Salutations! I come to you today with a bit of a dilemma. It’s nothing major, nor is it anything over which I lose sleep. However, this issue occupies a goodly amount of my precious cranial resource whilst I am walking about the FOB. See, the Army has a way of greeting officers that is a bit different than the Navy. Yes, the right hand still reaches the brim of the cap in order to render proper military honors, but the difference is the additional step the soldier will add.
Every unit in the Army, I am told, has something for which it is known. These defining traits have been recorded throughout history and adopted by the individual unit as something of which to be proud. When saluting or greeting an officer, a soldier will reach back into his history files and pull out a catchy little phrase that reminds the soldier of that instant of glory and also defines said soldier as a proud member of said unit. Yes, even the Air Force has been known to participate in this tradition, possibly due to their former association with the Army in days of old. Marines…well, they just kind of grunt some unintelligible murmur that sounds like a cross between “hoorah” and “yut.”
The following are phrases I have heard just recently while walking around the base from our proud members of the non-naval services:
“All the way!” – My guys at Brigade like this one a lot…82nd Airborne
“Air Assault!” – I know this one from my father, who was, himself a member of the proud 101st Airborne.
“First to fight!” – Some National Guard unit from South Carolina, who, by the way, was NOT the first to fight, but is fighting now, making it worthy of this motto.
“Rock of the Marne!” – 3rd Infantry Division, remembering a time when they were surrounded and managed to pull out a victory none the less.
“Victory through Support!” – Yes, this one seemed gay to me too, but someone is proud of it.
“Air Power!” – from the guys and gals in (non-navy) blue, when they're not at the pool.
“Hooah!” – I take it that this is the generic greeting from a soldier, meaning he either has no proud motto, or wishes not to share it with a Naval Officer.
I understand completely. Pride and tradition certainly have their place within the rank and file of the armed forces of the United States. Here’s the problem, though. I have nothing to say in return. Do I repeat their saying back to them? Is there some sort of other saying that completes the original, signifying that I know the secret code for this particular band of brothers, marking me as a member of the club? But, I'm not really a member of the club! Or do I reply with a saying of my own? I could say, “Go Navy!” or “Electronic Warfare Power!” or “Peace through strategic nuclear deterrence brought about by the ever-lurking presence of a ballistic missile submarine!” or something of the sort, but all of my sayings seem forced or not authentic.
For now, I stick with the general “Good morning” or “Good Afternoon,” and sometimes the “How are you today?” types of response. Anyone who has something better, I am open to new ideas.
That’s all I have time for right now…Thanks for letting me get that off of my chest.
A, E, L, I love you!
Monday, March 26, 2007
Greetings to all! I wanted to update my page with some exciting news, but I couldn't think of anything worth posting or making fun of. I know I promised you photos, so here are a couple to hold you over until I can get more pictures of my shining face on here. A short description follows.
The first photograph is Al Faw palace in Baghdad. Currently, it houses the General and his staff. We acquired this beautiful piece of property from its former owner, Saddam Hussein, after finding that piece of excrement in a hole in Tikrit. His casa is now our casa. I honestly don't think he suffered enough at his hanging. Here is this beautiful palace, with solid gold script and fine marble lining the hallways, a giant throne room, with no other purpose but to make Saddam feel like he was king of something, and the people who lived here under that man were literally starving and dying in the streets. To top off my feelings of disgust for that man, there was a room dedicated in the palace to housing Saddam's harem, which was kept well-stocked with unwilling participants to be used and then murdered or thrown into the streets to be excommunicated from their families for being "unclean."
When Saddam was done with his daily fornication, drinking, and delusions of grandeur upon his throne, he would cross the road to his personal mosque, which is in the picture with the sunset. There, he would learn all there was that Allah had to say about such activities in the Quran. Maybe it was okay for Saddam to do such things. He did go to the mosque every now and then. What's an infidel like me know about the holy ways of Saddam anyway?
The Perfume Palace is another tragic story of the Saddam Hussein era. It was built for his brother's family, who were invited to live there and then were murdered for their efforts. I don't know if you have noticed, but there seems to have been a pattern with Saddam's despotism. It was a clear cycle of observation and then subsequent action. He would evaluate who was Saddam and who was not Saddam. Those deemed not to be Saddam were put to death (the subsequent action).
The fourth picture was taken here on Tallil. Since we have such a large contingent of Air Force personnel that share the base with us, we felt it necessary to provide them with the basic living essentials - food, water, swimming pool, etc. As you can see, the swimming pool is nothing more than a hole in the ground that fills when/if it rains here. I'm sure the Airmen here are receiving plenty of extra pay as compensation for days when the pool is closed. Something about substandard living conditions...
More pictures are on their way, so please keep checking back.
I have been doing well this week. My feet have finally healed to the point that running is no longer torture and walking is done without the slightest hint of a limp. My boots, after only three months of constant wear, are finally to the point where they are comfortable. Military boots are made by the lowest bidder, so the leather of which they are made is often the same texture as hardened steel when you first get them. It takes a while to break them in. So sweet it is when the breaking-in period is finally over.
I got a new room as well. No longer do I have to walk a quarter mile to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I now have rock-star access to the gym, showers, and the "latrines." The Army has their own language, I have noticed. The word "latrine," for instance, means water closet or rest room. Rooms in which we live are not called simply "rooms." No, that would be too simple. Instead, in an effort to assign every physical object an acronym, a room is called a CHU (Commercial Housing Unit). Why can't they just call things what they are, like the Navy does? Everyone knows that the floor is the deck, the "latrine" is the head, the ceiling is the overhead, the water fountains are scuttlebutts, the front of the vehicle is the bow and the rear of the vehicle is the stern, etc. Dang, the Army makes things confusing...
I hope you enjoy the pictures and everyone is doing well back home.
A, E, L, I love you!
Thursday, March 22, 2007
So, here it is. My first ever post on any kind of blog at all. Some have been receiving my weekly updates via e-mail, but this is so much more high tech! It's like someone gave me the keys to the castle...My very own web log!
Anyway, I am in Tallil, Iraq, fighting for the freedom of those who don't have it, and ensuring the freedom for those that do. No, I am not being facetious. I honestly believe that, and if you don't, you're free to tap on the "back" button and visit someone else and maybe, in the process, find yourself a buddy with whom you can burn the American flag and maybe smoke a bong, ya hippie. For the three of you still reading, I will continue...
Tallil is an interesting place, located about 20 miles south of Al Nasiriyah. Some of the locals still refer to the place as it is referenced in the Bible, and I imagine, in the Quran - "Ur." Yes, some of you scholars will recall that this, right here where I have parked my butt, is the birthplace of Abraham. Why he didn't stay here is beyond me...Maybe it's because there's nothing here but sand and the only thing one can see for miles and miles out here is more miles and miles. It's the most desolate wasteland I have ever had the pleasure of visiting.
It does have its up side, though. Right here, within the outer perimeter of the base, there stands a 4000-year-old structure, called the Ur Ziggurat. Saddam wanted to turn it into a major tourist attraction, so he built information stands, a museum, and even renovated parts of the ziggurat itself. I guess the oil industry wasn't pulling in the cash fast enough...Anyway, before he could really get any kind of business, we dropped a plethora of 5000 pound bombs on the adjacent air strip, thus destroying virtually his entire air force. We managed to save the historical sights, though...solely for our ability to visit while fighting for freedom and the American way, of course.
I have attached a picture of myself in Tallil. I still have yet to extract the ziggurat photos from my camera, but I promise to get them to you soon. The picture here is one of myself, perched atop a hardened aircraft shelter that didn't quite make it. More to come.
A, E, L, I love you.