The Map Revealed

This is when I told him the truth about his “map.” I feel really bad.

The Map Revealed

The Map, Cont…

Another shot of the “map.” To those sewers out there, it looks quite obvious doesn’t it?

Continuation of

The Map

Okay, so the story of the map. First, some background:

Part of my job is that I exploit enemy documents for any intelligence value. During the war, it was my distinct pleasure to search dead for any information they may have been carrying on them. As soon as a battle was over, I’d take a team and go through the pockets, personal effects, and buildings of the enemy trying to establish an identity, affiliation, and/or who else was involved. I’m not your run of the mill intel nerd. I’m a tactical intel nerd. I am on the front lines fighting the fight with whomever I’m attached to at the time. For the first week of the war I was with 3/7 Cav as they blazed a trail for the rest of the 3rd ID. Then I moved to 4/64 Armor battalion for a feint operation to draw the Iraqi military from Karbala and Hilla. Then I moved to 1/64 Armor for the “Thunderruns” into Baghdad. Once in Baghdad, I was attached to 3/15 Infantry to clean up and regular presence patrols. I stayed with them when we transferred to Fallujah.

When we got Baghdad, there was no shortage of information to sort through. The worst part was searching the guys that had obviously been dead awhile. You cannot understand the sights and smells of combat until you’ve been through it. The smell of a decomposing human body is one that will never leave my nose. The site of one will never leave me mind. Picking through the pockets of one to find out why he was shooting at us or why he had so many RPGs in the trunk of his car is an experience I hope I never have to relive.

themap2After every mission, the leaders would bring my team and me whatever documents they thought were of intelligence value. One day, I got an urgent call from the S2 (battalion intelligence officer) that some maps had just come in and I needed to go over them immediately. I rushed up to the makeshift office, took whatever information they had, and went back to my area to begin the tedious process of going through hundreds of papers and maps. I went immediately to the map in question and stopped cold as I began to open it up. For those that aren’t too indocrinated about how the Army works, officers are commissioned after completing college degrees. Usually, they are commissioned through military academies or ROTC programs. Sometimes, they branch over from enlisted guys to officers (a program called green to gold). So, the majority of second lieutenants (the lowest officer ranking) are children, no older than 22 years old most of the time. As soon as they graduate college they are placed as platoon leaders in charge of anywhere between 15-40 soldiers. It’s the job of the platoon sergeant to properly train the platoon leader on military matters and assist with leadership decisions. At times, we also help change their diapers.

The story goes that as the patrol was clearing an area a man took off running. As he ran from the patrol, he dropped a map. The platoon leader picked it up and brought it in for me. I looked at the map and instantly began formulating how I would deal with this “important” information. I went back and told the S2 what we had and asked if he could get the Lieutenant (LT) to come in immediately. He was on patrol but would be able to come in about an hour. As we waited, I got my team together and briefed them on their jobs during the meeting: We needed someone to take detailed pictures of the map, someone to agree profusely and sternly to everything I said, and someone to apply the pressure. I would ask the questions.

When the lieutenant was brought it, I assembled my team, the S2 and the S3 (operations officer). I laid the map out on the table and asked the LT if he recognized it. His eyes lighting up, he answered, “yes, that’s the map that guy dropped as he ran off.”

I asked him to tell me in exact detail where he was when the map was found. Where was the guy running from? Where did he think he was headed? What did the guy look like? Did he have any other maps on him that he could see? How old was he? Would he be able to get there again? Were there other people around? Did they see the man drop the map? Does he know what this thing is?

He answered everything he could and I pulled out one of our tactical maps and laid it beside the map he brought in. I showed him how certain lines on his map corresponded with our entry routes into the city. One box represented Baghdad International Airport (at the time, we called it Bush International Airport after removing Saddam from the name. That didn’t last long.). Some of the circles around the routes represented underground bunkers where chemical munitions were being stored. I explained the significance of all the markings on the map he gave me. Then I said, “and the one thing that really told me exactly what we were dealing with is this.” I unfolded the top right hand corner that I had previously wanted hidden during my oration. Unfolding the corner, I read “Pattern #326” and the name of the dress pattern for a little girl. After wasting about 35 minutes of the LT’s time explaining what he had brought me, his face turned bright red as he realized that his “map” was actually a sewing pattern!!
themap
Everyone in the room burst into laughter, something you could tell everyone was trying hard to avoid throughout my entire presentation. And we made sure that we got it all on film.

The Map

This is a story for a post by itself. I’ll explain it later this afternoon in my next blog.
The Map

Iraqi Family

This was a girl that we “adopted” along with her family while we were in Baghdad. An Iraqi man was threatening to rape her and we found the guy and arrested him. He confessed to it all and we kept visiting the family.
Family Adopted by my Unit

Cj In Iraq

Me in the pose made famous by Saddam at the same location.
Pose made famous by Saddam

Under the Crossed Sabers

Me Under the Famous Crossed Sabers at Saddam’s Parade Ground In Baghdad.
CJ Under Crossed Sabers

GQ Photo Entry

This is the picture that will be in GQ.

Laundry In Iraq

GQ Photo Essay

A few months ago, an article was published in the Army Times seeking pictures from Iraq vets to send in pictures they had taken while over there. After sifting through all my incriminating photos of naked Iraqis piled up on the ground, strung to electrical sockets, and in perverse, homosexual positions, I submitted about 30 photos for review (none of them illegal or sexual in nature).

Anyway, I got an email from GQ the other day saying that one of pictures was being published. Of all the pictures I took, they decided on the one I almost didn’t send in. It was a picture of my underwear hanging from a line between two tents after I had washed them in a dirty bucket. We didn’t have quartermasters when I was there. We did it the old fashioned way: we either stunk, or washed our stuff in a small 2 gallon bucket or cooler with cold water. Then we hung the stuff up outside on a rudimentary clothes line to dry in the dust, sand, and wind. By the time your clothes were dry they were dirty again. The only thing gained from the process was that they didn’t stink anymore. When I’d pack my clothes back in the duffel bag, I slid in a few dryer sheets to give it that fresh smell when it was time to stinky them up again.

I’m not sure when the issue will be out, but I talked with the guy from GQ today who did a full out interview on the picture. We discussed it in great detail, then went on to talk about what it was like while I was there. He asked about our living conditions and what we did in our spare time. That question kind of confused me. Spare time? I don’t think they had shipped that while I was there. The only spare time I got was the day I was bedstricken with Hekkingson’s disease.

I bet everyone is scratching their heads right now. There’s no formal disease called Hekkingsons. We made it up while we were over there. Due to my job, I got out a lot and had the opportunity to eat genuine Iraqi food. Unfortunately, I got to wash it all down with genuine Iraqi water too. Because of my fortune, I was a regular recipient of pee-pooh (I think the standard term is diarrhea). One of my soldier’s was a perpetual pee-pooher. He just couldn’t get rid of the stuff. Not a solid moment that I can think of. Eventually, we just named it after him.

Anyway, I had eaten something that just tore me apart. I had Revenge of the Hekkingsons!! It was coming out wherever there was an exit hole. I think I lost about 50 pounds that day and had to have surgery to put all my internal organs back INSIDE my body. I couldn’t sleep because I was doubled over in pain. So, I had the pleasure of staying in my little hot-as-racetires hut for a day. Of course, there was the obligatory, “what the hell did you do yesterday?! Why didn’t you file any reports?! You missed my meeting!!” To which I gave the obligatory, “must be the explosions…I see your mouth moving, but all I hear is blah blah blah.” I had to explain that I think I gave birth in my hut and couldn’t find the mother.

So, anyway, I’ll keep everyone posted on that piece of interesting stuff. And, much like my Jay Leno appearance, I’ll be selling autographed (not signed, too important now) copies of whatever GQ issue carries my underwear in it. And ladies, you can rest at piece – I wasn’t in them when the picture was taken.

So, where did the dryer sheets come from? I’d have asked the same question!! While I was in Kuwait I ran across a little website at http://www.adoptaplatoon.org. You may have noticed the link to the left of this post.

Deployments are very depressing, especially when you’re fighting in a war (or about to). The media enjoys crushing the patriotic nature of most Americans. We see it today. However, when you’re in America, you have the opportunity to turn it off and choose your media outlet. While I was deployed, we had BBC, CNN, and Foxnews. Just before the war kicked off, all the major news outlets were all over the protests against the war. For a soldier who doesn’t see what going on back home except for what’s put in the “news”, that’s depressing. It’s makes you questions what you’re doing in a military that the American people don’t even support.

Luckily, the AAP members that “adopted” me ensured me that there were just as many rallys FOR the troops. We just didn’t see them. Their letters, cards, and emails kept me motivated so that I could in turn ensure my soldiers understood we were loved and supported and working towards a noble cause. While in Kuwait, waiting in the middle of the desert and sleeping next to my HMMWV (Humvee to most) on the border, I was sent toothpaste, candy (mmm…Tootsie Rolls), toilet paper (the non-Army sand paper issue type), batteries, etc. Our team was hooked up. It was all because of AAP.

When we got to Iraq, 80% of my mail was from our adopted families, which kept our spirits high and tummies full. I asked for some Taco Bell sauce packets because my MRE’s were all starting to taste the same. I feel for the Taco Bell patrons in those towns, because they were probably having to smuggle their own hot sauces into the restaurant. Our families had most likely wiped out the store and shipped it overseas. I can’t say enough about those guys. If you want to support a soldier, the BEST place to do it is there. I actually just filled out the application to adopt a soldier of my own, in addition to the people from units here that just deployed. I can’t wait. My wife and I are giddy in anticipation of showing the same support we got to someone now deployed where I left a little over a year ago.

Before I close, I want to publicly thank Angel who has taken me under her wing and helped make a lot of the extra stuff you see on this site possible. I’m what people would call HTML illiterate. Now, if you don’t know what HTML is, then I’ve got one up on you. I know what it is, just can’t write the stuff. Thank you, Angel, for all your help with the links and the Milblog thingymajiggy.

Until urban dictionary defines thingymajiggy, I’ll sign off as……….

CJ

Me and My security team in Baghdad

Me and My security team in Baghdad; taken at Saddam’s Palace. I took the Mercedes symbol off a destoyed insurgent vehicle.

Cj & Team In Baghdad, Iraq

In Al Fallujah, Iraq

In Al Fallujah, Iraq

In Al Fallujah, Iraq

Iraqi Elections

The Iraqi Elections are just a few days away. I recall during the ramp up to the Afghani elections that everyone was saying how there would violence like we’ve never seen violence before. The Afghan elections would fail. Now, we hear the same thing about the Iraqi elections. Granted, the situation in Iraq is a little worse off than it was at this time for the Afghan elections, but only because Iraq is more populace. The Iraqis have been working very hard to promote their newfound freedoms. Check out this website to see some actual Iraqi commercials with English subtitles that try to promote freedom: http://memritv.org/Search.asp?ACT=S9&P1=499#

It makes one think though: what is violence like I’ve never seen before? Are they going to shoot people at point blank range with marshmallows? I’ve never seen that before. Have they created a new form of tickle warfare that I haven’t been told of? They’ve already declared war on just about everything else: democracy, freedom, America, deodorant. What’s left?

I think the insurgents are running out of juice and support. I read today in the January 31st issue of Time (after reading about the homosexual tendencies of Spongebob/Patrick, Bert/Ernie, Tinky Winky, Velma, and Marcie/”Sir” from Peanuts) about all the problems in Iraq to date. Here are the stats that they quoted:

139 – U.S. troops killed during combat operations, March 19-April 30, 2003
1,226 – U.S. troops killed since May 1, 2003

542 – U.S. troops wounded in action during combat operations
9,960 – U.S. troops wounded in action since May 1, 2003 (excuse me, what the difference between this number and the previous 542? Weren’t the majority of these people wounded as a result of combat as well?)

271,041 – Number of Iraqi security forces needed to neutralize insurgency, the State Department says
126,961 – Current number of fully or partially trained Iraqi forces, including police, national guard and army

5,000 – Estimated strength of Iraqi insurgency nationwide in November 2003
20,000 – Estimatd strength of Iraqi insurgency nationwide 13 months later, in December 2004

$18.4 billion – Amount of money the U.S. appropriated toward Iraq reconstruction in 2004
$2 billion – Amount of the above sum that had been spent as of December 15, 2004

Now, here’s the only positive statistic in the whole “status report:”
11,000 – Estimated number of internet subscribers in Iraq before the war
110,000 – Estimated number of internet subscribers in Iraq as of November 2004

In light of all this negativity that our mainstream media seem to be so good at, let me tip the scales in the other direction and offer another “status report.” I call this: Iraq: CJ’s Status Report

3 – the number of Saddam, Qusay, or Uday Hussein’s harassing Iraqis before March 2003
0 – the number of Saddam, Qusay, or Uday Hussein’s harassing Iraqis after March 2003 (that’s a 300% decrease)

0 – number of Tootsie Rolls eaten by Iraqi children before CJ invaded the country
56,829 (give or take) – number of Tootsie Rolls eaten by Iraqi children AFTER CJ invaded the country (and no one seemed to complain when I was there)

0 – number of satellite dishes that the common Iraqi could own
as many as they want – the number of satellite dishes that common Iraqis can now own (this includes cell phones as well)

There are many more statistics I can spit out, like the fact that all secondary schools and universities are back in action. More than 550 other schools have been renovated. Hospitals are better equipped to handle emergencies and have the necessary medications. How many water purification plants have been built or repaired since we got there? Shoot, many of those things haven’t been working since the last Gulf War. Where was Saddam when water was needed then?

My point is that Time magazine is obviously slanted. The problem with the media is that they are helping the insurgency. Is it true that those things are happening in Iraq that they talk about? Yes. But, it’s also true that there have been MANY improvements we’ve made. Many things that we’ve built from the ground up. Electricity is the best it’s ever been in Iraq. It’s still not enough because now the power needs of Iraq are higher than they used to be, when they weren’t allowed to have all that electronic stuff. Let’s hear more about that. The more negativity we hear from the media the more the average citizen (uniformed on the biases of the liberal media) will not support the good we’re doing over there. To them, everything they read is gospel.

Stepping off my soapbox, I am……….

CJ

Girl Scout Cookies

One of the responsibilities of a father is to unconditionally support his children’s’ activities. Anissa is into ballet and Girl Scouts. Chris plays basketball and will play soccer. Hannah goes to interpretive movement classes. Once or twice a year, the Girl Scouts take precedence to almost anything else.

It’s Girl Scout cookies time. The Girl Scouts have an excellent marketing plan with this idea. Their plan is to start selling cookies in January. Why is that so good? Well, everyone has had a month to try losing all that weight they put on during the holidays. After 30 days of starvation, puking, salads, and laxatives these people are joshing (which here means craving) for anything to make them feel human again. What better way to “take a break” than Girl Scout Cookies?

So, as a father, it’s my duty to walk with Anissa all over the place and let her get her first taste of what it’s probably like to sell Kirbys. The only difference is the that cookies are a couple dollars cheaper and you don’t have to worry about attachments. You just eat them and they go away (unless you eat a lot, then they stay with you for a long time). She’s actually doing really well. I never did that well selling Girl Scout cookies, mostly because I was never a Girl Scout. I think she’s sold about $650 worth of cookies which equals about 130 boxes. My daughter has a huge advantage in that she has a face people can’t say no to. She’s a cute little girl who is quiet and shy. People can’t help but buy from her. Another thing is that a lot of soldiers from here are deployed and the wives and neighbors want to send them cookies as well. I remember getting Girl Scout cookies sent to me when I was in Iraq and they were like gold. I was offered up to $15 for a box, but wanted the cookies instead.

Before I move on, if you’d like to buy cookies from my daughter, send me a check for $5.00 per box and a mailing address and we’ll ship them to you. The cookies arrive on 26 February and would be mailed immediately. If you’d to buy some for a deployed soldier, send me the money and the address and name you want them mailed to and I’ll send them out. You can email me for my address: dj_chcknhawk@yahoo.com.

I’m back at work today for a few hours. Not a lot going on really, so I’m writing in here. Tomorrow I have to go to a Sexual harassment class. No, I wasn’t directed – everyone is taught how to sexual harass people equally! It’s one of the many classes we have to attend that make your skin crawl. It’s pounded into us all year, then they have a day set aside for it each quarter to make sure the nail doesn’t get loose. But, I’ll pretend I never heard of sexual harassment and listen to the instructor as if he’s just discovered a new planet. I’m going to have my wife paint fake eyes onto my eyelids so I can sleep and still look awake.

I rode my motorcycle to work today. I missed my motorcycle. There’s just something about riding a motorcycle that you have to experience to understand. People are so afraid of motorcycles because almost everyone has a friend or relative who has died or been seriously injured on one. I have a lot of scares from motorcycles from back when I used to ride dirtbikes. But, I learned something about riding: you have to be vigilant and aware of your surroundings. I never had to worry about that until I bought a sport bike and had to ride in traffic. People just don’t see you (or don’t look). I think all street bikes should come with a coax 7.62mm machine gun attached to the fairings or windshield. That way, when I’m cut off or run off the road, I can exact instant revenge. During daylight, I ride with my bright lights on in the hopes that I’ll be a little harder to miss. I’ve never had an accident on a motorcycle while riding on the street. My philosophy is that you have be faster than the accident and you’ll be okay. hehe. That’s why I ride fast bikes. And because I hit my midlife crisis early!! I’ll settle down when I’m older. And my definition of old is this: You’re only old when it hurts to pee!!

I just found out that I’m NOT going to Iraq for a month. That’s a relief. It’s also another sign that I’ve just realized. While I was in Iraq the first time during the war, I had three separate experiences in which I thought I was about to die. Each time I made my peace and said my silent goodbyes to my family and friends. Luckily, I lived through each event somehow. Actually, there’s not somehow about it. I shot straighter than they did!! Anyway, I’ve practically volunteered for a combat zone three times since I got back. When I got orders to leave Fort Stewart, GA I asked to have them cancelled because I found out that the unit was going back and I didn’t want my soldiers over there without me looking out for them. Denied!! The second time I was asked to be an NCOIC in one of the Task Force staff shops in Afghanistan. I agreed and sent my paperwork to volunteer. Denied!! Then, the unit I’m with now decided to send some trainers and planners to Iraq to observe the current situation over there in order to devise more realistic training scenarios here for soldiers getting ready to deploy. Denied!! I’m taking this as the last sign that there must be some reason I’m not going back over there. Perhaps I used up all my luck the last time I was there and someone up above is protecting me. So, I will not volunteer a fourth time. If I’m needed over there, the Army will send me without asking. They haven’t had a problem doing that yet!

In the meantime, I’m gonna keep calling myself……..

CJ

America West Airlines Sucks

I’m writing this on a plane and will just copy into my blog. It was a long TDY (temporary duty). Not really much happened since I last posted and today, but I like to talk and will think of some things to say, I’m sure.

I spent the last couple of days spending money I didn’t have or need to spend. I bought the kids some gifts. AS I’ve said earlier, when my father always came back from a trip, he’d bring us kids something back with him. It was a way to kind of bribe us. I never really cared why he did it, just that he did. One of the first things out of my and my sister’s mouths when he came back wasn’t ever “how was your trip” or “we’re glad you’re back, we’ve missed you.” It was always “what did you bring us?” I kind of see now why he did, or at least I think he did it for the same reasons I did: since I’m gone so much, I don’t get a lot of time with the kids. Emily is around them all the time and, therefore, they grow more attached to her. As a way of trying t o balance that attachment, I bring home presents for them. I want them to like me too.

I got my son a set of five Hot Wheels cars. He has enough, I know, but since when can you have too many Hot Wheels cars, eh? I’ve thought long and hard about not giving them to him because he’s really been giving Emily a hard time while I’ve been way. I’ve gotten more than a few calls where Chris is just screaming his head off or throwing a tantrum. I’ve had to make empty threats like “I’m coming home right now, you better straighten up.” I’ve told him that he’ll be writing 100 sentences when I get back and can’t play until they are written. Finally, yesterday, Emily asked one of home teachers (I’ll explain this concept later) if he would come over and have a talk with Chris. He came over and took Chris on a long walk and talked to him about a lot of stuff and calmed him down. Emily said he was nice when he came home and even went right to sleep at bedtime.

For Anissa, my creative one, I got some little thingies (that’s the best way I can describe them ) that she can put together to hand from her ceiling to decorate her room. They are little crafts that snap together. She’s learning right now how to sew and apparently has started her first “quilt.”

For Hannah I got a Ty Beanie Baby Squidward Tentacles from the Spongebob Squarepants movie. She’s really into Spongebob and I kinda thought that was neat. I couldn’t find a CJ Beanie Baby, but I’m going to propose they make them. They’ll sell at least 3 of those, so it wouldn’t be a complete production nightmare.

Okay, the drunk stewardess has just told us to turn off all electronic devices as we get ready to land in Phoenix. I’ll finish when I get home.

Okay, I wrote the first part of this on the plane usuing Word and saved it. Now, let me tell you why I think America West sucks. First of all, I had to crawl out on the wing mid-flight to ducktape one of the engines back on because it looked it would fall off at any minute. Secondly, have you ever had to save those toilet paper tubes for your kids to take to school? Ever wonder what happened to them? Well, America West has patented a way to stick them together, cram seats inside them, add wings and an engine, and call it a plane. It was so crowded on that small plane that there was hardly any room for the tray table. I think the tray table consisted of used CD cases that were taped (again ducktape probably…you can do so much with that stuff) to the seat that was just 4 cm in front of you. You just opened the CD case halway and put your shot glass of diet coke they give you on it.

I’m not a bad air traveler. I generally do everything I’m told because I understand the security situation for the most part. In the Army, my specialty is force protection and so I realize the threat and even study it. This whole take your shoe off business probably goes a bit too far in my opinion, but I won’t argue about it. When I’m on the plane I listen to all instructions given during flight. Even though I know my phone isn’t going to cause the death of all 65 people crammed into the toilet paper tube with me, I still turn it off when they tell me to.

I suppose you’re wondering about the drunk stewardess. I have no concrete evidence. The flask could have been filled with cranberry juice and she was just very constipated (there wasn’t really a flask, but I thought that little line might sound funny). Before we took off, she stumbled through her whole “this is how you buckle a seat belt” routine. I suppose there are probably still some quakers or minnonites who haven’t yet been in a car or airplane and need a demonstration on how seatbelts work. She kept forgetting her lines and FAA regulations, a true indicator she was probably drunk (or an escaped circus monkey impersonating a stewardess). The guy in the seat next to me had a bottle of water on the floor under his feet. Boy did he get a mouthfull! Didn’t he hear her when she said that nothing can be in the aisle and must be stored UNDER the seat or in the overhead bin? No, I can’t hold my computer in my lap!! It has to go UNDER the seat or in the overhead bin? The things is only about and inch thick if even that. Maybe, I’ll take a sip of that moonshine you’re drinking lady, so I can drown out your presence (I don’t drink alcohol by the way, so it wouldn’t take much).

Every other time I’ve been on a plane I’ve had no problem with the following situation. Mostly because it’s not a big deal. As we were inching into the designated parking place for our plane (I’m sure they could have fit the thing in one of those baggage cart slots and gotten a $.25 refund) some people unbuckled their seat belts and began reaching for their bags. Now, again, I usually wait until the plane has come to a “full and complete stop” but I don’t hold it against some people if they want to get a jump on their bags. I mean we were literally at the gate and the plane was just positioning itself a few inches onto its mark. Apparantly, our stewardess Sally is an evil stepmother in her free time because she pounced all over these people. They must’ve been her grandchildren cause she was clapping her hands and yelling, “Hey, hey you!. What do you think you’re doing?! Did I tell you that you could move? You will sit down until I say you can move.” She stopped just short of “do you realize you’re going to get everyone killed and cause another huge tsunami for your impatience?” I felt scolded and I was just sitting there. I immediately looked for the nearest corner and couldn’t get there fast enough. I would’ve spanked myself if I had room to manouver that way. Anyway, before she could even finish the Hey You part the plane had stopped. As she went about her tirade, everyone else had gotten up when the seatbelt sign went off and began grabbing their bags. I located my shoehorn and began prying myself out of Stuart Little’s seat and the toilet paper tube.

We were late leaving Colorado Springs and therefore landed late in Phoenix. We had to make a connecting flight to Ontario, California. We had only fifteen minutes…..

Wait, I forgot something very important to complain about America West! I realize I could have very easily just deleted that other comment and posted this and no one would have ever noticed that my thoughts are confusing, but my thoughts are confusing and I need to convey this. While we were waiting on our flight to leave, the other two soldiers and I were watching the news in the cafe literally right next door to our gate. Anyway, drunk Sally came over yelling at the people in the cafe that the plane is leaving. We were startled because we hadn’t hear any boarding announcements over the intercom…and we were listening. We saw the tubes pull up right outside the window and watched as the refueling/retaping operation was taking place. I think there was even a leftover square of tissue they had to remove from the roll in the second tube from the back that was accidentally taped to the third tube. Easy fix. Luckily, our seats were in row 1 and didn’t have to push past anyone. We got that “i hope you’re happy” look. I told them that we didn’t hear any announcement about the boarding and I was promptly corrected. “Sir (sarcasm), I walked over there and announced it two minutes ago.” “Well, I find it hard to believe that all three of us didn’t hear you,” I retorted. “Well, you should have been listening.” I decided not to even get into it. I just wanted to get home and I think that arguing with anyone remotely associated with the airline industry these days is punishable by death or dismemberment. Or worse, you have to ride on America West for the rest of your life.

Okay, back to the fifteen minutes we had to cross the Atlantic to our next flight. You ever notice how when you’re late for a connecting flight that it’s NEVER the next gate over? It’s NEVER on the same wing as the gate you arrive on. I don’t even think our connecting flight was in the same state. I’m sure we landed in Phoenix, but I think we ran all the way back to Colorado to catch our next plane. I decided to immerse myself in a book (The Broker and Skipping Christmas, both by John Grisham) instead of deal with another America West flight crew. I cranked up my MP3 player and listened to Killswitch Engage and Static-X the rest of the way home. The plane was much bigger and seemed to be in better shape, so I didn’t worry about the glue holding this plane together.

Until I recycle my next roll of airplane grade toilet tissue, I remain…………CJ

The Time Has Come

Well, this may be my last post for a few days. The exercise ended today, a day ahead of schedule. Most of the office is torn down and all the internet guys are rounding up their wires and cables.

The 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment got a lot of good training while we were here. It was a rough start, but as the exercise progressed, they learned a lot and didn’t repeat their mistakes. I am confident that they will do a lot better in Iraq than they would have if we hadn’t come here. This will be their second tour there. As a matter of fact, we replaced them in Fallujah when I was there. I still remember being pissed off that I’d have to go to Fallujah when we were all packed to go home, but we do what we have to do.

Colorado is a nice place. It’s actually not as cold as I thought it would be. When I used to think of Colorado in the winter time, I thought it was always snow-covered. Not the case. It’s colder than at home, but I like it. You get used to it quick and before you know, you’re a maniac driving around with your windows down in 40 degree weather because it “warmed up.” The consequences of that, of course, is the cold I’ve just come down with. I’m going to try and kick it before I go home, but if I don’t, then I’ll just pass it along to family as a welcome home present. I’ve been sneezing like crazy and blowing my nose.

Tomorrow should be a busy day. We have to pack up all our equipment and get it on a truck headed back to Fort Irwin. We have all the flight information finally finished. Tomorrow, I’m supposed to be getting a coin from someone for my hard work in keeping track of everyone and getting them home. I must say it was a huge effort, but not worthy of a coin. Someone had to do it. Keeping track of 168 moving pieces isn’t a fun task. I’ll try to heed my recruiters advice against volunteering the next time this happens. Actually, I’ll just ensure they have someone nominated BEFORE we leave.

I’ve been listening to my wife’s music to feel a little closer to her lately. I can only take so much separation before I get antsy about being away from her. It bothers me that the kids give her a hard time when I’m gone. She’s got a tough enough life without them making it harder when I’m not there to help. She listens to music that is a lot more mellow than I normally listen to. As a matter of fact, she’s the reason I no longer listen to death metal. I used to listen to group like Death Angel, Voivod, Slayer, Cannibal Corpse, Danzig, etc. She introduced me to bands like The Cure, Depeche Mode, and other pop/rock bands. I stopped listening to my music almost altogether, though my music still tends to be heavier. I now listen to bands like Static-X, Godsmack, Metallica (didn’t stop listening to them actually), Taproot, Korn, Tool, etc. I also love Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains (and their various offshoots), Collective Soul, Nickelback, and others. I guess almost anything rock. And I can’t leave out my recent favorite band – The Cure. Boy, did I miss out on a lot of depressing music when I was younger ?! They could have helped me through a lot of break-ups that’s for sure. There’s nothing like a song to make you feel worse when you break up with someone.

What is it with us anyway when we’re teenagers? Whenever we felt sad, we’d listen to sad music that just reminded us of the last “love of our life” and made us cry. We’d feel worse for longer. Instead of getting on with our pathetic little lives, we locked ourselves in our rooms and wrote in our journals about how life can’t go on any longer. I’m sure I’ll relive it again when my kids become teenagers. Well, my daughter’s won’t. They’ll be well into their 30’s before they even start dating. As a matter of fact, I’m having a basement built to lock them in as soon the urge to like boys surfaces. Homeschooling will no longer be an option but a necessity. They’ll think that every guy looks like me since I’ll be the only one they’ll see. Then, when they turn 35, I’ll introduce them to the guy they’ll marry and everyone will live happily ever after.

Some people have told me this may be slightly illegal. In that case, I must invest in a shotgun and very shiny pistol that I can polish whenever the boys are over. I’ll babble incoherently do crazy things that will scare them off. When I open the door, I’ll be wearing nothing but speedos and a clown nose. I’ll gain 50 pounds so I block the entire doorway so they can’t slip past me. Then, I’ll place trap doors in the hall that will trip when I push a button. I may have to watch the Indiana Jones movies again to get some other ideas.

As for my son, he’s grounded until adulthood too. I don’t need someone else’s dad calling or coming over to my house complaining that my son was dating his daughter without permission. I’ll have to teach him that you NEVER date someone until AFTER you’ve met their parents. When I was younger, I always made it a point to get to know the parents of my girlfriend. Emily’s parents are like real parents to me. Her dad used to lie to her mom to get us in trouble so we couldn’t see each other. He was a great dad for Emily. He did everything he could to keep us apart, like all good dad’s should do. You can’t blame him with a guy like me dating her. I had a lot of improving to do to be worthy of her. I’m still working on it.

So, if you don’t hear from me for a few days, I’m in transit. I’ll get back on and post more when I get home. I’ll also start putting some pictures up when I get back. This blog is just way too boring without them.

So, until I make it home, I am……..

CJ