Sunday, November 28, 2004

Got My First Mail

I've been away from our camp for a few days. We had some convoy training to do at a different camp and since it's convoy training you can't exactly convoy to the training. So in the first few hours of thanksgiving morning I was flying over Iraq in a Chinook helicopter. How many people can say that? We did some close quarters training where you'd have about 30 guys firing all around you all within inches of each other. It was pretty cool. Up until then I had never fired my weapon with anyone else firing within 50 feet or so. It was good to have all that chaotic firing going on around you and be able to trust that your buddy wasn't going to shoot you. We also fired from a bunch of different positions just to get familiar with being able to react to any situation. The camp we went to had accommodations that just don't quite meet the luxury digs I'm used to so far in war time. It was small and dirty but had a neat "Haji" shop. Locals come in and sell just about anything you can imagine. These guys had hundreds of DVD's for $3.00 a piece. I bought the Polar Express to send home to my son and Troy for myself. They get the movies out on DVD like immediately. Thy even had National Treasures, didn't that just come out? I'm sure they're bootlegged somehow but they play just fine. They come with the jacket cover from the DVD but they're in a plastic sleeve instead of the hard plastic cover. One thing I learned is if one of them starts dancing around and asks you if you want "fiki fiki" it's not really the kind of movie you want to take home to the kids. It's hard to communicate because their English is so broken and my Arabic is non existent. So here I am looking at these movie and trying to talk to one of the guys. He kept saying" is good? Is good?" and showing me all of the movies on the rack. I kept saying no because I hadn't found what I wanted yet. That's when he gets a bright look on his face and starts the fiki fiki dance. To do the fiki fiki dance you hold your arms out to the side slightly bent and shake your chest and shoulders while swaying back and forth. Not understanding what fiki fiki was I follow the mysterious dancing man over to one of the tables where he pulls out a box and shows me the movies. Fiki fiki loosely translated must be freaky freaky and involves many people with very little clothing. Once me and all the guys around me got a good laugh we moved away from the fiki fiki section. I picked my two movies and asked how much. He said $6.00 but I only had $5.00. I said how bout 2 for $5.00. He says "tomorrow 2 for 5, today 2 for 6. I said how about today 2 for five and tomorrow 2 for 6? I showed him the money and we had a deal. I'm pretty sure that if you walked in there with just one dollar you could walk out of there with something. Some of the stuff is a good deal but some of it's not. They got some Xboxes somewhere and were selling them for $250.00. I'm not a gaming connoisseur but I think they're really cheaper than that in real life.

Well, we were supposed to fly back after the third day but they canceled our helicopters. The only problem was they didn't tell us they canceled our helicopters until we had waited in the freezing night for, oh about 8 hours. So at about 2:00 a.m. we got some cots out and went to sleep. At 5:00 a.m. they woke us up and said our helicopters would be there that night at 10:00 p.m. I looked at my watch and figured they could have waited to tell us that but there was another reason they woke us. We had to put our cots on a truck back to camp victory. So much for sleeping. All said and done it was a lot of fun. During the convoy training you would drive down the road while these targets popped up. As any good soldier would do you proceeded to blow the crap out of anything that moved. All the while your flying down the road in a humvee. Pretty cool.

When I got back my platoon Sgt had a card for me. It was a thanksgiving card from Cousins P&M. That's the first mail I got. It was postmarked the 22nd and I got it on the 26th. Maybe even earlier because I had been gone. That's faster than I thought it'd get here. Thanks for the card. I hope the Thanksgiving dinner was good. We got to eat a Thanksgiving dinner out in the field. They had everything you'd have at a regular dinner back home. The cooks even dressed up like pilgrims.

I found out that I'll start work tomorrow. I'll work from Noon to Midnight 6 days a week. I think it'll be good to start because I should be able to get into a routine. We took a tour of Saddam's Baghdad complex today. We got to go into the big palace here in Baghdad and see some of the buildings on the lake. Our whole compound is surrounded by cement walls and barbed wire that Saddam was nice enough to have installed before our arrival. This whole area was his palace and recreation area. Apparently the whole place was stocked with animals and he would hunt and water ski here.

I can't post any pictures because you have to install software to be able to post any pictures. The Army doesn't like it when you install software on their computers. Something about going to jail or something. We are, however, supposed to get satellite internet access in our rooms soon. Can you believe that. It's even going to be faster than the service I have at home. This is more like camp than war. The Family Readiness Group for our unit raised a bunch of money to buy it now it's just a matter of having it installed. I'm not sure what the timeline is. Whenever that happens I'll be able to post pictures from my own computer. I also bought a sim chip for my cell phone the other day. They work on a pre paid system here. You buy the chip for $50.00 and then charge it up $20.00 at a time. It costs 39 cents a minute to call back to the states. I have a local Iraqi phone number and can receive phone calls. Incoming calls and text messages are free, but I don't know how much it costs to call here from the states. If you want to give me a call ask my wife for the number. I'd be more than happy to talk to you on your nickel. I only turn it on when I'm in my room so you don't have to worry about alerting the enemy to my whereabouts. "Ah, habeeb, could you stop shooting for a second, I really need to take this call, thanks...Hello"

That's about all that's going on so far. Let me know if you'd like to know about anything else. Thanks for all the comments and e-mails. They're like getting presents everyday.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love how you are finding so much humor in all of this "war stuff"...the target practice, at speed, in a Humvee does sound great...can't say we're havin' that kinda fun back here...of course we don't have "habeeb" (as you put it) to worry about either!!!

Thanks for the tip on "fiki, fiki"...(and including a description of the accompanying dance) - I may need to file that info just in case that same guy makes it to the states and opens his own Blockbuster franchise. Hey, ya never know - this is the land of opportunity, right?

Hope yer turkey day was great...the pilgrim cooks in the middle of the barren desert must have made it that much more authentic! If only the enemy had been wearing feathers on their heads instead of those turbins...anyway we enjoy reading yours posts - thanks for keepin' us up-to-date!

10:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good to see you "are back". Enjoyed your blog. The tiki tiki dance and descriptions were cool. You mention cousins M&P. M emailed me that her father is in the hospital with a seriour stomach issue...thought for a while it was heart. Pray for him. Celebrated my three score birthday yesterday....getting more senior each year. A package was mailed Saturday. Hope you enjoy it.
Blog us again when you can. Do you get overtime working twelve hours a day, six days a week? Just kidding. Keep us posted when you can. KM

9:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was so great to hear from you. I laughed alot reading your entry. I'm glad to hear you're having fun, considering the circumstances. Our family had a great time yesterday with your children. We all found out if Milo falls from the half wall on the top of the hallway, He lands right on his feet and doesn't even cry, (phew!), Now I won't worry that he'll die anymore from that long fall. Your son called you on a play phone last night, He's sooo cute. They also helped me decorate a Christmas tree, so of course I had to give them hot cocoa and cookies for all their hard work. Well we all hope to hear from you again soon, we are praying for you continually. Oh yeah, one question, did the cooks really dress up like pilgrims or were you just being funny?

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW! I was really surprised to hear how fast you got our card. God must have speeded it along; I was thinking it could be Christmas till it arrived. I feel honored to have our card arrive FIRST!

This is amazing; you even got the prayer concern I sent our for my Dad this morning. They opened a blockage in the stomach today during the scope; so hopefully things will pass thru - ONCE he gets food. Today he ONLY had ice chips for breakfast, lunch & supper. Yes, he's got an IV. He's getting excellent care; the hospital is full and they didn't have a room for him except in ICU. PTL He's getting very good care.

We had a nice Thanksgiving; the younger kids played outside in the SNOW all afternoon. The old men napped. HA! Our prayers are with you, Cousins P&M

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like you are living through quite an adventure already! Well, your wife and I had an adventurous day of shopping together last week! I took her out all day long and we got our lunch for free because of a glitch with the computers. We did not have on as good armor as you have to fight the crowds, but we were armed with our cell phones and caused others to suffer from the loss of an item that we got to first. It was a tiring day for all of us but we persevered and at the end of it we felt accomplished. I cannot divulge any more information than that based on who may read this, but suffice it to say that our mission was successful. Hopefully you're doing better than us even! We're still praying for you all. Take care, M. Pads Coach

4:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...





4:30 PM  

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