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This blog exists only as an archive. It is a journal that serves as a window into my life as a Marine combat veteran serving in Iraq and Afghanistan; it was written with no filter, no politics and no agenda. Please feel free to follow my journey from beginning to end. Welcome to my life.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Back on the map

We had another memorial today. It was for Windsor and Timberman. I haven't talked about Timberman's death yet. I happened about a two weeks ago now. He was from a different platoon and was shot on a patrol. I've known Timberman as long as I've been a Marine. We were in the same platoon in boot camp, and we went through SOI together. He was from Wisconsin too.

It's been a while since I've been able to communicate. It kind of went to prove why having such good ability to communicate is a bad thing. I went off the radar for 10 days because of an operation we were doing, and I come back to an inbox full of "are you okay" "I'm worried sick". The last thing I want to do is somehow make people lost sleep because of a lack of communication, but you need to realize that no news is good news in this line of work.

The operation we did was a sweep through an area called the Zaidon. We took almost our whole battalion to seal off the area and sweep through it. My platoon got tasked with a blocking position, which irritated the hell out of us because we have more combat experience than anyone in Al Anbar right now. So we spent 5 days blocking 3 bridges. We had to fortify them like the Maginot lines. Apparently a strand of concertina wire that spanned the whole thing, plus four Marines with automatic weapons wasn't going to stop one shepherd with an AK. So we had to refortify the bridge (if you want to call a 2.5 foot wide catwalk that spans a canal a bridge...) with seven strands of wire in the middle of the day. They almost actually issued us targets to hang on our chests, but that was cancelled last minute. So now we have more concertina wire than Alcatraz. But apparently we also need 8 Marines in two Humvees with .50 cal machine guns on each bridge 24 hours a day. Do you know how much sleep we got in 5 days? About 8-10 hours. Total. After making us refortify the bridge the second time, the CO came by and asked us if we slept better last night knowing we were better protected by the bridge (I didn't feel any better protected), I replied that I couldn't say because I hadn't slept in two days.

One of the nights I was working on the bridge I came face to face with about the scariest scenarios in my life. I'm tangled up completely in C wire, its cutting into about every limb on my body, and i'm leaning against a railing (built by Iraqis, not the finest craftsmen), over a canal filled with shit water. I turn to my security guy and tell him that I'm freakin out about the rail collapsing and my gear dragging me to the bottom of the canal tangled in C wire. He responds with, "yeah it's like you're in one of those SAW movies, where you have to mangle yourself to save your life". Then he proceeds to talk in the creepy SAW voice, "If you value your life..." Not great working conditions.

Overall I guess the op went well. The other platoons found about 50 weapons caches apparently, everything from AK47s to scoped rifles, to mortars and artillery shells. Fox Company also found a torture house, along the lines of what you hear of in the news when these groups kidnap each other and torture them and then dump their bodies. From what I heard it was very disturbing.

Well the other reason that I haven't been able to get on recently is because as a result of preparing for WWIII on the bridge I had about 100 small cuts all over my body, some of which on my hand decided to get infected from the shit water. So my hand swelled up and I was running a fever for the last few days, and wasn't able to come get over to the COC and get on the internet.

What else....

I filled an entire 6 hour block of post talking with Cartwright about how good a Qdoba burrito would be right now. Chicken, rice, cheese (no beans), hot salsa... that conversation also included Miller Lites.

My buddy Dave Folwell sent me season 1 of "The Office" and I have been marathoning it. I'd never seen it but that show is hysterical.

Somebody sent me Barry Alvarez's autobiography in a care package (he was my college coach). He writes exactly like he spoke. It's pretty funny to read, I actually read it and hear his voice.

The Badger loss still stings.

I have cut my hair into a mohawk, but I call it a warhawk, and I also grew a mustache, but I call it a battle 'stache or trash 'stache. It looks awful. I mean, I won't even post a picture it looks so bad, but I'm at no risk of seeing anyone who cares for 5 months, so why not?

That's all folks. Take care.


  1. Jake we know you are over there doing your job, but we thank God whenever we see your updates then know you are ok. We love you kid!

  2. hahaha I wanna see your trash stache..you gotta send a pic to me through email that way not the whole world can see it on your blog...unless I tag it to you on facebook..but I would never do such a thing... :) Glad to know you are better, think about you often,
    love your cool sister who is still practicing cloodles for your return

  3. LOL!!! Battlestache!! Please send me a picture!!


    Your OTHER sister.

  4. Sure glad you are doing ok. Still prayingfor you all.

  5. Hey Jake. My wife works with your friend, David, in McLean, VA. She sent me the link to your blog. Good stuff.

    I spent a year in Baghdad commanding an infantry company. Two things in this post really took me back there-cheezy moustaces and the lakes and rivers of shit. (You will never be able to describe the smell of Iraq to someone who has not been there.) At the advice of my interpreters, I grew the world's worst moustahce when I was over there. My guys gave me a huge load of crap over it--called it a child molester moustache. But the Iraqis loved it. Suddenly my stature as an authority figure in our AOR increased among the Iraqis just because I had this stupid thin scraggly moustache--its funny the things that matter to them.

    People are always asking me about the morale of the troops in Iraq. They don't believe me when I tell them that morale is actually much higher than the press makes it seem. I mean, it totally sucks ass to be in Iraq--the heat, the smell, the bullshit from higher, the political news from home, the liars who "help" you, the assholes trying to kill you, and the losses--that's all very real. But you know that feeling you get when you pull off a good op, or some dickheads try to go toe-to-toe with you (with the inevitable consequences for them)? It's that amped feeling of accomplishment that you can only get in combat that keeps you fired up and ready to face the next challenge. I don't know how to say it really, it's almost as if the people here at home feel like the trigger pullers are ready to throw in the towel, when nothing could be further from the truth. It's wierd.

    Anyway, I admire what you are doing, and commend you for taking the time to write a blog. You must have found a way to run a 29 hour day over there. Keep a couple of things in mind when things get ugly: (1) Everyone focuses on the bad memories, and it is true that that shit will never leave you, but the good memories will always be with you, too. Every day since I got back I am haunted by bad experiences, but the good stuff is always there to balance things and provide perspective. Trust me--You will come home with the the certainty that, no matter what you went through, and no matter what political and social baggage is attached to the war, you and your brothers did one hell of a job doing the stuff that grunts do best--bad things to bad people. It's a great feeling; (2) Hooters.

    I'm rambling. If you need anything, send an email to me through David.

    Good hunting. Aim center mass.


  6. I just can't even imagine what you look like right now... I think we need a pic :)

  7. Read your whole column. I pray for your safe return home. Know that you have many people who care and are waiting for your return.