Well well well. A busy few days. A busy week and the end of a very busy month. You know what would really make this time here in the East Ramadi Iraqi Camp (ERIC) perfect? Yet another freaking move. (Note: I think ERIC is funny because that is my first name).
Yep, it’s time for Team Med-Fah (or Team Drifter, which is our radio call sign over here) to pack their trash again and hit the bricks. I will let you know specifically where we are going within the week, but will hold off for now. It’s not far, and I should have our new mailing address within the next day or so and will post it post haste.
Things here have still been fairly quiet. There ARE some stories I wish I could post here, but operational security and wanting to steer clear of Big Brother out there prevent me from doing so. Want a taste? Hmmm.. How about the mission we got about two weeks ago to enter and search the largest mosque on our side of Ramadi, all starting with the question from the XO of 2-69, “How long would it take you to get a company together?” That is only the second time we have gotten a request of us like that here. The first time is a story best saved for a later time (although it did result in the pictures of Top on the porcelin throne, but I don’t think I ever said WHERE or WHY we were there).
An hour later, there we were, the entire team, all of the terps, in the back of LMTVs, heading downtown. Great. Long story short: everyone did well, got to enter a mosque, of course the electricity was out, so it was flashlights and NVGs. The two strange moments of the night: first, getting out of the LMTV, sprinting to the side of the street, looking around to get oriented and seeing through NVGs about 100 meters away… a ferris wheel. I knew this place was a circus, complete with clowns, and looky here, in downtown Ramadi: indisputable proof. Second, we were in and out so fast that we got back to the “house” in time to catch the nightly episode of “24” (Season 2) on the TV we bought as a team a few weeks ago. That is one of the strangest… incongruities? Non-sequitors? – of this place, is going out armed to the teeth, doing some things you don’t want to know about just now, and then coming back to the base for more chow than we could possibly eat, TV or a movie on our laptops, and a warm bed. It think that it is probably very similar to being a cop (but one with a really REALLY bad patrol area).
Here’s another Twilight Zone moment for you. I was upstairs in the room of the Iraqi Army (“IA”) battalion S-3 (operations officer, Major T_____) the other day. I had gone up there to talk to him about the next days operations, maybe to ask him what the HELL was going on with Iraqi guards shooting at nothing in the middle of the night (“They were test firing their guns”, was one reason I have heard). Anyway, in his room is one or two of the IA company commanders, the battalion medical officer as well, I think (he’s a piece of work too), so about four or five Iraqis. I’m the only American, a Marine officer, still in uniform and still packing heat (wearing my 9mm). Major T_____ has a TV too, and it’s on. I look over, and it is an Arabic channel carrying previews of upcoming American movies. The movie being previewed at the moment I was standing in a room full of Iraqi officers: “Jarhead”.
Now for those of you who don’t know, “Jarhead” is a book written by a former Marine veteran of the Gulf War. My only problem with this fine piece of shi… - I mean literature – is that the author, one Anthony Swofford, is a self-serving bottom feeder of a former Marine, one who writes about stealing from fellow Marines and drug use, and who managed, through a minimum of writing ability and good timing, to peddle his boatload of CRAP into a best seller and a movie. I was even personally present at one of the events in his book, and HIGHLY dispute his account of what happened involving the Marine tank company I was assigned to. But I digress. Suffice it to say that I do not like him, Sam I Am, nor will I like his steaming pile of a movie.
Back to Maj T______’s room. So there I am, talking to a roomful of Iraqi officers, while clips from “Jarhead” are playing on the TV, scenes of a massive and violent American victory over the forces of Iraq in 1991, a time during which I personally stood against (and fired against) the very people I was standing there talking to. I can not emphasize how strange a moment that was for me. But on the flipside, that also highlights the very nature of the American way of war. After the ass-kicking in 1991, we went two for two again in 2003, and still, after all that, here we stand, former enemies, now united in trying to set this place right. Interesting.
On a more mundane note, the weather continues to cool down, highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s. Clouds are not unusual to see these days (they were non-existent until about two weeks ago). We welcome the return of SSgt Walsh to the Team, but it looks like Master Guns Kistler, who left about a month ago to get a pre-existing medical issue taken care of, will not be returning to us before our departure (now NO MORE THAN 90 days away). While not here in Ramadi, Master Guns remains a part of this Team until that beautiful day in March when we disband. Everytime I start to do something questionable with one of our HUMMVs, I hear Master Guns voice in my head.
Anyway, time for me to wrap this up. I already have the next blog entry forming up in my mind, but that will be for a few days from now (we just returned from visiting our new future home, and boy, do I have some new material). I again thank you for your patience with me.
The new mailing address WILL BE UP LATER TODAY; just left the damn piece of paper over on our camp.