight.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

R&R

What a long day! Got to the check in place (Kuwait) at 9am yesterday, didn't get here until 10pm. Thr flight was only an hour and a half, but we had a bunch of briefs, we had to go through immigrations and customs. It pretty much sucked. We did make it in time before the beer place closed at 1130pm. We're allowed 3 beers a day while we're here. Still learning where everything is and what ammenities are available to us. Signed up for a trip to the mall today.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Camp Cupcake

It all happened pretty fast. I put in a request a little over a week ago to take 4 days of Rest and Recuperation (R&R) at Camp As Sayliyah in Qatar (I've heard it pronounced like guitar and cutter). I hadn't heard anything, so I had assumed it didn't make it through. Then all of the sudden today I check my email and it's asking if I have my bags packed. I'm pretty excited, but I wish I had more time to prepare for the trip. I leave tomorrow. Since I'm the Watch Commander for the night shift, I had to find a suitable replacement and make sure he was prepared to hold the fort down while I am gone.

Since I am the first one from my unit to go, this is pretty much uncharted waters for me. I'm pretty much getting on a plane, and I'm not really sure what happens from there. I've attempted to do some research on Camp Cupcake, as the Army calls it, but haven't really found any recent, good, solid info. I've heard you are allowed 2 beers a day there which is pretty exciting. I've also read they have a Chili's there, a pool and hot tub, video games, a beach, phone and internet centers. I haven't been able to confirm it, but I have heard rumors that they have some tours out in town there to the mall and stuff like that. The other rumor I heard is that we stay in tents. I hope that isn't true, but even if it is, at least I'm off base and not working. I'll be sure to put my camera on the charger..

Thursday, October 8, 2009

10 miles?

A couple of days ago the Army held their annual Army 10-miler. This year was the first I had heard of it, but apparently it takes place every year in DC and gets 20k plus people to turn out for it. In honor of that run, you know the guys here had to do a run. They do runs for Arbor day here. Anyway, the run here utilized nearly every road on the base so setting things up was a nightmare. The guys on the night shift had to stay about 3 hours after their shift, and everyone who was off had to come in.

All in all, I was actually pretty impressed with how things went. I didn't get many complaints from people who were upset they couldn't drive down certain roads. For the most part everyone was pretty accepting of the fact the roads were closed. I wish they were that accepting on the days of the 5k cause I hear all kinds of moaning and groaning for those.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Slow and Steady

It's been a week since my last post. Sorry about taking so long to post. There just hasn't really much going on to write about. Possibly it could be that I'm just not creative enough (lazy) to come up with a good topic. The other problem, is the last two topics I was going to write about turned out to be a bust.

First, I figured I'd talk a little bit about the change in weather. I waited for about a week of "colder" weather to declare it fall here and write about it. I figured I'd talk about how I was freezing cold at night as the temps go down to 78 degrees. No joke. I'm shivering in 78 degree weather. I put on a sweatsuit in 87 degree weather. Also, those nasty winds and sandstorms came to a halt. It was nice. Anyway, the day I decided to write about fall beginning in Kuwait, mother nature played a joke on me. It ended up being in the 100's and a sandstorm rolled through. So much for my story about the fall weather.

The other story I was going to tell actually still is a pretty good story, but not the story I had originally planned on sharing. I accidentally left my mp3 player in my pant pocket when I dropped my uniforms off to get washed and pressed. We drop them off at a trailer on base, and they take it an hour and a half away to Kuwait City to be cleaned. I figured it was safe to assume that it was long gone. So that was going to be my story. For the heck of it, I figured I'd at least go over and ask the guy at the trailer if it got turned in. He looked at me and told me no, it hadn't been turned in. He also told me the odds of getting it back were slim to none. He said usually the stuff gets tossed in the washing machine, it comes out ruined/broken, so they just throw it away, and you can't count out theft either. Regardless, he said he would give his boss a call down in Kuwait City, to be positive. I went back the next day expecting to confirm my thoughts. Surprisingly, it got turned in, in working order and all. Actually, he seemed more surprised than I was. So, that story had a happy ending to it. I just have to remember to take better care of the mp3 player and to check my pockets twice before I drop them off.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Flu Shot!

Got my Flu shot today. No, not the swine flu shot. Just the regular one. It was kind of a pain because we had to go at 3pm. I normally wake up for work around 5:15ish. I ended up getting around 5 hours of sleep which isn't too bad I guess. Other than that, nothing noteworthy going on as of late. The base has been pretty quiet.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Busy, Busy!

Things here have been pretty busy lately. Seems like the work comes in bunches. When it rains, it pours type of thing I guess. For the most part, there have been no major incidents, just a ton of "small" ones. This has most likely been the busiest week since I have been here. We've had about a dozen minor traffic accidents, none with inuries;

.50 cal round went off on the airfield. Shrapnel from the explosion hit a guy in the leg. Luckily his injuries werent too bad. The final investigation states the cause of the round going off as static electricity. The round was in an ammo can and apparently "just went off". There have been a few skeptic of the static electricity theory, but I'm none the wiser. I do know the round was manufactured in the early 80's, might have something to do with it.;

An older gentleman, working as a civilian contractor had a heart attack and died over here yesterday. The one positive thing to take from that is the mans son also works out here, so they were able to spend time with each other.;

LOST WEAPONS! They need to tie these weapons to these soldiers. They leave them laying all over the place. There are about 3 of these a day. I hope they aren't leaving them laying around up north too.;

Lastly, we had a soldier go streaking through the female shower trailer. He would of gotten away with it, but he saw one of the girls that was in the shower the next day and walked up and apologized to her. She called us and gave us his name. Turns out it is the second time this guy has done this. Hopefully they kick him out.

So thats the quick rundown of the last 5 days. I'm expecting things to slow down over the next 2 weeks or so.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Skype!

Not sure if I have told everyone or anyone, but I have been able to communicate with Christina over here using a program called Skype. Not sure if it is very popular in the states or if anyone even knows what it is. For the sake of the blog, I'll just assume everyone is clueless about it.

Skype is a program you can download to your computer for free. Once on your computer, you can use Skype to make calls to other people who have Skype on their computers. These calls are completely free. To make it even better, if both of you have a webcam, you can make video calls so you can see each other. If that's not enough for you, you can pay a monthly fee and call home and cell phones. There are cheaper ways of doing those though.

Its a great service. It's perfect for military on deployment or kids away at college. We try to talk on there once a week. It's tough with the time difference, and our schedules. When it is good for both of our schedules, my roommate is usually sleeping, so we end up not doing it, or I resort to whispering. So we have only been able to do it a handful of times. The other problem has been that terrible Internet connection out here. It has gotten much better though. Below are a few pictures I snapped while talking to her. She will most likely be angry, so I'm sorry. I just couldn't resist. At least I didn't post them on your facebook ;)


Martini and Christina


Roo and Christina



Not sure what I said to get this reaction. If you have a good guess, please post in the comments.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Camel Races!!??

Three nights ago myself and another guy that I work with saw a poster hanging up advertising camel races that were going to take place at the base. It seemed far fetched to me, so I turned to him and asked if he thought it was for real. He looked at me and rolled his eyes as if to say "how gullible are you?". So I laughed, went on about my business.

We are currently getting in civilian contractor EMT's here on base. They have been riding around with us to learn the lay of the land. So anyway, the next day after seeing the poster, I already completely wiped it out of mind, this EMT asks me if I'm going to the camel races. I looked at him kind of perplexed, and told him I'm pretty sure someone was playing a joke. He assured me it was no joke and he knew of people driving more than 2 hours from other bases out here to watch the races.

So now I'm curious. So we drive out to the location on base where the race was supposed to be and there are at least a thousand Army soldiers converged around the track usually used for running. They are all armed with their cameras waiting patiently. No camels anywhere in sight, it's pitch black. To me, it's obvious someone played a joke, especially because of my job, I am always privy to things like this weeks and months in advance.

So myself and the guys in the car with me start trying to figure out who played the joke. About 20 yards from the group of bystanders is about 10 guys laughing hysterically video taping the whole thing. That must be them. I pull up and ask them if they knew anything about it, and they start laughing louder. One guy says "I don't know who it was, but whoever it was, they are a genius"

People actually waited out there for about an hour and a half before they finally realized it was a joke. An hour and a half. Seriously? A group of people stopped me during the mass exodus and accused the Navy of playing the joke on the Army guys since no Navy showed up. We didn't, but we sure didn't fall for it, and we sure enjoyed watching it go down.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Catchpenny




The band Catchpenny came out and put on a great show last night. They are from Minnesota, and it's there 7th time coming out to do shows for the troops in the last 2 years. They were really cool and down to earth guys.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Move over Humvee!



From what I've been seeing around here lately, It appears the Humvee may have fought its final battle. I'm seeing less and less Humvee's and more and more MRAPS (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected). These things are beasts. The only thing that I could see being a problem, although I've never driven one, is there shape and size. I can see it tipping over on uneven terrain more than a humvee would, and it may also be harder to navigate through an urban setting with one of these. But, that same size and shape is the likely reason they are mine resistant. I'm gonna have to do some poking around and see if I can score a ride on one of these!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The HA HA's




Olivia Arrington, Thea Vidale and Paul Myrchaus came out to Kuwait yesterday. They put on a great show. You might recognize Thea, she has been on quite a few TV shows. I'd have to say I found the lesser known Olivia and Paul a little more funny. Overall the show was entertaining, there was a good turn out and it looked like everyone enjoyed themselves!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Labor Day

Hope everyone enjoyed their Labor Day. For most, the holiday is a day of rest, reflection and relaxation. Maybe a BBQ or some housework they've been putting off. The Army, on the other hand, thinks Labor Day is the perfect time to add another 5k "fun run" to this weeks schedule. Now that I've been here for a few months I'm beginning to see a pattern that the Army thinks that's the best way to celebrate all holidays. For example, 9/11 is coming up, and to recognize the day, they've scheduled a 5k. So that's 3 for the week. We all know how much I enjoy these runs. In October they are planning a 10 mile run. I am really dreading that. It's gonna be tough to control traffic for that.

Also happening this week, I got a new supervisor. Our old one got a new job and was transferred to another base. The new one is coming from Camp Arifjan. He was in the training with Ft. Lewis with me, but I don't know much about him, or how he likes to run things. Hopefully he doesn't come in and make too many changes. From past experience, I've seen new leaders come in and make a drastic change to cement their place as the person in charge.

At the end of last week, I called all of the guys from the night shift in so I could hold an intervention of sorts. First because, we have had some deficiencies as of late, and second because the change in the chain of command. The deficiencies, while all minor, were occurring too often. Little things like being consistently late to work, not properly filling out paperwork, losing equipment, and just an overall lack of effort. So, I just got everyone together to try to get their heads out of the clouds and back into the game. My fear is that if others in the organization start to see a trend in these deficiencies, they will begin to micro manage the shift. That is the last thing I want, and most certainly the last thing the junior guys want because as we know, "it" rolls downhill. It seemed that everyone agreed that we need to put forth a better effort, and look out for each other. So hopefully the meeting worked and I don't have to turn into a dictator to get things done around here. But if I have to, to keep the brass off my back, and accomplish the mission then so be it.

PS: It's still hot during the day here, todays high was 115, but man, the nights sure have cooled off. Good thing I'm sleeping during the hot stuff.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Groundhogs Day



Not too much new to report out here. Ramadan has begun, but it hasn't really affected us much here on base. Most of the employees on base are from India, so it hasn't affected our eating times or trouble calls for maintanence related things. Other than that, it's pretty much the same thing different day. I guess thats a good thing around here though.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Scars On Broadway 2



The Scars on Broadway post has made its rounds apparently. That's all in about 2 days I think. 125 people from the Czech Republic. Who'da thought?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Hurt Locker



So last month I blogged about a suspected IED here at the base. In that blog I talked about my decision making on whether or not to call EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) out to an incident or not. Well, yesterday was the day I called them out.

I was just sitting down to dinner when the dispatch called me to check out an unattended package. I was annoyed, and expected to go over and it be nothing. So myself and two patrolman went over to check it out. It was a medium sized cardboard box with DHL labeling. It was sitting on texas barrier which divided the road from some barracks. The box was not addressed to anyone. Occasionally, if its addressed, I can contact the person to see if they accidentally left it there. I gave the box a nudge. It was heavy. The box was sealed, so I couldnt see what was inside. I felt the box again. I felt a vibration. I didn't feel comfortable at this point. I asked one of the patrolman to verify that it was vibrating, they both said no way and went to hide behind the car. At this point I decided I was going to call out EOD.

I requested more patrolman, EOD, medical, and the fire dept. to be safe. Once the patrolman arrived, we set a perimeter and evacuated nearby buildings and barracks. The bad part about this whole thing, was that most of the officers lived in these barracks, so they were most likely annoyed, and now all eyes are on me to see how I handle the situation. I was pretty nervous. Now if any of you have seen the movie hurt locker and you see how cocky and confident the main character is, thats how this EOD guy that came out was. This pick-up truck came rolling up blaring the song "Many Men" by rapper 50cent. The song lyrics open with "Many Men....Wish death upon me". Now I'm interested to see how this goes down. He jumps out of the truck with long (for the military) hair, disheveld uniform, oozing confidence. I brief him on the situation. When I get to the part about the box vibrating I see his eyes fill with excitement. He goes back to his truck to get his tools. I was hoping to see him get all suited up and bring out the cool robots they have. I should have known better. This guy just grabs some c-4 and det chord.

On base, we have a siren that goes off to warn people in the area to stay away. It's deafning. It goes off every few minutes until the all-clear is given. Maybe you see where this is going. Just as he approaches the package, the siren goes off. He jumps up and comes storming over. At this point there were about 10 people standing around, mostly officers. He starts screaming at all of us. Dropping f-bombs and everything. "Turn that damn thing off!", he says. He completely flipped out. He starts marching back over to the box. We're all looking at each other in shock. I just kind of smile and say "I guess that means we should turn the siren off". 2 minutes later BOOM! The box is destroyed. He walks back to the box. Sifts through the debris. He comes back to where we were standing and says "No explosive material. The scene is all clear. I'm sorry I flipped out. The siren scared the crap out of me". He jumped back into his truck, turned the 50cent back up and drove off.

I was a little disappointed with the explosion. I expected something louder and larger. I guess because of how close it was to the buildings it was how it should be.

After he leaves, everyone wants to see whats left of the box. I start hearing people say "I just want to see what was vibrating". Now I'm thinking to myself, there better be some type of electrical device in here or I'm going to look a little foolish in front of all these officers. So we get over to the whats left of the box. A can of beans, some shredded paper, a blanket, a bag of microwave popcorn, and some other stuff. None of which is electronic. No one said anything, but I couldn't help but think they all think I'm crazy. So I have no idea why the box was vibrating. There was a generator not too far away, that may have caused it, but who knows. In my defense, the bomb expert thought it was enough for him to blow it up, so it must have been the right call.

I had today off which was nice after that night.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Scars On Broadway

The band Scars on Broadway, put on a great show last night here on Camp Buehring. They are comprised of a few other bands. One member being John Dolmayan, the drummer for System of A Down.

The lead singer in the band, Franky Perez, also gave out a password for a website for us to go and download a song he wrote with Dave Kushner from the band Velvet Revolver. The song is about the troops and is called "Beyond the Wire". I haven't had a chance to download it since the internet in our barracks has been down, but after seeing them perform for us last night I'm sure it's a great song.






Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Breaking the POUND Barrier

So since I started this whole deployment thing, I decided to use it as an opportunity to get back into shape. It's no secret I exploded since I got off of active duty 2 years ago. Just a guesstimate, but I'd say about 55lbs or so. Maybe it was the Pretzel Boys. Who knows. Anyway, I'd like to unveil the new Paul today. I've been working out like a mad man and here is the proof:




BAM!!!! This is where hard work and dedication will get you ladies and gentleman. In only 5 months I've transformed myself into a Channing Tatum look alike. Sorry ladies, I'm taken. If the fact that I'm taken doesn't phase your pursuit, I'll have you know my fiance watches UFC with me and I'm sure shes not afraid to apply the moves shes learned from watching on you. Just a warning.

Seriously though, I have been working out like crazy and have lost 30 lbs so far. I'd like to shed another 15 or 20 more before I leave. It actually hasn't been as hard as I thought, and I've managed to stay away from those supplement fat burning pills and stuff.

Working out daily, modifying my diet, and taking a few natural supplements is it.

My diet is still pretty good too. I take in 1800 - 2300 calories daily. I try to stay away from fried foods and sweets. I also eat an apple before every meal and drink two glasses of grapefruit juice daily. That's pretty much it for the diet. There isn't really a whole lot I cut out.

As far as working out, I do from 30 to 90 minutes every day depending on my schedule. I only do cardio twice a week. The other days I spend weightlifting. I mix up the cardio between p90x, elliptical, and stationary bike. I also try to get out and walk often when I'm on patrol. The goal is to burn about 500 more calories a day than I take in. That makes up about a pound a week and would be about 50lbs total, which is around my goal.

The supplements I take are pretty basic. I take a multi-vitamin, a fish oil pill, a green tea extract pill, and have a protein shake daily. That's it. We are sort of having a weight loss competition here. I'm around 2nd place by about 5lbs right now. Which is fine with me. The guy that has lost the most is on some serious fat burning pills and a very low calorie diet. No pills and only a slightly modified I'm right behind him!

Hope everyone is well.. 6 more months..

Monday, August 17, 2009

Kuwait foils terror plot

http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/08/11/al.qaeda.plot.foiled/

Call Me Now....



I told you so. So this morning when I got off of shift my supervisor called me in to his office and told me that because the guys that took over riding the ATV's for us don't have any law enforcement experience, among a couple other reasons I can't get into for operational security reasons, he doesn't want them going out on the ATV's for SAPP patrol by themselves. Therefore we have to go out with them now. I was a little angry about it for a number of reasons. The main reason is I think it will hurt the morale of my a crew a little bit. Actually I know it did, because when I announced it this evening I heard all the groans. Also, after that duty was taken over, I was able to give the guys an extra day off here and there, and now I'll have to stop. Again, for OPSEC reasons, I can't get into it a whole lot, but there are a plethora of reasons we shouldn't have to conduct this operation this way, and there is no reason why the guys that volunteered to take over couldn't continue to conduct the patrols. I have to pick and choose my battles, so I will spend the next couple weeks evaluating things and doing as ordered. Hopefully I can come up with a solution that will please everyone, and I can get these guys their time off some other way.

Friday, August 14, 2009

I KNEW IT!!

I told you so. I knew I was going to jinx myself with my complaining. I went in to work today to find out that now instead of doing the 5k once a week, they decided it was so popular they are now doing it twice a week!!! That's what I get I guess. Oh well.

I had a story I thought was kind of funny I wanted to share. So part of my duties here on base is traffic enforcement. Basically controlling the parking, speeding, stop signs, etc. Let me say up front, that I'm not big on giving tickets out here. Most of the people here on the base are only here for a few weeks before they head up to Iraq only to be never seen here again. The tickets don't follow them from base to base, so as long as it's nothing majorly wrong I usually just give them a verbal warning. Sometimes I don't even pull them over. I just flash my lights at them just to let them know I caught them and to take it easy, and sometimes I just follow them a little closely to convey the same message as flashing the lights.

Anyway, two nights ago, I was in my little hiding spot at a 4-way intersection and I saw this 20 passenger van speeding about 7-8 over and then they rolled the stop sign at the intersection I was watching. Now 7-8 isn't too much over, and he did at least slow down at the stop sign, plus there is little to no pedestrian traffic in this area. I decide that I will just let him know I'm in the area, so I flip my headlights on and I closely follow this guy. Were doing about 9mph at this point. So following closely really isn't a safety concern of mine. Most people understand what is going on and appreciate it, and some think they got away with it, but even they still leave with the impression that the police are out here, I don't want a ticket, I better be careful. Well, not this guy. He decides to hit the brakes, put his van in park, exit the van, and put his hands up in the air in disgust.

I pull up to him and ask "Do we have a problem?". This guy goes into a tirade about me following him too close. I try to explain to him that my intention was to simply let him know I saw him commit these infractions and to be careful. I further explain that I can use the method I did, or I could have pulled him over and given him a ticket. He tells me "Just give me the ticket next time". He then goes on to say he wasn't even speeding. I show him the radar. He's got nothing. He then decides to say he didn't run the stop sign. Rather than get into a pissing match with this guy, I decide, forget next time, he's getting a ticket this time. I ask for his license. Wouldn't you know it, no license. Here this guy could have gone on with nothing, and now he is getting 3 tickets, and most likely, his driving privileges revoked.

He really got me fired up inside. I try to be the nice guy with the verbal warnings and such, and he has to act this way. So after I give him the ticket, he drives off. About 10 minutes later, I see his van. You guessed it. Illegally parked. Guess who got another ticket...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It was soooo hot today...

...that I waterboarded myself.

So I guess my requests were heard. They found some volunteers to do the SAPP patrols on the ATV's. Basically a unit here was not too busy on their night shift and their supervisor decided to find some work for them. Luckily for me he found us and asked if we had any work for them. Now I just have to make sure those guys are doing them correctly, and occasionally fill in the gaps they leave.

So since I got lucky with my last request, I'll throw another one out there. With my luck this one will most likely backfire and I'll end up back on the ATV's, but I'll go on anyway.

Every Wednesday here on base they have a 5k run. Yeah. A 5k run in the desert heat. Who these people are who participate, I'm not exactly sure. I know the majority of the participants are British and the majority of those British runners are Gurkhas. (I Highly recommend reading about the Gurkhas by the way) With that being said, I'm sure you've seen on the news that the British troops are almost completely withdrawn from Iraq, and Kuwait will soon follow suit. Which leads me to believe that there will not be that many participants.

The military polices' involvement in the race is to block off all of the roads the runners will be on to insure no one is driving around creating a hazard for the runners. Now we put barricades up at every intersection, but the people working here on base apparently don't let police barricades stop them. They simply get out of their car move the barricades and drive right through them as if they owned the base. It's really unbelievable how these people just completely ignore them. So, now, in addition to putting out the barricades we have to drive up and down the route making sure no one is going around the barricades. When I catch them, everybody I confront has some "important meeting" that they "have" to be at, and this road is the "absolute only" way for them to get to this "critical" meeting.

I know I'm sounding really lazy complaining about the "work" I'm doing out here but these 5k races are soooooooooooo boring and drawn out. The race goes till about 7am or whenever the last person finishes. I'm supposed to get off at 6am. First let me get back to this last person finishes bit really quick. Now, I really admire the people participating in the run. It's extremely hot and the dust in the air has got to make it that much harder to breathe. You'll never catch me volunteering for one of these(insert fat joke here), but people come out and walk the 5k. Seriously? I have to stay out till the last person finishes, and you're walking it? If I only had to do it monthly rather than weekly I would have a little more tolerance of this. So, I propose, instead of doing it weekly, lets do it monthly. This way I only sound sort of lazy.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

You Know You're In The Desert When...

.... You eat Habanero peppers to cool your mouth off.

Work has been pretty busy this week. In addition to my regular work, my collateral duties and volunteering at the USO has been making the days go by fast. Last week I also started doing the Sexual Assault Prevention Patrol or SAPP. We have never had any incidents here, so this is merely a preventive measure. I'm sure whomever created it has it at the top of their evaluation report. Something to the effect of "Spearheaded the creation of SAPP.......as to date, because of my genius program, we have had no incidents"

It's a good program to have, but they ask that we ride ATV's so we can get into places our vehicles cant. Which at first sounded like fun, till I got a sore throat from breathing in all of the dust created by the ATV. Also, when I'm done my patrol my uniform is covered in dust, so for the rest of the shift I look like a dirtball. And the kicker...ATV's DONT HAVE AIR CONDITIONING. I think the goals of the program could be met just as well, by getting out and patrolling the areas the vehicles can't get to on foot, or maybe just making it someones sole job. Give them a uniform more comfortable like a bike cop would wear or something. So anyway, that's my rant I guess.

In happier news I got care packages yesterday. I got 3 from back home, and 1 from group called Operation Gratitude. Check em out. Great program.

I wanted to thank all of you back home that put stuff into the care package my Mom sent out. It really made my day. Except for Trent's diaper. I could have done without Trent's diaper. All of the other stuff was great though. I'll have to pace myself on eating the sweets. It's been tempting to pick at them before I go to bed. Below is a picture of all of the stuff that was sent:



So thanks again to all of you!! PS..That big bag of laundry was not sent. That is mine and it is clean, I just hadn't put it away yet.

Lastly, Christina's Aunt and Grandmother bought her another Sphinx over the weekend. It's name is "Roo". In case you didn't pick up on it, our cat that just passed was Kanga. Kanga and Roo.

Miss Everyone....7 more months!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

"The IA Experience"

Since I started this blog a few months ago I have recieved a few emails from other Sailors who are scheduled to go on deployment to varios places as an IA (Individual Augmentee). They mostly consist of questions about what to bring and what to expect. I'm happy to hear this blog has become somewhat of a place to prepare them for thier deployment. In doing some research to help one of the people who emailed me, I found that another Sailor had created a blog which is a little more "informational" than my stories can be at times. While I highly recommend this blog for those who are seeking to learn more about being an IA, please don't hesitate to email any questions you may have. The writer of this blog also added my blog to his list of IA links back in April so thanks to him for that.


The IA Experience :
"I came across a post on Eye of the Storm mentioning that the "collective Navy Individual Augmentee experience" is one of three books not yet written that Charles would love to read. Me too. I'm on the hook to head into an IA this year, and in trying to learn whatever I can about what the next year holds I have come to the same conclusion as Charles: the IA is a unique part of Navy history that needs to be recorded for posterity. So this might end up being another blog about my IA, when it arrives. Or it might work out to be a step toward recording others' IA experiences for posterity. We'll see. For now, I've linked to any Navy IA blogs that I can find on the right side of the page in the hopes that people can use this page as one stop shopping to see what's going on in the world of Navy IAs today."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Narmy Strong......

......when an Army Of One just isn't strong enough

Well it's Tuesday and the sandstorm never came. I heard that it slowed down and could be here by Friday. I'm sure on Friday they'll say that it should be here by Monday.

Last week was fairly quiet. I do have a pretty good story to tell though.

So on Sunday night I was out patrolling the base in our Durango (Glad I went to Humvee school) and I was flagged down by a soldier who stated he thinks there may be an IED in a dumpster near his tent. So I go over to the area where they are and they tell me they hear a beeping noise coming from the dumpster. This is the first sign to me, that this could not possibly be an IED. I know the terrorists aren't the brightest and most advanced enemy, but they know better than to put a warning on their bomb. "Here's the bomb..The beeping noise...just wanted to give you a heads up". So anyway, just to be on the safe side I call for back-up and we evacuate the nearby tents. Now the Army guys who reported it are practically demanding that I call out EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal). These are the heavy hitters. You don't call them out unless you know it's for sure an IED or you just can't tell. It's better to be safe than sorry, but at the same time, don't drag them out of bed for something bogus.

So I decide to get closer to try and hear the beeping. Up until this point I've been about 40 yds away. So as I get closer I hear the beeping. I know that beep. When we first got to Kuwait, and we were sleeping in those tents, my tent had that same beeping noise for three days straight. It was an alarm for the smoke detectors telling you to change the battery. It doesn't stop beeping until a new one is put in. So now I am 90% positive its a smoke detector, but I need to be 100% sure. So I open the dumpster. These Army guys headed for the hills as soon as I lifted the lid. It was funny to me. It's dark and I can't see a thing, so I ask them for a flashlight. They said they had one, but they weren't coming to me. So I walked back over to get the flashlight and I tell the guys I'm pretty sure I know what it is, I don't think it's a bomb. One of the guys says to me "Hey. No need to be the next hero man, just call EOD and let them handle it". Which I also found amusing. I thought about going back over to the dumpster and start asking for tools that would be used to disable a bomb. "Yeah, I'm gonna need a pair of pliers, a roll of duct tape, a piece of bubble gum and a pair of tin snips". Instead I opted for, "No hero man, just doing my job. Trust me, I've seen the movie Hurt Locker and just went through 3 days of IED training at Ft. Lewis".

So anyway, I go back over, rifle through the trash, grab the smoke detector out, rip out the battery and toss it back in. The Army guys were pretty embarrassed. I made sure to assure them they did the right thing. Had I not recognized the beep and completely assessed the situation to my complete understanding, I would've never have gone over there. When I was in Bahrain in 2003, a terrorist set a pretty big explosion in a dumpster that rocked the base. Shattered windows. It was scary. So when I say if I didn't know, I wouldn't have done it, I mean it. Been there, done that type of thing.

The main thing is, is that these soldiers are on there way to Iraq. Where IED's are the most dangerous thing there. They've lost friends to IED's. So to you and I, it might be a no brainer, "ah it's just a smoke detector", but they cannot take anything lightly. I made very sure to make sure they understood that even though it was what it was, they did the right thing, and that they continue to do the same thing in Iraq. You don't want to help them get into "the boy who cried wolf" phase. Where they stop calling out possible IED's because the last 3 came out negative, because that's the one that will blow. So anyway, it's a funny story, but I had to put it into perspective. See it through their eyes.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Quiet is Good

Things here have been pretty quiet, aside from a few minor offenses, the Soldiers have been pretty well behaved. The average temperature has increased about 5 - 10 degrees. I haven't checked the weather lately, but on Thursday they were predicting a major sandstorm to roll in Sunday or Monday. Hopefully it doesn't. They're the worst.

As for me things have been pretty good. I have been going through a battle with "Big" Navy lately though. It seems to have been fixed, but it will be about a month before I know for sure.

The whole thing is really complicated, especially for someone not familiar with the military, but I will try to break it down.

On Mar 5th 2002 I joined the Navy. I enlisted for a total of 8 years. 5 Active Duty and 3 inactive ready reserves. So I would have been getting out of the Navy all together on Mar 5th 2010.

On Mar 5th 2007, I got off of Active duty and decided to go active reserves instead of inactive in order to receive an enlistment bonus. The bonus required me to enlist for a total of 6 years reserves to qualify. Since I was already required to do 3 years in the reserves I just extended that contract for 3 years. Thus fulfilling the 6 years. My new contract would expire on Mar 5th 2013.

With me so far?

Now this is where no one seems to have a clue as to what happened.
"All of the sudden" all of the Navy computer systems say that my contract will expire on Jun 25th 2009. No one has an explanation as to what triggered this. So on Jun 25th, I was technically discharged from the Navy. The original contracts I signed cannot be found.

So now that I'm discharged things start to happen. My pay stops. My benefits stop. I'm basically non-existent as far as the computers are concerned. So after 3 weeks of people passing the buck on whose fault it was and who was going to fix it, they finally decided that I would have to re-enlist and they would back date the paperwork to Jun 25th. You would not believe the drama that went on, and is still going on about this paperwork. Meanwhile I just sat here watching, waiting, not getting paid and not receiving benefits.

Now the new date for my contract to expire will be Jun 25th 2012. Which is fine with me except for the fact that I received a nice bonus for the extension till 2013 I did back in 2007. Now that that contract has been "breached", I'm worried they will try to recoup my bonus. Only time will tell. I have been assured they wont, but when this all came about I was assured my pay wouldn't stop too.

Hope everyone is doing well back home! 230 more days....

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Not a whole lot new going on out here in the sandbox. The base has been busy, so I made sure to buy a couple extra bottles of soap and shampoo in case they sell out. Tonight there was a country concert here. Artie Dean Harris was the singers name. I'm not really a big country fan, but without much to do here I checked it out. It was a pretty good show. He has opened up for a few big country singers and I guess he is releasing his first album soon. I think he said he opened up for Big & Rich, Kelly Coffey, Emerson Drive, Daid Alan Coe, and a few others I didn't recogonize.

On my days off I have been pretty bored so decided to start getting into weightlifting and volunteering at the USO here on base. I'm pretty excited about working at the USO. From what I understand I will just be doing random odd jobs they have there. Keeping myself busy should help the time go by faster on those days off.

On a more somber note, our cat Kanga died today. Not sure what from. Christina was at the beach when it happened. Here are a few photos of her:







Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Patton

This is played at every base in Kuwait at 6am as revele. I'm glad I work the night shift and I dont have to wake up to it every morning.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dust Storms

Not sure if this is the one that just rolled through here, or there is another one on the way......

http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20090707/sc_livescience/hugeiraqduststormseenfromspace

"Many Iraqis considered the storm to be the worst in living memory"

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fly Eagles Fly.....

Happy 4th!



If you didn't already notice I was able to get a few pictures uploaded to my last two blogs so be sure to check them out.

It looks like the sandstorms here finally are done. Yesterday was the worst day yet. I was able to get a few good pictures of what it's like driving during one of these. Hopefully I'll be able to upload them soon. I talked to a few of the locals and they said said they have seen much worse sandstorms, but not continuous sandstorms for 2 weeks like this. They said it usually only lasts 2 - 3 days.

As Aunt Eileen commented on my last blog, the Eagles cheerleaders were in Kuwait the last few days. I believe they go to Iraq tomorrow. They didn't come to my base, but they did go to Camp Virginia, one of the bases I'm responsible for policing. I was off, so I caught a ride with the guys who were working the shift down there so I could get some pictures.




I ended up bumping into one of the guys who I was in that VIP training with at Ft. Lewis, and he brought me over to join him and the cheerleaders for dinner. They ate at the Army Dining Facility where we normally eat. They didn't seem impressed :) I'm sure after two days in Iraq they will be wishing they were back eating in Kuwait. There were 6 or 7 cheerleaders. They were all really nice. The majority of them were from South Jersey, so I shared a few of the jokes I've heard about South Jersey girls. They didn't find them funny, but the girls from Delco and Montgomery County did.


I asked them if they were scared about going into Iraq, and for the most part, they weren't. They were more worried about camel spiders than anything. I guess they saw that email that went around. If you saw it, it was a soldier holding this camel spider that was 2 feet long. Turns out that photo was a fake. They're actually pretty small. I flipped some boards over outside to show them one. They do chase you though. Not to attack, but for the shade. You will sometimes find them standing next to you to get some shade. If your shadow moves, they chase you to try to stay in it.

So after dinner we got some pictures, again I'll hopefully be able to upload them soon, and they went over to the USO tent to sign autographs. There were about 60 or 70 guys there waiting to get autographs. Its a real small base. There were 3 guys that came in late, very rowdy, hootin' and hollerin' ,that claimed to be from Northeast Philly. They also claimed to be proud season ticket holders of seats in the "700 section". I asked them if they meant "700 level". They said yes, but they hesitated. The guy doing the photography for the cheerleaders asked them to sing the fight song. Fail. I think they only said the last verse correctly. They made fools out of themselves. The cheerleaders were rolling their eyes at them and boos erupted from the crowd. They walked out in shame. That, unfortunately I didn't get footage of.
So all in all it was nice to talk to people from the tri-state area, and nice to see girls for the first time in awhile.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Shamal Winds

Still getting situated. The guys we were relieving left yesterday, so we're officially on our own. We got some ok training/turnover from them. It was only a couple of weeks, so most things we will learn by trial and error. So by the time I leave, I should be just about getting things down pat :)

I've been taking lots of pictures, but the Internet here is terrible. Low speed and and low bandwidth, so I haven't been able to load them onto the net. All of the money this country has and they don't have decent Internet. Part of the reason also is that the U.S. doesn't want to spend a ton of money on these bases because Kuwait technically owns this land. We're just leasing it, so at anytime they can ask us to leave. So as long as were in tents and trailers we can pretty much just pick up and go.

Right now Kuwait is experiencing what they call the "Shamal". The Shamal are winds that can come at any time, but mostly come in June and July. They range anywhere from 30-50mph. I think they come down from Syria, across Iraq, through Kuwait, and sometimes make it down to Somalia. I'm no Glenn Hurricane Schwartz, but as I understood it, that's how it goes.

The thing about these high winds, is they bring in nasty, nasty sandstorms. Like strip paint off of things sandstorms. Cant see your hand in front of your face sandstorms. They hurt. I have to wear this ski mask like thing with goggles to walk around outside in them. By the way, the showers and bathrooms are about 60 yards away from my barracks so I have to suit up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night occasionally. I have some pictures of these too, but again, can't get them to load on here, but if you google image search "Kuwait sandstorms" a few pics will pop up. One is here at my base. It looks like a scene from the movie The Mummy. It's just this huge cloud of sand and dust engulfing the base.


The other bad part about these sandstorms is that the dust and sand is so fine that it gets through closed windows and the air conditioner blows it right in. So far I've duct taped the windows and around the ac unit, and I also hung a curtain in front of the ac unit so the dust it blows in just hits the curtain and settles on the floor underneath it. Otherwise my room would be covered in sand and dust all the time.


Well that's it for today, and again, hopefully I'll get back in the groove and get these up more regularly and hopefully I can figure out a way to get these pictures up.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Journey

We'll I've been in Kuwait for about 2 weeks or so now (I completely lost track of days on the trip over). I'm still trying to get adjusted to everything. Internet is terrible at the moment, but they are supposed to be upgrading soon. Accommodations are OK I guess. Could be better, could be worse. No need to complain.

So anyway, I figured I'd start out my first blog over here by going back to the trip here. Its a long story so you might have to take a sick day or read a little bit a day to get through it, or I made some cliff notes at the bottom if its really too much for you to read.

As I said, I kind of lost track of days, but I'm pretty sure we left Seattle on the 3rd/4th of June. We had to exit the barracks at around 1am so they could be inspected before we left to make sure they were the same as when we got them. We sat outside for about 2 hours while that went on. At 3am we loaded our gear into a tractor trailer and headed to Sea-Tac. We would be going to South Carolina. We were divided up into about 8 groups of 6, give or take, and each group was on a different flight. They were commercial flights. We were told we would be going on a military flight to Norfolk previously, but apparently that went through.


Our bags totaled in weight about 500lbs each, so carrying them around was tough. My flight left at 6am and we had a layover in Cincinnati. That flight was forced to ask people to take another flight because it was over the weight limit. Most likely because of our baggage. Sorry. While in Cincinnati, we decided to grab lunch. Two of us chose "Worlds Best Cheesesteaks". Terrible. I'd like to talk to the person who told them they fit that bill. A man in line ahead of us paid for our lunch. We told him thanks but no thanks politely, but he insisted. I wanted fries and a soda, but since he was buying I felt guilty for some reason so I just got a sandwich. The guy with me said the same thing. He wanted a large sandwich, but got the small instead. It was really nice of him regardless. When we arrived in Charleston, we had to retrieve our 500lbs of gear and load it onto a small box truck. We had about a 30-45 minute ride to a small Army base there. I think it was near Ft. Jackson, but I'm not positive. We were in a classroom there that happened to have a shower in it. It had been awhile since I had showered last, it was about 7pm est by then. So I took advantage of that. We were to fly out at 1am that night. So we just sat in that classroom for about 4 hours when they announced our flight had been cancelled and that we would be stuck there till 9am the following day. Great. Classroom full of about 175 people for another 9 hours.

When we get to the airport the next morning we were greeted by about 50 or so people who came to see us off. VFW, Purple Heart Assoc, USMC Ret Assoc, boy and girl scouts just to name a few. Apparently there were triple the people the previous night when they thought we were supposed to be leaving. They had tons of food, care packages, prayer cards and things of that sort. It was really nice. They all wanted to shake your hand, give you a hug, wish us safe. You really felt like you were supported. Once everyone got a bite to eat and chatted with the people there, they formed two lines for us to walk between on our way to the plane. They were holding flags. It was rather moving to be honest. I didn't really expect any of it. I guess since this has been going on for so long, I had assumed people weren't as "motivated" as they were when the war first started. Not sure where I'm going with that, but hopefully you get the picture. The plane held about 350 and there were only 175 us and they seated by rank, so I got my own row which was nice.


Now here is where I completely lose track of all time. I have no idea how long these flights were. Our first stop was Goose Bay, New Foundland, Canada. For customs reasons we weren't allowed off here. We were there for maybe an hour or so while we refueled. Our next stop was Reykjavik, Iceland. Again, not sure what time it was there, but most of the airport was closed. No one was in it, so I'm guessing late at night, but you wouldn't know it because the sun is out 24 hours a day there this time of the year. The commanding officer of the flight allowed us to have one beer. The bar was closed. There was a gift shop open that sold like 10oz bottles of wines. Guys were buying them up like it was going out of style, like this was there last chance to have alcohol, ever. I passed. We were there about 2-3 hours. We departed for Leipzig, Germany. Once we landed we were informed we were going to have a 16 hour layover. There was a military terminal that had Internet and phones, for a hefty price, they also had food, a few gift shops and beds. I went straight for the beds where I stayed for 9 hours. I woke up grabbed a bite to eat and had two beers. Jumped on the net for 15 minutes (all I could afford) and then watched some TV before we got back on the plane. I'm not sure why such a big layover, but I know the Germans were raking in money there. Coincidence?

We arrived in Kuwait at 3am on what I'm going to guess was either Sunday or Monday. It wasn't very hot. It did smell terrible. We loaded our bags onto two tractor trailers and after a few hours we headed to Camp Virgina, which is about 30 minutes from the base I'm at now. Once at Camp Virginia, we unloaded our gear and moved into 12 man tents. They weren't all that bad. They had cots. We went right to sleep there since we had a brief in a few hours. After the brief we loaded all of our gear up again and went to Camp Arifjan which was about 2 hours away. Just a reminder I'm 30 minutes from my base. We get to Camp Arifjan around 9 or 10 pm. Unload all of our gear again and this time we move into 8 man tents and again we all just went to bed. We had to go to boring briefs and power point presentations. Mostly the same stuff as the briefs at Camp Virginia just longer. It's hot, drink water, drive safe, those types of things.

Death by power point lasted about 2 and a half days before we again loaded all of our gear (still 500 lbs) into a tractor trailer and went back up north to my final destination, Camp Beuhring. The accommodations are better here than the other places. I only have one roommate. I have a bed. The base is seriously in the middle of no where desert.


So that's pretty much it for the trip. If you read all of it great. If not, do you know how long it took me to write it? Are you really that busy or are you just that lazy? Just kidding. I might not even proofread this one its so long. Below is the cliff notes I promised.

CLIFF NOTES
The trip was long and arduous.

Monday, June 15, 2009

hello

I'm here and doing well. Still getting settled in and adjusted to the time change and all. I promise I will get some posts up here in the next few days. Hopefully I remember all of the stories I wanted to share over the last week or so. It was an adventure to say the least.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

back to the grind...

As you all know, I got about 8 days back home to enjoy before I left to the sandbox. I decided the best way to spend the majority of those days was to erect a fence around the house. Yeah, not exactly relaxing, but mostly everyone was working during the day anyway, and home depot was giving military discounts for memorial day, so I figured why not. So I knocked that out with the help of some good friends. I'm still not sure if they helped because they felt bad or I because I offered to provide beer and pizza, but either way, it was very much appreciated. Couldn't have done it without them. It turned out great.

Then the Saturday before I departed, family and friends made the trek to good ol' Bear, DE to celebrate a few birthdays and to send me off. It was great seeing everyone, and hopefully fun was had by all. For those of you who didn't make it, I'm taking you out of my will. No, just kidding, seriously, we missed not seeing you, and don't feel bad at all. I know a few people called and apologized for not coming up, but it was one of those weekends were everyone has like 3 parties to go to, and the Woodlands had to be difficult and move an hour away from everyone else, so don't worry. We'll (my parents will do all the work and I'll show up) have another one when I come back.

So on Tuesday, around 4:15am, My parents and Christina took me to the airport, which is always the quietest car ride you can imagine. we said our goodbyes at the airport and I flew to Seattle. I ended up bumping into a couple of guys that are going with me, and they informed me that even though we were arriving in Seattle at 10:00am, we didn't have to report to the Army until the next morning, so we decided to rent a car and check out Seattle. Its a pretty nice city, kind of smaller than I expected, but very clean. More hippies than I expected too. But we went to Pike Market where they throw the fish around, a few Irish Pubs and then ended up at a mariners orioles game which was a good time too. I'll post some pics at the end here.

So tonight we fly out of Seattle and head to Kuwait. It's going to be about 26 hours of travel time so I'm sure I'll have a few good stories about that journey, so stay tuned.

PS: Not sure if everyone heard, but my Dad got Manager/Operator of the year for Pathmark, so Congrats to him.



Pics from Seattle
Safeco field. Home of the Mariners.

Our Seats. $13. As you can see the stadium is very empty.
So we upgraded ourselves to these seats.



And again upgraded ourselves to about 10 rows behind homeplate.
And yes, this was the night Ibanez had 5 RBI's and 2 HR so I made
sure to remind the Seattle fans what was going on.

The Crab Pot

They just dump all this seafood on the table and hand you a hammer
and bib. If you're a fan of the TV show Man vs. Food, he ate 2 of these.
2 of us ate one of these.

Seattle skyline. I bet you're wondering where the space needle is.
It's not exactly in the city per say, in this picture it would be to the far left.