Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The dust is finally settling

No pun intended. After a long 15 months I am finally back home with my family. The loom of rockets and mortars has ceased and the refreshing inhale and exhale of clean air is back! As the plane was landing I could see green trees for miles, oh what a feeling! No more sand storms causing thick sandy nose hairs, stinking porta-johns with Chuck Norris quotes on the walls, taking showers with shower shoes, shaving and brushing my teeth with bottled water, and having my daughter stare at me through the webcam asking me to touch her hand. I have been home for almost two weeks and the integration with my wife and daughter has been amazing. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

So many things to talk about in such little space and more importantly time. I'm so blessed to be back and I want to send the warmest gratitude to everyone that has supported us throughout our tour. As the dust continues to settle I think I will find my way back into my leather bound book, re-prioritize my life and learn to live in the free world again, man I feel like I just got out "the joint". Look to hear from me soon.

P.S. I have yet to express my thoughts on the new commander and chief.

Love to you,


Monday, September 8, 2008

Trouble Sleeping

Awake like a crazy man. No sleeping for me. Eyes wide shut, something numbing taking place in me. Sleeping seems to be obviated, for there is no peace in it for me. Trying to sleep is like watching my labrador retriever chase a jack rabbit through the German countryside; nearly impossible. I’m seeking for peace at the moment. Just need to get home I guess. This blog, started as something poetic and quickly turning into something journal like. I appreciate the readers who actually give intelligent feedback. It’s as if you read me and feel me exactly where I am. Maybe you picture me now sitting at my desk in this thing we call a “CHU”, more like a tin connex morhped into sleeping quarters. Maybe you can hear the blackhawks land through out the night, and the random “kabooms”. Punching away at keys typing for no reason, just to be typing, maybe it’s therapy. I’m tempted to go to the gym and beat on the 80lb punching bag to remedy my sleep, monotony, and blender of a day. But that is much like the keyboard I’m typing on; it even lacks the satiated relief that I am looking for. Maybe the tunes I’m listening to aren’t helping either: Herbie Hancock The Joni Letters. That’s it for tonight. I’m going to make another attempt at the sleeping thing.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Trying to get back

I usually don't write titles until the writing is complete. However, "Trying to get back" just comes natural. Right about now it has multiple meanings for me. 13 months we've been in this country second tour for me. 2 more months to go and yeah, it's rough! Expression has escaped me like watching water evaporate in the 120 degree Northern Iraq baking sun. Gone! But I'm trying to get that back too. The expression that is.

As a young company grade officer and troop commander there is tremendous responsibility getting 114 troops back to their families safely. But it is rewarding. We're at a strange place; soldiers can feel that the mission is almost complete but they know we can't quit and that we're not finish until we affectively transition this mission to our replacements. We've done everything together, sweat together, live together, work together, drive one another absolutely nuts, supported one another, and we're at the end.

The challenges do not cease as spouses are having babies and I have to tell a soldier that he can't go home to see the birth, grandparents passing, mothers and fathers illnesses, family issues, and I have to be the guy to give the brotherly love, tell them I understand but the policy says that I can't let you go. That only adds to their frustration and strain. And mine as well. But my soldiers are professionals and they continue to push forward.

My daughter just started her first day of school, I was fortunate to hear her little funny voice on the other end of the phone with excitement; you would have thought she was going to college! We are looking forward to getting back. And trying to integrate ourselves back into the lives that we knew prior to deploying.

On a positive note, things seems to be getting safer in our area of operations and the Iraqi's seem to be taking charge of the security in our area. This is great improvement from what it was like when we first got here. The attacks on our Forward Operating Base have dwindled. Usually this time of year at the brink of Ramadan, it's like a 4th July gone badly with mortars and rockets instead of fireworks.

I'll be working on getting back to writing and digging deep to stir up my creative side. Until next time, don't forget about the soldiers we think of you daily.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


We have collided in the scope of things.

An array of colors and faces reflected in shards of broken glass

Picking up the pieces –

American pop culture tilts on axis,

Guerilla warfare in urban desert street jungles –

American boots march through the Province like bounty hunters.

Simultaneously bringing the peace and chasing out the bad guys.

Alqueda is swinging from light poles

Like monkeys?

Celebrating Iraqi-American democracy.

Stars, stripes, and illumination rockets blast KA-BOOM!

American show of force –

Palm groves shaken.

Breath taking –

As we ask ourselves is that incoming or outgoing?

Rockets that is.

You can tell by the whistle on the front side or the backside.

My country tis of thee

Sweet land of liberty!

We are colliding in the scope of democracy.

When the light shines at the end of the tunnel;

I see their free faces reminiscent of ours.


An array of colors in shards of broken glass.


Looking through the kaleidoscope of hope.

Hoping that we can deliver the peace.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Life Goes On

I was just thinking today how I haven't written any poetry in a while. But like I always say, "poetry is in the living". I recently spoke with my mentor and friend Bill Gray (old H.S. psychologist and life long friend) and I hear the life going on in the background as the cars were screaming by and I was sitting in the AT&T deployed Soldiers phone trailer listening to booms of out going artillery as they vibrate the trailer. And it just made me goes on, it's going on, we are living in what will soon be history. Soon I will be home from Baqubah and it will all be a drop in the bucket. I picture him riding down Michigan Avenue passed boarded building's and closed factories and people that are just trying to get by. While he simultaneously describes what he is seeing. On my end, a war goes on and Soldier's are rolling up insurgents that plan to attack coalition forces. We try to make things better as much as our Western minds can comprehend. Children wave at our convoy's as we ride past and we wave back as we look nothing short of intimidating.

We are living in historic times as Barrack Obama was just chosen as the democratic candidate for president. We are on the brink of a new era of American race relations. I don't think we'll understand the impact of what Barrack Obama represents, only time can tell. The onset is quiet we are changing, the cocoon is warm. The war still goes on and our country is taking shape by our current foreign policy programs, war, a sliding economy, and heightening gas prices. As this life goes on. I've got a responsibility to be better, to work harder and attempt to influence the world around me the best I know how. My desires are seeming to big for my skin, my love out stretches my capability and I am a participant of this life that is just going on.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Saturday Night Deployed

So we have recently made what deployed Soldiers call a successful “jump” where we moved from one Forward Operating Base to another. As mentioned previously, from Baghdad to Baquba. The sun is blistering, the sand saturates our nostrils, the monotony is agonizing some how we press forward to be better daily.

When you pass a Soldier in the morning you may hear a myriad of quotes after exchanging a salute; Me: “How’s it going today Soldier”, a typical response is Soldier:” living the dream Sir!” A dream it is, dream is what we do, having been away from families and missing, Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthday’s, anniversaries, family members funerals, the world is changing that our counterparts live in but ours seems to remain the same. You almost forget what life is like on the outside of our secure base. We often talk about what we have planned for the future and where we want to go next. Being deployed to Iraq is an experience; it’s a lifestyle, a place where you taste the emotions of a human experience that is uncommon to most. It’s the roller coaster ride of the living.

Tonight my First Sergeant and I decided to take a load off and try to break up the routine. We partook in some unhealthy libations, pounding down “Rip-Its (energy drinks)” and smoke away on some tasty cigars. The responsibility of our Troop rest solely on the shoulders of the First Sergeant and I. We enjoy what we do. He is passionate and I am the same, that’s probably the biggest characteristic we have in common is care for Soldiers and there well being. First Sergeant Girard is on his way to retirement and has served his country for nearly 20 years having been in our Regiment for close to 8 of them. This life has taken a toll on him but I admire his ability to still to give his best to the Soldiers of Lightning Troop. Some Soldiers do it for passion, when you loose the passion there is still obligation, and that is what separates us from the rest of the world…Green suitor obligation; no matter what the conditions we are still Soldiers trying to enjoy a Saturday night in Iraq.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tedious Days at War

It's been 10 months and counting, 5 more months to go and we are looking forward to the long awaited welcome home ceremony. Within the month we have moved from Baghdad to what is known as the "bread basket of Iraq" the Diyala Province in Baquouba. I am a mere spectator amongst the many boots, uniforms, civilian employees and those that represent the sixth year of the Iraq war. I feel like an outsider, like an embedded reporter. Only my voice is quietly summonsed, if there is such a thing. Details of missions are muffled and camouflaged by the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.

As I sit on the edge of my Humvee with my 50 cal. firmly seated right before a convoy brief. I am the axis between Soldiers that are disenchanted with war and anxiety as fear of dying haunts most all of us and the other who is "patriot" through and through with absolutely no fear or at least persist that it is void. They converse of the possible outcomes of this former Saddamist burdened country, to a place where there are Iraqi Police or Iraqi Army check points nearly every quarter mile. Martial law is in full effect and poverties iron fist is laden on the heads of our brothers of the sand. Senator McCain said it himself "100 years"; being here and living amongst the reality I am convinced that there is no longer a military solution. This place is going to take ages of a joint effort to overcome the burden. With every rotation a movement from one place in the country to another you would think that Soldiers would give up. However, we work like we are running out of time (no pun intended); we work with a sense of urgency. Fatigue, rest on the back burner and success in whatever form it comes in will be the mantra of the Soldier.

Clarity and Happiness

Finally elusiveness gives way to clarity

with a crystal like clearness.

I am sitting between birth and death.

The only thing that is permanent is change itself.

There is nothing that we can rely upon for our happiness,

Only the center of our souls.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Another Birthday Spent in Iraq

This is the second birthday I have spent here in Iraq. The last one was 07 May 2005. This time I spent the day gearing up to head on another mission. We left Baghdad after being there for 9 months to head to some other place deep in the Northern part of the country. We sat at the helipad until almost 0200hrs in the morning. My Soldier's sang Happy Birthday and we celebrated with near beer (as usual- nonalcoholic beer) and cigars. The stars were bright and I gave thanks for another day. I do not enjoy being here but, I enjoy the presence of Soldier's. The comradeship is unprecedented. As much hell as war can be Soldier's make it the best experience possible.

When the Chinook arrived we geared up with approximately 150 pounds of gear each and boarded the bird to prepare for a new chapter in our 15 month long mission. After getting settled in a bit in our new location we established communications. Of course I am always the first with internet because that's my job! I was chatting with my wife on instant messenger and heard the familiar whistling of 2 rockets. In which I later found out were 107mm rockets. I threw my laptop and low crawled on the floor trying to get to safety. After a total of 4 rockets. People were running all over the place trying to get accountability of one another and see who had been hit. Come to find out the first rocket landed approximately 50 feet from where I was sitting. It's a gamble, you never know whats next. You say those silent prayers and hope for the best. You try your best to take care of one another but the first thing you learn is that life goes fast, especially in war.

Continue to pray for our safety.