Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Beer-thirty in Iraq

IBM is really pissing me off. I ordered a notebook from them over a week ago, and I still haven't recieved a confirmation number or been charged on my debit card. They called me last week to say that the first card I tried didn't work so I switched it, but I still haven't gotten an order confirmation. I'm on the phone with one of their guys right now.

Stupid, silly IBM... The guy said he doesn't know why I didn't recieve an email and haven't been charged yet, but that my PC is being shipped TODAY and should arrive in three to five days. Yay me. Boo, IBM...

Today is my insanely long 14 hour day at work. I really can't complain much, though, because I have a pretty easy job for the most part. Who else gets to watch TV, talk on the phone, an use the internet almost as much as they want to at work? Definately not anyone else I know. :)

In Iraq it's beer thirty right now.

Song Quote of the Moment: "Thanks for making me a fighter."

~Christina Aguilera

Monday, May 17, 2004

Politics and the Middle East

For those of you who are wondering what my political views are of Iraq, this pretty much sums them up. this is a copy of an email I just sent to a friend of mine. Enjoy.

Oh boy, political views in Iraq. Honestly, I think the whole thing is very sad. A democratic Iraq? There are a lot of Iraqi citizens that do want that, but unfortunately they are almost always drowned out by those that are seeking political or, more importantly, religious power. There are far too many extremists in Iraq that hate Americans for the sake of hating them. They think we don't respect their religion (and maybe they're right) and that we're trying to push "evil westernism" on them. What the radicals over there won't admit to is that the only thing WE were trying to do was give them a democratic government. What they did with it was, and still is, mostly up to them. Oil is a big part of things, as you know. The US wants an ally in Iraq, and it's going to take YEARS to get one, because for us to have the type of ally we want from there, the entire Iraqi civilization is going to have to change. You can't make a third world country (and I do mean third world)
into a major influential power overnight, and you can't just flip a switch and change everything that the people over there have been doing for the last 2,000 or so years. They're too ingrained in their way of life.

What was interesting was to see how much things DID change while we were there. Men started wearing 'regular' clothes, as opposed to the dresslike stuff they used to wear. Women started to take off the veils. I even saw a couple of women driving while I was there, which was forbidden under Saddam's regime. The kids were the ones we had the biggest impact on. They would, of course, ask for food and water, but also for things like shampoo and magazines showing the United States. They would come on post to work for us, and they would ask all about what things were like in the states and talk about how much they hated being under Saddam and what he did to the people.

I don't think we'll get everything we're trying for out of Iraq, but I don't regreat going there to do what I did. I'd do it all over again to see those kids faces when they talked about Saddam being overthrown and captured. Things are bad over there now, but it's SOME people are making it bad for themselves. Others are doing better than they ever have in their lives. I'm glad that we got rid of Saddam. It may not seem like it, but things are better over there now than they were with him in power, for the Iraqi people, anyway.

Did I ever get shot at? Yeah, once. I was only in one firefight in Iraq, and it was last July. We were headed from Balad to Tikrit with a 29 vehicle convoy (huge). We had 16 Iraqi drivers with civilian trucks in our convoy carrying supplies for the US troops, and only two gun trucks. I was on the .50 cal at the front of the convoy.

We pulled the convoy over to make sure that we had everyone, because there were three or four different units in the convoy along with the civilians, and we had no commo. SSG Rush, the convoy commander, checked to make sure we had everyone. I was standing on the top of my truck stretching my legs, and Anderson was standing on the top of his playing the "guitar" with his SAW (squad automatic weapon, or machine gun if you prefer). Lopez and Amos were picking flowers in the middle of the divided highway, and no one was really paying much attention to our surroundings. We'd been it Iraq for three months, and we hadn't had anything happen yet to us, so we'd gotten pretty lax.

Anyway, Rush was going back to his truck, and we were all getting ready to leave. I was still standing on the cab next to the ringmount, and because I was stinding over the engine, I didn't hear the first shots come in. All I heard was Rush start screaming, "Gun, gun gun!" I turned and looked at him first and saw that he was crawling down underneath his truck, and that he was aiming across the divided highway at a farmer's field on the other side of the road. I grabbed both sides of the ringmount and jumped in my truck, then swung the 50 around and fired. I got two shots off and it jammed on me, and not only that, but just after I fired a bullet ricocheted off the ringmount. So here I am shooting at this field, laying down suppressive fire with my left hand, constantly re-charging the 50 with my right (it kept jamming on me), and screaming at my driver to pull up so Rush could get in his truck. He did, and Rush got in, but then he didn't move. It wasn't until Sacchin
i (my driver) started pulling forward that Rush woke up and drove. The rest of the convoy made it through okay, even though the civilians were a little delayed because one of them got out of his truck and crawled under it when the shooting started (it was funny after the fact). Lopez killed one of the shooters, and the HMMWV behind him didn't even know where the fire was coming from, so they were firing out both sides of the HMMWV (they had no doors on the thing, either).

That was the only time I was shot at directly, and I was the only person in my platoon to shoot the 50 at anything. We did deal with quite a few IED's (improvised explosive device, or what the news calls roadside bombs) on various convoys, and the other plattons were also shot at. First platoon was actually RPG'd one day. They hit the gun truck, and their gunner got a purple heart for taking shrapnel in the leg. So we had our share of bad days. but we came back with eveyone, so we were very lucky.

Song Quote of the Moment: "Who are you to judge me?"

~Tiffany Brown