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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, January 31, 2007

made it safe

Hey there. i have quick access to a pc, so i thought i'd let you all know that i made it to kuwait ok. the flight was long and very, very cramped. we are gonna be staged here for a few days at camp victory before we make the move up into fallujah. hopefully i'll have another oppurtunity to write up there. until then, i'm living large on some army base, internet, ac, hot food, etc. i'm out.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

I've Said it Before

And I'll say it again. I hate goodbyes. This weekend has been full of phone calls to people I love. Family, friends from college, friends from high school, friends from the South Bay, random people that I have met but made connections with. They all suck. The goodbyes, not the people. I understand what I am going to do, I know I am going to Iraq, but for me it has really just become a job, its not this 'noble' thing people keep trying to describe it as. That being said, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for the well wishes and the prayers. I am so blessed to have all of these friends and family and I will never take you for granted.

On a side note, saying goodbye to your mom for the last time before you step on a plane to go to war is like watching someone simultaneously shoot your dog and kick you in the balls while playing Rod Stewart in the background.

Najaf

LINK

Anyone turned CNN on today?? The insurgents got bold and about 500 of them (estimates) tried attacking the city of Najaf to kill pilgrims going to a holy festival. They apparently were also targeting al Sistani, the biggest Shia cleric in Iraq. Needless to say American and Iraqi forces are destroying them right now. I hope that this line of thought continues for the insurgents, it actually gives us the chance to fight them toe to toe, as opposed to sitting back and waiting for them to try and blow us up on the roads.

Hey, we'll be in Fallujah, you want some, come get some.

Last Night

Well, I pretty much just spent my last night in the States. Have any of you ever seen the movie Jarhead?? That's kind of how my last night went down. A bunch of guys from my platoon went down behind our barracks and grilled out some ridiculous pieces of meat, drank some (lots) beer and then we got rowdy and watched war movies like Blackhawk Down.

This is what I leave you with. I don't know if Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction. I would assume they did, but I really don't care. I am not sure that Saddam Hussein had a direct link with Al Qaida. I really don't care because they are over there now. I know this-Saddam Hussein was a very evil man, and I have been given the oppurtunity to rectify some of the things he has done both to his own people and to the world. I truly feel like I am making the world a safer place by going over there. That is all the rationale I need.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Final Countdown

Well, the final countdown has begun. I'm sitting in my room about 36 hours from stepping on the plane that will take me to Iraq. A little bit of nervousness is starting to set in, at least I think. It has been hard to differentiate between nervousness and excitement. I guess I'm not sure if there is much of a difference anyway. So far fear really has not come into play. But I suppose you can't be nervous unless you fear some unknown. Not that any of it matters, I'm getting on the plane regardless.

What does matter is that I do not have a phone charger for my dead phone, I'm leaving in a day, and I have a bizillion people to call. I'm really gonna have to figure something out. That would not go over well with the fam and friends if I didn't get that last phone call in.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Rest in Peace LCPL Yanez

I received very sad news tonight. A Marine that was in the platoon I was the Guide for at the School of Infantry died this past week in Iraq. His humvee was hit by an IED and he was killed in the blast. I was not that close with Yanez, but we lived together for three months, we trained together, and many of our mutual friends we're with him when it happened. Please pray for his family and for my friends from 3/4 that had to see him pass. God bless you Yanez and thank you for your service.

Absolutely Asinine

My life the last few days has been absolutely miserable. The BS continues to trickle from the top down. Yesterday, Wednesday, we got word that we had to completely clean our rooms for a final inspection by the batallion commander, what we call a 'field day'. Since it was our last one and we were moving out we took it pretty seriously and conducted whats called a Chinese field day, where you move every piece of furniture out of your room, scrub the floors, walls and baseboards, and then scrub all the furnitre down outside before you move it back in.

So that took all day. Then word gets passed that we have to be completely packed for Iraq, as if we're leaving, and that no personal items are allowed to be in our rooms any longer. Awesome. We have five days before we ship out, so you decide to take our tv's, computers, stereos, our happiness. Great morale booster right there. We're already going to be without it in Iraq for at least seven months, so why not make it seven months and five days? I mean, it didn't really bother me too much, I love staring at cinder block walls. But they hadn't even pulled out their trump card yet. They then said that we had to turn in all of our bed linens. Blankets, sheets, pillows, everything. I slept on a bare mattress last night. When we asked what we were supposed to do to stay warm they said "you were issued sleeping bags, right?". Right buddy we were, but guess what??? We were told that all had to be packed away, as if we were leaving in the morning. And what about our pillows? "Pretend like you're in the field" Awesome, I'm gonna be in a 'field', called 'Iraq' for the next seven months, lets start playing pretend now, wouldn't that be great? We may as well start acclimatizing ourselves to misery now I suppose.

Well today we found out our floors weren't good enough, so I spent most of the morning on my knees, scrubbing away with Scotch pads and Pinesol. Oh, but in between all that, I had to go get infected with small pox (or immunized, depending on who you ask). Let me do the math for you on this one. I now am infected with this, and I'm going to be sleeping on a bare mattress that some other poor Marine is going to be sleeping on in about a week's time. A lot of bright minds are at work here.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Goodbyes

Well I just got back from my last weekend in the LA area before I go to Iraq. If you know me you know that I hate long goodbyes, so trying to party carefree this past weekend was difficult with the whole "Sunday is the last day" thing. Regardless it was an amazing weekend. Saturday was an all day affair that included going to Patrick Malloy's for their breakfast/booze specials during the Badger game (a big win by the way), an afternoon dip in the frigid Pacific, dinner at Poncho's with Jeff and our favorite South Bay ladies, and then a J Band concert at Harry O's. Awesome time. Sunday was the classic go to Dragon, get a table and order as many dollar beers as our waitress can carry as many times as she can carry them. We sat there and watched the football games all day long, which was great because the Colts game turned out to be one of the best playoff games I have seen in a long time.

It was tough heading back to Twentynine Palms, saying the goodbyes, knowing that I have to miss an ENTIRE summer at the beach. But, hey, at least I'm back for next football season!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Rest In Peace

I'm going to keep this simple because I don't know much of the details. My company was on a rifle range today zeroing in our rifles when our range got shut down for what's called a 'safety stand down'. All that we know is that a battalion that is currently going through Mojave Viper, what I just did in October, had a Marine die today during a live fire exercise on the Deliberate Assault Course. I have never met him and I don't even know what unit he was from, but it hits home none the less. I pray for his team, his squad, his platoon and most importantly for his family. May he rest in peace.

Monday, January 15, 2007

From Sunday Funday



This is the receipt from an infamous "Sunday Funday". All those lines are rounds of 5 $1 beers. For a grand total of 180 beers...we were totally sober all day long.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


"The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people - and it is unacceptable to me. Our troops in Iraq have fought bravely. They have done everything we have asked them to do. Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.

It is clear that we need to change our strategy in Iraq."

So what did you think about President Bush's speech on the new direction being pursued in Iraq? Okay, so many of you probably didn't bother to turn the television on to watch it, so I'll give you a brief synopsis. We are drawing a 'help us help you' line in the sand with the Iraqi government. We are going to send 21,500 more troops over, attaching many of them to Iraqi brigades, and we are going to eliminate many of the restrictions currently placed on our ability to fight this insurgency. There will no longer be protected groups or neighborhoods. No one will be above the law any longer. "In earlier operations, political and sectarian interference prevented Iraqi and American forces from going into neighborhoods that are home to those fueling the sectarian violence. This time, Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to enter these neighborhoods - and Prime Minister Maliki has pledged that political or sectarian interference will not be tolerated."

FINALLY. It's about time that we stopped worrying about peoples feelings and started being concerned with winning the war. I don't care if Shi'a are offended or threatened when we patrol through their neighborhood, its better than allowing Shi'a death squads to form and roam freely there. I don't care if knocking on a Sunni door will spark hatred, because he's probably got an RPG under his bed and already hated me. In my opinion, we have already made all the enemies we are going to make over there, if we still have a good majority of the population on our side, and we do, four years into this war, then they are with us for good. It's about time we stopped worrying about offending the people that already hate us and get around to capturing and or killing them.

Does that sound cold? Probably. But guess what. War is a cold and brutal business to begin with, and it only gets darker the longer you dwell in it. Failing to use the extent of our force today only allows the enemy strengthen and adapt in order to attack us in even deadlier ways tomorrow. I'm sure I'll lose some friends for saying this, but perhaps its time for the United States to adopt a Machiavellian strategy in Iraq. Most people think they know Machiavelli because they can recall the saying "the end justifies the means". Congratulations. You have .005% of Machiavelli down pat. It's actually alot deeper than that. I specifically am thinking of his "cruelty well used" theory. Machiavelli never advocated cruelty for cruelty's sake, but he did recognize it as an effective tool in war and government. He believed that cruelty is inevitable in society, so it is the responsibility of the government to maximize the effectiveness and results from using it, which ultimately leads to a lower 'total cruelty'. An example:

Premise 1: thieving is bad
Premise 2: thieving causes loss/pain/grief
Premise 3: punishment is a deterrent to further thieving

Now, you are a government that, for whatever reason, is soft on crime. You catch a thief. You sentence him to ten days in jail. The thief gets out and steals again, and other citizens are emboldened to steal because of the light risk, this increases the overall suffering of the citizenry. Now you are a government that is very tough on crime. You catch a thief. You cut off his hand in a public display in the town square. The thief can no longer steal because he has no hands, and would be thieves are deterred. Maximum cruelty used in that brief window has reduced the overall pain and suffering of society.

WHERE THE HELL AM I GOING WITH THIS??? I had to remind myself that same thing, because for a while I thought I was back in school, writing that dang Political Science 502 term paper.

HERE IS MY POINT. We have been dragging this war on for four years now. Why? Because we have been led to believe that we can wage war without cruelty. I'm sorry but a war without cruelty isn't war, its DIPLOMACY, and that didn't work (or wasn't tried for my liberal friends out there). The fact is we are in war, and by not doing the necessary things, some of them cruel, to end it in a decisive faction, we are in fact increasing the pain and suffering both in Iraq and here at home. Let us go win this war.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Home Stretch

Well, I'm back in California now. That whole two week pre-deployment thing made me feel like I was back in college on a winter break...but now I'm in 29 Palms, and it's definitely not winter here.

I got a chance to head out to LA again this weekend. Big surprise huh? Only two more weekends like that left before I have to head out, the countdown is really starting to wind down. It was a good weekend though and I definitely made the most of it. Friday and Saturday we're both Union nights, although none of them were supposed to be when the night began. Sunday was an all out NFL playoff/Sunday Funday with the guys from Manhattan. Naturally they lost a lot of money on Bodog.com betting, so they tried parlaying it into a LA Lakers game. Turned into a looooong night for me.

The whole Iraq thing is really starting to materialize right in my face. Today we had our first gear inspection for what we'll be taking overseas. A) half the stuff on the gear list is not necessary B) most everything that's not necessary is not provided C) we still have to go pay out of pocket for the stuff. I'm talking about really dumb stuff. - (1) bag of clothes pins, (2) washcloths, (1) whistle, (1) sewing kit. CLOTHES PINS. Are the kidding me? Why? So I can hang up my wash? A WHISTLE? What century is this? I need a whistle in a day and age when I also carry a radio that communicates with planes in the air, night vision goggles, a gps, but I'm gonna have a whistle on me just in case Muhammed double dribbles. And then the Government won't buy it for me. Washcloths, hmmm, I won't have running water at my base camp, and honestly, I don't plan on showering all that often anyway. But Uncle Sam demands that I have two of just in case I run into a Bath and Body Works.

That's it for now. San Diego next weekend, and back in LA the weekend after that. Let me know if you're around.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Random Meanderings

First and foremost, HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Well, everyone makes a New Year's Resolution, so I guess that I shouldn't be any different. I suppose that I will resolve to do my best to make a positive difference while I am in Iraq for the first 8 months of this year, and to return home safely with my honor intact. I also resolve to party like a rockstar upon my return. Yeah, that one is actually the one I'm looking forward to.

The Wisconsin Badgers begin their shallacking of Arkansas in approximately 23 minutes, but who's keeping track? I'm gonna go ahead and pre-empt this one and congratulate the boys on a job well done.

If you haven't seen the leaked footage of Saddam Hussein being hung its out there. I'm not suggesting you watch it, but I will say that it is very strange to see a man that you grew up hearing about as a villain led to his own gallows. Say what you will about what it means for me as a person to say this, but it felt good to watch him hang, the world is better off without him.

I have had an incredible time the past two weeks, coming home, spending time with both family and friends. I'm about to head home here in a couple of days, but I want you all to know how much I appreciate you.

One final thought. Jeff Lang is currently on the interstate with my house as his destination. Go ahead and connect the dots on that one, its gonna get ugly.