Tuesday, November 22, 2005

This will be my last blog!

Hi everyone:

I'm back from Iraq! It was a real eye-opening set of experiences that have certainly made me appreciate what we are doing over there and the good work that is going on to help the Iraqi people. I'm glad that each of you have (over the months) had a chance to visit the web site I set up and follow with me on the adventures I had from time to time. Of course, it feels great to be back and I am grateful for the support each of you have given me and my family while I was deployed. I was able to come home earlier than expected because we had accomplished our mission and team objectives sooner than originally planned.

As you might have seen on TV or CNN/FOX, the military is trying to find ways to "work ourselves out of a job" over there so that Iraqi's can take over basic government functions and run their own country.

I cannot tell you how great it feels to be back. I have spent quite a bit of time with my family and everyone is doing fantastic.

I would love to hear from all of you in this "close-out" blog. Write when you can...I will leave this website open until Christmas and then take the entries and put them in some kind of "Creative Memories" thing. Write when you can.


Monday, October 24, 2005

Election results in Iraq

I know the final votes have not been tallied yet but I am so happy over the participation rate during this election. The January, 2005 elections were hailed as a great success but surely this one will be recorded as one even better. My personal theory on why we ultimately will have a YES on the referendum is that the Sunni-Arabs were "allowed" to vote by their leaders this time. Back in January, many Sunni's were told not to vote and were harassed, threatened, and, in some cases, subject to physical violence if they did vote. I believe that many Sunni's did vote AND some of those that did vote actually voted YES instead of NO. So...over here I am very happy that so many participated in the election. I hope the result is a YES but even if it is a NO, that in itself is a victory for the Iraqis because they used the polling stations to effect change rather than using an AK-47 or an IED (Improved Explosive Device)...

Saturday, October 08, 2005

I was interviewed

Hey folks

Just a quick note to say I was interviewed by my hometown newspaper. Here is the link to the website.


Let me know if there is any problem accessing this site. Thanks.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

October is here - yeaaaaa

Hey folks: I have been having trouble posting pictures to the web site so I might have to go purely text-based from now on...The past few weeks have been quite busy for me. We have been doing our usual "outside the wire" missions, going to city neighborhoods and assessing the living conditions, taking pictures, chatting with the locals, etc...and of course handing out candy and beanie babies whenever we can. This past week I took some folks out to Lake Dokan in the northeastern part of Iraq and we actually got to swim in a huge lake. President Talabani (spelling?) has a house there - he is the President of Iraq. Anyway, we had a great time there - there was work involved but I try to have fun (in a safe way of course) while we are out sometimes. A couple of days ago we assessed a city sector/neighborhood and got to check out one of the city's oldest fortresses...apparently this historical landmark is at least 2,000 years old - that was fun.

I am so glad we are in October - another month"bites the dust".

Sunday, September 11, 2005

An interesting sight at a local school

The other day we went out to visit a city neighborhood and came across some graffiti at one of the local schools – which happened to be almost 100% Arab, as opposed to Kurdish population. The graffiti said “Long live the great Jihad warrior Saddam Hussein”. I promptly got a spray can from another soldier and commenced to spray over the graffiti. The nearby kids seemed to enjoy me doing the spraying. It is hard to tell who actually still supports the “enemy” when I am out and about speaking with doctors, business owners, children, gas station operators, police officers, etc. Perhaps some of the people I speak with are pro-USA during the day but anti-USA at night – I don’t know, probably will never know. The main thing I would like to see amongst the general population, regardless of their feelings towards the U.S. forces is that they get out and vote in October…and then again in December.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Here is a picture of a mall in Doha, Qatar. Yes, that is a skating rink in the middle of the mall. My unit commander authorized me to go on a four day pass to Doha, Qatar. How could I pass that up! What a difference Qatar is from Iraq, as you can imagine. Qatar is an extremely wealthy country - I just read today that Qatar has donated $100 million to the US for the Hurricane Relief Fund. Wealth is evident everywhere - upscale mall, booming skyscrapers in construction, no trash on the streets or even poor people, etc. Iraq is almost at the complete opposite of the spectrum - crumbling, ancient infrastructure, trash everywhere, little construction, and threats of violence constant in the air. Here in Qatar, the base here offers MWR activities (MWR = morale, welfare, and recreation). The other day I took a trip to a local mall and except for most of the shoppers wearing either long flowing white robes (men) or long flowing black robes (women) I would have thought I was back in the USA at an upscale mall - very impressive.

It is nice to take a break after being �in-country� for a little over three months - where has the time gone? It is nice to wake up and have absolutely no responsibilities - the questions of the day around here are: should I go to the pool after or before my run? How much reading time do I want to do before the free movie starts at the base theater? Should I go for chicken quesadillas or ribs? J

The summer is over - and I think about the school season starting for my daughters. Another season has commenced - my favorite one actually being the fall. I hope everyone has enjoyed their summer and is looking forward to this fall season with their friends and families.

Hey folks. I was lucky enough to go to Doha, Qatar for several days on a "MWR" pass which stands for morale, welfare, and recreation. At the base I stayed at they offered some tours. This is me trying to look like a model on the back of a boat in the Persian Gulf just off of the capital city of Qatar (Doha). The whole trip was very relaxing which was good because I was starting to get a little edgy with my buddies...so the break was nice.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Everybody wants to get photographed! :-)

Some boys that want to take me on in soccer!

A proud father!

Hey folks. Sorry for taking so long to write. A lot has happened since I last wrote - of course it is all good. I am now living on a very nice base with all the amenities that you would expect from a military base - gym, three hot meals a day, plenty of air conditioning, etc. My roommate is very easy to live with which makes the time go by fast. This picture was taken when we went out into the city and met some Kurdish families that were returning to their city. A little history is in order - several years ago Saddam Hussein ordered many Kurds to leave their native cities and forced many Arabs to populate those areas that had traditionally been Kurdish...I guess he wanted to break up a potential political coup or something like that...anyway in my part of Iraq there are many, many folks that are now returning to lands and cities where they once lived. The guy center stage of this photograph is one of my favorite interpreters...I call him "Big Glasses". I wrote about him in an earlier blog. He is great to work with and speaks several languages! As I work with him and others in trying to assess living conditions and people's needs one thing is universal - humor. The other day I was visiting a primary school and was interviewing the principal, a middle-aged lady. Anyway, when I asked her if she minded if we take her photograph I also asked her what her favorite side was - left or right...with a smile. They all laughed in the room.