Monthly Archives: September 2004

Wheels Up

Finally left the southwestern metropolis. Saw the Mississippi River from 37,000 feet. Saw Detroit, Toronto, Buffalo, Montreal and Quebec City all lit up at night. Saw sunrise over the Irish Sea. Eleven hour wait for the connecting flight in a major European airport. Place is built like a greenhouse. Planes there unload by stairs to the ground, then you get on buses to be taken to the terminal. All kinds of ground vehicles scurrying about. Lots of little white pregnant roller skates, most with body damage of one sort or another. Had a bomb scare. An unattended bag cause the police to move everybody to the far end of that particular section of the airport. Took about an hour to sort out. Interrupted my nap. Slept a lot on the trip. Got tired of that place. Finally boarded a much smaller aircraft headed to Central Asia. Many hours and several naps later, arrived at the airport of the capitol city of this former republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Customs wearing Soviet style garrison hats big enough to catch the wind and fly. Few lights on outside, dim inside. Energy conservation, I guess.

Get taken from airport to hotel. This city at dawn is not pretty. Still pretty Stalinist, with the addition of Japanese and Korean billboards selling various capitalistic gimcracks. Lots of decrepit high rise housing units. Cabrini Green comes to mind. Nice hotel. Got to stay there all of eight hours.

I was told at 0800 local to come down to the lobby and get on a bus at 1200. Went down to the lobby at 1155 and was told transportation would not be availabe for a few days. Went back to the room and snoozed. Phone in the room rings at 1600. Told to get down to the lobby and get on the bus. Get dressed, grab stuff, and make it down to lobby in 5 minutes from a dead sleep. Another interesting ride. Seems to be as many Russians walking around as natives. Stopped at a red light. A Russian-looking dude is walking his horse across the street. Didn’t see any camels.

Another interminable wait for another flight. This particular waiting are is not real comfy. The X-ray and metal detector drill is more regimented than usual. Everybody in a big hurry. These security people don’t smile. Don’t even have my belt and shoes on before they load up the bus out to the aircraft.

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Body Armor

Ther are some sorry sunzabitches in this outfit that will scratch your name off the computer waiting list and lie about calling out your name. Hope the internet cafe at Kandahar is better organized.

Saw the helmets and vests we are getting. Dark blue, like a journalist’s. I saw the stuff, and it seems like I should be writing something deep about the meaning of war, or something about the significance of going to a place where body armor and ballistic helmets are needed, but all I really care about is how much space they will take up in my NBC gear bag. I have a bunch of my stuff in that bag. I have more stuff now than I left home with, thanks to She Who Must Be Obeyed and Bass Pro Shop, and I am depending on that gear bag to haul the excess.

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I’M ON THE LIST!

Yippee! I know when I’m going now. Light at the end of the tunnel. Hallejuh! I have been treated well, fed well, can’t complain about much, but I am glad to be getting the hell out of here. Not many hoops to jump through on this side. I am ready for the next chapter of this saga.

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Falstaff’s Battalion Was Genteel By Comparison

Thus did James Clyman describe the intrepid adventurers who answered General Ashley’s advertisment in the St. Louis paper in 1823. I don’t think there are beaver in Afghanistan, but the Rockies are but foothills compared to the Himalayas.

This is a helluva crew I am thrown in with. The quiet and the loud, the short and the tall, the humongous and the anorexic, the bowed out and the driven in. Sam Watkins of Company H, 1st Tenn, would say this outfit beats Forepaugh’s Double Ringed Circus.

And all of us somewhat out of the ordinary. Everybody I have talked to has had somebody to tell them they were crazy as hell.

It is not a sane world over there. A certain amount of craziness is a survival tactic.

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Shopping Malls and the American Dream

This outfit is set up in a shopping mall. Wednesday week before last I walked it. Pretty generic American mall. I sort of had an epiphany walking around that mall. Buying and selling, consumerism, the ability to have what you want, the pursuit of happiness; the principles of America are embodied in the shopping mall. They have shopping malls in other countries. I was in a Breuningerland in Boeblingen, Germany that was pretty slick. I hear they have shopping malls in Kuwait. When we get American or European style shopping malls in Iraq and Afghanistan, we will have won the war.

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Bird In A Gilded Cage

Something tells me I am going to miss air conditioning, and soft beds, and nice hotels, but I have been here two weeks and I am ready to go. Too much time on my hands. Walls closing in.

I am in the day room they set up for us. TV loud as hell. Minnesota just whipped Dallas. People trying to read over my shoulder. Never been in an internet cafe. Perhaps I am in one now.

Thursday a week ago I signed the contract. 14 pages worth. Secrecy clause. This blog may suck because I can hardly say anything.

Friday She Who Must Be Obeyed, the Goddess T., came over here and we had a wondful Labor Day weekend together. Just like a second honeymoon. Even got up at 0430 and watched the sunrise at the beach. Very nice memory.

Getting crowded in here. Will try another post tomorrow.

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OPSEC

Wednesday we sat on our butts and listened to powerpoint briefings. The OPSEC briefing made me paranoid about what I can post on this blog. To get from where we are to where we are going is a journey of several stages, with layovers in some “interesting” locations which I may be able to describe without identifying them. I can’t identify units or name any names. I am not clear about linking to articles which do. I’ll do the best I can, but blogging is not my primary mission. I don’t want to get my chain of command down on me. SPC B. had some rights under the UCMJ. I have the right to remain silent.

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