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The Story of an American Soldier in Iraq
Life as a soldier in Baghdad, Iraq is definitely interesting and full of life changing experiences, like... being shot at and blown up! Yee haw, what fun eh?
Actually, it has its ups and downs, and as a journalist in the US Army (assigned to CJTF-7 Public Affairs) I've had the chance to see many things that others have only heard of through the news themselves - I hope you'll enjoy them too, through my eyes. ; )
Friday, July 25, 2003
I finally got email again - I just hope it lasts! They say that Army Knowlefge Online is the only email account that we can access at all out here (when we DO have internet!) so this will be the one to write for the duration of my stay here. At the most I'll only get to it every few days, but it's better than the once a month satallite phone calls huh?
Anyhoo, it's gotten hot as Hades here. The average day is in the low 100's range :P And we've been having a bit of a water shortage that doesn't make it much better. The once-every-few-days showers have become even more sought after as by the end of each day we all smell like barn yard animals - yuk! All the baby wipes help A LOT though!!
I believe I've gotten all the package y'all sent so far - four boxes from mom and dad, five from Aunty Ginny and Uncle Lee and one from Jenkins, as well as a stack of fat envelopes and lots of letters from everybody! I must say, thanks to y'all we'll be very well supplied with TP, baby wipes and tear drops for some time, and I've gotten enough goggles to provide a pair to dang near everybody who's here - thanks soooo much!! The TREATS - both munchable and pampering - are VERY appreciated too! I've gotten enough in the last little bit for us all to enjoy some, to make some 'treat baggies' for our eventual convoy north, and to pack away for once we get there (until the mail catches up at least ;) I must also thank Jenkins, as thanks in part to her and mom all the girls had a mini-slumber party the other night and enjoyed painting our toenails and slathering ourselves with nice smelling stuff (the small things go a LONG way!!). Everyone has been enjoying the news clippings too - with relatives from all over, no matter where my co-workers are from, they get a little bit of home. Oh - Aunty Ginny, please send a BIG thank you to all those girl scouts, EVERYONE has enjoyed smiles and giggles over their lovely notes, cards and pictures :) Everyone here has been shocked by y'all support - I got 6 BIG boxes in one night!! It means a lot to our poor reservists who came without knowing what they were getting into too - all these health items have been a blessing for those who didn't pack anything.
Though the mail is a BIG part of our lives (being the mail clerk for the office it's about all I hear about ;) we've been awefully busy.
I've spent many of my days going through my 5-ton truck and making sure that everything is good to go. I'm so picky that the motorpool guys have picked me up as an 'adoptee' member - which is a good thing because they've supplied us with over ten fuel cans, ten water cans and a fuel nozzle (that has a VERY embarrasing nick name for a female to ask a room full of males for...but I don't want to be crude and tell you ;) They've also allowed me to use their power tools (after much hemming and hawing about giving sharp items to a 'girl') allowing me to spend many afternoons building extra supports and protection panels to fit inside the Humvees.
One afternoon I swiped the 'girls' - Spc Christine Andreau, SPC Jennifer Nelson and SPC Jenny Parsons - to do a very heavy-duty job. We did what's called "hardening" one of the humvees to prepare it for a load of soldiers and media people to fide in the rear. Basically, we had to find and fill enough sand bags (over 100) to line the floor and build walls around the rear of the humvee. We all came back a little sore from all the lifting, but proud of our work (which also made some of the males swallow some nasty comments about women). Besides that, we had fun ;) An odd 'girls day out' to be sure, but with just us and Jimi Hendrix playing on my radio, we were able to "get away".
We have, unfortunetly, been hit by a bit of bad luck. Some virus or flu that caused pneumonia in about half of it's sufferers hit our sleep tent and followed us to the office, hitting us hard. It knocked Sgt. Abbott, my 'sister' in arms from my office in Heidelberg, out for about a week and then flowed thru the rest of us one at a time (luckily, only forming into pneumonia again in SPC Nikki Trent, who's still in bed healing). Mine was compounded by a 'lovely' sinus infection that still hasn't gone away - but, it only stayed with me a few days (a blessing for sure!) and limited me to bed for only one. We were all worried they'd call us to move forward while under the weather, but as of now we still haven't heard a date or time.
Other than the few excitements, that you all probably heard in the news before I ever did, things have been nice and quiet here. We haven't had a Scud alarm in quite a long time (another blessing!) and they've even been getting a little better at keeping the porta-potties clean (either that, or I'm getting used to the filth :P ). Chow has improved, but they've had a few cases of undercooked hamburgers here (from hurrying to fast to provide for angry soldiers waiting in line I'm sure!) so we still have to be a little careful about what we eat. In the chow line, some of the locals who help serve have even taken up trying to teach soldiers a few arabic words - which brings giggles on both sides. I'm afraid I usually forget the new words as soon as I leave :( Oh well...
Right now we're doing pretty well with supplies (thanks to all of you!) so I can't think of much we need right now :) The SGM did suggest that maybe a few camp showers - you know the ones that are like black bags with shower heads or hoses - would come in handy though! Other than that, any suggestions or ways to stay cool are in high demand ;) The heat will only get worse and we're already starting to melt!! :P
Well, I'm about talked out, but I hope I'll be able to write again in a few days (if God wills that the internet stays running!). All of my love goes out to EVERYONE - I SO appreciate the boxes and packages and pretty cards (I loved yours too Aunty Glenys! ;) They really prove to me how very blessed I am!!!
LOTS of Love, Kisses and Hugs - you're all on my mind every day!
PS - Aunty Ginny - SPC Trent says hello to your two puppies!! She misses her 'babies' at home and cooed over the photo of yours in your newsletter ;)