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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.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Wise Words

I got an email from my Aunt Patsy and Aunt Dolly last night. They are actually my dad's aunts and they live in Arizona. One was a nurse and the other a nun, so they have always had a great perspective on things. Part of their email said this-

"It is so easy for all of us to fall into a "get even" response that would only bring us to the level that we despise in those others who perpetrate these horrible deeds. To rise above our anger and grief we need to pray even for our enemies! They, too, are doing what they believe is right, even though we know that to repay injustice with injustice is the greatest injustice of all! You will have to trust that what you are doing will help to eventually bring an end to all hate and all evil. Keep your hearts at peace knowing that you are doing your best to bring an end to this terrible war."

It is so true. I can't allow whoever did this to my friend to compromise who I am, or the nature of the mission we are doing. As much as I wanted revenge on Sunday, I know that revenge won't bring Howie back. We will bring justice to whoever did this, that I know, but we will do it at our level.

Thank you all for your support in trying times.

Monday, February 19, 2007

To My Friend


Howie-


I don't know what to say. Me, Williams, Doc and Payne are in TQ, and Latcher is in the hospital. He's gonna be ok, just some minor shrapnel and a concussion. We haven't talked to the rest of the squad, we got seperated by the canal and we had to call in for birds to pick us up. Sgt Rose had some shrapnel and burns, but we think he's okay, he's with the rest of the squad, we're guessing at Viking. Latcher and Payne drug you out of the vic, but by the time Doc and I got there from vics 1 and 2 you had already left us. I'm sorry we had to leave you to find cover, but we went back and got you brother. You're going home. We're gonna miss you Howie.


The four of us talked about it alot last night. This was wrong. Just hours before you were handing out food and candy to their kids, and then this. For what? Why? Do they really think their god wants this?


We're so sorryHowie. It could of and should of been any one of us. We wanted so badly to badly to avenge you, but we didn't have enough men on our side of the bridge. We will never forget you. We will honor you and fight for you.


People around the world hold you in their prayers today. Keep your eye on us.


Semper Fidelis.


3rd Platoon, 2nd Squad

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Boom

Quick note about something that happened today. I was working out in our 'jail yard' gym with CPL Muir, no where near our weapons or flak jackets and helmets. We were changing the weight on the bench press when we were rocked by an enormous boom. We both just kind of looked at each other and then simultaneously took off sprinting for our gear across the FOB. We both knew it was incoming mortars, but the proximity of the blast shocked us. We got about halfway to our room when the second blast hit, this one was even closer, and it turned out later that it landed inside the FOB about 65 meters away from us on the other side of a building. We finally got in our room and scrambled to gear up. Everyone else was already waiting there. We had to wait around for the all clear, and spent the whole time joking about the whole thing. Seems that the only way to stay normal over here is to make everything a joke. The Muj got lucky on these shots though. They don't even aim, they just lob 3 rounds and take off. It just so happens that these were the best lobs they've done in a while.

Have a great Valentine's Day, I won't be on here for about 4-5 days. Take care.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

COP VIKING

Well, we are finally starting to settle in to our new home. Our area of operations is pretty rural, not a whole lot going on as far as a major population center since we are on the outskirts of Fallujah. Most of the people that live in our area are large extended families and tribes and retired military officers from the Saddam regime. Since the population base isn't too large, there isn't a ton of contact, but conversely the contact is more coordinated and and on a larger scale, since the insurgents don't need to be concerned about collateral damage.

The thing about this place is the filth. Greenpeace would have a seizure if they saw how these people treated their land. There is trash everywhere. I'm not sure there is a word in the arabic language for garbage can, let alone sanitation. On top of that is the rabid dogs. I now know what the opposite of a domesticated dog looks like. It looks like every four legged animal in Iraq that doesn't have wool. The combination of trash, dog and raw sewage makes for a very distinctive and appealing smell...I can't wait until it hits 130 degrees and the smell gets to marinate.

So far the homes that I have been in are pretty sparse. Run down, minimal power, if any, rarely running water. The homes contain about 4 things- 1 AK47, 1 television that won't turn on, 153 rugs, or 'Hajji Mats' and 1 photo of some ridiculous looking relative. Most of them are constructed of cinder blocks, and many of them only have dirt floors.

Most of the people that I have actually had contact with, people I have searched, whether their cars or homes, or people that we have questioned have been incredibly nice. So far it is difficult to tell which ones of them are thinking behind their smiles "I can't wait to kill this guy". Also, the kids adore us. It might be because we roll with all the power. They see us coming and see how cars get off the road for us and how we can go anywhere we please, I'm sure that impresses upon them, or maybe they just want chocolate. I don't know. The teenagers all try and stare us down, "mean mugging" us. This is definately a testosterone thing. I'm sure a lot of htem would actuallybe willing to take action against us too, so we just try and keep contact with them to a minimum, so nothing flares.

There are some places that we have been rolling the last few days that are known insurgent hide outs. I actually don't know what grown men do in Iraq, because so far it appears that they just sit at used car dealerships and smoke and stare down Marines... When they make threatening gestures at us we just point a big machine gun at them and it usually takes their nerve away though.

Today we were on a patrol and about to return to base when a call came over the radio that another convoy had gotten hit with an IED. They were requesting that we head their way because they thought that they had taken a scooped rifle shot, and needed someone to sweep it. We rolled on scene and got the intel from them, then determined the most probable place for a sharpshooter was in a little cluster of houses about 550 meters off the road. We sped off and dismounted in the center. I took one man from my humvee and went to the house nearest the road. The man of the house had already gotten his family out of it and was moving them into the yard, and then approached me and told me I could search his house. You could kind of tell that they had seen the routine before. We found nothing in the houses, no detonation switches. I feel like that is kind of how the next seven months are going to play out. We had another patrol tonight after dark that had a little excitement. We thought we heard some small explosions from an automotive garage so we headed over and I dismounted with our squad leader and another Marine to check it out. Just kind of weird to be snooping through a huge complex with night vision goggles on and rabid dogs yelping at you everywhere. Alas, nothing turned up though.

This is how my life is going to be for the next seven months. I actually am enjoying it though. Until next time...

Friday, February 02, 2007

Safe in Fallujah

Hey there. Just got into Camp Fallujah last night. We flew into an airbase called TQ which is west of the city and stayed there Thursday night. We then took a convoy Friday night through the city and arrived here late. The convoy was pretty crazy, about 30 7-ton trucks, up-armored with machine gun turrets. The unit we are relieving provided the convoy, so you know they were at their best, since if we didn't make it, they weren't getting relieved. I didn't get too much of a chance to see the city as we drove through, but the times I was able to poke my head out it looked like Tiajuana, only deserted because of the curfew. We weren't allowed to poke our head out because apparently there are about one or two pretty good sharpshooters that have been giving them problems in the area. One thing I can comment on though was the smell....BAD. Anyway, I'm now in Camp Fallujah safe. We should be here for about 5 days, then we are going to be moving into our base camp.