Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Bluedevil sends

The team with a banner from Top Radke's wife's class. Hey, where is Gy Roche?
Bluedevil sends

This is the note on the front door of the combat Operations Center to 3rd Bn 7th Marines. While the Marine Corps has occasionally frustrated me, the Marines I serve with have never disappointed me.
Bluedevil sends

The CO helping remove rubble from our new "home". Same goes for him as SSgt Walsh, hard to get a picture, and hard to find one when he isn't working. And I'm not just saying that because it is fitness report time.
Bluedevil sends

SSgt Walsh hard at work. In fact, it is hard to get a picture of him NOT hard at work.
Bluedevil sends

When the damn broke on the blackwater pond, the engineers came to the rescue. That water is not water, but the stuff they pump out of portaheads. I thought this guy was going to get stuck. Honestly. He'd still be there if he had, 'cause while I'll dismount a HUMMV under fire in Ramadi, I will NOT wade through THAT crap (literally).
Bluedevil sends

This is why we are saying hold off on the chow. We are now up to two tables in the passageway to hold the loot! Please note Frosty the Snowman on the left wall and a tactical map of Ramadi on the right wall.
Bluedevil sends

Christmas in Ramadi. Thanks to my cousin Kim for the lights. We shorted one strand out about 5 minutes after this picture was taken because 220v electricity will fry 110v lights. Trust me. The others made it throught the holidays. Thanks, Kim.
Bluedevil sends

Team update - 3 Jan 06

Belated Merry Christmas, everyone, from Team Drifter to all our friends and family out there. Christmas has come and gone, fairly quietly for this dump. About half the team made a midnight run with some Iraqis to Fallujah and back last night, so everyone slept late this morning. Plus, it was Christmas. We all did go to lunch together, where you the American taxpayer (via KBR) really put on quite a meal. Thanks, guys. These people on the base even had a Santa on the back of a fire truck. Gee, Toto, we aren’t in East Ramadi anymore. Anyway, we sincerely hope you had a great holiday.

In all honesty, things here have frankly gotten a little... BORING. We have shifted a lot of responsibility on to the shoulders of the Iraqis, and they have responded well. The good news: there are not two if us out on every like we had been doing since we got here in July until this month. The bad news: most of us haven’t left Camp Ramadi in a couple of weeks, and it feels just weird. This little trip isn’t over by a longshot, and bad things are still happening out in town daily. But we are gradually shifting some attention to getting ready to leave this lovely, lovely place. The team relieving us has been identified and will be in-country for training prior to meeting up with us in late January; after two to three weeks of training in Kuwait and Baghdad, they will meet up with us in February to begin about a 10-day turnover period. Then we will start the slow, painful “exfil” out of this place. It feels strange even talking about all this, but it is coming.

Hey, guess what? A week has now gone by, and I haven’t gotten this thing done or posted. It is now 2344, 01 January, 2006, and the holidays are officially over. Amongst some other simple New Year’s resolutions, one is to update the blog more. I know that there are only two more months to go on the blog and we are home, but I am really going to try to do better.

As I was saying, things have slowed down for us MTTs with 3-2-1, further “complicated” by leaning into setting the stage (or “prepping the zone”) for the guys coming in to relieve us. An average day here now is as follow:

0830: Team meeting
0900: Joint Iraqi / MTT meeting
1000: Post-meeting phone calls, deconfliction, planning, etc.
1200: lunch with the team
1300: check e-mail
1400: back to the “house” / get with IA counterpart to ensure they aren’t in the rack
1700: PT
1900: Secure

It has gotten almost routine which, compared to how our lives were even a month ago in Camp Tiger, is a little weird. Ramadi is still a damn dangerous place, but we are not out in it like we used to be. Still need to keep our guard up, though. Two of us are out at OP Hurriya in downtown Ramadi tonight, so keep them in your prayers along with the Marines and Iraqis with them.

I need to get this thing posted tonight before friends and family kill me, so I will end this up. In short, quality of life is up, IA performance improving, and we are within 60 days of getting home. Our replacements – God bless them – are getting things in order before reporting to training in the States (CONUS) as we speak. I will try to put some more stuff up later (in-sh’allah). If you have any specific requests or questions, pictures you want, ASK NOW.

And Top says to “stop sending us stuff”. We have been overwhelmed with your kindness over the holidays, and we are still fighting out from the avalanche of chow and stuff all you guys have sent. At this point, it will probably be the next guys to benefit from your kindness.
P.S. Quick story about our new camp. It is about 150 m from the “pond” where Camp Ramadi dumps the “blackwater” sewage, about 500m from the Camp dump (I owe you some pictures on THAT place before we leave), about 300m from a platoon of artillery. The “pool” is another story to tell you later. Specifically, about the day last week when the berm surrounding the pond BROKE in the back and… you get the picture. In fact, I’ll post a picture for you. Also, when the wind shifts… wow. Being artillery guys, though, the live fire from across the street sounds pretty good. Rattles the plywood covering the holes where the windows were once.