Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Totally Cool!

That's the weather tonight, clear and COOL! Official temperature at the BDOC (Base Defense Operations Center) right now at 9:20 p.m. is a pleasant 70 degrees...Heck, it almost feels like home.
It's not only cool out tonight, it is especially noisy! I must have missed the memo from the base commander ordering everyone to turn up their stereo, honk MRAP horns, crank up the Karaoke Night sound system (and the "talent" is particularly off-key this evening)...even the Iraqi Police are blasting their sirens every few minutes on MSR Tampa, and the final chorus chiming in comes from a pod of crickets outside of my CHU. Good thing I have an excellent set of earplugs, because that'll be the only way I'll be able to sleep tonight!

Monday, September 28, 2009

More Fish Stories

Here's a photo of the FOB's "Fishin' Magicians". (From L to R: Guy, Kurt, and Bill) These fellas are DoD contractors, and were very willing to show this FNG (Fishing New Guy) the best techniques for success. Bill is holding a 16" red-tailed carp, about 3 lbs worth of fighting fury, which was released back into the water unharmed right after I took this photo.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fishin' on the FOB

Thanks to my friends Felix and Caroline, I am now fully-outfitted to engage in some combat-zone fishing! (Thanks, you two!) Although I had planned to spend a couple of hours today angling for wiley carp and catfish, I was the Lone Ranger on the FOB this weekend, so was stuck in the office until this evening. I did manage to get my line wet, learned some helpful fishing tips from 3 civilian contactors (the local carp prefer Slim Jim chunks to anything else), and finally reeled in a big, fat...turtle! (Yep, I yelled, "Terp On!" to everyone's amusement.) I successfully released the turtle without hurting him (it?). As you can see from the photos, our fishing area has been thoughtfully equipped with protection from indirect fire, which adds to the bucolic setting. As I headed off in to the Iraqi sunset, I swore those carp were calling after me, "Bring more Slim Jims!" (NOTE: NO TURTLES OR FISH WERE HARMED DURING THE MAKING OF THIS BLOG...)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mystery Revealed!

I finally learned the name of the restaurant which provides the catering service for our dining facility: It explains a lot...

(Thanks to Dr. Bagacheezi for providing the evidence photo.)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Amazing Leprechreskin!

If you'll take note of the time that I published my earlier post, predicting that the UW Huskies would upset the USC Trojans, you will see that I made this prediction approximately 5 hours before kickoff. I do admit that this prognostication was tinged with wishful thinking, but what a kick that the Dawgs pulled it off! (And congratulations to Coach Sark...so far, you have one more "W" this season than I do, and I'm expecting to see a couple more!)

The storm that I mentioned in that same post developed into a major thunderstorm, with lightning striking the FOB, and crashing thunder so loud that stuff was shaken out of my wall lockers. This was a just plain eventful night, in a good way.

Fall Comes To Iraq

Folks who have been here for a while explained that when the season changes from Summer to Fall, temperatures drop into the mid-90's, and it begins to rain. Well, it must officially be Fall, because after two and a half months, the skies just opened up with an epic deluge. Big windstorm to go along with the water, which makes for a nice change...at least until I have to slog through ankle deep mud to get to the latrine and shower. Fortunately I have all of my shoe-cleaning supplies on hand, including a good scrub brush and bucket, so that I won't track mud into my CHU. Semper Paratus.
Turned out to be the perfect evening to fort up in the hootch, munch on beef jerky, and watch college football...including the stunning upset victory the UW Huskies pulled off over USC...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Hero, Paying Back Since 9/11/01

This story has taken me a bit more time to write than usual, as the subject deserves the effort.
While awaiting a flight on 9/11, I struck up a conversation with a First Lieutenant, a fellow Army Reservist. When he learned that I was retired from law enforcement, the LT mentioned that his civilian job was paramedic with the NYFD. When I asked the inevitable question, "Were you there that day?", a troubled look crossed the LT's face as he seemed to consider how to answer. He then started speaking quietly, describing how he had indeed been there that morning, treating and helping to evacuate people from the South Tower. The LT paused for a minute, then told me how screwed up things had gotten for the first responders. He talked about how he and his fellow medics had been ordered to abandon the non-ambulatory patients, and evacuate the building immediately, as it was about to collapse. The LT said that he had protested, but in the end followed orders, and escaped minutes before the South Tower came down.
I sat there quietly, absorbing how incredibly painful this had been for this guy and his partners.
The LT bowed his head, and said he's carried the guilt with him ever since. He enlisted in the Army Reserve shortly afterward, and since 2001 has volunteered for and served 3 combat tours in Iraq, and one tour in Afghanistan, trying to make up for what happened on that awful day eight years ago. Just then, the LT's boss walked up and pulled him away, and I had to leave without saying goodbye. What I didn't get a chance to say to this hero was this..."You've paid any debt you feel you owe four times over...and you have nothing to be ashamed of."
I think anyone who understands true courage and selfless service would agree.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Inspections and Football

A team of inspectors arrived this afternoon to review our operation. They'll review case files, discuss our approach to investigations, and generally figure out if our office is suffering from Cranial-Rectal Inversion Syndrome...or not. We'll get an update on the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan tomorrow, and the team leader promised to debunk any and all rumors currently flying around the theatre of operations.

In the midst of this minor pressure, once again it's Saturday in the USA, and time for college football on TV. We only get one sports channel, but I'm not complaining. Watching a game or two on the tube adds a sense of normalcy to being in this place. The UW Huskies are playing the Idaho Vandals...if the Idaho players have left their spraypaint at home, it should be a "W" for U-Dub. GO DAWGS!!!!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

"Mr. Leprechaun, this is your 0430 Wake-Up Call!"

I was sleeping soundly at around 0430 this morning when I was awakened by what sounded like an incoming rocket or artillery shell...I rolled out of bed and hit the floor, only to realize (to my great relief) that it was merely one of the unmanned drones flying really low over my CHU.
Probably shouldn't have watched Apocalypse Now last night before going to bed....

More "Stuff You Just Can't Make Up'

All right, here's a little something for you fans of military absurdity, which I overheard in the mess hall at lunch this afternoon:

There's this unit over here, with about 9 months remaining in-country...been operational for about 2 months...and their HQ apparently put out the word today that all end of tour award recommendations need to be submitted within the next couple of days. It sparked the following conversation...
Lieutenant: "But we haven't done anything yet...we only just now got our computers working!"
Captain: "Doesn't really matter...just write something up in bulleted format after lunch, okay?"

Coincidentally, I learned a new acronym today...FUBIJAR...as in "That's incredibly FUBIJAR!"
(F***ed Up, But I'm Just A Reservist)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Porta-Potty Pistol Procedures

As most of you are already aware, I spend a lot of my time in Porta-Potties. This frequent exposure has required me to develop a regimen to keep my trusty M-11 pistol from taking a belly-flop in to the holding tank.

Remember the joke about the guy who accidentally drops a $5 bill down a porta-potty, pulls out his wallet and throws in $50, before jumping in to retrieve the cash. When he crawls out, dripping with "stuff", his friends ask him why he did what he did. The fellow answers, "You don't think I was going to go in after a measly five bucks, do you?" Well, in the Army, anyone unfortunate enough to accidentally drop their sidearm into the poop pool will definitely be expected to retrieve it...although the recovery procedures are not specified in any regulation or field manual.

Since I have absolutely no desire to muck about in the sewage, I developed a routine to prevent such a disaster. First action upon entering the confines of the Porta-Potty is to put down the lid, and only then do I remove my pistol from my belt holster, and place it next to the seat. (For those of you wondering why I even take my sidearm out of the holster, try pulling up your pants and tightening your belt with a 3 lb weight hanging on one side.) Once my pistol has been secured, then I am free to take care of business. When finished, I do the whole process in reverse before returning my pistol to the holster.

Do you think I'm being overly-cautious? Well, this morning I was kind of in a hurry. I followed the procedure outlined above, but when I drew my pistol from the holster, it caught on the hem of my shirt, and dropped about six inches...right on to the closed lid. I must be living right.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

This just in...

Life is about to imitate blog, as I got a "heads up" that my partner and I will be soon heading to one of the "austere" bases mentioned in the series of articles I linked to a few days ago. OPSEC prevents me from saying more, but I promise a full report once we return... (Hopefully illustrated with photos!)

By the way, I met the company First Sergeant from that base this afternoon, and this guy is one of those old school infantry warriors that I really admire. For you war movie fans, think "Sergeant Major Basil Plumley" from We Were Soldiers, only more loquatious. I'm looking forward to spending time in the front lines, though since there's no shooting going on it should be more like camping at a really low-rent RV park...
The story you are about to read is true; the profanity has been modified to protect the innocent...

Okay, so there I was, sitting outside the airfield shack waiting for a UH-60 Blackhawk to arrive, enjoying the 140 degree heat, when two young female soldiers walked by. One turns to the other and said, "F-in' A, my moms liked the Marx Brothers so much, my f-in' middle name is f-in' Harpo!" The other responded, "F, girl, we learned about that dude in school, but I thought his name was Karl or somethin', not all whack like f-in' Harpo. Ain't that f-in' OPRAH spelled backasswards?" "Yeah," the first soldier said," I could just tell people that my moms digs Oprah, but she's f-in' dyslexic!"

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Leprechaun posts a "W"...

Once again, I can't divulge details, but I finally solved a case. Yeah, about darn time, except it was really the only case of note that I've had so far. And I was bloody brilliant!

Okay, enough self-congratulation...except please note that as of now, I have a better win-loss record than last year's UW football team. (Open Challenge to Coach Sarkesian...Can you guys beat my record...? Please?)